Does Co-Ownership work???

9 Mar

Domenico Berardi. Co-Owned to Glory or Doom???

It was not so long ago that many were talking of Berardi as the new superstar of Italian football. When he was playing brilliantly, the stake we had in him felt great (he was one of ours!) and a very sound investment. It still does for me…Sassuolo is not solely a stage for new stars to use to debut in the top flight. Their core aim as a club is survival. When a side is struggling, often the first changes made are tactical. If these don’t work after yet more misery, the next stage is to change the coach. Malesani has been brought in to steady the ship, to grind out some results and most importantly to stop the rot before it sets into the foundations of their Serie A campaign and sends them back to Serie B, which would be disastrous financially.

When buying youngsters, the top clubs have two choices…

  1. Loan or co-own the player to a team where it is hoped he will gain decent coaching as well as be given plenty of first team experience which is probably not available at the parent club.
  2. Keep him at the parent club, hope that the high class of coaching, facilities and also through rubbing shoulders with established stars, will all lead to solid development of the player.

Let’s continue with Berardi as the focus…I suspect some would have preferred for us to sign him and bring him into our first team squad?? How many games would he have played, bearing in mind the competition for one of the two positions we have where Berardi could deployed in attack??(we are not going to alter our formation for a star of Serie B).

I cannot imagine he would dislodge Tevez in any situation when both were fit. Nor Llorente for that matter, for Conte clearly likes the spaniard’s work rate and wonderful ability to bring others into play in the final third. Then there are Mirko, Seba and Fabio to consider. And now Osvaldo. Its early days, but I do consider Osvaldo to be an established player at a high level, and when added to our first choice, it would mean, in present conditions, Berardi would be at best 3rd choice. Perhaps its fair to say that he could challenge Giovinco for the vice tevez role, but so would Mirko when fit.

I like the co-ownership routine. It allows us to invest in players, at a risk…a risk which is shared by the other club involved in the registration. Certainly preferable to a loan given the other club has a financial investment in the development of the player.

Given the purchasing power and allure to youngsters of the top clubs, like ourselves, it is also good business sense for smaller clubs to create solid relationships with us. For example…

A starlet appears in Lega Pro. Big clubs come sniffing around. Little Lanciano want the player, but they know in a bidding war they have no chance, they hear that Juve are interested. Have a little chat with Beppe, lets see what we can do.

The smaller clubs need money. Selling off half of one of their starlets to Juve, means they get cash in hand, continue to develop him in the hope of increasing the value of the player even more, and keep him in their squad winning them games.

Daniele Rugani – Future Captain of Juve???

A player rarely talked off, whom we co-own, is Daniele Rugani; a player I strongly feel is destined for greatness, for Juve and Italy…He is developing brilliantly. Scored for the Italy U21s last week in Ireland. First choice centre-back for his club after his strong showing in our primavera the previous term. Definitely one for the future. Will we pay more for him when we sign him outright than we paid initially for his 50%??? Of course we will…but we won’t be getting the same player we originally signed. We will be getting a better, matured, developed player. A former regular for the Italy U20s and now at 19, making headway into the first XI of the Italy U21 side. Is it in Empoli’s interest to attempt to hold us to ransom?? Not in the slightest, for if they can earn a few million for developing a player, it makes sense for them to maintain happy ties with the top tier clubs.

It seems like another shrewd piece of business on our part. Now a player like Rugani, just 19, how many games would he get at Juve?? with our present squad, I would say ZERO. Especially given we paid 13m for another CB last Summer who rarely features…A Uruguyan international only gets playing time when one of three starting Cbs are injured or suspended. Rugani would logically be behind Ogbonna and Caceres. What good would it do him, at this age, to train with the first team squad, but never play???

The differences between a loan and co-own are obvious – both clubs have the same interest in raising the value of the player through developing him. With a normal loan, there is far less interest in developing the player for the loan club.

Giorgio Chiellini…Co-owned into the Juve and Italy first XI

In terms of la nazionale…the following players have been involved in co-ownerships at some stage of their career-

Balotelli, Osvaldo, Giovinco, Cerci, Immobile, Chiellini, Barzagli, Bonucci, Maggio, Criscito, Abate, Astori, Montolivo, Marchisio, Giaccherini, Gilardino, Destro.

Which suggests that the co-ownership scheme has certainly done those players no harm at all. You could even say that it works well and helps to produce international class players for Italy. On the other hand, you could say that its a rite of passage more than a potent tool of development.

(In some cases, the co-ownership routine is employed to spread payments over time. Asamoah and Isla for example. As well as to not just raise the value, but put in the ship window a player not wanted by the parent club or who has failed and needs a new start to kick-start his career e.g. Almiron)

Clearly its a system entrenched in the culture of italian football. Also operating in some South American countries. For me its a better option than a simple loan, and considerably more football focused than the involvement of third party ownership which is rife in Brazil and nearby regions of latin america.

I’d rather be dealing with Empoli than Kia Joorabchian. For reasons, this article is already too verbose to delve into.

Ideally, Italy would adopt a system similar to the German model. I am aware that the spaniards adopt a comparable system. The bundesliga sides have a second team made up (predominantly) of U23 players which plays in the lower leagues. These teams are not allowed to move higher than 3 Liga (the third tier of German football) and the professional side cannot play in the same league as its ‘amateur U23 team’. The second clubs have ‘II’ added to their club title.

If Frankfurt II rose to 3 Liga and Frankfurt were relegated to 3 Liga, the ‘amateur’ side, Frankfurt II would not make it to 3 Liga.

A quick peek at Bayern’s ‘amateur’ team, Bayern II, unsurprisingly finds them sitting pretty at the top of Regionaliga Bayern (the regional league which includes Munich). In that league, presently, 6 of the top 8 sides are ‘amateur’ sides.

I have the interest, not the time, to delve more deeply to research how this affects promotion and possibly relegation issues. For what happens if Bayern II reach 3 Liga and win the championship?? Is the second team in the league awarded the title???

Its not perfect, but its preferable to a reserve league, when focusing on the development of youth players.

Considering the steady progression of classy youngsters coming through the german ranks, its a system which I would hope, the FIGC are considering implementing. But how would such a thing be introduced??? Expansion of the lower leagues would be the only fair method.

Which brings us back to this recent pondering of the co-ownership routine. The FIGC must have as its prime focus the development of italian football as a whole. Until such a change, to the german system for example, is seriously considered, I feel that the co-ownership routine is the best we have available in Italy in relation to developing italian youngsters.

Marzouk – Alongside Donis and Garcia, one of our greatest prospects at primavera level. Made his debut for the French U18s last week.

As for our in-house youth sector, I have been consistently impressed with the procurement policy over the last few years. The majority of our primavera squad are youth internationals. See here

A list which has improved even further since I wrote that brief report.

What more can Beppe and Paratici be expected to do other than bring to the club the brightest prospects of international youth football???

Clearly the management structure of our primavera is wrong. The Zanchetta/Grosso combination has been a risk which was odd to begin with and has not at all paid off. We lost again yesterday, this time at home to parma, following our defeat to Genoa. They will be replaced in the Summer. Heading a step younger, to the U17s and we are owning the league, 10 points clear of second spot in the league.

I cannot ask more of the club than to bring in players judged the strongest by their international coaches.

We have plenty of very talented youngsters, both in the primavera and lower down the age groups. Our only problem there presently is Zanchetta and Grosso.

Essentially, we are expanding our scouting network, appear to do very well in recruiting promising youngsters globally and our investments in the player between youth and senior levels are encouraging.


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