Now that the dust has settled on Andrea Pirlo’s surprise appointment as Juventus manager, attention has turned to how his side will look and play.
Players like Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira will be moved on while there are question marks around a number of players, including 2019-20 Serie A MVP Paulo. Dybala.
Pirlo will inherit a squad that is already ready to welcome Dejan Kulusevski from Atalanta and Arthur Melo from Barcelona but nonetheless, he will want to bring in players of his own to put his stamp on the group.
Andrea Pirlo has the enviable task of leading Juventus in his first job in management
Deals had already been agreed to sign Arthur (left) and Dejan Kulusevski (right) this summer
A new No 9 is a priority with Wolves’ Raul Jimenez and Alexandre Lacazette reported as key targets while there is a clamour to freshen up his options at full-back.
Alessandro Florenzi of Roma is of interest for the right flank while Atalanta’s breakout star Robin Gosens would appear to be the No 1 target down the left.
With some dispute over whether Pirlo will stick with his preferred 4-3-3 or restore Juventus to a 3-5-2 they saw under Antonio Conte, Sportsmail looks at two versions of the new Juventus in Pirlo’s image…
There have been reports in the Italian media that Pirlo could bring back the formation of his former boss Conte in a bid to get Juventus ticking again.
The Old Lady enjoyed great success using this system under the fiery Italian and with Inter Milan committing to it in 2019-20 – eventually finishing just a point behind Juventus in the table – Pirlo may feel matching up to their rival, and the biggest threat to them going 10 in a row, makes a lot of sense.
Much of the success of this system is reliant on the wing-backs and it is no surprise that whichever system he elects to play, left and right back are positions that need freshening up.
Robin Gosens (right) has had a phenomenal season and would be a No 1 target at left back
Alex Sandro turns 30 in January and Juan Cuadrado recently turned 32 which suggests both are reaching the tail-end of their careers. Sandro could become an option in a central role of a back three while Cuadrado could split duties with a new signing.
Robin Gosens has been a super watch for Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta this season and it is no surprise he is viewed as a primary target. The 26-year-old can be a perfect box-to-box component for Pirlo, particularly in a 3-5-2 system.
The German contributed 10 goals and eight assists in all competitions and those numbers will work as Juventus look to lift this over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo to bail them out, as he did time and time again to get consecutive title No 9.
Another full-back name coming up is Alessandro Florenzi. At 29, age is not on his side but he is three years younger than current right back option Cuadrado and is a player Pirlo is familiar with.
Florenzi will not be short on offers given his credibility in Serie A but Pirlo is reportedly ready to use Daniele Rugani as a sweetener to get a deal over the line, completing what would be a young and exciting back five.
The three midfield options looked to, at one stage, be making room for Brescia’s Sandro Tonali but talk of him going to Juventus has cooled of late.
Juventus need to ease their wage bill and Paulo Dybala (left) could be the player sacrificied
Instead, summer arrival Arthur looks to be the player Pirlo can build around and with Blaise Matuidi departed and Khedira also surplus to requirements, it seems reasonable to assume the new boss will persist with Rodrigo Bentancur and Adrien Rabiot either side of Arthur.
The key for Juventus is that they need to make sales this summer to ease the financial pressure currently on their shoulders. For as great as Dybala was in 2019-20 there is a growing belief he could be sold for a premium with 35-year-old Ronaldo kept on to drive the attack for another couple of years.
What this system would do would be to put Ronaldo in a front two partnership with what is likely to be a new No 9.
Higuain lost a yard or two of pace and while he scored a couple of crucial goals over the season he desperately needs replacing and Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette could fit the bill.
There has been reported interest in Wolves’ Raul Jimenez but with Arsenal keen to generate funds for their own transfer business, it is Lacazette who could prove to be the more attainable Premier League striker.
Lacazette has two years left on his deal but given Mikel Arteta has been told by the Arsenal hierarchy that he will need to reduce the team’s wage bill this summer, Lacazette could be one of the men to go considering he is among the Gunners’ highest earners on a deal worth around £180,000-a-week.
The alternative is for Pirlo to stick with his key beliefs if everything is in order and that is to play an attacking 4-3-3.
It was the system Maurizio Sarri went with for much of 2019-20 but somehow the cut and thrust, thee excitement of it had been taken away.
While this would likely see Merih Demiral become the next man up off the bench with Matthjis
This is the formation that Pirlo has long appeared to advocate if the tools at his disposal allow and a couple of additions would upgrade what Sarri used last season.
Rodrigo Bentancur was arguably Juventus’ best midfielder in 2019-20 and will keep improving
The midfield trio would again be settled with just Arthur coming in alongside Bentancur and Rabiot.
Rabiot had a difficult start to life in Turin following his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain but he really came into his own following football’s resumption and was arguably Juventus’ most improved player in 2019-20.
The key differential in a 4-3-3 would see Kulusevski played in his natural position and after impressing on loan with Parma, the Sweden international is battle tested for the rigours of Serie A.
That feels significant as right-wing has been a problem position for Juventus in recent years.
Alexandre Lacazette would provide Pirlo with an orthodox No 9 to support Cristiano Ronaldo
Federico Bernardeschi doesn’t score or assist enough goals given the company he shares and Douglas Costa, while boasting immense talent, is fragile and often injured which hampers him from reaching his potential ceiling.
Both will. have interested parties and are potential sweeteners in deals. Provided he can prove his fitness, Costa is likely to have a number of suitors, particularly in the Premier League given pace is one of his key attributes.
It would also Ronaldo to remain occupying a wide area where he can isolate before drifting inside with Lacazette the focal point with which to build around as a hold-up man.
Arkadiusz Milik has emerged as another option for that No 9 role and there is a growing sense that Pirlo, having seen Juventus maximise players such as Mario Mandzukic in the past, is keen to get a new-and-improved Higuain-type striker.