Welcome back, amici!
What a difference a day or two makes. What was on Wednesday an interminable bore of a transfer saga for Angelo Ogbonna has happily morphed into an honest-to-goodness signing and cautious optimism for his Bianconeri future. That takes care of that.
Meanwhile, Juve have apparently once again conceded Stevan Jovetic to a richer club (either that, or they’re bluffing Fiorentina once more for good measure). But though Manchester City are reportedly close to landing the Montenegrin, considering Jovetic’s desire for Juve, plus the sadly imminent departure of Emanuel Giaccherini and the subsequent freeing of funds (and admittedly allowing for a very un-Marotta like cash splurge), anything is technically possible in the coming weeks.
But much more importantly, Juventus officially kick off the preseason today at Val d’Aosta. The tifosi will adore them, the press will bait them, and Antonio Conte will drill them—it’s all part of the job of being defending champions. As is losing the upcoming TIM Trophy (thus putting us cosmically on track for this year’s Scudetto).
Throw in the increased expectations for European glory, and we’ve got the makings for one hell of a season.
Tomorrow starts today. Time to ST that BS.
Finally Final: Ogbonna Officially Juventino
Well, glory be.
Transfer Saga That Wouldn’t Die #1 finally ended yesterday with the announcement that Angelo Ogbonna has made the short trip across town from Torino to Juventus.
The 25-year-old, whose impressive club performances earned him a place in Cesare Prandelli’s European Championship squad last summer, has put pen to paper on a five-year contract which keeps him with the Bianconeri until 2018.
Juventus will part with €13 million for the player’s full registration rights, to be paid in installments over the next three years.
The fee could rise by a further €2 million if Ogbonna achieves certain sporting targets stipulated in the agreement reached by the two clubs.
As expected, the co-ownership of Ciro Immobile was ultimately not a factor in the Ogbonna deal, but will presumably be hashed out separately between the two sides in the near future.
Juve are understandably excited at the prospect of bolstering options in defense:
The widely-coveted centre-back… combines an enviable physical presence with a cultured left foot.
Don’t we all wish we had a cultured left foot—or at least one that’s been to a few museums and managed to finish War and Peace. But I digress.
The official site also offers a pocket biography of our new defender:
Born in Cassino to Nigerian parentage, Ogbonna’s raw qualities were noted by the Granata at an early age, who swooped to recruit him as one of their rising academy stars.
A loan spell at Serie C1 outfit Crotone during the 2007/08 season enabled Ogbonna to experience regular first-team action, making 22 starts for the Calabria-based side in a productive campaign.
His return to Turin saw him push for a regular spot in the starting line-up, eventually cementing a permanent berth throughout the 2008/09 season.
After playing a crucial role in Torino’s 2011/12 promotion-winning side, Ogbonna capped off a memorable year by forming part of Cesare Prandelli’s Euro 2012 squad.
With six full caps to his name, the 25-year-old will now be aiming to win a place in Serie A’s strongest defence and firmly establish himself on the international scene.
It’s always hard to predict the success of a defender, what with the immense tactical pressure unique to the position and the quirks of chemistry amongst the members of the back line. Nevertheless, this is a solid, potentially great signing—Ogbonna didn’t get to the threshold of the national setup through big-club patronage.
And, as our own John Cascarano pointed out in his excellent Ogbonna profile, the signing gives Juve some much-needed speed in defense—last season’s lack of same having proven to be a glaring deficiency in an otherwise formidable back line.
If the poor-ish Confederations Cup performances of an aging (and admittedly injury-hampered) Andrea Barzagli prove to be the rule rather than the exception this season, Angelo’s youth will be crucial to both to the Scudetto effort and towards giving the Bayerns of the world a decent account of ourselves (and by “decent account” I mean “defeating them”).
Benvenuto a la Juve, Angelo!
The Return of Conte (Speaking at Press Conferences)!
Antonio Conte recently renewed his contract with Juve with the implicit stipulation that Andrea Agnelli and Giuseppe Marotta would sign more players to make the squad competitive with Europe’s best. So far, Conte’s colleagues have acted in good faith, making several big signings with hopefully more to come.
Now, it’s Conte’s turn to honor the deal and once again steer Juve towards a historic third-straight Scudetto and a deeper run in the Champions League.
Conte’s first press conference of the young stagione proved nothing less than a mission statement, the theme for this season being “onwards and upwards.”
Juventus.com has cherry-picked the best of the press conference:
“I think that Juventus are working to bring in players who can help us develop year on year, whilst at the same time taking the current economic crisis into account.”
“As far as I’m concerned, improving the quality of our strikeforce with Tévez and Llorente for just nine million euros represents an extraordinary achievement.”
“When you’re bringing in players like Tévez, for nine million euros, in these times of financial crisis, you need to balance that by bringing in nine million from elsewhere, so it’s inevitable there will be some sad departures. I’m got a strong bond with all the lads I’ve worked with over the past two years. They’ve shown me great commitment.”
