The January transfer window has come to a conclusion and Juventus were fairly active considering small the budget sporting director Beppe Marotta had to work with. Everyone from Madonna to Chori Dominguez were linked to the club in this hectic time. Three new signings in the form of Luca Toni, Andrea Barzagli and Alessandro Matri were bought in to help the Bianconeri reach their obective of a Champions League spot for next season. These new reinforcements were also meant to play a big part in rejuvenating the team after a lacklustre January. A single victory in Serie A and a quarter-final exit in the Coppa Italia at the hands of Roma meant all dreams of a trophy this season had slowly faded away.
Del Neri also suffered a huge blow after striker Fabio Quagliarella had been ruled out for the rest of the season following a serious knee injury in the game against Parma. The Bianconeri were clearly hit hard and found goals and inevitably victories hard to come by. Juve notched up 4 goals in the next 5 Serie A games, a relatively low sum for a team, who until the turn of the year, statistically boasted of the best attacking force in the league. Fans pleaded for changes. A striker was the need of the hour after Iaquinta and Amauri were flattered to deceive. The former injury-prone while the latter was as threatining as a baby with his hands tied. Marotta duly obliged with the signings of Luca Toni and Alessandro Matri. Andrea Barzagli was bought in as a replacement to the departing Nicola Legrottaglie.
TheHardTackle analyzes these transfers in detail and their possible impact on the team.
Luca Toni arrived in Vinovo in early Jan from Genoa on a free transfer. The former Italian International was the first signing made by Marotta in the transfer window. Toni was offered an 18 month contract and had taken a pay cut of 1.5 Million Euros clearly signaling his intentions of finishing off his career at a big club. He arrived following a disappointing spell in Genoa where he hit the back of the net 3 times only in 16 appearances. His signing was surrounded by an air of pessimism by the Juve fans who only considered him a minor improvement on Amauri. Toni was once one of the most feared strikers in Europe and helped lead Italy to World Cup glory in 2006. During his peak with Fiorentina he won the coveted Capocannoniere award in Serie A and was the first striker in 50 years to hit the 30 goal mark.
Expectations: Toni was bought in to add depth to the Juve bench and is a replacement for Amauri who left for Parma. He should play second fiddle to Matri and will be occasionally rotated with the Italian international. Toni might start the odd game here and there as his experience will be vital to Juve’s surge towards a Champions League spot.
Merits: Luca Toni is one of the biggest strikers in world football today and is truly a giant of a man. He is physically imposing and his 6ft 4in frame makes him a genuine threat in the air. Toni has plenty of Serie A experience and can hold up the ball well. He is also an excellent finisher and poaching instincts are praiseworthy. In other words, he is a text-book Prima Punta.
Demerits: Toni’s obvious weakness is his age. While he is a late bloomer, he has lost a bit of pace that he had. Slow while turning and can no longer single handedly produce something out of nothing. Toni is no longer the world class player he was in 2006 and if he doesn’t perform when asked to, he could turn out to be a liability.
Possible Impact: Toni didn’t have the brightest start to his career with the Bianconeri as he suffered a knee injury in the Coppa Italia victory against Catania. However, he has comeback strongly and scored a stunning header from all of 16 yards against Cagliari during the weekend game. He will provide a powerful target man and will definitely play a big part if Juve are to succeed in their objective of a Champions League spot.
Andrea Barzagli arrived in Turin for a measly sum of 300,000 Euros from Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg. Barzagli is a well-known figure to coach Del Neri whom he played under with spells at Chievo Verona and Palermo. Barzagli is coming off a mixed experience in the Bundesliga. He helped Wolfsburg claim the league title in his debut season playing every single minute while was out of favour this season under recently released manager Steve Mclaren. Barzagli, by trade is a centre back and can fill in at fullback as well. He was part of the 2006 World Cup winning Italian side. He showed great potential while at Palermo, however he has never really lived upto his expectation of the next great Italian defender.
Expectations: The Italian International was bought in with a view of replacing the recently departed Nicola Legrottaglie who sealed his move to A.C. Milan on deadline day. Barzagli is expected to provide cover to the first choice pair of Leo Bonucci and Giogio Chiellini. He will act as a squad player and occasionaly be rotated in.
Merits: Barzagli is now an experienced campaigner. He has plenty of Serie A experience and will definitely be an able back-up for Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. He has good anticipation skills and is a decent passer of the ball. Strong in the tackle as well and an aerial threat from set-pieces.
Demerits: Barzagli has lot that yard of pace he used to possess while at Palermo and is prone to the odd error. He is known to be a bit inconsistent in his performances. Barzagli isn’t the best at organizing defenses and isn’t as vocal as some of the modern day defenders.
Possible Impact: The ex Palermo man has already made a positive impact for Juve. He was arguably his side’s best defender in the game against Cagliari often covering for young Sorensen and provided a delightful cross for Toni’s goal. Barzagli’s performances and Juve’s lack of quality fullbacks have encouraged Del Neri to start him alongside Leo Bonucci in the centre of defense forcing Chiellini to move to left back.
Matri arrived after a lot of speculation on deadline day from Cagliari. The former Milan player joined Juve on loan for a sum of 2.5 Million Euros, with the Bianconeri consequently giving up the remainder of Lorenzo Ariaudo’s rights. The Bianconeri can secure his services of the striker on a permanent basis in the summer for a fee of 15.5 Million Euros. Matri enjoyed a terrific first half of the season scoring 11 goals in 22 games. The 26 year old will definitely provide a bit more quality in the attacking department for Juve and fans are optimistic about his impact for the club in his time in Turin.
Expectations: Matri will be the first choice striker for Juve and much is expected of him. He will be determined to make the most of his opportunity at a big club. With Juve’s strikers struggling for goals, the weight of expectations is large on his young shoulders. He has the distinct record of scoring the most braces in Serie A this season with 5 to his name.
Merits: The former Cagliari man is a very good finisher and has decent aerial ability. He is good at making runs and will definitely suit Juve’s style of play. He can also take advantage of the space between centre-backs and make runs in between them. Matri can hold up play well and bring his team-mates into play plus he has been in good goal scoring form this season.
Demerits: Matri failed to make the cut at Milan and might find the pressure of a big club like Juve overwhelming. He does not possess blistering pace and isn’t as physically imposing as Luca Toni. The burden of his price tag could either spur him on to powerful performances or could negatively impact his progress.
Possible Impact: After a solid if not spectacular performance against Palermo on debut, Matri displayed his potential with a brace against his former side Cagliari. Two well taken goals, for the first one he demonstrated his finishing ability and the second one displayed good movement and technique to drive in a powerful volley. Juve fans will be hoping for more of the same from Matri. He definitely has the potential and will be out to prove that he is worth the hefty price tag thrown on him.