As promised, here is the first piece of the ever-so-enjoyable calciomercato rumors and speculations concerning our beloved Juventus and the 72,513 players we are linked to on this transfer window alone. 

Apologies are in order after taking so long to come up with this first post, but things got on the way, and slowed the process down a bit.
But no use crying over spilt milk…unless it’s chocolate milk..which is worth crying over…no?
Further apologies for the mixed styles of writing. That sort of thing happens when Ayan starts on statistical analysis while I speak of chocolate milk…Nevertheless, hither to and very much not withstanding…here goes:

A-Fence, B-Fence, C-Fence…
DEFENSE!

Go around football circles and begin a conversation on Juventus 2011/2012 season. What exactly is the first thing to come to the common man’s mind? Champions? You bet. Pirlo? Highly likely. Conte? Also likely. New stadium? Perhaps. Borriello? Hope not. All iconic, all spot-on.
But if there’s something that characterizes our last campaign, a fact that went well around the world and that embodies and synthesizes our gameplay is our current league status: UNBEATEN.

And what exactly does that mean? Well, apart from it signifying having-not-been-beaten, it paints a pretty accurate picture of how our defense stands.
Being the less fired-upon team in Europe’s top leagues, Juventus beat the likes of solid defenses of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, Dortmund and both Manchesters in that particular arena, with an impressive 20 goal deficit. 

So one wonders. Should Juventus then reinforce and invest on defense? Next year we will be competing on 3 fronts and considering we played the whole of last season with only 6 defenders, we will have to bring some extra depth to the defensive department. 

The right side is well covered with Machine-Man Lichtsteiner and Martín “Versatility” Cáceres.
Our center zone boasts one of the best CBs of the game, the best defender of last season, and a promising lad growing by the day. But an extra is surely needed if Conte is to stick to the 3 man line. 
The left is mainly held by Paolino, who albeit is an unquestionable talent, cannot be trusted with the entire left flank responsibility, specially with his injury record and proneness. Esti might not be up to the task. 

So a CB and LB/LWB should do it. Both for the 4-3-3 and the 3-5-2.

Below, we present the most chit-chatted targets who might be wearing black and white come next season. 

The likelihood key is as follows, from little to more probability:

* – Tough
** – Could happen
*** – Yup, I think.
**** – Unofficially Official. 

The stats are compiled with data from domestic leagues and Europe of the 2011/2012 season.  Six different criteria have been taken into account: average rating (Rating), passing success percentage (Pass success), average number of tackles per game (Tackles), average number of aerial duels won per game (Aerials won), average number of passes intercepted per game (Interceptions), and the average number of time the player was dribbled and beaten per game (Dribbled).  Rating is an important criterion for any player.  Tackles, aerials won, interceptions, and dribbled are important attributes for defenders.  Passing accuracy is also very important for defenders under Conte’s regime. 

Before delving deep into the statistical analysis, it must be noted that various outside factors like the differences in leagues, teammates, style of play, and the strengths of the opponents have not been taken into account.  It is hypothesized that those details would alter the results but not to the extent where the overall conclusions in one’s mind would differ (except for Bruno Alves – see below).  Most of these players have played 30+ games.  This is just to give you a general idea of each player compared to others in the mentioned criteria, and the data and the factors included in this statistical compilation provide that.


CENTER BACKS

MATS HUMMELS, Borussia Dortmund.

Age: 23
Interested Clubs: Barcelona
Market Value18-22
Likelihood: *
Status: EU
Germany’s future along with Badstuber. Physically imposing, superb at tackling and intercepting and great on the ball. Probably the most solid at his position now a days. 

DEDÉ, Vasco da Gama.
Age: 23
Interested Clubs: Roma, Milan
Market Value10-13
Likelihood: **
Status: Non EU

Hailed by Brazilian football experts as the next big thing on verdeamarelha’s defense. Great in the air with a knack at scoring headers. Strong and precise.

BRUNO ALVES, Zenit St. Petersburg.
Age: 30
Interested Clubs: –
Market Value12-14
Likelihood: **
Status: EU
Close to joining Juventus last summer, the portuguese is vastly aggressive and impressively unbeatable in the air. Very experienced defender who knows how to use his physicality.

ANGELO OGBONNA, Torino. 

