Juventus look set to continue their dominance of Serie A having snapped up some of the most talented young players in Italian football.
In an age of transfer rumours, gossip columns, and an insatiable demand for a feast of big-money, high-profile signings, constraint is often left behind.
The art of long-term planning can easily be lost when faced with quick-and-easy money grabbing with a view to shirt sales and Twitter trends: the instant rewards for splashing the cash. However, to see why a far-sighted and future-thinking strategy works best, Calcio fans only have to look to the top of the Serie A table.
Juventus are shrugging off the stereotype bestowed upon Italian football, a safe haven for slow veterans, and pressing ahead with a transfer policy that betrays their famous nickname – the Old Lady.
In the past few seasons, Juve have acquired parenthood of a number of Italy’s brightest young talents; Domenico Berardi, Daniele Rugani, Stefano Sturaro, and most-recently Paulo Dybala. The list goes on, and will grow further.
Aside from their age, what jumps out about these youngsters is their citizenship, many are viable options for the Italian national side and they certainly possess the potential to supply Antonio Conte’s Azzurri squad for years to come.
Utilising the loan system has been a key component of success for fellow European giants Chelsea and the Bianconeri are set to reap the benefits of sending these players to well-managed sides. Maurizio Sarri’s Empoli has been the perfect training ground for centre-back Rugani, with high-quality performances justifying the acquisition for the Tuscans.
Furthermore, Berardi and Simone Zaza are progressing well at Sassuolo, and Nicola Leali could hardly have found a better club to test out his shot-stopping ability than down the E70 at Cesena.
Of course, there are tens of Juventus players out on-loan with no serious future in Turin, but these are also low-risk signings; the fees for Rugani, Sturaro and Roberto Pereyra barely tipped past a combined €10 million.
Contrast that to the Old Lady’s rivals, AC Milan and Inter continue to bring in mediocre talents with little chance of getting better, while Napoli struggle to justify large fees. Meanwhile, in the capital, Roma’s insecurity with their playing staff led to gorging on expensive loanees with chunky purchase obligations that ended up offering little return on the field.
Indeed, most of the Giallorossi’s deals occurred in the final days of the January window, a period when Juve were relatively quiet; a sign of good management if one is accepting Alessandro Matri as a horses-for-courses exception, rather than the rule.
This good management is based on decisive, intelligent transfer planning that sees targets tied up long before times runs out. In fact, the clock hadn’t even started ticking when Palermo starlet Dybala’s Bianconeri future was sealed weeks before the season had ended, for fee thought to be a hefty €30 million.
The striker’s signature is a sign of intent, an aging squad cannot rely on Carlos Tevez and Claudio Marchisio for much longer, and in Paul Pogba it’s biggest talent looks set to depart in the summer.
Such a sale will go further to prove their policy while satisfying the Financial Fair Play bureaucrats, but more importantly the best way to replace a winning team is with the money reinvested in fresh and hungry faces.
In Massimiliano Allegri they have a coach able to breed them into champions and, while there is a fair chance of stage-fright under the weight of expectation, their talent should be enough to bring them through as the next great Juventus Scudetto winning team.