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Chiellini: Juve still a work in progress under Sarri

The club captain speaks in a wide-ranging interview ahead of the new season

Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus FC in action during the pre-... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Juventus are a week away from kicking off another season of football, but after a summer of change everywhere, fans are going to have to be patient if they’re expecting another Scudetto signed sealed and delivered before the snow flies.

After five years in charge, Massimiliano Allegri has moved on and been replaced by Maurizio Sarri. Fabio Paratici meanwhile is in full control as Sporting Director and one of the hottest prospects in world football—Matthijs de Ligt—decided to call Turin his new home. The Bianconeri have been splashing the cash in the summer mercato and bizarrely enough, Juventus don’t even wear the iconic black and white stripes any more. And.. apparently we’re trying desperately to get rid of Paulo Dybala and bring in Mauro Icardi.

If for some reason you fell asleep in May and woke up today you’d be forgiven for thinking the apocalypse is here.

There does remain one constant among a few more, and that is King Kong keeping his wits about him as everything else devolves into utter chaos. The captain Giorgio Chiellini has been talking to various media outlets and here’s some excerpts, starting with the rumours swirling around Icardi and Dybala.

“With all due respect to Icardi, the idea of him at Juve is fantasy football. We have some great forwards and we’re only thinking about our group. We want to stick together and help each other during a long season. Luckily it starts soon.

“Paulo’s calm, he’s doing well and he doesn’t need my advice. He’s a big boy: certain things are part of the game, we’re professionals and we’re aware of the situation.”

Signing de Ligt has been a vital infusion of youth in an aging backline, and the 35-year-old knows it.

“He is the most talented youngster in Europe, and we are happy to have him with us. All those who arrived raised the level of the team. In training you see that every year we are getting stronger, and this is a pleasure for those who like I have been here for many years but it is also a stimulus and responsibility.

“We signed important players who improve the potential value of the squad, but in the end, it all comes down to the daily work and sacrifice we’re willing to put in.

“Now finally we can get started, because we’re fed up of friendlies and training sessions.”

The surprisingly soft-spoken dottore in Economics knows that new manager Sarri is going to take some time to bed in, as will the players as they adapt to his style.

“What’s struck me is how meticulous he is in his approach, in all the things he does. We could say that he is meticulous at the highest levels because he always seeks perfection. I think that’s what struck me the most about him.

“This group are still in training mode. We’re trying to get to grips with the demands of our Coach. Every Coach has his characteristics. Allegri was different to Antonio Conte, just as Sarri is different to Allegri.

“We are trying to understand his requests as quickly as possible. We’re still a work in progress, as for some reason Serie A is the only league that starts at the end of August. From next week we’ll start stepping up a gear both physically and mentally.

“There are some new faces and we must surely get going. We have 10 days left, our last friendly before the start of the season on Saturday will be important. After that, we must start to get serious. This team have always given answers when they’ve needed to, but now it’ll be necessary to change gear.

“We must be aware that, as of next week, we must change it up a bit because we’ll be starting to get serious.”

Former manager Conte is now in charge at one-time rivals Inter Milan, while Napoli will look to push on under another former Juve boss Carlo Ancelotti.

“I think last season Inter had the kind of squad that could win the Scudetto and they’ve further reinforced this summer. I think there is a bit of a gap between us, Inter and Napoli, but at the end of the day it’ll always be tough to win.

“There will be pressure on us, but also on Inter, because a club that spent that much money on the transfer market cannot hide away and pretend they’re not expected to win. The same goes for Napoli, we are three teams starting with the objective of victory.”