Should Juventus Sell Douglas Costa To Man United or Wolves?

In the summer of big decisions at Juventus, one more issue needs to be sorted out by the Italian champions before the transfer market closure. Should new boss Andrea Pirlo offer the ultra-talented Douglas Costa one more chance to finally cement himself as one of the top stars of the club? Or would a split be more beneficial for both parties at this point, with the likes of Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers showing interest in the Brazilian winger?

Fitting In Pirlo’s Plans

As we’ve seen last Sunday against Sampdoria, Andrea Pirlo started his reign at Juventus using a flexible formation that can mostly be assimilated to the 3-5-2 lineup. And after the immediate success found in the opening match – in terms of performance and the final result – the young manager is expected to maintain almost the same formation and starting XI for the big Stadio Olimpico clash against Roma on Sunday night.

While the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Juan Cuadrado, and Aaron Ramsey have benefited from the newly adopted tactical setup, others could be damaged by the application of this new system, and Douglas Costa is arguably chief among them.

Blessed with blistering speed and impeccable dribbling skills, the Brazilian was born to roam on the wings, and wherever he played during his career, the 4-3-3 formation was always his favorite.

But in the 3-5-2 system, Douglas – or more accurately Pirlo – will have difficulties in finding a natural position. The wing-back roles are usually reserved for natural full-backs as this position requires tactical discipline and the responsibility of repeatedly tracking, back to help out in the defensive phase. So obviously playing Costa as a Wing-back would end up limiting his best attributes, as such a disciplined role would prevent him from freely roaming forward as much as he is meant to.

A more realistic solution would be unleashing the 30-year old as one of the two strikers. Although this position would be more suitable than wing-back, there are problems that defy this notion.

Firstly, the threat that Costa causes for defenders diminishes when playing in a more central role, as his most dangerous weapon is his runs from the flanks, and we’ve already seen him struggle at Juventus while getting caught in the central traffic.

Secondly, despite the lack of available forwards prior to the Sampdoria match, the new Juventus manager opted against starting Costa and instead converted 20-year-old midfielder Dejan Kulusevski into Cristiano Ronaldo’s striking partner, with the former Bayern player only introduced for the last few minutes.

Thus, Douglas should be wondering how much playing time he’ll receive at Juventus after Paulo Dybala’s return from injury and the signing of Alvaro Morata, as he could find himself as the 5th striker in Pirlo’s pecking order.

Manchester United and Wolves Tracking Douglas Costa

Followers of European football discovered Douglas Costa as a young and incredibly talented winger in Mircea Lucescu’s successful project at Shakhtar Donetsk, before moving to Bayern Munich per Josep Guardiola’s request.

His 40M euro transfer to Juventus in 2017 was perceived as a fair deal for a player at his level, and his first season with the Bianconeri started slow but he became a starting player during the later stages of the season.

Unfortunately, that was to be the best period of his underwhelming Juventus stint. His second season was marred by injuries, suspensions, and inconsistency. And while the arrival of Maurizio Sarri was supposed to enlighten his career again as he was perceived as fully suited to the former Napoli coach’s famous 4-3-3 formation, it just never happened, with the former Gremio man only showing some rare flashes of brilliance.
So after three complicated seasons at Juventus, perhaps it’s the perfect timing for an amicable divorce between the two parties. Although Costa remains a unique type of player, the Italian champions can’t afford to keep a player in his status if he’s going to be only used sparingly. And at 30 years old, this summer is the Old Lady’s last chance to receive a decent amount in return for him.

As for Douglas Costa, wasting another season would be fatal for his career and legacy. And if it hasn’t worked out for him at Juventus in the last three years, one would struggle to find signs of improvement after Pirlo’s tactical switch and the rise of new forwards who could be better suited for this new system.

Thus, Douglas would do well to try his luck in the prestigious English Premier League. The competition for places at Manchester United won’t be easier than at Juventus, but with the right attitude and set of skills, Costa can offer the Red Devils an X-Factor that they lack.

And with the latest reports indicating that the Wolves are leading the hunting pack, joining Nuno’s exciting Portuguese project could just be the perfect move for Costa at this point in his career.