Article by Yinka Aboaba
Despite being the most successful team in Italy with a record 27 titles and 51 official competitions wins, as well as dominating the European Stage in 1990s and early 2000s, the recent plight of Juventus over the last five years has been extremely painful for their fans. Although they finished third in 2007 following their relegation in wake of the match fixing scandal, a disappointing seventh finish last season has served further frustration in the hope that Juventus were finally moving forwards.
This summer will be a transformation for Juventus, who hope to finally challenge the Scudetto since their last win in 2003 and Europe’s premier competition in order to try and preserve their status amongst the elite. The first stage has been the appointment of their former captain Antonio Conte, who was part of one of the best midfields in Europe which included Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Nevded and Edgar Davids in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It does seem like a promising appointment, since Conte led both Bari and Siena to promotion whilst he was at the helm and of course he knows the club inside out. However, he had a difficult time at Atalanta and despite his previous history with the club; it is likely that he will remain cautious on his future prospects after witnessing the difficulties his former teammate Ciro Ferrara faced during his tenure.
The Turin side will move to a new stadium next season, becoming the first Italian side to own their ground in the process. Whilst one would hope that this would create optimism amongst the fans, failure to find a sponsor for the stadium has created further anxiety and may show that there may be more difficult times ahead for the club or that sponsors are waiting for some big name signings before they commit.
Despite all the recent shortcomings at the club, since the recent cash injection from their owners of €120 million of which nearly half has been made available for transfers, Juventus have been relative active in the transfer market this summer. Fortunately, the permanent signings of Marco Motta, Alessandro Matri, Simone Pepe and Fabio Quagliarella at a combined €37.25 million have not affected this summer’s overall generous budget. In addition to that they already confirmed the purchases of the experienced Andrea Pirlo, Stephan Lichsteiner, Michele Pazienza and Reto Ziegler respectively. Whilst talks with Sergio Aguero have broken down due to their reluctance to pay the €45 million in his release clause, they are currently in talks with Villarreal about the transfer of their star forward Giuseppe Rossi who scored 32 goals in all competitions for the Yellow Submarines last season for roughly €30 million. They have also been linked with several other high profile players and as their owner has admitted, the bulk of their summer budget will go on one player. On the flip side it is important to mention however that it is a case of ‘quality’ rather than ‘quantity’ in terms purchasing players for Juventus which Luciano Moggi (former general director) correctly pointed out – last season they had 36 senior players and with several signings already, the team will need time to gel. Already Juve’s main rivals are getting worried with Milan’s Vice President Adriano Galliani fearing that a possible resurgence may prevent his team from retaining the Scudetto.
Since the appointment of Conte, he has pleaded with the owners for both time and money to build the team he wants. Though he has been given the latter, the fact that previous managers have not been given time coupled with the massive underachievement in recent years may mean that Antonio Conte may not be given time and that he wants, meaning that he will almost certainly need a strong start to the season to ease any immediate pressure.
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