With Juventus set to face Manchester United in the Champions League this week, Leonardo Bonucci has revealed that he did indeed reject not one but two offers to join the Premier League club over the past couple of years.
When word got out that Bonucci had fallen out with Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri (a “decision driven by pride”, in the defender’s words) in the summer of 2016 and was looking to leave the Bianconeri, United were one of several clubs who tendered their interest.
They then returned with a second offer at the end of the 2017/18 season when it was apparent that Bonucci’s move to AC Milan had gone awry, but the defender had already made his mind up that a cap-in-hand return to Turin was the only course his career would be taking.
In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, Bonucci broached the subject, as well as his subsequent decision to quit Milan after one season and rejoin Juventus:
Basically there have been some possibilities with Manchester United […] There was an offer but there was no chance of me going there once Juve were interested.
I feel at home (at Juve). Here I really do my best, I just push myself to the maximum and that’s something at Milan I really didn’t manage, I didn’t succeed to achieve and that was probably because in my heart I had already made the decision that I wanted to go back home.
The decision was not made until June but it’s true that I had this feeling inside me. So when my agent told me there was a tangible opportunity to go back I just stopped listening to anyone telling me what to do, I stopped listening to any kind of suggestion and I just said ‘OK, let’s go home’.
While talking about honing his craft alongside fellow ‘Inglorious Bastards’ (the Juve trio’s self-administered nickname) Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, Bonucci also outlined his general approach to defending.
You may not be surprised to learn that the 31-year-old takes it *very* seriously.
Defending is definitely an art […] I defend my goal as if it were my home. I do my best to defend it and not to allow anyone to score goals or penetrate that. It’s true.
Defence for me is so important because I do not want anyone to trespass and invade my property because that goal is my property.
That’s roughly 100-odd years of Italian central-defending condensed into two rugged sentences. Baresi, Bergomi, Facchetti, Gentile, Maldini, Nesta, Cannavaro; all of them.
Beautiful, in a very very unbeautiful kind of way.