Juventus have begun to enjoy such dominance in Italy that their position at the top of the Serie A table seems unshakable. Four consecutive league titles culminated in their 2014/15 domestic double, the Bianconeri achieving the feat for only the second time in the club’s history whilst also reaching the Champions League final after a twelve-year absence.
Even the loss of Coach Antonio Conte failed to slow down Italian football’s grand Old Lady, with Max Allegri managing to somehow improve upon the accomplishments of his predecessor in his debut campaign in Turin. The club seems set to be tested once again this summer, with the departures of Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez robbing them of two pillars of this all-conquering side, and yet few would bet against them once again emerging triumphant next season.
The team is undoubtedly built upon its incredible defensive strength, with Gigi Buffon joining Conte, Pirlo and Tevez in perhaps being the most recognisable faces of this sustained period of success. Claudio Marchisio is the hometown hero enjoying helping La Madama to write new chapters in her long and prestigious history, while Paul Pogba has emerged as one of Europe’s most in-demand stars, seemingly set to break the world transfer record whenever he decides his time in the black and white stripes is over.
Yet for all the quality of those supremely gifted men, there is little doubt that it is Arturo Vidal who most embodies everything that makes this Juventus the team it is today. The Chilean midfielder arrived from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2011, part of a complete overhaul of the squad as the club moved to a brand new stadium. Both team and player never looked back, his development into the continent’s premier box-to-box midfielder coinciding with the club’s return to prominence.
Over the three years that Conte sat on the bench, Vidal was the team’s leading scorer, his ability to break forward and contribute to the attack masking the lack of a quality striker, while never neglecting his duties at the other end of the pitch. Indeed, he has led all Serie A players in tackles made since moving to the peninsula, testament to the effort he puts forth each time he takes to the field. A snarling physical presence, he also possesses supreme quality in every facet of the game, making him a beloved team-mate and a fearsome opponent capable of destroying a defence or crushing an attack with equal aplomb.
“I could stay in Turin for my whole life, for my family and for the people who love me. Of course, Juve are also one of the best teams in the world. It’s really difficult to change club when you’re this happy.” – Arturo Vidal
Last summer’s upheaval saw him linked with Manchester United however, a move which ultimately collapsed due to a mixture of concerns over a knee injury and the player’s desire to remain with Juventus. After a persistent problem failed to ease, Vidal underwent surgery just five weeks before the World Cup, rushing back to play in the Europa League Semi-Final which ultimately saw the Bianconeri lose to Benfica. "I would do it all again," he told La Gazzetta dello Sportrecently. "I risked hurting myself beyond repair by trying to get back so soon, but it was a decision I made for the love of Juventus.”
He subsequently played well for Chile in Brazil, helping them reach the Last 16 where the hosts eliminated them in a tense penalty shootout. Vidal then returned to Turin but struggled throughout the winter, the lack of rest – and recurring pain in his knee – repeatedly affected his ability to deliver the tenacious performances supporters were used to seeing from the 28-year-old. He would eventually rediscover his best form at the perfect time however, playing a crucial role as Juventus made their way to the Champions League Final in Berlin.
Vidal has done just the same at this summer’s Copa America, putting the shame of his arrest for a drink-driving offence behind him and pushing La Roja to within 90 minutes of glory on home soil. Four-time runners-up in the competition, they will hope to finally win their first international trophy at Santiago’s Estadio Nacional on Saturday.
After that he will return to Juventus, a club he has credited with making him the player so widely coveted by others, with reports this week making Arsenal the latest team to be interested in bringing him to England. It is a link that makes little sense for the Italian giants, particularly not at the fee of around £21 million which has been mentioned, a figure almost half that discussed twelve months ago when Old Trafford was his rumoured destination.
While his quality cannot be doubted, it is a move which also makes little sense for the North London club, who are surely in need of a more defensive midfielder than Vidal. He may be a significant upgrade on the players in his current role, but would do little to cover the glaring weakness in Arsene Wenger’s side. Repeatedly discussing how much he feels at home in Turin, Vidal also spoke of how he feels the city is “very Latin, similar to in Chile,” in an interview with 24 Horas.
“Serie A was my university. I’ve made the leap here,” Vidal added, “I’ve matured and I don’t feel the need to go anywhere else.”
He certainly doesn’t.
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