We’re a week away from the January transfer deadline and Juventus are yet to make a move. Their search for a short-term fix at striker has gone cold, while the midfield reshuffle that was suspected in the Autumn hasn’t been forthcoming.
Arthur Melo, who is yet to fully garner the trust of Massimiliano Allegri, appeared a near certainty to leave before the window opened, while Aaron Ramsey’s exit seemed a formality. Both, however, remain at the club despite strong interest emerging from the Premier League.
Regarding Arthur, Juve have explicitly said the Brazilian will not be sold unless a replacement is brought in. However, after a summer of being linked with a plethora of midfield options, rumours on this front have gone cold. Brazilian Bruno Guimarães is well-liked by the club but Lyon’s €45m valuation has deterred the Bianconeri from making a move this month, while Borussia Monchengladbach are after €7m for impending free agent Denis Zakaria.
That could be a possibility the club explore in the closing days of the window, but nothing is advanced at this stage.
So, in summary, not a whole lot has changed since the transfer window opened. Arthur looks set to remain in Turin for at least another six months, while the club are struggling to find the right buyer for Ramsey with the Welshman’s wages proving problematic. Still, there’s hope that Ramsey will be shifted before the deadline, while Aston Villa’s interest in Rodrigo Bentancur could force Juve into a late pursuit of Zakaria.
There is no point in Juventus selling Rodrigo Bentancur to Aston Villa this month
Despite already adding Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne to his ranks this month, Steven Gerrard doesn’t appear to have concluded his transfer dealings. Villa have identified Bentancur, who struggled at the base of midfield under Andrea Pirlo, as a possible option to provide cover for holding midfielder Douglas Luiz.
What Gerrard will swiftly discover, however, is that the Uruguayan is much better suited to one of his #8 roles in the 4-3-2-1 system he’s beginning to implement at Villa Park. His proficiency in a box-to-box function should’ve been abundantly clear to the Villa scouts who were reportedly in attendance for Juve’s dire stalemate with AC Milan on Sunday night.
For the second Serie A game running, Bentancur notched a monster ten combined tackles and interceptions and he led the team with 29 pressures – 14 of which were successful (eight more than anybody else). The midfielder’s defensive effort in the second half especially was outstanding. He played a crucial role in Juve’s stout defensive display by disrupting Milan’s build-up, compromising their ability to transition and progress through the centre of the pitch.
In a midfield battle containing Manuel Locatelli and Sandro Tonali, it was Bentancur that stole the show and his performance was an indication of why the club would be silly to let him go before the deadline.
Sure, he’s no world-beater, but the seemingly universal dislike towards him (from purely a footballing perspective) among Juventini is unjustified. Too many have let his pretty disastrous season under Pirlo cloud their present-day judgements of the player. His 2021/22 campaign has been pretty good by all accounts with Allegri rightfully returning him to a box-to-box role.
Bentancur’s dogged and indefatigable skill set has proved crucial to the pragmatic, defence-first Juve boss this term. The Uruguayan produced stellar ‘big-game’ performances in the victory over Chelsea and draw with Milan earlier in the season and after a rather mundane end to the calendar year as Allegri started to mix up his midfield formula, Bentancur has recently rediscovered his most impactful form.
Despite playing the ninth-most minutes among the Juventus outfielders this season and third among midfielders, Bentancur has registered the most combined tackles and interceptions (73) and joint-most successful pressures (96). Yes, I’m fully aware of his technical deficiencies, but such flaws are somewhat masked by his role in Allegri’s setup. There’s less onus on him to retain, circulate and progress possession as there was last season with the boss giving him free rein to wreak havoc in the defensive phase.
He’s valuable, there’s no denying it. But, according to reports, Juve have put a £16m (€19m) price tag on his head amid Villa’s interest. However, the 35% sell-on fee Boca Juniors are entitled to means that if the club were to sell Bentancur before the deadline, Juve would garner approximately £10.4m (€12.3m). What is the point?
Will Juve be able to re-invest that money into a replacement? Zakaria, perhaps? A player that hasn’t been the same since he suffered a long-term knee injury in 2020. Is that a risk worth taking? I’m not so sure.
Overall, it just doesn’t make much sense for Juve to sell Bentancur this month. The Uruguayan’s enjoying a sneaky good season for Allegri’s unwatchable Bianconeri and while the midfielder’s never going to develop into a superstar, he’s currently an important member of this Juventus squad – whether you like it or not!