Sassuolo starlet Domenico Berardi holds the key to unlocking defences for Juventus, who have struggled to do so during a disappointing start to their title defence.
Reigning Serie A Champions, Juventus, tried throughout the summer to land an attacking midfielder who could both score, and provide goals for others on a regular basis.
Names including Oscar, Julian Draxler and Mario Gotze were bandied about, as Juve sporting director Giuseppe Marotta trawled Europe for a suitable candidate.
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In the end, they plumped for out-of-favour Inter man, Hernanes, who was brilliant at previous club Lazio, but failed to live up to expectations in Milan.
The Brazilian’s performances have been good in two Champions League outings for the Bianconeri, but he’s left a lot to be desired in domestic action.
No goals and no assists in any competition tells its own story, which means the struggling Scudetto holders are still searching for the perfect protagonist to fill that playmaking position.
The Turin giants purchased a co-ownership stake in teenager Berardi back in September 2013 but allowed him to stay at Sassuolo in order to continue his development.
His rapid rise to prominence for the Neroverdi has been remarkable, with the versatile attacker hitting 31 goals and laying on 16 assists over the last two top-flight campaigns.
Berardi reached 30 Serie A strikes at almost the same age as the great Lionel Messi did over in La Liga – 20 years and 9 months, compared with 20 years and 8 months, respectively – but in 12 fewer appearances than his outstanding peer.
Summer speculation centred on Juventus’ probable acquisition of the promising Italian under-21 international, only for the Old Lady to relinquish their official claim on his services to the tune of £7.35 million [€10m].
However, they maintained a ‘first option’ on the skilful forward should Sassuolo choose to sell him in the future, which is a possibility that Juve must quickly consider given their recent problems.
He’s fast, direct and can fulfil a number of roles, including up front and wide on the right, but his abilities are allowed to shine best as an attacking midfielder with licence to roam.
Discipline is an issue, following 23 yellow cards over the past two seasons, plus a further two bookings within five Serie A appearances this term. But, that is a minor black mark against his name, which only serves to make Berardi an even more intriguing footballer.
Considering the level of player he currently works alongside in Emilia-Romagna, one can only imagine the damage he would do within a top-class squad such as that of Juventus.
Due to a poor opening eight fixtures in Serie A, perhaps it’s time Massimiliano Allegri’s men looked to the future success of the club, so they can regain their place at the top of the table next year, should this campaign continue to falter.
Also, bringing Berardi into the side in January may prove to be a masterstroke that could see the Bianconeri rocket up the standings and back into contention for honours this season.
Whether it’s in the winter or summertime, the Juventus must ensure that the 21-year-old eventually finds his way to Turin, as opposed to being lured by the riches on offer in England.
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