Miralem Pjanic, Juventus, Barcelona, And The Swap That Benefits No One
Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic against Roma In the Coppa Italia (Photo courtesy of PA Images)

 

Fresh reports claim Juventus and Barcelona have agreed to send Miralem Pjanic, Mattia De Sciglio, and €25m to Spain in exchange for Nelson Semedo and no one else. In other news, La Liga's last-place team, Espanyol, has agreed to buy Neymar for €10 billion.

Okay, that last one is made up.

But somehow, the Juve-Barca swap is, supposedly, true. Spanish publication Sport reported the deal saying (translated into English) "Barcelona and Juventus have reached a verbal agreement in principle." On the flip side, The Athletic reported the deal agreement is untrue.

Regardless of its validity, any swap between the two for Pjanic seems like a raw deal for all parties involved.

Pjanic Key To Deal

Pjanic is without the centerpiece of this deal. With Sergio Busquets aging, 32 in July, Barcelona want a playmaker to replace him in central midfield. In attack, Pjanic does provide a lot in terms of passing and distribution. Far better than Busquets. And, he's an excellent free kick taker both from distance and closer to goal.

Defensively, though, the Bosnian is far inferior. Moreover, he's limited to only playing as the deep-lying playmaker and can't really shift out wide as a Number 8. Barcelona have struggled defensively this year and a 30-year-old Pjanic, not much younger than Busquets, unable to adequately shield the backline isn't an upgrade.

Pjanic to Barcelona doesn't seem to suit either club, especially his current one. Manager Maurizio Sarri's style of play necessitates a strong passer in central midfield that can distribute both short and long balls, which is exactly where Pjanic excels. Selling the player who is most crucial to Sarriball makes no sense.

Maybe Juve feel Rodrigo Bentacur, 22, is ready to take over the playmaking duties. He has averaged a 7.17 rating in Serie A this year according to WhoScored, with six assists and an average of 1.5 key passes a game.

At Barca, they already playmaking covered with Frenkie De Jong, one would imagine. Clearly, though, they don't see him as their playmaker. dSo the Blaugrana are doing everything they can to get Pjanic.

Barcelona previously offered Arthur in a swap to bring in Pjanic. However, the Brazilian put his foot down and did not sign off on the deal. And both clubs were back to square one, bringing us to Nelson Semedo.

Juve's Right Back Needs

Juventus now appear poised to give up a lot for the solidly average Semedo. The 26-year-old Portuguese right back has never reached the heights expected of him when he moved from Benfica to Spain in 2017. In three seasons with the Blaugrana, he's never made more than 20 starts in a La Liga campaign. And according to WhoScored, his highest average rating for a domestic season is 6.79.

Semedo has failed to take the full-time job from Sergi Roberto since joining Barca as expected. Roberto has even had to step into midfield at times to cover for injuries. Still, he's Barcelona's starting right back. On top of that, Semedo always looks more comfortable on the ball going forward as opposed to defending, making him more suitable for right midfield or as a winger.

Juventus, though, are desperate for a quality right back, which is why they're willing to give up so much, including Pjanic, for Semedo. Juve swapped right backs with Manchester City before this season as Danilo transferred to Turin with Joao Cancelo going the other way.

Neither have played well for their new clubs this year, particularly Danilo. In fact, the Brazilian was so bad that manager Maurizio Sarri started playing Juan Cuadrado, a forward, at right back.

Sport's article values Semedo at €50 million. However, Transfermarkt lists him at a more realistic $35 million (€32 million). Regardless of the price, he's not that much of an upgrade for Juventus and certainly not enough for the proposed deal.

De Sciglio To Fill The Void At Barca?

As Barcelona get rid of Semedo - trying to raise cash to hopefully buy striker Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan - they'll need a back up at right back. And that's where De Sciglio factors in.

He has missed a majority of this season through injury. But even in previous seasons, he hasn't performed as the stand out right back for Juve like he did for AC Milan previously.

His best season in Turin, his first in 2017/18, he averaged 1.8 tackles, 1.2 interceptions, and 1.9 clearances per game. Still, those were fewer than his best seasons with Milan. De Sciglio can play on both the left and right sides as a full back and is a good passer. But, he'd definitely arrive at Barcelona as the back up on either side.

Numbers Don't Add Up

Every way you look at it, these swap proposals, "confirmed" or not, are preposterous. According to Transfermarkt, Pjanic is worth $57 million (€52 million). Yet somehow, Juve have apparently agreed to exchange him, $10 million (€9 million) De Sciglio, and another €22 million in cash to get Semedo. This makes no sense for Juventus.

For Barcelona, it may financially add up completely severely one-sided in their favor, but they've whiffed on several deals in recent years. They wasted hundreds of millions on Ousmane Dembele, Phillipe Coutinho, and Antoine Griezmann. Even more modest purchases such as Malcolm, Junior Firpo, and Semedo haven't worked out.

Based on that track record, Barcelona's scouting and player analysis department seems flawed. So if they're targeting Pjanic this intently, as they did those various flops, the safer bet is they'll whiff on this one as well.

To Swap Or Not To Swap, That Is The Question

Sport, the Daily Mail, and many other publications have reported on some sort of swap sending Pjanic to Barcelona recently. Farther back, 90min published one report on May 9th. Even Forbes cited Gazetta dello Sport back on May 8th.

Yet, here we are with more "confirmations" of Pjanic going to Barcelona in exchange for who knows how much. Or how many, really.

The only thing confirmed is this is a terrible deal for all involved. It's lopsided, disadvantageous, and unnecessary. Both teams and Pjanic, if he wants a move away from Turin, would be better served dropping this deal and moving on to new targets.

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