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BWRAO Mailbag: Speculation Nation

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We make wild conjectures about the future of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic. Off the field issues, football bars and Song of the Week.

US Sassuolo v Juventus FC - Serie A Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

We are still in the dog days of summer, which means that with the continental competitions winding down, we are about to fully submerge into wild Juventus transfer speculation SZN.

This is always a wild moment where everything and anything could happen. Yet generally, very little actually does. Nevertheless, the mailbag is tirelessly moving forward as we answer your questions this week. Thanks for all your questions, and remember you can leave yours in the comment section or send them to us at @JuventusNation or @manuc_bwrao on Twitter for the next edition of the mailbag.

Let’s cook.

Marca, Mirror, The Sun all reporting that Cristiano Ronaldo will stay this season and possibly even extend his contract. We all know how Paulo Dybala and Ronaldo can’t play together so will it Impact Dybala’s contract renewal? Is it possible he leaves us for free next season? – Mike Dillow

Oh yes, the debate about whether two of the highest profile players at the club will stay or go. I call it Schrodinger’s Forward Line since they are both constantly Juventus players and not Juventus players all the time.

The thing is, I’m still not quite sure they can’t play together? We really have two seasons to analyze of the two stars playing in the same lineup. In their first year, Dybala had arguably his worst season as a Juve player in which health was not a factor. The other one, he won League MVP under Maurizio Sarri and was as key as any guy on the squad.

The caveat here, of course, is that the one season in which they couldn’t co-exist the man in charge was one Max Allegri, who is backo on the Juventus touchline for the 2021-22 season. Here is where we leave reality and delve straight into pure speculation since we have heard absolutely everything under the sun regarding the two players.

First, we heard reports that Allegri never even wanted Ronaldo in the first place and actually advised the team to sell him as soon as possible. If those comments are true, I can’t imagine he’d sign on to coach the team once again — and reportedly with more influence over squad decision than last time — without some assurance that Ronaldo would not be part of their plans moving forward. And it sure looked like that was the decision for a while as all the early reporting suggested that Allegri was pushing for Dybala’s renewal to make him the center piece of the team which would imply that Ronaldo was leaving the club for greener pastures.

Then the news broke that the team got a massive injection of capital which led to speculation that Ronaldo was actually staying and even renewing his contract through 2023. Which, again, we don’t even know how those funds will be allocated just yet, but if it’s true, perhaps Allegri never wanted to let Ronaldo go? Perhaps that report was bogus? And despite all the reported meetings and approaches and signals for Dybala’s renewal, the mercurial striker still hasn’t signed anything just yet, so we are back to square one. With a story that is developing in different ways depending of the day of the week it’s hard to predict what might happen. I very much doubt that — despite everything — the club would be so dumb to let either Dybala or Ronaldo walk for free, but who the hell knows.

Coming at it from a personal side, I’m tired of the Ronaldo era with Juventus. Not because of what the player has brought on the pitch — which has been a lot of goals and for the most part been unimpeachable — but because he is not the type of player they need right now when the club is in a clear renewal process and trying to go younger and build up a new era. A team with Ronaldo on it will always have massive expectations, no matter if the team is realistically worthy of those expectations. A team with Ronaldo on it will always have to make all decisions through the prism of Ronaldo and not of what is actually better for the team as a whole. And if you think that is an exaggeration, may I point you in the direction of the recent statements of a certain deposed coach?

At this point, the only thing I’m absolutely sure of is that it will be a pretty drama-ridden summer in Juventus land.

If Miralem Pjanic wants to come back, do we take him with open arms? – Practitioner

If it’s on a free with low-ish wages? Sure, why not.

Pjanic was always a favorite of Allegri and given the catastrophic season he had with FC Barcelona, it’s only natural he’d be linked with a return to the team that saw him have some of his best years. With that being said and all nostalgia aside, if Pjanic comes back don’t expect him to be the much awaited solution to the midfield conundrum that the team has been mired for a few seasons.

While at times he showed how good he can be when in form, Pjanic’s last two years with the Bianconeri were almost carbon copies with very strong starts in which he looked like a world class midfielder and then slow but steady declines in the second half of the season. Was that due to burnout? Or just general lack of stamina? Who knows, but I can’t see him being a game changer in the midfield if he were to come back this summer.

Also, at 31 years old, I’m unsure if he fits the profile of a team that wants to get younger at all lines on the field. This whole argument, of course, assumes that the reports that Barcelona are so desperate to unload him that they’d be willing to eat the rest of his contract and make him a free agent, which despite how fiscally irresponsible our Blaugrana friends have been as of late, I can’t imagine that they would do.

Should we be concerned that there has been zero news about Weston McKennie this off-season or is no news good news? – Vincent Ferrara (@Juventino_BNA)

In the transfers side of things, I guess this is kind of expected since Juventus activated his option to buy him outright from Schalke and his performance on the year was good enough that it leads me to believe he figures in the teams plans going forward.

Off the field, I lean towards the no news is good news considering the snafu he and other Juventus players had with the illegal party during COVID lockdown. I hesitate to even call it a “problem,” however. Sure, it was irresponsible to have a party in the middle of a global pandemic and they got rightfully suspended by the club, but they are three dudes in their 20s. As a dude in my 20s, I can tell you that prudent decision making is not something that we thrive on necessarily.

(Also, the party ended before midnight, which is by far the funniest tidbit of the whole scandal. Imagine getting suspended over a party that ended that early? Three, four hours tops and you are the subject of international news. Unbelievable, they don’t make them like they used to when it comes to out of control partying athletes. RIP to the GOAT.)

If anything the guy to keep an eye on is Arthur, who was also involved in the party and had a drunk driving incident in Barcelona prior joining the club. Even accounting for the Brazilian I doubt that anyone in the club will be much of an issue once the season starts rolling when it comes to off the field shenanigans.

Honestly, the only thing I can foresee being an off the field issue is if Ronaldo and/or Dybala stay but don’t renew their contracts. The press would have an absolute field day with that the whole year, I really hope it doesn’t go that way.

Where’s the Juventus bar in Boston? – D. Roy Lapidus (@LapisGOAT)

Absolutely no clue, but if there are any Boston-based Juventus fans that know more about this, hit my guy Roy up.

It’s a strange thing for foreign-based fans to root for a team one ocean away since I think for most of us it’s an extremely individual experience. There’s a few fan clubs here and there sure, but for the most part it feels to me like it’s just you and a TV or laptop watching a game by yourself.

Given the pandemic, this experience only got even more accentuated and now that we are sorta, kinda, finally going back to normal the one thing I desperately wanted was to finally have a communal experience again. So, if you have a chance to go watch a game live or on TV to a bar or something with other fans I highly encourage you to do so, it really feels great.

(Provided you are vaccinated and all that jazz, you know the drill.)

Random Song of the Week

All throughout the summer, I’ll be posting a random song from my Spotify library. This week, it’s “Back in Black” by AC/DC. Finally completed my destiny into full on hipsterdom and started collecting vinyl discs, got this album recently and I cannot understate how much it GOES. AC/DC’s been playing the same songs for years, but hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Keep the questions coming, and we’ll see you next week.