Suddenly, a dilemma has emerged in Turin.
Tuesday morning’s revelation from Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso regarding star striker Dusan Vlahovic has thrown a spanner in the works. The 21-year-old Serb will not renew his contract in Florence and the Viola will be all but forced to sell their most-prized asset next summer with his current deal expiring in 2023.
Juventus have previously been linked with Vlahovic’s services but their recent financial woes prevented them from making a move in the summer. However, Fiorentina’s monster asking price seemed to deter many of Europe’s interested elite as well.
Thus, following his breakout season in Serie A last time out, Vlahovic remains in Florence for the 2021/22 campaign and has started the new term by scoring four times in seven league appearances.
His situation is one the Bianconeri will undoubtedly monitor and the Italian giants are poised to be part of a Hunger Games-esque pursuit with the rest of the continent for the Serbian forward next summer. Unreliable reports suggest the club have already made contact with Vlahovic’s agent over a potential transfer and are aiming to complete a deal that resembles the financially amicable structures of their Federico Chiesa and Manuel Locatelli moves.
However, should Juventus identify Vlahovic as their long-term centre forward as part of Massimiliano Allegri’s second project, that’ll surely spark the end of Alvaro Morata’s second tenure in Turin? It’s one or the other.
The decision that needs to be made
Juventus have to pay €35m to Atletico Madrid by the end of next June to trigger the permanent purchase option inserted in Morata’s extended loan deal. Reports suggest the decision won’t be made hastily.
While Juventus supporters will certainly favour the excitement that arrives with signing a shiny new centre-forward, they shouldn’t overlook the importance of Morata to Allegri’s side. The Spaniard’s an underrated star at the club. While his persistent refusal to adhere to the offside rule and inconsistency in front of goal can infuriate, Morata’s skill set is invaluable to the Bianconeri. His multi-faceted profile enables him to run in behind and drop between the lines with similar proficiency, and last season he registered healthy tallies in both the goals and assists charts (11 goals and nine assists in Serie A – a career-best return).
There’s just something special about Morata and Turin. But, Juventus will have to cut the blossoming romance short if they have eyes for another man. A young and chiselled 6ft3 Serbian, no less.
The club can’t afford to trigger Morata’s €35m option to buy and splurge a healthy sum on their future-forward, who’ll be ready to lead the Juventus line from the get-go. How much Vlahovic will cost next summer is tricky to estimate, but it certainly won’t be close to the €100m Fiorentina had previously demanded. A fee in the region of €50m seems more likely.
However, although Juventus have been touted as the front-runners for Vlahovic’s signature, this will be a highly competitive race. Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have all expressed an interest in the 21-year-old and Commisso’s statement is likely to have ignited universal interest from around the continent.
The club must move swiftly if they’re to persuade the Serb to avoid the cash-laden Premier League in favour of a Piedmontese conquest. Thus, their decision over Morata has to be made with similar haste.
It’s hard to envisage a Juventus at which both Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata reside.