When Paulo Dybala signed for Juventus in the summer of 2015, he was promptly handed the No. 21 shirt that had been made famous by Andrea Pirlo. The Juventus legend had just left Turin for an MLS swansong, and there was no doubt that Dybala was stepping into some big shoes.
Dybala was also considered a replacement for his compatriot Carlos Tevez, who had left Juventus that same summer after starring for the Italian champions for two years. The pressure was on the young Dybala’s shoulders, but the Argentine showed he was up to the task. In his debut season for Juventus, he scored or assisted a goal at a rate quicker than another Juve legend, Alessandro del Piero, had in his debut season.
Fast forward one year, and the 23-year-old has become one of the best attacking players in Italy. His scoring rate for the Turin side is phenomenal, at nearly one every other game, but his value goes beyond his goalscoring prowess. As the stats show, he’s currently Serie A’s best at unlocking a defence with a through ball.
Dybala’s presence has allowed another Argentine, Gonzalo Higuain, to do what he does best and score goals. With Paul Pogba gone, Dybala has stepped up and taken the responsibility of being Juventus’ premier attacking force, and the Old Lady has appreciated his presence as her dominance of Italy continues.
“They’ve abandoned their history” is a phrase I’ve heard more than once over the past few days. Whether on social media or in the bars and pizzerias of Turin, Juventus’ decision to move away from their traditional club badge has been met with a mixture of incredulity, anger and comedy. Subjected to a level of viral meme use only rivalled by the “Crying Jordan,” the new Bianconeri logo has been dissected, critiqued and analysed even more than the team’s comprehensive defeat to Fiorentina or the Supercoppa Italiana loss to AC Milan.
It is easy to understand why. As a life-long supporter of the club, I can understand and share the concerns raised by many fellow fans. Juventus have dropped the oval shield with black and white stripes that has always been so synonymous with their identity, even leaving behind the bull that symbolises their home city of Turin.
However, those sat bemoaning this switch over their morning macchiato are missing what is actually happening here. “This new logo is a symbol of the Juventus way of living,” club President Andrea Agnelli told guests at the Milan event where it was unveiled. “We spent a year trying to find out what the new markets want, but also to show a sense of belonging and looking to the future.”
Rather than a cluttered crest like many of their peers, Juventus have instead chosen a symbol like any other multi-million dollar company would. Commandeering a single letter of the alphabet just like Apple have with their use of iPhone and iPad, the Old Lady has done what any modern and forward-thinking business should.
The counter argument of course is history – or lack there of – but this again misses what this club has always represented. Formed in 1897, it took just six years before Juve switched from their original pink shirts to the bold black and white stripes they now wear with such pride, while they have also moved home countless times. Four different stadia in Turin were used for home games before the 2011 opening of Juventus Stadium that was the first ultra-modern ground built on the peninsula.
Like this new badge – the eleventh time it has been altered – it has come years before the club’s Serie A rivals were ready to follow suit but is merely another example of Juventus being ahead of the curve. Quoting the former General Electric CEO, Angel said the Bianconeri were committed to Jack Welch’s philosophy of “changing before you have to.”
It is something they have long adhered to and something that has already been seen in other sports. The Los Angeles Clippers did away with their dated logo and made the “C” their featured badge because so few people actually knew what a “Clipper” was, while teams like the New York Yankees are identified by letters not cluttered designs of their name.
Football does not move as quickly as those North American sports, but it is into that marketplace and with the huge rewards on offer in China, where Juventus are now aiming, the club has the advantage of not being named after the city in which they play. The latin word for “youth,” Juventus has never been a place but instead is an idea, one born by students of the Massimo D’Azeglio Lyceum school.
Sitting on a bench now housed in the J-Museum, they formed the club as somewhere to enjoy their passion for sport and that tradition continues now 120 years later. J-Medical is the incredible new facility that caters for the physical testing of players, while the J-Village project that will house a new training ground is currently under construction.
Juventus have always made bold moves long before others contemplated them, the history of La Madama littered with changes that other clubs simply would not undertake. Yet as anyone who visits the current stadium – complete with a “Walk of Fame” honouring 50 former players – can attest, this is a club who cherishes its long and successful past more than most. Indeed, as long ago as 1941 the Bianconeri wore a kit bearing the letter J as a badge, so this new logo could even be construed as a modern take on a crest from decades past.
For the past six seasons the team has been ahead of the competition, and that is most likely the case here too despite vociferous social media protests from fans who would prefer to see the current badge remain in place. Whatever your thoughts on whether it represents a bold new dawn or the abandonment of traditional football values, the history of Juventus tells us that they tend to judge these things perfectly.
Mock the idea if you wish, but J-ust remember the Old Lady is often the one who has the last laugh.
It’s safe to say Mohamed Salah has enjoyed his time in Serie A since making the move to Roma from Chelsea.
The Egypt international has been a revelation since joining Roma and won the club’s Player of the Year award in his first season.
And it is easy to see why.
Whether scoring goals or creating chances, Salah has been at the heart of Roma’s attack since his arrival.
As you can see from the stats from our friends at WhoScored.com below, Salah’s record in Serie A since the start of last season has been incredible.
Mohamed Salah: Only Marek Hamsik (134) has created more chances from open play in Serie A since the start of last season than Salah (108) pic.twitter.com/s8Yz95am14— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 9, 2017
As WhoScored note, Salah’s 108 chances created for his team-mates is the second highest in Serie A.
Only Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik has more with 134, both players boasting quite incredible returns during this period.