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Time to move: 25 y/o defender needs to leave Juventus soon

Daniele Rugani’s career at Juventus has been on the decline for a while now. While testing positive for the pandemic is a blow for anyone and that includes Rugani, but the manner in which his career has been stalling hasn’t been a pretty sight at all. This season has been a confirmation.

This season, the Italian has made only three Serie A appearances under Maurizio Sarri. He’s played only 180 minutes of the UEFA Champions League, with those appearances coming against Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow. Without Rugani, Juventus find themselves in a real battle for the Serie A title when the competition resumes – and the analysts at 7meter sports betting are pricing them as second-favourites behind Lazio.

Him playing less isn’t a surprise. But what is a bigger surprise is that he’s playing less under Sarri- the man who played a key role in his development at Empoli. When Sarri was in charge of the Azzurri from 2012 to 2015, Rugani had a two-year spell at Empoli from 2013 to 2015.

The Italian had joined the then Serie B club from Juve themselves and by that time was one of the best young centre-backs in Italy. In his first campaign at the club, he played a role in guiding Sarri’s side to promotion to Serie A. The 2014-15 campaign saw him play 38 games in Serie A and while Sarri headed off to Napoli, Rugani had done enough to be resigned by Juve themselves.

Rugani was seen as a ‘project’. The club had the trio of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini going strong, winning titles and reaching the final of the Champions League in 2015 was proof. Rugani was someone who could play back-up and in the long-term, was to be moulded into the torch-bearer of the defence.

The first two seasons saw Rugani make only 32 league appearances combined. That was always going to happen, considering Bonucci only left Juve for Milan in the summer of 2017. That was to open up an opportunity for Rugani and it seemed as though things were finally going to come on track.

And Rugani did make 22 Serie A appearances that season- more than the last two campaigns. Medhi Benatia was still at the club and if not for Rugani, the Morrocan would play beside Chiellini due to Barzagli’s injury issues. But Rugani was in a much better place and playing more for a 22-year-old.

But Juve made a drastic U-turn in bringing Bonucci back in the summer of 2018. There was intense talk of Chelsea going all out for Rugani, as Sarri had taken charge at Stamford Bridge. A bid was made by the Blues. There was a feeling that the move will be done. But Juve made another U-turn.

In the deal to bring Bonucci back, they loaned Gonzalo Higuain out and let go of another younger CB in Mattia Caldara. Only one of Rugani or Caldara were to leave. This move led to Rugani staying and playing back-up once again.

Last season saw the Italian make only 15 appearances for the club. His performances in the Champions League against Ajax in Chiellini’s absence took a lot of stick. While he did deserve it, things could have been very different.

Rugani was close to a move to Roma this past summer. The club had lost Kostas Manolas to Napoli and needed a reliable central defender. But the move didn’t happen. As Roma first signed Gianluca Mancini and signed Chris Smalling on loan from Manchester United.

Rugani’s situation at Juve is quite the same. He’s now 25 and not playing enough. The signings of Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral this summer haven’t done him much good. Juve’s transfer policy has been more about generating profits over the years. But they couldn’t let Rugani go, as their efforts to sell multiple players let them down in the summer.

Things could have been so different today. At 25, he is in desperate need for regular football. Demiral might be injured, but he’s shown a lot to stake claim for a starting spot when he returns. De Ligt did have a slow start but he’s now back playing close to his best.

Those two could be Juve’s long-term centre-back options. Rugani can’t even be a long-term option. He can still play for a big club, considering Arsenal were also after him in the summer. Rugani now needs to fancy his chances and seek a move soon.