When the late-fall and winter months arrive, it always seems that Contract Extension Season seems to heat up a little bit more around Turin. The reports start to come out around the Italian press, the Juventus management starts to drop hints — or flat out declare — who might be in line to see a year or two (or more) tacked onto their current deals.
It’s all part of the plan, and it always takes place when December is right around the corner.
Leave it to the guy who has filled in for Giorgio Chiellini and gotten his career back on track to be the first one to be the first one to benefit from that.
Juventus announced on Tuesday that the club and stand-in captain Leonardo Bonucci have agreed to a contract extension through the 2023-24 season. While other names had been thrown out there as ones to be on the precipices of contract extensioning, it was Bonucci — a name that hadn’t been previously rumored to be in extension talks — to get a year added onto his current deal that he signed when he returned to Juventus two summers ago.
The 32-year-old Bonucci has been one of Juventus’ best players this season as he has filled in for Chiellini, who underwent major knee surgery after the opening weekend of the 2019-20 season in August. It’s been that injury to Chiellini that Bonucci pointed to earlier this week as something that has been the biggest reason why he has played so well this season:
“It was an important moment and it did spark something more in me. My objective was to be better than the previous two years, because I know that I hadn’t been at my best and was in some difficult situations.
“I may be 32 years old, but I can still improve and grow. I see Giorgio every day in Turin and I am sure he’ll surprise everyone with how quickly he recovers.”
(Source: Football Italia)
Of course, this time last year — and throughout pretty much all of his first season back in Turin — the feeling around Bonucci’s play was very, very different. He was in the same kind of form that saw him struggle terribly with Milan, where he was also named captain but experienced much different results. His mistakes were costing Juventus goals allowed and points both domestically and in the Champions League. He wasn’t a player that Juve could count on week-in and week-out, but Max Allegri was obviously in a situation where he had to play Bonucci because the other options in defense weren’t exactly plentiful.
This season, however, has been much, much different — and for the better.
Bonucci has season his form get back to more of what we saw from him during his first go with Juventus. Like he said, filling in for Chiellini as captain — for both club and country — and being the leader at the back has been the kick in the ass he needed to snap out of what proved to be a two-year funk. He is the only Juventus player to start every game in all competitions — a clear sign that Maurizio Sarri is counting on Bonucci to both lead the defense and the fact that he has been a stable presence at the back.
And Bonucci’s got a new contract to show for it. Not like he was going anywhere to begin with, but with a contract that will take him into his late-30s, the likelihood of Bonucci finishing his career with Juventus just became that much more of a certainty.