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Manu’s Summer Grab Bag: Call it fate, call it karma

One week is a lot of time in the weird world known as transfer rumor SZN.

Torino FC v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Matteo Bottanelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This week’s Grab Bag had to unfortunately get delayed due to life getting in the way, as yours truly had to contend with the death by a thousand paper cuts that is known as moving.

I’m not upset at the move itself. It’s to a bigger apartment, way closer to my office and I’m doing it with my significant other, an important step in our relationship and one I’m happy we took. With all that being said ... good god, does moving suck.

If it were only the physical toll of lugging around all your material possessions, that’d be one thing. But it’s also doing it while still working a regular 9-to-5, dealing with the rather ridiculous amount of paperwork, the delivery schedules that always seem to arrive exactly when you have to be at a big meeting and can’t leave to receive the items. Finding out you have both way too much stuff around, but also not enough of actually useful things.

(I own a signed football, an undisclosed amount of football kits and three different sets of boxing gloves, but somehow not one single pasta strainer.)

The money you end up spending is always just a bit more than you thought you would spend, the furniture is just a tad smaller than you thought it would be and about 18,736% harder to assemble than it has absolutely any right of being. I went to bed every day of the week absolutely exhausted and woke up the next day somehow even more tired.

But this weekend the move was mostly done and I got to sleep in our new place, wake up and binge a show in our pajamas while ordering some unhealthy delivery and turns out some things are worth it.

Let’s cook.

Turn Off De Ligt

What a difference a week makes, huh?

We went from some soft rumors and laughably lowball offers, to reports that it’s not a matter of if but of when Matthijs de Ligt will leave Juventus this summer.

Whatever your opinion of de Ligt is and his alleged desire to leave the club, speaking purely from a pragmatic point of view, losing your second-most valuable asset and top three best player in a legitimate position of need seems like a bad thing for any club, but specially one like Juventus that boast so few truly world-class players among their ranks.

De Ligt arrived at Juventus in 2019 after captaining Ajax to a remarkable campaign in which the Dutch team made it to the Champions League semifinals. He was young, enormously talented, accomplished and exactly the type of player that shelling out the big bucks is worth it. Few people gasped at the €80-plus million transfer fee that de Ligt cost Juve and some even argued he could have even gone for more.

While he won the league title with Juve in his first year with the club, everything has gone downhill from there. The club has failed to challenge for the Scudetto and has crashed out of the Champions League in varying degrees of embarrassment. And, look, if de Ligt does want to leave, can you really blame him? Has Juventus done anything since signing him to suggest they are a club that has a solid plan in place to win important competitions in the present and in the immediate future? My guy thought he was signing with a powerhouse club on the verge of competing for a treble, not a team competing just to make top four in Serie A.

Players have a shelf life — at best 10-15 seasons if you are really good and you have solid injury luck. Why would he waste five years at a club that is going nowhere?

All that being said, Juventus does not and should not just accept that they are losing a player as valuable as de Ligt without a fight as Tier C James Bond villain and Juventus CEO Maurizio Arrivabene claims.

(Don’t come at me with the whole, “Well, if he wants to leave, there is nothing we can do, our hands are tied!” If Bayern Munich can hold their ground with a true legend of the club like Robert Lewandowski in the final year of his contract, Juve can definitely do it with a guy that is still under contract for two (2) more seasons. Be a big-time club or don’t.)

As much as de Ligt has every right to seek greener pastures, Juve have every right to remind him that he is still under contract and they are not obligated to let him go for any of the ridiculously low ball offers reported in the media. Release clauses are a thing for a reason, any of the Premier League clubs want to pry de Ligt from Juve they should be readying that juicy €120 million clause because the Italian side still has some leverage here and there is no reason why they shouldn’t use it.

Arrivabene was praised by many on Juve Twitter and in the comments of this here blog as a ruthless negotiator for the way he handled the Paulo Dybala affair. And while I don’t necessarily agree with that read of the situation, it does take a certain amount of ruthlessness to negotiate deals and to know when to walk away from a deal that us just not good enough. If he truly is that guy, here is his first real shot at proving it.

Black Monday

If you timed your Twitter timeline just right you could have seen all these tweets go back to back to back.

I think the like amounts of each tweet are a fair representation of the feelings of the fanbase regarding each and every one of those players Juve careers.

There’s no need to re-litigate the Dybala situation, but I think it’s fair to give some shine to Alvaro Morata ending his second stint as a Juve player. Always a hit-or-miss guy, Morata was never as good as people wanted him to be, but never as bad as some of his detractors would lead you to believe.

He was more comfortable being the second guy in an attack, and to his credit he thrived in that role. Paired with Carlos Tevez and Mario Mandzukic in his first Juve stint, Morata was a remarkably effective player and many people — myself very much included — rued the fact that Juve did not insert some buy clause in his loan deal with Real Madrid.

After bouncing around and generally disappointing after that move back to Los Blancos, Morata found himself back at Juve against all odds and he was pretty much the same player that he was when he left. He proved to be guy that will do all the hard work, never complain, be an excellent teammate, a very flexible player and streaky as all hell. But also never quite good enough to be a number one striker in a big team.

(Probably a bad thing that we saw so little growth, given that he left as a young prospect and came back as the finished product.)

Still, his love for the club was undeniable and while he never reached the heights some of his early years suggested he might, I have no doubt he will always be welcomed back with open arms by the Bianconeri faithful.

Oh, yeah, Federico Bernardeschi also officially left. Juve paid €40 million for him in 2017 and he scored 12 goals in 183 appearances over five years with the team. That’s slightly less than half of what he scored as a Fiorentina player (23) in 91 games. I’m not sure if he belongs on a list of the most disappointing signings ever for Juventus, but would you argue a lot if he was in said list? Probably not.

Parting Shot of the Week

That does it for this week’s edition of the Summer Grab Bag, and with the way this summer is going, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if most of what was written here becomes irrelevant in a couple of days time. But that’s the risk you take in the blog game.

As always, you can ask your questions in the comments if you have one or any suggestions on what you want to read in this space. The Summer Grab Bag is mostly an exercise in getting takes out in the world, so everything and anything is fair game.

See you next week.