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Round of 16

#UltimateUCL Sep 10, 2014
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Aug 4, 2014

Five defenders Juve could consider ...

World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi has been linked with a switch to Juventus, with the Serie A champions seeking defensive improvements.

Juventus director Beppe Marotta admits the club are continuing their search for reinforcements at the back -- here's a list of who could help the Old Lady retain the Serie A title:

Matija Nastasic

The Serbian is very much the preferred option to be brought in by Juventus. Composed, young and able to perform under pressure, the defender excelled in his first season at Manchester City when the back line was often rotated and not always well guarded by midfield.

He is also capable of dealing with aerial threats, possesses excellent technique and has demonstrated good vision. He boasts natural strength and has dedicated much of his time to his own development. However, having suffered an injury-packed season last year, he is not assured of a starting place any more and Manuel Pellegrini seems keen to bring in Eliaquim Mangala, which would only serve to push the youngster further down the pecking order.

Understandably there are still several elements to Nastasic's game that must be worked upon that require patience clubs such as his cannot offer in such a highly pressurised environment. For one thing, the Serbian has been known to commit one too many fouls, and his concentration is an issue, at times letting himself down by repeating avoidable errors. An example of this is how often he gets pulled out of position, forcing his side to lose their defensive shape.

However, he is familiar with Italian football due to his time at Fiorentina and reads attacks well. But does he offer the talent the Bianconeri desperately need at the back?

Cristian Zapata

He's considered Massimiliano Allegri's choice, but if concentration is of the utmost importance then Zapata should not be considered. In an interview Philippe Mexes gave to the Milan channel, the French defender admitted that if he and Zapata could maintain their concentration then their club would suffer less. An honest assessment.

Slow, cumbersome and inelegant, Zapata's lapses in concentration and failure to close down effectively can create great embarrassment such as in the Rossoneri's 4-3 defeat to Sassuolo in January -- the game that proved to be Allegri's last.

However, it's not all doom and gloom with the Colombian. He can be effective when playing for a side that likes to counterattack, and when entrusted to lead, he will shoulder the responsibility. He may not provide the level of consistency required but in a market with limited centre-backs on offer, he could be an option.

Patrice Evra has already joined Juventus from Manchester United and Marotta says the club remain active in the market.

Shkodran Mustafi

Considered a bright prospect at Sampdoria, the player is now a World Cup winner and his stock is only set to rise. A player who boasts physicality and the courage to make a tackle, his time in Serie A has taught him how to better understand what is required of a good defender.

While many are quick to look at the player that Joachim Low so deeply appreciates, it is important to remain objective. Mustafi is indeed a promising player whose talents can be refined, but again, he is one who lacks pace and seems nervy at times. Good players can make him panic and thus draw him out of position. He may be tough and strong but he must learn how to balance his physical attributes and know when to proceed with caution.

The Bianconeri possess physicality and power but what they truly need is a player at the back who will better cope with fast opponents. That's where the next target comes in ...

Konstantinos Manolas

The Greek boasts exactly the right set of skills Juventus desperately need. He has the ability to handle highly pressurised situations and is fast enough to recover any mistake committed at the back.

He was outstanding at the World Cup and quickly became a target for many clubs when he demonstrated confidence on the ball, delivering those accurate passes and making vital clearances. Never afraid to tackle, courage is his best quality -- he's a player who will want to stay on the pitch even if he has suffered a serious injury.

The Olympiakos defender continues to improve tactically but he needs to be tested in a stronger domestic league.

Nonetheless, he is cheaper than many options and has exploited every opportunity offered to him to demonstrate the full range of his abilities. He may just be worth the gamble.

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