The coaching carousel is spinning like crazy already this summer, but Juventus managed to claim a passenger on it as quickly as possible. Massimiliano Allegri is back in Turin and there is a full offseason to get things sorted out the way he wants to before getting back on the pitch in August.
Allegri has been out of the management game the past two seasons, so maybe he went to a bunch of online classes and he will change his tactics and style completely, But for now, it seems easy enough to look back at his previous years with Juventus to see what we should expect from him this time around. And there are reasons to believe the front line may look pretty familiar.
We know Allegri had a world-class midfield to work with during his five seasons in Turin — which certainly made the attacks look better, but he still deserves some of the credit for getting the most out of guys like Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tevez and Mario Mandzukic. It did not matter whether it was using Antonio Conte’s leftover 3-5-2 or his own version of a 4-3-3 or a 4-3-1-2 or a 4-2-3-1, Allegri got the job done.
Of course, all of those forwards are gone now, but Allegri has experience working with some of the players who could still appear in next year’s attack.
We all know about the saga around Paulo Dybala, whether he still wants to be at the club, whether a contract extension will ever be signed or even if the club can afford to keep him on. But if there should be anyone excited about the return of Allegri, it should be Dybala.
Dybala thrived during Allegri’s tenure and really had his coming out party and led the club with 74 goals across all competitions during that five-year span. His production was only going up and his minutes on the field were well beyond what he played under Maurizio Sarri or Andrea Pirlo.
Under Allegri, Dybala averaged 0.72 goals or assists per 90 minutes. That averages out to contributing to a goal every 125 minutes. Since Allegri left, Dybala has still contributed to a goal once every 123 minutes, but due to a dip in his playing time, his production numbers have gone way down.
If Dybala sticks around another season, I think it’s clear he would once again play a big part in Allegri’s attack. The only concern here would be if Cristiano Ronaldo sticks around as well.
There’s no getting around the fact Allegri did not want to work with Ronaldo and that likely played a role in his departure back in 2019. A report came out earlier this year from Football Italia that Allegri advised Andrea Agnelli to “get rid of Ronaldo” because “he’s blocking the growth of the team and the club.”
Even though Dybala had a good season teaming up with Ronaldo under Sarri, his most disappointing season under Allegri was the year Ronaldo joined the club. Dybala’s stats took a big dip, providing a goal or an assist just once every 256 minutes on the pitch.
Allegri made two Champions League finals in a three-year span but had a disappointing finish with Ronaldo in the pair’s lone season together. Those disappointing seasons have continued with Ronaldo in Turin so it’s hard to say Allegri was wrong.
Now, with Allegri coming back into the fold, it is unclear whether he feels the same way or not but it is hard to find any reason why he would have changed his mind on that front over the last two years.
There were already rumors about Ronaldo not returning to Juventus for the final year of his contract but Allegri’s return may signal the first step out the door for the Capocannoniere. That could leave a vacant spot in the team’s top striker role. Alvaro Morata is another player who shone at times during Allegri’s first tenure and even though his future is also currently filled with uncertainty, this position could be perfect for him if Atletico Madrid and Juventus can get to work on a deal.
Morata was the top attacking option off the bench for two seasons with Allegri and he scored some crucial goals, especially in the Champions League to get the Old Lady to the 2015 final. Despite limited minutes, he finished second on the team in goals+assists per 90 minutes in both seasons.
So while the renewal of the Morata-Dybala partnership may get people excited, the only players who may need to be concerned about their role is the wingers. Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski have certainly shown flashes of brilliance and aren’t likely to be going anywhere anytime soon but Allegri is not necessarily known for his use of true wide players.
During his first five seasons with the club, Allegri would throw out formations that appeared to have players on the wing but often found themselves in the middle of the field during spells of possession while definitely being called upon to track back on defense. Mandzukic is the perfect example of that, but he wasn’t even a true winger until Allegri got his hands on him.
Juan Cuadrado saw time as an attacking winger under Allegri but even though he is still better moving forward, his improvement on defense may keep him as a fullback where he can deliver crosses the way Dani Alves did for Allegri. Douglas Costa was an option on the wing when healthy but even then, he was mostly used as a substitute for some late fireworks.
Fortunately for the aforementioned Chiesa and Kulusevski, they have shown some versatility and should be able to fit into any system even if it is not as true wingers. They have the skills in the box and finishing ability to serve as a second striker but they also can provide class on the ball to link the midfield with the front line.
We may be a ways off from seeing Allegri’s next attacking line and there are definitely some changes to be made to the roster before August but he already has plenty of options to work with and I think it’s safe to say he has already thought about the best way to use them.
And there are still plenty of things that need to be done behind the attack to correct the mistakes of the past year but when you bring in a new coach, holding on to the players you know can get the job done in the system can be invaluable. Dybala and Morata will not necessarily be the answer to all of the Bianconeri’s problems but it could be a pretty good start, especially if Allegri can duplicate the efficiency the duo provided during his first stint in Turin.