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Can AS Roma give Juventus a fight for the Scudetto?

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Two years of unsuccessfully challenging Juventus for the title and AS Roma finally look like a side that might be successful in their mission. The 2013/14 season saw the club finish with 85 points, a tally that more often than not would have been enough to land them the coveted Scudetto. But their Turin counterparts were always a step ahead. This season, at least on paper, the capital club looks like they are genuinely equipped to finish at the top. It also helps that Juventus have lost quality players in Pirlo and Vidal, and could falter as a result of it.

They of course have to make sure things don’t fall apart midway. Last season, Roma did well in the beginning but the loss to Juventus in October slowly started derailing their campaign and in the end, Allegri’s side easily went on to win the title. Soon after that loss to Juventus, Roma lost 7-1 to Bayern Munich at home. 7-1. As talented as Bayern might be, that scoreline is embarrassing for any team.

Besides the confident denting blow to Juventus, Roma had other problems. The midfield looked jaded with Kevin Strootman being in and out with injury and Seydou Keita leaving for the AFCON in January. This meant Pjanic – who also didn’t look his best last season – and Radja Nainggolan “were running on vapour”.

They also had problems up-front. The very exciting Juan Manuel Iturbe didn’t live up to the hype and his €22m price-tag. Gervinho lost form and Totti, despite being Totti, couldn’t be Roma’s savior.

The upside to last season was that Garcia ensured there was some sustainability and Roma backed a great season with another one of moderate success as they did attain automatic Champions League qualification by the end of the campaign

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Garcia has now dismissed talks of a title, which is a safe thing to do – downplay expectations, avoid disappointment – but the Rome club has to do one better this time to ensure they’ve not reached a stagnation point.

They’ve definitely done better in terms of signings. Milan bought Andrea Bertolacci from Roma for €20 million and Alessio Romagnoli for €25 million, and Garcia and co. have used the money wisely. They’ve bought Nainggolan’s remaining stake from Cagliari and the talented midfielder now solely and completely belongs to them. They also signed winger Iago Falque from Genoa, who would prove to be a valuable addition to the club’s forward line. Falque, who has the distinction of playing at Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus in his youth days, scored 13 goals for Genoa last season and finally looked to be fulfilling his much talked about potential. He could prove to be an astute signing for the Giallorossi. Mohamed Salah did incredibly well on loan at Fiorentina last season and after much ado, the player finally signed on loan at Roma from Premier League giants, Chelsea. Salah scored 6 goals and grabbed 3 assists in 10 starts for the Florence outfit last season and would represent an upgrade on Gervinho.

Unarguably, if Roma want to win trophies next season, they required an improvement on the goalkeeper, Morgan De Sanctis who is 38 years old. Szczesny will need time to get going but the Poland international definitely has it in him to be an important player for Roma in the coming season. He might only be a temporary fix as he has also signed on an “initial” one year loan deal from Arsenal, but he is a good short term solution.

Perhaps their most eye-catching and best signing is that of Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian arrives from Manchester City with a strong reputation and an undeniable talent in front of goal. He will lead the line for the Italian side and we could see Totti take a marginalized, yet important, role this season. Dzeko has already started strongly as he netted twice in his pre-season debut for the club against Sevilla and has given the Roma faithful a reason for excitement and enthusiasm.

The Serie A is going to be more open than the last few seasons as Roma, Inter and Milan have all done impressive business in the transfer market and could end The Old Lady’s run of dominance. There are still some areas to strengthen for Roma, but the work has been positive from the Italian team so far and we might see the iconic Totti lift the Serie A title in possibly his last season with his boyhood club.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Mike Wright

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20, Third year student of History, English Premier League enthusiast with interest in Ligue 1 and the Croatian National Team.

Chelsea

Juventus eye up Chelsea’s Gary Cahill as a replacement for Leonardo Bonucci – Should they let him go?

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Cahill

In a surprising news item, The Sun claim that Juventus could look to Chelsea to replace Leonardo Bonucci after the Italian’s move to AC Milan and may target Gary Cahill as a replacement.

The Chelsea captain is currently serving a three game suspension after his red card on the opening day, but the Italian club may be hoping that he has played his last game for the Blues. They are reportedly prepared to spend as much as £16.5 million to bring him to the Juventus Stadium.

That could be tempting for Chelsea given that Cahill is 31-years-old and undoubtedly past his best. With a number of young defenders coming through, including the likes of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen, it could be tempting to cash in on Cahill and give more opportunities for them to develop.

His rash challenge against Burnley also left his team in the lurch and critics have claimed that it was symbolic of how out of depth the former Bolton man is as captain of the Premier League champions. With mounting pressure, he will need to be up to scratch when under scrutiny more than anyone.

