The Cristiano Aftermath

By dwicarta, 27 August 2021

As soon as Massimiliano Allegri finished his presser, things were much clearer. Three years after he signed for Juventus, on 10 July 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo had told him he did not intend to play for our beloved club anymore. It looked like his agent, Jorge Mendes, had managed to get Manchester City United to sign his most popular client for €25 million plus €3 million in bonuses and a few hours later, it was official. Wherever he goes, it doesn’t matter. What matters now is… now what?

Cristiano, obviously, has many strengths. First and foremost is his scoring, especially though his headers. Nobody seems to jump higher than him and he can score with both feet. It’s the testament of his hard work. He’s also, if he chooses to, an excellent play maker. When he drops down and looks for his teammates, he almost always opens up the field. And finally, he shines on important situations. The bigger the stage is or the opponents are, the more he impacts the game.

He also has his weaknesses. Most of all, he’s selfish. He’s not happy when he doesn’t score and he’s not even happy when his teammates score. His free kicks are horrible yet he insists on taking everyone of them. He doesn’t defend, either. Sometimes, yes, but most of the times, no.

So immediately after he leaves, Juve are both stronger and weaker. We can defend with 11 players and score free kicks now. On the other hand, we may lack play-making (with or without Cristiano) and goal-getters, especially in crucial moments.

Leonardo Bonucci, even at 34 years-old, is still an excellent play-maker. Giorgio Chiellini (37) is an underrated one and Matthijs de Ligt (22) is not a bad passer, either. In the middle of the park, we have now added Manuel Locatelli (23), a young and talented play-maker who can play both the regista and mezz’ala role. Unfortunately, the other five midfielders are not that great. Cristiano has his share of blames but his midfielders have let him down too many times as well.

On the right wing, we have one of Federico Chiesa (23), Paulo Dybala (27), or Dejan Kulusevski (21) supported by Juan Cuadrado (33). Plenty. It’s on the left that we don’t have anything. Zero. Zilch. There’s no left winger around and with Alex Sandro (30) regressed significantly, the support from left back is practically non-existent.

Rumors are Moise Kean (21) will rejoin but he’s not a play-maker and is coming to cover Alvaro Morata (28) as the number nine to run into spaces, stretch the defense and hopefully score goals.

So to me, if we have the budget and time, the key in improving the squad is upgrading three positions:

  1. A new left winger. Hopefully we sign one who excels at play-making and scoring goals. If not, Allegri may have to move Chiesa there to provide it. He’s at his best on the right but he’s also the best right winger who can play on the left. Cuadrado, Dybala and Kulusevski are not as good as Chiesa on the left.
  2. A new midfielder. Locatelli is the only capable play-maker. Arthur (25) is excellent at keeping the ball but he has shown little else. Adrien Rabiot (26) may add another dimension to his play but we won’t know for sure until we see it. The rest are good role players who work hard. We need another one to make plays.
  3. A new left back. This is probably the most difficult one. Juve will have to sell Sandro first and at 30 and with €6 million/year salary, he’s not easy to move. Maybe upgrading his backup can be done first as the contract of Mattia De Sciglio (28) will end next year. On the other hand, with limited budget, I won’t be surprised at all if De Sciglio is actually extended for another year.

With these three new players, we’ll be a stronger team than the one that had Cristiano. It is most likely that it won’t be done in one summer transfer window. It will probably take two, three or even four windows as Juve will also have to sign a permanent starting number nine next season. We will also have to rejuvenate the goalkeeping and right back positions in the near future. These are probably another effect of signing Cristiano. With his exorbitant salary, we have been late in rejuvenating the squad. Signing oft-injured players like Aaron Ramsey didn’t help, either.

However, the core players are there: De Ligt, Locatelli, Chiesa, Kulusevski, and maybe Arthur and Rabiot. We keep adding them and we move forward. Three days left in this summer mercato. Fino alla fine, Forza Juventus!!!