After signing from Real Madrid on a free transfer, Sami Khedira has adjusted to life in Turin wonderfully and has emerged as a crucial player to this Juventus side.
In football, not many things are guaranteed as it could all change in an instant. An exception to that rule, however, has been Juventus’ Sami Khedira. It’s a simple equation: When he’s in the lineup, Juventus don’t lose. The only downside is that injuries have sidelined for much of the first part of the season and continue to pose him problems every so often. Since coming over from Spain, the German international had made 12 appearances in all competitions for the bianconeri. His record, you ask? Ten wins and two draws. His return to fitness is a large part behind the club’s nine game winning streak in Serie A that has catapulted them into second in the table just two points behind Napoli after a disastrous start to the season.
Khedira’s mixed stay with Real Madrid –
When he signed for Real Madrid from Stuttgart in 2010, Khedira was a highly-rated 23-year-old and soon enough established himself in the first team. Until the 2012-2013 season, the Juventus man was a regular for los Blancos consistently playing 20 league games a season and in almost every of their Champions League clashes. Then came the 2013-2014 season. Khedira would make only twelve starts in La Liga that season due to injuries and would eventually lose his spot in the starting eleven. The following season would be even worse as he was only able to make three starts for a measly 296 minutes of football all year. With an expiring contract, Real Madrid decided it was best to part ways with the German midfielder and didn’t offer him a renewal. Enter Giuseppe Marotta and Juventus.
Khedira’ road to redemption –
Juventus, a team that has so diligently used free transfers to bolster their roster in the past, looked at Khedira’s situation and saw an opportunity to exploit. While his ability to stay fit is a bit off-putting, the bianconeri took a well calculated punt on the 28-year-old and offered him an expanded role at the club as well as a four-year-deal. The veteran midfielder accepted the proposal and just like that he was swapping Madrid for Turin. More importantly, he was going from being just another player on the roster to being a crucial aspect in Massimiliano Allegri’s plans.
With Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal both gone, experience at the heart of the midfield was needed. The World Cup winner would have no issues in this respect as his time at Real Madrid and on the international stage with Germany provided him with an abundance of pedigree. His debut for Juventus came in the side’s second game of the group stages in the Champions League, a game in which Allegri’s side comfortably beat Sevilla 2-0. From there, it was evident just what Khedira brought to the table in addition to his experience. With the German on the pitch, Juventus looked assured in defence and were able to maintain a better measure of control on the opposition. Why was this the case? Mainly because Khedira compliments a majority of Juventus’ midfielders, especially Paul Pogba.
The domino effect: Khedira’s impact on Paul Pogba –
Without Khedira in the lineup, Pogba doesn’t look the same. The Frenchman, who is known for his extravagance when in possession, simply tries to do too much when players like Khedira and Marchisio aren’t in the lineup. When taking into consideration that the former Manchester United man played with Stefano Sturaro and Mario Lemina among others a lot earlier in the year, the burden to create something fell on Pogba. While Sturaro and Lemina are talented, young midfielders in their own way, the opposition typically doesn’t have to worry about paying particular attention to them especially in the final third. This quickly changes when both or even one of Khedira and Marchisio are in the lineup. The opposition is then forced to devise a tactical scheme that would nullify three midfielders as opposed to one. Oftentimes, this is impossible to do and leaves one of the three open to leave their mark on the game. It is at this point that Pogba flourishes as seen through his last four games that have seen him score three goals and register one assist. Even if Khedira’s positive impact on Pogba is not a deliberate one, it would be foolish to deny it.
Looking ahead to 2016 and beyond –
After handing out a four-year deal to the midfielder, it’s safe to say that Khedira is in Juventus’ long term plans. With his influence on the side only expanding as the season goes by, there’s only one thing that could stop Khedira from carving out a wonderful career with Juventus. Yup, those dreaded injury concerns. If he weren’t made of glass, it would be a lot easier to back him for a long, trophy-laden stay in bianconero. Reality and past history, however, tell a different story therefore it’s best we play it by ear and witness the revival of one of Europe’s quality midfielders week-by-week, season-by-season.