For the first time in over a decade, Juventus will not be in the Champions League next season. After being docked ten points for financial irregularities, the Turin-based club finished 7th in the league with 62 points. This is a big shock for a side that has dominated Italian soccer for the past few years, even winning nine consecutive titles from 2011 to 2020.
However, the cracks have definitely been showing. In 2020, following their ninth consecutive title, club legend Andrea Pirlo was hired as manager, despite having no prior experience. Amidst controversy with star Cristiano Ronaldo, the club slumped to fourth. Pirlo departed and was replaced with another club legend — this time an actual manager, Massimiliano Allegri. However, in two seasons Allegri has struggled, leading the club to fourth and seventh respectively.
The off-the-field situation has hardly helped. With Serie A clubs struggling financially, Juventus was an early member of the ill-fated Super League, which quickly collapsed as a result of fan backlash.
Shortly after, investigations into the club’s finances resulted in the resignation of the club’s board of directors, president Andrea Agnelli and vice president Pavel Nedved. Juventus played much of this season with a point deduction of 15 before that was overruled — and then changed to a deduction of ten points. Now, the club has to plan for the future, something much easier said than done.
Right now, Juventus has a whole lot of deadwood in its squad. Thirteen players will return to the senior squad from loans, very few of whom have any future with the club. Additionally, two players will leave the club following their loan spells with the team (Leandro Paredes and Arkadiusz Milik).
Aside from that, Juventus has three players who are out of contract this summer. Ángel Di Maria is expected to leave after a mixed season in Turin, as is Juan Cuadrado. The club is reportedly trying to keep the third, Adrien Rabiot, at the club, but he looks likely to exit as well. On the other hand, Juventus is trying to terminate the contracts of Alex Sandro and Mohamed Ihattaren.
One sale has already been confirmed, as 21-year-old center back Radu Dragusin is off to Genoa. Others strongly linked with a departure include striker Dusan Vlahovic, winger Federico Chiesa, and promising talent Matias Soulé. With the club reportedly needing to raise millions of dollars, they will not be the only players out the door.
The Next Generation
While Soulé may leave Turin, Juventus still has a great group of young players coming through. Midfielder Nicolò Rovella, just 21, is returning from a loan spell with Monza where he impressed — particularly in his two victories against Juventus.
Nicolò Fagioli, a player I had similarly high hopes for, had an incredible year, becoming a starter and an Italy international despite being just 22. Fabio Miretti did the same at the age of 19. Another 19-year-old, Samuel Iling Junior, had a minor breakthrough into the first team.
Juventus has some of the best facilities in all of Europe, and, despite their financial position, will continue to develop exciting talents and bring young stars in. They need to utilize these players more, though — some big name players like Kingsley Coman, Cristian Romero, and Domenico Berardi left as youngsters in recent years for relatively little and thrived elsewhere.
Clear Out of the Old Guard
Juventus has already picked a new president, vice president, and board of directors after their resignations in 2022. However, they can’t stop there.
Allegri was a very good coach for Juventus for years. However, the decision to rehire him in 2021 was purely sentimental — the Italian had been out of coaching for two years and was taking over a much different squad. He has been solid if unspectacular, and it’s time for Juventus to look towards a new hiring: with options like Julian Nagelsmann and Zinédine Zidane available, they should act soon.
Despite injury concerns and inconsistent performances, 36-year-old Leonardo Bonucci remains at the club, and realistically should depart sooner than next season (when he plans to retire). Paul Pogba was brought back partially because of memories of his performances with the club in 2015 — and he was nonexistent this season, again mainly because of injuries.
While it won’t be popular, Juventus needs to be more ruthless with some of its decision-making, even when it comes to club icons.
Image Courtesy of Kirill Venediktov, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons.