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August’s Monthly Juventus Thoughts: You Only Live Twice

Summer is over so that means we’re back with a brand new season of Juventus action!

International Champions Cup 2017 - AS Roma v Juventus Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

And just like that… we’re back again! New day, new team, new season. We’ve already had a breather and plenty of piña coladas during the summer months, so I won’t waste much time with an introduction. Let’s get straight into reviewing the first ‘real’ month of the new season, with a keen focus on the transfer window!


It was a summer of farewells… to fringe players. We said goodbye to the likes of Mario Lemina, Tomas Rincón, (officially) Simone Zaza, [and to Kwadwo Asamoah]. They were nice fellas and I did like them on a personal level, but given the very tidy fees we got for them, I won’t shed too much of a tear over their departures.

The reason I bring these departures up is because I wanted to highlight the specific case of El General Tomás Rincón, a thought that was inspired by a comment of one of our members (sorry, I forgot who, but feel free to claim the credit, whoever you are!). Given that the feisty midfielder spent less than a year at Juventus and, despite some tidy backup performances, barely played a handful of games, why didn’t we just promote a Primavera player to perform this role? It was only 6 months and he barely played anyway, so why not? Worst case scenario would have been that he doesn’t quite win the Ballon D’Or in those few months and then simply returns to the Primavera to continue his life.

In hindsight, I suppose it was the typical case of taking the low/minimum risk option of a relatively seasoned player that knows the league well and is already battle-hardened instead of throwing a young lad who is an unknown quantity into the deep end. Sure, he might be able to swim, but he very well might just drown. I understand/recognize the management’s rationale in this scenario, but I can’t help but feel that this was a missed opportunity. I never thought the words of the great John Maynard Keynes would describe a Juventus transfer affair so aptly, but I think they do so here:

Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally."

John Maynard Keynes

The (Top) Heavy

I’m sure that most Juventini have noticed that the balance of the squad has changed noticeably this summer. We’ve lost two world-class defenders and although we’ve replaced them with decent players. It’s clearly not quite the same as before.

The real shift, however, has happened further up the field with our remarkable boost in firepower. I struggle to remember a time in the last five seasons or so when we had this much attacking depth: Douglas Costa, Federico Bernadeschi, Mario Mandzukic, Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala, Marko Pjaca, Juan Cuadrado, and Moise Kean are all vying for respective positions in attack.

Clearly, any further offensive purchases would have been luxuries rather than necessities (more on that later).

Thus, the instability of preferences produces a preference for stability.

Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky

What an unusual place to be in, though, as a Juventus fan. Our defensive prowess, which is something that for years and years has been our core ethos and defining mantra, now finds itself ... challenged. It’s certainly not fallen to pieces and we’ve certainly not (defensively) become a Sunday league team overnight just because of the losses (and perhaps sub-par replacements) of Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves, but I have definitely found myself feeling a bit uncomfortable with regards to our defense.

Juventus should be fine against the ‘normal’ opposition in the opening phase of the season, but I worry about when the going gets real tough during the infamously challenging February-March-April stretch of games. If we then also consider the fact that the squad is significantly tilted towards the offensive side of the game and I think it means we’re in for an enthralling 2017-2018 season. It might very well disappoint us, but it is certain to keep our attentions absolutely fixated to the action.

Genoa CFC v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Gone with the wind

Ah, the Keita Baldé Diao transfer saga, what a sight it was to behold. From rejected bids to mystery injuries, along with a typically disgruntled Claudio Lotito and, of course, the obligatory public tirade of the player’s agent to round it all off, you would be forgiven if you mistook it for the script of a reality TV show. That was all she wrote though, as the story ended with Keita finally opting to move to the always-gorgeous city-state of Monaco just a few days before the transfer window gently closed.

You only live twice, or so it seems.

One life for yourself and one for your dreams.

Nancy Sinatra “You Only Live Twice

I have two slightly conflicting views about this particular episode.

On one hand, I feel a tad sorry for the kid because he did genuinely seem to want to come to Juve. In a world where transfer fees and salaries of players have escalated to the levels of the GDPs of small countries — seemingly at the cost of the emotional attachment that said players have to their trade — it’s nice to see a player actually desire a club for sporting reasons. What a shame then that, as I mentioned earlier, Juventus probably saw Keita as a luxury rather than a genuine necessity and thus wasn’t willing to accommodate Lotito’s demands too much. Truly unfortunate for the speedy winger-striker; the right dream seemingly came at the wrong time.

Make one dream come true, you only live twice.

On the other hand, I’m becoming so tired of people’s extremely disappointing reactions to adversity (looking at you, Diego Costa). It’s so distasteful to witness a situation where a person does not get his way and then throws a fit here and a sulk there while he mysteriously “becomes injured” or travels to the other side of the world (sorry, Diego, but really man?). In that respect, I’m not as sympathetic of the young Keita if the reports of him skipping training, in addition to his mystery injury, are indeed true.

Again, these were reports and it is increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction these days, yet still I desperately wish that we as human beings would do our best to stay classy when things don’t go our way.

SS Lazio v Kufstein - Pre-Season Friendly
“Stay at Lazio?! Ha, are you mad mate?”
Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

The other one that got away

While the Keita issue didn’t bother me that much, the Patrik Schick transfer certainly did irk me a little. This has to be the oddest transfer-but-non-transfer I’ve ever witnessed in my time as a Juventino. The Czech striker was mere hours away from signing for Juventus, only for him to fail the medical due to what was belatedly clarified to be a heart problem, thus causing the deal to collapse in a shroud of uncertainty and confusion. The most unsavory part of it all, if the reports are to be believed, is that Juventus wanted to lower the transfer fee/terms of the deal due to this medical problem.

Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone.

Nancy Sinatra “You Only Live Twice”

This one stung me because of how the transfer de-escalated at such a late phase and due to our reported conduct. Alright, I understand that from the economic perspective, if a product that you were going to purchase for $x suddenly turns out to have a defect that the value of the product diminishes in value. But does the value of the player, Schick, truly diminish because of this reported heart problem (an especially pertinent question given that Roma have now purchased him for basically the same price that we were going to pay initially)?

I see it more as the willingness to accept a risk that a product might become defective in the future due to this issue that you are aware of when making the purchase. Evidently, it was a risk that Roma was willing to accept given that they have now purchased him (and/or his heart problem has been resolved, which is also reportedly the case). What about Patrick Schick himself then, after he experienced this troubling health scare during a turbulent summer?

Well, I’m sure the young lad will indeed live twice.