Juventus’ transfer policy has often been profit-oriented and reactionary over the last few years. Because of that, many players have not been helped in their careers. Federico Bernardeschi has been a classic case of that and time seems to be running out for the Italian international.
The former Fiorentina man hasn’t had the best of times at the Bianconeri. Since joining the Turin-based outfit, his development has hardly gone to plan and this season has seen the biggest downfall of his career.
The campaign under Maurizio Sarri has seen Bernardeschi not record a single goal or an assist in Serie A. In all competitions, he has picked up just a single goal and that goal came in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen. Otherwise, he’s not been able to break into the club’s first-team too often and hasn’t been at his best.
Paulo Dybala has thrived and last season seems a far-fetched reality. Sarri’s possession-based system has brought the best out of La Joya, even though the team has been lacking constant ball-circulation in midfield. A similar player like Bernardeschi though has failed.
Bernardeschi was further down the pecking order ever since he came to the Allianz Stadium though. It was preceded by an impressive season at La Viola, where he had contributed to 15 goals in the 2016-17 campaign. The big-money move to Juve was seen as the step-up that he deserved.
At Fiorentina, he was the main man under Stefano Pioli and Paulo Sousa. His best that season came on the left-wing, but he was well capable of playing as the number ten or the right-winger. But originally, Bernardeschi was a right-winger who had immense pace and would constantly trouble defenders.
But when Bernardeschi arrived in the summer of 2017, Juve also signed Juan Cuadrado and Douglas Costa– much more established players in the wide positions. Paulo Dybala was already there and Mario Mandzukic would start to be used in the left-wing position by Massimiliano Allegri.
In all competitions, Bernardeschi could play only 1104 minutes of first-team football in the 2017-18 season. He could never become a starter. Last season was better in terms of game-time. But the Italian couldn’t play at his flowing best. He didn’t pick up the chances at the right time even though a lot of it can be deemed to be down to Allegri’s structured system.
While the 2016-17 season with La Viola had seen him come up with 1.9 dribbles per 90 minutes, he also came up with 2.2 key passes per 90 minutes. Being the sole star of the team gave him the freedom to do things, but he never became that sole star at Juve. Be it Gonzalo Higuain or Dybala, they were the fulcrum of attacks.
The same has been the case over the last two campaigns. Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival had seen him fall further down the pecking order and it became an impression of how Juve were probably not keen on developing Bernardeschi and was always seen as a back-up. Sarri using a 4-3-1-2 shape this season has not helped him either. He has been playing centrally and it has never been his best position, despite there being a much more fluid system in place.
Bernardeschi is not that sparkling youngster anymore. Over the three years, he has gone from a shining promise to a fading bit-part player who finds his career in a muddle. The reasons can be two-fold ranging from it being his fault to it being down to Juve’s reactionary transfer policy.
But the way things are, Bernardeschi can’t afford to stay at Juve and see his career stifle further. There will be clubs after him as he is 26 and still a talented player. He needs a club where he will be the man of the team and not just another player. The quicker he departs Turin, the better it is for him.