How Juventus signing Dusan Vlahovic, Denis Zakaria also helps Tottenham, Fiorentina and Gladbach

Why signing Vlahovic heaps pressure on Allegri (0:57)

Julien Laurens says the pressure is now on Max Allegri to get Juventus into the Champions League after spending a lot of money on Dusan Vlahovic. (0:57)

Juventus ended the last transfer window with a frown and a sense of uncertainty. Cristiano Ronaldo had just left, and while it was just a question of whether he'd be moving on for a fee in the summer of 2021 or as a free agent the following August, the fact that his move to Manchester United was only finalized in the dying hours of the window meant they had to scramble for cover. The return of Moise Kean -- a loan, with an obligation to make the deal permanent in 2023 -- was all they could muster and to many it felt like a gamble to make up the numbers.

Fast forward to the present. Juve's transfer window is closing with the arrival of Dusan Vlahovic -- the joint-top scorer in Serie A and the most coveted young center-forward not named Erling Braut Haaland -- and Denis Zakaria, not a flashy name, but the defensive specialist in midfield they've been craving. It doesn't just turn the frown upside down; it relaunches the bianconeri as contenders, if not this season (they're 11 points back) then next year.

- Juventus beat Arsenal to sign Dusan Vlahovic

What's more -- and this matters to Juventus after racking up more than €300 million in losses in the past two coronavirus-impacted seasons -- is that they've helped finance the deal with two outgoing moves that, on paper, shouldn't affect them too much on the pitch. Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur are on their way to Tottenham. Bentancur nets Juventus €19m, plus up to an additional €6m in bonuses. Kulusevski's deal is a reported 18-month loan for €10m with an obligation to make the move permanent for an additional €25m if certain targets -- like Tottenham qualifying for the Champions League and Kulusevski appearing in at least half of their matches -- are met.

The modern transfer market can be as much about financial engineering as anything else, and big deals have big effects.

Signing Vlahovic cost Juve €70m (plus another €5m in "easy" bonuses, and a further €5m in hard-to-attain bonuses), while Zakaria, who would have been a free agent in June, joined for a €5m fee (plus another €3m in bonuses). Without getting too far into the financial weeds, the departures of Bentancur and Kulusevski cover a fair chunk of the amortisation and wages of the new arrivals. Throw in the €60m (or so) that was slashed off the wage bill when Ronaldo left (plus the €15m they received from United as a transfer fee) and this largely answers the question of how they could afford Vlahovic.

There's an ancillary benefit to this as well. Vlahovic's arrival gives Juventus leverage as they decide what to do about two other thorny striking options: the futures of Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata.

Dybala becomes a free agent in June and his representatives claim they had agreed a deal with Juventus worth, bonuses included, some €19m a season, only for Juve to delay talks until February. Morata is on loan from Atletico Madrid with an option to make the loan permanent for €35m this summer, at which time Juve will have already spent €20m on loan fees for him.

Without Vlahovic, there would have been a massive incentive to keep one or both around under the usual fallacy that it would cost a bundle to replace them and, in Morata's case, because they'd already shelled out €20m in loan fees. Now, not only will the pair be highly motivated to perform between now and the end of the season -- regardless of whether they stay or go, both will need new contracts as Morata's original deal with Atletico is up in 2023 -- if Juve want to keep them they can play hardball. Or maybe someone will take Morata on loan in the last hours of this window. If they both leave, you're freeing up some €23m in salary.

After years of getting older -- often with pricey veterans on free transfers that end up being anything but free once you factor in wages and commissions -- Juve are getting younger. Vlahovic is 22, as is Matthijs De Ligt; Kean is 21, Weston McKennie 23, Zakaria 25, Federico Chiesa and Manuel Locatelli are 24. That's as good a young corps as they've had for years.

Then there's the immediate benefit on the pitch. Juventus are fifth in Serie A, one point behind Atalanta, who have a game in hand. On paper, adding Zakaria and Vlahovic for Bentancur and Kulusevski substantially increases their chances of a top-four finish. And that, in turn, means extra prize money of €40m to €100m plus, as opposed to €10m to €30m.

If there's a negative to the Vlahovic deal, it's the commission paid to agents, which the club announced under the "accessory costs" rubric as €11.6m. The bulk of that -- more than €10m, according to people familiar with the deal -- went to Vlahovic's agents for negotiating his contract (yes, many still can't wrap their heads around this, but it's customary for the agent representing a player in a negotiation to get paid not by the player, but by the club they're negotiating with) and for acting as intermediaries on behalf of the club. It's not a record amount -- agents like Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes have received more for individual deals -- but it's still a considerable sum and, according to multiple sources, it's what prevented Fiorentina from extending Vlahovic's contract and also scared off other clubs. It's also a fee that sets a precedent for Juve, and they'll be hoping they can manage the relationship with Vlahovic's representatives going forward.

But that's just a wrinkle on an otherwise exceptional window for the bianconeri. And the curious thing is that the other three clubs they deal with can also be moderately happy with how things turned out ... and that's not something to take for granted.


Can Kulusevski & Bentancur lift Spurs to a UCL finish?

Gab and Juls discuss Tottenham's signing of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus.

Fiorentina fans are furious at losing another star player to Juventus (the last one was Federico Chiesa, but the bad blood between the two clubs goes back to Roberto Baggio's move in 1990). They're angry first and foremost at Vlahovic for what they see as a betrayal, but also at the club for saying he wouldn't be allowed to go. In the cold, hard light of day though, with 18 months left on his contract, this isn't a bad deal for the club. Once Vlahovic refused to sign a new deal -- which, in effect, he did, given his agents' demands... not just an eight-figure commission for them, but also a release clause -- the risk was always that he'd run down his contract and leave on a free transfer. They've already picked up his replacement - Arthur Cabral from Basel -- and the Brazilian center-forward has a whopping 27 goals in all competitions this season.

For Gladbach, getting €5m (plus possibly another €3m later) for Zakaria is obviously better than getting nothing in June, since he too had been very clear that he'd be leaving. They already had lined up his replacement, Toulouse's Kouadio Kone, whose signing cost €10m and who will join this summer. They're 12th in the Bundesliga and it's likely that keeping Zakaria around until the summer would have made no difference to their hopes of a European place.

As for Tottenham, it's probably more of a gamble, but they still come out stronger. Bentancur, should go straight into the side and strengthen central midfield, an area of the pitch that has been distinctly underwhelming. After a bright start, his Juve career appeared to have stalled a little, but at 24, he has plenty of time to regain his mojo, particularly under a manager like Antonio Conte.

Kulusevski is a "Plan B" choice after missing out on Luis Diaz, who joined Liverpool from Porto, and he's more of a wild card, in the sense that at 21 years old, he's raw. A devastating counterattacker before joining Juve, he's blown hot and cold since then, but the upside is huge if Conte gets it right. And in any case, the bottom line is that Spurs' chances of a top four finish just increased considerably. Few would have imagined this back in early October.

Win-win-win-win? Sure, on paper. Obviously, things on the pitch will be the final judge. But on days like these at least, the market looks as if it worked the way it's supposed to, with deals benefitting all sides. Though it's Juve with the biggest smile right now.