Three summers ago, then-Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici signed two midfielders on high-wage free transfers.
Neither of them worked out all that well. Aaron Ramsey was an unmitigated disaster who was constantly unavailable and played more minutes for the Welsh national team than for Juve last season. He’s finally been bought out of his contract and recently signed for Nice in Ligue 1 as he prepares to represent Wales in the World Cup.
His other exploit, Adrien Rabiot, might also be on his way out. David Ornstein of The Athletic reported that Manchester United were working on a deal for the France international.
EXCL: Man Utd United working on deal to sign Adrien Rabiot from Juventus. #MUFC must decide if they proceed irrespective of ongoing De Jong pursuit or await outcome of that before deciding. 27yo France midfielder has 1yr on #Juve contract @TheAthleticUK https://t.co/kUM6VeImK7— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) August 8, 2022
Fabrizio Romano followed that report several hours later, reporting that agreement between the two teams isn’t an issue, and that United need to negotiate with Rabiot’s momgent Veronique.
Manchester United are working on Adrien Rabiot deal, called today by @David_Ornstein. Talks ongoing but still no agreement on player side with his mother Veronique involved. #MUFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 8, 2022
The agreement with Juventus is not an issue as they’re open to sell Rabiot. pic.twitter.com/FIIGrL1Wyo
Evaluating the Juventus tenure of Rabiot is complicated. Rabiot has always been a talent, but it’s never manifested itself for a full season at a time. Aside from the first two-thirds of his first season he’s never been a full-on black hole in midfield, but apart from the 2019-20 restart he’s never shown the potential that cause Paratici to sign him on a €7 million a year contract either. Had he not had to live up to such a high salary, he may not have received a lot of the vitriol that he’s received over the years, but as it is he’s never justified that number, and he’s been at the butt end of a lot of scapegoating for the midfield’s problems.
That said, his contract is a bit of a drag on Juve’s finances at the moment, and as a free transfer, he would register as pure profit on the balance sheet. He’s been considered likely to leave all season, especially after he was left at home to train with the Under-23 team when Juve went on their American tour. He’s only played a few minutes for the first team in preseason, coming on as a halftime sub in Monday’s preseason finale against Atletico Madrid only to be replaced after a few minutes when he was busted open in a gnarly head-to-head collision with Bremer.
The question after he leaves would be whether Juve rides with more the youth trio of Nicolo Rovella, Nicolo Fagioli, and Fabio Miretti in his roster spot or whether they look for more experienced help. If they’re still as keen on Leandro Paredes as many reports have said this would be precisely the opportunity to pick him up, while Gianluca Di Marzio has reported that Juve have inserted themselves into discussions for Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi in what could turn into a four-team race for the talented 22-tear-old.
As the midfield has gone from a potential strength to yet another year of flux due to early injuries, Rabiot’s departure will be just another twist in the tale. How things shake out will likely have a good deal of import to how Juve manage to play this season.