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BWRAO Mailbag: International Break Palooza

What is a man without club football team supposed to write about? ANOTHER MAILBAG, OF COURSE

Udinese Calcio v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

I will never stop saying it as long as I live, but an international break that happens immediately after the club season starts is a remarkably idiotic idea.

Especially right now when players have been essentially going non-stop for an entire calendar year. In most other years, this break is meaningless and a few friendlies are played here and there, so veteran players who could use a breather usually don’t get called up and a few fringe guys and youngsters get a chance to wear their national team kit. Everybody happy.

However, this break actually has meaningful football games to be played with World Cup qualifiers on deck roughly 16 months away from the World Cup actually starting in Qatar. I know money talks and all, but FIFA is going to run these dudes into the ground at this pace and they will have no one to blame but themselves.

Alas, the break leaves us with little to talk about in regards to our beloved club, but as always the mailbag is back to save the day! Good old fashioned reader submitted mailbags, the easy way out for any writer to outsource original topics to the public. And, as usual, the BWRAO community has come through to make your boy’s job easier. Much obliged.

Without any further ado, here are your questions.

Let’s cook.

With the Ronaldo experiment done and the pressure of a CL gone what moves would you make to rebuild this squad? Carrying some dead weight but it will take a few years to get certain players off the books. - Anthony Colestock (@a_colestock)

Wait, you mean to tell me that the signing of prodigal son Moise Kean is not enough to fix this team?

One of the many, many things that could be considered — pardon my French — dickish about the way Cristiano Ronaldo left the club he called home for three years was the time frame in which he decided to force his way out. The last few days of the transfer season are the worse moments to get deals done because you are working under a time constraint to get the agreements done under the wire — it’s never the ideal situation to get to a favorable outcome.

Sure, Juventus didn’t have a ton of money to start with, so to imply that if Ronaldo had left earlier in the transfer season Juve could have radically changed their team is an exaggeration. HOWEVER, it’s hard to not make the case that if Ronaldo had let the club know about his intentions to leave in, say, early July after Portugal was eliminated from the Euros or even mid-July once the Euros as a whole were done, a better deal could have been struck on Juve’s side.

Bear in mind, the other big blockbuster move of the summer — Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain — happened in early August and it happened in a matter of days as it was still expected that Messi would stay at FC Barcelona for most of the summer. We are playing the hypotheticals game, of course, but it's not insane to think that if Ronaldo had been made actively available earlier PSG could have been an important suitor before the Messi deal. Perhaps, PSG and Manchester United get into a bidding war, maybe Juve gets a bigger chunk of change or hell, the same money but not in an insanely incentive-laden deal that is payable in five (!!!) years.

Probably that money doesn’t give you enough funds to make a major signing, but it could have given you enough certainty about how to build your club for a post-Ronaldo era and some spare change to entice Sassuolo with some nominal fee to let Manuel Locatelli go earlier. Same for Kean, who could have been playing friendlies and adapting to the squad. Even assuming that signings wise nothing changes, just having those dudes already in the team and training would have made a difference in the approach of the season.

Whatever, I’m ranting.

The point here is that Ronaldo or no Ronaldo, there was no one Summer transfer window that could have fixed this team. Like Anthony mentioned, this team is too bloated and too expensive to be fixed easily. At this point, Aaron Ramsey will probably play out his entire contract, because no one will pay him anywhere near the wages he makes for Juventus. And with the payments for both Federico Chiesa and Locatelli coming up, it’s not like Juve will have money to spare moving forward either. I think the best possible scenario is the current squad developing to a point in which you don’t need to rebuild at all. There’s an outside chance of it coming together, this team is young in a lot of areas and has room to improve overall. Whether they actually do is up in the air, but I wouldn’t expect Juve to come out guns blazing in next year’s transfer market either.

Everton fan here!!! What Are you guys and the Juventus faithful overall hoping for from Moise Kean? Happy with the price? - Jacob Ritchie (@ritchiejacob625)

There’s a lot of things that Juventus wins with the Kean-Ronaldo swap.

The new attack for Juve — at least on paper — is a lot more dynamic, tactically flexible, younger and cheaper than what it was with Ronaldo on the team. Is it better though? No, not really.

Only Paulo Dybala has more than one season scoring more than 20 goals, Alvaro Morata has one and ... that’s about it. Chiesa is a superstar in the making and along with Dybala will have to bear the brunt of the offensive firepower for this squad, but other than that there is a lot of wishful thinking when it comes to replacing a man who is arguably the greatest goal scorer to ever live.

So, where does that leave Kean? He is going to have to look a lot more like the Moise we saw in Ligue 1 rather than the one in the Premier League. If he can come in and chip in somewhere between 10 to 15 goals, start whenever the notoriously mercurial Morata struggles and fill minutes on the left wing as well as a striker, I think that should be considered a successful season for him.

The good thing about the deal is that is the loan will only become an obligation to buy if certain benchmarks are hit. As far as I know, the benchmarks are unknown at the moment, but I would hope that they entailed Kean performing to a certain level and playing a significant amount of minutes. If Kean puts it together and develops into the guy he has shown flashes of becoming, a €28 million transfer fee two years from now is an eminently reasonable deal.

(Between Kean, Locatelli and Chiesa, Juventus is being very liberal with that “Defer Payment” option on the ole’ corporate credit card, huh?)

How do we solve the tactical problem that is Paulo Dybala? - JuveTath (@juvetath)

Let me address this once and for all.


He is a second striker, he has always been a second striker, this has been proven over and over again. His best moments come when paired with a traditional target man like Mario Mandzukic, Alvaro Morata or Gonzalo Higuain.

That’s why it was so hard for Ronaldo and Dybala to play together, because they are both better served playing up top with a striker.

Hell, we just saw it in the first couple of games, against Udinese and with Morata acting as a point of reference — and doing all the dirty work that Dybala is not suited to do — he had a great game. You play him on an island like we saw against Empoli and he gets lost in the shuffle.

Hopefully, the disaster that was the Empoli game serves as a blueprint to how better field Dybala with either Kean or Morata as often as possible and we can put to bed the notion that he is somehow a tactical enigma.

Would you go with Alex Sandro and Danilo as fullbacks with Juan Cuadrado at right winger and Federico Chiesa at left wing or Danilo and Cuadrado as fullbacks and Chiesa at RW and another player at LW? - datcalcioboi (@datcalcioboi)

Leave it to Juventus to sign all of the wide players available, yet have not one of them be a natural fit to play in the left wing. Tell you something, if we figured out a way to play on a field made exclusively out of right sides we’d be champions of Europe.

If it was up to me, this is how I would line up given the current squad:

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel here, traditional 4-4-2 while putting all your most talented players on the field at the same time. You sacrifice Chiesa on the left to an extent, but he has been the most adept at playing there out of all the wingers on the team and Cuadrado is still good enough that you can justify the decision. If you need to be more offensive, you could drop Cuadrado to fullback and unleash Chiesa on the right, but that feels too defensibly vulnerable for my taste.

Weston McKennie would function as a jack of all trades in this concept, filling in wherever needed and whenever Allegri decided to go for a more defensive formation. I think Locatelli is talented enough to hold down a midfield with either Adrien Rabiot or Rodrigo Bentancur — whoever is playing better I guess? — and Arthur could come into play to deputize when he’s back healthy.

Is that team winning the Champions League? No, but I think it does better than what we saw last weekend and wouldn’t that be a win at this point?

See you in a couple of Saturdays.