It has been a tough 12 months for Angelo Ogbonna. Signed from city rivals Torino for a reported fee of €13m last July, the 26-year-old struggled to make an impact in his debut season at Juventus.
In total, Ogbonna was given 25 appearances, but only 16 of those came in Serie A. Antonio Conte, understandably, chose to rely on his preferred back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, while Martin Caceres, was his first reserve.
For Ogbonna, it was a campaign where he learnt, grew into the system and found his feet at Italy’s biggest club. Certainly, he made mistakes - see his performance at Sassuolo - but largely held his own and even played as a full-back against Real Madrid.
Now, with a season under his belt, he should be ready to step up, yet Juventus are seemingly willing to let him go, for the right price.
“We never thought of letting Ogbonna go on loan, nor did we consider the possibility of losing him,” noted sporting director Fabio Paratici on Tuesday.
“If someone wants him, they have to make us a formal offer worth €15m. He has a contract until 2018 and will not be sold for less than €15m.”
Paratici’s stance sums up Ogbonna’s status at Juventus - he can stay, but if we can get our money back, we are happy to sell.
That reasoning may seem quite ruthless, but is understandable, with Ogbonna at a crossroads in his career. If the Cassino native has another mixed campaign, then his value will drop and Juventus would have to accept a loss on him. If he steps up, they get a dependable defender, who can become a stalwart.
Selling him now for around the fee he was signed for would allow Juventus to cover both eventualities and not really lose out either way. The question now is how much they back him.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri is believed to have requested a new central defender, which would suggest he is not keen on Ogbonna.
Regardless of whether the tactician wants to play a back three or a back four, there is no need for a new central defender, unless one is leaving.
The opportunity to recoup €15m, bring in a proven, short-term option like Benfica’s Luisao and reinvest in a young defender - or wait to see how Daniele Rugani develops at Empoli - must be tempting to Allegri, and director general Giuseppe Marotta, particularly if the former is uncertain about Ogbonna.
At this stage in his career, the new season will be vital to the stopper’s chances of establishing himself and returning to the national team. Ogbonna is clearly a capable defender, but if he’s not trusted by Allegri and if someone is willing to match Juventus’ valuation, then a sale may be best for all concerned.
Such a decision might be one that the Bianconeri go on to regret, but on balance it is perhaps the most logical.