Juventus have added yet another player to their ever-growing talent pool in Simone Zaza, the Sassuolo striker. Juventus sold Zaza to Sassuolo in the summer of 2013, and after a good season in Serie A the Bianconeri have decided to purchase him back.
Zaza, combining with young Juve loanee Domenico Berardi and gifted winger Nicola Sansone, netted 12 goals and made three assists in all competitions this past season. Not a bad return considering Zaza’s lack of support in midfield, and playing with goal scoring wingers alongside you means that part of being a forward in a side like Sassuolo is passing.
Juventus had a playing style that involved linking their attack and midfield frequently, using players like Paul Pogba, Roberto Pereyra and Arturo Vidal to pressure defences in two waves, behind strikers Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.
However, Tevez has joined Boca Juniors, and Llorente looks to be part of an old guard of target men that are currently less effective due to the presence of so many pacey and physical defenders. Alvaro Morata was the only forward at Juventus under the age of 25 last season, so an injection of youth into their front line could be extremely important when it comes time to defend a Scudetto and compete for a Champions League title again.
Outside of club football, Zaza's move to a top European club like Juventus could be a huge advantage when it comes time for Antonio Conte to select his squad for the EURO 2016 tournament in France. Conte is a former Juventus manager, and at the moment he has a breadth of Italian forwards to choose from - few of which have been playing very well in the past year.
The most prolific of the forwards at a club level is Graziano Pellè, currently at Southampton. He scored the same amount of goals as Simone Zaza did at club level during 2014-15, with 12 in the Premier League.
Other than Pellè - who does not really have the pace or the dribbling ability to lead an Italian front line on his own - the Italian strike force, playing both at home and overseas, has been misfiring recently. A below-average season for Dortmund striker Ciro Immobile and some unlucky injuries for Stephan El Shaarawy highlight what has been a disappointing past few years for the Azzurri.
At Juventus, Simone Zaza will be competing for both national and European competitions, and that gives him a great chance of earning a spot in the national side.
But the question is: Will Zaza get the playing time he needs to step up a tier as a footballer? Another one of Juventus’ summer additions this window was Mario Mandžukić, who can be classed as a ‘guaranteed-goals’ forward wherever he plays in Europe, after repeatedly proving himself at the top level.
Mandžukić seems a terrific partner for a young Morata who is already a quality finisher and has the tools to add other aspects to his game. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine a world where Simone Zaza plays in a black and white shirt over these two players. If he can mold into this Juventus team quicker than the other two forwards available to Massimiliano Allegri, there is no stopping Zaza becoming a formidable striker.
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