Admittedly so, this article brought back some serious feelings and emotions. Both good —think about an Andrea Pirlo free kick. And bad — think Lucio. The latter being enough to personally fly to Torino and worship the ground that Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini walk on.
The six years that Giuseppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici have been in charge of player personnel at Juventus have been widely successful with the team's shrewd transfer policy attracting some fantastic players at fantastic prices. Unfortunately for the club, thanks to Calciopoli, this was not a choice but a financial obligation while the club basically rebuilt itself from scratch into the European titan we once again see today.
Thankfully for the club and its fans, the financial limitations set forth by the match-fixing farce and the economic rigours of building a brand new stadium did not hinder the process as much as we all expected. This is especially evident after after two consecutive seventh place finishes.It's entertaining to look back and see the construction of the roster and how it has evolved from May 2010 when this regime took over the Old Lady.
While Juventus has hit on the majority of their transfers throughout this time, the ones which did not cost a dime have been instrumental to the rebuild of an elite European powerhouse.
A word of caution: Some of the transfers listed below may cause nausea, vomiting or light headedness.
You have been warned.
10. Reto Ziegler
Well, this one was rather easy. Zero appearances for Juventus in his time with the club. One of Marotta's first transfers at Juventus. Originally signed from Sampdoria as the player was familiar with Marotta, Paratici and then-manager Gigi Delneri. He arrived at Juve with a new sheriff in town, Antonio Conte, who obviously didn't have Ziegler in his plans and preferred Paolo De Ceglie on the left wing. Ziegler had this to say about his tumultuous time at Juventus:
"Gigi Delneri was still the coach when I signed for Juventus. He and Director [Giuseppe] Marotta knew me from their time at Samp and they wanted me at Juve, I went there for them. I spoke to Conte when I first arrived and he told me that he wouldn't be counting on me at all as he had other ideas."
Ziegler went on to have four loan spells throughout his four-year contract with Juve, these spells along with the fact Juve was never able to monetize on the player deem his time with the club as the most unsuccessful Bosman of the past six years.
My least favourite player on this list by a landslide. Gone are the days where Juve would buy Fabio Cannavaro from Inter in exchange for Fabian Carini and cash. (And they wonder why they didn't win for so long.) Nowadays, we receive Lucio (albeit free) and Hernanes. Maybe this whole dealing with your most hated rival isn't panning out and should cease operations immediately.
Lucio arrived at Juventus in July 2012, with a mix of skepticism and optimism. If the Lucio of the 2010 Inter treble-winning side showed up at training camp he would add to the already formidable backline of Stephan Lichsteiner, Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini. Unfortunately, this player did not show up, and his bags were packed almost as fast as Reto Ziegler's. All in all, Lucio played four games for Juventus — one in the Supercup, one in Serie A and two in Champions League.
His contract was mutually rescinded in December 2012. Good riddance and thank the heavens above he was free.
8. Michele Pazienza
A player typical of the Antonio Conte era. He struggled to find playing time, only seeing the field in eight games during the 2011-12 season. He was loaned out to Udinese in the winter transfer window, and never found playing time again under Conte. Pazienza had initially rejected a permanent move to Genoa in the January 2012, as he looked to find playing time under Juve again in 2013. His agent had this to say: "Genoa agreed a deal with Juventus for his permanent transfer. However, Michele chose Udinese because it is his intention to return to the services of Juve boss Antonio Conte in June."
This unfortunately never happened and he was sold to Bologna in the summer of 2012 for €300,000. Truth be told, this type of acquisition was okay in the early stages of the rebuild as the club lacked depth, but would be extremely unwelcome today as the club needs 20-plus players capable of steeping into a starry Tuesday or Wednesday night. After all, we already have our human victory cigar and his name is Simone Padoin.
7. Luca Toni
Luca Toni was with the Old Lady for a season and a half, yet only managed to appear in 14 games and contribute two goals. His first goal for Juve was his 100th in Serie A, and was an absolute stunning header from just inside the 18-yard box.
Not much to say about Toni — his presence on the field was always welcome as his penchant around goal meant always needing to be watched. Toni left to Al-Nasr on a free transfer in June 2012. Truth be told, I was looking forward to having him on this list as I always love having an excuse to listen to the video below. My apologies in advance as the song will be stuck in your head for days.
6. Norberto Neto
There was a lot of optimism this summer in regards to the transfer of Neto. His performances for Fiorentina before being frozen out of the squad for contract disputes were noteworthy and it appeared as though his free transfer to Juventus was a major coup. Neto's 2015-16 season was filled with more pine than grass, but this was to be expected. What did Neto expect really when Gianluigi Buffon is the starter? All in all, Neto made eight appearances with five of those games being clean sheet performances, and only time will tell if these are the only eight games he ends up playing for Juventus.
His performance in the Coppa Italia final included some key saves that otherwise would have seen Milan take advantage of a truly sloppy Juve. He truly is a talented keeper and the rumors of his dismay at sitting on the bench at Juventus would probably lead to a summer transfer or loan away from J Stadium. Hopefully he gets ample playing time next season on a loan in another country, but if the player would like to be sold, I'm sure Marotta will try to appease the player. Any sort of sale would, however, leave a bad taste in my mouth personally, but would probably see Juventus pocket a transfer of anywhere between €9 million to €12 million, which would be welcome in the 2016-17 transfer campaign, especially for a player purchased for free.
5. Kingsley Coman
This one stings a little. Coman was an exciting prospect poached from PSG on a free transfer in the summer of 2014. His thrilling displays of speed, agility and attacking prowess in his limited playing time made it seem as though Marotta had stolen a future star away from Paris. Unfortunately, we all know how this story played out. Coman was unhappy at the amount of playing time he got, was loaned to Bayern Munich on a two-year deal worth €7 million with an option to buy for an additional €21 million after the loan deal expires in 2017.
