Juventus: Manuel Locatelli will be well worth the wait

FLORENCE, ITALY - JUNE 30: Manuel Locatelli of Italy looks on before an Italy training session at Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano on June 30, 2021 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
FLORENCE, ITALY - JUNE 30: Manuel Locatelli of Italy looks on before an Italy training session at Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano on June 30, 2021 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images) /

Serie A kicks off in less than a week. Teams around Italy have already completed their pre-season, with some formally testing themselves out in the latest round of Coppa Italia fixtures.

Amid the brouhaha around the commencement of a new season, the news of Manuel Locatelli joining Juventus feels like a bombshell — albeit an expected one.

Juventus supporters might surely be feeling the sheer ecstasy now, as it will be their first major summer signing, and, for real, they have caught a big fish here.

Locatelli joining Juve marks the end of a long-running transfer saga and possibly one of the most anticipated transfer stories in the recent history of the Italian footballing landscape.

How did Juventus make the deal happen?

Midway into the second half of the 2020/21 campaign, one player from Saussolo caught the eyes of the Italian football enthusiasts with his awe-inspiring attributes. He has “Locatelli #73” printed on his back. Lying in front of the defence for Roberto De Zerbi’s expansive Sassuolo, he would do all the mopping up and likewise orchestrate the flow of the game for his team. Many have been led to believe that this Serie A doesn’t have multiple better passers than this chap with moderately curly hair.

Then came Juventus seeking his signature. Firstly, it was just a normal transfer story featuring at the top of the local newspapers’ rumour-mill section. But soon, things started getting out of control as reliable sources and journalists began to confirm the Turin-based club’s interest in the 23-year-old midfielder.

Soon, the story became acceptable to all. Now, everyone was waiting for a breakthrough in the deal. Time never stops for anyone, and the same happened to Juventus, with Locatelli joining the Italian squad after finishing his regular club campaign with I Neroverdi.

In the absence of Marco Verratti through a minor injury, Locatelli was given a start in the Italian midfield by Roberto Mancini in the Azzurri’s first two games of the European Championship against Turkey and Switzerland.

Not only did Italy win both games with aplomb, but Locatelli starred, scoring a brace in a 3-0 victory over the Swiss. Why are we explaining this now? Because it came to have further ramifications in Locatelli’s delayed move to Juventus.

As the Euros ended with Italy crowned as the champions of Europe, Italian papers continued to push the story of Locatelli’s switch to Juventus.

In the meantime, having been fascinated by the performance of the midfielder in the recently finished Euro, Arsenal ended up submitting a bid of £34 million for Manuel Locatelli. The English club from London intended to lure Locatelli away from Serie A, but Locatelli sights were set on Juventus. Consequently, it didn’t take too long for him to decline that offer from the Gunners.

However, the Bianconeri were still moving at a pace that would’ve made a snail envious. After a zillion meetings between the authorities of Juventus and Sassuolo, countless cups of coffee shared between them, and words exchanges in concluding the negotiation, Juventus finally reached an agreement with Sassuolo for the signing of Manuel Locatelli on August 17, 2021.

 What’s the agreement?

As claimed by Gianluca Di Marzio and several other reliable journalists, Juventus will sign Locatelli on a season-long loan deal with an obligation to buy worth €35 million-plus further performance-related add-ons. The total fee of the deal will include some fixed and simple bonuses and some pretty difficult bonuses as well.

Juventus have utilised the same technique to sign players several times amid the pandemic-impacted market. They signed Federico Chiesa on a two-season loan deal last summer. That deal also includes an obligation to buy, which will come into action next summer. Alvaro Morata’s capture is another instance.

Juventus are expected to announce the signing of Locatelli in the coming days. The player is due to undertake his medicals. Therefore, Juventini might have to wait for a bit longer to get the confirmation of the Locatelli’s arrival at the Piedmontese club.

What is next for Juventus?

What is next? The sheer joy of seeing Locatelli donning the prestigious “J” crest and bossing the midfield for the Black and Whites.

Locatelli was considered the missing piece required in the current Bianconeri midfield. Over the last few months and weeks, we have discussed how the impending addition of Manuel Locatelli to the current Juventus squad would help the Bianconeri alleviate their midfield-oriented enigmas.

In the absence of a natural deep-lying playmaker, we’ve seen Aaron Ramsey, going against his natural traits, playing in the role of a “regista”.  So far, the Welshman has been unconvincing while playing and learning the new position. Against Juve’s recent 3-1 win over Atalanta, Ramsey survived, only thanks to Rodrigo Bentancur’s success in dealing with the danger.

Locatelli is expected to come and replace Ramsey at the deep midfield position right away. Although, we’re more than aware of Locatelli’s praiseworthy qualities as a box-to-box midfielder from his displays in Euro.

But as it seems, Allegri would like to land the former AC Milan prodigy inside the double pivot featuring Rodrigo Bentancur on the other side. A pivot of Locatelli-Bentancur is capable of dominating Europe, let alone running riot in Italy.

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With Allegri returning to the managerial seat, Juventus’ bid to win this season’s Scudetto was already skyrocketing. The addition of Locatelli would only add more flame to the prospect of conquering Europe once again.