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Manu’s Summer Grab Bag: Under the cover of darkness

The shifting, ever-changing possible roster moves continue in this week’s edition of the Grab Bag.

Juventus v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

One underrated terrible thing that was a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic was schedules and usual routines being thrown out of whack. And, look, I get it wasn’t the worst thing about it — far from it. I understand people lost their jobs, they lost their way of life. Friends and families were never the same. There was irreparable damage in the millions of people lost to this disease and in the grand scheme of things, and I’m aware my little complaint about me being unable to settle into a routine is small potatoes.

Then again, it was a big inconvenience for me specifically, you know? And isn’t this whole thing really about how everything affects me personally? Thought so.

I thrive on routine. I love it, I need it. I want to have a set schedule for being in the office and a set time to work out, to eat, to rest — it brings balance and order to my life. So with general life being thrown out of its axis, obviously my precious timing was gone with it.

Nowhere has that been more felt than when it comes to the human pursuit of physical fitness. That’s a long-winded way of saying that I’m washed. Fully, completely washed.

I was never a particularly fit person pre-COVID. If you looked up in the dictionary the definition of average, you’d find a picture of me being content with always having a bit of a paunch but having my days here or there where I could pull off wearing a tight fitting football jersey. But with gyms being closed and nothing really to do, that went off a cliff. I put on an easy 15 pounds, so the jerseys were immediately relegated to the back of the closet. With nowhere to go, I struggled to keep to my precious schedules — why plan ahead when there is literally nothing to plan ahead for? There was a treadmill at home, but after a couple of tries I never stuck to it.

So now that things are returning to a sort of quasi-normality, I’ve tried to return to my workout schedules only to find myself struggling mightily. This is what Aaron Ramsey must feel like everyday. I used to be able to box nine or 10 rounds with little issue, but the last time I tried to do so I was gassed when the bell rang in Round 3. Doing burpees felt like a herculean task. When the instructor tried to tell me to do a set of muscle pull-ups I just politely declined, what am I training for, the Navy SEALs?

However, the journey back to respectability is back on. I’m not throwing in the towel because I have made a strong investment in my football jersey collection and I refuse to never wear it again just because it doesn't fit anymore. It doesn’t matter how many more near passing out moments I have to fight through.

Let’s cook.

No Risk It, No Biscuit

Nicolo Zaniolo has many qualities that rightfully excite the Juventus faithful. He is a young, exciting offensive player, and one who grew up rooting for Juventus. He brings qualities and skills that very few — if any — current players on Juve’s roster possess and he is Italian, which immediately makes a prospective Juve player two or three times as desirable as an equal quality of player from a different nationality.

So, naturally, as reports grew of a deal between the current employer of Zaniolo and Juventus, people got excited about the possibility of seeing the just-turned 23-year-old being announced as a new signing for Juventus.

Reports conflict, but most of them are some sort of variation of what Romeo Agresti reported above — a valuation of around €50 million with different formulas for that to happen, a loan with an option or obligation to buy being the most likely. Zaniolo is decidedly the type of talent that warrants those types of figures being thrown around but we have to talk about the injury prone elephant in the room.

History for players with two ACL injuries is not too kind, even for guys as talented as Zaniolo is. A lot of it can be attributed to the playing conditions at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome — a pitch that has famously claimed ACLs of other players before, including Federico Chiesa — but whatever the circumstances putting that much money on the table for a guy that has already had so many major injuries has to make anybody second guess if it’s a wise move in the long run.

It’s not that Juventus hasn’t bet on injury prone players before — hell, it’s almost their MO at this point — and there's no guarantee that previously healthy players won't get unlucky after the big investment is made — just ask Chiesa. And if the deal ends up coming to fruition, I will drink the Zaniolo Kool-Aid almost immediately.

(He is a guy that can do this on the regular, so there’s plenty to get excited for, injuries or not.)

But if you put a gun to my head and asked me what the best way to spend 50 million is, Zaniolo is probably not my first answer.

Fixing a Hole

Juventus have — maybe — signed a fullback!

As previously discussed, while the midfield continued to be everyone favorite whipping subject, the fullback room was almost assuredly the weakest part of the Juventus roster as we go into the season. And while the reported signing of Andrea Cambiaso from Genoa doesn’t necessarily fix everything, at the very least is putting another body into a unit that was remarkably thin.

Cambiaso was a regular for the relegated Genoa side last season, accumulating 25 appearances in Serie A with one goal and four assists to his name. Do you find that underwhelming? Kind of! To be honest, I didn’t have the Italian fullback on my wish list of signings, but a warm body is a warm body and given that Inter was allegedly also after the youngster maybe there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the rumored newest signing for Juventus.

With some luck Cambiaso can develop and get some minutes, after all once you look at the depth chart there’s not a whole bunch of competition in the position and who knows, perhaps he is everything we wanted Luca Pellegrini to be.

(I’m still not out on Pellegrini, by the way.)

Parting Shot of the Week

With the previous Grab Bag coming on last Sunday there wasn’t that much to talk about for this one, but we hope we can return to the usual midweek schedule for your reading.

As always thanks for reading, commenting and all that good stuff. Summer is almost over and we are going to get through it together, every day is one day closer that I don’t have to read any more transfer rumors, and wouldn’t that be a treat?

See you next week.