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The BWRAO Mailbag: Back Again

As is tradition, the mailbag makes its first appearance of the off season right after the end of the World Cup as we still have ways to go until Juventus get back on to the field.

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Juventus v Juventus B - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Chris Ricco - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Now that the most controversial, ethically corrupt — but kind of awesome to watch? — World Cup has wrapped up in Qatar, we are getting ready to watch our beloved Juventus again as ...

Oh, there’s still over two weeks of break until league play resumes? You’re telling me football players are actual human beings that need rest here and there? Weird.

Anyway, while we wait for our beloved club to return and as we look to fill the void of Juventus-related content in your life, the BWRAO mailbag is returning to action.

As always, thanks for your questions, everybody. If you want to be featured in the next rendition of the mailbag, you can send us your questions at @bwrao_sbn on Instagram or @JuventusNation and @manuc_bwrao on Twitter. They can be about anything, Juventus, Football, just general trivia. It’s the break, live a little.

Let’s cook.

Best case scenario with Pogba? - @TheTrueROAC via Twitter

SR: I believe this scenario remains the same as when Juventus signed him over the summer: Pogba goes back to being one of the best midfielders in the world.

We all know Pogba has all the tools and skillset to be a player of that level. Hell, we’ve seen him do it not only with Juventus but with France as well as at Manchester United during his spell there. Can you imagine what a fully fit Pogba could add to a midfield rotation with the rejuvenated Manuel Locatelli, contract year Adrien Rabiot and spunky youngsters Nicolo Fagiolio and Fabio Miretti?

The potential of that midfield coupled with the return of Federico Chiesa and Dusan Vlahovic and the fact that Drake is out here wearing Napoli gear should be putting a scare into every Partenopei fan for the second half of the season.

Then again, Pogba has yet to play a minute of competitive football since his return to the Bianconeri, and the fact remains that he is a significantly more injury prone player than the guy that was roaming the Juve midfield six years ago. Pogba’s ceiling remains sky high, unfortunately we’ve only gotten to see the worst-case scenario so far.

Juventus v Juventus B - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Valerio Pennicino - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

How excited are you for the Europa League, and how far do you think Juve will go in it? - @vo_daikon via Twitter

SR: In a vacuum, I understand why this is bad for Juventus. The Europa League is a less glamorous competition than the Champions League. It also pays significantly less money to its participants, which for a team in important — almost criminally so! — economic problems is less than ideal.

Part of Juventus’ appeal is that they are a “destination” club. Players want to be in teams that consistently win trophies and play in the best competitions year in and year out. Outside of winning the World Cup, the Champions League is the most coveted trophy for anyone who plays football for a living. Nobody is shedding tears over the Europa League anthem or getting tattoos of the logo. Many players do both for the Champions League.

I’m also not advocating for Juventus to be in the Europa League every year. You get one too many seasons of Thursday Night Lights and suddenly the Locatellis and Vlahovics of the world don’t turn down more lucrative offers in the Premier League to play for you. That’s just how the world turns.

However, for just this year? I’m deeply excited for the Europa League. How can you not? After three straight Champions League Round of 16 exits, I’m just happy to get a change of pace, to do something different. Sometimes that’s what you need when you’re in a rut and god knows Juve is very much in one.

Juve got French side Nantes in their knockout round. How fun is that? They are currently 15th place (!!!) in Ligue 1, but they somehow got through after beating Olympiacos to second place in the group stage. They play in this bright yellow kit and I know literally nothing about them. Not a goddamn thing, I just looked through their roster and the only player I recognize was old Moussa Sissoko who is mostly a sub at this point in his career.

Sport-Club Freiburg v FC Nantes: Group G - UEFA Europa League Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

If Juve were to advance, the possibilities of the round of 16 are also so much more interesting and weird that pretty much facing against any of the same four or five clubs that you always get in the Champions League. Feyenoord, Freiburg, Betis, Real Sociedad, old pals Ferencvaros and, if you want to go for the glamour matchup, even Arsenal are potential foes.

Couple breaks go your way and maybe Juventus is playing in a continental semifinal for the first time in six years. Impossible to not get excited for that possibility, which — to answer in a long winded way — is where I think they can feasible progress to in the tournament without contorting yourself into to many knots.

(The math goes like this. You beat Nantes and outside of — maybe — Arsenal, I think you’re favored against any other team in the round of 16. Get a favorable bracket and it’s very easy to talk yourself into Europa League semis at the Allianz.)

Once you’re in the semifinals, anything can happen. But, given their turn of form in the last few games of the season, I believe they have what it takes to maybe turn this continental failure into a success.

(Almost 500 words of Europa League talk, hell yes, the Mailbag is back!)

