This summer’s transfer activity has seen Milan firmly put a marker down, gaining attention from all angles. Over €200 million has been spent on 10 new signings, covering all positions.
The most significant of all has been Leonardo Bonucci’s €40 million move from Juventus. A masterstroke from Milan sees them incredibly strengthen their backline but also weakens the best side in Italy.
With so much hype around Milan, it’s important to not forget that Juventus have won the last six Serie A titles as well as reaching two Champions League finals in that time.
Smart recruitment sees Juventus very much stacked with defenders capable of filling Bonucci’s boots; Daniele Rugani has been ready for a while and deserves a consistent run partnering Chiellini, whilst the promising Mattia Caldara will spend another season playing regular football with Atalanta.
Juventus have plenty of young Italians but the most exciting is new boy Federico Bernardeschi, signed from Fiorentina for €40 million.
At 23 years of age Bernardeschi has two full seasons under his belt, scoring a career best 13 goals with five assists last season. An impressive feat considering the inconsistent Fiorentina side he was part of.
With Dani Alves leaving for Paris, the right side of Juve’s system needed adjusting. Instead of using three at the back with two wing-backs, Allegri will likely use a flat back four in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
This allows room for both Bernardeschi and Dybala in the same side, with either Mario Mandžukić or new signing Douglas Costa on the left flank.
Bernardeschi’s close control and pinpoint accurate crossing allows him to be able to play anywhere across the attacking three. Though, his most effective position is either the number 10 role or from the right, cutting in on his favoured left foot.
Along with Dybala, also just 23-years-old, Juventus have two of the best young players in Serie A. Their relationship, along with Gonzalo Higuaín and Douglas Costa, could become of the most feared attacking forces in Europe.
As clinical in front of goal as Higuaín is and as mesmerising as Costa can be, the two 23 year olds’ potential is way higher than the aforementioned. Juventus should be prioritising them and building their side around them for years to come.
Question marks will remain over Dybala’s future with the Old Lady. Links to Barcelona and Real Madrid have come become regular but so far Dybala seems committed to staying in Turin.
Bernardeschi’s signing will not only improve the squad but will also show ambition to players like Dybala and Alex Sandro, who are going to be tempted by non-Italian sides.
Dubbed the new Roberto Baggio by Fiorentina fans, not just because he left Florence for their most bitter of rivals, Bernardeschi needs to work on his consistency to be considered anything like Baggio.
Himself admitting that he doesn’t like being compared to Baggio;
There’s no-one like Baggio. In my opinion, comparisons are always wrong. Baggio was perhaps the greatest Italian footballer of all time, he showed that, so I don’t think you should compare me to him.
As Bernardeschi signed, the question on the minds of all Juve fans was simple; what number will he wear? The number 10 is one of the most iconic shirt numbers in football, especially at Juventus.
Previously worn by Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero, the number 10 has a rich history of being worn by legends of the game. Paulo Dybala has reached the point in his career where he feels ready for the step up.
Having Dybala take the number 10 shirt could be a blessing in disguise for Bernardeschi. Joining such a huge club can often be hard in the first few months. The added pressure of something so simple as a shirt number can make a big difference. See Memphis Depay as a perfect example.
Nicknamed Brunelleschi after the Italian architect for his elegance and technique, Bernardeschi is at the perfect club to elevate his talent. The Champions League will show whether he can make the step up and show himself to be one of the best young attackers in Europe.
In January 2017 Fiorentina reportedly told Chelsea they would have to pay £85 million if they wanted to sign Bernardeschi. The fact that Juventus have signed him from their rivals at just €40 million shows how attractive Juve still are to Italian players.
Napoli play some of the most attractive football in Europe, AC Milan are undergoing a dramatic improvement but Juventus are proven winners, which is what Bernardeschi is joining.
Trophies will likely follow this season, as will challenges.
Neither Serie A nor La Liga has even begun, yet Real Madrid look favourites for a third successive Champions League crown, something Juventus haven’t won since 1996.
European glory will be the goal for Juve with a domestic championship a minimum requirement for manager Max Allegri.
Bernardeschi needs to start well. Juventus kick off their Serie A title defence at home to Cagliari on 19th August with their first big game at home to rivals, and Bernardeschi’s former side, Fiorentina on match day five.
The first month’s opponents should allow Bernardeschi time to gel with his new teammates. Max Allegri will allow Bernardeschi to express himself, but will also demand hard work, something Bernardeschi isn’t afraid of.
In July 2017, legendary manager, Arrigo Sacchi gave his thoughts on Bernardeschi;
I’d say he dribbles well, he takes on a defender and goes past them with agility and imagination. He also has a good shot on him, he sees the goal, takes aim and the result is always dangerous. A great player? Calm down, calm down.
I’m describing a lad with notable talents, but one who has to mature and be helped.
Sacchi’s comments perfectly analyse the level Bernardeschi is currently at, whilst also adding that he has “enormous potential”.
Ultimately, only time will tell whether Bernardeschi can reach the heights expected.
A set piece specialist, wonderful running with the ball and a clever footballing brain, Bernardeschi has all the tools to become a vital player for both Juventus and the Azzurri.