The Guardia di Finanza is investigating Juventus for allegedly inflating some of their players’ values when they transfer money.
It is believed that the timeframe was between the 2019 and 2021 summer transfer windows. Juve is believed to have earned EUR282m (319m) by exaggerating transfer prices.
These deals are not all that well-known, but Miralem Pjanic’s June 2020 move from Juventus to Barcelona is one of the most famous. At the time, the EUR60m ($67.9m), deal with Barca’s Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo raised eyebrows. Many saw the deals as accounting tricks to balance the books by the half-way point of the financial year. Pjanic was only 30 years old at the time of the deal. This was despite the fact that his form had suffered in the last two years at Juventus.
Emil Audero was also a suspect deal, having joined Sampdoria in the amount of EUR20m ($22m), despite only playing one game for the club during the 2016-17 season.
Juventus are not the only team being investigated. Napoli is also under investigation for Victor Osimhen’s transfer from Lille to the summer 2020.
However, the fact that Juve are now under financial scrutiny shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to their finances over the past several years. Many of these deals were made after Cristiano Ronaldo’s signing. Ronaldo’s four year contract with the club with a salary EUR31m ($36m per season) was a huge burden for the club. This was even before the pandemic that decimated its revenue.
Ronaldo’s signing and his huge wages robbed the club of so much revenue they couldn’t afford other players or to rejuvenate the team. Juve was unable to compete with European heavyweights despite the better commercial deals with Adidas and Jeep that resulted from Ronaldo’s signing.
The problem was further exacerbated by the decrease in Serie A’s foreign and domestic TV rights deals. All of the normal resources were exhausted, so relying on plusvalenza capital gains (capital gains), became imperative.
It would be unfair to blame only the Ronaldo deal for Juve’s current problems. In the summer before Covid revolutionized the world to lure them to Turin, players like Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey were offered monstrous contracts. These deals are perhaps the most egregious example of Fabio Paratici’s three-year tenure as sporting director. You could argue that Ronaldo brought more international exposure and at least assured goals. Ramsey and Rabiot brought nothing like that, with Rabiot barely kicking a ball for Juventus during the 2021 calendar year.
Juve could face a heavy fine or a deduction in points if found guilty. Paratici, Vice-President Pavel Nedved, and President Andrea Agnelli are also being investigated. However, it is difficult to prove the true value of a player in such cases. A club might value a player at EUR25m ($28m), while another club could value him at EUR15m (16.9m).
Who decides who is right or wrong? This is a complicated issue. However, Juve should not be surprising that they are under investigation.