It’s fair to say the last few months have been tough for DušanVlahović. The Serbian, who left Fiorentina in January to join Juventus for £80 million, was in scintillating form at the turn of the year. Top scorer in Serie A, the 22-year-old departed Tuscany for a move that ticked all the boxes on paper. Despite interest from Premier League sides Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, Vlahović opted to remain in Italy, hoping to spearhead the next era of attacking talent in Turin for Massimiliano Allegri.
However, the winter break came and went, and suddenly a dream move for Vlahović is looking like a nightmare. Things got off to a perfect start when he grabbed a goal on his debut, but his goal drought in the build up to spring has led to Lazio’s Ciro Immobile overtaking the Serb as the top scorer in Serie A, something that Vlahović will want to change next season.
The reality of the situation is, Juve don’t play to his strengths. While Arsenal would have built the team around the Serbian’s powers, Juve continue to play the style they used pre-Christmas, to mixed results. With Champions League football guaranteed, to the surprise of a few, they’ll have to improve on European form as well, after the loss to Villarreal was the last straw for this band of players. Expect a new look Juve next season.
The combination of financial constrains caused by Vlahović’s sizeable price tag and performances on the pitch leaving The Old Lady title-less for a second consecutive year means players will be leaving the Allianz stadium this summer. A teary-eyed Paulo Dybala moves on this summer after failing to negotiate a new contract and with Giorgio Chiellini leaving after a 17-year stay at Juve, signings will have to be made in order to stay competitive.
There’s clearly a lot for the Juventus board to do if they are to once again establish themselves as the dominant force in Italian football, and look some way off favourites for the title next year on the bet exchange.Vlahović can easily find his goalscoring form again though, and with Federico Chiesacoming back from injury and Ángel Di María set to sign after expressing his frustration with Paris Saint-Germain, there are reasons to be optimistic for next season.
There’s clearly enough talent in Vlahović to become the player he looked destined to be at the start of the season. At 6’3” tall, the forward can replicate the aerial presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who Juventus have clearly missed.
He’s clearly a striker feared on Italian shores, even commanding the respect from players like Franck Ribéry, after the two played together for Fiorentina. The Frenchman sung his praises despite a difficult campaign and believes can turn things around. “DušanVlahovićhas the mentality of a big player,” he said. “He has the right mentality – he is someone who works hard.
“In 2006, when I played with great players at international level, for 10 years I played with some greats like [Zinedine] Zidane and [Lilian] Thuram.
“I was quite smart and I watched their behaviour because they were great players. “I like young players when they are intelligent, when they believe, they work and they’re hungry,” Ribery added. “I have known a lot of talents who were lacking grit.
“I always look to help young player out, to help them become greats.”
If his confidence can be restored next season, Juve will have a dangerous striker on there books, and with the return of a new era of more recognised number nines like ErlingHaaland and Darwin Núñez, there is hope for the Serb yet to thrive in the modern game.