x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A brand new Juve dawning for Old Lady

Krasic's talent and blond mane inevitably draws comparisons with club legend Nedved as arrivals start to gel with the team.

Fabio Quagliarella, right, who scored his second goal for Juventus in Serie A in last week's 4-0 rout of his former club Udinese, and Milos Krasic, left, who has made quite an impact since joining from CSKA Moscow.
Fabio Quagliarella, right, who scored his second goal for Juventus in Serie A in last week's 4-0 rout of his former club Udinese, and Milos Krasic, left, who has made quite an impact since joining from CSKA Moscow.

In a relatively quiet transfer market during the summer, only four clubs in Europe committed more than ?70 million (Dh329m) on new recruits. Guess who? Manchester City, naturally, were one of them. Real Madrid and Barcelona, typically, were two of the others. And finally, in a break from what they regard as a tradition or carefulness, even frugality, in their contract dealings, it was Juventus, the 27-time Italian champions, who joined that more obviously ostentatious trio.

Or at least Juve will do as soon as one or two of their loan deals - those with an option to buy - come to fruition at the end of the season: players such as Alberto Aquilani, whose move from Liverpool will be worth ?16m if he impresses enough by June; Pepe, whose ?2.6m fee for the first nine months will become just over ?10m; Fabio Quagliarella, ?4.5m rising to ?15m, and Marco Motta, ?1.2m to ?4.9m.

Add to those the permanent deals to bring in Leonardo Bonucci from Bari for ?15.5m; Milos Krasic from CSKA Moscow for ?15m; Jorge Martinez from Catania for ?12m and the ?4.5m paid for Marco Storari, the former Sampdoria goalkeeper, and Juve finished up at deadline day last month as, comfortably, Serie A's biggest spenders. Since the last cheques were written, the Old Lady has been matching the big numbers with big scorelines, too: 10 goals in their last three matches, but, alas, maximum points only from the last, Sunday's 4-0 win away at Udinese.

The tale of brand new Juve so far is of a team straining to hit the ground running and glancing too infrequently in the rear-view mirror. Ahead of the trip to Udinese they had compiled successive 3-3 draws, against Sampdoria in Serie A and against Poland's Lech Poznan in the Europa League. This is all a little more hectic than Gigi Del Neri, the head coach, ideally envisaged. But he, too, is finding his feet in the job. His superiors, Beppe Marotta, the director general, and Fabio Paratici, the sporting director - like Del Neri, formerly of Sampdoria - have likewise completed only their first summer in charge of hiring and firing.

"We still have a few problems to get through," Del Neri told reporters ahead of tonight's league meeting with Palermo, "but the win against Udinese was a step in the right direction." It was also the fixture that permitted Marotta to reflect with some pride on his work so far. He is the man in charge of transfers, of finding new homes for long-term servants of the club like David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi and Jonathan Zebina and in turn ensuring their younger replacements would quickly prove satisfactory.

He was beaming after the rout of Udinese, not only at the display of Quagliarella, whose dainty touch at the near post provided the second goal - his second in Serie A for his new club - but of the energy and guile of Krasic, the Serbian winger. "I'm not sure if any new signing anywhere has made the impact he has," Marotta said. Certainly, there is an eagerness to see Krasic as a player in a distinct Juve mould: industrious, clever, appreciated by colleagues. And, as nobody fails to point out, blond.

When he arrived last month, Krasic was soon steered by journalists into comparing himself to Pavel Nedved, the Czech midfielder with the blond mane of hair who, while with Juve, won the Ballon D'Or in 2003. "I hope I can do some of what Nedved did here," Krasic said. Though he prefers to operate on the right of midfield - Nedved preferred the left - there are enough points of similarity at least to send the local press into flights of whimsy.

"In the history of Juventus, blond is the colour of hard running and generosity," beamed the Gazzetta dello Sport. Krasic has some big expectations to meet. @Email:sports@thenational.ae 10.45pm, Aljazeera Sport +1