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Merih Demiral, Leonardo Bonucci test positive for COVID-19

Despite not playing while on international duty, the Turkish defender is now coming back to Turin not as healthy as he left.

Juventus v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Due to injury, Merih Demiral has not appeared in a game for Juventus ever since the Champions League exit at the hands of Porto on March 9. But, the young central defender was deemed healthy enough to head out on international duty with Turkey even though he was likely not to see any significant playing time over the course of his country’s three scheduled matches.

But now, after returning to Turin, Demiral has had to go straight into isolation.Same goes for his central defense partner in crime, Leonardo Bonucci.

Demiral and Bonucci became the latest Juventus players to test positive for COVID-19 while on international duty, the club announced in two different statements on Thursday. When exactly Demiral tested positive is a bit of an unknown, but he reportedly flew back Turin on a special “health flight in the same fashion that Cristiano Ronaldo did after his positive test while on international duty back in October. Demiral had previously missed time due to an injury he picked up in the same game against Porto that saw Juventus get eliminated from the Champions League. Now, Demiral and Boncci will be out for at least the next two weeks as he undergoes proper protocol and then attempts to test negative come the middle of April.

The statements from Juventus read as follows:

Merih Demiral, due to being tested positive for Covid-19 while on duty with the Turkish national team on 26 March 2021, returned to Italy with a medical flight authorised by the competent authorities. He will continue his fiduciary isolation at the J | Hotel.

Leonardo Bonucci, upon returning from the Italian national team, this morning underwent a diagnostic molecular test for COVID-19 which came back positive. The player has already been placed in home isolation.

Demiral and Bonucci are the first Juventus player to test positive for COVID-19 since Rodrigo Bentancur was sidelined with the virus nearly a month ago on March 4. Bentancur, who was asymptomatic, was able to return immediately after testing negative two weeks later.

The two defenders, at the very least, will miss the next two weeks worth of games — which means they are out for this Saturday night’s Derby della Mole, the midweek showdown with Napoli and Genoa’s visit to the Allianz Stadium on April 11. Depending on when they do test negative, Demiral and Bonucci could be back for Juve’s trip to Bergamo to face Atalanta, but that obviously remains to be seen.

But here is yet another reminder that, yes, we still very much are playing this sport during a pandemic and positive COVID-19 cases are essentially just something that teams are simply resigned to the fact that they’re just going to have to power through it no matter what.