Assessing the Possible Destinations for Juventus’ Federico Bernardeschi

Federico Bernardeschi
Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Three years ago Federico Bernardeschi’s stock was as high as his fringe was long.

In the summer of 2017 the then 23-year-old had just become the youngest player to ever hit double figures for Serie A goals, he opened his account for the Italian national team and secured a £36m move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

However, Bernardeschi’s career hasn’t quite followed that same upward trajectory and, much like his hair, his time with Juventus is looking increasingly short.

Federico BernardeschiFederico Bernardeschi
Bernardeschi has only completed the full 90 minutes three times for Juventus this season | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

The Tuscan-born left-footer had that breakout season on Fiorentina’s flanks and in his first two campaigns with Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve, he endured a stop-start period trying to secure a place on the right-wing.

However, this year the incoming Maurizio Sarri has almost exclusively played him behind two forwards in the number ten position. Bernardeschi appears uncomfortable and almost clumsy in this role and is yet to register a single Serie A goal or assist in 2019/20.

Still only 26 years of age, there remains plenty of time for Bernardeschi to realise more of his potential. Although, it increasingly looks as though that development will continue outside of Turin, with a host of Premier League clubs among those to have been reported an interest.

Diego Pablo SimeoneDiego Pablo Simeone
Diego Simeone has been Atlético Madrid’s manager for more than eight years | Perez Meca/MB Media/Getty Images

Diego Simeone and his La Liga battlers spent more than £200m last summer – perhaps in an attempt to lose that characterisation – yet still, somehow, made a profit in the transfer market. However, the links between the Rojiblancos and Bernardeschi look tenuous at best.

Simeone’s side religiously stick to their compact, brilliantly drilled 4-4-2, often using players who would be considered central midfielders out wide (for instance, Koke or Saúl Ñíguez). The personnel who may have played wide in a 4-3-3 – as Bernardeschi ideally would – often find themselves deployed through the middle. Which is a role Bernardeschi has already shown signs of struggling within.

Likelihood Rating: 1/10

Suitability Rating: 1/10

Mikel ArtetaMikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta has lost just two of his 15 games in charge of Arsenal prior to the suspension of play | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Bernardeschi would certainly fit within the 4-2-3-1 Mikel Arteta seems to have favoured in his brief time at Arsenal. However, the likelihood of any high-profile player doing anything but leaving the Emirates is slim given the financial standing of the club in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

One of the reasons for Arsenal’s lack of spending power is also the reason why Bernardeschi wouldn’t have a guaranteed spot in the starting XI: Nicolas Pépé.

The Ivorian right-winger may have coughed and spluttered in his debut campaign but the £72m transfer fee has earned him a longer adjustment period and somewhat limits Bernardeschi’s appeal.

Likelihood Rating: 1/10

Suitability Rating: 3/10

Ole Gunnar SolskjaerOle Gunnar Solskjaer
Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Naturally Manchester United have been linked to Bernardeschi – as they are with any footballer to have featured in a single minute of Champions League football.

But the Italian could pose a solution to their lack of depth on the right, if that role exists in their formation of choice. There are a myriad of possibilities for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to choose from in order to get the best of out Paul Pogba and January-recruit Bruno Fernandes. But, if the United boss opts for a 4-3-3, Bernardeschi could neatly slot onto the right-hand tip of the attack as a more senior alternative to Daniel James.

Likelihood Rating: 4/10

Suitability Rating: 5/10

Juventus v AC Milan - Serie AJuventus v AC Milan - Serie A
Bernardeschi (L) would effectively be replacing Suso (R) if he were to join Milan | Chris Ricco/Getty Images

Milan have not been deterred by their failed attempts to secure Bernardeschi’s signature in January, with the Rossoneri’s interest in Juve’s man still keen.

As an inverted, left-footed winger, with a propensity for low-quality but a high-volume of shots, Bernardeschi would be filling the void left by Suso. The Spaniard joined Sevilla on loan in January in a deal which is set to be made permanent if certain criteria are met.

The seven-time European champions have fallen quite a way from those heights, but they have at least made attempts to address the club’s financial instability and enticed club legend Paolo Maldini back to proceedings at San Siro in the last year or so. A move within Italy may suit Bernardeschi and his young family – he became a father in August – and present a chance to revamp his career.

