With the new Juventus season upon us we find ourselves with an interesting group of youth, experience, and skill. This is the club’s first season without Gianluigi Buffon since 2001, his presence will undoubtedly be missed. Although Juve are left in the more than capable hands of Wojciech Szczesny and Mattia Perin, we don’t know who will step into the club’s leadership role the way Buffon did when he became captain.
Juventini may have asked the same question in 2012 when Alessandro Del Piero left the club. Of course Buffon fit the role perfectly and gave Juventus everything until his departure at the end of the 2017-18 season.
The captain’s armband was given to Giorgio Chiellini over the summer and hopefully as long as he wears the Juventus badge. There is no doubt among Juventini that Giorgio is the right person to be the captain, even heading into an extremely important season. However, Chiellini cannot be asked to lead the club alone. None of the previous Juventus captains have done it alone.
Chiellini’s role is slightly different from Juventus captains before him since this may be the first season in a very long time with so few co-captains or leaders. Besides this, Juventus have made a rather decent signing this mercato, a Portuguese forward by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo. With Ronaldo, as well as a few other key additions to the squad Juventus have a very good chance to win a treble. This season more than ever we will need our lifer Juventini to step up and be there for the squad.
Traditionally there have always been players on Juventus who are true Juventini, during my lifetime it’s been Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Pavel Nedved, and of course, Buffon. These players are not only the leaders and role models for the young players and new signings, but they represent what Juventus is. The passion and loyalty of these Juventini has been passed on through the generations. These role models are now GChiellini and Andrea Barzagli. Both these men are cemented into the history of Juventus forever. As the experienced leaders of the team it is their job to inspire the squad when times are tough or to remind them to remain humble when they are seemingly invincible. They have already been doing this for several years alongside Buffon but now it’s all up to them. Just as their predecessors, they are responsible for passing down the true Juventus values of “Fino Alla Fine” to the next generation.
Last Friday, the last day of the summer mercato, Juventus rescinded the contract of our Turin-born prince, Claudio Marchisio. I can’t quite understand how this will benefit the team and it will surely make the jobs of Chiellini and Barzagli as leaders that much harder. It’s a shame to see Marchisio go since he is the truest embodiment of Juventus. In such a pivotal season as this one, Juve could have used a Juventino like Il Principino. Despite our emotions and thoughts toward this loss we have to move forward and trust our management, the same group of guys who brought us Cristiano Ronaldo. So now with the core of the team set for the season we have to focus on winning and preparing the next generation of Juventino to be the heart of the club, just as Marchisio did.
Who exactly is the next generation? With most of the Italian Juventini approaching the end of their careers and several other veterans in their twilight, the future is left in the hands of fairly new signings.
Barring any transfers in the future, the leader of the next generation will be Paulo Dybala. The other young players that will hopefully be a part of many future Juventus teams are Federico Bernardeschi, Rodrigo Bentancur, Daniele Rugani, and possibly Moise Kean. The young Italian striker, Kean is a few years away from being first team quality, but no doubt has a very high ceiling. You could perhaps add Emre Can to that list but it’s worth waiting to see how well he adapts to the Serie A and playing calcio the Juventus way.
It will be interesting to see how this season plays out and who steps up to embrace a leadership role. With our veterans leading the way we can rest assured that the right players will come forward and become the true Juventini just as the legends of the past.