And you thought the January transfer rumor cycle was going to be relatively quiet after the flurry that was Juventus’ signing of Dejan Kulusevski earlier this month.
According to multiple reports in Spain and Italy — including Sky Sport Italia transfer oracle Gianluca Di Marzio as recently as Friday night — Juventus and Barcelona are talking swap deal. Not involving Lionel Messi, so calm down there. But it would be a deal that would see Juventus’ Croatian contingent go up again (although not be as grumpy as it was for the past few years). Di Marzio and others are reporting that Juventus and Barcelona have opened talks on a possible swap deal involving midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Federico Bernardeschi.
More on the reported talks from Di Marzio’s website — the most notable thing being that this Rakitic-Bernardeschi swap talk isn’t exactly new:
The negotiations were unsuccessful in the summer thanks to the large compensation fee requested by Barca. The sides are in talks to see if there is momentum to bring a deal closer together. Barcelona and Juventus are again attempting to make a deal, but with different conditions.
What those conditions may be aren’t exactly right now, although it would surely involve just how much money is going each way because there’s no way that both players have the same exact transfer valuation at this current juncture.
The interesting part in all of this is that a lot of it could simply be as a result of Maurizio Sarri’s tactical shift and Juventus seeing an opportunity to turn a player who has struggled this season in a different role than he’s used to into a clear-cut upgrade to its much-maligned midfield. Bernardeschi has gotten plenty of minutes under Sarri, but the fact that he is not out wide like he is with the Italian national team and rather played as a trequartista (up until recently) has seen him really struggle to replicate the impressive form he had to begin the 2018-19 season.
Rakitic would become one of Juventus’ best midfielders immediately. Maybe he would be the best. And even when he’s just a few months away from his 32nd birthday, he would be an upgrade over what is currently being run out there right now. Where that would leave somebody like Adrien Rabiot or Rodrigo Bentancur would be one of the bigger implications of a potential deal, but this might be one of Juve’s few chances to upgrade the midfield this month.