Likelihood Rating: 6/10

Suitability Rating: 7/10

Frank LampardFrank Lampard
James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

As all clubs – and businesses en masse – try to adapt to the restructured financial landscape carved out by the coronavirus pandemic, the fabled swap deal has risen to the surface of the gossip columns. Juventus seem to be at the centre of several proposed arrangements with a reunion for Sarri and Jorginho among them.

Bernardeschi has been touted as a makeweight to facilitate a return to Serie A for Chelsea’s deep-lying midfielder. While Sarri will no doubt be pleased by the suggestions, Chelsea would also benefit from this arrangement.

With Willian and Pedro both just weeks away from the end of their contracts, Bernardeschi would be a capable replacement on either flank. The move to London would also sate his love of the ‘genius’ street artist Banksy by seeing some of his work in the flesh. So, a desirable move for all concerned.

Likelihood Rating: 6/10

Suitability Rating: 8/10

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Gianfranco Zola Admits Chelsea Stars Got ‘Bored’ Under Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri, Gianfranco Zola
Previews – UEFA Europa League Final | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Former Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola has revealed that some of the Blues’ top stars ended up feeling bored by Maurizio Sarri’s training methods.

Sarri’s Chelsea enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2018/19 campaign, and after avoiding defeat in their first 12 games, they were seen as outsiders in the Premier League title race. However, that form did not last, and Chelsea ended up narrowly coming out on top in a battle for a spot in the top four.

Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League FinalChelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final
Chelsea v Arsenal – UEFA Europa League Final | Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Famous 4-0 and 6-0 losses to Bournemouth and Manchester City respectively were prime examples of how the mood at Stamford Bridge had soured, and Zola told beIN Sports’ Keys & Gray Show that Sarri’s repetitive training methods ultimately left the squad struggling for motivation.

“At the beginning the players were very much behind everything that we were saying, they were brilliant,” Zola said.

“They were following everything, but then as the weeks passed due to the repetition and the amount of games they were playing, the players got tired and they also got bored in a way.

“But boring is part of our job. Sometimes you need to get bored but when you get bored you persist in what you’re doing and you get better.

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FBL-EUR-C3-CHELSEA-ARSENAL-FINAL | YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

“They were talented players, like [Eden] Hazard and Willian, players who know how to win games on their own, but they were suffering from the type of exercises and type of training we were doing – but it was necessary for the others.

“I’ll be honest, they were brilliant because they got bored, but they kept doing it throughout and that was the reason why when everyone was dropping we were going up towards the end.”

Not only did player performances drop, but fan support also began to waiver and supporters could be heard voicing their frustration towards Sarri’s tactics during games. Zola added that it eventually became obvious that the current Juventus boss would not see another season as the club.

“When we played away in Cardiff [on 31 March], it was the first time that the supporters turned against us,” Zola explained. “It’s the first time I’ve heard the supporters turning against a coach.

“We were losing 1-0 and it was going very bad, and that’s the moment I felt we were in danger, because the situation wasn’t good at that moment and the supporters were against us.”

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The Best Games of the 2019/20 Premier League Season (So Far)

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PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

With a return date for the Premier League now set at 17 June and English football fans licking their lips at the prospect of some (any!) action within the next month, let’s not forget we were actually pretty deep into a half-decent season before play was suspended in mid-March.

Liverpool may have all but secured their first title of the Premier League era and Norwich may be doomed but aside from that, there is plenty still to play for.

So, before we get stuck back in, let’s travel back a few months and look at the best matches from this 2019/20 season before the break.

Teemu PukkiTeemu Pukki
Norwich City v Manchester City – Premier League | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Norwich 3-2 Man City – 14/9/2019

First up, a shock result from last September. The season was barely in its infancy and defending champions Manchester City had just lost key defender Aymeric Laporte to long-term injury the week before. Delia’s Canaries were lying in wait at Carrow Road and put on a surprise masterclass to stun Pep Guardiola’s side.

Kenny McClean, breakout star Todd Cantwell and the clinical Teemu Pukki fired in three wonderful goals to give the newly promoted side a memorable 3-2 victory.

If this game taught Guardiola anything, it was that a centre-half partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones is not title challenge material…at all.

