How Juventus' transfer dealings made them Europe's model football club

How Juventus' transfer dealings made them Europe's model football club

The Old Lady's mastery of the transfer market have helped the Italian champions become a club which all others can aspire to

Sam France

On the surface of things, the 6th June 2015 seems like it could have been the end of an era for Juventus.

Having won promotion from Serie B in 2007, their Champions League final in Berlin was the culmination of eight years of careful rebuilding and rejuvenation, which had resulted in the Old Lady becoming the dominant force in Italian football once again.

To lift the Champions League trophy in the Olympiastadion that night would have been the ultimate redemption for the club and its fans, but they were deservedly beaten after failing to put a spanner in the works of Barcelona's MSN machine.

Their inspirational manager Antonio Conte was packing his bags for the job of a lifetime, taking Italy to the European Championships, and his replacement Massimiliano Allegri was met with general ambivalence in the stands and the media.

Perhaps this was as far as Juventus would come. They had risen almost to the top of the world game and received countless plaudits along the way, but every club has a limit. Barça were unquestionably the best team in the world, and looked set to continue their dominance of European football.

Fast-forward three years and Juve are back, and - like any sequel worth its salt - better than ever. Barça have been brushed by the wayside and now Real Madrid, the reigning champions of Europe, stand in their way. 

The team is hardly recognisable. Juve's Berlin goalscorer, Álvaro Morata, is on the other side of the barricades and the rest of his attacking teammates - Kingsley Coman, Carlos Tévez, Paul Pogba and Fernando Llorente, as well as midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal - have moved on to pastures new, for better or worse.

Yet, Juventus are almost unquestionably a better team than that which trudged off the Berlin pitch to collect their medals as second best. Given the quality of players to have departed, this is nothing short of remarkable. So just how have they done it?

Buying for the future

In actuality, when Juventus took to the pitch against Barcelona that night they could already be confident that the future was bright. Just two days earlier, they had completed the signing of Paulo Dybala.

While the loss of Vidal to Bayern Munich that summer was to be keenly felt, it was assumed that it was Tévez who would be missed the most. 34 goals and 12 assists in 2014/15 told their own story, and his were big boots to fill. 

The youngster Dybala's haul of 13 goals and 10 assists in the same season offered a tantalising glimpse of what was to come in the black and white of Juventus. His £34 million move has since translated into almost a goal every other game and at 23 years of age his peak years are still to come. 

This move is emblematic of one of the key factors that has kept Juventus improving year-on-year: their ability to spot the best young talent and hone unpolished gems into genuine superstars.

The previous year, it had been Morata. In 14/15, it was Dybala and in 15/16, exciting Croatian winger Marko Pjaca was brought in off the back of a good year at Dinamo Zagreb and a positive showing at Euro 2016. 

Injury has thus far curtailed Pjaca's progress at the club but there remain great hopes around his future, and Juventus show no sign of slowing down in their race to stockpile the best young talent in the region.

If recent reports are to be believed, Sampdoria's revelatory young forward Patrik Schick is next on the shopping list and it has been suggested that personal terms may already have been agreed. 

Schick would be joining an increasing line of superb young footballers to have made the move to Turin, following not just in the footsteps of Dybala and Pjaca but also midfielders Stefano Sturaro and Rolando Mandragora, winger Domenico Berardi - signed on a co-ownership deal but now making waves at Sassuolo - and defenders Daniele Rugani and Mattia Caldara.

This frankly astonishing investment in young talent - the players mentioned above total close to £100million in transfer fees per Transfermarkt - has stunted the growth of rivals and fostered an ideal of constant progression at the club.

Every player at Juventus knows that there is a path to the first team, and a young talent waiting in the wings to replace those who underperform. This relentless pursuit of improvement means that moving backwards or standing still simply are not an option for anyone at any level of the club.

Buying for the present

Of course, one can't discuss the buying of kids by a football club without addressing the face that you can't win anything with them. Juventus seem fully aware of this.

While experienced players such as Pirlo, Vidal and Tévez have moved on, Juve have replaced them with a steady stream of seasoned professionals such as Patrice EvraMario Mandžukić, Hernanes and Juan Cuadrado.

This prong of the club's transfer strategy went into overdrive last summer, as a number of players in or around their peak years were brought in to add steel and to create a framework into which the talented youngsters could fit.

