Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being linked with a return to Juventus after a Pavel Nedved interview. Antonio Labbate looks at five reasons why such a move won’t happen.
The costs involved are excessive…
The principle hurdle for anyone interested in signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not the transfer fee, but his wage demands. The Swedish international earns approximately €12m a season at Paris Saint-Germain, a salary which Milan were delighted to get off their books in the summer.
Juventus may have one of the highest wage bills in Serie A, but they have no room for such extravagances in the current climate. Gigi Buffon is currently their highest paid player thanks to a €6m a campaign deal, but that will come down to about €4m when his new terms kick in at the end of June.
Give Ibra what he wants and you also run the risk of a queue forming outside the office of Beppe Marotta, with agents looking to get their clients increased salaries. Ibra is a top player, no doubt, but there are cheaper ones out there.
Ibrahimovic will be 32 in October. That’s not to say that he hasn’t got a couple of good seasons ahead of him, but when you buy a player with that date of birth you do so by acknowledging that they have little, if any, future sell-on value.
The average age of the squad is a significant factor that is considered in Turin too. When Marotta arrived at the club, he was primarily asked to lower the squad’s age and cost. It’s no coincidence that Juve today have just three outfield players – excluding the frozen out Vincenzo Iaquinta – who are over the age of 30 – Andrea Barzagli, Andrea Pirlo and Nicolas Anelka.
It’s also worth comparing Ibra’s age with that of other leading forwards on the continent. Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema are both 25, Stevan Jovetic of Fiorentina is 23, Napoli’s Edinson Cavani is 26, Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao is 27. That’s not to say that these players are realistic Juventus targets or buys, they are merely examples of players who would have a longer shelf life than Ibra.
He doesn’t guarantee Champions League success
Ibrahimovic fits the Top Player profile which Juventus have publicly been searching for over the last 24 months, but he wouldn’t guarantee success on the continent. The Bianconeri would obviously be a stronger force, especially in Europe, but let us not forget that Ibrahimovic is hardly on first name terms with the Champions League.
One could also argue that, even with Ibra, Juve could still be two or three years away from becoming kings of Europe. And that’s when you have to again consider Ibra’s age – he thus doesn’t fit with the vision at Vinovo. Although the club are obviously playing to win the European Cup, they don’t raise the kind of revenue that Europe’s elite do and boss Antonio Conte recently admitted that there are sides in the competition this season who are “clearly superior” to his.
Why broadcast an interest?
There is absolutely no reason to doubt the sincerity of Pavel Nedved’s Undici TV interview this week. When he says he’d like to bring Ibra back to the club, he means it. But he was speaking from the heart and not as a Juventus official at that point. If the club were truly plotting to sign Ibra for the second time in his career, would an employee go on national television and announce it?
What was more telling was when he was asked about the club’s failure to net a star striker over recent times. “To sign a player who is better than we already have would cost us a lot of money – at the moment we don’t have that and we don’t want to spend that.” That, significantly, was the club official talking.
The 2006 walkout…
While Juventus clearly had to cut costs in the summer of 2006 after their Calciopoli demotion to Serie B, there was the hope that they could keep Zlatan. Then boss Didier Deschamps spoke of his desire to have the former Ajax player at his disposal to bounce straight back to the top flight – yet the forward didn’t really entertain the idea.
That was an understandable stance. He didn’t have the Bianconero history of Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero or David Trezeguet, but the fact that he left the Turin giants for a switch to rivals Inter was a low blow to the Juve faithful. While boss Conte would perhaps welcome an Ibra arrival in 2013, a majority of the fan-base would be cold to the idea.