One of the first things Federico Chiesa did with his time off from Juventus this summer was join up with the Italian national team and, as a left winger, score a wonderful goal.
Freddy Church doing Freddy Church things.
As a winger, mind you.
The little Tasmanian devil had tracked all the way back to help snuff out an offensive movement from the Netherlands, but as soon as the Italians gained possession he switched on the turbo jets, sprinted the other way, and received a wonderfully weighted ball to position him to attack. With the ball at his feet and that signature Chiesa crazy look in his eye, he faked inside on his right foot, clearly the direction the Dutch defender assumed he would go, skated left and slotted in a goal between the center back and the keeper. He pumped his arms in the air and sprinted to the Italian fans; clearly it felt very, very good to see the ball in the back of the net.
Federico Chiesa is a winger. We learned a lot of things this year, and that’s certainly one of them.
If Juventus want to stick with a 3-5-2 formation, there’s no place for the player on this side given the financial realities Juventus face, because we’ve tried and tried again to play Chiesa as a wingback, as a second striker, as an attacking midfielder, and maybe Max Allegri will try him as a center back next year (probably). Let’s not go down that route.
If Juventus don’t plan to change formation next campaign, they should sell Chiesa (assuming the price is right), collect the funds, and continue the rebuild.
Summer conditions & the 4-3-3 possibility
Every club is dealing with the endless possibilities and constraints that #transferszn brings right now, but Juventus is in more flux than arguably any top European club (if, alas, we can still be considered a “top” club). The rumors regarding Allegri’s alleged departure seem to have cooled, to the dismay of many Juventus fans, but there is still plenty of time left for a surprise in that regard. Perhaps just as pressing is the possibility of Cristiano Giuntoli becoming the club’s new sporting director.
No matter what route the club goes down with either of those decisions, the financial constraints are a brutal reality with which the Old Lady must contend, and that’s surely going to end up meaning hard decisions with players we don’t want to see in another shirt. At this juncture I kind of doubt that any player is exempt from the chopping block, Chiesa included. Dušan Vlahović is a name that gets mentioned frequently, mostly because he’s one of just a couple Biaconeri players who might fetch more than 50 million tokens at the moment. One wonders if Bremer would also be floated on the market.
The 3-5-2 made a fair amount of sense last year because it seemed to be the most pragmatic approach to the injury situation (especially Paul Pogba) and the existing roster. The formation allowed Filip Kostić to play as a wingback and it took advantage of the center back/midfielder hybrid role that Danilo has learned so well; Angel Di Maria was experienced enough to slot in fairly nicely to a second forward role, and Juan Cuadrado, despite his overall game declining naturally due to age, still had some decent showings as a right wingback. More than anything, the formation continued to allow compensation for the lackluster midfield.
But let’s face it: last year the Juventus attack did not score enough goals. The squad scored 56 in Serie A to be exact, and you’ll spend a bit of time finding the last time 56 goals would win a Scudetto.
After last year’s dismal efforts on the offensive side of things, I am probably on the side of the 4-3-3 which is, after all, Allegri’s preferred formation. If you look up and down the roster now that the Biaconeri have officially said goodbye to Di Maria, you see very little in the way of attackers who can make something out of nothing. To jettison Chiesa would be a tragedy, but to play him as a wingback is arguably a more heinous crime. Moving back to a 4-3-3 puts the single best spark plug on the team in his natural position.
Obviously, there’s a catch. A few, actually. The foremost of which is the center back-fullback conundrum. Bremer slots in as the starting right center back, but what do you do with the left center back position? There was once talk of Pau Torres, a left-footed Spaniard who might fit that bill very well, but it seems Juventus have already been priced out of that battle. I’m not sure Allegri would play Danilo there in a true 4-3-3. If you did play Danilo there, however, you’re left with Mattia De Sciglio (returning from an injury), Kostić (not a fullback), and Andrea Cambiaso (unconvincing in his appearances) as your fullbacks. Yikes.
Moving to a 4-3-3 in an attempt to unlock the club’s best offensive player and to try to unleash a more potent attack sounds great in theory, but man it looks difficult in practice. With Chiesa, Juventus are in between a rock and a hard place. As much as I love him, as much as I want to see him become a Juventus icon even more so after a couple difficult seasons, the most prudent thing might simply be to sell.