Why did Juventus sell Simone Zaza?
It comes as no surprise that Juventus earn more in revenue than any other club in Italy thanks to their stadium, the years of continued success witnessed under Antonio Conte and management's diligent construction of the side. Yet the club still trails Europe's big boys and money is still tight, leaving the fans disappointed on occasion with the purchases or lack thereof made in the transfer market.
As a result, the development of youth talent is consistently looked upon as a way to generate money while simultaneously maintaining the Juve ideology. Thus it came as somewhat of a disappointment when the club chose to sell Ciro Immobile and Simone Zaza, the two who shone brightest under Conte for Italy in their most recent friendly against the Dutch.
While Immobile's sale, according to management at least, was a way to make money from a player they felt didn't fit the current side, it made the purchase of Real Madrid youth player Alvaro Morata seem difficult to understand. Why dedicate time and money to the development of a Spanish youngster while Italian youth is being sent away?
The truth is that Morata's truly better suited to Juve's style of play. Slowly recovering from injury and now impressing in training with Allegri while his teammates are away on International duty, the Spaniard has more potential and is arguably more technically gifted. Combining strength, power and courage, his feet are quicker, his acceleration impressive and his skill set much larger. Immobile is certainly gifted as evidenced by his fantastic season with Torino last year, but he is a player that must be accompanied by teammates who can help him play his game -- players with pace. Alessio Cerci's movements and intelligence brought the best out of the young striker like many hope Marco Reus can do at Borussia Dortmund.
At Juventus, Morata offers a more well-rounded package that the club hope will turn the side into a formidable team with the ability to adapt to various tactical schemes.
However, while the fans have recovered from the loss of Immobile, it's hoped Juventus will not give up entirely on Zaza -- he was sold to Sassuolo outright but the club still retain the option to buy him back for 15 million euros despite Giorgio Squinzi's assertion that none of his players have been promised to any side.
Displaying genuine footballing intelligence, Zaza's persistence, movement and excellent feet made him a protagonist in the friendly against the Netherlands. Consistently looking for ways to exploit opportunities and spaces to uncover, his strength and attitude provoked a symphony of compliments from the country's media. The country can start to dream again; their national team is in the hands of a proven coach who believes in youth.
Zaza's performances for the Neroverdi last season made the headlines on several occasions, his talent undeniable. Conte was indeed a fan and, it's been said, had desperately wanted to bring him to Juve. Deployed against the Bianconeri for Sassuolo in late April, Zaza opened the scoring for his side against Conte's men in the ninth minute following a fast-break. Conte made a point of mentioning the player's growth and how much he studied him as a player to ensure his team did not concede. Alas, all that studying wasn't enough as despite the fact the Old Lady won the match, Zaza still scored to annoy the coach who sought a clean sheet in every game.
Despite being a Milan fan, a fact he revealed in 2011 and again in an interview with Tuttosport in 2013 only to then deny the statement, his current dream is to play in the Bianconeri colours for the champions of Italy. This is in part down to the fact he has consistently been made aware of the club's admiration for his technique. Having been tracked by Fabio Paratici for some time, it came as somewhat of a surprise when the Old Lady chose to sell their share but money is tight and the club ensured there was a way they could still have their man in the future.
Having overcome great obstacles to reach such heights, Zaza is realising a dream and alongside Domenico Berardi, could prove to be the face of Juve and Italy's future. Spending another year with Sassuolo, this is his chance to further refine his talent and adapt to the game at the highest level. Should he continue to impress in the way he managed for the Azzurri, it is hoped he will make his way to the Old Lady and help them grow their attacking arsenal.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.