Monday October 9 2017
The curious case of Daniele Rugani

Juventus need to start trusting the centre-back, writes Elio Salerno.

Daniele Rugani is a name that instantly carries expectation and drives conversation amongst calcio fans. Since his breakout season for Empoli in Serie B, the Tuscan stopper has been earmarked as the next great Italian defender, ready to continue a tradition that has seen Italian football produce many of the best defenders the game has seen.

During the 2013-2014 season, under the guidance of a certain Maurizio Sarri, Rugani won the Serie B young player of the year after helping Empoli secure a second place finish and promotion. The following season would see Rugani further enhance his reputation, cementing himself as one of the brightest young players in Europe. Appearing in every single minute of Empoli’s 38 games, he would go the season without being booked, playing with a consistency and a maturity way beyond his 20 years. These displays prompted Juventus to purchase full ownership of the player during the January transfer window, leaving him on loan at the Stadio Carlo Castellani for the remainder of the season.

Rugani returned to Juventus the following summer, a move that was met with scepticism from some quarters as many wondered how he would find space in a defence that was comprised of three of the world’s best in Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Competing with that calibre of player along with the likes of Patrice Evra, Martin Caceres and more recently Medhi Benatia has predictably seen Rugani limited to just 22 league starts over the last two seasons.

Rugani has been patient and positive during this time, with the player and club rejecting any potential exit. Rugani insisted he was in the right place, learning from the “unbelievable” BBC while also praising Max Allegri for encouraging him to continue working as his time would come.

The current campaign started following a summer of surprises, none bigger than the move of Bonucci from Juventus to rivals Milan. Despite the blow, fans of the Bianconeri were comforted by the fact they already had a potentially great replacement in Rugani. Fans and media agreed, it was time for Rugani to step up; however it seems one man needs convincing a little more than most and, unfortunately for Rugani, he is the man who matters most: Max Allegri.

The Coach has continually tinkered with his centre-back pairings. With Chiellini seemingly the only permanent fixture, it has been left to Rugani, Barzagli and Benatia to fight for the other spot. While there are no complaints when the veteran Barzagli is paired with Chiellini, the same cannot be said for Benatia, whose performances for the Turin club have been less than convincing over the last season.

Italian international Rugani has featured from start to finish in 5 games this season, those coming against Cagliari, Genoa, Chievo, Sassuolo and most recently Fiorentina. Aside from the odd moment of indecision Rugani has played these game with assurance, intelligence and composure, something we have come to expect from the 23-year-old. Meanwhile, Benatia has also started 5 games with these appearances including games against Lazio in the Italian Super Cup, Barcelona in the Champions League, the Turin derby against Torino and most recently a tricky away tie against a bright Atalanta.

Benatia has continued to be far from convincing in his displays this season, however so far in the more difficult fixtures Allergi has favoured going with a more physically dominant centre back in Benatia over the less powerful but more intelligent Rugani. This choice is becoming a point of increasing frustration for Juventini, as it seems every time the former Bayern Munich and Roma centre back appears in the Juventus back line it coincides with mistakes, uncertainty and ultimately the conceding of goals (eight in the five games he has started in comparison to three in the five Rugani has started).

Rugani has previously stated that Allegri told him to be “more aggressive”, could this be the reason why the defender is finding himself out of the team in the bigger fixtures? Or, on the back of two seasons of limited playing time, is Allegri easing the youngster into proceedings before making him a constant fixture for the rest of the season? If there is a reason none appear valid enough at this stage for Rugani to be left on the sidelines.

A regular pick for national squad, it’s time that Allegri made Rugani a regular in the Juventus starting XI. The player was previously labelled as “the future of Juventus and Italian football” by his Coach.

The future is now, and Daniele Rugani needs to play, be it at Juventus or another club.

Have your say...
after the Lazio debacle he better start playing rugani. cant continue with 35yo barzagli. juve will get burned in Europe. better to start him continuously. let him make his one or two mistakes and grow and get better.
on the 15th October, 2017 at 9:34am
One of the things I like about Allegri is how slowly he integrates new and specially young players.

Rugani will get his time. No need to throw the kid in every game when we have a very long and tough season ahead.

It is unfair to say that Juventus conceded 8 goals with Benatia and only 3 with Rugani.

Benatia played against Barca, Atalanta, Turin derby, Lazio..
Rugani played against Cagliari, Genoa, Chievo..

Statistics are meaningless if you don't look at the fine print.

