The Italy international has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, throwing the Bianconeri’s winter window plans into disarray
Three days on and it is still hard to know exactly what to make of Juventus’ insane 4-3 victory at Roma, certainly from the visitors’ perspective.
Was it an anomaly or a turning point?
The Bianconeri are still buzzing, of course. As captain Giorgio Chiellini admitted on Tuesday, it was the kind of win that “gives you an adrenaline boost”.
Marco Landucci had been on the Juventus bench in Rome and Allegri, who was forced to sit in the stands through suspension, was full of praise for his assistant coach, quipping on the eve of Wednesday’s Supercoppa Italian showdown with Inter, “He did really well. In fact, I thought about not turning up tomorrow!”
Landucci, though, will be happy to have his boss back alongside him in the dugout, having admitted that he “lost five or six years of my life” watching Juve come from 3-1 down to triumph at the Olimpico, despite the late concession of a penalty and loss of Matthijs de Ligt to a red card.
Juve are now unbeaten in seven Serie A games and sit fifth in the standings, just three points behind Atalanta, though the fourth-placed Bergamaschi have played one game fewer.
On the face of it, then, the Old Lady seems to have fully recovered from a shocking start to the season and is now perfectly primed to force her way back into the Champions League places.
Doubts persist, though. After all, sometimes results can be misleading.
Juventus have performed poorly for the majority of the season, and they had only scored 28 times in 20 matches going into Sunday’s game.
It must also be acknowledged that they were dire for more than an hour at the Stadio Olimpico.
Allegri’s introduction of Arthur and Alvaro Morata undoubtedly changed the game, and he undeniably deserves credit for his double substitution.
Of course, his critics – and their numbers are increasing – would argue that the coach’s conservatism has been responsible for Juve’s poor productivity this term.
They now hope that Allegri will see the benefits of playing Arthur in midfield alongside Manuel Locatelli and will abandon the 4-4-2 formation they deem embarrassingly outdated.
Nobody is quite sure how the Tuscan will line his players up against Inter, though – not least because he will have to make do without some key men.
Neither Alex Sandro nor Leonardo Bonucci are 100 per cent match fit, Danilo is injured, Juan Cuadrado and De Ligt are both suspended, while Wojciech Szczesny has not yet secured his Covid-19 Green Pass.
The Euro 2020 star suffered knee ligament damage in the first half of the Roma win and it has since been confirmed that his campaign is over.
It is, as Chiellini pointed out, a devastating blow for not just Juve, but Italian football in general, with the winger now also ruled out of March’s crucial World Cup play-offs.
Even if the Azzurri were to make it to Qatar, there is no guarantee that Chiesa will be fit to feature there either.
It is also unclear how Juve will react to his lengthy lay-off. At the very least, it is going to affect their January transfer plans, which were already shrouded in uncertainty because of Paulo Dybala, who was all set to sign an extension beyond the summer but is now set to be offered a new contract worth less than the €10 million (£8.3m/$11.3m) deal he had previously agreed with the club.
As previously reported by GOAL, the Bianconeri are desperate to bring in a centre-forward and a central midfielder during the winter window, but they are being severely hampered by their financial issues.
Consequently, the hope was that they could raise funds by cashing in on one of their few valuable assets deemed surplus to requirements by Allegri.
Dejan Kulusevski was the most likely departure, given he has plenty of admirers in England. However, the versatile Sweden attacker is now the most obvious internal replacement for Chiesa.
Allegri has, thus far, demonstrated a distinct lack of faith in Kulusevski, but even if he were to deem Federico Bernardeschi or Cuadrado better options out wide, it still seems unlikely that he would now sanction Kulusevski’s sale.
“I talked to him [on Monday],” Allegri revealed on the eve of the Supercoppa. “He has great qualities and he can cover various roles. He’s starting to understand Juve, as everyone needs to make a jump in quality on a mental level.
“Determination can change a player’s career. It’s also important that he finds the maturity required for playing certain games.”
At the very least, Kulusevski’s versatility should ensure he remains in Turin until the summer at least.
Consequently, the chances of U.S. men’s national team star Weston McKennie being sacrificed in January have risen, particularly with Juve trying to figure out a way to bring in Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon.
Juve’s priority, though, remains a centre-forward.
Morata made a big impact at Roma, and Allegri insists the Spain
striker is staying put despite agreeing personal terms with Barcelona, but Juve have no intention of taking up their option to buy the 29-year-old from Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.
Their top target remains Gianluca Scamacca, but the Old Lady is simply not in a position to meet Sassuolo’s €40m (£33m/$45m) asking price, and there is no chance of the Neroverdi letting the striker leave on loan midway through the season.
It is a similar story with Mauro Icardi. Paris Saint-Germain want either a permanent deal or an obligation to buy inserted into any temporary transfer of the ex-Inter captain.
Liverpool super-sub Divock Origi and Manchester United’s frustrated French forward Anthony Martial have also been repeatedly mentioned but, again, neither player is expected to leave on loan without at least some money being paid up front.
The most likely outcome is a short-term solution, with Sky Sport Italia claiming that the Bianconeri have made contact with Zenit about signing Sardar Azmoun, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
Allegri, for his part, insists that the squad will remain unchanged between now and the end of the month. He is merely focused on maintaining the momentum built up over the past six weeks by winning the first trophy of his second spell in Turin.
“We need to think game by game in order to reach those ahead of us [in the table],” Allegri argued in his pre-match press conference, “and next season we will see if we have done enough to get back fighting for the Scudetto.”
Beating Inter will not be easy of course. The reigning Serie A champions and current league leaders are almost everything that Juve are not right now: prolific, solid and 100 per cent sure of themselves.
Allegri himself acknowledges Inter are the strongest team in Italy, while Chiellini says he knew as far back as September that the title was theirs to lose.
Juve, then, could be in for a long evening. But, at the very least, the Supercoppa should shed far more light on how much work the Old Lady has to do to get back to the summit of Serie A than last Sunday’s insanity at Stadio Olimpico.