The times they are a-changin’ at the top of European football, but Juventus seem content to sit still. Even though The Old Lady have advanced in their efforts to revitalize an aging squad with the summer acquisitions of Arthur Melo and Weston McKennie, those promising midfield pickups will all be for naught if they finalize a deal for Barcelona forward Luis Suarez. While there can be no doubting the Uruguayan’s quality, his incorporation brings the Turin titans no closer to a long-awaited third Champions League title.
Juve’s chase for a new striker has been well documented over recent months, with a host of names being bandied about. It now seems that Suarez is set to sign on the dotted line, and ‘El Pistolero’ has all the requisite tools to forge a strong understanding with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite his advancing age, the Portuguese has not transformed into the penalty box predator that some expected in Turin. Suarez can provide the fixed central presence and canny link-up play that accentuates the virtues of the Real Madrid legend.
Beyond his crucial role in maximizing Ronaldo’s talents, the Uruguayan can also stimulate a shot-shy midfield’s dormant sense of adventure. Aaron Ramsey, last season’s top scorer in that sector, found the back of the net only three times in Serie A. The desire to arrive from deeper positions to finish off chances should increase with Suarez in tow.
Even at 33, the Salto-born bomber is one of the planet’s deadliest marksmen. His 21 goals in 36 matches for Barça last campaign are proof of an undiminished finishing ability, but a deeper dive into Suarez’s showings reveals that his lack of mobility began to hamper his side in meetings with the continental elite.
An insatiable appetite for hounding opposing defenders used to be a hallmark of Suarez’s game, but his legs no longer allow him to harass with the same vigour. Furthermore, his attacking movements are more predictable without the searing pace that once made him a constant threat in behind.
The negative consequences of the Charrúa’s fading physique were on full display against Bayern Munich in Lisbon. The German giants were able to squeeze up into the centre circle and release the full wrath of their suffocating press with no repercussions. Meanwhile, Suarez was unable to disrupt the Bayern backline’s carefully constructed combinations.
Teutonic triumph in the Champions League only reaffirmed the importance of being able to defend from the front. Despite their undoubted brilliance at the sharp end of the pitch, the presence of Ronaldo and Suarez would render any pretensions of collective high-intensity harrying impossible.
As he is yet to make his senior managerial debut, Andrea Pirlo’s tactical persuasions are still shrouded in mystery. However, his introductory press conference suggested that recovering possession quickly would be a focal point of l’architetto’s first construction project.
That Suarez does not fit into that stated aim is clear. Juve’s precarious financial position has probably informed his capture, as the club will only have to fork over a nominal compensation fee to Barcelona. Money is tight, and the exorbitant prices quoted for Duvan Zapata and Arkadiusz Milik put those more youthful options out of reach.
A player of Suarez’s class will expect to be present for the campaign’s most critical contests. Pirlo will use the Uruguayan plenty, but the rookie coach must have the gall to keep him or Ronaldo out for the knockout stages of Europe’s premier cup competition. Otherwise, another desperate drive for continental glory will end in disappointment.
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