“The will of the player” is a refrain Beppe Marotta has begun to use repeatedly when Juventus lose one of their stars. It began with Arturo Vidal wanting to leave the Bianconeri in 2015, the Chilean expressing his desire to contend for the Champions League trophy with Bayern Munich, with Kingsley Coman soon following suit.
The club’s director general also uttered those words as Paul Pogba and Mino Raiola wrung every last drop of publicity from his return to Manchester United, but somehow that hurt much less. Indeed, the crassness of the Frenchman’s departure – which sadly for Milan supporters is currently being echoed by Gianluigi Donnarumma and his bizarre social media output – showed Juve fans that it was solely about getting paid and most were glad to see the back of him, his dab and his greedy agent.
However, over the past few weeks Marotta has revealed he rebuffed a major offer from Chelsea for Alex Sandro, insisting the 26-year-old was not for sale, only to simultaneously use his catchphrase to say the Bianconeri would be powerless to prevent him moving to Stamford Bridge if he wanted to go.
While nobody in their right mind would advocate keeping a player who vocally expressed a desire to leave, there is a vast difference between knowing that and willingly telling the Press that the club would not block a departure. Seeing the man tasked with building a squad to compete with Europe’s elite clubs admit he cannot stop anyone from moving elsewhere not only looks incredibly weak, but it removes much of the leverage he would have in subsequent negotiations.
It must be said that Marotta is a highly intelligent man, one who has learned and evolved over his seven-year tenure in Turin. From mistakes like Marco Motta, Jorge Martinez and even Hernanes, he showed last summer that every doubt over his ability was misplaced as he brought in the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic, not to mention extracting a world record sum from Manchester United in the Pogba deal.
It is easy to pontificate about what went wrong in Cardiff, about the reasons for the collapse of the team as Real Madrid ran out 4-1 winners. Easier still is to bemoan the fact that a huge gulf separates the Spanish giants – along with Barcelona and Bayern Munich – from the chasing pack, that the Bianconeri belong in a tier below, alongside the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid.
Yet the dominance of Serie A under Marotta’s stewardship means the club has gone from mid-table mediocrity to a record-breaking sixth consecutive Scudetto. It was he who appointed Antonio Conte and then replaced him with Max Allegri, but while the team has risen to the cusp of European glory, he must now prove he can take it to the next level.
Doing so does not automatically mean nobody will leave, but you would not hear Florentino Perez or Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confess they cannot retain their players. The Alex Sandro situation offers a perfect opportunity for Marotta to send a message to the very clubs Juventus are seeking to catch. You might be able to buy our stars, but it will be expensive, it will be difficult and it will be on our terms. “The will of the player” be damned.
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/