Is Juventus’s Search for a Left Winger a Symptom of a Bigger Problem?
Juventus has been very busy this summer, something we are all used to by now, but it seems their business is not yet concluded. Earlier this week club director Giuseppe Marotta revealed the Turin giants are looking to sign at least two more players before the transfer window closes next week, an enticing revelation for supporters. But will they be able to sign the kind of players the Old Lady needs to reclaim her place among Europe’s best?
Since their banishment to the second division as a result of the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus has struggled to consistently field the elite-type squad their supporters had become so used to seeing in the famous black and white. Juve finished a disappointing seventh last season, and they have spent big money once again to try and claw their way back to the top of Serie A and into the Champions League where the fell they belong. But after failing the last two seasons to make in impact on the peninsula, is that climb becoming steeper and steeper?
Some Juventus fans had a chuckle last week when one of their transfer targets, Hamburg’s Dutch midfielder Eljero Elia, claimed the Old Lady simply wasn’t big enough for him to move. When asked about a possible transfer to Turin, the player responded, “There’s no need to talk if a club of the same level as HSV is interested. Juventus are still one of the best Italian teams around, but they’re not better than Hamburg in my opinion.”
We can debate whether Juventus and Hamburg are currently on the “same level”, but there is no debating that ten years ago Juve were clearly a much bigger club, one of the biggest in the world. Fans may laugh at the Dutchman’s claim, but after two seasons without Champions League football, is Elia’s conclusion really that far off? That lump in the throat Juventus supporters are feeling stems from the unspoken worry that many other players may just feel the same way.
Marotta has once again opened the bank this summer and spent big, bringing in players aplenty. They have clearly improved, especially at key positions where they struggled last season. But one has to question whether those players are good enough to see Juve to the top of the table, or big enough to move the spotlight back onto the Bianconeri. While Juve’s rivals can brag about the list of high-profile players in their teams, the Old Lady of Italian football can make no such boasts. They simply do not have players the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Edinson Cavani, and they have failed to attract them over the last few years.
It has been made clear by recent press reports, and by those at the club, that the Bianconeri now have a left -winger at the top of their wishlist, and many such targets have already come and gone this summer. Juve couldn’t close the deal for the aforementioned Elia, and also failed in their bid to land Brazilian Michel Bastos from Lyon. Now they appear once again to be looking further down their list to lesser known players like Bayer Leverkusen’s Tranquillo Barnetta and Bologna’s Gaston Ramirez, and this isn’t the first time Marotta has been forced to cross some names off his list.
Earlier this summer Juventus let the world know they wanted a star striker and were willing to spend big money to get him. They made it clear they were after a player who could not only score goals but more importantly could also attract fans to their new stadium and the attention of the football world. But they failed. The club targeted big money signings like Giuseppe Rossi and Sergio Aguero, but were forced to settle for Mirko Vucinic.
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Vucinic is a good player and Marotta got good value for the money spent. He certainly will help Juventus this season. But I fear the manner in which he was acquired, along with the clubs ongoing search for a left-sided attacking winger, are symptoms of a greater obstacle Juve now faces. For one reason or another, they have not been able to attract elite talent to a club that once boasted those type of players in every position. Juventus need to do it the hard way now, building from the ground up. Are supporters willing to be patient for a bit longer?