Football Features

What happened next? The Juventus stars who left after relegation to Serie B in 2006

By Squawka News

Published: 19:00, 12 July 2023

Juventus certainly had a rocky season off the pitch in 2022/23, being docked 10 points in Serie A for alleged “financial irregularities and false accounting”.

The punishment was handed out by Italy’s football federation following an investigation into Juventus’ past transfers, being accused of fixing their balance sheets by artificial gains – essentially saving the club money in player salaries and transfer budgets. It was initially set at 15 points but removed on appeal and later reduced to 10, still making a difference on their standings.

Instead of finishing in the top four, Juventus dropped down to seventh and just scraped through to the Europa Conference League play-off round, the final European spot in Serie A.

And it wasn’t the first time Juventus have found themselves embroiled in controversy. Less than two months after winning Serie A, Italy’s most successful club Juventus suffered the humiliation of relegation to the second tier in 2006 having been found guilty of match-fixing. It was the scandal that rocked Italian football.

The aftermath of Calciopoli – as the scandal was referred to in Italy – also saw the Old Lady stripped of their 2004/05 and 2005/06 league titles, leaving the disgraced institution of Italian football in complete and utter disarray.

At the time, Juventus possessed one of the best squads in Europe with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Patrick Vieira, Pavel Nedved and Zlatan Ibrahimovic lining up on the field, while Fabio Capello directed them from the dugout.

However, following their relegation, other elite clubs on the continent began circling like vultures around some of Juve’s prized assets, many of whom had won the World Cup with Italy less than a week before relegation was officially confirmed.

Not all of Juventus’ stellar names departed the sinking ship, though, with Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Nedved, Mauro Camoranesi, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet commendably opting to stay with their troubled employers and steer them back to the top-flight.

Somewhat inevitably, though, Juventus had to brace themselves for a number of high-profile departures, as clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and most gallingly, domestic rivals Inter Milan, cherry-picked some of their finest talents that summer.

A host of top stars left but how did they fare at their new clubs?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Joined: Inter

Fee: £21.08m

Was it a success? Yes

Ibrahimovic was regarded as one of the finest young strikers around at the time, despite scoring just seven goals in 35 Serie A appearances the previous campaign, and Inter moved quickly to secure his services amid fierce competition.

It proved to be an inspired move for both parties as Ibrahimovic struck 66 goals in 117 games for the club, helping them win three successive Scudetto titles before moving to Barcelona in 2009. Ibrahimovic went on to conquer Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and won the Europa League and League Cup at Manchester United before leaving for LA Galaxy. Ibrahimovic returned to Italy in January 2020, re-joining AC Milan and scoring 37 goals in 78 appearances before retiring aged 41 this summer.


Joined: Real Madrid

Fee: £13.6m

Was it a success? No

Emerson worked alongside Capello at Roma and Juventus and they linked up again at Real Madrid. However, the pair’s relationship began to sour to the extent that the Brazilian midfielder announced his intention to return to Turin in December.

Eventually, he forced his way back into Los Blancos’ starting XI, helping the side win La Liga, but he was allowed to move back to Italy to join Milan – for less than half the fee they had paid for him – the following summer. Emerson made headlines in 2015, signing for Miami Dade in the United States. He eventually made his debut in May 2017 aged 41 and helped the club win the American Premier Soccer League title unbeaten.

Gianluca Zambrotta

Joined: Barcelona

Fee: £11.9m

Was it a success? No

Barcelona have been one of the most successful clubs in Europe over the last decade but they endured two barren seasons between 2006-08, coinciding with Gianluca Zambrotta’s spell at the club.

Zambrotta’s only medal in Catalunya was a Spanish Super Cup and although he was a regular for the majority of his two campaigns, the 2006 World Cup winner struggled to live up to expectations and moved back to Italy in 2008 to join Milan. He subsequently hung up his boots in 2014 after spending one season with Chiasso, continuing with the club for a further campaign as manager. Another managerial spell in charge of Delhi Dynamos followed in June 2016 and a year later he became assistant to Fabio Capello at Jiangsu Suning.