Pierre-Emerick AubameyangPierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal FC v Aston Villa – Premier League | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa – 22/9/2019

Mid-table Arsenal and relegation-threatened Villa have had pretty disappointing seasons all in all, particularly the former who were found wanting under Unai Emery before he was eventually shown the door in January.

However, this match in September at least got the pulses racing and had a positive outcome for Gunners fans.

The match itself had it all, with a variety of goals, end-to-end action, a late comeback and Ainsley Maitland-Niles kicking ankles (he was sent off).

It seemed like curtains for the 10-man Gunners when Villa went ahead in the second half, but goals from substitute Calum Chambers and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the last ten minutes secured victory from the jaws of defeat.

PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Liverpool 3-1 Man City – 11/10/2019

Seen as an audition for the part of title winner, this was the the game that told the world that Liverpool meant business.

This win over City at Anfield in November put Jurgen Klopp and co eight points clear at the top and, well, it has been pretty plain sailing from then on.

The Reds raced to a 3-0 lead over a City side fielding Claudio Bravo and the since loaned-out Angeliño, with goals from Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Bernardo Silva pulled one back with 15 minutes to go but the night (and season) belonged to Liverpool.

Oli McBurnieOli McBurnie
Sheffield United v Manchester United – Premier League | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Sheffield United 3-3 Manchester United – 24/11/19

Sheffield United have surprised just about everyone in 2019/20. Most people’s early favourites for the drop, Chris Wilder’s gut-busting, overlapping, overachieving Blades have risen to the occasion and not only looked like a side worthy of the Premier League, but like actual European contenders.

While normally a defence-first outfit, the standout game of Sheffield United’s season has to be the thrilling home draw against Manchester United in late November.

After going 2-0 up, the Blades conceded three in the second half and looked down and out before Oli McBurnie swept in a equaliser in the 94th minute to steal a deserved point.

Frank LampardFrank Lampard
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea FC – Premier League | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Tottenham 0-2 Chelsea – 12/22/19

The apprentice got one over on his old master. A perfect December evening for the Blues and a disastrous one for Jose Mourinho and Spurs. Lampard got everything right; the pre-match talk, the mind games and the team set-up.

Wheeling out wing-back specialist Marcos Alonso to wreak havoc on Serge Aurier for 90 minutes was an inspired move and Son Heung-min’s sending off was as timely as it was carefully manufactured.

A brace from current Spurs target Willian was enough and Chelsea were rampant.

Matt DohertyMatt Doherty
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City – Premier League | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Wolves 3-2 Man City – 27/12/19

Wolves are getting pretty good against the top sides and Nuno’s golden boys produced another masterful display at home to City during the Christmas period.

A VAR filled affair, featuring an Ederson red card after ten minutes and a twice taken City penalty was just the start of this thriller.

Wolves were (seemingly) dead and buried after an hour and needed a miracle. Step forward Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez and finally Doherto Carlos (AKA Matt Doherty) to send Molineux into hysteria.

Glenn MurrayGlenn Murray
West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion – Premier League | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

West Ham 3-3 Brighton – 1/2/20

David Moyes’ side were slipping slowly into the relegation dogfight as February dawned and Brighton weren’t having much better luck either, so points were vital in this clash at the London Stadium.

It looked smooth sailing at half time for the Hammers but true to recent form, their defence fell apart at the key moment in the match.

Pascal Groß got one back before Premier League veteran Glen Murray hit the equaliser which, despite calls of handball, was awarded by our friend/foe VAR and the game finished 3-3.

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Pedro: A Wonderful Chelsea Servant Ready to Leave Stamford Bridge With Pride

Pedro celebrates scoring against Everton.
Pedro celebrates scoring against Everton. | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

When a World Cup-winning Spanish winger arrived at Chelsea in August 2015, the excitement was unreal. £21m was seen as an absolute bargain for a player with such credentials: five La Liga titles, three Champions League victories and a World Cup, to name just a few of his honours.

Pedro Rodríguez made the switch from Catalunya to Cobham, leaving the Spanish champions for the English champions in a remarkable piece of business from José Mourinho. He was greeted with open arms in west London – a welcome addition to such a decorated club.

Five years on, it’s clear to see that Pedro has certainly lived up to the initial hype.

A Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League in his time at Chelsea, the Spaniard playing a key role in every single one of those triumphs. Over 200 appearances with 43 goals to his name, numerous big-game goals and priceless moments, all deservedly earning him the recognition as a fantastic servant to the club.

Pedro RodriguezPedro Rodriguez
Chelsea’s Pedro with the Europa League trophy. | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

But for all of his brilliant achievements with the club, his role is changing.

Now 32 years old, Pedro is playing less than ever this year. He played an average of 82.9% of league games in his first four seasons, but has only featured in 31% of Chelsea’s current campaign. Nine league appearances is his lowest tally in 11 years, dating way back to his debut senior season for Barcelona in 2008/09.

It took until March for him to get off the mark in the Premier League, getting a goal and assist in the 4-0 drubbing of Everton. Before that, his only goal for the season had come six months earlier, when he captained the Blues in the Carabao Cup thrashing of Grimsby Town.

These stats show that, with all due respect, Pedro is past his prime at Chelsea.

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Pedro coming on as a substitute for Chelsea. | Clive Mason/Getty Images

He’s had a great career in London, and has been a great player for the club. His goals fantastic, his contributions priceless, and his reputation at Stamford Bridge high, hearing his name chanted in the terraces whenever he takes to the pitch.

But times are beginning to change, starting with the arrival of Frank Lampard. His injection of youth players proves Lampard’s faith and admiration of Chelsea’s youth products, finally sorting out the balance between up and coming youngsters and seasoned veterans in the senior squad.

It’s not to say that Lampard is forcing Pedro out: far from it. Yet, like with fellow winger Willian, who has reached the time to leave Chelsea with a happy ending, the same is the case for Pedro.

His experience has been crucial these last few years, helping younger players like Callum Hudson-Odoi further develop in the early stages of his career. Pedro’s impact is just as important off the pitch, around Cobham where he can use his experience to aid the new wave of youngsters in the first team.

Pedro, Callum Hudson-OdoiPedro, Callum Hudson-Odoi
Pedro (left) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (right). | Visionhaus/Getty Images

With Pedro not even reaching double figures yet for league appearances, his gametime won’t be increasing any time soon.

As well as Hudson-Odoi, there is more and more competition coming from younger talent. Christian Pulisic has just begun his rise to stardom at Stamford Bridge, while Hakim Ziyech’s arrival will need to come at the expense of someone. Mason Mount will also surely be a key part of Chelsea’s attack this decade, wherever he is on the pitch.

When Lampard has younger, fresher options among his ranks, the need for Pedro – and Willian for that matter – gradually decreases. That has already been shown this season, with the Spaniard having to rely on cup competitions as a rotating player for any sign of gametime.

Frank Lampard, Pedro, Izzy BrownFrank Lampard, Pedro, Izzy Brown
Frank Lampard (left) with Pedro (right). | Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Pedro’s contract runs out this summer, and he is yet to sign an extension. Willy Caballero and Olivier Giroud both saw their expiring contracts renewed this month, but there has been no similar luck for the 32-year-old. It is unlikely to be renewed, with the Spaniard even implying that himself.

New youngsters will continue to come through the ranks and into Lampard’s squad, and the more minutes they are getting, the less that are left for players like Pedro. The time has come for him to move on, find a club which will give him regular gametime again before hanging up his boots.

That is important to remember: Pedro is not finished, far from it.

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Pedro celebrates a goal. | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

His time at Chelsea may be coming to a close, but he still has a good few years left in him. He can still play at a decent level, and remains at the stage of his career where he can still be a valuable asset to someone. A return to Spain would be a great option: a club like UD Las Palmas would be ideal, allowing a return to his native Canary Islands.

Pedro still has a lot to offer, just not at Chelsea. However, should he leave Stamford Bridge this summer after five fruitful years, he will leave with the same pride, respect and admiration he arrived with all those years ago.

The time is now for the Spaniard to move on, but he will always be a blue.

For more from Nischal Schwager-Patel, follow him on Twitter here!

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Moussa Dembele: The Contenders to Sign the Lyon Striker and Where He Might End Up

Moussa Dembele
Olympique Lyon v Juventus – UEFA Champions League | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

In a rich and wonderful world of many footballing Dembele’s, the one creating the most column inches of late is Moussa.