He'll be fine.
on the 13th October, 2017 at 9:30am
+Joe in CT, Allegri is trying to find a superhero, I still don't understand letting Zaza go and getting Pjaca. I still don't understand playing cuadrado and benching bernadeschi. Allegri is running out of ideas!!!
on the 11th October, 2017 at 7:41pm
+viktor please bonnucci is not even a pebble to call him a rock. Bonnucci at Juve was part of a trio system + buffon, but do you remember his stupid passes to opponents? Yes Rugani is a smarter player he just needs experience and more playing time. Allegri should stop being a wimp and start counting on his young players and sell foreign rubbish like bentatia, cuadrado, asamoah. Unfortunately, Juve is not the habitat for young players, juve are after big names coz they care for their brand name.
on the 11th October, 2017 at 7:38pm
Juventus wasted 15m on benatia. and another 17 on cuadrado. I hate to see a Juventus side with so many foreigners when Italian players are at a much higher scale. Juve should rebuild with Italians. Italy wins the world cup when Juventus is doing well with Italians and sinks when Juventus is in trouble. When you take clowns from Atlanta and chievo you barely edge teams like Albania, and tie with Macedonia and get crushed by spain.
on the 11th October, 2017 at 7:31pm
He'll play far more later in the year, this writer knows how many games Juve will play right? Not to mention that next season Rugani and Caldara will be a great pairing. This article is wasting people's time and energy.
on the 10th October, 2017 at 2:34pm
How that clown Benatia starts before Rugani is purely CRIMINAL !!!!
on the 10th October, 2017 at 1:56am
on the 10th October, 2017 at 12:01am
Rugani is Italian. Allegri will always try to put a foreigner in before an Italian where there is a choice. The transformation of Juventus finto the next Inter is almost complete by Allegri. Next year we won’t even have an Italian goalie.
on the 9th October, 2017 at 9:41pm
on the 9th October, 2017 at 4:30pm
I agree with,@ Bb,On the issue of Barzagli he's too old and innefective against big teams and [NATL] teams,The fail safe method for both Barza and even Buffon would be a 442 formation where they have more PEEPS up front to cover them,So that's "PASSE NOW" AND MUST LOOK AHEAD IN THE FUTURE WITH NEW FORMATIONS PLUS YOUNG EFFECTIVE DEFENSIVE PLAYERS LIKE{CALDARA AND RUGANI}FOR JUVE and on a national team level {aka,ROMAGNOLI{Milan}too,OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW,We MUST AGRESS NOT regress.
on the 9th October, 2017 at 4:29pm
I love this kid. Rugani is an intelligent young defender. I want him to play EVERY GAMES. But, I also respect Allegri's choice for not playing him in some games. Juventus have a lot of matches to play this season, so I wouldn't worry if i were Rugani. His time will come very soon.
on the 9th October, 2017 at 3:25pm
Mad Max knows best
on the 9th October, 2017 at 2:57pm

Bahaha that took 2 minute... lolol Rugani is a promising youngster just like Romangoli.. But dont for a second think Rugani is better than Bonucci.. We all get it, I would ge pissed if we sold one of our rocks and part of the famous BBC, but just let it go and be happy about a prospect that has a bright future.
on the 9th October, 2017 at 2:18pm
I wonder how many post there will be regarding how rugani is better then bonucci, how it was a great idea to sale bonucci and that juve didnt need Bonucci... Come on lads, lets start bombing posts!
on the 9th October, 2017 at 2:16pm
It's no surprise to see him being shunned.

Italian mentality still has that distrust of youth (often Italian youth), and it's still there today.

The fact that a disaster-waiting-to-happen like Benatia is picked before him tell you everything about the fear some managers have in trusting youth.

When Howedes returns, expect to see him even less.
on the 9th October, 2017 at 12:51pm
Rugani should also start ahead of Bonucci and play alongside Chiellini. Rugani is better than Bonucci.

Come, fight me.
on the 9th October, 2017 at 12:26pm
As much as I love Barzagli, he has been nothing but a liability. His experience is effective against a weaker side, but against stronger side like Madrid, unfortunately, having experience alone is not enough. An intensive game and Barzagli is out. Rugani is overall the better option, given he is physically stronger and tactically astute. Benatia is nothing like the Benatia of Roma and deserve to be last among the pecking order.
on the 9th October, 2017 at 12:23pm
This is a prime example of why we are unable to compete with spain. Because Rugani is a quality player great at youth level then he goes to Juve where instead of playing he is sidelined and a foreigner takes that potetnial role away from home grown talent. This is why Italy are failing to keep up. Cap the amount of non-Italian ASAP and in 10 years we will be a force again. Respect the Italian youth and we will fly again wothout having to make foreigners rejected by there own nations italian
on the 9th October, 2017 at 11:51am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.