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Struggling Juventus unlikely to challenge for Serie A title in 2023/24

Italian giants Juventus had a season to forget in 2022-23 as they struggled on and off the pitch, failing to reach the UEFA Champions League or Europa League

Newcastle and Liverpool join race for Juventus star Federico Chiesa

Italian giants Juventus had a season to forget in 2022-23 as they struggled on and off the pitch, failing to reach the UEFA Champions League or Europa League as a result.

The Bianconeri were inconsistent all through the season before they were hit by a scandal midway through the campaign which caused their entire board to resign. They failed to win any of the competitions they entered into, ending the season without a trophy.

Heading into the 2022-23 season, there was optimism Juve could have a positive campaign. Demand for Juventus tickets was strong and supporters were confident they’d challenge for the Seire A title. the Bianconeri had a far-from-ideal preseason as they lost two and drew one of three matches, an indicator of what was to come in the season for them. They started the season shakily, winning only two of their first seven matches and losing to newly-promoted Monza.

They also lost five of their six group matches in their UEFA Champions League group that contained PSG, Benfica and Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. They went into the FIFA World Cup break in November on a six-game winning run in the league before the break cost them their momentum. They suffered a damaging 5-1 defeat to eventual champions Napoli in January, and lost again to the team from Naples in the reverse encounter. The Bianconeri lost in the Coppa Italia semifinal to Inter Milan, as well.

Juventus dropped to the UEFA Europa League after failing to make it out of the Champions League group stage, and lost in the semi-final of the competition to eventual winners Sevilla.

Juventus had troubles off the field in addition to their problems on the field, with a financial misappropriation scandal rocking the club during the season. An investigation showed that the club saved around €90m between 2018 and 2020 by engaging in financial violations, including inflating transfer values and lying to financial officials.

The club were slapped with a deduction of 15 points, and a number of top officials of the club were handed severe punishments, as well. Former president Andrea Agnelli received a two-year ban from all football-related activities, and former vice-president Pavel Nedved was handed an eight-month ban which he successfully appealed. Former director Fabio Paratici was also handed a thirty-month ban from all football-related activities, which has affected him in his present role at the English club, Tottenham Hotspur.

In April, three months after the original ruling, the supreme sports court of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) accepted an appeal from the Bianconeri and revoked the 15-point deduction. The court also ordered a new trial to be held while the club went on with its business. Before the deduction was revoked, however, the entire board of the club decided to resign due to allegations of tax fraud leveled against them.

In May, the new trial concluded that the Bianconeri be handed a ten-point deduction, which caused them to miss out on a place on the UEFA Champions League and finish in seventh place in the Serie A.

Overhaul

Following the conclusion of the 2022-23 season and their failure to make the UEFA Champions League, Juventus realised that they are in a financial mess as a result of the monies they will miss out on. Because of this, they decided that they were putting up all of their senior players who spent time out on loan last season for sale. Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo spent the season on loan in England with Liverpool, where he played only once.

Similarly, Denis Zakaria spent his loan spell at Chelsea, where he played only 11 games for them under three different managers as they struggled. American midfielder Weston McKennie also spent the second half of the season in England with Leeds United but left after their relegation.

Upon their return, the Bianconeri decided that all three players were for sale and did not bother taking them along to their preseason tour. Juventus are also willing to entertain approaches for their players this summer as the club look to raise around €100m from player sales. In addition to putting players up for sale, the Bianconeri also informed club captain and legend Leonardo Bonucci that he is no longer wanted at the club. The centre-back had informed the club earlier that the 2023-24 season was to be his last season as a professional. He was left out of the club’s preseason squad, as well.

Juventus have been quite active in the transfer market as they look to offload a good number of players. The club already sanctioned the permanent sale of Dejan Kulusevski to Tottenham Hotspur for around €30m and lost the experienced duo of Angel Di Maria and Juan Cuadrado to Benfica and Inter Milan, respectively, after they reached the end of their contracts in Turin. Argentine midfielder Leandro Paredes returned to Paris Saint-Germain following the conclusion of his loan spell in Italy.

The club has also let unwanted midfielder Arthur go to Fiorentina on loan with an option to buy next summer. Striker Dusan Vlahovic has also been made available to suitors intending to meet his €80m valuation. PSG showed an interest in signing the Serbian striker only to decide against proceeding with a deal due to his recurring groin injury. The likes of Federico Chiesa, Gleison Bremer, Samuel Iling Junior, Federico Gatti and several others are also available to interested suitors this summer.

Incomings

In terms of additions to their squad, Juventus have not done much work as American forward Timothy Weah remains their only major signing after a €12m deal was struck with Lille. They have also negotiated a permanent deal with Olympique Marseille for striker Arkadiusz Milik after he spent the 2022-23 season on loan with them.

After nine consecutive Serie A titles, Juventus have now failed to win the Scudetto in any of the last three campaigns with Inter Milan, AC Milan and Napoli taking turns to win the title. According to reports, the club intends to sit out the 2023-24 UEFA Europa Conference League as part of a plea bargain to stop UEFA from slapping heavy sanctions on them. As a result, the club will be able to focus all of its resources on having an excellent domestic campaign and secure some silverware along the way.

In preparation for next season, Juventus are in the USA to participate in the 2023 Soccer Champions Tour. They were scheduled to face Barcelona first, but a stomach virus wreaking havoc in the camp of the Spanish side caused the friendly to be cancelled. They will face AC Milan and Real Madrid in the other two games before returning to Italy ahead of the new Serie A season.

With the level of investment that has gone into AC Milan and other top teams in the league this summer, Juventus will have their work cut out for them to try and reclaim their throne in the 2023-24 season.

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