Just over two weeks ago, Felipe Melo was signing a new five-year contract extension with Fiorentina and declaring his love for the club and the city of Florence.
However, on July 14, the Brazilian midfielder passed his medical, signed a five-year deal not with Fiorentina, but with the Viola’s bitter rival Juventus, declaring that “his Juve” can do great things.
After rumors surrounding a possible move to London that spanned over the course of several weeks fizzled, Juve sporting director Alessio Secco pounced and in almost no time bagged the Brazilian for €25 million, while sending winger Marco Marchionni to the Viola.
All of this happened just days after a deal for Udinese midfielder Gaetano D’Agostino fell through — Juve’s biggest target this summer after getting Diego from Werder Bremen.
For weeks all Juventus followers have been hearing the big target in this year’s transfer market was D’Agostino. He seemed to be the perfect fit for a team in need of a midfield maestro and over the course of the saga, D’Agostino revealed that playing for the Old Lady has always been a boyhood dream of his.
The move, however, quickly derailed. Udinese were clearly asking too much for the best replica to Andrea Pirlo in Serie A. So Secco hit the market quickly and now he has found the next best thing in his mind.
It certainly is an interesting turn of events. Just a week after it was revealed he wouldn’t shell out the cash to sign D’Agostino, Secco goes and signs Melo for a higher price tag. That doesn’t make much sense now, does it?
But that doesn’t mean that the Melo signing should be looked upon as a complete blunder on the part of Secco and Juventus.
Melo has shown that he is a big part of Dunga’s plan on the international level with Brazil. His showing in the Confederations Cup was not great, but was good, especially when you consider how little international experience he has.
The problem is that Juve still lack the deep-lying creative force in the midfield that hasn’t been present in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal.
You can sign good players, but if they don’t fit into your system or fill an obvious and blaring, they won’t be maximizing every ounce of their skill.
And this sight is something that is becoming a regular for Juve fans to see happen to their beloved team.
During last season’s summer transfer market, the name that Juve were rumored to be acquiring week-after-week was Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso. The debate over whether he would move to Turin was basically a couple million euros.
Not serious change, but something you would think could be managed and taken into consideration when considering what he brings to the table.
Yet, much like the D’Agostino move, seeing Alonso in black and white fizzled because of the price. It was a crushing blow to a transfer campaign that saw Secco also bring in Amauri from Palermo.
Secco ended up signing Dane Christian Poulsen for just under €10 million and now for the second-straight summer, it’s an offensive maestro being replaced with a defensive-minded midfielder.
Where’s the sense in that?
Melo might have been one of the best midfielders in Italy last year, but so was D’Agostino. Their styles are different and Juve are a better team with Melo aboard, but not as much as they could’ve been.
There’s no doubting in a lot of people’s minds that D’Agostino would’ve been the better fit in the Juventus midfield if you had to chose between the two of them. He just has more qualities that Juve need in the midfield than Melo has.
Melo will be joining a team that already has a center midfielder, 22-year-old Claudio Marchisio, who plays with the same kind of style that Melo does. Neither is a fantastic passer like D’Agostino is, but they are both very good all-around midfielders.
Add how manager Ciro Ferrara plans to play this year — a three-man midfield behind the pint-sized Diego — and having a player who can be pull the strings like a puppeteer is pretty important.
Marchisio would’ve been the all-around midfielder, Momo Sissoko would rack up tackles like he usually does and D’Agostino would’ve been the master craftsman of the offense.
That all changes now with Melo on Juve’s payroll.
Melo’s reckless abandon style of play gets him in trouble a good portion of the time. Add a question character and the quality of play he brings to the table may not be seen as often as some might think.
How questionable is his character?
Let’s try 12 yellow cards, three reds, and he will begin his Juve career in the middle of a five-game ban because of antics in the final weeks of last season against Cagliari. That alone might be why Juve will be his third club in three years and eighth since 2001.
Still think he’s worth that €25 million price tag?
Like we’ve had to do so many times before, it’s all of matter of wait and see situation. This move could turn out to be worth the money or it could be another central midfield flop that evolved from the mind of Secco.
The team has improved with the signing of Melo, but there are still serious holes to fill. Instead of buying a regista who would have been the perfect fit and bled for the club he grew up watching, Secco still has work to do.
The transfer money is now all but gone and with serious questions about the defense, Secco’s strategy this summer will be questioned once again.
Danny Penza is a senior writer forBleacher Report, the open source sports network.