Following a summer of yes, no and maybe from Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal after strong links with Manchester United, the Chilean eventually began the season in black and white and, although still looking for full match sharpness, has already proven again that he is remains one of Europe’s finest midfielders.
But after a recent nightclub incident, where the Warrior was allegedly involved in a drunken episode and came off the worse, he was fined €100,000 by the club. Whilst playing down the severity of the incident and the suggestion since that Juve are now ready to listen to offers for him come January, Coach Massimiliano Allegri did label his actions as ‘stupid’.
Following the incident, Vidal was dropped from the first XI for the all-important clash with Roma, despite Allegri claiming the decision was purely tactical. “Vidal was on the bench because I needed, with the return of Andrea Pirlo, a more tactical player like Claudio Marchisio,” he said. “Every now and then boys do stupid things and they need to understand what they cannot afford to do, especially nowadays with cell phones and photographers everywhere.”
Subsequent rumours in Italy suggest the relationship between club and player is not at its best and that an exit mid-season is plausible, whilst in England reports claim that Juventus have also lowered their previous asking price because of this incident. Critics may also argue that the whole episode is one way to ensure a parting of the ways without making Juve look like they need the money, nor Vidal officially request a transfer.
Whatever the end result it will be a sad day for both Serie A and Juventus if he leaves but let’s face it, it would be nothing new. For the last few years the League has failed to keep its top players due to financial enticements on offer from abroad, with new examples cropping up every year.
However, as Juve’s two nearest competitors Roma and Napoli can testify, selling your best players for big money can be handy and allows you to build a bigger and better squad for the future. “Vidal is not irreplaceable but if you do decide to sell, then you need to spend that money wisely,” said Juve legend Alessandro Del Piero when asked about the situation in the summer.
Indeed, there are several aspects to Arturo’s potential exit that could prove advantageous.
Perhaps the principal reason being that if Juve can receive near to the €40m figure rumoured, that sum can plug a significant hole in their bank balance. Dating back to the fallout from Calcipoli, the Bianconeri are weaker than they once were financially. Factor in Antonio Conte leaving, the fall in their TV money, several years of posting significant losses and owners EXOR no longer investing big money and the Old Lady is not the financial super power of 15 years ago. Indeed according to one financial website there is even a 75 per cent chance of Juve going bankrupt within two years.
She arguably needs reinforcements in several positions and unless monies come in none will be going out. “Juve can only spend what it takes in while John Elkan, FIAT and EXOR cannot give money to Juventus like Gianni used to in the old days,” said Juve shareholder and financial advisor Ennio Longo.
The one position that is well covered is central midfield with Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio all top players in that role. “Even without Vidal a midfield with Pirlo, Marchisio and Pogba would still be very impressive,” added Del Piero.
This leaves the selling of Vidal their best option of raising serious money to fund positions that need covering. Let’s not forget that Juve have had three great seasons out of him and in two years’ time he will be 30 with his subsequent value perhaps dropping by at least a half.
Of course it’s not going to be easy without El Guerrero and with 30 goals in 101 League games he has been a crucial element of Juve’s attack. Last season he was Juve’s third top scorer with 11 goals in 32 games with only Lazio’s Antonio Candreva scoring more from midfield with 12.
He was equally as comfortable in defence, as the midfield enforcer made an average of 4.1 tackles per game last season with his next nearest competitor, Parma’s Marco Parolo on 3.3, while his nearest teammate was defender Giorgio Chiellini made 2.5.
Undoubtedly the 27-year-old has repaid the €10.5m he cost in 2011 and selling him for a big fee makes sense. So despite the misgivings of some perhaps it may be best to grab any cash on offer in January, say thank you Arturo and goodbye, and make room on the bench for a young Italian.