Tuesday provided this blog the chance to be a part of something that we couldn’t previously say — be a part of a Max Allegri press conference.
Yes, as part of the Soccer Champions Tour and Juventus’ upcoming three games in the United States against Chivas Guadalajara, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Allegri and the man who has changed from No. 7 for No. 9, Dusan Vlahovic, were available for questions during what turned out to be a 23-minute interview session in the Zoom room.
Vlahovic spoke about how much he is looking forward to playing alongside Ángel Di Maria and Paul Pogba for the first time, while cracking a nice smile when being asked about reuniting with former Fiorentina teammate Federico Chiesa, who’s still working his way back from major knee surgery.
Allegri, in his first days of the second season of his second stint at Juventus, was very honest about what Juve’s new signings bring and just what things might be like if he matches up against Pogba for another one of their famous basketball matchups.
Juventus opens its U.S. tour against Chivas in Las Vegas on Friday, July 22, before heading to Dallas and Los Angeles to face the two Spanish giants.
When asked about the situation with the giant transfer elephant in the room, Matthijs de Ligt’s future at Juve, and if it’s affecting the preseason, Allegri replied: “Not at all.”
“As you all know, (on Monday) there was a meeting with Bayern Munich,” continued Allegri. “De Ligt is still a Juventus player and has been training very well. I basically train the available players and, at the moment, de Ligt is a Juventus player. The transfer market is open until the 31st of August, so anything could happen. I’m really very happy with how he’s behaving and how the club has been making these important signings. And if he does leave the club, I’m sure the club will replace him in the best possible way.”
Of course, de Ligt wasn’t the only transfer market-related questions that Allegri received during the press conference. And with the timing of his media session, Allegri was able to comment on the recent arrivals of Paul Pogba and Ángel Di Maria, both of whom made their free-agent moves to Turin official within the last couple of days.
“Pogba and Di Maria, they’re certainly important players from a technical point of view and they raise the level of the while team,” said Allegri. “They can decrease responsibility from other players improve the general technical level of the team. I’m very happy these two players have joined the team.”
Allegri then further expanded on Pogba’s return to Juventus after six tumultuous years with Manchester United, the first stop on the #PogBack tour.
“Paul arrived at the right moment and in the best possible manner with great will, great determination and the will to win with great redemption because the last few years he spent at Manchester United he couldn’t play up to his level,” said Allegri. “Now, basically, he’s back home, so I truly believe he will be giving us a helping hand from a technical and physical point of view.”
Another player who Juventini are anxiously awaiting the return of — although one very different to that of Pogba — is Federico Chiesa, who is working his way back from a torn ACL he suffered at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome back in January.
Cheisa will be one of three first-team players who won’t be on the U.S. tour due to injury, Allegri said during the media session. He will be joined by a pair of Brazilians, Arthur and Kaio Jorge, who will stay back in Turin.
“Federico Chiesa should be available in mid-September,” said Allegri when asked about the Italian winger by an incredibly handsome Juventus blogger who was sitting at his kitchen table. “When these types of injuries occur, I’m always very cautious. We’ll have a two-month break from November to January, and that will certainly be an advantage for him to recover from January onwards.”
And if you’re going to be coming to the United States to play a couple of games, it only makes sense to be asked about the American on your roster. This is what Allegri had to say about Weston McKennie:
“McKennie is a Juventus player who is very important. Last year, unfortunately, he had to miss the last four months of the season because of an injury he had in the Champions League. He will be involved in the U.S. tour. ... As far as the other players who are available like McKennie, he’s a player that will have the chance to have a great season.”
What about the midfielders who could be playing alongside McKennie during the U.S. tour?
“At the moment, we have six midfielders, with Arthur injured,” said Allegri. “We also have (Nicolo) Fagioli, who will be coming with us (to the United States). We have (Fabio) Miretti, who will be joining us on Aug. 3 after playing the Under-19 European Championship and recently graduated from school. We’ll also have Nicolo Rovella (on the U.S. tour) and will be deciding on whether (Filippo) Ranocchia will be coming with us as well. These are players who have very good quality and need to play certain kind of matches just to see what kind of level they have reached.”
While not exactly familiar with what Chivas may have to offer entering the July 22 friendly in Las Vegas, Allegri was quick to talk up the three matches in the U.S. that his team will play over a nine-day span.
“Last year, Juventus had a year where we didn’t win any trophies. Although last year we started to win and then we didn’t succeed. Now this year with Di Maria, Pogba and (Federico) Gatti — who is a young player that is really very good — we will hopefully be able to recover Chiesa because we didn’t have a chance to have him available, like McKennie. Hopefully with all of these players available, Juventus will be more competitive.
“It’s not easy to win as usual, but nonetheless we’ll have to do our best in order to possibly win Serie A and do our best in the Champions League. We have the next few months that will be extremely important for our preparation.”