Federico Bernardeschi has become an enigma at Juventus. Ever since he joined from Fiorentina, his career has never really taken off in Turin. As things stand, he finds himself in limbo.
He arrived in the summer of 2017 and has been made to play alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa, Juan Cuadrado, and Gonzalo Higuain. He has been played in structural systems – unlike how it is now under Maurizio Sarri.
But this season, Bernadeschi has been given a ray of hope. In a dynamic system, the Italian has started Juve’s last five league games.
In a 4-3-1-2 shape, the former La Viola man has played in the hole behind either Higuain/Ronaldo and Dybala. But as much as he has been handed this opportunity on the plate, Bernardeschi has failed. While he did impress in Juve’s 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, he has not done enough to warrant a regular spot in that team.
Against Die Werkself, Bernadeschi did score once, but he did not play a single key-pass. He completed two dribbles and won the only one tackle that he attempted.
He was fine in the 2-1 win over Bologna, but not special by any means. The fact that he played four key passes was a big positive, but Bernardeschi was also dispossessed twice.
The last three games have been very underwhelming. Away to Lecce, Bernardeschi’s open goal miss cost Juve two points. He couldn’t complete a single tackle while getting dribbled past once. He took four corners, but only one met someone’s head. The 25-year-old could complete only 29 accurate passes from open play – not a pretty sight for an attacking midfielder.
After the game, Sarri did defend the player, but it was also riddled with criticism. He told reporters (via Calciomercato):
“Bernardeschi is doing well, he was poor in front of goal as others have been too, it is an issue that affects the team and not just him.”
At home to Genoa, he contributed just about nothing. He played only 36 accurate passes, got dribbled past as many as six times, and won just one tackle.
This weekend’s game at Torino in the Derby della Mole was another disappointment. He got dribbled past twice and lost the ball once. He couldn’t complete a single dribble himself and completed as few as 21 passes.
Somehow, Juve have managed to not lose in these games and that has taken the attention away from Bernardeschi’s desolate shows. That has been in stark contrast to how Paulo Dybala has done, playing 1.7 key passes per game and completing 2.1 dribbles per game too.
But Sarri has used him up front and that has allowed Bernardeschi to play deeper. Despite this being a less structured system than Massimiliano Allegri’s, Bernardeschi has not done much.
The injuries Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa have suffered have allowed the former La Viola man to play regularly. Costa is now slowly coming back to full fitness and so is Ramsey. The way Bernardeschi is struggling will likely see him not play much once again when they return.
Despite having played much less than Bernardeschi, Ramsey has scored once while playing in the number ten spot. The Italian did impress in the two games that he played for the national team, scoring twice. But he has not replicated that form for the club.
It isn’t about Bernardeschi’s first-team spot anymore. It is about his time at the club. Juve will soon have three players to play in his position – three who will surely do more than him. If the club can be willing to sell players like Dybala, Emre Can, and Mario Mandzukic, that time isn’t far when Bernardeschi is seen as a sellable commodity soon.
If performances don’t improve drastically, Bernardeschi will be at the risk of being sold permanently by the Bianconeri.