Juventus's attack has a new leading man.
The Bianconeri have won the race to sign Fiorentina star striker Dušan Vlahović, the 21-year-old Serbian who has risen to prominence with his goal-scoring exploits over the last two seasons. The two clubs have agreed on a reported fee of €75 million ($84.6 million), with Vlahović due to make €7 million ($7.8 million) net salary per season over the course of his long-term deal. Vlahović arrived in Turin on Friday for his medical before the deal was completed.
Vlahović scored 21 goals in Serie A last season, and he's on pace to obliterate that personal best, with 17 goals in 21 appearances so far this season. He is tied with Lazio's Ciro Immobile for the lead in Italy's top flight, and he'll bring a much-needed spark to a Juventus attack that has been sorely lacking in that area. Juve's leading scorer this season, Paulo Dybala, has seven goals, and the club has fewer goals than 10 other clubs in the league. One of those clubs is Fiorentina, which trails Juventus by just six points in the table with a game in hand.
But Vlahović can give the team the closest thing Juve has had to a reliable scorer since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Manchester United this past summer. Ronaldo's 29 goals led Serie A last season, and the combination of forwards attempting to pick up the slack has yet to do just that. Making matters worse, attacking star Federico Chiesa tore his ACL earlier this month, creating an even more dire need up front.
Enter Vlahović, who was reportedly a top target of Arsenal, Tottenham and Man City but stays in Italy instead. His contract with Fiorentina was set to expire at the end of next season, so either this winter or the summer were going to be the most advantageous times for the club to sell (and Fiorentina has reportedly wrapped up his replacement, with a deal in place for Basel's Brazilian striker Arthur Cabral).
Whether his signing will be advantageous for Juventus remains to be seen. The big question will be his sustainability and ability to translate what he's done with La Viola to the bright lights of Juve, where patience runs thin—especially with the club in the midst of a second straight scrap just to finish in the top four. Juve currently sits in fifth place, a point behind Atalanta while having played one game more. It is 11 points behind first-place Inter and unlikely to make much noise in the title race barring a collapse at the top. There's also the wariness of him following in the footsteps of his countryman, Luka Jović, who parlayed a breakout season with Eintracht Frankfurt when he was 21 into a lucrative move to Real Madrid, only to fall flat on the bigger stage.
Nevertheless, Vlahović has earned his right to become the most sought-after attacker on the market this winter, and his signing represents an encouraging moment for a Juventus side that has drifted from its place among the true European elite.
Vlahović should be on display at the World Cup in Qatar this fall after scoring four goals to help Serbia top its qualifying group and cement an automatic berth in the competition.
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