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Juventus

Juventus – 2013/14’s Stand-Out Players

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It’s been another excellent league campaign for Juventus under Antonio Conte. They are well on their way to winning Serie A for the third straight season after being by far and away the best and most consistent side in Italian football. As in the previous two seasons, much of this has been down to hard work and a team mentality above all else. However, there have been a number of stand-out performers this season…

Andrea Pirlo

Let’s begin with everyone’s favourite Italian. Serie A’s Player of the Year for the last two seasons may have had part of his season disrupted by a knee injury but he has still contributed his world famous brand of control and style that few, if any, can come close to matching. Goals have never been a massive part of Pirlo’s game but his ability when standing over free kicks is almost unparalleled and has led him to his highest goal tally in a season for Juventus. There have been important goals as well – his free kick at Fiorentina in the Europa League undoubtedly saved a disjointed Juve from elimination. It says a lot about Pirlo’s quality and importance that, even at 34, Juventus were still keen to offer him a contract extension to keep him at the club beyond the summer. Happily for Juve fans, Pirlo will be around Turin for the next two years at least and they can expect plenty more beautiful and excellent performances from the man they call “il professore”.

Arturo Vidal

While Pirlo provides the artistry and takes the majority of plaudits, Vidal has been perhaps more important to Juve’s success this season. There can be little argument that the Chilean has impressed since his move from Bayer Leverkusen in 2011 as he has developed into the most complete the midfielder in the world without question. His work rate is incredible as he does the hard running that allows Pirlo to sit deep and dictate play in midfield. Vidal is a tenacious defender and likes to get stuck in as his disciplinary record will show (12 yellow cards already this season, considerably higher than anyone else). Most impressive about Vidal though is his attacking prowess. His constant movement makes him a danger to any side and he sits on an incredible 18 goals in all competitions this season, only one behind top scorer Carlos Tevez. He has developed goal scoring instincts better than some strikers in Serie A and became the first Juventus player since 2000 to score a hat trick in the Champions League. It is without question that Vidal has been a star man for Juventus this season. He may have missed out on a Ballon d’Or nomination at the end of 2013 but don’t be surprised to see him named Serie A Player of the Season in the coming months.

Carlos Tevez

Juventus’ biggest area of weakness over the past two seasons has been up front. There was no world class striker who would bang in 20-30 goals a season for them. Many tried – Nicolas Anelka, Mirko Vucinic, Alessandro Matri, Fabio Quagliarella, Sebastian Giovinco, Marco Borriello and Nicklas Bendtner have all played for the club with varying degrees of success – but none have succeeded. So, there was a conscious effort to try and improve the striker situation in the summer and one of the solutions was the much maligned Argentine Carlos Tevez. More famous in recent years for golfing mid-season, Tevez has been a man possessed as he bangs in goals left, right and centre. He currently has 19 goals in all competitions with 18 of those coming in the league alone. More importantly, Tevez has provided a striker that fans can rely on and someone they can idolise. While Vucinic, Giovinco and Quagliarella are good players, they have a tendency to be inconsistent and not provide as much as they sometimes should. Tevez has provided good performances on a regular basis and is beginning to make the £10 million fee look like one of the bargains of the summer.

Fernando Llorente

A free transfer signing during the summer, Llorente may have experienced a hangover from his controversial departure from Athletic Bilbao. However, he has proven to be an excellent foil for fellow summer recruit Tevez with his ability to hold up the ball and win it in the air. He has also contributed a good return of goals in his first season in Italy. He has 14 in Serie A and got 2 in the Champions League games against Real Madrid to take his season tally to 16, better than any of the strikers in the previous two seasons. He has quietly been racking up the goals and helped keep Juve moving forward toward their third Serie A title in a row.

Paul Pogba

The young Frenchman had a breakout season last year and has only solidified his standing as one of, if not, the best young players in the world. 2013’s Golden Boy has forced his way into the starting XI past Claudio Marchisio and has produced performances of the highest quality in the biggest games. Like Vidal, he is very much an all-round midfielder with good work rate, excellent defensive and tackling skills and brilliant attacking prowess. His goal scoring record is nothing amazing but his goals tend to veer towards the spectacular. The most impressive skill that Pogba has shown this season is his ability to control games in midfield. He is not afraid to get on the ball and, behind Pirlo, is the best playmaker Juve possess. There have been French midfielders compared to Patrick Vieira for years without success but Pogba is beginning to look more and more like Vieira with every passing game. It must hurt Manchester United fans that Sir Alex Ferguson never used him considering their midfield woes now.

Do you agree with these choices for Juventus’ stand-out players this season? If not, who would you say has stood out this season? Let us know in the comments section below.

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
Reader Rating1 Vote3.1
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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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