Three years ago Federico Bernardeschi’s stock was as high as his fringe was long.
In the summer of 2017 the then 23-year-old had just become the youngest player to ever hit double figures for Serie A goals, he opened his account for the Italian national team and secured a £36m move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
However, Bernardeschi’s career hasn’t quite followed that same upward trajectory and, much like his hair, his time with Juventus is looking increasingly short.
The Tuscan-born left-footer had that breakout season on Fiorentina’s flanks and in his first two campaigns with Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve, he endured a stop-start period trying to secure a place on the right-wing.
However, this year the incoming Maurizio Sarri has almost exclusively played him behind two forwards in the number ten position. Bernardeschi appears uncomfortable and almost clumsy in this role and is yet to register a single Serie A goal or assist in 2019/20.
Still only 26 years of age, there remains plenty of time for Bernardeschi to realise more of his potential. Although, it increasingly looks as though that development will continue outside of Turin, with a host of Premier League clubs among those to have been reported an interest.
Diego Simeone and his La Liga battlers spent more than £200m last summer – perhaps in an attempt to lose that characterisation – yet still, somehow, made a profit in the transfer market. However, the links between the Rojiblancos and Bernardeschi look tenuous at best.
Simeone’s side religiously stick to their compact, brilliantly drilled 4-4-2, often using players who would be considered central midfielders out wide (for instance, Koke or Saúl Ñíguez). The personnel who may have played wide in a 4-3-3 – as Bernardeschi ideally would – often find themselves deployed through the middle. Which is a role Bernardeschi has already shown signs of struggling within.
Likelihood Rating: 1/10
Suitability Rating: 1/10
Bernardeschi would certainly fit within the 4-2-3-1 Mikel Arteta seems to have favoured in his brief time at Arsenal. However, the likelihood of any high-profile player doing anything but leaving the Emirates is slim given the financial standing of the club in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
One of the reasons for Arsenal’s lack of spending power is also the reason why Bernardeschi wouldn’t have a guaranteed spot in the starting XI: Nicolas Pépé.
The Ivorian right-winger may have coughed and spluttered in his debut campaign but the £72m transfer fee has earned him a longer adjustment period and somewhat limits Bernardeschi’s appeal.
Likelihood Rating: 1/10
Suitability Rating: 3/10
Naturally Manchester United have been linked to Bernardeschi – as they are with any footballer to have featured in a single minute of Champions League football.
But the Italian could pose a solution to their lack of depth on the right, if that role exists in their formation of choice. There are a myriad of possibilities for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to choose from in order to get the best of out Paul Pogba and January-recruit Bruno Fernandes. But, if the United boss opts for a 4-3-3, Bernardeschi could neatly slot onto the right-hand tip of the attack as a more senior alternative to Daniel James.
Likelihood Rating: 4/10
Suitability Rating: 5/10
Milan have not been deterred by their failed attempts to secure Bernardeschi’s signature in January, with the Rossoneri’s interest in Juve’s man still keen.
As an inverted, left-footed winger, with a propensity for low-quality but a high-volume of shots, Bernardeschi would be filling the void left by Suso. The Spaniard joined Sevilla on loan in January in a deal which is set to be made permanent if certain criteria are met.
The seven-time European champions have fallen quite a way from those heights, but they have at least made attempts to address the club’s financial instability and enticed club legend Paolo Maldini back to proceedings at San Siro in the last year or so. A move within Italy may suit Bernardeschi and his young family – he became a father in August – and present a chance to revamp his career.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
Suitability Rating: 7/10
As all clubs – and businesses en masse – try to adapt to the restructured financial landscape carved out by the coronavirus pandemic, the fabled swap deal has risen to the surface of the gossip columns. Juventus seem to be at the centre of several proposed arrangements with a reunion for Sarri and Jorginho among them.
Bernardeschi has been touted as a makeweight to facilitate a return to Serie A for Chelsea’s deep-lying midfielder. While Sarri will no doubt be pleased by the suggestions, Chelsea would also benefit from this arrangement.
With Willian and Pedro both just weeks away from the end of their contracts, Bernardeschi would be a capable replacement on either flank. The move to London would also sate his love of the ‘genius’ street artist Banksy by seeing some of his work in the flesh. So, a desirable move for all concerned.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
Suitability Rating: 8/10