Juventus finally completed the protracted transfer process for Manuel Locatelli, signing the midfielder earlier this week from Sassuolo. After the player attended the traditional first team versus Under-23s game that heralds the new season, today he was unveiled to the media with a press conference.
The 23-year-old reiterated that he grew up a Juve fan and was happy to finally achieve the goal of playing for the Bianconeri.
“This has always been the dream I had as a child. We have a Juventus family, and it’s a double sensation for me. I have to get into the part right away, if I’m here it’s because I deserve it and I can’t wait to get started.
“I will give my all because we are here for this. There’s a winning mentality here, we are here to win. I will immediately put myself at the service of the team and the service of the coach. It was already wonderful how many teammates welcomed me.
“They are all good guys, and I can’t wait to spend these years with them.”
Regarding the position he would play in midfield, and what it would be like to be a part of a team filled with legitimate superstars.
“Our midfield will be constantly moving but we still need to practise – I’ve only had one training session. The boss wants me to play the ball forward quickly and I’m ready to play wherever he wants me.
“Here I’ll get to play with some of the guys from the Italy team. It was strange when I saw them because you could see they had a different mentality to the others. I spent a lot of time chatting to them and they’ve written to me over the last few weeks. Hugging Giorgio Chiellini felt incredible and so natural. He welcomed me like a younger brother.
“There are so many world-class players here. When you play against Cristiano Ronaldo and then you find yourself in the same dressing room as him, it’s a special feeling. The same goes for Paulo Dybala.”
What did he know about Juve’s coach Massimiliano Allegri, and how much does he remember about scoring against the Bianconeri five years ago?
“I had a few training sessions with [Massimiliano] Allegri at AC Milan a few years back. I remember them well. It’s an honour to be coached by someone like him who’s won so much.
“I’m looking forward to learning from him because I still have so much room for improvement.
“The goal I scored for AC Milan against Juve in 2016 was an incredible moment which catapulted me into a completely different world. I was very young and I really found it tough after that goal, because the expectations were very high. Fortunately, thanks to Sassuolo, I was able to find my feet again.
“After that goal, my grandmother, who is a big Juventus fan, said: ‘Well done, Manuel, but Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick should have been a goal too!’”
The former AC Milan youth product has worn #73 throughout his time with the Rossoneri and then at Sassuolo, but has switched to #27 at Juve that Stefano Sturaro and Fabio Quagliarella among others have previously worn.
“I’ve chosen the number 27 as my shirt number. 7 brings me luck and I wanted to change the number because this is a new adventure.”
Locatelli went on to express his admiration for former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio.
“I heard that Marchisio wanted me to come here. He did a lot for Juve, I’d like to follow in his footsteps.”
Was he ready to play if needed on Sunday against Udinese in Juve’s first game of the Serie A season?
“I’m not at 100% in terms of my fitness, but I’m ready to play. The coach will make that decision.”