Cannavaro: A step in the wrong direction?

Juventus need to strengthen their back line, that is apparent, but is Fabio Cannavaro the right man to lead the Bianconeri in the next decade? His protracted return to the Old Lady seems like a step in the wrong direction for Italy’s most successful team.

It has come to light this week that Fabio Cannavaro may be on the verge of a sensational return to Turin. As has been the case since January, Cannavaro has been free to negotiate with other clubs as his contract with Real Madrid expires in the summer.

Rumours have flown from Russia to France via Manchester and Milan, whilst not forgetting hometown club Napoli. A club he has said he wants to end his career with.

But a curveball from leftfield was thrown when Cannavaro’s agent Enrico Fedele confirmed he was in talks with Juventus. “A month ago, Juventus asked if Fabio was still available and we began discussions after I had spoken to the player. Juve behaved totally correctly and approached Real Madrid first. Fabio would be very, very happy to return to the Bianconeri and would take a sizeable pay cut.”

This move has had a varied response from those associated with Juventus. Manager Claudio Ranieri has been very welcoming of the Azzurri captain. “When I was consulted about this I gave the go-ahead”, Ranieri said.

Giorgio Chiellini has also been supportive of the move, adding, “He would be a great signing for Juventus. We cannot forget that Cannavaro is a Ballon d’Or winner and the captain of the Italian national side. You can talk about his decision to leave the club when we were demoted to Serie B, but you cannot question his value as a player and as a man. We can all learn something from him.”

It is this decision to leave Juve that has left a bitter taste in the mouth of the tifosi, and the general consensus from them is that he would not be welcome at the Stadio Olimpico. However, much to Fabio’s credit he has made a plea to the fans, “I have explained my decision to leave 1000 times and I am ready to do it again. I am not worried because I will talk to the supporters.” Cannavaro states.

Juve legend Jose Altafini is critical of the decision to sign the 35 year old, “I don’t see how Cannavaro alone can resolve Juventus’ defensive problems. Age counts more in defence than in any other position and Juventus’ backline is already slow.”

It is believed Cannavaro will be offered a 4-year deal. One year playing with the opportunity to extend if he intends to carry on playing after the 2010 World Cup. After retirement Fabio will then move into a directors role.

If the move turns into reality then Fabio will link up with Chiellini in defence, a man he knows very well from the national side and thus will form a strong partnership quickly. He will also have behind him an old friend and teammate Gianluigi Buffon, who he spent 8 years at club level with. His experience will also prove invaluable to the young players at the Bianconeri.

But to me this move is a step in the wrong direction for Juventus. They do need to improve the defence, but at full back not centre. Chiellini and Legrottaglie have formed a formidable partnership this season, but Grygera, Molinaro and Mellberg have not been up to the Juve standard.

Whether his acquisition will be a success remains to be seen, but I feel Juve should be looking to strengthen the backline with more youthful talents not an aging star, regardless of how good he once was.

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