Catania:Martínez 23(r),Izco 87
Goal.com Christmas Shopping: Who Should Juventus Buy?(Goal.com)
Historically, Juventus have never been a team to make significant changes during the middle of a season, but if they are to end this term with major silverware they will probably have to strengthen with at least two or three players in January.
Expectations were high going into the 2009/10 campaign after a productive summer where there was a big outlay on Diego, Felipe Melo, Fabio Cannavaro, Fabio Grosso and Martin Caceres. However, despite all becoming first team regulars, none of these five newboys have particularly impressed, and Diego and Felipe Melo have come under huge fire and even been branded as ‘flops’.
Tragically, the Bianconeri are already out of the Champions League – dumped from the group stages following a humiliating 4-1 thrashing at home by Bayern Munich.
After a run of five defeats from six in all competitions, Juventus’ season is in danger of already being over. The under-pressure Ciro Ferrara sees his side nine points behind Inter in Serie A, despite a win over the leaders at the beginning of December.
No additions required here, despite the fact that No.1 Gianluigi Buffon faces a spell on the sidelines recovering from meniscus surgery. In Alexander Manninger, the Bianconeri possess arguably the best backup shot-stopper in the world.
Juventus’ backline was cited as a problem area before the season began, and this is still the case. Despite some encouraging displays of late, there are still huge question marks at right back over Barcelona’s on-loan Martin Caceres. The Uruguayan has heart but is extremely erratic and impulsive. Alternatives Zdenek Grygera and Jonathan Zebina are not up to the required standard, so a top class right back is a must in January.
Players linked include Napoli’s Juan Camilo Zuniga and Fabiano Santacroce, Roma’s Marco Motta, Udinese’s Cristian Zapata, Arsenal’s Bakary Sagna and Emmanuel Eboue and Schalke’s Rafinha. Sagna is the strongest of these, but he is an impossibility in January. The best of the attainable options is Motta, who is second choice at Roma behind Marco Cassetti and could even be inserted in a swap deal involving Claudio Ranieri favourites Christian Poulsen or Tiago Mendes.
At centre back, Bari pair Andrea Ranocchia and Leonardo Bonucci have been consistently linked for weeks. Others to be associated include Bayern Munich’s Daniel Van Buyten, Bolton’s Gary Cahill, Palermo’s Simon Kjaer and Cesare Bovo and Roma’s Philippe Mexes.
While Juventus could certainly do with a young strong partner for Giorgio Chiellini, given the fact Cannavaro needs extended rest between games if he is going to perform well and Nicola Legrottaglie is on a steep slide, the chances of acquiring a top bracket centre half in January are very slim. Waiting until the summer is perhaps the only option.
As for left back, Grosso has been a big disappointment since arriving from Lyon and defensively has been very poor. There have been reports of a move for Aleksandar Kolarov in a co-ownership exchange involving Sebastian Giovinco. This would not be the worst move in the world for Juventus. Kolarov is developing into a fine player, while Giovinco will gain the chance to prove himself in Rome, instead of rotting in Turin, before hopefully returning to the less famous Stadio Olimpico in six or 18 months time. This trade would also see Juventus offload some dead wood in Cristian Molinaro, who would be part of the deal.
The midfield is a tricky area to analyse. In terms of personnel, one could argue that Juventus have one of the strongest midfield departments in Europe but for one reason or another the centre third has been a disaster this campaign.
It would be a mistake to undergo mass changes in this area as one of the reasons why the midfield is under performing is because it has failed to blend with the attack.
The wise move will be to sell both Christian Poulsen and Tiago – both of whom are not good enough for this level – and use these funds to sign a centre midfielder who offers more direction than Felipe Melo and Momo Sissoko. Both these players are poor passers of the ball, and Juve have struggled to build up attacks because the Brazilian in particular has failed to get the ball forward to creators such as Diego and Mauro Camoranesi.
With Camoranesi out injured for up to three months and Sissoko away at the African Cup of Nations, another body will be required. Those associated to Turin include Real Madrid’s Fernando Gago, Hertha Berlin’s Gojko Kacar, CSKA Moscow’s Milos Krasic, Atletico Madrid’s Maxi Rodriguez, Napoli’s Marek Hamsik, and Udinese’s Gokhan Inler and Kwadwo Asamoah. Hamsik and Asamoah are unobtainable in January, as is probably Inler until the end of the season, while Maxi will wait until June to leave on a Bosman.
As for the others, Krasic would be the signing to excite the fans due to his likeness to club legend Pavel Nedved, but he would not come cheap if CSKA choose to sell and the Serb is not suitable for the 4-3-1-2 that Ferrara currently employs. With this in mind, the loan signing of Gago as a temporary solution until the end of the campaign could be the best for both parties as the Argentine wants to boost his hopes of going to the 2010 World Cup.
Juventus’ frontline has also been besieged by problems ever since Vincenzo Iaquinta – who was on fire at the beginning of the season – was forced to have knee surgery. With Iaquinta absent, the Juve attack has woefully failed to link up with the midfield and this has particularly penalised playmaker Diego who has had little to no movement or pace in front of him.
Amauri has been a shadow of the player from the first half of last season, and there has been strong speculation that Juventus are prepared to sell. Those who could replace him, according to the media, are Sampdoria’s Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano, Lazio’s Goran Pandev, Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko and Villarreal’s Giuseppe Rossi.
What Juventus really need is a world class centre forward with pace and explosiveness. For this reason, it would be wise to wait until the end of the season when one will be available. David Villa or Fernando Torres would be the dream buy, and neither can be considered unapproachable given the ongoing financial problems of Valencia and the probable economic collapse of Liverpool at the end of the campaign.
If Juventus are to bolster their offence in January, a cut-price move for contract rebel Pandev – who may even be available on a free transfer pending an arbitration decision – would make sense. The Macedonian hero is technically impressive and would combine much better with Diego than Amauri.
IN (3): Marco Motta (Roma), Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio), Goran Pandev (Lazio)
OUT (5): Jonathan Zebina, Cristian Molinaro, Tiago, Christian Poulsen, Sebastian Giovinco (co-ownership)
LOANS IN (1): Fernando Gago (Real Madrid)
Juventus (Preferred Line-Up (4-3-1-2))