Following three years marred by failed experiments, risky transfers and general calamity, Juventus decided that they had seen enough of Fabio Paratici and his market strategy – or more accurately, the lack of it.
The former sporting director was shown the door. In his stead came in Federico Cherubini. A loyal company man who earned a surprising promotion. But in reality, the club’s new CEO Maurizio Arrivabene is the one who wields the power at Continassa.
The former Ferrari boss is far from being a football expert. Nonetheless, the 65-year-old can be described as a financial magician who’s arrival is simply meant to counter the former Paratici-regime. In other words, his main job is to ensure that the club tightens the belt amidst a ravaging post-Covid financial crisis.
Therefore, Juventus fans should no longer expect signings similar to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo with Arrivabene’s strategy in full practice, nor free agents lured by hefty wages.
The First Victim
This Monday, the management’s new economic iron fist was on full display, as it put to rest one of the longest contract soap operas in recent memory.
When Paulo Dybala’s representatives entered the meeting, they already knew that the Juventus directors won’t offer them the desired figures. But what Jorge Antun and Carlos Novel probably didn’t expect was the almost nonchalant and dismissive nature of the gathering.
During the meeting, the Juventus directors blatantly explained their new transfer strategy, and how La Joya is no longer at the center of the project, especially following the arrival of Dusan Vlahovic. Few hours later, Cherubini pulled the plug on the negotiations in a simple yet paramount phone call with the player’s agent, while Arrivabene took it upon himself to proudly tell the media how it all played out.
Apparently, Juventus have now set new parameters which will see them almost exclusively investing in young players with transfer values that can withstand the test of time. As for the squad’s current experienced bunch, they can either accept reduced salaries, or follow Dybala to the exit door.
The Shadows of the Past
Although the Old Lady’s financially-tight strategy is an unaccustomed sight, this is far from being the first big European club to adopt such strict policies. In fact, the likes of Milan and Arsenal had applied their own rules in the past.
But how well did it pan out, is the key question.
In the beginning of the 2010’s, the Rossoneri found themselves at the end of a cycle, with the likes of Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini on their last legs. Unfortunately for the club, former owner Silvio Berlusconi no longer possessed the financial means to conduct a proper rebuilding. Instead, vice-president Adriano Galliani came out with a new strategy: Players above the age of 30 would only receive one-year contracts.
While the policy was a smart one in essence, it’s strict application saw Milan losing the services of Andrea Pirlo, who decided to embark on a new adventure at Juventus who offered him a three-year deal. The rest, as they say, is history. The Maestro helped the Bianconeri kickstart the longest winning-dynasty in the history of Calcio, while the Diavolo entered their darkest period in recent memory.
As for the Gunners, Arsène Wenger once possessed the lone undefeated side in the Premier League’s history, a squad blessed by a plethora of talent, including the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell and Dennis Bergkamp. Then he decided to build a young squad upon the shoulders of youngsters, and the North Londoners have never been anywhere near EPL glory ever since
So what lesson is there for Juventus and their current management?
A Risky Strategy?
After paying the price for Paratici’s market blunders, we can understand why the club is adamant on adopting a more calculated market approach.
But here’s the flip side: Juventus must realize that by applying a too-cautious strategy based on strict parameters, they’re taking a great risk upon themselves.
After all, who’s to say that the club will be able to replace Dybala with a suitable alternative. Quality players require large wages, and even larger transfer fees. Basically Juventus are quite literally releasing the bird in their hand.
So while Arrivabene’s dedication to his financial policy is surely admirable, history tells us that winning squads were often built by men with extraordinary visions, exquisite shrewdness and undoubted instinct.
Therefore, the current Juventus CEO should perhaps take a page from Giuseppe Marotta’s book, or even learn a trick or two from Luciano Moggi (the legal ones, of course), because these men never allowed internal rules to stand in the way of their vision, and ultimately, they were greatly rewarded for their courageous approaches.
In conclusion, prudence and over-calculation aren’t always the safest path towards success, and for Juventus, a great risk lies within their apparently-cautious strategy, and only time will tell if the club’s newly-adopted approach will bear the desirable fruits.