The entire board of Juventus have resigned following allegations of false accounting regarding revenues from player registration rights in a sensational move that could see a mass exodus of players akin to the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, but could Manchester United benefit?
Juventus are listed on the Italian stock exchange, which could open them up to a host of legal challenges that could leave the club in financial ruin should they be found guilty of market manipulation.
According to The Athletic, Juventus made a loss of £220m last season – a record in Italian football – on their way to a disappointing fourth-place Serie A finish.
And with Juventus under investigation for 42 separate transfers that all involve player swaps, the true value of that loss could be considerably higher.
The fallout could lead to a number of high-profile players suddenly becoming available on the transfer market, and with Man United still in the early stages of their revolution under Erik ten Hag, this could be a huge opportunity.
A Midfield Dynamo
Adrien Rabiot was a summer transfer target for the Red Devils, but issues negotiating with the player’s mother/agent caused the deal to collapse shortly before the transfer deadline.
His contract is set to expire at the end of the current season and, while he had previously been expected to sign fresh terms with The Old Lady, there may no be some doubt over whether that will even be possible.
United strengthened their midfield by signing Casemiro from Real Madrid to go alongside free transfer Christian Eriksen – a partnership that has shown early signs of success at Old Trafford.
But as the Red Devils’ fixture list became more congested in the run up to the World Cup, Eriksen in particular started to shown signs of fatigue.
United are a far worse side without the Denmark star in midfield, with the lack of ball progression from midfield in his absence leading to some ponderous performances, notably in the drab 0-0 draw with Newcastle United as well as in a number of Europa League games.
Adding Rabiot could ease the burden on Eriksen. While the Frenchman often tends to progress the ball with his dribbling rather than his passing, his ability to break through the lines in midfield could add another string to this United side’s bow. He could almost be seen as a cheaper alternative to Frenkie de Jong in that regard.
Rabiot has arguably been Juventus’ best player this season and his performances for both club and country are those of a far more mature player than the one who often ruffled feathers at Paris Saint-Germain. Still just 27, he could be a fine player for years to come under Ten Hag.
A Playmaker in the Making
A product of Juventus’ youth academy, Fabio Miretti only turned 19 in August but has already made an impression in the first team, making 18 appearances across the Champions League and Serie A. The youngster has shone in the role Paul Pogba was signed to fill in the Bianconeri team, with the Frenchman struggling for fitness this term.
His eye for goal is yet to pay off for the senior side, but it is only a matter of time before that changes. Those who have followed his career in Juventus’ Under 23 side can attest to the threat he poses both from range and as he bursts into the box.
Miretti’s stats this season only confirm that potential. Among all midfielders across all of the ‘Big 5’ leagues in Europe, the Italian is in the top 1% for progressive passes received and the top 3% for touches in the opposition penalty area. (fbref)
Players can often see these stats inflated via aerial prowess and set piece threat, but that is not the case with Miretti – he just happens to be exceptional at finding and operating in pockets of space.
The teenager is a high-risk, high-reward style of player not dissimilar to Bruno Fernandes and could be the perfect understudy to the Portugal star, who himself developed his game in Italy.
Miretti is perhaps a player Juventus would expect to keep regardless of the outcome of the allegation against them, however. He has been a part of the setup in Turin for over 11 years and idolises Pavel Nedved. But should he become available, United must be ready to act.
A Complete Number Nine
If there is one player in Turin that Manchester United need above all others, it is Dusan Vlahovic.
The Serbia star is the jewel in The Old Lady’s crown having been signed from Fiorentina for €81.6m only last January. He scored 24 Serie A goals last season and has six in ten appearances so far this term.
At just 22 years of age, Vlahovic has already mastered the role of the centre forward and has both the physicality and technical ability to lead the line in Erik ten Hag’s preferred system for years to come.
Quick, robust, and good in the air, the number nine could provide United with the perfect outlet up front, with the striker comfortable receiving any type of pass with any part of his body, no matter how tight his marker.
Likewise, Vlahovic can score just about any type of goal. He is as adept at getting into the right position to score a scrappy goal as he is at unleashing all hell with his left foot for a thunderous screamer.
The Serbian is a willing runner as well, recovering possession for his team 2.9 times per ninety minutes this term. For reference, Victor Osimhen – another striker linked with United who himself is no slouch when it comes to pressing – manages 1.5 ball recoveries per ninety. (Squawka)
Vlahovic is a player who could transform United’s attack by adding some much-needed goal threat while providing a focal point for the side, all the while working diligently in service to his team.
The Red Devils did not take advantage of the exodus that followed the Calciopoli scandal back in 2006. Players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta, and Patrick Vieira were all transferred to some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Manchester United did not act then but should the present situation force Juventus to allow a similar exodus, they must be ready to act now.