Thursday 22 February 2018

Juventus star Leonardo Bonucci has a very personal reason for snubbing the Premier League for shock Milan move

Leonardo Bonucci
Leonardo Bonucci

Miguel Delaney

It was initially thought by Alessandro Del Piero to be “a joke” but, by the time it was confirmed, the main word being used was “shock”.

Leo Bonucci, one of the most sought-after defenders in world football and arguably the best, has made a shock move from Champions League finalists and repeat Italian champions Juventus to a Milan that has recently fallen well short of the club’s vaunted reputation.

And, sure, Milan may be in the middle of one of the most sensational spending sprees in world football this summer but the mere £35m they are set to pay for Bonucci is still a lot less than what they could have got from one of the many top Premier League clubs interested in him.

So, if Del Piero thinks this is a joke, what must Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho be thinking? Bonucci was the main defensive target for all of them last summer. And, if Juventus were unwilling to accept fees of up to £65m from their clubs then, why go so low now?

In short, why isn’t Bonucci going to one of the biggest and wealthiest teams in Europe - let alone the Premier League - now that a disagreement with manager Max Allegri has evidently led Juventus to sell him?

The truth is that some of those managers like Conte probably weren’t too shocked, because they had already been given indications in the summer of 2016 that the Italian international - who turned 30 in May - wanted to stay in Italy for family reasons, and was quite firm on it. It is one big reason why his name was never mentioned among their targets this season, even though all of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City still wanted to sign a top-class defender.

Many in Italy believe that is understandably down to the health of his young son Matteo, who suffered from a serious illness this time last year, so Bonucci wants to keep everything as stable as possible. In a candid interview with El Pais before Juventus’ Champions League clash with Barcelona in March, the defender revealed that it had even led him to think about quitting football.

“For three or four months, my head was just not in the right place,” he said. “It’s the head that gets the legs moving. For around 15 days after the surgery, until I started to see him improving, I was just not interested in training or anything to do with football.

“I’ve always hated hospitals and tried to avoid them, but at that time I had to be there and I was really struggling to be calm. Matteo is much better now and our family feels more united than ever.

“Yes, I thought about quitting. Football was just not my priority at that moment. You see your son with so much to live for, he’s asking you so many questions and why this is happening to him… and I had no answers.

“Priorities change at those times. Now I tell myself that I am lucky. Everything I have done has been from the heart.”

It is only natural, then, that Bonucci would want to go to a massive club just an hour and a half from Turin if he was actually leaving Juventus.

It is likely a big reason why England was just never an option, despite the Italian champions taking what seemed the most surprising option possible.

(© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

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