Juventus had endured a difficult period between 2004 and 2010. From the Calciopoli disaster due to which they were relegated to Serie B for the years to their struggles to establish themselves at the top upon returning to the top-flight upon returning, the Bianconeri had hit so many lows.
But, all that was to change a year into the new decade. Antonio Conte’s appointment coupled with some brilliant signings catapulted Juventus back to the top of the Serie A once again. Since 2011-12, the Old Lady have won eight consecutive league titles firmly establishing themselves as the superpowers of Italy once again.
A large part of this success is due to their transfer strategies during this period. Juventus made some shrewd signings on free transfers that reaped great dividends, while also splashing the cash on players whenever needed.
But, who makes the cut into the Bianconeri’s top five signings between 2010 and 2019? Let’s find out;
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Leonardo Bonucci is one of the modern greats of the game and has played a huge role in Juve’s rise to the top. Signed from Bari in the summer of 2010, the Italian international has to be one of the Bianconeri’s best ever transfers, let alone the last decade.
Alongside Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini, Bonucci formed one of the most solid defensive partnerships that snuffed out team after team as Juventus continued their ascent to the top. Bonucci did leave Juventus for AC Milan in 2017, only to return to Turin a year later. That one year away was easily one of his worst spells in his playing career.
The 32-year-old is closing in on 400 appearances for the Old Lady and has won almost everything with the club, but the Champions League glory continues to elude him.
One of the best free transfers in the history of the game. Back in 2011, when AC Milan let go of Andrea Pirlo upon the expiry of his contract, Juventus didn’t waste any time in snapping up the legendary midfielder. And what an inspired signing it proved to be for the Serie A champions!
Pirlo’s was no small part in Juventus’ success in the first half of the decade. The midfielder, despite being in his thirties, was still at the top of his game, dictating the tempo of matches from the deep-lying midfield role, allowing young guns such as Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba to flourish. Along the way, there were some spectacular goals as well.
Pirlo went on to make 164 appearances for Juve, scoring 19 goals and assisting 38 more, before moving on to join MLS outfit New York City FC in the summer of 2015. During his time at the club, the veteran midfielder endeared himself to the fans earning nicknames such as Il Professore ("the professor") and Mozart.
Another of the excellent free transfers Juventus pulled off in the last decade, it was in Turin that Paul Pogba became the player he is today. Despite all his potential, the midfielder hadn’t been able to nail down a starting berth at Manchester United. But, everything changed once he left the club for Juventus in 2012.
The Frenchman did not take long to showcase his abilities at Juventus, helping them to the Scudetto in his debut campaign, before going on to win the Golden Boy award in 2013. Pogba grew from strength to strength from thereon, establishing himself as one of the most talented young midfielders in the game, along the way, helping Juventus to unparalleled success in Italy.
Such was Pogba’s impact at Juventus that Gianluigi Buffon compared him to legends like Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman ended up leaving Juventus in 2016 to return to Manchester United. During his stint in Italy, the midfielder made 178 appearances scoring 34 goals and setting up 40 more. He hasn’t been able to reach the same heights at United, and a potential return to Juve has been mooted for quite some time now.
After the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba left, Juventus needed someone to step up and run their midfield. And in came Bosnian international Miralem Pjanic, taking over seamlessly as the midfield orchestrator for the Serie A champions.
Pjanic signed from AS Roma in a €32 million deal in 2016 and has been instrumental in Juve’s success in the second half of the last decade. The 28-year-old has become an important player for the Old Lady due to his exceptional vision and range of distribution, while his ability from set-piece situations is top-notch as well.
Pjanic, so far, has made 167 appearances for Juventus, scoring 22 goals and assisting 36 more. He might not always get the limelight, but the work he puts in, in the middle of the park, is integral to the club’s form and fortune.
The internet broke when Juventus announced the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid in 2018 for a transfer fee of €100 million. Here was a player, widely regarded as one of the best ever to have played the game, still going very very strong in his thirties, signing for Juventus.
It took some time for the first goal to come for the Portuguese talisman, but once that was out of the way, there has been no stopping him. Ronaldo played a key role in Juventus’ Serie A triumph in 2018-19, on his way to becoming the first-ever footballer to win league titles in England, Spain and Italy. But, his stirring display in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid, when he pulled Juventus from the jaws of defeat to send then into the quarter-finals will be long-cherished by the fans.
Ronaldo has continued to break records in his second season in Turin. The Portuguese international is already only three shy of his goal-tally from last term. Till date, he has plundered 53 goals from 75 matches in all competitions for Juventus.
Ronaldo’s signing not only added value on the field for Juventus, but also changed the landscape in terms of their social media following, their fan-following across the globe and the financial windfall from his arrival due to sponsorships and merchandise sale only go on to show that the club had pulled off a masterstroke.
Honourable Mentions: Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro
Feature image courtesy: AFP/ FRANCK FIFE