Arsenal target Khedira defends decision to dig heels in at Juventus

Sami Khedira

Sami Khedira – a reported target for Arsenal this summer – claims he rejected the chance to leave the Allianz Stadium for purely professional, rather than financial reasons.

Khedira was expected to be among the players leaving Juve over the summer, and had been strongly linked with a move to the Gunners, who were reportedly keen on a cut-price swoop.

However, Khedira has dug his heels in at Juventus and will instead form part of Maurizio Sarri’s plans for the new season – leading to the midfielder defending his actions and stressing his desire to win the Champions League as the main factor.

“Sarri wants us to play in a totally different kind of way,” he said in an interview with German publication Kicker.

“For that reason, we’ve had some difficulties and we need time to adapt to the new system, but it’s normal.

“Playing a different kind of football, pressing, intensity, passion and intelligence. They’re all things that appeal to me.

“My knee is fine and I feel completely fit, I trust my body. Last season was unlucky for me. I wasn’t very happy, with all the injuries to my knee, the heart operation. I’d entered a negative spiral.

“I questioned everything: do I still have fire in my belly? Do I still have the right physical condition? I replied ‘yes’.

“If you play for Juve you always want to win the Champions League, you have to improve year after year. And I always want to be amongst the 11 starters.

“After a training session, I felt dizzy and I couldn’t see clearly. I warned the doctor, but I didn’t feel my life was in danger and the arrhythmia operation was almost routine.

“I’m convinced that I can get back to being at the highest level, otherwise you’d be talking to a pensioner and not the footballer Khedira. I can play at such a level for three more years.

“I haven’t talked to any other teams. I know there’s many of us and that Juve must sell. At 32 and having played just 17 games last season, I was always going to be scrutinised.

“It’s always been like that for me, but I’ve always ended up playing. With Juve, everything was clear from the start of preseason.

“I wouldn’t leave and I didn’t want to leave. I heard I was only staying for the money. That struck me because then the fans believed it. I’ve never played for money, only to win trophies.”

Juventus will seemingly look to sell Emre Can this summer instead, with two European giants linked with moves for the former Liverpool man.

And when asked about Juventus’ chances of winning a ninth straight Scudetto and a first Champions League since 1996, Khedira continued: “I want to make my dream of winning the Champions  League with Juve come true because I love the club, the team and the city.

“We mustn’t hide. We didn’t buy Ronaldo or De Ligt to go out in the quarter-finals or semi-finals.

“The club are aiming to win the trophy, even if only thinking about that would be fatal. The title race this season will be more exciting than the last one.

“Inter have got stronger and taken a very good Coach in Antonio Conte, while Napoli must always be considered.

“We need to start the season focused and draw belief from that into Europe. It would be a good season for me if I could play 80 percent of the games and win the three main trophies with Juve.”