Pirlo’s Swiss Army Knife - Federico Bernardeschi.
Pirlo’s Swiss Army Knife: Why despite all the Juve fans’ hate, Federico Bernardeschi should be given a new contract, and why it will most likely happen.
By Daniel Jafari (@danieljafari twitter)
After a massive overhaul of the squad in the hurried 2020 summer break seeing the contracts of Higuain and Matuidi rescinded and a contingent of 6 players going on loans across Europe, the fans had a rare moment of relief. Squad revolutions are exciting, since new arrivals bring the element of surprise, whereas veterans are known quantities, for the most part. This is especially true at Juventus, since upon the appointment of Maurizio Sarri, none of the players perceived to have passed their prime departed (with the notable exception of Mario Mandzukic). Juventini agonized over this, perhaps the most during the return leg of the Champions League game against Olympique Lyonnaise, where Juve needed to create and score, being down 2-0 on aggregate, and even the magic of CR7 was not enough to get past the plucky Lyonnaise. With moments on the clock, Sarri decided to throw in an injured Dybala, who in short succession had to leave the pitch limping, leaving the task of scoring to a languid Higuain and a 20 year old Marco Olivieri. In the aftermath of an early Champions League exit, one short clip was on loop in social media. It showed a pacy Bernardeschi waving through the entire opposition, dribbling past the goalkeeper, only to miss an open goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91ZAV-_Qmy8
As chaotic and unpredictable Juventus under Pirlo has been, the fanbase have toned down the cries of selling players at all costs, except for one. Curiously, Juventini have resigned to the fate of witnessing Sami Kedira see his 6.6 million euro a year contract out, all the while being permanently injured. Instead, they have aimed all their criticism toward Bernardeschi. In fairness, the criticisms are largely valid. Pirlo skipped Aaron Ramsey and sent Fede in while being one goal down to create chances against Barcelona, only to watch in despair when he fouled down Ansu Fati and gave away a penalty, which Messi converted. But without a doubt, his lowest moment this season came 3 days earlier, against Ivan Juric’s Hellas Verona. A timid Bernardeschi made an unforced error in Juve’s half, giving away the ball that ex-Juve Andrea Favilli who just came on promptly put in the back of the net. Pirlo had seen enough, he was subbed off, watching from the stands his replacement, the energetic and explosive Dejan Kulusevski equalizing the score with his signature left footed curved low shot: https://youtu.be/8g-tgJ9yAKA?t=96
With the winter transfer window open, the drums are beating to one tune: send Berna away! This is a shortsighted reaction, albeit understandable. The reasons why Juventus should, and most likely will, hold onto Bernardeschi are financial, technical, tactical, professional and sentimental.
Juventus finances were hit hard by the pandemic. Juventus is far from the only team though, and experts predict it would take a few years for revenues, and the resultant transfer fees to return to pre-pandemic levels. With less cash at hand, players would be more difficult to sell, and to buy. Looking at the below chart from CalcioFinanza.it, Berna is on a 4 million euro salary. This is in the median range of salaries for Juve players. His amortized value in June 2021 will be 8 million euros. But his market value has depreciated, partly due to his performances and partly due to the pandemic. It is very unlikely that Juventus will make a huge plusvalenza by selling him. Whatever income is generated, will have to be immediately reinvested in his replacement, which by all counts and measures, will not be cheaper than 40 million euros. That is a massive investment, considering Juve’s need for investment in the backline and midfield.
Chart by https://www.calcioefinanza.it/
Federico is a technically gifted player: he can dribble, averaging