With there being less than a week before Juventus’ first game kicking off, it also marks the return of one of the trademarks of the Italian press in the build-up to each fixture — predicted lineups. No matter if it’s Tuttosport, La Gazzetta dello Sport or any of the other main Italian sports media outlets, the predicted lineups sure do give us something to talk about no matter who the opponent may be.
And Tuttosport has delivered right out of the gate.
As you can see, there are three summer signings being tipped for their official Juventus debuts this weekend. The Danilo debut makes sense. Same goes for the debut of Adrien Rabiot, who seems to have really impressed first-year manager Maurizio Sarri — who obviously has his own personal matters to worry about before kickoff at the Tardini — over the course of preseason camp. And, as you can clearly see, it’s Matthijs de Ligt being predicted as the one to start alongside captain Giorgio Chiellini in the heart of Juve’s defense rather than Leonardo Bonucci, something that we’ll be paying a lot of attention to over the course of the next few weeks and months.
But the most noticeable one of the four red dots of the 11 players on the predicted lineup is the one at the center of Sarri’s front three attackers. It’s the one who is technically a newcomer, but not really a newcomer because he’s still a Juventus player even though he spent last season on loan at two different clubs after two very good seasons in Turin. And it’s the Argentine that has basically turned down every offer to leave the club to come his way.
No, not Paulo Dybala. It’s Gonzalo Higuain.
The most important part of this is that the transfer deadline is the day before Juventus opens its season at Parma on Saturday. So Tuttosport predicting that Higuain is going to start obviously means that they don’t think he’s going to be leaving before the summer transfer window closes on Friday. Obviously, Dybala’s future is still somewhat up in the air as rumors about a last-minute move to Paris Saint-Germain seem to hang out there despite how many times he indicates that he wants to remain at Juventus and fight for his place in Sarri’s starting lineup.
For all we know, Tuttosport could very well be basing their Higuain/Dybala lineup prediction on who they think is more likely to stay in Turin past Friday’s transfer deadline. Or maybe they actually think that Higuain has a role to play on this club this season. I really don’t know anymore. Things were so easy to figure out in the days following de Ligt’s signing. Now? Nah, not so much.