Chelsea switch defensive targets after Bonucci developments

Date published: Tuesday 27th June 2017 12:29

Massimiliano Allegri has slammed the door shut on the sale of Leonardo Bonucci after claiming the centre-back is “the future leader of the Juventus dressing room”.

Bonucci, 30, has been linked with a move to the Premier League with Chelsea and Man City understood to have made enquiries about the Italy international.

Allegri has admitted the pair did have a bust-up last season which resulted in the centre-back being dropped for the Champions League fixture with Porto in February. The Juve chief has though made it clear that their relationship has not soured and believes Bonucci will succeed Gianluigi Buffon as the captain of the Turin club.

“In the management of the Bonucci incident, at that moment it was right to do what I did,” Allegri told Sky Sport Italia. “There are moments when it is right to turn a blind eye and moments when you instead need to keep both eyes wide open.

“At that moment in time, Leo got it wrong. Even I got it wrong, and I punished myself for it, and it was right that Leo was dropped. It was an important and decisive game and even if we had lost, we would have found the strength to win the next 10.

“We played a good game against Porto and then Bonucci was back in two days later because he’s an important player, an extraordinary player and, above all, he needs to realise that he is going to be the future leader of the Juventus dressing room.”

Bonucci was also believed to have been involved in an argument with team-mates during half-time in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid. The former Bari man has since denied those claims, but Allegri has admitted he made mistakes during the interval in Cardiff.

“It’s a game which will serve as a lesson to us, especially in the way we manage matches,” Allegri added. “You can’t play a full game at 100 miles per hour and we could not imagine playing a second half the way we had played the first because we pushed a lot in the first 45 minutes, so we needed to have more authority and know our rhythm better.

“At the end of the first half, I should have made two or three changes, but it was impossible to do that because when you’re playing a final, there is always the prospect of extra time and, at the time, we had [Miralem] Pjanic with a bad knee and [Mario] Mandzukic with an ankle which was swelling, so I sent the same players out, hoping that the game would go in a certain way and that we would manage to hold out for the next 20 minutes.

“They had already started to gain the upper hand in the final five minutes of the first half, whereas they had been statues for the first 40 minutes and were scared of conceding. In the second half, when they saw us struggling more, they turned us over.”

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has worked with Bonucci, who is contracted until 2021, at Juventus and with the national team and is a firm fan of the classy defender, but it looks as though he will have to now turn his attentions elsewhere.

The London Evening Standard now claim Chelsea will “concentrate their efforts on buying Virgil van Dijk”.

The Dutch defender, who was close to a move to Liverpool before Southampton reported the Anfield club over a alleged illegal approach, is rated in the £70million bracket, but Conte is desperate to add a centre-back to his squad and Van Dijk is understood to be a target.

The report also claims the Blues are hoping to make a club-record £61million move for Juventus left-back Alex Sandro and seal a move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.

 

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