Manuel Locatelli: What Can the Player on Everyone’s Mind Bring to Juve

There seems to be one thing on every Juventini's mind at this moment in time, 'when the heck will Manuel Locatelli's transfer become resolved?' As Euro 2020 comes to a close, Locatelli's Italy made it all the way to the final! With Italy performing so well and reaching the final, talks between Juventus and Sassuolo have prolonged. However, we keep hearing notable sources like Gianluca Di Marzio and Fabrizio Romano report that Locatelli wants only Juventus. Sassuolo Chairmen Giovanni Carnevali has been on record saying that an important 'foreign (Non-Italian)' club has made a substantial offer and that they have been in close contact with Juventus Sporting Director Federico Cherubini. The two sides will reportedly meet this week, now that the Euro Cup has finished. This leads many to believe that Carnevali is just posturing for more money from Juventus.


With all that said, why are many clubs even interested in Manuel Locatelli? We will be taking a deep dive into Juventus' approach to acquiring the current Sassuolo player.

Player Profile: Manuel Locatelli

Club: Sassuolo

Nationality: Italian

Contract: 1.144 Million a year until 2023 (22k/week)

Market Value: 35 Million Euro

Position: Holding Midfielder/Central Midfielder

Strengths: Passing, Aerial Ability, Positioning, Grinta

Weaknesses: Speed, Inexperience (European Football)

Locatelli fits the type of player profile Juventus are currently looking to acquire. The Sassuolo man fits the age bracket being only 23 years old, aligning with other younger Juventus players Rodrigo Bentancur (24), Arthur Melo (24), Weston McKennie (22), Dejan Kulusevski (21), Matthijs De Ligt (21) and of course Federico Chiesa (23). He also plays in a deeper midfield role. Juventus desperately needs help in that area of the pitch. Locatelli is very strong in the air (he is 6'1, 180 pounds) and is a very combative midfielder.

Juventus has really struggled to create goalscoring chances from midfield in the past few seasons. If (or when) Locatelli signs for the club, he will immediately upgrade the midfield. Echoing the great Bruno Giannotti, the best pass in football is the one that eliminates the most defenders. Manuel Locatelli is a master of this craft. This past season, while playing for Sassuolo, he ranked (in the top 5 leagues in European football) 4th in progressive passes (passes completed in the neutral or attacking third that are at least 10 yards), 2nd for attacking third passes and 6th in total passes completed. These three statistics alone acknowledge him as one of the best players at controlling the tempo during the match. The numbers are night and day in comparison to the current midfielders Juventus employ. To see a full list of his past season's stats please see below, courtesy of Football Reference FBref.com.

I have selected a few images that illustrate Locatelli's passing mastery. Courtesy of @futbolidealists


Figure I: Locatelli immediately sees the switch of play is on and completes a perfect long ball to Jeremie Boga.


Figure II: Locatelli is just inside the opponent's half and eliminates 5 defenders with one pass.

Figure III: In a defensive third scenario, Locatelli eliminates 4 opposing players. In this regard, we see Locatelli's confidence in his ability by attempting this pass (especially against a club like Napoli)



Figures IV & V: Locatelli is now providing his master passing at an International level. The first goal of Euro 2020 came from an outrageous pass by Locatelli that split 4 opposing Turks and found Nicolo Barella in space (Barella's ball out wide to Berardi lead to the own goal).




Signing Manuel Locatelli is the first order of the summer for Cherubini and Juventus. He is an ideal recruit and the player's profile speaks for itself. Locatelli is a prototypical Juventus player and he should be the first signing of the summer. The formula to complete the deal is complicated due to the finances of Juventus. A similar 2-year loan deal with an obligation to buy for 35 Million Euros would be an ideal transaction. However, anything over 40 Million Euros and some player counterparts would be a disaster. The deal is there to be made for Juventus, the player wants the club and the club wants the player. Get it done!

In a perfect world, where all players are fit and Locatelli is signed (with no other signings or departures), I can see him fitting perfectly in Allegri's 4-2-3-1. Manuel played in this same setup as one of the double pivots with Sassuolo and was very successful. In my opinion, he would also suit a traditional 4-3-3 as the left-sided Centre midfielder. The only problem I can see Juventus having is in the original build-up play from the back. Throughout the Euro Cup, Chiellini struggled to give Locatelli the ball. Naturally, Chiellini is not good with passing forward anyway but hopefully, a proper ball-playing Centre Back like Leo Bonucci or Matthijs De Ligt can get him the ball in advantageous positions.


Allegri 4-2-3-1


Ronaldo

Dybala

Chiesa Kulusevski

Locatelli Bentancur

Sandro Chiellini De Ligt Danilo

Szczesny


Allegri 4-3-3


Ronaldo

Chiesa Kulusevski

Rabiot Bentancur

Locatelli

Sandro Chiellini De Ligt Cuadrado

Szczesny


There is still a long way to go if Juventus want to become king of Europe. Let us know what you think about Manuel Locatelli and where he should fit in this Juve team!


@Giannotti151




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