Manuel Locatelli has been Juventus’ top (and perhaps only) transfer target since well before last season ended. His arrival is considered key to the team’s hopes next season, but it was never going to be an easy road. With the economic damage to the club that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, there were questions about whether or not Juve would be able to get the transfer done, especially as the midfielder’s success at Euro 2020(1) brought him to the eyes of the wider world.
Juve’s first offer fell well short of Sassuolo’s €40 million asking price, triggering worry as reports flooded in that Arsenal were prepared to meet that price in full without any bells and whistles in terms of how the transfer was structured. Fortunately for the Bianconeri, Locatelli looks to have his heart set on playing in Turin this year, and he has reportedly rejected offers from both the Gunners and Borussia Dortmund in furtherance of that goal.
With that in mind, Sassuolo have begun to shift slightly in their negotiating stance. Originally considered reluctant to accept any loan with further options or obligations, a report from Calciomercato (h/t Football Italia) now says they are willing to work within a framework similar to how Juve brought in Federico Chiesa last summer.
The full operation would be a two-year loan with an obligation to buy, with a guaranteed cost of €35 million that could go up to €45 million. The initial loan would be worth between €8 million and €10 million, with €25 million due when the obligation kicks in. It would also include €10 million in bonuses, half of which would be expected to be achieve and the other half of which would be far harder. The key for the Neroverdi would be an obligation to buy at the end of the loan rather than an option, so that they’re guaranteed their money for their star and Juve don’t have the wiggle room to bail on it for whatever reason. That doesn’t seem like it would be a problem, as an obligation was a part of the initial deal in the first place.
This sort of structure is exactly the way Juve did things with Chiesa in October, albeit with lower dollar values. It looks as though Sassuolo are fully cognizant of the fact that Locatelli wants Juve and are willing to allow for the structure of the deal to give Juve the financial flexibility they need in the short term while ensuring they eventually get the money they want from one of their most salable assets they’ve had in years.
Further updates are sure to come. Watch this space.