Aiming for the history books
“Reclaiming our title was very difficult and doing it for a third year would represent a historic achievement, a feat Juventus managed between 1930 and 1935.”
Progress during the Conte era
“In the last two years, Juventus have managed to return to what they represent: a winning team. We’ve regained the image that the club has always held both in Italy and on a worldwide scale.”
Determination and hard work
“We know that if we don’t work with commitment, humility and the desire to push ourselves to the limit on a daily basis, we won’t achieve important goals this season.”
Competition in attack
“We’ve now got six first-team strikers, we’ll see what happens. Everyone knows that I don’t have favourites. I choose my starting line-up based on what I see in training and during the games themselves.”
The number 10 shirt
“I’m not interested in the number a player wears. What counts is what he shows during the week in training and both on and off the field of play. A player could even wear 124 as far as I’m concerned. What matters is that whoever wears the Juventus shirt honours it in the best possible way, showing desire, passion and commitment.”
Competition in Europe
“Bayern and Barcelona have reinforced even further, so it’s difficult to see the gap diminishing. We must work a great deal on the pitch, there’s no way we can think about shortening the gap through signings, the others are too far ahead. We’ll bring in three players for 20 million, while the others buy one for 30. Or even 63 million, as we saw with PSG and Cavani.”
“Napoli have hired a great manager in Benitez, a man who has won everything and is also underrated. As far as the other teams are concerned, Inter have a good squad and an excellent coach. Milan with Balotelli were only defeated by us in the second half of the season.
“There’s also the likes of Fiorentina in the mix, a team who can no longer be considered a provincial side following the acquisition of a player like Gomez. Garcia’s arrival at Roma will bring plenty of enthusiasm and competence. Lazio also have a useful squad and approach the campaign on the back of last season’s Coppa Italia win.”
Strength of Italian football
“I’m happy that foreign greats have chosen to ply their trade here, it’s stimulating for all concerned.”
Mostly inspiring stuff, although the “no-favorites” striker policy seems a bit historically confusing. How else can you explain Alex Del Piero’s absence during his last season, in those moments where we desperately needed his creativity to avoid draws? Or how about his sticking with Vucinic (Lazy Version) during one of his fallow periods? Hell, how does Conte explain Borriello entirely? It’s a fine line between faith and favoritism, I guess. But all coaches need to deal with that issue sometimes.
Life’s wonderful contradictions aside, it is nevertheless a very exciting time to be a Juventino. Increased strength, increased competition, and increased exposure on a global scale — things are seriously on the uptick.
Time to hold the domestic fort, take another run at Europe and dazzle the neutrals!
Giaccherini All Set for Sunderland
Talk about taking one for the team.
For two seasons, he’s selflessly put himself at the disposal of club and country. Now, it looks like Emanuele Giaccherini is making one last sacrifice for Antonio Conte and Juventus.
Several Italian media outlets are reporting that Giacch is on his way to EPL side Sunderland in order to raise more funds for the rest of Juve’s mercato. A favorite of Antonio Conte, who is by all accounts parting with him very reluctantly, Giaccherini’s exit looks to be a case of Juve receiving an offer too good to pass up.
From Football Italia:
Italian media claim Juventus midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini has accepted a transfer to Sunderland worth €8m (£6.9m). The versatile figure will put pen to paper on a four-year contract worth €2m per season (£1.7m).
Negotiations have been going on for over a week and Coach Antonio Conte finally agreed to release the player this evening. According to Sky Sport Italia a deal has been struck with the all-clear from Sunderland, Juventus and Giaccherini himself.
This sale has effectively paid for the arrival of Carlos Tevez from Manchester City for €9m plus bonuses.
When compiling Conte’s press conference quotes (see previous item), Juventus.com purposefully generalized the coach’s feelings on departing players, probably for the sake of club unity. Here it is again:
When you’re bringing in players like Tévez, for nine million euros, in these times of financial crisis, you need to balance that by bringing in nine million from elsewhere, so it’s inevitable there will be some sad departures. I’m got a strong bond with all the lads I’ve worked with over the past two years. They’ve shown me great commitment.
So far, so vague, although for anyone in the know (or any fan of mercato cause-and-effect), the identity of the “departing player” in question was obvious. But in case anyone missed the reference, Conte addressed Giacch specifically elsewhere:
Giaccherini was valued, they offered him an important contract. I’m happy for him but unhappy for me.
I’m not happy with the sale of Giaccherini but in times of crisis when you buy must also make sacrifices.
