Anyone who followed Juventus last season would have observed their vulnerability at the back. The 37 goals conceded in 38 league matches demonstrate how defensively weak Juve were compared to the days under Fabio Capello. Their backfour was often caught out for pace, and under the now-sacked Claudio Ranieri appeared tactically awry.
Following the arrivals of Diego and Fabio Cannavaro, the Bianconeri have made no secret of their desire to sign more players this summer. New coach Ciro Ferrara wants to build a squad in his own vision and has already pointed out the key areas he would like to reinforce.
In this piece we focus on the left-back position. Here are a number of candidates for the role:
1.Fabio Grosso (Lyon): At 31, Fabio Grosso still remains the best left back for the Italy national team and he has had a good season with Lyon in France. He might not be the quickest left-back on earth but he does know how to keep a fine balance between defending and attacking. The World Cup winner was the most impressive of the Italian stoppers in their Confederations Cup opener against the USA, and with Juve coach Ferrara having declared that he is interested in the former Inter man, and Grosso himself remaining open to the suggestion of returning to Italy, this could be a match made in heaven.
2. Andrea Dossena (Liverpool): Andrea Dossena is likely to leave Liverpool in the summer and it is Juventus who are said in be in the hunt for his signature. Dossena was signed by Liverpool last year as a direct replacement for the AS Roma-bound John Arne Riise but the Italian struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League. It would be a risk for Juventus if they take him on board and try to revitalize him.
3. Filipe Luis (Deportivo la Coruna): Filipe Luis was the revelation of the Spanish Primera Division in 2008-2009 and made it to Goal.com's La Liga Team of the Season. A marvellous left-back who is also versatile enough to play as a left sided midfielder, Filipe was the only Depor outfield player to feature in all 38 league matches and was the best and most balanced left back in Spain last season. Juventus would do well to sign the Brazilian but the problem is that in spite of one superb season, Filipe remains relatively unproven.
4. Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina): At 27, Italian international left-back Manuel Pasqual is reaching his peak and is one of the best in the business in Serie A. An exquisite crosser of the ball who moves with pace and finesse, Pasqual has a deadly left foot and takes free-kicks too. Signing Pasqual would guarantee more entertainment and mobility on their left side.
5. Gael Clichy (Arsenal): Regarded by many as the best left-back in the Premier League after Patrice Evra, and rumoured to be leaving Arsenal before long, Gael Clichy is as capable of defending as he is attacking, and his pace would be a huge boost to a somewhat pedestrian Juventus side. It must be kept in mind, though, that although Clichy has been linked with a move to Juventus in the past, these days Real Madrid appear to be in the hunt for the 23-year-old. In any case, Arsene Wenger is certain to hang onto the French international this summer.
6. Eric Abidal (Barcelona): It's no secret that Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola would prefer to replace Eric Abidal. The weak link in the Barcelona backline, the French international endured an inconsistent 2008-09 season, and after two years at Camp Nou appears to have become a liability. At 29, Abidal is at his peak and in a slower league like Serie A, the Frenchman could settle in quite well. Having said that, one has to remember that Abidal is not for sale until and unless Barcelona sign another left-back.
7. Royston Drenthe (Real Madrid): Royston Drenthe should be one of nine players whom Real Madrid president Florentino Perez wants out this summer and Juventus could do well to sign him to safeguard their long term prospects. Drenthe is a versatile player who plays either as a left wing-back or as a left-winger, and looks better when going forward. At 22, Drenthe is still a promise but he is not the finished article and there are one or two question marks on his temperament after clashes with former Madrid coach Bernd Schuster. Signing Drenthe would be a risk for Juventus in the short term.
8. Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich): Philipp Lahm is a rock in the Bayern Munich defence, also graceful and fluid going forward, with a spooky ability to take on defenders. The German international appears to have made up his mind to stay in Munich but towards the end of last term there were links with Barcelona. In any case, it would be extremely difficult for Juventus to prise away the 25-year-old from Bayern.
Fabio Grosso (Lyon): Lyon left-back Fabio Grosso should be Juventus' first option. Grosso has been in the limelight for just about four seasons and it seems likely that he would be able to carry on for two-or-three more years at the highest level. Also, his understanding and cohesion with his Italy international team-mates Fabio Cannavaro, Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon would be crucial. It would mean four of the five Azzurri backline playing for Juventus.
Subhankar Mondal, Goal.com