Nicola Balice, journalist of calciomercato.com, Corriere Torino and Corriere dello Sport, thinks Paulo Dybala wants to renew his contract at Juventus, but that everything depends on the offer from the club. He also told Max Statman exclusively about Juve’s winter mercato, the plans for next summer and some players that are on the shortlist. “There’s also a name like Milinkovic-Savic, but that’s a very difficult target.”
Of course we know that Vlahovic signed for Juve, but names like Aubameyang, Martial and Scamacca passed by. Were Juve concrete for any of them?
“Yes, for Aubameyang and Martial there were many discussions and contacts, because Juventus tried to find a player on loan for 6 months. When Andrea Agnelli and John Elkann took the decision to buy Vlahovic, all the other targets were free to go where they wanted. But it was a new decision, a change of the original idea. Scamacca was a plan B for the future”
Aaron Ramsey joined Rangers on deadline day, even though Max Allegri already said that the Welshman would leave at the beginning of January. Why did it take so long for Ramsey to leave?
“Because he refused every proposal from clubs of the 2nd or 3rd line in the Premier League. It was a problem of motivation. Ramsey still thinks he’s a top player today and he wants to play to win titles. Juventus tried to sell him in June, July, August. He said no to Burnley, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and other clubs. For Juventus, this was a problem, because if Ramsey had left in August, they would have taken another midfielder, Witsel for example.
In the rest of the season there was a big problem between Ramsey and Allegri, who wanted to play Ramsey like a regista, like Pjanic, Arthur or Locatelli in this Juve. Ramsey didn’t accept this technical use. And so with his salary, there is no future for him at Juventus. For Juventus, Ramsey is out of the project, the team, out of everything. Ramsey wanted to go to the Premier League, but a big club. The perfect solution for him was returning to Arsenal.”
There was lots of talk about Cagliari’s Nahitan Nandez joining Juve in the last days of the window. How close were the Bianconeri to singing him?
“They were near, but also not so near. The distance was in the type of transfer, Cagliari wanted an obligation and Juve didn’t. The difference was an obligation or solely the option. The player also wanted an obligation, because he didn’t want to return to Cagliari at the end of the season. There was also a difference in the total price, because Cagliari had to pay a part of the deal to Boca Juniors. Nandez was an idea, but only on the conditions of Juventus. On Sunday, Juve understood that the conditions weren’t their favourite.”
Can we say that Juventus didn’t want an obligation because they only wanted Nandez for the rest of the season and then go after a big name in midfield this summer?
“Yes, it’s one of the reasons. Now it’s time to take decisions and find the right player to strengthen the midfield this summer. Some names are on the radar: Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona), Youri Tielemans (Leicester) and also a name like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (SS Lazio), but that’s a very difficult target.”
So a midfielder is the big target this summer?
“I think yes, but it depends on two situations. The renewal of Paulo Dybala, because if he leaves Turin, Juventus must buy another big player to replace him. We must also take the situation of Matthijs de Ligt into consideration. If Juventus sell De Ligt, they’ll need two defenders to replace him, one is not enough. Juventus is at work to find the right name(s) to succeed De Ligt or Dybala, or both.”
At the moment, nobody seems to be able to say if Paulo Dybala will stay in Turin or not. Do you think that he’ll renew?
“I think that Dybala wants to renew, but it depends on what offer Juventus confirm or change, because he said yes to the offer of 8 million euros plus 2 million in add ons in October. If Juventus change that and make an offer under 8 million, it will be a problem. I think that Juve’s new offer will be lower, above all on the agent’s commissions. We must see the situation, it’s not easy. I think that the best thing for Juventus and Dybala is to continue together.”
Are Juventus looking at Nicolo Zaniolo and Giacomo Raspadori as potential replacements for Dybala?
“Looking at them? Sure. For Zaniolo, Juventus are in pole position from 2 years ago, when they had contacts with his agents and family. Also, Zaniolo is a Juventus supporter since he was a child, but there are many things to analyse. He has had a lot of injuries and a contract at Roma. He must first discuss with them, but Zaniolo is a Juventus target.
Raspadori is on the list, but Sassuolo ask too much at the moment. Raspadori is not the first target as of today. I think that if Dybala leaves, Juve need a top player to replace him.”
Juventus also bought Federico Gatti from Frosinone last week. Is there any relation between Juve’s interest in Torino’s Bremer and the Bianconeri buying Gatti?
“I don’t know, many people think that. After the acquisition of Gatti, it’s more difficult to buy Bremer, I think. He is a target for Juventus as of today, also for Milan and many other teams in the Premier League. Inter is the absolute favourite, if they sell Stefan de Vrij, Bremer is the number one target. Inter is in pole position for him. Juventus are is search for a new defender and Bremer is one of the names.
Botman is another player on Juventus’ radar, but Milan is in pole position for him and also many Premier League clubs want him. The money of the Premier League is a problem for every club in the rest of the world, haha. Juventus is also thinking about some players on a free transfer at the end of the season like Rüdiger, Christensen, Romagnoli, Süle, every one of them is an idea for Juventus.”
Is that also because, like you said before, De Ligt could leave?
“If De Ligt remains at Juve, they only need one defender. If he leaves, they need two. In that case, one of the two must be a starter, a big name. For De Ligt there’s very strong interest of Chelsea, more so than from Barcelona. The total defence of Chelsea needs to change. Rüdiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta will leave Chelsea and Thiago Silva is 38 soon. And so Chelsea wants to change their defence and De Ligt is their target number one. Often when Chelsea want a player, they take the player.”