Soccer-Stuttering Juve look to returning Kean for inspiration


Soccer Football - World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group C - Italy v Lithuania - Mapei Stadium - Citta del Tricolore, Reggio Emilia, Italy - September 8, 2021 Italy's Moise Kean during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

(Reuters) - After losing talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United, things went from bad to worse for Juventus in their last match against Empoli and now they must look elsewhere for inspiration, with a new yet familiar face ready to fire.

To say things did not work out for Moise Kean at English Premier League side Everton is an understatement.

Having left Juve to join the Merseyside club for a fee of 27.5 million euros ($32.5 million) as a precocious 19-year-old in 2019, big things were expected.

But after scoring just two league goals in 29 appearances in 2019-20, Kean was sent out to French side Paris St Germain on loan the following season having failed to live up to his billing in England.

Now, he is back in Turin after re-joining Juve on a two-year loan, the place where he made his name as a youngster after scoring seven Serie A goals in 16 appearances.

His team need him to hit the ground running, starting on Saturday against Napoli.

Juventus were held to a 2-2 draw against Udinese on the opening day of the new season before, having sold Ronaldo to United, slumping to a 1-0 defeat to promoted Empoli in the last match prior to the international break.

The manner of the performance was the most worrying thing for Juve fans, as without last season's Serie A top goalscorer, they did not even look like finding the net in the Juventus Stadium.

Without a win from their opening two matches, another defeat in Naples would leave them with plenty to do to regain the Scudetto, and after Kean's double for Italy against Lithuania on Wednesday, he could well be the man to dig his club side out of their hole.

"Everything is in their heads and their feet. If they are committed and work seriously, they have great futures. But it is up to them," Italy manager Roberto Mancini said of Kean and Sassuolo striker Giacomo Raspadori after the Azzurri's 5-0 win.

Bringing Kean's goalscoring momentum into the weekend could be crucial, given Napoli have two wins from two at the start of the new season.

Another team with a perfect record so far are Lazio, who have impressed under new coach Maurizio Sarri, sitting top of the standings on goal difference.

But their first real test of the season lies ahead on Sunday, as they visit AC Milan, also with two wins from two.

There is a chance that last season's top goalscorer for Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will return from injury against Lazio, having missed four months with a knee problem.

Champions Inter Milan will also look to continue their winning start at Sampdoria on Sunday, as will Jose Mourinho's AS Roma, who face Sassuolo at the Stadio Olimpico.

($1 = 0.8455 euros)

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Toby Davis)

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