With the substantial amount of money Juventus has spent this transfer market to purchase Cristiano Ronaldo and bring back Leonardo Bonucci at the expense of Mattia Caldara, Bianconeri fans will expect nothing less than a Champions League triumph. However, is this the ideal time to relinquish long-term planning to achieve European ambitions?
Over the last seven years, it has been a decorated journey for the reigning Serie A champions. With Antonio Conte being the Coach who built the successful platform for his successor Massimiliano Allegri, Juve has continued its dominance on the domestic front and established themselves as a regular contender in Europe. By reaching two Champions League finals in the last four years, the pressure and expectations have been mounting on the club.
All successful cycles come to an end, especially when your side is ageing. So this may be the appropriate moment for Juventus to seize the Champions League opportunity and put the long-term planning on delay.
Acquiring Ronaldo - one of the most complete forwards in the modern game - has undoubtedly turned the Old Lady into one of this season’s Champions League favourites. Even at 33, the vast amount of Champions League experience and success CR7 boasts in this competition is indescribable. Therefore, it is obvious why Juve purchased the five-time Ballon d’Or winner - hoping they can weaken Real Madrid and finally boast that star name to get them over the line Europe. But with the Portuguese star’s arrival, this meant the Scudetto holders had to sell Gonzalo Higuain, mainly because of his high wages.
Higuain being offloaded to Milan seemed to make sense for many of the Bianconeri fans, however, the part that appeared to be confusing was including Mattia Caldara in the deal. Selling Caldara - one of Italy’s brightest prospects - just to re-sign Bonucci sounded ludicrous at first. This didn’t look like the usual intelligent business from Juve, particularly when your direct rivals have strengthened and reaped most of the benefits from the deal. It sounds risky: giving up a prominent 24-year-old centre-back for a 31-year-old Bonucci who left Juventus on bad terms.
However, the 34-time Serie A winners have now gained an experienced defender that can instantly adapt to Allegri’s formation. This means the formidable Chiellini-Bonucci duo will reunite and most likely cause frustration for many top strikers in Italy and Europe. Juventus now has another fundamental player who can steer them to European success, provided the Bianconeri don’t get the Milan version of Bonucci and no more halftime bust-ups.
While Juve now possess a powerful starting XI and a deep bench, youngsters such as Federico Bernardeschi, Leonardo Spinazzola, Daniele Rugani and Rodrigo Bentancur won’t be getting much game time. Again, this further indicates Andrea Agnelli and Giuseppe Marotta are planning for the short-term goal - winning the Champions League.
This is the right time for the Serie A giants to push for their European aspirations - utilising veterans such as Giorgio Chiellini and players like Miralem Pjanic and Douglas Costa at the peak of their careers. Time is a precious commodity, so Juventus must ensure they produce immediate Champions League success under the Ronaldo era - anything less will be a complete failure.
The Bianconeri will still have raw talent in the starting line-up: Paulo Dybala, Emre Can and Joao Cancelo will most likely play vital parts. These players will have the opportunity to build valuable experience around a high-calibre player like Ronaldo, hence benefiting some of the club's younger generation for the long-term run.
Before Juventus begin their quest to secure an eighth consecutive Serie A title and fight for the Champions League dream, the traditional Villar Perosa friendly (Juventus A vs Juventus B) will take place this afternoon. This is what all Juve fans have been waiting for: Ronaldo making his debut in a black and white shirt. While this may be a friendly match, it will give us glimpses on how the Portuguese international will perform with his new teammates and under Allegri’s tactical system.