Let's face it, you’re not talking about it and neither are most Bianconeri, but Juventus have a problem at fullback. This is an issue that gets patched every since year to no avail. It is a long cry since the glory days of Lichsteiner’s endless runs up and down the flank, now we don’t even know who starts week to week. While this is in large part down to an aging squad that needs rejuvenation, the flanks have not been treated with the urgency that they need. Our left and right back positions need to become a priority for Juve to compete at the highest levels with teams like Liverpool who have Robertson and Alexander Arnold and young talent like Davies at Bayern. It seems these are positions that for years now have lacked strategic investment, how much longer can we go on with a Cuadrado playing out of position and an Alex Sandro who has clearly lost a step.
Right back has been a position mishandled for years since Lichtsteiner’s decline, every year we change, it's been Dani Alves, Cancelo, Danilo and Cuadrado all within the last few years. This is a position in which Juve must invest and invest young. Intriguing options include Dest from Ajax, an American with great promise and even the likes of Bellerin, who can provide blazing speed which we have not had on the flanks in a long time. Speed, stamina and an eye for lethal crosses into the box to feed Cristiano are characteristics which an ideal fullback on the right back would fulfill. Which beckons the question, why did we let go of Cancelo and get Danilo? Sure the financial benefit is nice in the short term, but the damage has been done as far as the abilities that Danilo brings to the table. While Cancelo did lack sharpness on the defensive side, he did provide a much needed offensive boost with his scoring and lethal crosses. His defensive attributes could certainly have been improved with time and maturity. Again what is most concerning is that specifically at the right back position we seem to paper over the cracks every single year, and what better to bring some stability to this vulnerable position than by signing a player for the long term. Not doing so means relying mainly on Danilo once again, a player that unfortunately lacks passing, defensive awareness and youthfulness to reign as our right back for years to come. This would come as no shock to anyone that saw him play at Madrid or Manchester City, what we got was an inconsistent right back for a cheap value. While Cuadrado has been able to fill the void of an often absent Danilo (Either through injury or form), it is clear that he must return to his normal attacking position in the last few years that he will give us. An aging position is also evident on the left flank although there is at least something that could potentially illusion us.
The left flank currently provides us with two and a half options, Alex Sandro, Pellegrini and De Sciglio. First, let me say that I believe letting go of Spinazzola was a mistake, not only would he provide depth, but more speed to this current backline. What is done is done and we no longer have Spinazzola, but I believe we must keep Pellegrini and provide him with opportunities to prove himself. Obviously, he was bought because the potential is there, he has had a fair loan spell and he needs to prove himself at the biggest level. The approach at this position should be of nothing to lose, Alex Sandro is getting up there as far as age and his form has taken a sharp downturn this past season. Every Juve fan I’m sure felt the same nervous feelings every time Alex Sandro would try a cross field pass to Danilo that always ended up getting stolen at the edge of the box. At this moment, it is assumable to me that De Sciglio will be sold its just a matter of time. However, in the rare event that he remains a part of this team, his role should simply be as a last resort. As is the same with Danilo, De Sciglio’s passing, pace and field of vision as not good enough for a team that aims to be at the pinnacle of European football.
In sum, Juve must address the flanks because not doing so keeps the same lackluster players at bay, not only endangering the team in playing from the back, but also in providing offensive abilities. It is time that Juve build and buy young as they have been doing in other areas. Its time to find permanent solutions to the problems that could really expose the back holes in the team. We can only hope that with Pirlo now at the helm we can finally shed some of this mediocrity.
By Jonathan Pacheco