Juventus are entering a new era following the appointment of Andrea Pirlo as their new manager. But who are the Bianconeri likely to sell this summer?
The footballing world is in a strange place right now. The effects of the coronavirus have altered the way the games are organised; the soul of the sport, the fans, are nowhere to be seen in the stadiums and understandably so.
Several clubs are going through sweeping changes, the biggest and the most shocking of which could probably be the departure of Lionel Messi from Barcelona – truly a shocker. Another club that is making some big changes in personnel are Juventus.
Maurizio Sarri only lasted in the managerial hotseat for one season, as despite overseeing another Serie A title triumph, the team lacked identity and failed to impress on the field. What also did not help Sarri’s cause was the fact that the Bianconeri faltered in the UEFA Champions League again, having been embarrassingly booted out by Lyon in the Round of 16.
In came Andrea Pirlo as Sarri’s replacement. The decision was quite bewildering, considering the kind of unemployed managers who were available. Meanwhile, Pirlo, promising as he may be, does not have any experience on the other side of the touchline. When appointed as the Juventus boss, he did not even have 10 days of experience in his first ever managerial job, with Juventus under-23.
Nevertheless, a new era beckons Juventus, who are now in a state of transition. An ageing squad is already starting to be transformed following the departure of Blaise Matuidi. Younger and fresher players are, meanwhile, likely to come in, with Pirlo also pointing towards how his team could play. In this feature, we will pick out five players who are likely to leave Juventus this summer.
The first name in our list is the obvious one. In fact, Pirlo has already confirmed that Higuain will be leaving Juventus this summer, and for good reason. Since arriving in Italy in the summer of 2013, Higuain has arguably been the most devastating striker sin Serie A. The Argentine first broke records while at Napoli, dominating the scoring charts.
So much so that when he won the Capocannoniere with a record 36 goals in 2015/16, no one else had even managed to breach the 20-goal mark for the season. After three years in San Paolo, Higuain made a controversial move to Juventus, complete with an acrimonious exit from Napoli, whose fans now absolutely detest the former Real Madrid striker.
At Juventus, Higuain made an instant impact, having replaced Alvaro Morata in the squad. 24 goals in Serie A saw him vying to become the top scorer once again. Eight further strikes in other competitions meant he finished his maiden campaign in Turin with 32 goals. The first signs of decline came in the following season.
But, he still finished the term with a creditable haul of 23 goals in all competitions. However, when Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Juventus, it was Higuain who was sacrificed, with Mario Mandzukic getting the nod over him. Two loan spells, at AC Milan and Chelsea, followed and it has only been downhill since, with the veteran no longer the formidable quantity he once was.
Upon his return this past season, Higuain managed just 11 goals in 43 outings. At 32, he is not getting any younger either and the regression is only going to accentuate further in a system that is unlikely to suit him much. Where he ends up next season, though, remains to be seen, although it is likely to be for a free transfer, with his contract expected to be terminated.
Pirlo will also need to make a big decision over the wingers he chooses to keep in his squad. In Dejan Kulusevski, who is set to become a part of the first-team squad in the upcoming season, Juventus have a player who will potentially be a long-term solution out wide for them.
As a result, Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi seem to be fighting for one remaining spot in Pirlo’s squad, with Cristiano Ronaldo indispensable on the left. Here, the choice seems to be clear, even though neither player has managed to set the stage alight over the course of their respective Juventus stints.
Bernandeschi ended the 2019/120 season strongly. Additionally, the fact that he possesses better work-rate and has not been nearly as injury-prone as Costa means that the Italian international could get the nod from his compatriot.
Indeed, for all his talent and explosiveness, Costa has not been able to fulfill his potential for one reason or another. In particular, since joining Juventus on a permanent transfer in 2018, a spate of disheartening injuries have pegged him back considerably. At the time of writing, Costa is nursing yet another injury.
With fitness troubles making Costa an unreliable quantity, it is prudent to offload the Brazilian, who should be able to attract suitors. Manchester United, who hold a long-standing interest in him, have been linked with the 29-year-old once again and a switch to Old Trafford could well be in the offing. His time at Juventus, though, seems to be nigh on ending.
As already iterated, Pirlo is seeking to bring the average age of the squad down while keeping hold of a handful of experienced players. However, another player, who, like Higuain, has to be surplus to requirements is Sami Khedira. In fact, reliable Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano has already claimed that Juventus are going to terminate Khedira’s contract, as is the case with Higuain.
The 33-year-old has been a stalwart in European football since joining Real Madrid over a decade ago. After spending five productive campaigns in the Spanish capital, Khedira joined Juventus on a free transfer, while still evidently being at his peak.
The last half-a-decade has been a roller-coaster of a ride for the German midfielder, who has even faced some health issues while in Turin. The 2019/20 season, though, showed that Khedira is well past his use by date and does not have the same legs under him to do the job, especially in the system that Pirlo wants to implement.
With Manuel Locatelli reportedly on their radar, Juventus seem to be zeroing in on a long-term replacement, a player who can add freshness to the midfield. As for Khedira, it seems like he could be set for a switch to either the MLS or Turkey. His time at Juventus, though, seems to have reached its end.
Mattia De Sciglio
This is now becoming a recurring theme in our list; we now name another player who has been riddled with injuries lately and has started to become an unreliable figure at the Allianz Stadium. The player in question is Mattia De Sciglio.
Just this past season alone, three different spells on the sidelines meant De Sciglio started a mere 10 games across all competitions for Juventus. Despite theoretically being in the peak years of his career, the 27-year-old is hardly a player Pirlo can bank upon considering the time he spends in the treatment room.
It is also important to note that Pirlo already has Danilo and Juan Cudrado at his disposal, with the latter particularly impressing on most occasions when deployed as a right-back. Add to it the fact that Sergino Dest is reportedly a target for the Serie A champions and it is clear that one of the incumbent right-backs will be offloaded.
Logically, it should be none other than De Sciglio, who has hardly managed to impress over the course of his three-year stay at Juventus. A move to Spain has been mooted for the Italian full-back, with Valencia among the clubs keen on signing him. For all intents and purposes, though, staying at Juventus does not seem to be an option for De Sciglio.
The final pick in our list is not necessarily a player who has been desperately struck back by fitness troubles; at least not as much as the three names that have preceded him. However, for some reason, Ramsey appears to be a player who could well be on his way out of the Allianz Stadium, just one year after joining Juventus from Arsenal on a free transfer.
While a few minor niggles did bother him, he still managed to remain a regular under Maurizio Sarri, making 35 appearances across all competitions, although only 14 of those outings came from the start of the game. The arrival of Pirlo, though, seems to have signalled the end of Ramsey’s time at Juventus.
A return to the Premier League has been mooted, with Tottenham and Chelsea among the big name clubs that have been linked with the former Arsenal star. Other unheralded outfits are being touted to be interested as well, meaning his next destination is not quite clear.
The Bianconeri already seem to have kicked into action to replace the 29-year-old, with Houssem Aouar being linked with a possible move to Turin. With Arthur set to arrive at the Allianz Stadium and Manuel Locatelli also on their agenda, Ramsey could well be on his way out of Juventus, although stylistically he does suit the kind of system Pirlo wants to implement.