The Demiral question: Can Juventus afford to let the defender go?


Merih Demiral’s signature was met with positivity from many Juventus fans. The Turk arrived from Sassuolo for a fee of €18million beating the likes of Spanish giants Atlético Madrid.

But after Demiral had signed for Juventus, reports linked to AC Milan. The Rossoneri seemed keen to sign a defender and held talks but Juve refused to sell, as Milan signed Leo Duarte from Flamengo instead.

Fresh reports linked Manchester United with a move for the player, as the January transfer window approaches. So far this season, Demiral has played only once. He started in Juve’s 2-1 win over Hellas Verona but has not appeared for the club since then.

Giorgio Chiellini has been ruled out for a large chunk of the season, allowing Matthijs de Ligt to step in. Daniele Rugani, who was linked with a move to Roma and Arsenal, has also started two games.

Demiral, 21, finds himself in a situation that he probably doesn’t deserve. The defender is a regular for the Turkish national team and came to Turin at the back of an impressive half-season with the Neroverdi.

He had joined Sassuolo on a loan deal with an obligation to buy from Alanyaspor. He played 14 times in the Serie A for Roberto de Zerbi’s men last season, also scoring twice.

During his short-lived time at the Mapei Stadium, he was one of the club’s best players. He won 1.7 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game too. Demiral had the second-best tackles tally at the club and boasted of being the best interceptor at the club too.

He also made as many as 5.6 clearances in the game – the highest at the club, winning as many as 3.9 aerial duels too. That was 1.9 attempts more than Gian Marco Ferrari, who was at second averaging two aerial duels per game.

Those numbers are meant to be high considering the Turk played fewer games than the others, but the fact that clubs were looking at Demiral shows how highly rated he is.

Sassuolo director Giovanni Carnevalli confirmed that Demiral was courted by a number of clubs before he was sold to Juve. He told Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia):

“Demiral was not just scouted by Juventus, as many clubs came to watch him.We do have a very good rapport with Juventus and will evaluate the situation. We only signed him in January, so we are very proud of our scouting network and the way Roberto De Zerbi got the best out of him.”

The fact that clubs haven’t stopped their chase for him is a testimony to his abilities too. Juve should know that they have a gem on their hand.

Sarri knows Rugani from their days together at Empoli, but the Italian has been subject to criticism since last season. For that reason, Juve seemed keen on letting him go in the summer.

If Sarri’s insistence does see him play Rugani more than Demiral, the Turk shouldn’t be sold but rather loaned out. Just as the Bianconeri have done with Cristian Romero, Demiral would gain important minutes football at a Serie A club and could come back as an even better player.

Ultimately this means Juventus won’t lose him permanently. That is how it is meant to be.