By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Writer
You can’t blame Bayern Munich for trying, but FC Hollywood’s €30 million (£26m) bid for Arturo Vidal was never going to receive a positive response from Juventus. The Chilean midfielder has spent the last 18 months making his €10.5m (£9m) signing from Bayer Leverkusen look like one of the steals of the century, and to the Bianconeri he is now arguably their most unsellable asset.
The German giants’ offer, exclusively revealed by Goal.com on Friday, comes after they were beaten to Vidal’s signature by Juve when he left die Werkself in 2011. But while Bayern have gone from strength to strength this season - leading the Bundesliga by 18 points after Friday’s 2-0 win at Wolfsburg - the Old Lady are not exactly in a position where they would be forced to undersell their star players.
|ONLY GETTING BETTER | Vidal's Juventus stats
First for tackles last season, second this
|35 Total Games||32 Total Games|
|7 Total Goals||10 Total Goals|
|4 Total Assists||9 Total Assists|
|2637 Serie A minutes||1685 Serie A minutes|
|133 Serie A tackles||76 Serie A tackles|
|19.82 minutes per tackle||22.17 minutes per tackle|
And that’s what they would be doing if they were to allow Vidal to speak to other clubs for the small matter of €30m (£26m). The 25-year-old’s performances were a key reason why Juve bucked their post-Calciopoli Scudetto drought in 2011-12, and as well as adding another excellent campaign in Italy this term, he has been one of their most consistent players in Europe as they have recovered from a poor start to move to within a hair’s breadth of the last eight of the Champions League.
His workrate, desire, force and tactical brain have combined to make him the most irreplaceable of Juventus’ midfielders. While some have pondered that Paul Pogba’s rise could have a greater negative impact on Vidal’s place in the team longer term than on either Andrea Pirlo or Claudio Marchisio, the Chilean’s absences have been the more keenly felt over the course of the current campaign.
Once more, he is among Serie A's leaders for tackles made this term with 76, at an average of one every 22.17 minutes, putting him only six behind Napoli's Valon Behrami. Last season, he completed a league-high 133 - one every 19.82 minutes, a rate which he is close to matching this time around. Not only that, but he has racked up 10 goals and nine assists already in 32 games in all competitions, trumping his return of seven goals and four assists in 35 matches last season.
And the reason for such stats is that Vidal is the most dynamic all-round midfielder the Italian league - and perhaps even world football - has to offer, and he is only getting better. At 25, he is still the right side of the natural peak of a footballer’s career, and while he suffered a slowdown during October and November when Juve coach Antonio Conte seemed unsure when to rest his stars to the greatest effect, he soon kicked himself out of his funk to show why the Bianconeri were so keen to add him to their staff in the first place.
Even taking into account Pirlo’s exceptional impact since his Bosman switch from AC Milan, Vidal has arguably even trumped the Italy regista for importance to the Juve side. In fact, Pirlo’s successes partly rest on the fantastic workrate of his midfield partner, while between them they create the platform which allows Marchisio to push up and be a threat with his runs higher up the pitch.
If Pogba is to break into the Juve first team for a lengthy period anytime soon, Vidal is the last player for whom he should be eyed up as a replacement. The former Manchester United youngster’s natural game stems from playing as the pivot of the midfield, taking advantage of any gaps in the opposition rearguard he can find with his fantastic passing ability and picking up the scraps in space around the edge of the area, meaning he is a more natural replacement for Pirlo of the three ‘MVP’ stars.
Meanwhile, there is arguably no player in world football that ticks as many boxes as does Vidal, let alone in the Juve squad. And, as a result, even if Bayern were to double their bid for the masterful midfielder, then the Old Lady would have every right to tell them to take a running jump.
Vidal is as close to priceless as any player Italian football has to offer.