However, Cahill was only recently appointed captain and it would send out entirely the wrong message if he was to be sold now. After a disastrous transfer window so far, it would not only be a psychological blow to lose the club captain, but would also leave Antonio Conte with less than a week to replace him.

His experience is also invaluable. Whilst the likes of Christensen may be knocking on the door of the starting line-up, he will need experienced heads like Cahill’s in and around him to help his development to reach his full potential as a Chelsea player in the years to come.

It could be tempting for Chelsea to allow Cahill to move on, and had this move have happened in June, it may well stand a chance of happening. Now with the season under way and only a matter of days away from the transfer window closing, it would be an incomprehensible decision if Chelsea do sell their captain.

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Chelsea

Claudio Marchisio linked to Chelsea – what would he bring?

Jake Jackman

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Marchisio

Chelsea are likely to be active until the final days of the transfer window as they look to add quality and depth to their squad. Antonio Conte currently lacks options outside of his starting eleven and competition is needed if they are to successfully defend their title. Gazzetta dello Sport report that the Italian is interested in signing Claudio Marchisio, who he has worked closely with before.

The midfielder is understood to be unhappy at Juventus due to being a bit-part player under the current regime. Ahead of the World Cup, he wants to play regular first team football and could be prepared to force a move before the transfer window closes. The Serie A champions already have a lot of players in the position and have recently bought Blaise Matuidi, which further limit the minutes that Marchisio is likely to be given.

What would he bring to Stamford Bridge?

The Blues have been criticised for their lack of ambition and poor squad planning this summer, but those will quickly be brushed to one side if they can land Marchisio. Despite having an underwhelming 2016/17 campaign, the midfielder is still regarded as a great player and it would send a statement to the rest of the division if Chelsea manage to bring him to the Premier League.

There is already a working relationship between Marchisio and Conte, which would mean that he would be able to adapt quickly to the style at Chelsea. He understands what it requires to be successful in a team managed by his fellow Italian, while the Blues’ manager trusts the midfielder. That can’t be said about certain other players currently at Stamford Bridge.

It has already been evident that Chelsea are short in central midfield as they resorted to playing David Luiz there at the weekend. The Brazilian played well, but it underlined the squad problems that the club have. Marchisio is disciplined and capable of carrying out a specific role in the team, which appeals to Conte. He can be a creative presence from deep and offers more than Cesc Fabregas does in terms of defensive work. It would be a smart signing if the Blues can pull it off.

How likely is a deal?

Juventus have already lost two important players this summer in Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci. It would be a surprise if they also let Marchisio leave the club. The midfielder could force the issue, but unless Chelsea submit a huge offer, a transfer looks unlikely at this late stage of the window. Conte will want to add another central midfielder, but there are other positions that are viewed as a bigger priority.

Marchisio to Chelsea
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Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
This one isn’t impossible, but it would take a lot of work to get it completed before the deadline. Perhaps one for a future window.
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Arsenal

Could Arsenal turn to Juventus’ Daniele Rugani to add depth to their defence?

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Arsenal

Arsenal could be set to look for further reinforcements for their defence as TransferMarketWeb claim that the club may move for Juventus centre-back Daniele Rugani.

What would Rugani bring to the Emirates?

Rugani is a strong and dominant central defender who is powerful in the air and effective with the ball at his feet. At just 23-years-old, his style is one of composure and calm and that is seen when on the ball as he looks to move the ball out from the back with short passes.

Defensively, he is strong too. Rarely beaten in aerial battles, his height at 190cm helps him to see off even the most physical of centre forwards. Like many top Italian defenders, he is not afraid of a physical battle either and his strength is another asset when he comes up against powerful strikers.

Rugani is also a great tackler. Learning from the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and the recently departed Leonardo Bonucci, he has improved that area of his game and has removed some of the more rash challenges he made as a youngster.

Is a move likely?

For Arsenal, it’s a possibility. Per Mertesacker will retire at the end of 2017/18 to take up a backroom role with the club’s academy and Rugani may represent the kind of long term successor that Arsenal are on the look out for. He shares many traits with the German but is also an improvement in terms of his passing.

Juventus are unlikely to be so keen on a deal though. Rugani was not first choice last season, making just 15 Serie A appearances, but he could step up to fill the shoes of Leonardo Bonucci after he left the club earlier this summer. Even if not, he is still seen a real prospect for the future.

Whether or not Rugani is keen on the deal is likely to depend on what offer of first team football he has in Turin. He may believe that he has a shot at making Italy’s World Cup squad having been on the fringes of the squad of late. Having made only three friendly appearances and having been left out of the most recent squad, that could prove crucial.

 

Daniele Rugani to Arsenal
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Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
Arsenal may well be interested in Rugani, but Juventus will not want to sell. It seems unlikely that the Gunners will fork out the kind of fee required to take him away from Turin.
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