We’ve all been there. The waiter shows you to your table, hands you a menu and, after serving initial drinks, asks if you are ready to order. Decisions, decisions. Welcome to the world of Juventus, a club who have been saving the majority of their transfer funds this summer to sign a ‘top player’ – their main course – which they have spent over a year working up an appetite for.
With Edinson Cavani unlikely to be prised away from Napoli after Aurelio De Laurentiis parted company with PSG recruit Ezequiel Lavezzi, the choice of new forward seems to be down to just two names. Arsenal’s want-away Robin Van Persie and Fiorentina’s ultra-talented Stevan Jovetic. But who would be the wiser swoop?
It is a conundrum which has undoubtedly been chewed over a number of transfer lunches between President Andrea Agnelli, Coach Antonio Conte, director general Beppe Marotta and his right-hand man, Fabio Paratici, this summer. It’s no secret that the Dutch international is very much on the radar of the club after confirmation that he wouldn’t be renewing in London, while Marotta admitted on Tuesday that Jovetic has the profile of player the Bianconeri are looking for.
Cost-wise, the Bianconeri will have to dig deep in one way or another to grab either player. Although Fiorentina’s €30m cash valuation of Jovetic is obviously high in today’s economic climate outside of clubs who don’t have Arab or Russian investment, his salary would be much lower than the reported €7m a season that Van Persie – also being tracked by the two Manchester clubs – would require.
Jo-Jo could probably be tempted to accept less than 50 per cent of that, while Arsenal are still looking for over €20m in a fee for their forward despite the fact that his contract will expire next June. Can the Old Lady justify spending such an amount on a player who could be available on a Bosman next summer?
One can also argue that Jovetic, at 22, would be more of a guarantee in terms of a re-sale value. Buy him at €30m today and that price could increase year on year given his potential, but it will be harder for Van Persie to keep his valuation rising the longer he stays in Turin. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, at 30, has just been transferred to Paris Saint-Germain for around €25m – and they aren’t short of cash.
In terms of economics, it seems that Jovetic would be the shrewder investment, but there are tactical considerations to make. Van Persie has the far superior international experience, both for his country and in the Champions League with the Gunners. Jovetic, considering his nationality, age and current club, has only briefly flirted with the competitions that matter – although he’s been playing in the Italian top flight since 2008.
Van Persie, over the past few seasons at least, is also a proven scorer and that is something that Juve were missing last term. Although only Milan netted more goals than them in Serie A, the Bianconeri’s top scorer was Alessandro Matri with just 10 League strikes. Conte spent the last four months of the campaign alternating Matri with Mirko Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella and Marco Borriello.
On paper, Van Persie would also be pretty much guaranteed a starting shirt in whichever system Conte opts for – whether that be 3-5-2 or 4-3-3. It would be a bit trickier for Jovetic who can play centre-forward, but, as Dejan Savicevic has often underlined, he is better used elsewhere. Acquiring Jovetic would give the former Siena tactician another second striker after the recall of Sebastian Giovinco already this summer.
So who would be the right call – Jovetic or Van Persie? The decision may well rest on how confident La Vecchia Signora are of challenging for the Champions League this season. If they think they have a shot of winning it then Van Persie is the guy to plump for, if they feel that they are still a couple of years away from making a bid then Jo-Jo, as alternatives go, wouldn’t be a bad second choice. Now where’s that waiter?