But the statement signing in defence was Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt – who had just led a young Ajax team to the Champions League semi-finals, dumping Juve out in the process. But despite his heroics in the competition, he was unable to help the club win the Champions League as they bowed out in the quarter-finals to Ajax. In its first Champions League match without the star forward in nearly a decade, Madrid easily dominated Roma to open its campaign with a comfortable 3-0 home win on Wednesday. The Brazilian would go on to become their first choice for years. Eventually they sold him to the Germans for around £25m, in addition to loan fees over the previous years. He was unproven at the time, but Juventus would go on to ensure it was one of the best deals in recent years as he quickly became indispensible at Juventus and contributed towards their second Serie A title win – playing 27 games in his first season and going on to make 178 appearances. The big one. With Juventus still desperate to win the Champions League and hungry to sign a top tier player who could lead them to Euro glory, an opportunity presented itself with Cristiano Ronaldo looking to leave the Bernabeu.
Paratici was looking to work his magic on free transfers once again as he brought in two midfielders – Adrien Rabiot from PSG and Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal. Paratici continued his knack of free transfers as goalkeeper Neto came in from Fiorentina, and pulled off another coup by snapping up midfielder Sami Khedira from Real Madrid. Buffon also followed Bonucci made his return to the club from PSG on a free, while Portuguese right-back Danilo came in as part of the deal to send Cancelo to City. Defence was also a priority with Paratici bringing in Joao Cancelo from Valencia for around £35m. With Dybala still confidently putting the goals away, Douglas Costa was signed on an initial loan deal to support him, with the club paying a £4m loan fee before turning it permanent the following season for £35m after an impressive campaign saw him play 47 times and score six goals.
Three of them were totally forgettable as former Bayern defender Lucio made just one appearance in the league, while Niklas Bendtner’s temporary switch from Arsenal was a gamble that failed to pay off as he didn’t score once in 11 games. The move was a complete hit – as he went on to score 21 times in his first season – becoming their top sharpshooter as they won a third straight title as well as the Italian Super Cup. Featured in green with white Adidas stripes the third jersey is available with short and long sleeve jerseys. Replacements were needed, and Juventus made headlines in their search to find a new forward – as they paid £80m, the third highest deal ever at the time, for Napoli’s prolific Gonzalo Higuain. Genius. Not only did the melodrama generate headlines worldwide – “Rich, good-looking and sad Ronaldo rattles Real” was one in India – – it even got its own Twitter hashtag. It was startlingly definitive in the circumstances, and counter-productive, too, because even Mbappe was taken aback. Four days and almost 40,000 votes later, Pique weighed in on Twitter, riling Real supporters by joking that Mbappe would definitely be wearing the No. 7 shirt this season because he’d be remaining at PSG.
Sources tell ESPN FC that nothing has been agreed or signed between Mbappe and Real Madrid, as the 23-year-old is focused on finishing the season in the best way possible. But Rabiot didn’t enjoy the best of seasons at the Juventus Stadium and struggled to nail down a regular place in his first year – often being linked with a swift exit – although he began to settle more in his second campaign. It would go down as one of the biggest deals in transfer history as he joined for £100m, sending shockwaves around the game, and had the immediate impact the club were looking for as he scored 28 times in his first season. The club refused to disclose shirt sales figures, but nevertheless said that it had recorded “the best start to a shirt sale in the club’s history” with Messi’s arrival. After losing some of the club’s most experienced heads in Pirlo, Tevez, Vidal and Llorente, the coach needed to fill the positions – most importantly providing competition to Morata. After a season without a title, Vicente del Bosque came to coach in November 1999, making a debut to promising young goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Juventus won the league and cup double under coach Max Allegri and reached the Champions League final in one of their greatest seasons to date.