Significantly, many of these players were signed from Serie A rivals. Sami Khedira, Medhi Benatia, and Dani Alves were notable exceptions from abroad, but Gonzalo Higuaín, Miralem Pjanić, and Tomás Rincón all came in from elsewhere in Italy as other clubs' star players were marked with the rubber stamp of Juventus.

This ability and willingness to pay big sums of money for players in the prime of their careers means that, while other clubs may wait patiently for their young stars to blossom, Juventus haven't had to.

They have been able to maintain a certain level of excellence which means that the club has not had to risk moving temporarily backwards, and sent a signal to those young players brought in that only the best will be able to thrive.

Refusing to be undersold

Of course, all of these players come with a pricetag, but Juventus have done a good job of ensuring that when their best players have left, they haven't had to scrape together the pennies to find a replacement.

In 2014/15, three out-of-favour strikers in Ciro ImmobileMirko Vučinić, and Fabio Quagliarella brought in a combined sum somewhere around the £15 million mark. That accounted for the majority of Morata's £17 million fee from Real Madrid.

Two seasons and 27 goals later, he returned to the Spanish capital with Juventus pocketing something like £8 million of profit for their troubles. Roberto Pereyra, Hernanes and Simone Zaza (loan) brought in over £20 million themselves, in the same season that Manchester United finally pulled the trigger on their £90 million splurge on Paul Pogba.

The season before, Vidal and Angelo Ogbonna's fees totalled around £40 million, with Tévez, Kingsley Coman (loan) and half of Domenico Berardi bringing in another £20 million.

Already this summer, Juventus have confirmed that around £18 million will be coming their way as Coman says his final farewell to Turin with his move to Bayern Munich made permanent. 

Plenty of less high-profile deals have gone through in the last three years, with every little very much helping Juventus to bankroll their spell of dominance in Italy and their ambitions of ruling Europe.

This is a simplistic take on Juve's transfer dealings, and one which does not go into great detail on the finer points of football finance.

But, according to Transfermarkt, the Old Lady's outgoing transfer fees in the last three seasons have been around the £250 million mark. Plenty of sides have shown that you don't need this sort of pocket money to be successful in football - but more have shown that it certainly helps.

An evergreen backline

Much has been made of Juventus' defence in recent seasons, and it would be improper not to mention them in this list.

The full-backs may have changed - Dani Alves and Alex Sandro now rule the wings instead of Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra - but that seemingly ever-improving core of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardi Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli has been the foundation on which this new-look side has been built.

This is a genuinely iconic rearguard, which is significant given the reputation of Italian football. It was arguably their reliability and consistency which gave Allegri the stable ground he needed in the early days of his time at the club, and the value of a consistent back line cannot be overestimated.

Whichever midfield took to the pitch - whether Pirlo, Vidal, and Pogba or Pjanić and Khedira - fans could set out the first few names on their ideal teamsheets without any reason for uncertainty or debate.

That this defence only seems to grow tighter with every passing game is cause for concern not only for Real Madrid - Barça will testify to their durability - but for any club hoping to claim European football's most gilded crown in the coming years.

A shrewd managerial appointment

When the then 46-year-old Max Allegri was appointed as Antonio Conte's successor in the summer of 2014, it was fair to say his arrival received a fairly muted response.

He had won Serie A before, sure. He claimed the Scudetto in 2011 with AC Milan, winning the Italian Manager of the Year award along the way.

But that was his only major title in what was his only other time at a major club, and he had been sacked only a few months earlier with Milan flirting with irrelevance, marooned in mid-table.

Conte had suggested that it would become more difficult to keep winning titles with Juventus in the year that followed, and in fairness to him, Juve's gap at the top has decreased each of the last three seasons.

Still, Allegri has taken three consecutive Serie A titles with a combined total of 30 points between themselves and second place. That isn't bad going for a man many worried would be out of his depth.

As a result, he is now one of the most coveted managers in world football. Arsenal have unsurprisingly been linked with him, and so have Barcelona. 

With so much sneering around his ability at the time of his arrival, it would have been understandable for Allegri to take his winners' medals and go, point proven, to his next job.

This doesn't appear to be on his mind. With Arsenal rumours swirling, the 49-year-old signed on the dotted line of a contract earlier this season which should see him stay at the club until 2020.  

This team is arguably as good as any Juventus fans have seen, and they could press that point home with a major European trophy. But, as they showed in 2014, a defeat in front of the eyes of the world would not set them back. Rather, with domestic rivals finally starting to challenge once again, it could see them move to a whole new level.