Every summer seems to be the same thing when it comes to Juventus putting together its roster for the upcoming season — as much as it is trying to assemble a team that is talented and makes sense, it is also a numbers game. That doesn’t always mean the numbers will make sense, but there are usually certain numbers at certain positions that we are accustomed to.
So here are a few numbers for you to digest:
- There are currently 28 players listed on Juventus’ roster on the team’s official website.
- Of those 28 players, an astonishing nine of them are central midfielders.
You read that right, folks. Just under one-third of Juve’s roster plays the same position. Maybe not the same position in the midfield, but they are midfielders — and that’s where things stand with less than two weeks to go before the summer transfer window closes on the first day of September.
There is a logjam at one position of the like we haven’t seen in quite a while. And the most difficult thing about all of this is that you can clearly see the reasons why. And, yes, I said “reasons,” not “reason,” mainly because there are multiple factors that have played into nearly a third of Juventus’ roster consisting of one position group. (Just think if that was the case for fullbacks and not midfielders — maybe Juve wouldn’t be relying on Alex Sandro again this season. That sure would be nice.)
And what makes matters even more complicated is that Juventus’ best midfielder and their big-name summer transfer acquisition is currently injured and might as well be a risk to be further injured until he eventually undergoes surgery to repair what currently ills him.
Let’s start with what we know: Juventus trying to shed Adrien Rabiot and Arthur this summer has proven to be harder than some might have thought. It centers around one reason, although two different kinds of situations — the money they earn. Rabiot’s potential move to Manchester United was called off earlier this week because of the salary demands he wanted to move to the Premier League, according to reports. Arthur’s potential move to Valencia hasn’t been talked about in what feels like weeks because they could only afford to pay a fraction of his salary, according to reports. These are things we can, at least in part, blame on the previous guy in charge of making transfer decisions simply because he’s the one who agreed to pay Rabiot and Arthur €7 million and €5 million net per season, respectively.
What’s to come still is a complete question mark.
A question much bigger than the tiny circles Arthur loves to use as he tries to spin out of a tackle to sometimes less-than desirable results.
If you were to think that the midfielders being discussed as potential departures right now are Rabiot and Arthur, it’s time to rethink all of that. For what has to be financial reasons, there is little going on regarding those two want-away players right now. Instead, we’ve heard the following over the last couple of days:
- Nicolo Rovella’s rumored season-long loan deal to Monza is on hold because so much is uncertain in the midfield at the moment.
- Nicolo Fagioli might go out on loan again because Rabiot has yet to be sold, with Cremonese — the club he was with last season in Serie B — being the most likely destination.
- Denis Zakaria might be on the market.
- Rabiot not signing with Manchester United has put Juve’s potential deal for Leandro Paredes on hold.
- I know it doesn’t technically fit into this series of bullet points, but: Rumors of Arthur leaving have completely dried up after since the Valencia loan move fell through. (Fun!)
There’s surely more to it, but with so much being thrown out there and into the rumor mill, can you really blame a guy for not being totally sure of what to even believe or able to keep track of everything? OK, good. I appreciate your sympathy.
We know Juventus needs to shed at least two midfielders over the next 10 days. The thing is, there’s legitimately five or six different names that could leave the club at this point. You could see two of the young kids leaving. Heck, there are probably some folks out there that believe all three of the youngsters — Rovella, Fagioli and Fabio Miretti — could be loaned out even though Max Allegri is known to be a fan of all three of them. What does Rabiot staying (for now) mean for Weston McKennie? What does it mean for Zakaria? Does this mean Manuel Locatelli is going to be the only guy capable of playing as a regista if Parades doesn’t arrive?
I could go on and on and on.
The thing about whoever leaves and Juventus getting down to a more appropriate number of midfielders is that Paul Pogba’s health is going to be hanging over this team throughout the season knowing that he has chosen not to get surgery on his meniscus injury. We don’t know how Pogba’s knee is going to react once he ramps up his workload and returns to the starting lineup at some point in September. It’s a massive question mark, and the last thing that needs to happen to Juventus is to bank on Pogba being available for a large portion of this season only to have him get hurt either before, during or after the World Cup and miss even more time than he already has.
It’s just the kind of situation in which whatever Juve chooses to do is going to put them in a corner. Pogba staying healthy for the majority of the season is something that we all want to see happen when he does come back from his meniscus issue, but there’s the very real chance that this could only be the beginning. And the last thing Juve needs to see happen is for Pogba to be out injured again because of his knee and be shorthanded depth-wise.
But that seems like a very real possibility at this point. And the fact that we’re almost left to being able to count how many days are left in the transfer window with just our two hands and we still don’t really know what Juve’s midfield depth is going to look like just shows the ripple effect of Rabiot and Arthur — as well as Pogba’s injury status — still being on the roster.