The first of the year’s dead weight has been trimmed off the roster.
Pjaca is one of the innumerable sad stories in the annals of sports where one injury changes everything. Acquired from Dinamo Zagreb for €23 million in 2016, he was a highly touted prospect. He missed three months of that first season with a cracked femur suffered on international duty, but seemed to be settling in when he finally returned as the calendar turned to 2017. He scored the winning goal in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Porto that February, and his form was trending upward when disaster struck again when Croatia played Estonia in a friendly in March. Playing on a completely substandard pitch, Pjaca suffered a non-contact ACL tear that put him out of action until the following January.
Loan spells with Schalke, Fiorentina, and Anderlecht followed, and he spent last year at Genoa, where he played against Juve several times, notably blowing a golden scoring opportunity in the second half at the Allianz in April. He started Juve’s first friendly of the year on Saturday as the striker in a 4-3-3, and missed a couple of chances that he might’ve converted had he gone the simple route rather than get flashy about it. It clearly looked like he was trying to impress Max Allegri, the manager that brought him into Juve in the first place.
Now Pjaca will have yet another chance to revitalize his career under the tutelage of Ivan Juric. Juve will certainly be hoping he plays well and inspires the Granata to take the option next summer so they won’t have to figure out more to do with him next year.