It’s official: Italian giant Juventus has locked up its main target of the summer transfer window, Italian national team midfielder Manuel Locatelli.
The final transfer fee to Serie A side Sassuolo could be worth up to $44 million with incentives, but Juventus won’t have to pay a cent for two years. That’s because it used a creative transfer arrangement to pull off the deal in light of the financial challenges the club has endured with the revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Locatelli, who won Euro 2021 with Italy, completed his medical on Aug. 18 before putting pen to paper on a contract that will keep him with Juventus through 2026, when he turns 28.
Juventus transfer deal for Locatelli
Here’s how the Bianconeri engineered the deal without shelling out a transfer dime this year.
They acquired the 23-year-old midfielder on a two-year loan with an obligation to purchase his contract at the end of the 2022-2023 season. That’s when the $29 million transfer fee kicks in, but even that will be payable over the following three years.
The additional $15 million that would be due Sassuolo only kicks in if Locatelli hits performance marks.
Juventus plays its Serie A season opener at Udinese on Sunday, Aug. 22, but Locatelli is unlikely to feature given how late the transfer materialized. The Bianconeri were reportedly chasing Locatelli all summer since the 2021 Euros. Arsenal were also apparently interested, but Locatelli only had eyes for Juventus.
His debut could come after the September international break for World Cup qualifying. Juventus travel to face Napoli in one of the big matches of the Serie A season on Sunday, Sept. 12.
Locatelli had his breakthrough with Sassuolo after the club acquired him from AC Milan in 2018. He made 99 appearances for Sassuolo, scoring seven goals and 11 assists in his three seasons with the club. He helped Sassuolo establish itself as a contender for European spots in Serie A with a surprising 11th-place finish in 2018-2019 followed by consecutive 8th-place seasons in the subsequent two campaigns.