In years where there’s a major tournament, the transfer market is always slower to take shape. Players who are involved in the big events are focusing on the game in front of them, and teams who might hold the rights to a player garnering interest are likely to hold on to their cards to see if success on the international stage will drive up the player’s price and earn them an even bigger fee in the sale.
That has been the case so far this summer, as Euro 2020(1) and the Copa America have both churned along. But as those tournaments move toward their end phase and teams have been eliminated, momentum is slowly starting to build toward the mercato opening in earnest.
On Tuesday two items of note came down the newswires concerning two players that Juventus’ transfer window might hinge on. Neither is a definitive move, but rather the groundwork being laid for what might happen with the pair.
Firstly, we look at Cristiano Ronaldo. As Danny pointed out on Monday, now that Portugal have fallen to Belgium and are out of the Euros, the rumors surrounding Ronaldo will be a fireworks show until there’s an official announcement on Juve’s web site about what’s going to happen.
The first moves toward that decision will happen soon, as Gazzetta dello Sport report (h/t Football Italia) that superagent Jorge Mendes, who represents the superstar, will soon meet with Juve to discuss what the future holds. Mendes was in Milan not long ago and spoke to representatives from several clubs, but notably did not meet with Juve, likely out of deference for his client’s decision to shelve any such talk until the Euros were done. Now, he’ll be sitting down with Juve’s new front office to parse out how that future will look.
It’s worth noting that the report states that Juventus hasn’t received any official offers just yet, and the list of teams that are capable of making such an offer with the soccer economy only just starting to pick itself up after COVID is likely incredibly small, with only Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and Real Madrid realistic destinations should the team try to move him.
Whether we get a definitive resolution on this soon will depend on a lot of factors. If, for instance, Real Madrid were to put a ridiculous offer on the table for PSG’s Kylian Mbappe—and the French superstar certainly did seem distracted in the Euros before France’s shocking exit, didn’t he?—the French giants would be compelled to respond in some way, especially given the fact that they lost Ligue 1 to an upstart Lille team this year. While Massimiliano Allegri may want this to get figured out fast given he’s planning on starting training in about two weeks, but it’s likely to take a lot longer than that.
Something that perhaps—emphasis on perhaps—might be figured out earlier is whether or not Juve will claim their top target this summer.
Manuel Locatelli’s performance at the Euros has only caused his star to rise even higher than it already was as one of the most desired players in Serie A. Juventus have had their sights on him for a long time, but the difficult financial straits they find themselves in after the pandemic make competition from outside Italy a real concern in their race for the midfielder.
Juve already met with Sassuolo’s front office last week, and GdS reports that new sporting director Federico Cherubini has another meeting scheduled with his Neroverdi counterpart on Wednesday, a clear sign that Juve are turning the screw to try and get in ahead of any foreign competitors.
Sassuolo have reportedly kept their €40 million asking price in place, but are reportedly insisting that that be all in cash, as opposed Juve’s preference of a cash-plus-player deal. The list of players in play for such a deal, should it be accepted, has now expanded to include winger Felix Correa in addition to the previously reported Radu Dragusin and Nicolo Fagioli. Juve could also propose a deal similar to Federico Chiesa’s, spreading the money across multiple years with a paid loan and then an obligation to buy at the end of the season.
Juve and Sassuolo have always had a good transfer relationship, and one hopes that the Super League debacle, which brought a severe rebuke from Sassuolo CEO Giovanni Carnevali, hasn’t damaged it to the point that it would make a deal for Locatelli more difficult. Juve are clearly ramping up their efforts to get a deal done, and one would have to hope that they’ll be able to bring home their big fish this season and make a serious move toward fixing a midfield that’s needed a player like Locatelli for years.