Age: 24
Interested Clubs: Roma, Milan
Market Value12-13
Likelihood: **
Status: EU
Coming off a very positive season playing for Torino and key in their successful attempt on Serie A promotion. Good physicality and a very promising profile. 

DAVIDE ASTORI, Cagliari. 

Age: 25
Interested Clubs: Spartak M., CSKA M., Zenit St.P
Market Value€12-14
Likelihood: **
Status: EU
After a couple of decent seasons at Cagliari, Astori has made a name for himself at the peninsula. Very much like Bonucci when signed, he is a promising young player who has room to grow. 


FEDERICO PELUSO, Atalanta.

Age: 28
Interested Clubs: Man City, Roma, Napoli
Market Value€8-9
Likelihood: *
Status: EU
Has been solid for Atalanta for the past couple of seasons. Very similar to Cáceres as his versatility allows him to perform on any role of the left side of the defensive line. 

Torino being in Serie B last season and Dede playing in Brazil meant that it was difficult finding performance data or stats on these players.  They are excluded from the quantitative analysis.  Also, please note that only Bruno Alves’ Europeans games have been taken into account (club and country), eight in total.  Lastly, while Peluso is primarily a CB, he’s well adapt at playing LB, and you can also compare him with the other LB candidates.

In overall rating, Hummels leads the pack with a rating of 7.21.  Closest is Astori at a solid 7.00, 2.9% behind Hummels.  In pass success, again, Astori, Hummels, and Peluso are at close proximity, with Astori having the highest success rate at a decent 82.5%.  Bruno Alves is far worse with only 69.4% of his passes finding a teammate; this is not up to Juve’s standard as our worst passer in central defense, Chiellini, averaged a 87.4% passing rate in Serie A last season.  In tackling, Hummels and Peluso are numbers one and two, respectively.  Astori makes 44.1% less tackles per game than Hummels last season, and Bruno Alves made a whopping 85.3% less tackles than Hummels per game on average.

Bruno Alves and Hummels have good aerial ratings and are the best of the bunch in this category.  Astori is okay in the air at 1.4 aerials won per game.  Peluso, not so much.  Interceptions-wise, Astori made 4 interceptions per game, which is very impressive.  To compare, our best interceptor of passes made 10% less interceptions last season in Serie A:  Chiellini with 3.6 interceptions per game on average.  Hummels, who is also known for reading the game well, made 2.6 interceptions per average game.  Bruno Alves is less impressive with 1.3 interception per game.  Hummels had been dribbled more times than other in this criterion.  Peluso is also not the best at defending against quick, skillful forwards.  Bruno Alves and Astori are the best in defending against dribbles with each conceding 0.4 dribbles per average game.

Statistically, Hummels and Astori are clearly the most impressive while Dede’s and Obgonna’s stats have not been calculated.


 LEFT BACKS/WING BACKS

ALEXANDAR KOLAROV, Man. City.

Age: 26
Interested Clubs: Inter
Market Value€15-18
Likelihood: **
Status: Non EU
Pacey, strong and skillful, the Serbian likes to get forward without forgetting his defensive duties. Has a more powerful shot than Zeus -I kid you not- and a lucky man will only pass out for a minute or two if hit by one of his shots.
Loves the “Ronaldo Chop” for some reason.

ADRIANO, Barcelona.
Age: 27
Interested Clubs: Inter 
Market Value€10-12
Likelihood: **
Status: EU International
Fast and good in attack with a very decent shot, he likes to go forward and contribute in attack. Can be used in diverse positions and in both flanks. 


FEDERICO BALZARETTI, Palermo. 

Age: 30
Interested Clubs: PSG
Market Value€8-11
Likelihood: **
Status: EU
Ex-Juve. Solid in defense and useful in attack, the Palermo man is most comfortable in a 4 man defense. Reliable and confident at his flank. 


In the rating criterion, Kolarov and Adriano lead the pack with Balzaretti having a rating of 3.7% less than that of Kolarov’s.  Adriano has the best passing percentage, but that is probably helped by Barca’s system of play and his teammates.  Balzaretti is second-best at mid-80’s with Kolarov also having decent success rate of 82.5%.  To compare, De Ceglie has a passing success rate of 88.2%.  Balzaretti does not play for a team like Barca or City; in terms of qualitative analysis, Balza is my pick as the most impressive of the bunch in this category.  Balzaretti leads again the tackling department with 42.9% more tackles per game than Adriano and 38.1% more than Kolarov.