No, not Tottenham’s former midfield destroyer, nor the 19-year-old forward who plays in Austria’s third tier, nor is it the midfielder currently plying his trade for Senegalese side AS Pikine.

It’s the fella who plays up front for Lyon. He used to play for Fulham and Celtic. With the beard?

Have you got it? Good.

After impressing in Ligue 1 this season with 16 goals in 27 games, the striker is attracting the interest of some well known clubs. But which of them is he most likely to end up signing for? 90min gazed into our crystal ball to try and find out.

Granit XhakaGranit Xhaka
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC – UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Several things would need to happen before Arsenal contemplated bringing Dembele to the Emirates Stadium in the summer.

The board have already implicitly conceded that any incoming transfers would have to be funded through player sales and, to be honest, the club already boasts impressive strength in depth up front.

For the Frenchman to arrive then, either Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette would have to be sold as this would create money to spend and positions in the starting XI to fill. The perfect storm for a Dembele shaped transfer saga.

The only stumbling block would be convincing the 23-year-old to sacrifice Champions League football as Arsenal seem unlikely to break into the top four before the end of the season.

As stumbling blocks go, this is a biggie. Good thing Mikel Arteta seems like such as dashing, sweet talker then. The Spaniard is going to need to pull out his best schmoozing to broker this deal.

Liklihood Rating: 4/10

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
SS Lazio v FC Internazionale – Serie A | Silvia Lore/Getty Images

One of the reports doing the rounds of late suggested that Lautaro Martinez’s likely departure for Barcelona in the summer would spark a chain reaction of transfers across the continent.

The story goes…Inter’s desire to replace Martinez would lead to them raiding Arsenal for Lacazette, who in turn would plunder Lyon for Dembele. But hey, what if Antonio Conte just skips a step and snaps up Dembele himself?

He doesn’t quite the fit the bill of the sort of signing that Conte has fancied since taking over at Inter – mainly because he’s not a slightly washed up Premier League full-back – but he did enjoy a brief spell in the English top flight which is bound to get the Italian’s heart beating quicker.

It is not outside the realm of possibility that Dembele would be a well suited replacement for Martinez either. Key to Inter’s success during the first half of the season was the partnership the Argentine struck up with Romelu Lukaku.

Though Dembele has largely played as a loan striker during his career so far, he been deployed in a front two on occasion. Lukaku as the link man and the Frenchman as the penalty box prowler is an exciting concept that could take Serie A by storm. Will it happen though? Maybe, maybe not.

Likelihood Rating (If Martinez Stays): 4/10

Likelihood Rating (If Martinez Leaves): 6/10

Frank LampardFrank Lampard
Chelsea FC v Everton FC – Premier League | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Chelsea were desperate to secure Dembele’s signature back in January with their fervorous interest leading Lyon to take the unprecedented step of issuing a public ‘hands-off’ statement – that was almost certainly aimed at the Blues.

It seems Frank Lampard has not been deterred by this setback though with the club continuing to sniff around the striker.

It’s easy to see why Chelsea are so keen on the 24-year-old as well. Though Tammy Abraham has been a revelation this season, the club lacks depth at striker. Olivier Giroud may have performed the U-turn of the century by penning new terms at Stamford Bridge but Michy Batshuayi’s days are surely numbered at the club.

Dembele would be a perfect complement for Abraham. He is equally strong in the air, possess a similar willingness to work hard for the team and is also adept at operating as a lone striker. Like we said before, it’s easy to see will Chelsea are so enamored.

Likelihood Rating: 7/10

Although it has largely worked out okay, Manchester United’s mad deadline day dash to sign Odion Ighalo back in January starkly exposed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s need for offensive reinforcements.

While a deal for Jadon Sancho is quite likely – and quite exciting – United could do with a more conventional forward to relieve some of the pressure from Marcus Rashford and an unproven Mason Greenwood.

This is where Dembele comes in. There’s talk that a €70m (£61.9m) deal has already been agreed between the two clubs and while this seems to be a little bit premature, negotiations are believed to be at an advanced stage.

The Frenchman finishes better than any of the current crop of United forwards and his goal numbers have improved year after year. He also fits the Solskjaer blueprint of being young with a point to prove, making this a very intriguing and likely match.

Likelihood Rating: 8/10

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