With Juventus’ front office unable to offload some of the players that you expected would be sold over the course of the now-closed summer transfer window, the result was a few familiar names being excluded from the upcoming Champions League group stage squad list. Giorgio Chiellini’s ACL tear — and, as of Tuesday, successful surgery and six-month timetable for recovery — made one of those decisions easier. But the rest? While somewhat predictable, it still meant notable names were going to not be playing European football the next four months.
Right before announcing Chiellini’s successful knee surgery, Juventus revealed what the club’s Champions League group stage looks like. With Chiellini expected to miss most of the season, he’s one of the three notable exclusions, being joined by midfielder Emre Can and striker Mario Mandzukic. The complete group stage phase roster is as follows:
2 De Sciglio
4 De Ligt
11 Douglas Costa
12 Alex Sandro
(For the record, still kinda odd to see a Juventus player with the No. 77 jersey, but Gigi can do whatever the heck Gigi wants to do, so I guess we should get used to it.)
As much as Emre Can has been talked about as a quality midfield addition as a free transfer signing last summer, he looks to be the victim of Juventus’ glutton of options in the center of the park right now. In a perfect world and if Juve were able to sell somebody like Sami Khedira or Blaise Matuidi — both players, I admit, have been very good to start this current season — rather than keep them both, maybe Can would be included in the Champions League group stage roster. Instead, Juve are going to be killed for having one of their highest paid players watching from the stands come the first round of European games.
With Mandzukic, it’s a little bit easier to see the reasons behind it. Ever since Maurizio Sarri was hired it has been suggested that the big Croatian who has been so crucial in some of Juve’s biggest European wins the last few years was never going to fit into the former Napoli boss’ tactical plans. While he played a solid amount of minutes in the preseason friendlies — albeit, with Juve’s attack very far from at full strength — Mandzukic has yet to play a single minute in the first two weekends of the Serie A season. The same can be said about Paulo Dybala, sure, but at least Juventus’ No. 10 can be seen as a quality contributor to Sarri’s squad in future months. That can’t really be said about Mandzukic, who could very well be leaving the club come the January transfer window.