The month of July is right around the corner. That not only means that Juventus players will be reporting for preseason training in just a few weeks, but also the official arrival of the summer transfer window. Yes, we’ve been talking about it for weeks now — when do we ever stop talking about it, really? — but now things are about to pick up a little bit.
While we all sweat about whether Alex Sandro is really leaving, really going to trade in one Italian manager for another, really going to trade in Italian cuisine for all of the “delicacies” England has to offer, there are other transfer matters hanging over our heads when it comes to Juventus. One of the main topics of discussion has to do with Juve’s hunt for a creative force to add to its roster over the next few weeks or months.
And what do you know...
The BWRAO Roundtable has made its return. We won’t be talking about Real Madrid or Cristiano Ronaldo or anything about that crap second half in Cardiff. NONE OF THAT.
Instead, we are here to talk about Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi and Keita Balde Diao. Those are the three main names that have been linked to Juventus when it comes to their great hunt for a playmaker on the wings this summer. If this have any resemblance to the Great Trequartista Hunt of the last few summers, then who knows which direction Juve’s transfer campaign will go in, but that trio have all been talked about as potential signings over the next month or two more than just a couple of times.
Should Juventus sign Bernardeschi?
Should Juventus sign Costa?
Should Juventus sign Keita Balde?
This is what we’re here to talk about mainly because case can be made for all three players. It’s not like we’re talking about a trio of scrubs here, folks.
Now is the time where we roundtable about Juventus making a signing for a talented winger who will likely cost a good chunk of money. Hopefully making a signing for a talented winger that costs a good chunk of money. Please make a signing, Beppe. Winger discussion incoming!
For all the talk about the warm, cuddly business relationship with Bayern Munich, it seems like we've gotten the short end of the stick a number of times. And I'm highly suspicious of paying 50 million big ones for Costa after Bayern just bought Coman. Not only does the price seem steep, but there has to be some reason Bayern is moving on from the player.
So my answer? I'd say I'm split between Keita Balde and Bernardeschi.
Pros for Keita Balde: He's probably got more raw talent, he's got more pace and explosiveness, and he's able to play either as a striker or a winger. I know we just got Schick, but you can never have enough quality strikers and wingers if Max keeps running this formation. Cons: Seems like a bit of a loose cannon, and I've read he thinks he's already as good as Ronaldo. Maybe that's problematic. Also a con: For some reason, feels like Juventus may be a stepping stone for Keita Balde, if indeed the Ronaldo emulation is so fervent.
Pros for Bernardeschi: He's Italian, and that makes some people all tingly inside. I think the reason it makes people tingly is that Italian players would seem less likely to do what I just mentioned above, i.e. use Juventus as a stepping stone to England (more money!) or Spain's top clubs (more money!) or Bayern (more money!). Maybe that's true, maybe not. But what I also like about Bernardeschi is his ability to play wing or creatively as the number ten, sort of what Dybala is doing now. Honestly, with the purchase of Schick, it may make a bit more sense positionally. But no doubt price will be a factor.
Who I want to see the club sign and who I think the club will get are two different things.
In a perfect world, Federico Bernardeschi would be a Juventus player. Not only is he incredible at football, he's also Italian, which means something to me. I'm obviously not one of those people that thinks teams shouldn't sign foreigners ever, but it bugs me that teams like Inter hardly ever actually have Italians on their roster, and the fact that Juve has always mixed foreign signings with a strong Italian core has always been a good thing to me.
That being said, I find it difficult to believe that Bernardeschi is coming. Fiorentina would rather drown him in the Arno than sell him to Juve. Remember videos of the riots over Roberto Baggio? Yeah, probably multiply that by a factor of 10 and you've got what the fan reaction to that would be. They'd burn Florence to the ground.
Fiorentina will do anything they can to avoid selling him to Juventus, and it looks like alternatives are starting to pop up for them. Inter has been playing hardball with Manchester United over Ivan Perisic's fee and reports from Mediaset Premium have bubbled up saying that Bernardeschi is now on their radar as an backup plan. If Fiorentina has a deep-pocketed alternative to selling him to Juve, they'll take it.
