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How long can Juventus' championship window remain open?

Sunday 19th August 2018

Juventus have dominated Italian football this decade. The Old Lady's won seven Scudettos in a row. In the last four years, she's also added the Coppa Italia. That's four consecutive league/cup doubles. As domestic success became passe, club and fans focussed on the continent. Since 2015, the Bianconeri have played two Champions League finals but were second-best on both occasions. Barcelona and Real Madrid defeated them in Berlin and Cardiff respectively. 

The Turin giant's transfer policy is clear. Juve snap up the best young Italian stars then loan them out to smaller clubs to develop. If tried and tested is required, they exploit the Bosman rule to sign talented veterans in their contracts' final year, avoiding ever-increasing transfer fees whenever possible. When they must pay, the club usually opts for players who've struggled or are trapped behind an established star at another club, gambling he'll come good after arriving at a cut rate.  

Occasionally, they make a statement, paying a premium to claim a rival's best player. The Bianconeri brought in Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic in deals that totalled almost £110 million. Not only did Juventus improve their own squad; they weakened Napoli and Roma, the two clubs closest to challenging their Serie A dominance. At the time, it was clear the deals consolidated their domestic power. On the other hand, Pjanic and Higuain, in particular, were never going to carry the Old Lady over the threshold of European success. 

Policy changed this summer. Juventus ratcheted their chase for Champions League glory up a notch. Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival stated the club's intent in no uncertain terms. The Portuguese's arrival spelled the end for Higuain. The Argentine joined AC Milan on loan. Many questioned the wisdom in signing a 33-year-old for £100 million. It's clear Juve are aiming high, the Champions League their primary ambition. 

Their desire became even clearer when the Bianconeri agreed to exchange perhaps their most prized young talent, Mattia Caldara, for the deserter Leonardo Bonucci. The defender left Juve last year under a cloud, allegedly at odds with manager Massimiliano Allegri. The past is painted over and Bonucci welcome back. The club understand their window to win the Champions League won't stay open more than two or three years. By the time Caldara reaches his full potential, it'll be shut. 

Juventus own an incredibly strong squad although too many are on the wrong side of 30. That milestone is in ten first-teamers' rearview mirrors. A few more are approaching that fateful number. If the Champions League trophy is ever coming back to Turin, now's the time. Or so the thinking goes.

Juve aren't stupid. Several youngsters remain around the club or on loan. The next generation should be good enough for Serie A success. The future hasn't been traded for the present but the Champions League is the priority. Signing the tournament's leading scorer and one of the world's best defenders is exactly how you go about winning it. 

Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.


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