Sami Khedira will forever go down in history as one of the best free transfers ever in football. While that serves as a reminder to how good Juventus are in the art, but it does take some shine off Khedira’s long and storied career.
He joined Juve in the summer of 2015- when he was 28 and heading towards the fag end of his career.
In his first season, Khedira played 20 Serie A games. The campaign was filled with injury troubles as the midfielder suffered four separate issues in the whole season.
The 2016-17 season showed promise. Khedira had no major injury troubles and he played 31 games, scoring six times and assisting five times. Many saw it as a rejuvenation of his career in a top European league.
The 2017-18 campaign saw him sustain a minor knee injury, but the FIFA World Cup winner ended up scoring as many as nine goals that season. But last season was probably the most troublesome of all.
Khedira played only ten times, but his injury record screamed out for trouble. He had five different injuries, followed by a heart condition that had seen him undergo surgery. That raised a big question mark about whether the midfielder would ever be back to his best or not.
This season, Khedira has played 11 Serie A games and has one assist to his name. While he has played quite a few games already, the 32-year-old hasn’t had the best of campaigns.
His lack of technical ability is a big reason. Maurizio Sarri’s adherence to the possession-oriented style has always demanded midfielders to be good on the ball.
So far, Khedira has played only 25 passes per game in the Serie A-the fifth lowest at the club. That isn’t a good enough number for a manager who always wants his midfielders to get on the ball and play it forward.
While the formation at Chelsea and Napoli was a 4-3-3 (as opposed to Juve’s 4-3-1-2), the job of the box-to-box midfielder was the same. N’Golo Kante played 56.2 passes per game last season under Sarri. In his last season at Napoli, Allan played 63.5 passes per game– fourth highest at the Partenopei.
Khedira is more than one half behind where his technical ability should be. That probably also explains why he was linked with moves to Wolves and Arsenal this past summer. Probably, Sarri never saw the German as a player who would complement his system too much. Similar to how it was for Blaise Matuidi.
He is not getting any younger by age. Sarri’s 4-3-1-2 shape demands the wide midfielders to often pick up wide positions in possession. That is something younger midfielders would be more adept at doing. More mobile midfielders like Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey would be able to perform that dual role in a better manner.
Khedira’s current deal runs out in the summer of 2021 and Juve have a further option of extending it for another year. That gives them a huge advantage in the situation. There will be clubs after a World Cup winner at any point of the year. Especially when he has two years of football left in him.
Considering that Fabio Paratici managed to sign him on a free means that there is no pressure to make a profit from a sale too. The summer will present the perfect chance to do just that.