Crosses from open play and set pieces were one of our Achilles’ heels in defense, at least for the first two-third to three-fourth of the season. 
Kolarov is the best in the air with 1.1 aerial duels won per game.  In comparison, our current LB, De Ceglie, wins 0.5 per game, same as Adriano.  Balzaretti leads in interceptions, with Adriano at close second.  Kolarov is quite a distance behind with only one interception per game on average.  The last criterion is “dribbled;” here, you obviously don’t want to be first.  Balzaretti is, and Adriano is the best defender against dribbling, tricky forwards.  And, for the record, our own De Ceglie gets dribbled 0.5 time a game on average.
THE VERDICTS
Pablo Giles´Qualitative Rant

Without a doubt, Hummels is my first choice. Having him would be an absolute delicacy and a wonderful luxury, but maybe one we can’t afford. His hefty price-tag may be a hefty problem, so to keep thinking of him results in masochistic torture. 
Bruno Alves may be a strong defender, but I don’t see him partnering Chiellini to better effects than what we have already with Barzagli. We need a special extra.
Ogbonna and Astori may lack a bit to make the big jump to a club like Juve, let alone to break into the first team. 
Peluso would be Giaccherini/Padoin-like gamble. He comes from good seasons at a smaller club. He may be good or may be bad. I dont think that our ever emerging LB problems should be solved with such a gamble. So no. 
Dedé is my pick. Two reasons…
1. Hummels may be out of our reach, unless the Matri deals materializes. 
2. Young and at an accessible price, he is sure to become a top class defender soon. He scores, possesses strength, speed, intelligence and ball control which combined make him a very special defender. Could work in a great combination both in 3 and 4 man defenses. He may not have proved himself in Serie A, but think of recent Brazilian defenders and their impact on Italian football.
We must get him, specially with Milan tracking him. 

Adriano is skillful, tricky and a good outlet for attack, but I do not see many things he has that De Ceglie hasn’t. Also, his lack of defensive solidity make me pass on him. 
Balzaretti is very classy and balances well both his offensive and defensive duties. His experience could prove useful for the CL.
Kolarov is my pick, and apparently Conte’s too. Already consolidated in Serie A and a connoisseur of it’s mechanic, he would fit in perfectly and quickly in Juve’s system. He is a constant threat and very strong when defending. Definitely a powerful force from the left. How he plays so little at City beats me. A sure shot. 

PICKS:

CB- DEDÉ
LB- KOLAROV / maybe BALZARETTI.

Ayan Bhattacharjee´s Quantitative Blabber

CB:  Judging by the end of the season, it can be forecasted that our primary formation for next season will be 3-5-2.  And that definitely requires an additional CB.  Bonucci has grown a lot during the second half of the season.  Barring the Coppa final, he put in some excellent performances lately for both Juve and Italy.  I don’t think we need to spend big here.  Just need a good backup or someone who will challenge Bonucci and keep him honest.  I prefer the latter.  Hummels is rated at 18m; Cagliari wants 15m for Astori, and clubs are bidding for him.  Zenit wants 13m for Bruno Alves, and Dede’s evaluation is 7.5m according to transfermarkt.co.uk.  Meanwhile, Torino’s president claimed that Ogbonna is worth 20m (lol).  My pick is Dede as he is the least expensive and receives good ratings from fans who follow the Brasileirao.  As a bonus, he is also capable of filling in at LB when needed a ala Chiellini.

LBI wouldn’t sign anyone in this position.  I think De Ceglie did a very decent job last season in 2012 and, while LB isn’t one of our biggest strengths, it’s not a weakness either.  Considering our budget, other needs in the squad, and De Ceglie performances in 2012, in my opinion, PDC deserves to continue in our starting XI, and the funds will be better spent on attack (namely, a top-class first striker), midfield (Have Isla and Asamoah officially signed yet?), and an at least a decent backup CB.

Finito. 
If you have reached this bit, then thanks and congratulations, you have now read more than what you had read up until yesterday. 
Feel free to speak your mind.
If you agree with anything here, then you are very smart.
If you disagree or feel we have missed out on a specific target, let us know.

MIDFIELDERS up soon!

Fino alla Fine        
Pablo Giles, Ayan Bhattacharjee