The big football news concerns what happened in Italy last night.
The entire Juventus board resigned last night following a charge of false accounting. Last season saw a year of record-breaking losses published by the Turin club – £220million.
Reports in Italy are that the accounting scandal could be as big as the 2006 match fixing scandal, which saw Juventus relegated.
A Turin prosecutor had alleged that the club misrepresented financial losses in the period 2018-20, with prosecutors investigating the amount ascribed to player sales.
Up to 15 individuals, including club president Andrea Agnelli, are reported listed as suspects following an investigation and could face a legal trial.
Football is a vulture sport. Clubs are quick to take advantage of another’s demise and lick the bones clean.
In 2006, a lot of Juve players stayed despite their relegation – Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Perio, David Trezeguet, Pavel Nedved and more. But these were club legends who clearly get they owed the side something. I do not think that can be said about many of the current squad.
Two names stand out as potential Arsenal targets – former targets Manuel Locatelli and Dusan Vlahovic.
Could Arsenal return for the pair? Or having been turned down by them, should we move on to other targets?
I have been a huge fan of Locatelli for years.
A couple of years ago I did a bit of scouting work to try and establish a Granit Xhaka replacement (this was for myself, not paid work for Arsenal!). Locatelli came out as the number one target.
He had the passing, defensive work rate and youth to be a long term Xhaka replacement. He ended up joining Juventus on a 2-year loan deal, with the Italian side obliged to pay €25million at the end of this season.
With what is going on, they may not have the funds to make the deal permanent. That would put him back into the open market.
Two years ago, when I was doing my research, it was Xhaka I was looking to replace. A lot has changed since then.
Xhaka has been pushed further forward, and Thomas Partey plays as the single pivot defensive midfielder. I am not sure Locatelli is suited to either of these position.
For Juventus, he tends to play as part of a solid midfield 3 alongside Adrien Rabiot and Weston McKennie.
It is a solid, hard working midfield 3 reminiscent of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini Winjaldum. Juventus also play with a back 3.
A question needs to be asked whether Locatelli can transition from being part of a 3 man defensive wall in front of the defence, to a one person army.
He is more of a Xabi Alonso, an Andrea Pirlo, than a Sergio Busquets or Gennaro Gattuso. I am not sure he is the man to compete with Partey.
And if we are considering playing him further forward, I think there are more suitable options.
Locatelli does not really get involved in the final 3rd for Juventus, although this could be by design and through instruction at Juventus. He was more creative for Sassuolo.
I just think if we are looking for a Xhaka back-up/replacement, there are more natural 8s coming on the market – I’m thinking of Youri Tielemans.
If we need a new 8, the case for Tielemans is stronger than Locatelli.
The Belgium is around the same age, but is Premier League proven in that position.
My bet is Locatelli will end up at either Manchester United or Liverpool.
I can see him doing a job in a midfield two alongside Casemiro. Likewise Jurgen Klopp loves a midfield 3 like Juventus.
We will probably miss out on Locatelli again, but this time it will be our choice.
We were in for Vlahovic last January, and he ended up joining Juventus.
Reports came out of Turin early on that he was unhappy, that Juve’s style of play did not suit him.
Plenty has been written about his “struggles” and Aleksandar Mitrović has been selected ahead of him in both of Serbia’s games so far at the World Cup
The selection is not a huge surprise – Mitrovic has been first choice for 9 years and their top goal scorer with 51 in 78 games. Vlahovic only made his debut in 2020.
To Serbia, Mitrovic is their Harry Kane. A consistent performer for country even when not so consistent for club. He is undroppable for them.
But Vlahovic he still has 16 goals in 36 games for Juventus and 9 in 18 for Serbia.
After the Vlahovic deal fell through last winter, Arsenal kept the powder dry and recruited Gabriel Jesus in the summer. Despite his goal drought, he has been a huge success.
Anyone that watches Jesus regularly will know he is much more than just a goal scorer.
His movement, creativity, pressing and defending from the front has created as many as he has scored. Only Manchester City have scored more goals than us this season, and the way our front 3 are spreading the load gives us a triple threat up top.
Vlahovic is more of a central striker. What we would lose in the combination play between Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Jesus we would gain in Vlahovic’s clinical finishing.
I also have a theory that Jesus would still have been a target even if signed Vlahovic last winter.
Over the summer, after the Brazilians recruitment, we continued to chase Raphinha. This showed that Mikel Arteta wanted a trio of wide forwards.
Had Vlahovic have joined, would Jesus have been this wide forward option? He would have competed alongside Martinelli and Saka to play either side of the big man, whilst also been the first choice to come in for Vlahovic to rest and rotate.
Arsenal are heavily linked with Mykhailo Mudryk, showing Arteta still wants a wideman.
Could a solution be buying Vlahovic, and then utilising Jesus outwide?
This would solve 2 issues at the club – no top class back up for Jesus, no top class back up for Martinelli / Saka. Jesus would become that.
But that is the role that made Jesus so unhappy at Manchester City.
He was fed up of playing 2nd fiddle to Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez. And in his final season – with no Aguero – he still played more outwide than up top.
Whilst he has flourished up front, Jesus has previosuly spoken about playingoutwide:
Speaking to City magazine, Jesus said: “I feel comfortable out wide and can help my teammates and my team. I can make runs in behind, control the ball, make passes, make crosses, help in defending. As I say, I feel comfortable there.
“I didn’t start to play as a winger just this season. I have played with the national team there for two years. I started to play in the first team of Palmeiras as a winger as well and I played sometimes when I arrived here as a winger as well. So I think I’m okay there.
“I can make runs in behind, control the ball, make passes, make crosses, help defend so it’s all good and suits my game.”
So maybe, even though we want Jesus to play upfront, he feels more comfortable outwide.
There is still the “job sharing” aspect we need to consider. But it is a bit different at Arsenal.
For City, he was rotated with Sterling, Mahrez, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva on the wingers. 6 players for two positions.
At Arsenal it would be himself, Saka, Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe. And Smith Rowe is a long way behind the others. He would basically only be competing with Saka and Martinelli. 3 into 2 at Arsenal against 6 into 2 at City. And he would still be that 2nd choice option up top.
Whereas I do not think Locatelli is required right now, a move for Vlahovic could be on the table.
Signing Vlahovic, and utilising Jesus outwide, would put an end to our pursuit of Mykhailo Mudryk.