Obviously, I am not referring to his presence, gravitas, influence or even technique as a living legend of Juve and the game beyond. I mean who will we sign as our next number two, to Tek? The question I have given little thought to as we are all so focused on Locatelli and Ronaldo and Morata and even Bernardeschi before talk is to be found of finding a new back-up brave soul between the sticks. At least it is now that the Donnarumma saga is finished with.
The position can seem close to redundant for much, sometimes all of a season. We smile when we see them cheer the lads on from the sidelines, head up to the podium to a raucous embrace. And yet, their position can prove of pivotal importance IF called into the breach. They have to be prepared, with often barely any competitive action under their belts for many moons, to become the last line of defence between points won or lost. Perhaps championships won or lost, even a champions league final won or lost.
My own choice would be Audero. Who spent a decade in our youth sector before we sold him to Samp for a tidy profit. The indonesian italian has always had that mad, fierce look in his eyes and I have gleefully followed his progress which has proven solid. Commanding in the box, superb reflexes, berserker brave, strong and confident in the air with high level communication to his back four. Now 24, Emil no doubt still has more room to grow. And it would take a fee we cannot find if demanded in hard cash, to bring him home.
The other potential advantages beyond his development into one of the finest young keepers in the country are that he will tick the box for home grown requirements and due to his same history with the club, would no doubt be interested in playing second fiddle to return home with the path open towards some day becoming our number one. Which was likely a dream for him that has not fully dissolved.
Unfortunately, yet also understandably – given our financial situation – the club may well be looking at another old boy, Antonio Mirante, now 37. Who also has a history with Juve and I believe would tick similar boxes for home grown requirements. He would also be far cheaper an option. The veteran is comfortable in Rome, proving an able deputy and he may well still be considered good enough for the role at Juve, albeit a stopgap measure. Curiously, he is another like Audero who took the loan to Samp then full move route.
Sirigu is another evergreen shot stopper apparently under consideration, though at 34 he remains at the peak of his slowly fading powers and is a mainstay for cross town rivals Torino. With Urbano Cairo unlikely to allow him to move on the cheap let alone for free and the player himself eager for first XI action.
Perin must be mentioned, a player I would very much like to see return and be given the chance to seriously contest the number one spot, but his heart and head seem set on a permanent departure. Juve seeking around 10m for his sale.
There is also Cragno, who has been performing splendidly for Cagliari, yet with a lengthy contract he would not come cheap, and similar money might well bring back Audero.
Finally there is David Ospina, the colombian at Napoli, who is rumoured to be far from close to Spalletti’s thinking, with few offers on the table elsewhere. However, he is another who would expect the chance to fight for the starting role. Although has history as a number two in recent years.
The finest choice from perspectives of succession planning, home grown eligibility, connection to the club and talent…is by far Emil Audero. Though we must and will focus first and foremost on spending our money and trading our players on key positions in the starting XI, it may be the right time to bring in a number two prepared to play the reserve role, stepping in for coppa ties and other games against weaker opponents to groom him to realise his dream.
Realistically, only a chunk of cash and/or player exchanges will be enough to prise the fierce Emil from Samp, but there would also be with that move, the potential to tap into the growing Indonesian market of fans…Not quite Ronaldo impact, but there are a lot of Juve tifosi in that region to be tapped and brought into the fold.
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