Future is bright in Turin for reigning champions Juventus


Juventus faced Barcelona in the Champions League final with what can definitively be called a veteran team. The Old Lady started Gianluigi Buffon, Patrice Evra, Andrea Barzagli, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez, all of whom are over 30 years of age.

With Pirlo and Tevez departing, the Bianconeri took the opportunity to make the squad much younger in an effort to once again reach the Champions League final – and this time win it. This will be no easy task seeing as in the last five years only one losing finalist (Bayern Munich) has made it back to Europe’s biggest stage.

Juve is hoping youth gets them back to the big game sooner – and more often.

Part of the youth movement included allowing reserve, veteran players to leave. Goalkeeper Marco Storari (38) and winger Simone Pepe (31) both left the club after five seasons each in Turin. 30-year-old forward Alessandro Matri was returned to Milan following a loan stint, while Romulo (28) also returned to his original club, Hellas Verona, after a loan spell. Add players like Tevez (31) and Pirlo (36), and the Bianconeri lost an unquantifiable amount of experience.

However, the departed experience has been replaced by youth and potential.

Let’s be clear, the team still has a wealth of experience with the likes of Buffon, Evra, Giorgio Chiellini and Barzagli among others, but they now have the youth to sustain their success.

The team got younger at nearly every position.

Former Fiorentina starter Neto was signed on a Bosman as the backup goalkeeper to replace a man (Storari) who is 12 years his senior. In defense, the team went from somewhat young (28-year Angelo Ogbonna, who was sold to West Ham) to extremely young. Highly regarded center-back Daniele Rugani, who’s only 20 years young, replaces his compatriot as a back-up defender.

The team’s most recent signing, Alex Sandro is only 24 and comes with a wealth of experience. The 24-year-old left-back will push Evra for minutes, if not overtake the Frenchman completely.

Sami Khedira (28) was signed to replace Pirlo as the midfield pivot, while a younger No. 10 type will likely be sought to fill Pirlo’s creative void.

Up front, Paulo Dybala (21) and Simone Zaza (24) along with Mario Mandzukic (29) were signed to replace the departing Tevez and Matri (31 and 30 respectively).

The team will likely become even younger with the possibility that 30-year-old Fernando Llorente is sold. Llorente’s minutes would likely be divvied up between Kingsley Coman and Dybala, both of whom are under the legal drinking age in the United States.

For a team that was filled with the soccer equivalent of gray hairs, Juventus has completely reshaped its team, making it not only more athletic and dynamic, but also a threat to contend next season, and in the future when some of its current veterans will be enjoying retirement.


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