Juventus travel to Verona tomorrow to take on Chievo, and manager Massimiliano Allegri has been speaking with the media ahead of the Serie A clash. He started off by assuring one and all that his future belongs at Juve despite rumours this week of interest from Paris St. Germain and Chelsea, as well as older chatter regarding Real Madrid and Arsenal.
“I’m at a great club, I have a contract with Juventus until 2020.
“Here today it’s all a thought. Someone thinks this, another thinks that… we try not to think, because if you think that much it drives you crazy. I always say the less you think, the better it is.
“Apart from the fact I’m at a great club, I have a contract with Juventus until 2020 and I’m happy at Juventus, so there’s nothing new right now.
“The only thing that matters is getting to the end and achieving our objectives.”
Club legend Gianluigi Buffon has returned to training after an injury layoff, and Allegri offered his thoughts on comments the captain had made earlier regarding his future.
“Tomorrow Buffon will be with the group, but he’ll take the starting shirt back in Bergamo on Tuesday. As for the statements made, I think they’re part of the reflections Gigi is doing, and I think that’s a separate thing.
“The priority now is to return, take his starting place and think about being a player until the end of the year. I went through it, when I decided I had really stopped a long time before, but I’ve never been to Buffon’s levels - I met Milan and Juventus and then stopped.
“It’s part of life though, you have to accept it. You need to understand that the time comes for us all, and after that we have another 40 years to do great things in life. It’s not easy, especially for the great champions, but it’s life, you can’t go back.
“We have to keep going forward, because it’s always beautiful to move forward while still being able to think about what has been done. The only thing Gigi has to do right now is be a player, to come back.
“On Tuesday he’ll come back in, I think this rest has been good for him because he’s regenerated after the World Cup loss. We’re all waiting for him with open arms.”
When asked if there was difficulty for him as a manager, especially with how Antonio Conte dealt with Alessandro Del Piero in his last season with the Bianconeri -
“Difficult no, because when Gigi was out of the team, he wasn’t playing because he was injured. He’d have played otherwise, and from Tuesday he’ll take back his starting position.
”There’s no problem. Then at the end of the year he’ll reflect and he’ll decide, but we all reflect every day.
”He’s in a period where he has a little more to think about, but right now he doesn’t need to think, he needs to get back to being a footballer.”
Allegri talked about his squad selection for tomorrow -
“I don’t think there will be changes up-front. There will be changes in defence, but having said that tomorrow we have to face a Chievo side that recently may have been missing results, but not performances.
“Not to mention that every time Chievo have a game where they concede a lot of goals, like they did against Lazio, they always play well in the next match.
“They got a 0-0 with Roma after a bad defeat, they got a 0-0 with Napoli after a bad defeat, so tomorrow we just have to get the result to stretch away from those behind us and stay in Napoli’s slipstream.
“It won’t be easy, so we’ll need to play a good game on a mental level because playing in their home is never easy. They’re first in terms of aerial duels in the Italian league, they’re a physical team who do well on dead balls, so this is a serious game.”
On the subject of Juve’s performances that have resulted only in narrow wins -
“It’s clear that you get results through performances, but we have a team with different characteristics to those of Napoli, Roma, Inter, Real Madrid and Tottenham, who we play in 15 days.
“In that game we’ll find a team which, as well as being technical, is very physical. Napoli aren’t as physical a team so it’s normal that they have different characteristics, they play differently.
“This year, in addition to their nice game they’re getting excellent results because they’re top of the league with 54 points. I also don’t think Napoli have ever won 1-0 four times in the first 20 games, so they’ve changed a bit too. I hope they don’t learn too quickly!”
The manager went on to give an injury update -
“Claudio Marchisio worked partly with the team yesterday but it’s not likely he’ll be available because he doesn’t have much work under his belt. He’ll be available for Tuesday.
“Paulo Dybala is proceeding with is recovery, he’ll have an exam in the middle of next week to see if he’s healed.
“As for Juan Cuadrado, he’s going to see a specialist in Germany on Monday where he’ll be told whether he needs an operation, if not he’ll continue with his recovery.
“Benedikt Howedes is continuing with his recovery. Blaise Matuidi is ready, he’s been running and he’ll be with the team today. I’ll see if he’ll play tomorrow but it’s really nothing, he just took a knock.
“Mattia De Sciglio or Stephan Lichtsteiner will play tomorrow and we could give Giorgio Chellini a rest.
“If I decide to play with three in midfield then Stefano Sturaro could play, or maybe I’ll decide to throw in all four attackers we have available. So we could have two or three in central midfield.
“It could be that I’ll play all four, or Federico Bernardeschi could play instead of Douglas Costa tomorrow. He’s doing very well and I’m really happy with Federico.
“As for Alex Sandro I’ll see how he is today, he’s mostly shaken off his knock but not totally. If he doesn’t play though there’s Kwadwo Asamoah a very, very reliable player who is having a great season.”
When asked if he was worried about Gonzalo Higuain, whose last League goal was on December 1 -
“It doesn’t bother me whatsoever. Among other things he’s played good matches, especially when we play with a front-three it’s normal that he has to sacrifice a little more in the build-up play.
“Even against Genoa he played a good match, he could have had a couple of goals but he didn’t, these things happen.
“He absolutely doesn’t need to worry. I rang the alarm at the start of the season when he wasn’t good physically, he needed to get into condition and so then he needed a bit of an alarm.
“Now he’s sacrificing, working, playing for the team. He had chances in Cagliari, he had chances against Genoa, he had a sight of goal and then Izzo took it off his toe.
“He’ll get back to scoring soon.”