Football Features

An entire Juventus XI made up of their best free transfers this century

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:10, 1 May 2020

Across the world of football there are some undisputed kings of the transfer market.

Juventus are one of those, having developed a handy knack of picking up a bargain when one becomes available, signing key players on free transfers. Last summer alone saw three players joining Juventus on free transfers with Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Gianluigi Buffon all making the move to Turin.

With that in mind, here is an XI made up entirely of players Juventus have signed on a free transfer after 2000. And to think, all of this for zero. Zilch. Nada. Not a penny. All of Europe’s top clubs should aspire to be as thrifty as this.

Goalkeeper: Neto

Signed: 2015

Juventus appearances: 22

When your number one goalkeeper is Gianluigi Buffon, you will not want to spend much on a deputy and that was the case for Juventus in 2015 when they signed Neto on a free transfer.

The Brazilian spent two seasons as the club, playing 22 games in all competitions, keeping 13 clean sheets and helped Juventus to win the Coppa Italia twice before moving to Valencia and then Barcelona.

Buffon himself would be another potential option but the legend’s return hasn’t brought the same impact his initial signing did.

Right-back: Dani Alves

Signed: 2016

Juventus appearances: 33

With his Barcelona contract up, Dani Alves had a host of suitors to choose from and Juventus were the lucky team to be picked.

In his solitary season with the Old Lady, before a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, Alves played 33 times in all competitions.

But he proved effective enough to win Serie A and the Coppa Italia, scoring in the final against Lazio, while also appearing in the club’s run to the Champions League final.

Centre-back: Fabio Cannavaro

Signed: 2009

Juventus appearances: 127 (two spells)

After his three-year contract at Real Madrid ran out, Fabio Cannavaro returned to Juventus on a free transfer.

Spending a year at the club between 2009 and 2010, the Ballon d’Or and World Cup-winning captain played 33 times in all competitions, forming a partnership with Giorgio Chiellini in the heart of defence — though Juventus would struggle to seventh in Serie A.

Centre-back: Robert Kovac

Signed: 2005

Juventus appearances: 39

Long-time assistant manager to his brother Niko, Robert Kovac spent two seasons in Turin having left the club (Bayern Munich) he and his brother would later go on to manage for just over a year.

Robert joined Juventus in 2005 and was part of the side that had won Serie A in his first season but had it stripped from them following the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal and were subsequently relegated.

But Kovac spent one more season with the club as they won Serie B, before moving to Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer.

Left-back: Olof Mellberg

Signed: 2008

Juventus appearances: 38

A potential member of ‘X players you forgot played for Juventus’, Olof Mellberg enjoyed a good time in Turin following his move from Aston Villa.

Playing 38 times in all competitions, the Swede — who played at centre-back but did appear at left-back during his career — provided stability as the Old Lady looked to rebuild their legacy in Italian football following a tough period.

Central midfielder: Emre Can

Signed: 2018

Juventus appearances: 45

Emre Can proved himself to be a useful utility man at Liverpool, playing in both defence and midfield for the Premier League outfit.

The German international was unfortunately unable to make a sizeable impact in Italy due to injury problem, and was loaned to Borussia Dortmund in the 2020 January transfer window, with an option to buy.

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Central midfielder: Andrea Pirlo

Signed: 2011

Juventus appearances: 164

In what may go down as one of, if not the, best free transfer in the history of Italian football, Andrea Pirlo joined Juventus from AC Milan in 2011.

The midfield general would find himself moulded by Antonio Conte into a quarterback-style role, which prolonged his career and effectiveness at the top level.

Before leaving in 2015, Pirlo would win four Scudetti and one Italian Cup.

Central midfielder: Sami Khedira

Signed: 2015

Juventus appearances: 144

With his contract at Real Madrid up, Sami Khedira joined Juventus in 2015 to provide an adequate replacement for the departing Arturo Vidal and Pirlo.

The 33-year-old is still a key part of Juventus’ midfield and, despite suffering from injury problems, the German looks like he has another few years left as a regular for the Turin club.

Attacking midfielder: Aaron Ramsey

Signed: 2019

Juventus appearances: 24

A recent free signing, Arsenal fans were upset to see Aaron Ramsey leaving the club, having agreed a pre-deal with Juventus in early 2019.

The Welshman has been made to work for his Juventus space so far with Maurizio Sarri having a wealth of options in midfield, combined with some injury problems, but when he has been on the pitch things have worked.

Attacking midfielder: Paul Pogba

Signed: 2012

Juventus appearances: 178

When Manchester United let Paul Pogba leave for Juventus on a free transfer (Juventus did pay £800,000 as a tribunal for a young player and academy product), not many people batted an eyelid.

But in his four-year spell in Turin, the Frenchman made his name as one of the best midfielders in Europe, commanding a then world-record fee of £92m upon his return to Old Trafford in 2016.

Pogba scored 34 goals and recorded 43 assists in his time at Juventus, winning four consecutive Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia.

Striker: Fernando Llorente

Signed: 2013

Juventus appearances: 92

With his deal at Athletic Bilbao running out at the end of the 2012/13 season, Fernando Llorente signed a pre-contract with Juventus for a free transfer in the summer.

The Spaniard spent just two full seasons with the club, playing 92 times in total and scoring 27 goals, winning two Serie A titles and one Coppa Italia before leaving for Sevilla in 2015.

He also had a stint in the Premier League before returning to Serie A with Napoli.