Paul Pogba. Sandro Tonali. Federico Chiesa. Mauro Icardi. Arthur Melo.
The list of names connected to Juventus for some sort of transfer bonanza this summer is quite long, and as most of us recognize (I think), the Bianconeri are in at least relatively dire need of an overhaul to be considered a favorite for the Champions League.
After eight Scudetti in a row, that’s the goal.
But there’s a problem right now, and it’s a problem for quite literally everybody on the entire planet: the coronavirus. With France’s Ligue 1 already canceled, deliberations to restart Serie A just now seriously underway, FC Koln testing three people positive at their club, the fallout from the global pandemic is far from over in the football world. The future remains murky, but one thing is quite clear: the financial toll has already been heavy.
Look, this is probably not the column you want to read, or the column that’s going to get people excited about this summer, or the column that I should write to get tons of clicks, but it’s the column I feel is necessary and perhaps an accurate forecast of the future.
Juventus fans need to temper their expectations for what does (or, as it were, doesn’t) happen this summer.
What’s the realistic spectrum of possibility?
I’ve been trying to sketch out in my mind what two ends of a realistic spectrum look like, an exercise I feel like has changed even since a couple of weeks ago when trying to decipher some of the rumors.
Luckily, Fabio Paratici has already provided one end of the spectrum: the squad remains the exact same.
“Some say we could play the 2020-21 season with the same squad?” Juve’s Chief Football Officer told Sky Sport. “It’s a possibility.”
The key word here is obviously “possibility.” I somewhat doubt this Juventus squad looks the exact same that it did last year, but it’s not terribly difficult to imagine a world in which that really is the case. If there are further difficulties in restarting Serie A (even behind closed doors), clubs are going to continue to lose revenue. Although swap deals have been discussed — and are the most prolific rumor out there — those kinds of transactions are notoriously difficult to see all the way through. If Juve run into trouble finding the right partner and agreeing on all the right terms, it’s not a stretch to think they’d just slide into next season with the same roster.
Probably what Paratici is doing is what I’m doing: try to temper expectations for a fanbase that has a lot of expectations. I don’t imagine he does nothing.
At the other end of the spectrum, which is of course tied to the virus containment and treatment efforts, if things do get better faster than it’s seeming right now, then perhaps Juve execute one major deal (Pogba, SMS, etc.) probably involving a swap, one medium-sized deal (Tonali, Castrovilli, etc.), and one piece for the future (à la Kaio Jorge).
Two to three new players may not sound like a lot in a typical transfer market, but we do have to face the fact that this is not going to be a typical transfer market for anybody!
OK then, what’s a reasonable market to expect?
I think no matter what that the midfield revamp remains the focus of Paratici’s transfer doings. Whether it’s the Pogba saga continued or the newer Arthur Melo rumors that reportedly involve sending one Miralem Pjanic to Catalonia, the rumblings still almost exclusively revolve around the midfield.
Paratici has said indeed mentioned swaps or a transfer market “closer to the NBA” (i.e. presumably more trade-based) since late March, well before the swap rumors flooded the tabloids. It’s looking like his gut was correct, though.
If the Kaio Jorge report is true, then maybe we once again have some clue already has to what the club is going to be doing: willing to throw low-ball offers at players, and willing to spend low amounts of money at least. After all, in a world with immense losses of revenues and in which clubs in general are struggling, if you’re able to have some sort of spending power then there are probably going to be deals out there to be had. Nobody knows how much money Paratici has or hasn’t been granted to spend, but he may actually turn that cash into more than what he typically could.
Here are my own personal expectations: one biggish deal that’s primarily swap-based (let’s say Pjanic and Douglas Costa head to Manchester United for Paul Pogba, or Pjanic simply switches places with Arthur Melo), one medium-sized deal maybe involving a swap (someone like Federico Bernardeschi could be a mid-sized swap piece), and one smaller building-block kind of deal (like Kaio Jorge).
I don’t know what’s going to happen. The nature of the pandemic is such that each new week is a hell of a lot different than the previous one, which makes the entire business of conjecture a precarious one.
That said, we’ve already got some clues about how the club could approach this: there could be nothing, there could be swaps, there could be Pogba.