Juve's battle to keep their star men
Once dubbed the best league in football, Serie A is now often referred to as a dying competition. Yet this World Cup has helped demonstrate an important fact -- it may no longer be the best or wealthiest, but it continues to develop some of the world's best talent.
You only need to watch the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and practically the entire Colombian team to appreciate how much the Italian league has helped cultivate and develop talent. The only problem now is whether their clubs can keep them.
Money is certainly an issue, and one has to be realistic considering the current economy. The sale of a star could potentially help a club buy several key players to raise the level of the squad, and with Italy no longer in the World Cup, talk has turned to the transfer market.
Arguably Serie A's two best players, Vidal and Pogba cost Juventus around 10 million euros altogether. If the club sell both, they stand to make close to 120 million. Selling them could help rejuvenate the squad, but can the Old Lady really afford to let go of her brightest stars when she wishes to compete for the highest honours?
Italy, despite what many will say, still appeals to the world's best. Pogba has said he is happy with his team and his life in Turin. Grateful for having been given the chance to demonstrate his talent, he appreciates the opportunity to develop alongside champions such as Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon. While the likes of Karim Benzema, his close friend, may tell him tales of the beautiful life in Spain, Pogba is adamant he is staying with Antonio Conte's champions.
Fortunately for the Bianconeri fans, his agent is also keen on keeping the French star where he is, aware that his value can only rise when being trained by the likes of Conte in a team that aspires for glory. As such, it's extremely unlikely a sale will go through this summer, regardless of the amount offered.
If only the same could be said of Vidal. While the Chilean has long made his love for the club clear, it's normal that certain teams vying for his signature have captured his attention. The prospect of playing in a new league surrounded by different champions and facing new challenges is enticing even if he's intelligent enough to understand that not every great club can offer him what Juve has in recent years -- undying affection, love and a genuine project. His close friend Alexis Sanchez swapped Udinese for Barcelona and has not enjoyed the career at the Nou Camp he dreamed of.
At this moment, Juventus and especially Conte will not sell. Interested parties have respected the decision, but Real Madrid are keen and Bayern Munich have yet to give up on him; realising his qualities facilitate the implementation of variable tactics. If a ridiculous offer comes in then it must be evaluated.
Vidal has helped Juventus revive their reputation and is emotionally invested in the team. Winning trophies with them is an achievement that would taste a bit sweeter simply because it was achieved through hard work and years of patient building.
Without him, Serie A would not only lose a champion, but Juventus would lose their heartbeat. He's a relentless runner and there really is little the midfielder cannot do.
While the potential sales of stars will be mourned, one must believe in the youngsters full of promise and allow them the opportunity to shine. Much like Pogba is the gem being buffed into perfection (like Vidal before him) it's vital that Juventus continue to scout the stars of the future. Their latest purchase, Kingsley Coman, may well be a superstar in the making.
A player who has grown up in Paris Saint-Germain's youth academy, Carlo Ancelotti gave him his professional debut against Sochaux at the tender age of 16, making him the youngest player to have ever debuted for the French club.
It's difficult to not get excited about this excellent signing. While Coman is a talent that has yet to be refined, he possesses the type of skills Juventus are currently lacking and desperately need in order to help achieve their targets. An attacking midfielder who also plays as a winger, he is elegant to watch and adept at using both his feet.
Boasting extraordinary vision and the courage to run at players, he is explosive, technical and determined to enthrall his audience. Yet perhaps his greatest quality is his understanding of the game and willingness to do the dirty work. There is truly nothing better than an attacking player who understands his defensive duties.
Of course Coman is also still very young and thus guilty of being overly eager, keeping the ball for too long and at times taking risks when the simple option is the most effective. Yet under Conte, one imagines he will better understand how to play to the rhythm of a team.
Elsewhere, the Bianconeri are keen to add Juan Iturbe to the squad. A player who has revived his career at Verona, his change of pace, beautiful technique and excellent dribbling skills make him an interesting prospect.
Ultimately, though, the best business could be keeping the heavyweights, Pogal and Vidal, at Juve.