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Sarri wary of Lecce challenge for Juventus

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Manager’s comments ahead of tomorrow’s home game

Maurizio Sarri Meeting With The Press Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Juventus take on Lecce tomorrow looking to extend their four-point lead at the top of the Serie A table, but all the headlines are currently about the impending transfer swap between Juve and Barcelona of midfielders Miralem Pjanic and Arthur.

When asked what he knew of the negotiations, manager Maurizio Sarri deferred all questions.

“I don’t know the situation, but we’re relying on him fully right now. The lad is coming out of a delicate moment, but his technical ability isn’t up for discussion. I don’t know if he’ll be sold, but I haven’t heard anything from the club. For now, there’s no such story.

“Arthur’s a Barcelona player, talking about him wouldn’t seem right. I didn’t like it when Setien talked about Pjanic, our player. That’s why I won’t talk about Arthur.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s Serie A match against Lecce, the coach highlighted the need for a ‘winning mentality’ in the Bianconeri’s remaining fixtures.

“Our physical condition isn’t the best and we’ll play several matches close together. We must approach the game in the right way, without being sloppy or presumptuous.

“Lecce have done better away than at home, so we must have the maximum respect for them.”

Atalanta came from two goals down to beat Lazio 3-2 yesterday in a thriller, while Inter Milan blew a late lead to draw 3-3 against Sassuolo in another exciting game earlier.

“I didn’t see the Inter game and I saw some of Lazio’s. Right now, we don’t have a substantial advantage.

“There are 33 points up for grabs and we must have the mentality to win points in all our games, nothing else.”

Striker Gonzalo Higuain appears likely to feature tomorrow after playing a bigger role in training this week.

“Gonzalo trained with the team yesterday. He can play a small role in a match, just like Aaron Ramsey.

“Pipita’s a sensitive player, everything that’s happened in his personal life and around the world has affected him. Upon returning, he didn’t think it was right to restart. He’s an important player for us.”

Juventus’ fullback woes continue after the sending off of Danilo in the win on Monday, and Alex Sandro and Mattia De Sciglio still injured. It’s looking Blaise Matuidi will deputize at the leftback position.

“Today we went towards the Matuidi solution. We’ll try out others and then make a decision.

“We may have to rely on some of the Under-23 lads. One of them, in my opinion, is almost ready. He would only need a bit of Serie A experience behind him, but I’ll never tell you their name.”

Federico Bernardeschi has come in for a lot of criticism due to his lacklustre displays, but had a better game in the win against Bologna.

“Bernardeschi’s strong, he has technical and physical ability. He must find consistency and he certainly has to mature as a footballer, but I never had any doubts about his ability.

“I still think he can become a great central midfielder for his ability to accelerate.”

The Juventus Women were today awarded the Scudetto for the canceled season, their third title in a row.

“A great congratulations to the girls of Juventus Women, Stefano Braghin and Rita Guarino for the great path that led them to be awarded the Scudetto.”