We all like paying attention to the best youngsters Juventus’ primavera squad has to offer. We get to see some of them in the preseason friendlies, we sometimes even get to see them called up to the senior team a few times during the course of the Serie A season. Maybe even get a debut like we saw with Moise Kean just a short time ago.
But we aren’t here to talk about Kean.
We’re here to discuss another one of the Juventus-owned youngsters who has made a pretty good impression this season, current Sassuolo on-loan fullback Pol Lirola.
You might remember that Lirola, 19, was sent to Sassuolo on a two-year loan deal towards the end of July last summer following an impressive showing during Juve’s summer tour through Australia and Asia. You might also remember at the end of November when Lirola was linked with a return to Juventus as the club’s injury problems started to truly mount.
The injuries have lightened up a little bit since then, but Dani Alves is still out for a decent amount of time after he suffered a broken fibula at the end of November.
So we posed the question: Should Juventus bring Lirola back this month?
Unlike last time around when it was pretty much a landslide victory for Alex Sandro when we asked who Juventus’ first-half MVP was, things were a little bit different. That’s a good thing. Different opinions are good. And there were no throwing of chairs or screaming at each other during the creation of this edition. That’s also good.
Given the age of both our right backs, if we are going to sign another right back it has to be one with view to the future. A short-stop solution would make no sense, unless perhaps it's a six-month loan signing of an experienced right back to see us out till the end of the season. But honestly, I think we should not pull the trigger on an important issue like this in January so let’s just wait till the summer. It goes without saying though that Lichtsteiner should be registered for the CL group now. Heck, Allegri has even experimented with Barzagli at the right back position in the past so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the boss do that, worst case scenario.
I wouldn’t like to see Lirola recalled unless Dani Alves has a significant setback in his injury that would keep him out for the rest of the year. By all reports, Lirola is settling in very nicely at Sassuolo, and is developing extremely well. He’s still 19 years old (I wish I was that good), and I think it would be best to let him take his time and develop properly, considering he has the potential to be our starting right fullback for many years to come. I would rather have Cuadrado play as a Right Back, for now, if Licht’s performances don’t improve.
Yes, definitely. Lichtsteiner is not growing any younger and expecting him to bomb up and down the right wing for ninety plus minutes a game day in and day out is a foolish expectations and bound to result in heartbreak.
However, finding a starting caliber right back in January that could play an important role in the latter stages of the Champions League is a task that is much more difficult than it sounds, and I'll leave it to Marotta and his scouts to do it.
I think a lot of this depends on Dani Alves and how long exactly he'll be out. There's a big question mark there. There aren't many great RB's on the market who aren't cup tied (Darmian is the only name that comes to mind). He would definitely be a marked improvement to Licht (in theory). But time to adjust/adapt/get integrated are all factors. If Alves will be fully fit for the Champions League Round of 16, I'd say let's stick with Licht until the summer and then upgrade, with either a De Sciglio/Darmian, or the return of Lirola (could be important for the homegrown quota).
No, and for these reasons:
- Both Juan Cuadrado and Andrea Barzagli have filled in the right full-back role nicely. Barzagli played especially well in a hybrid 3-5-2/4-4-2 in that role. Both have weaknesses playing that role, but it is only part-time to fill in until Dani Aves returns.
- It is a difficult transfer. Juventus already has two international level right full-backs. It 's hard to convince a player at that level to join in January. It will probably also costs a lot of money. The only option is veterans in retiring age or unproven young player. Either case, it may not be better than what Cuadrado or Barzagli can provide.
- Pol Lirola is not ready. Offensively he is gifted and playing well, but he has a lot of difficulties physically during the defensive phase. He is just not a good enough defender right now. He needs time to gain experience. Calling him back isn't going to help to fill that role nor helping his development.
About Pol Lirola…Hell to the yes! Firstly, I’m a big fan of Linchtsteiner taking no prisoners approach, but it looks like the Swiss Express has a squeaky wheel right now. Steiner’s game is very physical; he used to burn the opposition with his speed and straight. This season, he’s struggling with that aspect. Still, I believe he has gas left in the tank, but he must reinvent himself. Hypothetically, Lirola could learn behind him and Alves this winter. Then, if/when Lichtsteiner moves in the summer transfer window, he could alternate with Dani Alves and hopefully be the starter in the 2018-2019 season. Finally, I’m not a big fan of panic buying during the winter window; therefore, I don’t think Juventus should bring another wingback unless a great opportunity knocks on their door.