As Juventus head into the 2009/10 season, there is real optimism of a successful campaign following a string of impressive summer signings, including those of Diego, Felipe Melo and Fabio Cannavaro.
The latest to arrive in Turin is Barcelona defender Martin Caceres, who joins on a one-year loan with Juventus possessing the option to make the move permanent for €11 million at the end of the season.
Despite a fine summer, many people still question whether Juve’s defence is strong enough to allow them to challenge for honours. The lack of quality in the full back positions has certainly been highlighted, but will Caceres – who is able to play all across the back four – improve either the right or left back areas? Is he the 'new Paolo Montero' - another Uruguayan who had a legendary spell at the club from 1996-2005?
Or is Caceres set to endure another disappointing season, following his miserable year at Barcelona last term, where he made just 13 league appearances?
A selection of Goal.com editors from around the world have their say on whether the 22-year-old will be a Top or Flop…
Ewan Macdonald (Goal.com International): Four words to describe Martin Caceres: Too Much, Too Young.
A solid performer with a struggling Recreativo side in 2007-08, Barcelona moved too hastily to pay over the odds for the young Uruguayan. He did not seem too enthusiastic, or even ready, for the switch, saying that he was happy to grow at Villarreal (he had been loaned out to Recre from the Madrigal), but a combination of the lure of one of the world's biggest clubs, and no doubt a bit of pressure from the Villarreal board, who were offered a huge sum for him, saw him leave.
He endured some injury problems at Camp Nou early in his career, but interestingly even after these Pep Guardiola often preferred to use Carles Puyol to fill the near-empty left-back position in the absence of Eric Abidal, with Caceres himself - who can play all across the back line - mainly being used in his native CB spot, but only in low-profile games - such as those in which the title was already all but assured. Indeed, a cynic may say that he only played the final three league games of the season in order to alert would-be suitors to his existence.
That is not to say that he is a bad player who should be offloaded. He's a quality defender and, when he has a good run of games, can get forward to good effect, too. But at Barcelona his price tag will weigh upon him like an albatross, and with Pique and Puyol both 'locks' in the team he will do well to manage the eight starts he got this time around.
Sulmaan Ahmad (Goal.com UK): Martin Caceres is a complicated defender to assess. He has had promise for many years, and in a Goal.com exclusive even said he was enjoying his development and was happy at Villarreal, saying he was not too interested in a move to Barcelona or Real Madrid. However, when the big guns actually come calling, things change. He was tempted, he left, and it has proven too much for him.
He made too many mistakes, but mostly in the centre of defence. As a full-back, risk is comparatively limited, and he is athletic and tenacious enough to make a potentially very effective defensive full-back. For Juventus, the comparison to Paolo Montero is not inaccurate, though he will need to get a good few seasons behind him to really live up to the comparison. The potential is there.
Juan Lirman (Goal.com Spain): Martin Caceres can really succeed in Calcio. He didn't do very well here in Spain at Barca but it was maybe because he clearly knew he wouldn't be playing regular football with players above him like Puyol, Rafa Marquez and Pique. Also, he often was fielded as a central defender and this is not his best position. He's getting real power in the Uruguay national team playing as a full back and I believe [Juventus coach] Ciro Ferrara knows that and will let him play there. Caceres is young, he needed another opportunity after his Barcelona failure, and I think he will rise in Turin.
Sergio Stanco (Goal.com Italy): I do not know him too well, but in Andalusia I met a Uruguayan Juventus fan and I asked him about Caceres. He said to me: "Even though he's from Uruguay, I am not too happy that he's joining Juventus. If Barcelona were prepared to sell him, what does that tell you about his ability?". From one point of view, this supporter is right, but we know through history that there have been many players who have flopped at one team and become a star at another. Hopefully he will be a crack and if I think as a journalist, I can tell you that Juventus needed a player like him who can play on the right, left and in the centre of defence. Having said this, if we compare Juventus to Inter – at the moment their defence and bench is much weaker.
Subhankar Mondal (Goal.com India): Martin Caceres at a big club like Juventus, especially at a time when the Old Lady is going through a mini-revolution, is ideal as a back-up defender. Criticisms might be harsh on him at the moment given that he is 'only' 22 and has every scope to improve but the Uruguayan is not ready to slot instantly into the Juventus starting line-up. His time at Barcelona last season was spent on the bench (as well as on the medic's table) and given his ability to play anywhere across the backfour you would have expected him to play more games than he did at left-back, which was a problem for the European champions last season. But the fact that Barcelona did think him good enough to play for them, initially at least, attests his quality and Caceres should provide tough competition for the current Juventus fullbacks for a regular starting place.
Martin Decaux (Goal.com South America): I have seen Caceres a lot, especially when he plays with his national team. I think it is a great signing for Juventus. Caceres is still very young but he has already demonstrated that he can do well in a powerful league such as La Liga, which I think is more difficult for defenders than Serie A.
Caceres is, what we call here, a 'tiempista', because of his excellent timing for tackles and pressing opposition forwards. His natural position is central defender but he had almost no opportunities there in the national team (with Lugano and Diego Godin as regulars) so he is used by national team coach Oscar Washington Tabarez as a wild card, on the right or left flanks, with equal success. Last season, due to Jorge Fucile's injury, Caceres played several matches as a left full back, and he did really good. Yes, Fucile is right-footed, but Tabarez likes to put players out of their natural positions (and fans hate him because of that).
Caceres is the player who is suffering the least from Tabarez's controversial lineups, and he ends up being one of the best players of the team very often, with performances at the same level of Diego Forlan or Cristian Rodriguez.
I would not compare him to Paolo Montero. I think Juventus would have captured the 'new Montero' if they had signed a player like Diego Lugano. He's very similar to Montero - except that he cant play at left full back - but pretty similar in terms of temperament, strength and leadership. Caceres is not that kind of player, he's not that strong, but he is a lot faster, an essential requirement to do well at full back.
I'm pretty sure that if Caceres joined Juventus it was because he knew he would play regularly, and he knew that Ferrara was going to put him at full back. Although he prefers to play in the centre, he has no problems playing elsewhere. How good can Caceres become? I don't know, but I'm sure he will learn a lot in Italy.
What are your views on this topic? Will Caceres be a Top or Flop? Will the Uruguayan help solve Juventus’ problems at full back? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com