As the countdown to Juventus football gets shorter and shorter we managed to get enough reader submitted questions to run another rendition of the BWRAO mailbag for your reading pleasure just in time before we flip the calendar to 2023.
As always, thanks for your questions and 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.
In the January transfer window, who would be the best person to sell, and a person to buy to strengthen the squad? - @vo_daikon via Twitter
SR: I don’t think Juve is selling anybody in January.
Actually, scratch that, I hope they don’t sell anybody in January, but there’s definitely a couple names that make sense if they were to go that route and they are both in the same unit of the field.
Both Weston McKennie and Adrien Rabiot have been rumored to be potential trade chips to cash in during the first month of the calendar year, and while the reasons for selling them are not the exact same for both players, they do share a huge common factor. These guys:
The unexpected come up of Nicolo Fagioli and Fabio Miretti from youngsters with potential to starter-caliber players has suddenly left the midfield unit with perhaps too many cooks in the kitchen. If you add the very real possibility of Nicolo Rovella finding his way back to Juventus next season, the long-term viability of a young guy like McKennie should be in question as he seems like the odd guy out in terms of position and level of play.
The fact that Rabiot’s contract is about to expire and that he’s been as noncommittal as he can be regarding his future employment is the biggest reason why he could be potentially on the move too. Would you rather lose him for nothing in the summer or get a quick 10 to 15 million injection of cash from a Premier League team in desperation mode?
That’s the case for selling someone in January. But like I said above, if it were up to me I’d keep everything as is.
As good as Fagioli and Miretti have been — and Rovella might be next season — they are still very young and will undoubtedly have rough stretches of play as most young players do. Having more experienced guys to rotate with them, especially with Juventus still technically competing in three fronts, is in the best interest of everyone.
Second of all, injuries. We’ve seen time and time again how a poorly timed injury can wreck even the most promising of campaigns. There is no such thing as too much depth. Someone is going to get hurt, that’s almost a certainty, and the teams better suited to withstand key guys missing will come out ahead.
Lastly, Rabiot has been great this season, no caveats. He gets a bad rep due to his previous lackluster years, but he’s been as good as anybody in that box to box role in 2022. Juventus is a better team when they can line up Rabiot in their midfield, if you’re serious about trying to win some silverware this season having him in black and white is a good thing.
As far as buying, it all depends. As we discussed on the upcoming episode of The Old Lady Speaks Podcast, it’s all going to depend on how Juventus lines up once Federico Chiesa, Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria come back. Would you invest in a fullback/wingback if the three-man backline is here to stay? I think in terms of reinforcements we have to wait and see.
And what dogs do you have? - @vo_daikon via Twitter
SR: As promised, the dog tangent.
I only have one dog, her name is Cane, she’s 8 months old and an adorable little mutt.
She’s about the size of a beagle and we’ve been told that she kinda has some Chihuahua, Husky or Jack Russell DNA. It’s honestly impossible to tell and I’m sure as hell not spending money on the dog equivalent of 23 and Me to find out for sure. Other than the fact that she loves to chew on my flip flops and steal human food whenever we are not looking she’s the best. Adopt dogs, folks, just the best time.
It’s starting to look more and more worth it to hold on to Rabiot. How many years should we sign him on for? Assuming he and his party are willing to not take a raise. - Clay Stewart via Instagram
How bad is Rabiot gonna suck when Man Utd sign him for £12 million this off season? - @TheTrueROAC via Twitter
SR: Answering both of these questions at the same time because they compliment each other so perfectly.
As mentioned above, I do think that Rabiot has been really, really good this season and it's fair to say that he has finally played up to his lofty wages. I would love to keep him around, but considering that the odds of him not asking for a raise are pretty much zero, I doubt that the club would be willing to make him an offer that matches his salary expectations.
(I do have to respect the Rabiot hustle. He barely started to play up to his current wages and is now looking for a raise.)
And I’d be fine with letting him walk. We’ve seen the best version of Rabiot so far this year and that is a €7 million-a-year-net player at best if he can consistently perform like he has. That’s exactly what he’s currently making, giving him any more money would be overpaying and given that we have kind of already overpaid for pretty much the entirety of his contract outside of 2022, I’m fine with him going to make his money in the Premier League.
The sad part is that somebody — Manchester United or nouveau rich Newcastle United perhaps? — is going to give him obscene money and he’s immediately going to underperform. Not because he is bad necessarily, but because he is going to be overpaid and by definition a bad allocation of resources. There are very few players that are actually worth the crazy wages he’s asking. Even the best version of Rabiot is not worth that.
But, hey, if someone wants to take the bait, I’m not going to hate on him. It’s not my money. Good on ya, Adrien.
We got a good €31m in annual expenses on Dusan Vlahovic. Are you satisfied with what you see from Vlahovic compared to what he costs us? And as a second question, - if a big offer arrived, let’s say in the €80-90m region, would you consider selling him again? - @morten_bering via Twitter
SR: This is another one in which the only reason why we are having the argument that if Vlahovic has disappointed is the price tag and the expectations that come with such a massive financial outlay.
As a Juve player, Vlahovic has a full season’s worth of appearances now — 36 in total — and his tally stands at 16 goals and four assists in all competitions. Those are pretty good numbers for almost any striker in the world, but when you pay upwards of €80 million you don’t expect to get “pretty good.”
So, in that sense, sure, I do think Vlahovic hasn’t really performed up to expectations, but that’s not just on him alone. He’s mostly played in a system that does not work to his strengths and the offensive performances as a whole have been anemic. The entire team hasn’t lived up to what the fans expected for the majority of his Juventus stint.
That does not mean that he gets a pass and is completely blameless, though. He must improve while playing with his back towards goal and he does have a nasty habit of giving up on plays and pouting to the ref to try and get calls when things are not going his way. We’ve also seen him get man-marked out of a game with concerning ease which is worrisome for a guy with his build.
Vlahovic, currently, is not an €80 million player. He’s also 22 years old and will get better. When you make such a big-money signing for a player that young you are not always doing it for the player he currently is, but for the guy that he can become. This “disappointing” version of Vlahovic is fourth place on the capocanioneri list in Serie A and even with all the time he has missed he’s only three goals off the lead.
To answer the second part of that question, that’s why you don’t sell him even if that hypothetical €80-90 million offer arrives. If he continues to grow you have a player with the potential to be a perennial 20-to-30-goal scorer once he gets to his prime. Those guys don’t grow on trees.
Vlahovic is too young and too talented for this to be his peak. The best of the young Serbian is yet to come.
Parting Shot of the Week
I want to thank everyone again for their questions. We didn’t get a chance to answer all of them, but if we get a few more we might do one last mailbag before the season starts again next week.
This has been by far one of the most challenging years for me to cover Juventus. Between the historic Champions League disappointment, some of the worst domestic performances I can remember and a legitimately nerve-wracking work load at my 9-to-5 job, most of the time I had almost nothing left in the tank to keep cranking articles out.
But every time, little by little and word by word the pieces kept coming out. Juventus turned a corner, they have a decent chance at making a run in Europa League and god willing all that effort might end up in a promotion at work when it’s all said and done.
Here’s to 2023, I don’t expect it to be a walk in the park, but sometimes you just have to get up and do the goddamn work. It’s not always easy, but when has something worth it ever been?
See you next year.