Just close the deal for Manuel Locatelli, please.


Like many others, I enjoyed seeing the youngsters playing in Juventus’ first friendlies this summer. It has become a necessity, of course, but it’s also a chance for young children – whether they’ve just graduated from the primavera squad or have some experience with the Under-23 squad. years under their belt – to show what they can do against competition that they normally might not due to the current pre-season environment. (Like, you know, so many internationals coming back from vacation as a group rather than all at once.)

In what has turned out to be a very calm summer for Juventus in terms of actual transfer events, seeing youngsters like Filippo Ranocchia and Matias Soulé play fairly well in the first two friendlies gives you those prototypical hopes for what will happen in the future and that Juve have some talent waiting behind the scenes – no, not those wings – despite the struggle of youth to produce talent over the past decade.

But right now, a giant question mark hangs over Juventus’ summer as the 2021-22 season opener approaches: can they strike a deal for the Sassuolo midfielder, Manuel Locatelli?

Over the past few weeks – and please forgive me because at this point I’ve honestly lost count – Juventus have negotiated with Sassuolo for Locatelli. This was about as drawn from a process as we’ve seen in some time. And pretty much the opposite of a negotiating process as we have seen in relation to the man in the photo above trying to steal the ball from Locatelli, Weston McKennie, who apparently arrived on a Schalke’s nowhere deal last summer. We have seen a familiar trend manifesting itself with articles in the Italian press over the past few weeks:

Juventus submit an offer. Sassuolo declines said offer. Italian media say a new meeting will take place in the next few days or next week. It’s a cycle which, sadly, has become the norm this summer as Juventus try to strike a deal.

Hell, we’ve even seen reports in the last few hours that Juventus and Sassuolo have another meeting regarding the Locatelli deal scheduled for… Friday! (This is, for the record, nine days before Juve kick off the 2021-22 season at Udine.)

But they have to make this deal. Boy oh boy do they need to make this deal.

If it wasn’t just for the sheer time they invested in trying to do something with Sassuolo, right? This is Federico Cherubini’s first major negotiation for a player since taking charge of football from Juventus. And obviously he’s doing it in the context where Juventus are extremely cash-strapped and the ability to bridge the gap between what he offers and what Sassuolo wants isn’t as easy as it might have been. be the previous years.

As it stands, Juventus have offered Sassuolo a variety of different formulas to try and close the deal. Depending on where you read it, the details of the deal vary. But Juve’s latest offer has essentially become something like the Federico Chiesa deal was structured last October in the final days of the ‘summer’ transfer window. Sassuolo doesn’t exactly welcome this sort of deal with open arms, but at this point something where the main part of the transfer fee is waived for a year or two seems like the only thing Juventus can afford. (Remember, that $ 400million capital influx wasn’t for Cherubini to run wild in the transfer market, folks.)

The good news in all of this is that if Locatelli wanted to move to another club next to Juventus, Sassuolo would have already sold him to the highest bidder. He did not go to Arsenal, who reportedly offered € 40million a few weeks ago. This means Juventus are the only option Sassuolo has to profit from Locatelli.

And that’s a good thing considering how important a signing from Locatelli was to the Juventus midfielder and how it goes a long way towards resolving some of the issues this area of ​​the pitch has seen over the years. last two seasons.

It’s pretty obvious that the Juventus midfielder has missed a player with Locatelli’s characteristics and passing ability in recent years. You get Locatelli and you can put Rodrigo Bentancur in a much more effective position as a No.6. You can let Adrien Rabiot and McKennie be box-to-box threats who can both score goals and be effective defensively. And, perhaps most important of all, the experimentation with Aaron Ramsey as a regista would, thankfully, come to an end and not be seen as a legitimate backup option if someone like Locatelli or even Miralem Pjanic didn’t arrive. not this summer.

We hear a lot about the domino effects of transfers every time a big move happens.

Well, signing Locatelli – as well as missing it – also has its fair share of falling dominoes, too.

This is why it has to happen. There is no other solution.

Hopefully, otherwise Juventus’ main transfer target this summer will likely still be a Sassuolo player when the 2021-22 season kicks off next weekend. (Seriously, it’s next weekend. Crazy, right?)

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