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BWRAO Mailbag: Side A, Track One

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We talk Locatelli, boom or bust defenders and cults.

Juventus v US Sassuolo - Serie A Photo by Giorgio Perottino/Getty Images

The first roundup of the mailbag is here!

Thank you all for your submissions, and I think we got to most of them. If you want your question to be featured put it in the comments and we’ll take the best ones for the next edition of the mailbag.

Without further ado, here are your questions.

How hyped are we as Juve fans to watch Locatelli price himself out of our club? I genuinely cheered for 5 seconds after each goal before remembering his value shot up another 10 million. Also which Mexican player should Juve go after this summer? Is Jimenez still on the books? Someone else? Maybe someone from Puebla? — David Dessberg

Every banner performance that Locatelli puts forward in this Euros it’s another flashback to the Aleksandr Golovin saga of 2018. For those of you who don’t remember, Golovin was heavily linked to Juve in the run up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and as the summer progressed all reports seemed to indicate that he was as done deal as a done deal gets.

In fact I remember watching Russia matches during the World Cup exclusively to learn more about the new shining reinforcement that Juve would be getting after the competition. So, why isn’t Golovin in a Juve shirt right now? Well, he was a key player in Russia’s surprise quarterfinal run and suddenly his price was about €10 million higher than the reported numbers Juve were willing to shell out to CSKA Moscow for the services of the midfielder.

Golovin ended up signing for Monaco for €30 million and that was that. Now, will we see something similar happen with Locatelli? It’s not quite apples to apples since Locatelli has been linked to Juve for far longer than Golovin ever was. Add to that the reported agreement already in place with the Italian midfielder, his reported desire to wear the Bianconeri and the good working relationship Juve has had with Sassuolo for a few years and there is a bit more substance to his transfer than with the Russian midfielder.

With that being said, until there is a signed contract and an Officially Official post up on this blog, anything can happen.

For your other question, my beloved Puebla FC got bounced in the semifinal round — finishing their best season in a decade — and immediately afterwards the team got sold for parts with half the starting lineup already on other squads as it’s unfortunately tradition. One of the guys who was sold off, Salvador Reyes, is probably the one that has the best shot to go to Europe as he was the best fullback in the league last season and he is still pretty young. He’s now a Club America player, a springboard club for his desire to play in the Old Continent so we’ll see how he does.

I think the Jimenez train is gone. He should recover fine from his scary head injury, but with the renewal of Alvaro Morata’s loan deal, I can’t see Juve shelling out big bucks for a guy on the mend who plays a pure No. 9 forward style. Hirving Lozano and Jesus Corona, two of Mexico’s better players, are wingers which is decidedly not an area of need, and despite Hector Herrera being a league champion for Atletico Madrid last season I doubt he would be a game changer in the midfield for Juve. So, no, unfortunately for Mexicans everywhere, I think we will have to continue waiting to get a Mexican in Turin.

Should Juventus sell Merih Demiral and risk him becoming another Cristian Romero, or should Juventus keep him and risk him becoming a flop? — CP______3

This is a great question exactly because Demiral is at that point where it could go either way. On the most recent episode of The Old Lady Speaks, we talked about Merih being one of our biggest disappointments of the 2020-21 season — and with good reason.

He was mostly injured and when he wasn’t, he was largely unimpressive. He kept showing flashes here and there, but for someone who we expected to take that second center back position sooner rather than later, the fact that the team was still largely reliant on veteran Giorgio Chiellini by the end of the season speaks volumes about what a lackluster season Demiral had. Watching Cristian Romero simultaneously become one of the best defenders in Serie A was only salt in the wound.

Last summer when the decision was made to loan Romero — yet again — and keep Demiral, I think most everyone agreed that it was the right call. Romero hadn’t looked great at Genoa and Demiral was looking like the most surefire prospect of the two. Yet, Romero got to spend the entire season in Gian Piero Gasperini’s system at Atalanta, getting a bunch of playing time and great coaching. Does Romero grow like that if he stays at Juve? Probably not, which lets you know how important the situation, the system and the coaching are to the development of young players.

With Max Allegri back in the fold as well as reportedly Andrea Barzagli as an assistant, I think Demiral will have his best shot at becoming the guy he could become. If you force me into it, I want him to stay another year at least, but given the economic uncertainty of the club I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s let go for profit. If he stays, I still hold hope that his career turns out more like Chiellini’s and Leo Bonucci’s — guys who took a couple of seasons to really figure it out — rather than Daniele Rugani, a guy who never quite panned out and ended up as an average defender despite his bright early seasons.

Has there ever been a better cult in Juve history than THE WINGS OF FEDE?? — haaandyvandy

We talkin’ cults, gang.

Shoutout to commenter Darius Fabian who beat me to it and mentioned the Cult of Personality of Stefano Sturaro because that was pretty fun, too. Overall, I think every great team needs to have a player that is below par just for the discourse.

For a while, that player for Juventus was Simone Padoin or, as he is effectually known, the Human Victory Cigar. After Padoin, we got Sturaro — who, to be fair, there was a point in which he really looked like he might develop into a solid midfielder, but then just ended up being the guy who was bad but everyone really liked.

Once Sturaro left, I guess the role was vacant until Federico Bernardeschi’s form fell off a cliff and he took it upon himself to become meme fodder for the rest of his Juve career. Of course, this all comes with the caveat that every single one of the guys I just mentioned are impossibly talented at what they do and to their credit despite not reaching expectations or being relegated to mostly bench duty for Juventus they were always professionals and liked personalities in the locker room.

I say keep Bernardeschi just for that alone, imo.

What do you think is our most realistic team possible next year given all the finances and assuming we are able to sell our Deadwood... — aaryanjoshi1000

I guess it depends what you consider deadwood.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: In terms of “assets,” this team is more barren than you would think. There’s only a handful of players that are both in a position to be sold and that would have a significant enough return to make a difference both in the capital gains side and in transfer funds. In my opinion, here’s the list:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Adrien Rabiot
  • Merih Demiral
  • Paulo Dybala
  • Wojciech Szczęsny

That’s it, that’s the list. Dybala seems like he will be renewed from all reliable reports, so that leaves you with four guys really, and in the case of all of them a hole that would in turn need to be filled. Sure, we could find buyers for Aaron Ramsey, Alex Sandro, Bernardeschi, Rugani — who’s still technically a Juve player! — and the cavalcade of loanees the team has.

(What I’m assuming you mean by deadwood.)

But how much are you realistically getting from all those guys? Are any of those dudes worth more than €10 million to €15 million tops? Plus, even if they haven’t quite performed all that well, you still have to find replacements and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of in-house options available either so that means more money out of Juve’s pockets.

As we have mentioned before, the big domino is going to be Ronaldo and whether he stays or leaves the club. Both financially and tactically, he’s going to pretty much be the decider of what type of team we see next season. In my opinion, if he stays, we are most likely seeing the same team with perhaps Manuel Locatelli in black and white and one — or both — of Demiral or Rabiot at another club. If he leaves, then all bets are off and we could be seeing changes galore for Allegri’s first year back. Until the Euros are done and that decision is made, we really won’t know anything for sure.

Random Song of the Week

All throughout the summer, I’ll be posting a random song from my Spotify library. First up, a remix of Run the Jewels’ “Ohh La La.”

See you next mailbag.