By Vicenzo Curro
Juventus fans have a lot on their plate this summer. Most are eagerly anticipating their return to the Champions League and the addition of new players, but many are still occupied by thoughts of a man who at the beginning of this month departed the club after 19 years.
Alessandro Del Piero's exit has left Juventini looking at their side ever so slightly differently, and some are concerned by the future of the No.10 shirt that their hero made his own for so long.
Now, with just over a month to go before the new Serie A campaign begins, the question over the destination of the famed shirt remains unanswered. Who will get it? Will it be left unallocated for now? Will it be retired? Goal.com looks at the options open to the Bianconeri.
There have been a number of times in the recent past when Gianluigi Buffon has expressed the intention to wear Juventus' No.10 shirt. It has been a semi-serious suggestion, which many Juventini have cast aside, but some have taken as a sensible proposal. To calcio's purists, your first-choice goalkeeper should always wear No.1, and the idea of him donning the No.10 would not go down well. On the other hand, it's not something you see every day, with Cristiano Lupatelli the most recent example of a keeper having worn the number in his first season at Chievo.
Buffon certainly has shoulders broad enough to take on the responsibility that comes with owning that number for Juventus, and would be a worthy replacement to his good friend Del Piero. In terms of personality and prestige, there is surely nobody better placed than Buffon to take on the shirt - just as he has assumed the captain's armband.
It is perhaps the name of Claudio Marchisio which is most backed by Juve fans. And it is easy to understand why. Torinese by birth, and a Bianconero to boot, he has grown through the Juve ranks. His popularity is probably like that of no other player in the current squad, and this is the element that will weigh heavily in his favour. The argument as to whether he has the quality for the No.10 shirt is one thing, but nobody can question whether he has the Juventinita to don the jersey.
Marchisio has also played a key part in the recent rise of the club, and this is something else in his favour. Juventini love Juventus, and they love Marchisio. The equation is a simple one.
The most technically logical choice would be to allow Sebastian Giovinco to not only replace Del Piero on the field, but also take up the same clothes peg in the dressing room. However, other factors have to be taken into consideration. Firstly, Giovinco has to win back many of the Juventus fans who were hurt by some of the proclamations they deemed inappropriate during his two years playing for Parma.
Now that Alex has gone and Giovinco returns, it may prove to be one responsibility too far to not only give him the spot in the team, but also the No.10 jersey. There's an argument that giving him the shirt will enhance his performances, but a failure in the iconic number could weigh twice as heavy.
|A TOP SIGNING
The impression that many have is that the club are waiting for a new addition truly worthy of the No.10 before assigning the shirt, with several potential big names still being linked with Juventus. Robin van Persie is just one of those, and it seems the one most desired option right now, as Juve look to follow up the likes of Roberto Baggio, Michel Platini and Del Piero with another superstar No.10.
If La Vecchia Signora are serious about their approach for Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic, then the prized jersey may be used as a motivational incentive for the Montenegrin to force a move away from Tuscany.
|LEAVE IT UNALLOCATED ... FOR NOW
Beyond the individual options, there is the chance that Juventus will hold back the shirt and wait for a player of real stature to arrive. Many still see the No.10 as a symbol of a player who can be held up as a real champion, like Del Piero, like Platini, and until they have one, the number should be unused.
With all respect to Buffon, Marchisio, Van Persie and Jovetic, none of them are of the same stature. The brilliance of former No.10s needs to be replicated before they can please everyone as a true holder of the distinction. For those stricter judges, the test of time will decide whether any of the current crop should get the gloried number.
|LEAVE IT UNALLOCATED ... FOREVER
The final option comes from the hearts of Juventini rather than the heads of those making decisions at Corso Gallileo Ferraris. Fans of a romantic disposition have watched Del Piero capture their hearts over the past two decades, and they want that recognised with the retirement of the shirt he adorned for so long. But to do that would be to rob the younger group of those fans of the dream to one day wear the No.10 themselves, as Del Piero has identified recently.
The number's withdrawal would certainly be great recognition of the superb work 'Il Pinturicchio' did for the team, strengthening the aura of timelessness which surrounds him. But would it take something away from the club? It may seem like a trivial thing, but calcio is calcio, and Juve are Juve, and for there to be a Juventus side without a No.10 leading them forward would not quite feel the same. Putting an end to the tradition would be a serious sin.