That's why I think Douglas Costa is going to be the guy. Bayern are playing hardball over his fee right now, but I think it can eventually come down, especially if they're going to be going after Alexis Sanchez. The relationship between the clubs is good and if reports over the last few weeks have been true Costa very much wants to move to Turin. He'd be an excellent upgrade over Juan Cuadrado on the wings, and could really change the way Juve are able to play out wide. My guess is he's the guy.
Given the choice, I'd take two out of three, but if I had to choose one, it would definitely be Douglas Costa. Dealing with Fiorentina has always been a nightmare, and from the prices being quoted. there wouldn't be much of a difference between the two. While Bernardeschi is Italian, versatile and certainly has a high ceiling, he's still not completely proven, and would be an investment more for the future than the present. The same applies to Keita. Considering their contract situations, it might still be worth making a move for them now, or perhaps in January/next summer.
Costa is the one who would instantly upgrade our starting XI. He's extremely skillful, and has the tenacity and flair to offset the loss (most likely) of Dani Alves. Yes, he didn’t have a great year, but anybody who remembers the year before will remember him ripping defenses in both the Bundesliga and Champions League a new one.
At 26, his peak is still ahead of him, he's more of a finished article/known quantity, and he also possesses the versatility to play in a number of roles behind the leading striker in the 4-2-3-1 setup. I think he's a massive upgrade to Cuadrado at RW, and if need be, can be a very useful LW as well. He gets my vote!
I believe there is no wrong answer. These three players can help Juventus in diverse ways. I like Douglas Costa, and two seasons ago he was one of the most dangerous players in the world. However, he has had problems with inconsistency and injuries under Carlo Ancelotti. Additionally, Bayern is playing hardball with Juventus.
Keita is the epitome of speed, and he scored 16 goals with Lazio. He can be an asset if/when Juventus decides to counterattack their rivals. Furthermore, Keita definitely wants to play for Juventus.
Still, I believe Bernardeschi is too good to pass on. The youngster can play multiple positions. Moreover, I think, he could turn into an elite attacking midfielder. He has showcased remarkable vision and a powerful long-range shot. You can not have enough playmakers on your team, and the combination of Bernardeschi and Dybala could be devastating in both Serie A and Europe.
Nevertheless, we know that Juventus and Fiorentina are not exactly friends. If Keita's operation proves to be considerably easier and cheaper than Bernardeschi, Juventus should consider the Senegalese.
I’m ruling out Keita right off the bat not because I have anything against him personally, but because there’s something about his demeanor that makes me think he doesn’t quite have the personality/character to succeed at Juve.
So then we have Costa and Bernardeschi, which is honestly an impossibly difficult decision to make. Both will probably cost upwards of €40 million, but with the Italian there’s also the thorny issue of our ‘sensitive’ relationship with Fiorentina. On the other hand, I have the feeling that with Bayern it’s only going to be an issue of the pricetag and that there won’t be much of a fuss beyond that.
Assuming the same price tag, I would just about edge for Bernardeschi given that he’s Italian and has strong familiarity with the league. Besides, from what I’ve heard, he’s been pretty hot for the Italy Under-21s and is also the most versatile (position-wise) of our three winger options. To be fair, though, I haven’t watched the three wingers in question as extensively as I would have liked, so take my words with a grain of salt.
I think among the three, Douglas Costa is probably the best player right now, but he is also quite one-dimensional and will only able to play as a winger.
Keita Balde is an amazing talent, but he is more a secondary striker to me, and we have quite a lot of strikers.
Bernardeschi is a little overrated. I think you can argue that his reported €40M price tag is somewhat similar to what Juventus paid for Roberto Baggio back then. And when Baggio came to Juventus he has fully grown and there was no learning curve in terms of player development. But Bernardeschi is talented. I think it will take him a year or two more to fully show his potential, I just don't know if he can be as good as Del Piero (1994-1998 period).
However, he can play multiple roles and I think that's always important for a team like Juventus, who will likely to see some starting eleven turn-over every summer (it's not necessarily a bad thing). And he is Italian too, which is important for Juventus' tradition.
All three players are really good players and Juventus certainly need around 40M to buy any one of them. Maybe they should go for someone younger like Keita Balde or Bernardeschi.
I'd go with Keita Balde — he's the fastest and biggest of the three, and his end product is better than the other two. Also, if this is a factor, he should come the cheapest since he wants out badly from Lazio. Hopefully it never comes to it, but he can play striker in a pinch too.