Juventus makes a difficult and correct decision by changing Mattia Caldara for Leonardo Bonucci



The hot shots sizzle like hot cakes in a Waffle House, all in reaction to the anticipated movement of Leonardo Bonucci to Juventus in exchange for Mattia Caldara and a loan purchase from Gonzalo Higuain. Some fans of Juventus say that the move is "stupid", some fans of Juventus are calling the former center Bianconeri a "snake" for pressing to return to Turin, and some fans of Juventus will claim this change Beppe Marotta . be "the beginning of the end".

The stupid and inaccurate truth about this change is that both are risky and tactically intelligent; It is difficult and precarious. The wisdom in the movement goes beyond financial need, and surely that element plays a vital role, despite our ignorance of individuals; the movement even goes beyond the superior experience of Bonucci in Caldara, beyond the mantra of "win now" in the wake of the early days of the Cristiano Ronaldo era.

This is the correct movement, although difficult and risky, because Juventus does not need another defender; They need a pin.

Juventus' struggles against the press last year were pretty well documented and certainly seemingly against the best teams, and useless like the preseason games it has been astonishing to see Bayern Munich Lite and Benfica almost at will. . Juve also played without their best players, but the holders of both friendly matches were mostly first team players.

Caldara may be a better defender than Bonucci, but Bonucci is an exponentially better passer. This, to me, is Marotta's most skillful sleight of hand. If this exchange were a similar move, it would be frustrating. But the fact that both players are labeled "central" belies the fact that, in reality, they offer completely different skill sets.

Just last year, Bonucci averaged almost 17 more passes per game than Caldara, and a better percentage start. The number of passes, of course, is not any kind of indicator alone. Where Leo's skills – which, surely, we can all agree, missed each other last year – really shine in their key passes and long balls per game. The previous stat draws Caldara out of the water: last season, when Bonucci was theoretically not at his best, he averaged four times the number of key passes per game (0.4 to 0.1). In the last category, long balls per game, Bonucci doubles Caldara 7.7 to 3.8.

From my point of view, Miralem Pjanic factors here. Against the high-pressure teams a year ago, the midfielder of Juve's jewel seemed to be often stranded, left in front of the center with only Giorgio Chiellini and Medhi Benatia as points of sale. I think adding Bonucci will do wonders with Pjanic's freedom in midfield. None of this is to mention that the players to whom Bonucci will send balls will also be exponentially better. Bonucci to Ronaldo over the defenses. . . Yes please.

But let's not dwell on passages that are not contextualized. Below is a comparison chart of Bonucci and Caldara, courtesy of Understat.com, which not only shows how clearly different players are in possession – Caldara the striker, Bonucci the complete dealer – but shows, most importantly, the superiority Exponential Bonucci deals in successful accumulation games.


The two statistics I see the most are xGChain90 – "total xG of all the possessions the player is involved in every 90 minutes" – and KP90 – "the passes lead shot for 90 minutes. " During the last two seasons from which these statistics were derived (I wanted a larger sample size, more to represent Bonucci in Juventus and a season in which Caldara was in non-wounded), Bonucci was a significantly more important player for the formation of his team that Caldara. Even taking into account the tactical differences between AC Milan and Atalanta, this has always been part of Leo's game.

Bonucci more than doubled Caldara's mark in the expected goals in which the players were involved in possession, and more than tripled Caldara in passes that resulted in shots. I do not know if I can exaggerate how important this year will be, as the teams look for different ways to exploit Juventus.

I do not want to pretend that it does not stink to lose Caldara. I know it's not the most fascinating version or whatever, but I do not think this movement is either the end of the world or the most intelligent in the world. Bonucci is, in my opinion, an objectively better fit in terms of tactics. But it is also a great pity to separate from a young center that could have the guts and the ability to be the best Italian center of its generation.

There is no way around this. There is no way to avoid the fact that giving Caldara to a team with Alessio Romagnoli really hurts. The boy scored seven goals just two seasons ago, for God's sake. He is talented as hell, balanced, resilient and experienced.

I think it's worth reflecting, however, if the fans would feel different about Caldara leaving simply if he were not Italian, because there seems to be a fair amount of fetishization of the Italian and of being Juventino, and not I'm sure it matters so much.

One would expect Marotta to roundly reject all offers for Daniele Rugani, at least to retain a center talisman (not to mention a younger player for the depth chart), but you never know these days. I imagine that the fund is really falling for many fans.

Finally, the idea that younger players will not want to go to Juventus, because Juventus hurt Caldara's feelings or something, or because Max Allegri does not present them very often, is something that I can not really buy . If Juventus is winning, young players will come. If Juventus is acquiring players like Ronaldo, playing with players like Paulo Dybala and raising trophies, the players will come. Only in recent weeks has the club secured signatures of young star players Pablo Moreno, a youth product of Barcelona, ​​and Christian Makoun, who, if you have confidence in the sources, was attracting a great interest from Real Madrid ( and Arsenal, if that means anything).

I can not help feeling that this is just a difficult move, whether or not it succeeds for one or both clubs. It's complicated. It is tense. The probability that it ends up being a very good exchange for both teams seems relatively high for me: Bonucci is clearly the best candidate for the current team of Juventus, Milan acquires a central match in the immediate future, and Juventus can find enough money freedom to secure a promising center elsewhere in the next two seasons, especially when Andrea Barzagli retires in 2021.


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