Should Giorgio Chiellini be considered for a board position now that it’s known that he made an effort to keep the under-the-table payments quiet? Does Mattia De Sciglio receive any backlash since he is currently on the team and it’s been made known that he cooperated with investigators? - @Juventino_BNA via Twitter

SR: I love Giorgio as much as the next guy, but that was not a terrific look from my guy.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of the case and considering that this whole issue was caused due to Juventus actually trying to pay their players what they were due, it’s hard for me to really think of Chiellini or anyone in the matter as legitimately “bad” parties. Then again, rules are rules, and from everything that has come out so far it sure feels like they damn well knew that what they were doing wasn’t in the up and up. Hard for me to be hyped about naming a guy to the board when he already showed a willingness to bend the rules a bit in his playing days, as well intentioned and as well liked he might have been.

(Best part of Juve’s defense is how they insist that they were doing normal, technically legal accounting exercises. And I don’t know a lot about anything, but if you’re doing things you know are legal you usually don't go to that much trouble to hide them, no?)

As far as De Sciglio goes, I’m unsure of the details to really make a call. Was he the only one summoned to cooperate? Was it a legal thing? Those things change a lot. Let’s just say that if I was looking at a fine or some legal consequences I’d probably turn on my employer fairly quickly too if this is something I had nothing to do with. Until we have the full story I can’t really tell for sure, but all I can say is that even when he is not off the field, Mattia De Sciglio remains a liability and should be fired into the sun.

My child has plenty of newborn and baby Juventus apparel but I’d love to get him an adult large kit of his birth year to have as a retro when he is a teen or young adult. With everything going on at the club, which nameplate is the safest bet? Chiesa? Vlahovic? - Chasen Voltzow via Instagram

SR: Right off the bat, I love this idea and I’m stealing it for when I have a child myself. That’d be an incredible gift and I honestly retroactively resent my parents just a tad for not thinking of it when I was born.

Anyways, the answer is, of course, the aforementioned Mattia De Sciglio.

Juventus v Bologna FC - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

I kid, obviously — do not scar that child with a De Sciglio kit — but I do have a love/hate relationship with player kits recently. I had a long standing belief that you should only get nameplates of players who have already done enough for your team that you’d be fine with rocking their jersey if they left at that very moment. It was also something I practiced only in theory because you couldn’t get a nameplate on a kit anywhere in Mexico until a few years ago.

When they became available, though, the first three kits I got with a nameplate on were Giorgio Chiellini, Paulo Dybala and Gianluigi Buffon. The riskiest at the time was Dybala, but he was my favorite player and had already won four league titles and had a number of incredible moments for the team. It was a good bet.

After that, though, I got a bit loose with it. Chiesa’s first year with the team I pulled the trigger on hype only, and while it’s still a cool look — especially because it was when he wore No. 22 — the book is yet to be written on him as a Juve player. During the pandemic, I impulse bought the HumanRace collab kit and because the name plate was included once you added the official patches I picked Alvaro Morata, of all people. Which ... look, I like Morata as much as the next guy, but it’s hard for me to make the case he is a particularly important player in Juve history. It doesn’t detract from the kit necessarily, but it probably would have been better left off blank.

My biggest regret — and kind of what you need to look out for — was getting a Matthijs de Ligt nameplate for my steel blue Juve away kit. It seemed like a great choice at the time, but his semi-acrimonious exit from the club and the fact he wasn’t really a part of any significant success as a Juve player left a bit of a sour taste. I’d be lying if I said I wear the kit much after he left.

So, to not make this answer any longer than it already is, here’s my top five of current Juve players that you should get:

  1. Federico Chiesa — Already great player and feels like the best bet for a guy that has both superstar potential and is looking to stay for the long haul.
  2. Manuel Locatelli Similar case to Chiesa in terms of staying power, but probably won’t reach the heights that the former has the potential to reach, though.
  3. Dusan Vlahovic Probably the biggest risk in terms of him leaving in the short term, but if he sticks around that’s a solid choice.
  4. Nicolo Fagioli/Fabio Miretti - A swing for the fences move, but if they pan out, you have a shot at getting him the kit of a player that could very easily still play for Juve — and be really good — when he’s old enough to start watching Juve games. Unbelievably cool. Then again, you could also get him the equivalent of a Mario Lemina jersey, so, you know.
  5. Leo Bonucci This is a legacy pick, but hey, you could show him highlights of BBC era matches and he could appreciate it. I probably would.

The safest pick is obviously to just go blank or even the actual name of your baby. Though to be honest, the idea is so good that even if you don’t pick the best possible option, if the kid grows up to be a Juve fan I’m sure he’ll appreciate it anyway.

Parting Shot of the Week

That does it for the mailbag this week.

Out of all the recurring gimmicks I like to throw out there, writing the mailbag is honestly my favorite one. I grew up reading sports writers like Chad Finn, Bill Simmons and Drew Magary who all had mailbags of their own and they were always some of the most fun to read. So it’s always a kick for me to do one of my own.

As always thanks for your submissions and I hope to keep up doing these during the break. As mentioned above, you can send us your questions at @bwrao_sbn on Instagram, @JuventusNation and @manuc_bwrao on Twitter. Or if you feel like its easier, leave them in the comments and we’ll pick them up from there.

See you next week.