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Thursday May 9 2019
Juventus should pursue Manolas

With an ageing backline, Juventus should target Roma’s Kostas Manolas to resolve the club’s crippled centre-back positions, writes Anthony Barbagallo.

Juventus fans were conscious of the Bianconeri’s midfield problems going into the 2018-19 campaign, but little did they know that their side’s defence would be so disjointed throughout the season. The Italian giant, priding itself on impeccable defending, has never looked so wounded in the backline, especially in the centre-back positions.

With a significant player overhaul expected for the Old Lady this summer, swooping in on Roma’s star centre-back Kostas Manolas could prove to be an intelligent reinforcement for Juve’s defensive crisis.

Manolas, 27, boasts the physicality and defensive attentiveness of a traditional Italian centre-back – qualities that fit the Juventus DNA. Greece’s talismanic defender, who in football betting terms has also been linked with Arsenal, demonstrated leadership qualities for the Giallorossi in situations without Daniele De Rossi on the pitch.

Possessing an ageing backline, particularly in the centre-back positions, is starting to take a toll on Juventus. With a 34-year-old Giorgio Chiellini – nearly 35 – not guaranteed to play every game for the Bianconeri and take regular rest intervals from now on, Manolas could fill the veteran’s shoes.

Despite the 35-time Scudetto winners bringing back Leonardo Bonucci, the former Milan captain has failed to take control of the Juve backline during Chiellini’s absences this campaign. The 32-year-old has at times been a liability in defence for the Turin side ever since his return from San Siro – making simple mistakes without Chiellini by his side.

It’s bizarre how Bonucci suddenly transforms into a mediocre centre-back without Chiellini playing alongside him, hence reflecting the performance of a fearful and vulnerable 24-year-old Daniele Rugani. Juventus could do with a centre-back like Manolas, a defender who can assert their dominance, conduct the backline and add tighter defensive security, especially in set-piece situations.

Juve’s lack of depth in the centre-back roles have also come from the Piedmont club’s mistakes in recent transfer windows. Selling Medhi Benatia to Qatari club Al-Duhail halfway through this season backfired. The Bianconeri let go of an organised and physical defender, someone who always gave maximum effort when playing in Chiellini’s position.

Martin Caceres’ third return to Turin hasn’t even temporarily fixed the Old Lady’s defensive woes. The 32-year-old Uruguayan, on loan from Lazio, is not the tenacious and strong tackling central defender he used to be.

It was Antonio Conte’s creation of the BBC (Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini) defence that revolutionised Italian defending, facilitating the birth of the Bianconeri’s domestic dominance. Massimiliano Allegri managed to build on this success – creating a consistent four-man defence in his first couple of seasons.

However, it has been evident that the Juve defence has regressed since the embarrassing Champions League Final night in Cardiff against Real Madrid. It’s time for Juventus to restructure their central defensive area, especially if they are targeting to win the Champions League and stay on top domestically.

Manolas is still young, especially in comparison to the likes of Chiellini and Bonucci. But the former Olympiacos defender boasts a vast amount of Champions League and international football experience – something Juventus should be looking for in a centre-back.

Manolas’ well-executed tackles and gladiatorial physicality are not the only elements that would bolster this vulnerable Juve defence. His offensive qualities and pace could also assist the Italian Champions in building up the attack – making the Bianconeri a more dynamic side overall.

La Vecchia Signora would be wise to monitor Manolas’ current situation at Roma. The Lupi currently risk missing out on Champions League football for the 2019-2020 campaign, which might tempt the Greek international to leave the Italian capital.

A move to Juventus would suit both parties. Juve are in desperate need of a talented centre-back, while Manolas might want to take his football to the next level at a bigger club challenging in Europe.

As one of Serie A’s most-skilled defenders, it wouldn’t take Manolas much time to adapt at Juve in respect of other footballers coming from abroad.

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Have your say...
I don't know what is wrong with juvenile these days. Players like khedira and Ramsey will not win us champions league in midfield. We need higher quality and keep players like Pjanic. Try more technical and gifted players like Joao Felix. Our midfield is too average.
on the 15th May, 2019 at 1:20am
Last thing juventas can do is letting go off allegri. Even a reunion is a scarry idea; egoistical conte is double scarry. This juventas is ALLEGRI'S. Give him a refreshment of signings, this side is getting old. Keep rugani and let him play, seek benatia replacement. Manolas will be old fashioned; need of cougars like varane or rhone like eric baily. Sell bentancur bringback pogba. Sell pjanic for petrodollars bring isco. Dybala must be in the middle of a trio or sell him to real and trust kean.
on the 10th May, 2019 at 8:06pm
Juventus should pursue an ambitious and fearless coach who fulfills their European ambitions. One who dares to win instead of trying not to lose. There's no point pursuing Manolas or whoever else if it only means more of the same old cagey tactics and underwhelming performances. Juve get away with it in a stale Serie A but not in an ever evolving CL.
on the 10th May, 2019 at 10:55am
They should be pursuing De Ligt, but as usual the Italian teams will go for the cheaper, older, less talented version

Manolas is a good player, but hardly a great. Ramsey is similar, and on crazy wages. It's no wonder no Italian team is any good in Europe

Pretty depressing times when Juve can't do it in Europe. If they can't what hope have the hopeless below them?

Maybe Atalanta will at least give it a try in the CL if they qualify. They couldn't be worse than the 2 Milan's.
on the 10th May, 2019 at 2:21am
Manolas would be the last resort if Juventus can’t get De Ligt or any other better choice. Juventus need a defender at Chiellini’s level, his absence in the CL final with Barcelona and quarter final with Ajax proved to be very costly.
on the 10th May, 2019 at 12:24am
Yeah nailed it - Chiellini imo as good as than any defender in world football BUT he's 34-35 and cannot play every game anymore. Bonucci's weak seems lost just hope he doesn't stick around until he's 34. I'd build a team around 5 young affordable Italians: sign Romagnoli, Tonali (keep him out on loan for one season) Zaniolo, Chiesa combined with Kean.

Szczesny

Cancelo Romagnoli Chellini Spinazzola

Ndombele Tonali Zaniolo

Chiesa Kean Ronaldo

Sell Costa, Sandro, Pjanic, Cuadrado maybe Dybala
on the 9th May, 2019 at 11:52pm
And leave roma with even worse defense?
on the 9th May, 2019 at 3:42pm
What a joke, keep writing articles about how other serie a competitors SHOULD sell their best players to Juve. This has to stop, otherwise we can just add another 5 stars to the Juventus jersey.
Higuain, Pjanic, Bernadeschi, heroes for their former clubs and betrayed all their fans to join Juve. This is why Juve havent tasted European success - good players, terrible men, and that weakness in their personality to tfr from a rival to Juve shows in the big games.
on the 9th May, 2019 at 11:53am
Manolas, De Ligt and Ndombele - YES please.
on the 9th May, 2019 at 11:06am

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