Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Andrea Agnelli does not seem the type who has ever had to raise his voice to get what he wanted.
More at home amongst the suits in the sedate surroundings of the boardroom, he has always seemed a reluctant Juventus president, despite following in a rich family lineage. So when forced to read the riot act to the under-achieving team he resorted to the cruel put-down.
Following the defeat to Leece last weekend he told reporters that the players had done so little in the game that he they didn’t even need to shower. They may be highly-paid stars in the world of football but they didn't go to prep school or Oxford – as Andrea did – so when the chips are down, it is the proles who obviously need a good dressing-down.
Hence one and all, from baseball cap-in-hand Gigi Delneri to oh-so-desperate for one last pay-day Ale Del Piero, were forced to sit through a 40-minute ‘pep talk’ from the president. By all accounts it was something of a King’s Speech delivery – the one when the royal has overcome his speech impediment – calm, collected and to the point: basically no more performances such as the one at Leece and a few more displays such as against Inter.
Having been put firmly in their place, the players trooped out to the training ground where Agnelli and the rest of the overcoats (now including Pavel Nedved) watched on for all of five minutes before returning to the warmth of their blacked-out sedans. Del Piero had reportedly sat through the ordeal staring into space, no doubt calculating if it was worth trying to get a few extra cents out of the club, before heading off to train alone – which says a lot about where the team are in terms of unity at the moment.
No one’s future is secure – Delneri has heard the rumours of Fabio Capello’s return, which in turn must have Del Piero eying a move to the MLS where he can play out another couple of years as minor royalty. Reports suggest the club are ready to offer their captain another year but set at a €1m salary while the player and his brother-agent Stefano were thinking more in the €2.5m ballpark.
With the club struggling to finish in the top four and having failed to make the knock-out stages of the Europa League this season, it would seem difficult to justify such a salary for a 36-year-old whose best years are well behind him, even if he's still the only member of the current squad with any real star quality.
The feeling is that the club are edging their talisman into a corner and if he wants to remain then he needs to do so on the basis of what is good for the Old Lady. When asked by reporters how Del’s contract talks were going, Agnelli snapped back "You need to ask him what he wants to do,” which backs up the presumption that the player will have to lower his sights somewhat.
Then there's wide-eyed Alberto Aquilani, who has just about given up on a permanent switch to Turin given that Liverpool will not drop their asking price lower than €16m. Like most Romans, the midfielder must be wondering why he ever left the capital in the first place. Oh yes, actually we do know why; and maybe the Anfield mob will take into account the fact that they are losing out paying €85,000 a week to someone who has made it clear he has no desire to return to England.
Fabio Quagliarella’s permanent transfer will also have to be sorted, but as the loaned-in Napoli striker is sidelined for the rest of the season the final amount should fall close to Juve’s offer of €4.5m.
There have been reports that Andrea Pirlo will incited away from Milan, but that would be welcomed with the same enthusiasm as Dejan Stankovic’s proposed move from Inter a few seasons ago. The Tuttosport poll, which is always a good gauge of feeling within the Juve nation, returned a resounding 90 percent “no” to signing the playmaker.
Another name being floated out there is Davide Santon, which would only encourage Inter to ask for Claudio Marchisio, who happens to earn less than Felipe Melo – so that's a deal that would come with plenty of strings attached.
Anyway, such matters will become clearer after Juve get through the next 12 games until the end of the campaign – and if things do not improve then it may not be a stern word or two but more like the hairdryer treatment next time they are called in front of the president.
IN/OUT for the summer:
buffon 13m - sissoko 7m - grygera 2m - grosso fr - amauri 4m - manniger 1m - tiago 3m - giovinco 7m - toni fr - matri/traore/rinaudo loan end. 37m
boruc 2m - sorensen fr - nagatomo 4m - aquilani 10m - pepe 3m - bovo 3m - donadel fr - quagliarella 8m - elmander fr - larsson fr - rossi 12m - lanzafame 40m
It has been one of the great mysteries of the season how Delio Rossi has survived so long in charge at
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