Now, despite Football Italia’s rationale that Giaccherini’s sale covers Tevez’s transfer, the media claim that Juve are set to reinvest the money in either Man City full-back Aleksandar Kolarov or Bologna’s Alessandro Diamanti. It is thought that Kolarov’s price will be an identical €8 million, while Bologna are asking €10 million for Diamanti, or a bit less if full rights for co-owned Fredrik Sorensen are thrown into the deal.
Sad as it is to see him go, the sale of Giaccherini is a bit of a no-brainer. It’s difficult to think his price will ever be higher than it is right now, owing to his anomalously impressive Confederations Cup (when compared with his work for Juve — if he featured for Conte, he starred for Prandelli).
Still, I know I’m going to miss the work ethic, the sheer sacrifice and versatility — not to mention the occasional polite-but-angry goal celebration. But rest assured (for those of you who follow this column and its well-worn in-joke), Emanuele will still be designing graphics for this site.
So long, Giacch! We hardly knew ye!
A new season begins, and transfer speculation continues. Here’s the best of the rest from the outer limits of the Ju-niverse.
- Reports suggest Torino have successfully bought out Genoa for the other, non-Juve half of Ciro Immobile, and will thus have him in their ranks this season. Said a spokesperson for Genoa: “It’s really too bad. We were looking forward to wasting more of Ciro’s potential.”
- Carlos Tevez had his very first Juventus practice yesterday, after spending Wednesday filling out the necessary paperwork, which included signing an official Fact Acknowledgement Testimonial (FAT) Statement: “If Juventus says I’m overweight, than I am, and I should work out more.”
- Manchester authorities have converted Tevez’s community service order for driving offenses to a fine, seeing as he has moved to Italy. The judge even gave him some basic cultural advice: “Italians are crazy drivers, but they mostly know what they’re doing.”
- Alessandro Matri has been linked with recent anti-Juve prima donnas Lazio. Here’s the deal: We give you Matri, and you stop complaining about the Supercoppa being moved from Beijing to your HOME STADIUM. Oh, and you also give us a lot of money.
- Antonio Conte recently stated that it’s “obvious” that Stevan Jovetic won’t be going to an Italian team “at these prices.” Conceding defeat, or good old-fashioned Italian price-haggling?
- Conte also stated that he hopes Paris Saint-Germain target Edinson Cavani stays at Napoli. “He’s just a great person to focus all your rage on.”
- Apparently, Kwadwo Asamoah was wanted by both Manchester United and Man City. What is this, 2012? I thought players are supposed to measure their self-worth by interest from German teams these days.
- Oops! Spoke too soon. Nicklas Bendtner will not be going to Frankfurt after all. Apparently, Arsenal failed to hide the press, the Internet and Bendtner’s basic statistics from the German club.
Sneak Preview: Training Begins at Chatillon
Before we go, here’s a peek at the Bianconeri’s first official session held only hours ago at their Val d’Aosta training camp, courtesy of the official site:
As the players emerged onto the pristine surface of the Stadio Brunod for the first time, they were given a heroes’ welcome by the many fans who had gathered to see their idols in action.
New signings Carlos Tévez, Fernando Llorente and Angelo Ogbonna were instantly made to feel at home, particularly by the now legendary cymbal player who has been a regular fixture on pre-season for some years.
The session began with stretching exercises and short passing drills, after manager Antonio Conte had split the players into two groups.
Anyone who thought Conte might have eased his players into the new 2013/14 season was quickly proved wrong as the players were subsequently put through a grueling bleep test that pushed them to the absolute maximum.
The exercise, which forces the participants to do sprints of ever increasing speed, was a test of the Bianconeri’s fitness that they rose to impressively with their boss urging them on.
Arturo Vidal put in an extraordinary performance in the test. Paolo de Ceglie matched him nearly all the way, but Arturo lived up to his ‘King’ nickname by coming out on top. There was an enormous cheer from the crowd as he emerged victorious, and the fan-favourite rewarded their support by heading over to sign autographs.
In the other group, Llorente proved his assertions on arriving at the club that he had been training hard in preparation for joining Juve when he was one of the strongest runners in the test.
Simone Pepe, meanwhile, followed a separate routine of sprints and rapid changes of direction as he continues his rehabilitation from injury, with every turn accompanied by rapturous applause from the fans.
The session ended with another testing fitness exercise that involved the players running multiple laps around the pitch.
Multiple laps? Cutthroat sprinting competitions called “bleep tests” on the first day of training? It can only be an Antonio Conte team, out to satisfy his pathological need to win from day one.
Just keep your hands off the TIM Trophy, caro Antonio. You need to lose that one.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for more Val d’Aosta coverage as the preseason begins in earnest.
[STTBS]: Juventus News is a daily feature where the JuventiKnows editorial team discusses the JuveNews stories you need to read, without the “Messi signs for Juve on loan thanks to Nike” kind of nonsense. What does [STTBS] mean? You’ll have to guess that for yourself. We wouldn’t tell you even under pain of torture… (though we do take bribes)