Monday July 29 2019
Demiral as decisive as De Ligt

Juventus must embrace Merih Demiral, as Anthony Barbagallo insists the Turkish centre-back boasts the same potential as Matthijs de Ligt. 

Juventus look like they are juggling with two different projects at this current time. The Bianconeri have made a drastic coaching change and have added some new key signings to the squad – hoping these acquisitions can instantly solve the Old Lady’s Champions League drought. 

However, it seems evident that Juve are also trying to construct a youthful core in their defensive line. Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are past their prime, with the latter having been more prone to injuries and fatigue over these last couple of demanding campaigns. Signing de Ligt was a case of the Italian champions pushing for instant European success and preparing for the future. But numerous Serie A viewers and Juventini forgot about the smart purchase of Merih Demiral.

Demiral, who was purchased for €18m from Sassuolo, has to be one of the savviest signings the Bianconeri have made this summer. The 21-year-old Turkish international was supposed to be one of the players to be sacrificed for the de Ligt signing, that was until the talented centre-back took Juve and its fans by storm in the two International Champions Cup fixtures against Tottenham and Inter.

After Demiral showed glimpses of his exceptional defensive qualities in these last couple of pre-season friendlies in a Bianconeri shirt, the Turkish starlet proved why he fits the mould of a traditional Juventus centre-back.

The way Demiral defends resembles how several past Italian centre-backs played at Juve. His overshadowing height, robust figure, versatility and composure are all the same qualities that Chiellini holds. But from what we saw at his short stint with Sassuolo and some of his recent pre-season performances, Demiral has the talent to emulate Juve legend Claudio Gentile.

The Fenerbahçe youth product can use his height advantage to avert any aerial threat in the box and also score off corners and set-pieces in attacking situations. Demiral is also an outstanding reader in one v one situations – using his strength and precise tackling always to win challenges.

While defenders in modern-day football predominantly use zonal marking, Demiral has occasionally defended with the man-marking system – a method that worked for him in nullifying Fabio Quagliarella, Duvan Zapata, Josip Ilicic, Federico Chiesa and Andrea Belotti last season. Claudio Gentile used to defend like this as a way of life, which ended up frustrating football icons Diego Maradona and Zico at the 1982 World Cup. 

Not only is Demiral a mature centre-back for his young age, but the former Alanyaspor player also has decent technical skills with the ball. The Turkish youngster has the ability to surge forward – dribbling past opponents with intense pace. Boasting a hard work ethic is another exceptional trait that the 21-year-old holds. He can trackback and instantaneously dispossess the ball from any top striker.

Another reason why Juve would be wise to cherish this Turkish gem is to avoid a chaotic repeat of last season, when Medhi Benatia was sold to Qatari club Al-Duhail. By letting go of Benatia, the 35-time Scudetto winners struggled for depth in defence when injuries struck Chiellini. Daniele Rugani alongside Bonucci left Juve exposed in corners and set-piece situations, which consequently led to their early exit in the Champions League.

Demiral’s abilities could offer tremendous depth in Maurizio Sarri’s backline this upcoming season. The young Turkish delight is a luxury back-up to have when Chiellini needs to rest. Also, Demiral is a much more talented option than Rugani, with the latter struggling for confidence and form.    

A large portion of Juve tifosi probably wouldn’t mind seeing Demiral receive more game time than Bonucci this campaign. The Bianconeri’s new centre-back is younger, has more potential and can even produce accurate long-range passes just like Bonucci. Playing Demiral and de Ligt more often could give Juventus fans a taste of the club’s future centre-back duo.

Juve must ensure Demiral stays in Turin, especially if the Italian champions are to prepare their next generation of centre-backs for future domestic and European success.

