Juventus are closing in on Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and the Welsh international may be about to join the Italian giants sooner rather than later.
Earmarked for the summer on a free transfer, Juventus Sporting Director Fabio Paratici has hinted that his club are keen to bring the 28-year-old to the Allianz Stadium in January, to try to boost their chances of lifting their first Champions League since 1996.
Paratici is ready to give the Gunners around four million quid to take him in the January sales and if the deal is completed (and a salary of around £6M-a-season plus bonuses tells us that it soon will be) Ramsey would be the third Welshman to represent Juventus following in the footsteps of these two former giants of the game.
John Charles (1957-62)
Charles made over 150 appearances for the Bianconeri in a five-year spell which saw him score an astonishing 108 goals, including the winner against Verona on his debut in September 57.
The big man, who was adept at playing both as a striker and as a centre-half, was one of the first British players to earn his living in mainland Europe and even today, is still regarded as one of the best.
Juventus fans took him to their hearts and gave him the nickname “Il Gigante Buono” (The Gentle Giant) thanks to his six feet two inch frame and the fact that he hardly ever got booked which, in late 50’s Italian football, was some feat.
Charles collected three Italian championships and two Italian cups during his time in Turin and back in 1997, to celebrate the club’s centenary, was voted Juve’s best-ever foreign player in front of the likes of Platini, Zidane and Boniek. 25 years later, another Welsh international would head to Turin to try to emulate Charles, but quickly returned to Britain with his tail between his legs.
Ian Rush (1987-88)
It’s safe to say that the next Welshman to pull on the famous black and white jersey did not leave the same legacy as his predecessor.
Ian Rush was a goal-machine at Liverpool and by the summer of 1986, the striker had notched up over a 100 in a six-year spell at Anfield. Juventus decided to take a punt and in July of that year they smashed the British transfer record by paying the Merseysiders just over £3M for his services.
They even let him stay at Anfield on-loan for the 86-87 campaign, were he knocked in another 30 in 42 appearances in all competitions. Many outsiders were sceptical that Rush would be able to adapt to playing in Serie A, a lawless world were no-nonsense defenders would kick lumps out of hapless frontmen whilst referees turned a blind eye.
Rushie managed just eight goals in 29 appearances for Juventus and the most memorable moment from his time in Italy came when he allegedly described living there as being, “Like living in a foreign country,” a quote the player has subsequently described as being like his form in front of goal there; a load of b*****ks.
Ian would be the first to admit that he was no pin-up, so when some of the biggest fashion houses in Italy decided that there was nothing that even they could do to heighten his sex-appeal; he got on the blower to his old mucker Kenny Dalglish to ask if he could come back to Blighty to wear his old number nine shirt at Liverpool.
He got lucky, because although Dalglish had bought a Rush look-a-like in the shape of John Aldridge, the recently knighted Scotsman drew up a master plan to play them as a strike partnership that would confuse the hell out of opposition defences and refunded Juventus to the tune of £2.7M.
Rush played another 245 times for The Reds scoring 90 goals.