The summer of 2016 saw the cash splashed here and there. What here and there have in common is the Turin based club, Juventus.
Many pundits have praised the hierarchy for their masterstrokes in regards to the wheeling and dealing. Now a month removed from the transfers, the dust has settled and finally the emotions have been put in check. What may have — or will soon — to be lurking are larger and possibly more troubling questions.
With four championships won on the trot, and practically no domestic opponent with any clear chances of dethroning them, where was the motivation for such a move? The obvious answer is club football’s crown jewel, the UEFA Champions League.
Let’s begin with the French born Argentine. Gonzalo Higuain has begun a five year contract, so for Juve’s sake and investment, a five year window. A striker that will be 29 years old in three months time, for an astonishing €90 million. A purchase to aid towards a trophy that has eluded them for over 20 years, in the process, unloading Paul Pogba for a whopping €105 million. Not to make anyone concerned but Pogba is 23 years old and has five and half years more to achieve what Higuain hasn’t, considering age differences. In his lifetime that is.
Here comes the theories. (Let’s not make this a decade long saga.)
So 2021 is the cutoff point. If by any chance — excluding this year since Manchester United are not participating in the Champions League — they were to win the Champions League within the five year window, and Juventus do not, will 2016 be looked upon as success or failure?
Imagining might be painful for the Bianconeri faithful. But what if it were the case? Was it worth it after all?
Historically, prior to the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane was the man everyone remembers as the most expensive player of all time.
Now more than ever, was that a good move? If transfer fees received and paid are based on non-domestic trophies won, then the answer is an astounding no. Once gone from “La Vecchia Signora”, “Zizou” not only won but scored the most brilliant goal to seal a Champions League trophy.
It is important to mention the transfer fee received for Zidane actually financed the purchases of none other then Gianluigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved and Lilian Thuram who are all club legends.
The truth might be that Juventus is “Italy’s team”, but they are not Italy’s team in Champions League triumphs.
Nostalgia always creeps up when discussing clubs past and future achievements. A larger question for another day: is the Juventus business plan more important than the Agnelli family legacy? Let’s stick to the task at hand.
Returning to the original topic, there are some footnotes. Is the will of the player to stay or look for new challenges? Even more so, are there outside interests including — but not limited to — super agent Mino Raiola with the obvious reasons being financial gains on his behalf?
The debate is not whether one is better than the other, or who has a greater importance to a team. Bragging rights are on the line. Plus, a price tag of Higuain’s magnitude just for the certainty of winning domestic trophies would be laughable.
This money spent is for European and possibly continental supremacy. In addition, we should consider what type of recruiting was needed the four years prior and the expenditures to go along with it. If European glory is not on the cards, then the amount spent is excessive.
A little side note on Napoli.
Not the most popular move on there behalf but a sound business plan is in place. With Edinson Cavani’s 64.5 million euros received, a chain of events began that financed the Higuain move and in turn brought about a 90 million euros transfer budget to have at their disposal. With the recent performances of Arkadiusz Milik, Higuain is for now — and the word “now” has to be stressed — a forgotten issue.
Back to Juve, what could be even more heartbreaking for the Juventus supporters? Seeing their former world class, box to box midfielder lifting the crown that they’re so desperately in search for. Another question that needs mentioning; is a complete forward more important than a box to box midfielder? The best answer would be every position is important.
The only way to distinguish one player from the next for each position is his “multi-dimensionalism,” if such a word exists, without forgetting how rare and unique he is compared to the rest of the competition in his field.
All in all, time will tell if success or failure has come about from this past summer. Could it be a repeat of the summer of 2001? Who knows. More important is how we gauge success and failure.
One thing is for certain: Higuain’s future will be bounded by his aiding ‘La Juve’ get the Champions League trophy they crave. He is there for the last hurdle of the race that seems more of a marathon rather than a 100 meter dash.
As many of the readers don’t remember, 32 years ago to this very month a song was released by a group called Alphaville. That song was called “Forever Young”. In five years time, a song of a different tune maybe sung, “Forever Linked”. Just to end on a comedic note before the serious verses are about to begin.