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Have your say...
Don't sell Dybala, and lock Higuain in the toilet maybe that will make him agreed to be in transfer list.
on the 13th August, 2019 at 8:03am
I have much respect for our juventus management but I am utterly shocked with their transfers this past week.
To swap Dybala for Lukaku? Where is Agnelli? He should veto this Paratici madness! Lukaku has a Pathetic first touch , has no speed of thought. Has only speed, strength and fighting spirit, which a horse can also provide. Ahletico are getting Joao Felix and we are fighting for Lukaku? Get serious Juve. Get serious.
on the 1st August, 2019 at 4:57am
Demiral is a huge talent, but swapping Dybala for clumsy Lukaka or even consider selling Kean, Dybala, Costa and Cancelo when you can/should sell Higuain, Khedira, Matuidi, Cuadradro and Mandzukic is utter stupidity.
on the 30th July, 2019 at 4:19pm
Rugani won`t see the pitch now with Demiral and De Light coming in. Don`t worry for Lukaku, he will reject juventus as he already promised himself to Inter. Besides, why would Dybala go to Manchester? Totally unrealistic swap deal.
on the 30th July, 2019 at 3:28pm
i wonder how a club that has been working all these years to win the uefa champions league will ever think of swapping a player like Paulo Dybala with Romelu Lukaku no disrespect to him. Paulo Dybala is on a higher technical and tactical level high above Romelu Lukaku. please on what basis are they been considered to be swapped? Juventus directors and manager should please reconsider this and suspend it.
on the 30th July, 2019 at 2:57pm
The possibility of a Dybala/Lukaku swap deal is not only shocking, it is getting annoying. I mean who in their right senses will have the derring-do to think of such absurdity? Lukaku has the worst first touch and ball control amongst all the professional footballers in Europe. And this guy is supposed to be a fit in "Sarriball". For Juve to win the CL, all our technically gifted players must stay. I just hope there is no substance in this swap deal.....sincerely, it is getting nauseating.
on the 30th July, 2019 at 2:23pm
What on earth are Juve doing going in for Lukaku! He's not as bad as some people make out but he doesn't fit into a Sarri style of football. I really hope Dybala convinces Sarri that he can do that false 9 role. Also Kean to Everton is bizarre. They should just let Mandzukic/Matuidi/Khedira and Higuain go for minimal fees to get the wages off the books. Hopefully Lukaku choses Inter over Juve as he'll fit in a lot better with Conte style of play
on the 30th July, 2019 at 1:07pm
Wow hold on a second. You forfeiting to defeat to us inter? huh?. Thats what you sounded like and it echoed the truth. Currently we have the most italians who have chances to play for italy for now and in future,,, WoWoWoW!!!!!
on the 30th July, 2019 at 12:35pm
He looked good when I saw him play for Turkey against France. De ligt seems to be a freak of nature but I am finding it very hard to understand why anyone in their right mind would want to swap Dybala 4 Lukaku. If Juventus were going the way of a big strong centre forward then they already have Kean as he is young and raw but could develop into the role with proper coaching while Lukaku will never have a good first touch. If rumors are true then very its very bizarre besides Dybala is class.
on the 30th July, 2019 at 11:51am
Only shame is Rugani.

Why is he on the team? And it's funny because Sarri wanted Rugani when he was at Chelsea.

Manchester United looking to spend a billion dollars on a good, maybe very good CB in Maguire. But Juve have three young guys all better, with two being a steal and one being available.
on the 30th July, 2019 at 12:08am
Looking very forward to watching him. Great potential and great buy. My only regret is that Juve are alarmingly not nurturing local Italian talent. Their starting line up is worse than Inter's, in terms of foreigners...not one Italian midfielder in the squad...shocking... And Juve has always traditionally boasted the Italian national team goalkeeper and defence.....times have changed.....
on the 29th July, 2019 at 5:57pm
I saw him play against inter in the preseason and he was so strong in the air and on his feet,he made tackles with some precisions .I think he should not be loaned out he's going to bench one Bonnuci ,Rugani or De ligt . Rugani has been disappointing with his development for me ...
on the 29th July, 2019 at 4:29pm
He is a terrific signing, well done. Just watched the friendly games, he has the potential to be a world class defenders. He is fast and strong in both body and mental.He is aggressive and tough, two traits that a top defender must have and what Rugani lacks. Juventus should cash in Rugani if offer above 40m arrives. Demiral and De Ligt will be a top pair with Romero.
on the 29th July, 2019 at 11:15am
The future is bright.
on the 29th July, 2019 at 10:40am

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