Juventus require major investment this summer if they’re to compete with Europe’s elite

Words by Adam Digby Illustration by Philippe Fenner
May 24, 2018

Dancing shirtless in his kitchen to LV’s “The Wrong Come Up,” Rod Tidwell wants his agent to prove how desperate he is to represent the wide receiver. “Show me the money” he implores the previously cocky Jerry Maguire before repeating the words even more emphatically, screaming “Show. Me. The. Money!” down the telephone. He eventually gets what he wants, and the two men go on to enjoy a stellar working relationship, resulting in personal success for both and even some surprisingly high profile victories for the Arizona Cardinals.

Just a few months before that film was released back in 1996, Juventus won the Champions League, something they have not done since and there is an argument to be made that their most recent failures there rest largely on the club’s lack of financial investment in one area of their squad.

Ever since Max Allegri arrived in Turin four years ago, he has been forced to look on helplessly as a wealth of midfield talent moved on. Arturo Vidal was sold to Bayern Munich for €37 million, Andrea Pirlo went off to semi-retirement with New York City FC and Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United. While Juve received a world record transfer fee for the talented Frenchman – money which was subsequently reinvested in Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanić – there is no doubt that the Bianconeri have failed to replace the quality lost.

Sami Khedira is a shadow of the player he once was, while both Blaise Matuidi and Stefano Sturaro are ultimately limited performers whose presence in the side places a very firm ceiling on what Juve might accomplish. Rodrigo Bentancur was secured as part of the deal which saw Carlos Tevez move back to Boca Juniors and might eventually blossom into a star, but the 20-year-old remains far from the finished article.

Allegri has avoided discussing links to Arsenal or Chelsea over the previous few months, but with his side having wrapped up the Serie A title thanks to a 0-0 draw with AS Roma, he knew talk would quickly turn to what might happen over the summer.

“If they don’t fire me, then I think I’m staying at Juventus next season too,” the Coach told reporters at the Stadio Olimpico. “It’s not an issue of decisions on the future, it’s about planning what the future of Juventus will be, because once we’ve finished celebrating, we have to sit around a table with clear heads. When the next season begins, we all start from zero points and must continue proving we are competitive.”

In addition to Tevez and those aforementioned midfielders, Allegri has also seen Alvaro Morata head for the exits, but with no such overhaul expected this summer, his words at that press conference seemed to hint at an unspoken implication that he is hoping reinforcements finally arrive this time around.

He already has Wojciech Szczęsny waiting to replace Gigi Buffon, while the defence will be bolstered when Italy internationals Mattia Caldara and Leonardo Spinazzola return from loan spells at Atalanta. Further up the pitch he has Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa, Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi to choose from, while Marko Pjaca used a six-month spell at Schalke 04 to prove he too is ready to contribute.

All of which brings us back to the middle of the park. Emre Can is expected to arrive following the end of his contract with Liverpool, another free transfer acquisition to add to director general Beppe Marotta’s already impressive collection. Yet the German international is nowhere near enough to help Juve bridge the huge gulf that separates their midfield from those at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, teams who must be overcome if the Bianconeri are to end their long wait for European glory.

Seven domestic titles have been the result of a vastly superior infrastructure in comparison to their rivals in Italy, club after club citing the huge financial advantage Juve gain by owning their own stadium. If they are to carry their success into UEFA’s elite tournament however, they will need to invest the same money their Serie A rivals lack into a squad which already rules the peninsula after clinching four successive league-and-cup doubles under Allegri.

A proven talent like Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic certainly fits the bill and has already been discussed as a potential target. After weighing in with 14 goals and six assists this term the 23-year-old is expected to command a fee in excess of €90 million, but it is that kind of price that the Bianconeri need to pay and which Allegri must demand if he is to realise the club’s ultimate goal of Champions League success.

What Juventus have done until now has only brought them so far, and drastic action is needed. If all else fails, perhaps Allegri needs to take off his shirt, turn up LV and scream “Show. Me. The. Money!” at Beppe Marotta in the hope he will finally do just that.

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