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Manu’s Summer Grab Bag: One-Way Trigger

How many times can you report the same rumor? The breaking news Twitter economy is giving it its best to find out.

Juventus v Atalanta - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

I spent last couple of weeks in colorful Denver, Colorado, for work and leisure. The first week was spent at a trade show for outdoor goods and the second one purely as a holiday, taking advantage of the fact I was already there and my company is nice enough to let you have different return dates so long as there’s no big gap in the fares.

And let me tell you something: There’s no bigger difference in terms of dining and lodging than going on a trip on your company’s dime than when you are on your own.

I went from staying in a swanky downtown hotel and having exclusively nothing but seafood and steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to being genuinely appalled at how expensive it has become to eat a McGriddle for breakfast and staying at a very generously called hostel in the wrong side of the town.

(It’s hard to come up with a better food encapsulation of America as a nation than bacon, egg and cheese with two syrup-filled pancakes holding it together. It was a haunting first bite for someone who wasn’t necessarily aware of what a McGriddle was coming into the experience.)

The other difference was that it was by and large a solo trip. I had friends in town so I got together with them a couple of evenings, but other than that it was just me by my lonesome taking the city in. I can’t say it was my favorite thing ever, turns out sometimes its kind of alienating to be the one single person taking in a guided tour. With all that being said, Denver is a fun town with pretty cool art and history museums, a thriving local brewery scene, great outdoor locations to go on a hike and probably the nicest baseball watching experience I’ve had at Coors Field.

(Four bucks for a ticket! Probably had something to do with the Colorado Avalanche playing in the Stanley Cup Final that very same day, but still, four bucks! Also, shoutout to Larry the usher who let me get a better seat than the one I bought a ticket for once the game started and chatted my ear off about how to make the Rockies a better team. Cool guy.)

Now, you might be wondering, did I partake in a certain activity that is illegal in most places but is perfectly legal to do in the great state of Colorado? I will not confirm nor deny anything, but I will say that I slept tremendously well during my stay there.

Let’s cook.

Doldrums of Summer

Someone else who might be partaking in certain controlled substances is transfer rumor monger Luca Momblano, who threw out an absolutely wild take out there that Brazilian superstar Neymar was offered to Juventus in a loan deal.

This is almost assuredly not happening, but the game is the game. When nothing else is happening, footy journos will throw out there whatever passes through their minds and hope that something sticks. Aren’t they behold to some sort of journalistic integrity, you might say? Not really, because they are really good at qualifying their statements.

Notice how most of the stuff that’s being reported is usually clouded in a parade of easily pulled back phrasing. Teams were in discussions, a player was offered, there are ongoing conversations.

This or that club is looking to sign a guy they are enquiring about, they are having meetings. As anyone that has had a corporate job can tell you, most of what is said in meetings doesn’t end up actually happening. If I had to guess, most of these reports are based off one guy that works in the club that sort of said “Hey, what if we loan Neymar?” with some other guy overhearing it, passing it on to someone else who is trying to make it in the sports breaking news world and that person reporting it because they might just get lucky and it ends up coming to fruition.

(At the end of the day, if Momblano — or whoever else — is wrong, there really is no accountability, so why not give it a go and see if it pans out?)

And because anyone can get lucky, sometimes a milquetoast quote from a Paris Saint-Germain director with no context can work in your favor on your wild hunch:

NEYMAR ON THE MOVE. PANIC ON THE STREETS.

And, look, I’m no better. There is indeed nothing to talk about so I take Momblano’s crazy rumor and write a decent chunk of my blog post this week about it, you dear reader waste some 10 minutes or so of your work day reading it and the wheel goes round and round. Everyone wins — or loses, depending on how you want to interpret the whole thing — but we are all part of it.

With all that being said ...

The takes if this came to fruition, one can only imagine, it might be way too much nobody could handle it, the take ecosystem would crash and burn. The Twitter economy would collapse on itself. I don’t know if we are ready for something like this.

Laissez Faire

Everyone’s favorite French midfielder seems to be on the outs with the club, and while I’m sure the majority of our comment section is probably throwing a party over this I’m not entirely sure that letting Adrien Rabiot walk is as much of a slam dunk as it looks on an initial basis.

I’ll concede he’s not the greatest midfielder alive and we are all aware of his limitations as a player so I’m not rehashing them here, but if Rabiot were to leave for greener pastures and assuming both Arthur and Aaron Ramsey will not see playing time for Juventus next season, the current midfield room looks kinda thin:

  • Manuel Locatelli
  • Weston McKennie
  • Dennis Zakaria

Let’s assume for discussion sake that you can add Paul Pogba to the mix. Still, that’s four established midfielders, two of which have a relatively problematic injury history in Zakaria and Pogba. And while neither McKennie nor Locatelli have the same precedent, neither of them managed to complete the previous season without missing games and Locatelli specifically looked burnt out as hell in several stretches of play last year. With no other midfielder being actively linked to Juventus in the transfer market, does that mean we finally see the youth brigade take over?

Fabio Miretti, Nicolo Rovella and Nicolo Fagioli are some of the most recently hyped prospects to come out of the Juve pipeline in quite a while and with good reason.

(Rovella was actually a Genoa youth product, but you get the overall point.)

They have all dazzled in their respective youth teams both at the club level and in international play with the Italian national team at the youth levels, they’ve earned praise from the boss himself Max Allegri at one point or another and have looked promising in their stints playing at higher levels.

Miretti specially became a darling of Juve Twitter after his strong showings late in the 2021-22 season as the team played out the string, but Rovella and Fagioli are no slouches, either. Rovella was a full-time starter, and a consistent presence in the Genoa midfield accruing only 22 total appearances due to injuries. While that might not sound like much, starting consistently at 20 years of age in Serie A is nothing to sneeze at. Fagioli was a key player — 33 appearances, three goals and seven assists — for a Cremonese side that finished the Serie B season in second place and earned promotion.

And while I agree that Juventus should bet on these guys sooner rather than later, to rely on them to potentially bear a significant chunk of minutes might be playing with fire. They are all talented, they all have the potential to be very good, but none of them are a sure thing. Fagioli was great ... in Serie B. Rovella held his own, but Genoa got relegated so it’s not like he was playing in the most competitive side, either. Miretti was good for a few games but he showed growing pains in the season finale, and despite the optimism we have a very small sample size.

Given the history of the players in the roster and the realities of the workload football players have in the current day and age, injuries are no longer a question of if, but of when. The experienced guys will miss time, hopefully not a lot, but it will happen and the young guys will go through growing pains, its normal and expected of guys who in Miretti’s and Rovella’s case cannot buy a beer legally in the United States.

What will happen when the injury bug hits and a big — potentially European — game is on deck and suddenly it’s young, inexperienced guys against an elite team? What will happen when the young guys struggle and they screw the pooch in an important Coppa Italia game and get knocked out? Are we OK with inexperience potentially leading to another trophy less year? I’m not saying yes or no. Betting on youth always sounds great in theory, but you have to be willing to suffer through the growing pains. I don’t know how willing Juventus — and the fans — will be.

Parting Shot of the Week

Another week come and gone for the second edition of the Summer Grab Bag, let us know in the comments if you want to add something more to the format, if you have any questions you’d like to get featured and any other suggestions.

This is a bit of a work in progress so — much like our friend Momblano — we are throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

See you next week.