Coman scored one goal for Juventus in 22 appearances while at the club, and boy was it a beauty. At the surface, his stats don't inspire confidence, but the numbers don't show the whole story here, as Coman's performances were electric especially when considering he was just an 18-year-old while at Juve. In terms of the purchase, Juventus did well to poach a player of his calibre from PSG, but will most likely rue the sale of Coman to a direct competitor of the Champions League.
Thankfully, the loan of Juan Cuadrado made his departure less evident this season, as the Chelsea loanee preformed admirably in his season at Juve. Hopefully the €28 million that Juventus receive for Coman is reinvested into the market on a world-class talent. Here's a look at Coman's lone goal for Juve.
4. Sami Khedira
Brother Sami was lights out for Juve this past year when he wasn't in the infirmary. His leadership and technical skill in the midfield were the perfect replacement for the departed Arturo Vidal. Simply put, when you can add a World Cup and Champions League winner to your team, you do it without hesitation. His 29 appearances for Juve this season were for the most part a masterclass, and his five goals and four assists were a nice start to his Juve career.
His ability to gel with his new teammates so quickly was a key reason Juve was able to bounce back from its atrocious start to the season. Just a hunch, but I think if this list was done in the next one or two years time, he may be pushed up a spot. Here's to hoping the 2016-17 season provides us with 30-plus games of Sami because with him in the lineup Juve never tasted defeat (except the extra time of the Champions League tie with Bayern, and he was substituted at 2-0).
Also, if Sami ever has a game where he is completely lost on the field, we know where to find him.
3. Fernando Llorente
Il Re Leone arrived with such optimism from Athletic Bilbao on a Bosman in the summer of 2013, having agreed to the contract in January of that year. His arrival was extremely welcome, as the big man was seen as an upgrade to Alessandro Matri — not only for his goal scoring ability, but his aerial skill in the box. Llorente's first season in Torino was widely successful with Fernando bulging the old onion bag 18 times and providing six assists in all competitions. His partnership with Carlos Tevez was euphoric that season as Juve reached the semi-final of the Europa League as well.
His time at Juve ended at the beginning of the 2015-16 season after he fell out of favor with Max Allegri last season due to the emergence of Alvaro Morata and the arrivals of Simone Zaza and Mario Mandzukic last summer. All in all, Fernando's Juve career ended with 92 appearances and included 27 goals and 10 assists. Not bad for a player signed for free.
2. Andrea Pirlo
This is what I meant when I said that this article provided me with some emotional feelings. I'll never forget the feeling of watching Pirlo cry after he won his first Juve Scudetto in May 2012. How could a player he bled for the Milan colors for so many years and won so much become so attached to a new shirt so fast? Andrea is one of those players that you just can't hate no matter who he plays for, because of his demeanor and the way he plays the game. Andrea walked into this Juve lineup after being deemed surplus at Milan and revitalized a Juventus team in need of stability and creativity. It was this very reason that made it all the sweeter for Pirlo, old club discards you, win title with new club with old club finishing second.
His ability to score from set pieces saw him tie the Serie A record held by Sinisa Mihajlovic at 28 in the 2014-15 season, and his free kick ability didn't come in garbage time. Some of his goals came in key moments of games.
People will definitely debate whether Pirlo should have been No. 1 on this list, but regardless of personal opinion, the fact Marotta and Paratici secured such an incredible talent for free is what makes his purchase all the more sweeter. His time at Juve was filled with trophies and joy. The one regret for Andrea is that he never won ol' big ears with his beloved black and white.
Pirlo's Juventus accomplishments:
- 164 apps 19 goals 38 assists
- Serie A: 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15
- Coppa Italia: 2014-15
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2012, 2013; Runners-up: 2014
- UEFA Champions League Runners-up: 2014-15
1. Paul Pogba
This section basically writes itself, doesn't it? Pogba was a young 18-year-old discouraged at his lack of playing time at Manchester United under the guidance of legendary gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson. In comes Marotta with the promise of playing time and a new beginning. Paul certainly didn't waste his opportunity at one of the world's biggest clubs. I still remember his first two goals for Juve — one being a rocket from outside the 18 against Napoli (something we have gotten increasingly used to) and a match winner against Bologna on Halloween in 2012.
Quite the start to his Juve career. We've watched Pogba blossom into an elite European talent on Juventus, and he has repaid the fans and management with goals, assists and...vines.
The Pogba situation really is a win-win for Juventus. Either he stays at Juve and provides us with many years of elite play or he is sold for €100-plus million and provides Juve with a chance to acquire more elite talent all for the cost of zero dollars. If it were my choice, and the choice of many other Juve fans, having Pogba in the starting lineup far outweighs the benefits of a mega sale to one of Europe's big teams. This to me is where Juve shows how serious it is at winning the Champions League. It's already difficult to eliminate teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, let's not make our lives more difficult by giving them a player who many believe could be a future Ballon d'Or winner.
Pogba was the clear No. 1 for me in this ranking for a number of reasons, namely of all the players that Marotta and Paretic purchased on a free transfer Pogba leads in — appearances, goals and assists. He is now one of the leaders of this Juventus team, and along with Paulo Dybala will hopefully catapult us to the upper echelons of European glory once again.
Pogba statistics at Juve:
- 183 Appearances 39 goals, 43 assists
- Serie A: 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16
- Coppa Italia: 2014-15, 2015-16
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2013, 2015; Runners-up: 2014
- UEFA Champions League Runners-up: 2014-15