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Sarri: Pjanic stays until the end of August

Manager’s comments after Juventus’ belabored 4-0 win over Lecce today

Juventus v US Lecce - Serie A Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Juventus huffed and puffed and finally blew Lecce down in the second half of their evening game in Turin, needing a red card late on in the first half to break the visitors’ resolve.

While the result was welcome, the manner in which it was achieved will continue to worry Juve fans despite the club now sitting comfortably seven points clear of Lazio at the top of the table.

Speaking after the game, manager Maurizio Sarri acknowledged the difficulty of breaking down their opponents.

“I saw a game that was most painful in a physical sense. We struggled for fuel, even if we kept plugging away. Playing every three days, it can happen that we’re unable to get going right away in the best possible way.

“The important thing is to focus on ourselves with the mentality we showed tonight. We’re only thinking about ourselves.”

Gonzalo Higuain appeared for the first time since the resumption of football, looked lively and got a goal as well.

“Higuain’s had a difficult time in his personal life. COVID is something that hit him hard. Now he’s recovering and I’m glad he rediscovered himself.

“He’ll certainly give us a lot in the final part of the season. The central defenders also had a great game, practically defending on the halfway line.

“The midfielders struggled physically. Pjanic improved as the game went on and Rabiot coming off was a tactical decision.”

Douglas Costa also came in for commendation from Sarri.

“He’s an extraordinary weapon for this time of the season, when teams are most at risk of dropping off in the second half.

“He can change a game with his introduction. Let’s not tell him that...

“He understands, but we have to keep him motivated and start him every now and then.”

Miralem Pjanic has been the subject of transfer chatter, with a swap with Barcelona’s Arthur Melo.

“He’ll be with us until the end of August. I hope he’ll stay with us even beyond that, but these are decisions that will be made at a later stage.

“Miralem’s a professional, he understands situations quickly. I don’t know anything at the moment, but I’m not worried.”