On Sunday, Juventus face Inter in the season’s first Derby d’Italia. Both signed big this summer, however, the new Bianconeri’s players, in typical fashion, have hit the ground running as they so often do in Turin.
Juventus acquired six new players during the summer transfer window and nearly all have played a substantial role in helping the club make an early jump to first place in the Serie A table.
Gonzalo Higuain, Serie A’s reigning capocannoniere, purchased in a blockbuster deal from Napoli in July, has picked up right where he left off from last campaign and has already found the net three times in as many games.
Miralem Pjanic – bought from Roma – looks perfectly at home in the centre of the Juventus Stadium pitch and recorded his first goal for his new team in a 3-1 victory over Sassuolo last weekend.
Further back, Dani Alves and Medhi Benatia, signed from Barcelona and Bayern Munich, respectively, have each started two Serie A matches and helped the backline obtain one clean sheet. Alves also played 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw with former employers Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Juventus have been close to perfect in their start to the season thanks, in large part, to these newcomers.
But this is nothing out of the ordinary for the Old Lady, who have a history of signing players that hit the ground running from the moment they touch down in Turin.
Long-serving goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon wasted no time getting involved after from his arrival from Parma in 2001. He helped Juventus capture the Scudetto in style during his first season, playing in all 34 games and recording clean sheets in an astonishing 18.
Last season, Paulo Dybala scored 19 goals and added nine assists after joining La Vecchia Signora from Palermo.
More examples stretch back decades. Welshman John Charles, known as the “Gentle Giant,” made his way to Turin from Leeds United in 1957 and went on to score 108 times before returning to the Peacocks in 1962.
That said, not every team can get ever transfer right, Juventus included.
Former midfielder Diego might spring to mind, who was brought in from Werder Bremen in 2009. The Brazilian failed to have a lasting impact and was sold to Wolfsburg for €15.5 million after just one season on the peninsula.
Diego aside, Juventus generally boast a decent track record of determining which footballers fit best both on and off the pitch.
Understanding the nature of how the Serie A giants identify players is twofold; for one, they typically select proven, well-rounded footballers.
Higuain, Pjanic, Benatia, and Dani Alves were key members of former teams and either had significant experience competing in Italian football, the Champions League, or both.
The quartet has cumulatively played 12 seasons in Serie A and 26 in the Champions League.
But there’s also a system in place at Juventus that enables new players to succeed and grow. The Old Lady have depth and quality in all sectors of the pitch, which means the talent of one footballer gets compounded by the ability of those around him.
Dybala showcases this nicely. In his final season with the Rosanero, he scored 13 goals and added 10 assists in 34 matches. In the same time span during the 2015-16 Juventus campaign, the Argentine recorded six more goals with just one fewer assists.
Pavel Nedved developed into a more dynamic player during his time in Juventus as well. When he arrived in Turin from Lazio in 2001, he had never assisted in Serie A.
But the Czech international became an architect in the heart of the Bianconeri midfield, contributing six assists in his first year at Juventus. Nedved established himself as a club legend en route to helping the club win two Scudetti, one Coppa Italia, and an appearance in 2002-03 Champions League final.
As Dybala et al show, Juventus’ players are still exposed to an environment that allows them to flourish in the same way that Nedved, Buffon, Charles, and countless others did before.
The new acquisitions will be counted on again this Sunday, as the Bianconeri visit Inter in matchday four.
By Julian Cardillo. Follow @JulianCardillo.