The winter break sees Juventus sitting in fourth place in Serie A, five points behind league leaders AC Milan knowing that it could have been “Oh so much better”. Having racked up 32 goals in 17 games and being top-scorers in the league, surely a world class Prima Punta (a striker who plays far up and is a reference point for attack) is not lacking but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If The Old Lady is to maintain its challenge for the coveted Scudetto, a top class striker is the need of the hour.
Over the past few years, we’ve never known a Juventus team to face a striker dilemma. The Bianconeri can boast of players such as David Trezeguet who had left during the summer window to join Hercules in Spain and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is now excelling at AC Milan. The current crop of Juventus’ strikers includes Brazilian Amauri and former Udinese star Vincenzo Iaquinta. New coach Luigi Del Neri’s strict tactical formation calls for a striker who plays far up and is a reference point for attack, a striker who can lead the line in a 4-4-2, one who is capable of holding up the ball and bringing his team-mates into play while chipping in with goals as well. Amauri and Iaquinta just don’t fit the bill anymore. The former has been injury-prone since last season having made just 6 appearances this term in Serie A and yet to break his duck while the latter has made 14 appearances and has hit the back of the net 4 times. However, Amauri’s hard work can be applauded; he does have the tendency to miss sitters as was evident in the games against Chievo, Roma and Palermo. They simply aren’t reliable anymore. Not so encouraging signs for a team challenging for the title.
Sporting Director Beppe Marotta came out and said that the Turin based outfit would look to strengthen the team during the January window; he also claimed that players who arrive in January will be on loan with an option to buy in summer. Owing to this, over the past few weeks a number of strikers, predictably, have been linked to the Bianconeri.
THT analyzes a few possible targets in this edition of Transfer Talk.
The Sampdoria star has been frequently linked with a move to Juve during the past transfer windows. Strong, good aerial ability and poaching instincts which would make even Pippo Inzaghi proud of, define Pazzini. The striker has the ability to make something out of nothing – a quality which Werder Bremen would vouch for and is a player who could decide the outcome of a game in a jiffy. His partnership with Antonio Cassano last season was considered the best offensive one in Serie A. Pazzini might also fancy a reunion with Del Neri. The duo conquered the dizzy heights of Serie A, helping Sampdoria clinch the 4th place last season. Pazinni now has 6 goals in 15 appearances for Sampdoria in 2010-11.
Pazzini could well be the answer to all the striking woes of the Bianconeri. Having come into the limelight with a stunning hat-trick for the Italy U-21 side at the new Wembley stadium against England U-21, he has gone on to carve out a niche for himself. However, his 20 million price tag could form an obstacle which would probably fend off Juve’s interest. With the imminent departure of Cassano, Sampdoria would also be unwilling to lose their prized asset during the same window.
Transfer Probability: 65%
Much of Cagliari’s success over the past two seasons can be credited to Alessandro Matri. He has been the talisman for Cagliari ever since his arrival from Milan. Matri can play as a target man or as a second striker, but due to the physical nature of his game he will be more suited as a lone striker. His finishing and heading are as good as they get. Besides, his ability to move without the ball is noteworthy and has thus managed to notch up 8 goals in 17 appearances for Cagliari in 2010-11.
Matri would jump at the opportunity to join a revered club like Juve, having previously failed to make the cut at Milan. However, Cagliari president Massimo Cellino has promised the fans and new coach Roberto Donadoni that Matri will stay in Sardinia at least till the end of the season.
Transfer Probability: 45%
Former Parma star Alberto Gilardino has been linked with the Bianconeri on numerous occasions. After a disappointing spell at Milan, Gilardino rediscovered his scoring touch and is up there amongst the top marksmen in Serie A. Great finishing coupled with good heading makes him a player who can cause problems to the opposition defences. Gilardino has managed to score 5 goals in 14 appearances for Fiorentina this season. A swap deal with Amauri could be on the cards here.
Nevertheless, Gilardino propensity to fade away towards the end of the season and his current form could certainly be questioned. It would also be a risky move to take ‘Gila‘ back to a big club having not had the best of times with the Rossoneri. Viola coach Siniša Mihajlović has shown no sign of letting his star hitman go and has insisted that the former AC Milan striker will stay at Fiorentina at least till the end of the season.
Transfer Probability: 50%
After arriving at Catania from Gremio in January, Lopez, 26, has made a good impression in Serie A. He went on to score an impressive 11 goals in 17 appearances helping Catania to finish the season in 12th place. Reports suggested that Juventus were chasing Lopez and the player has come out and said that he would be open to a move to Turin.
However, Catania’s director Pietro Lo Monaco is adamant that his star striker won’t be leaving the club in January which would make it very knotty for Marotta to sign Lopez in January. The striker however, hasn’t been in the best of form off late, having scored a meagre 3 goals in 15 appearances.
Transfer Probability: 55%
Marco Di Vaio could make a sensational return to Juventus on a six month loan deal according to reports emerging from Italy. Hernan Crespo is in red hot form for Parma and could make a return to a big club. Arsenal’s young Dane Nicklas Bendtner seems to have a falling out with Arsene Wenger and will probably be in search for a new club in January and could well be on the Bianconeri‘s wish list. While most Juve fans would have their mouth-watering at the idea of bringing back Juve legend David Trezeguet from Hercules. Nevertheless, it still remains to be seen if Hercules is willing to let go off their top striker.
~ Chelston Desousa