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What would Massimiliano Allegri bring to Arsenal?
Last Updated: 09/05/18 8:50am
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri is near the top of Arsenal's shortlist to replace Arsene Wenger, according to Sky sources, but what would he bring to the Emirates Stadium?
The 50-year-old is currently targeting a fourth consecutive domestic double with Juventus, who face AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final live on Sky Sports on Wednesday, but will hold talks with the Italian club over his future at the end of the season.
With Arsenal hoping to appoint their new manager before the start of next month's World Cup, we take a look at why Allegri might be their top choice.
When it comes to winning silverware, there aren't many managers with a CV to rival Allegri's. The former midfielder cut his teeth as a coach in Italy's lower leagues, but since making the step up to an elite club in 2010, he has won seven major trophies in eight years. By the start of next week, that number might stand at nine.
It started in 2010/11, when he guided AC Milan to their first Serie A title since 2004 in his first season in charge, and it has continued since his appointment at Juventus in 2014. Juve had won three consecutive Serie A titles under their previous manager Antonio Conte, but they have eclipsed that success under Allegri.
Juventus are on the brink of a fourth consecutive Serie A and Coppa Italia double, and Allegri has overseen major improvement in Europe, too, with the Old Lady reaching two Champions League finals in four years having only reached one in the previous 16. Arsenal, perennial under-achievers on the European stage, would hope for the same kind of progress.
Allegri inherited a winning team from Conte at Juventus, admitting he did not have to change much at first, but it has required constant surgery since then. In 2015, he had to cope with the exits of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez. In 2016, he watched Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata depart. Last summer, he lost Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves.
Each time, however, Juventus have come back stronger. Systems have been adjusted and new arrivals such as Alex Sandro, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain have flourished under Allegri, who, for all the changes in personnel, has also succeeded in fostering an unshakable team spirit.
He is unafraid of change, instead seeing it as an opportunity to improve, and he is also willing to make difficult decisions in the interests of his team.
He was responsible for pushing Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso and the rest of Milan's aging stars towards retirement during his time at the San Siro, and last season he had the guts to drop Bonucci for a crucial Champions League tie with Porto which Juve went on to win.
Juventus have made it all look easy in Serie A, but their recent dominance owes a lot to how Allegri has managed the team's evolution. At Arsenal, a club with a history of losing their best players to richer rivals, his track record for adaptability is sure to be attractive.
Allegri describes himself as a "natural manager" rather than a "manufactured" one. In other words, he prefers to rely on his instincts rather than spend hours poring over video footage or studying analytics. It can be considered an unusual approach in modern management, but there's no doubting that it works for him.
There have been big-game disappointments - not least the Champions League final defeats to Barcelona and Real Madrid - but Allegri gets his tactics right more often than not, and if things are going against him on the pitch, he is capable of making astute adjustments which can tilt games back in his side's favour.
This season's Champions League last-16 meeting with Tottenham is perhaps the best example. Juventus were in a perilous position at Wembley, having drawn the first leg 2-2 and fallen behind to Heung-Min Son's first-half opener, but Allegri was able to change the course of the tie with a series of inspired changes in the second half.
Kwadwo Asamoah came on for Blaise Matuidi on the hour-mark, with Stephan Lichsteiner replacing Mehdi Benatia around a minute later as Juventus switched from a back three to a 4-3-3 formation. The changes were staggered in order to confuse Tottenham, and they paid off immediately.
Liechtsteiner provided the cross for Higuain's opener within minutes of his introduction, and Tottenham were still reeling when Dybala broke away to score Juve's second shortly afterwards. Allegri's teams are not always a joy to watch, but in the words of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played under him at Milan: "He knows what you need to do to win."
Organisation and man-management
In an article for the Players' Tribune last year, Allegri spoke of his passion for improving players.
"There's so much pressure at this level of football, and there should be," he said. "But I try to remember why I do this. I don't think of myself as a manager. I think of myself as a youth coach. I do this because I love teaching. It is truly the joy of my life. I like making players better and smarter."
Arsenal's young squad could certainly use that kind of influence. The Gunners are an error-prone side lacking in discipline and tactical flexibility, but Allegri's coaching would improve them both individually and collectively.
Allegri's record suggests he could be particularly influential in a defensive sense. Juventus have had the best defensive record in Serie A in each of Allegri's four seasons in charge, and his impact was even more evident at AC Milan. The Rossoneri had conceded 112 league goals in three seasons before his arrival, but only conceded 96 in the next three under Allegri.
Laurent Koscielny's Achilles injury has highlighted the fact that Arsenal's defence will require strengthening this summer, but if they can tempt Allegri to the Emirates Stadium, he might prove a more effective signing than any one player.
Watch Juventus v AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final live on Sky Sports Football from 7.55pm on Wednesday
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