Straight from the dark heart of Italy
The Old Lady has always stood by her man.
When the nation is in need, Juventus will answer the call.
Thirty years ago, the Azzuri was basically Juve: eight of their players started against France at Argentina 78, and the 1982 World Cup winners had six starters.
When Italy were short of a left-back in the wake of 2002 World Cup exit, Juve switched Gianluca Zambrotta from right-back to accommodate the request.
Then of course, the backbone of the 2006 world champions had black and white running through it – from Gigi Buffon, Zambrotta and Fabio Cannavaro, through Mauro Camoranesi to Alex del Piero.
"Shall we share a cab back to Turin?"
It’s no surprise that Juve will ensure that Marcello Lippi has his men for South Africa playing regularly and in the system of his choosing, marshalled by former right-hand man Ciro Ferrara.
Looking ahead to the start of next season, at least seven of those set to figure in Lippi’s squad will be lining up for the Bianconeri: Buffon, Cannavaro, Giorgio Chiellini, Nicola Legrotaglie, Camoranesi, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri.
That number could easily increase to 10 or even a full team, given that Giuseppe Rossi, Gaetano D’Agostino, Andrea Dossena and Fabio Grosso are all being linked with moves to Turin.
Rossi has rightly been grabbing the headlines after his two-goal Confederations Cup blitz against the USA.
And it is certainly a heart-warming story of the son of immigrants, a Jersey boy who goes back to the old country to find fame and wealth. In a roundabout way.
Arriving at Parma in 2004 at age 13, thanks to dad contacting the club, the youngster barely had time to taste the city’s rich hams before Manchester United spirited him away – not the last time that would happen with an aspiring Italian teen.
Having failed to establish himself at Old Trafford (or on loan at Newcastle), he was loaned back to Parma in 2007 and scored nine goals in 19 – but there were no offers from Serie A’s big names.
Inter had star quality in abundance in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juve still had Alex del Piero calling the shots and Milan had invested in Alex Pato, another young man similar in style to Rossi.
In fact, the only side to show any interest were Fiorentina, but the Viola were unable or unwilling to meet the 11million Euro asking price. So off the little wanderer went again – and pitched up at Villarreal.
Now we’re talking something in the region of 40million Euro to bring Rossi back to Italy – and whatever Lippi’s hopes for club-country synergy, Juve aren’t going to shell out that amount.
Inter have no interest in the player, and the same goes for Milan – the Rossoneri are now more confident about keeping Pato and have set their sights on a big man up top – while even half that amount is too much for the likes of Fiorentina, Roma and Napoli.If Juve cannot find a way to cut the transfer fee significantly – maybe by dangling David Trezeguet as a potential makeweight - then our little Yankee is going to remain in exile for some time to come.
"Light blue? Did they run out of ink?"
While we're on the subject of the national team, what about the new kit for the Confederations Cup?
A throwback to the 1930s but a little too pallid on the blue, although the shorts are all the rage this summer – well, brown linen is.
Not to worry, it should become something of a collector’s item as the traditional darker blue returns for the friendly with Switzerland in August.
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