Patrick Vieira

Joined: Inter

Fee: £8m

Was it a success? No

Joining Ibrahimovic at Inter was the former Arsenal captain Vieira, but he didn’t quite have the same impact in Milan as the Swedish superstar, largely being restricted to a substitute role in his four years with the Nerazzurri.

After slipping further down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho, Vieira decided to re-join his former manager Roberto Mancini at Manchester City and he spent 18 months there before retiring and then taking up management with New York City FC in MLS.

Spells with Nice and Crystal Palace followed, with Vieira now manager of Strasbourg — brought in by the new owners this summer.

Adrian Mutu

Joined: Fiorentina

Fee: £6.8m

Was it a success? Yes

Following his sacking by Chelsea after a failed drugs test, Adrian Mutu joined Juventus as a free agent in January 2005 but he had to wait until May to make his debut as he served the rest of his footballing ban.

Mutu has had a nomadic career in the game, but arguably his happiest and most productive spell came with Fiorentina, who he joined from Juve. The Romanian forward spent four and a half seasons in Florence, making 112 league appearances and scoring 54 goals before retiring in 2016 after playing for ASA Târgu Mureș in his native Romania. Mutu is currently in charge of Azerbaijani side Neftchi Baku, but had a spell in charge of Romania’s U-21 team.

“I think I’m the right person because I know what happens when a player has problems with indiscipline,” he said when taking that job.

“I’ve passed through hard moments and I came back stronger. If one of my players happens to make a mistake I will tell them to learn from it and not to repeat it.

“I came back and I played better than before, proving to everyone that the young players who have made a mistake must be helped, not judged and destroyed.”

Fabio Cannavaro

Joined: Real Madrid

Fee: £5.95m

Was it a success? Yes

Fresh from captaining Italy to their World Cup triumph, Cannavaro embarked on a new challenge abroad for the first time in his career linking up with Capello once again.

The veteran defender’s first two seasons were extremely successful as he lifted two La Liga titles while he was also named in the Fifpro World XI in 2006 and 2007.

However, age finally seemed to catch up with him in his final season as the power in Spanish football firmly shifted from Madrid to Barcelona, culminating in a move back to Juventus.

Cannavaro has since followed in Capello’s footsteps and gone into coaching, first managing United Arab Emirates side Al-Ahli, leading them to league and cup glory in his first season. The Italian then moved to Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande in two separate spells — either side of a stint at Al-Nassr — while also briefly taking charge of the Chinese national team.

He was most recently in charge of Benevento for the 2022/23 season.

Lilian Thuram

Joined: Barcelona

Fee: £4.25m

Was it a success? No

A brilliant defender in his peak, Lilian Thuram was 34 by the time he moved to Barcelona and he struggled to adapt to a different style of play at the Camp Nou in the latter years of his career.

Similarly to Zambrotta, he featured often during his short-lived spell with Blaugrana but at the end of the 2007/08 season, he announced his retirement from the game after being diagnosed with a heart defect.

Manuele Blasi

Joined: Fiorentina

Fee: Loan

Was it a success? Yes

Manuele Blasi wasn’t one of Juventus’ superstars but he was regarded by Capello as a useful squad player to have around, featuring in 13 Serie A games in the 2005-06 campaign.

Blasi may well have started for the club in the second-tier but he instead decided to join Fiorentina on loan where he played a key role in helping the club finish sixth in Serie A before leaving for Napoli permanently in 2007.

Olivier Kapo

Joined: Levante

Fee: Loan

Was it a success? No

Juventus snapped up Olivier Kapo from Auxerre in 2004 but after a difficult first campaign in Italy, he was allowed to join Monaco for the duration of the 2005-06 season.

Despite Juve’s relegation, Kapo was allowed to move on loan again, this time joining Levante in Spain and despite performing reasonably well there, his career afterwards meandered from club to club, including spells at Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic and Celtic.

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