Juventus Transfer News and Rumors Tracker: Week of March 3
In Serie A, Juventus do not look like they need any help. They have scored in each of their past 39 matches in the league, per Football Italia, and could even claim 100 points this season. But another battle is happening off the field.
The director of Juventus, Giuseppe Marotta, knows that the biggest clubs are taking notice of his players, and he’s flattered. Success on the field is often the envy of others, and interest is natural. It is a reflection of Juventus, who look likely to win a third straight championship, that Manchester United and Barcelona want their players.
The problem is that Juventus could struggle to keep those stars. The club has admitted that every player has his price.
This is not the time for Juventus to give up. There has to be a project here. Right now, Marotta has built a squad so far superior than any other in Italy, and he has invested in prospects—namely Domenico Berardi, who scored four goals against Milan, and Manolo Gabbiadini, who scored his seventh goal for Sampdoria on Sunday.
Let’s investigate the latest batch of rumours that have implications on the summer ahead for Juventus.
Marco Verratti Puts Down the Club He Once Loved
The words stung a bit. “If I were to go to Juventus now,” Marco Verratti told L’Equipe (via Football Italia), “it would without doubt be a step back.” Imagine Juventus when they weren’t the two-time defending champion.
When he was 19, Verratti skipped past Serie A and went straight to France. He has played 60 matches for Paris Saint-Germain thus far, and he doesn’t want to abandon the club’s big project. President Nasser Al-Khelaifi wants PSG to win the Champions League within the next four years.
Earlier in the season, the agent of Verratti said to Sport 1 (via Football Italia) that his client “would not leave even if a sensational offer was made.”
He continued: “The ambitions of this club are high—money is not an issue for them.”
There was a report from Gazzetta dello Sport (via Bleacher Report's Jonathan Johnson) suggesting that Verratti could move to Juventus in exchange for Paul Pogba, who is worth some €50 million. But the wishes of Verratti say otherwise: He believes he can win everything with PSG, even if Juventus have won more since he left Italy.
No Rush to Re-Sign Antonio Conte
Money is no issue, director Giuseppe Marotta told Mediaset (via TuttoMercatoWeb) after the victory against Milan on Sunday. Coach Antonio Conte is worth it, anyway.
He has a contract that lasts until 2015, and there is still Europe to conquer. The Europa League is not enough: Conte has to get his team to produce something in the Champions League. It depends on how he wants to be remembered.
This term, he has done new things, deploying three or four defenders at the back and sometimes allowing his team to concede possession of the ball for effect, as they did in a 3-0 win over Roma in January. He was also left disappointed with the way they played in Europe.
“Let’s not forget this side rose from the ashes of seventh place twice,” he told Sky Sport Italia (via ESPN FC) in December. “We won in Italy two years in a row.”
He could win more. Maybe that setback has only fed his ambition. There is a body of work to praise, but there is even more left to add.
On Monday, Conte could win the Panchina d’Oro, awarded to the best coach in Serie A. If so, it could cost Juventus even more to keep him. But there are no concerns right now from Marotta.
Barcelona Next in Line for Arturo Vidal
Arturo Vidal signed a contract extension in December, but contracts mean less and less in sports. Just look at Thiago Silva. In 2012, the defender signed a new contract with Milan, only to be sold to PSG two weeks later.
The same may not happen to Vidal. He’s enjoying his third season with Juventus, with 11 goals and five assists in Serie A, but the 26-year-old is the subject of interest from the world’s biggest clubs, including Barcelona. Tata Martino has asked Barca’s new acting president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, for Vidal, according to Sport (via Football Italia). But it is still undetermined if Martino will coach Barca next season.
Vidal, too, is worth around €50 million. Barca could even offer Alexis Sanchez in return, according to Mundo Deportivo (via Football Italia). Now we're getting somewhere.
Manchester United Back to Italy
David Moyes already made a trip to Italy to watch Juventus, but his scouts are back in the country. They arrived on Thursday to look at Angelo Ogbonna.
People from Manchester United were supposed to catch a glimpse of Ogbonna at San Siro, but he never played—a familiar storyline for the 25-year-old defender. He has started just eight games in Serie A this season, not enough for a player purchased in the summer for €13 million.
Earlier in the season, there were reports linking United with Martin Caceres, who has also had trouble playing regularly.
I'd MUCH rather United buy Ogbonna than Caceres @TuzNico— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) March 1, 2014
The principle here is that Juventus do have some disposable assets that they could sell off. One of their strengths is that they are deep, and Conte has made a habit of rotating his squads quite well, but Juventus also underuse players like Ogbonna, Caceres, Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella. Money can be made.
United already like Vidal, and he is, of course, the best player in the world in his position. But Ogbonna is a much more realistic option.
Transfer stories always over embellish. #MUFC scouting Ogbonna? Ok. And Benatia? Getting expensive. AND Pepe Reina? You've gone too far.— Adam Digby (@Adz77) March 1, 2014
Juventus Looking in Spain Once Again
They went to Spain for Fernando Llorente, and he has slowly emerged as a reliable header of the ball and a plain-old goal poacher. Antoine Griezmann isn’t Spanish, but he has caught the eye of Arsenal, PSG and Juventus, per Sport (via Football Italia).
This is a versatile player who’s scored 15 goals in 24 games with Real Sociedad, most notably the winner against Barcelona a week ago. He is the fourth-highest scorer in La Liga, and Didier Deschamps of France called up Griezmann for a friendly this week.
Juventus do have their wingers—Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner often occupy the flanks, and they provide excellent service—but Griezmann could offer Juventus that extra dimension.
It seems like a fancy idea in the event that someone big leaves Juventus. He could cost somewhere near €30 million.