Andrea Agnelli is delivering big things at Juventus. The president of the European giants knew that signing 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo last summer at a large cost was a financial risk but one that needed to be taken if the Old Lady were to become the most influential club in the world.
Signing Ronaldo was a clutch move, not just for his superhuman footballing ability but also for his celebrity status. Essentially by signing the Portuguese, Juventus elevated themselves into football’s elite stratosphere and became not only a household name worldwide but a much more tempting prospect for any other player to join the club.
He told the Financial Times after bringing Ronaldo to the club last summer:
“It was the first time that the commercial side and the sporting side of Juventus came together in assessing the costs and benefits [of a signing],”
“The opportunity of Ronaldo was thoroughly assessed… and it made sense, both on and off the pitch.”
This was all in the plan for Agnelli, who has showed great wisdom with this long-term strategy.
“We have to be in a position to be able to clinch the next Cristiano, but at the age of 25.”
Twelve months later his vision has become a reality. Matthijs De Ligt, the best young defender in the world could have joined Barcelona, PSG or Manchester United, yet instead, he has signed on the dotted line for the Old Lady. Their financial offer exceeded the one offered by the Spanish club but who knows how influential Cristiano himself was in the move.
After the Nations League final, he told the young Dutchman to join him in Turin. They share the same agent in Mino Raiola and everything fell into place for the move to happen, meaning that Juventus had made two major signings over the past two summers.
Cast your mind back to 2003, when Real Madrid were building a team full of superstars – the Galacticos. Florentino Perez had won the presidency in 2000 with the promise of taking Luis Figo from rivals Barcelona, and he delivered. Zinedine Zidane came in the following season, followed by Ronaldo. In 2003, the icing on the cake arrived.
The world’s most famous footballer, David Beckham, left Manchester United to join Los Blancos in a deal worth just £25m at the time. John Carlin wrote in his book, White Angels, that when marketing director Jose Angel Sanchez was told the asking price he rang Perez and screamed down the phone:
“Peanuts! They’re asking peanuts!”
This wasn’t particularly in relation to Beckham’s footballing ability but again in relation to his brand value. Signing such a high-profile player would earn the club £450m in commercial revenue Sanchez believed and these big signings are pivotal in maintaining a worldwide brand.
Juventus are now following this template and it would be no surprise to see them bring in another big name in twelve months time. Whether these big signings lead to success in the Champions League is not guaranteed as we have seen with PSG but as a brand, the Old Lady has never been stronger.