Analysing Juventus' wage bill

Posted by Mina Rzouki

With no domestic football being played and 'ItalJuve' in action in the World Cup qualifiers, the Italian media are instead focusing on facts and figures. La Gazzetta dello Sport have published Serie A players' salary league with Juventus ranking in second place in terms of the overall amount they pay in wages.

Whilst Milan pay €120m a year to their players, Juventus, who sit at the top of the current Serie A table, pay €115m - a slight increase from last season but one that hasn't rocked the boat.

It comes as no surprise that the two world class players Juventus do possess in Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo are the highest paid with the former receiving €6m a season as the latter €3.5m. No one would begrudge Pirlo his salary considering how dependent Juve and Italy are on the playmaker's skills but the €6m being paid to Buffon, whilst fully deserved, seems almost a waste.

The reason being that Juventus, due to the strength of their midfield and defence, conceded the least amount of shots than any other side last season, meaning their goalkeeper is hardly ever called upon to rescue the squad. They are also one of the best tackling sides in Italy thanks to the skills of a certain Arturo Vidal to leave the defence with minimal work.

However, the few times that the Bianconeri have called upon their World Cup winning goalkeeper, Buffon has been on hand to perform the miracles needed to preserve the points accrued.

Perhaps the greatest bargain in terms of salary is that of new signing Kwadwo Asamoah who arrived from Udinese this summer. The player is not only the second highest rated Serie A player this season according to whoscored.com but the Ghanaian has been Juve's best tackler, alongside Arturo Vidal, their best dribbler and the man who has won the most amount of aerial duels so far this season - more than any other play at Juventus.

Making €1.4m a year, he alongside the other summer recruit, Sebastian Giovinco, have carried Juve along at the start of this new season as the rest of the squad focuses on rediscovering their optimal levels of fitness.

In their first match of the season against Parma, Asamoah was the Old Lady's best player as he tackled to perfection, cleared effectively, dribbled with ease and delivered an assist to help guide his team to a win.

In the second match against Udinese, it was Giovinco's pleasing movements and two goals in addition to Asamoah's tackles and assist that allowed the team to pick up another three points. Their combined salary comes to €2.8m a season. A bargain when you consider that that equates to €200,000 less than Vincenzo Iaquinta's annual salary which stands at €3m a term.

This brings us nicely to other overpaid players. Another new summer recruit, Lucio arrived on a free transfer and in order to lure him in, Beppe Marotta et al offered him €2m a season. His name alone is worth much more considering how effective the player has been for his previous club, Inter, and how much he has won in his career.

However, considering his age and his performances in the black and white jersey so far, including pre-season friendlies, one cannot help but wonder how he is allowed to walk away with making €300,000 more than fellow centre-back Leonardo Bonucci and right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner - two defenders who not only defend with vigour but who contribute so much to the attacking phase of the game considering Bonucci's ball playing and long ball skills and Lichtsteiner's focus and strength on the wing.

However, based on statistics alone, Lucio had a tremendous season at Inter last year even if the club's woeful defensive record concealed his solid displays. As such, it is unwise to blame Juve's decision to pay him such a salary.

Moving on to Emanuele Giaccherini, one cannot help but feel that the Bianconero makes a tad too little considering he is an Azzurri player and the man Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli continues to believe in. Making only €600,000 a season, the player is not exactly setting Juve alight but he deserves more than to make €100,000 less than Simone Padoin, who has yet to make an impact. Only Mirko Vucinic and Pirlo produced more key passes than the former Cesena player last season for Juve and the player's determination and energy proved key in the matches he did play in.

Whilst the Old Lady's salary structure produced few surprises, it was interesting to note that the team's new stadium continues to attract season ticket holders as the club registered a 12% increase in new subscribers despite the increased cost of these tickets. That percentage could have risen further still but the club have decided to keep a certain portion of tickets aside to be sold to the general public. Further proof that Juve continue to lead the way when it comes to their business model.

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