Cristiano Giuntoli has made his first big-time decision as the man at the helm of Juventus’ sporting area.
And it involves the guy who has been wearing the captain’s armband for the last 12 months.
Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus’ 36-year-old captain who has a year left on his contract, has been informed by Giuntoli and Giovanni Manna during a teleconference meeting Thursday that he is no longer part of the club’s project and is out of the squad entirely. This is according to multiple reports out of Italy Thursday night, with those same Italian reporters saying that Bonucci is now on the market and free to leave Juve this summer if he wants to try and be a full-time starter somewhere else ahead of next summer’s Euros.
Bonucci had previously announced after his 500th appearance at Juventus that he will retire following the end of the 2023-24 season with the expiration of his current deal. But, with this sudden change of course, Bonucci will have to seek playing time elsewhere if he wants to get regular minutes and subsequently captain Italy at the Euros.
According to Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio, Bonucci is still expected to report for preseason training at Continassa on Monday, as he is one of the last Juve players to report following extended holiday as a result of international duty that extended his season last month.
Bonucci’s now-expected departure comes after a 2022-23 season in which poor form and injuries dominated the discussion surrounding him. His first season as captain after Giorgio Chiellini left and headed off to Los Angeles was not a productive one, as Bonucci was seen on the sidelines supporting his teammates and trying to essentially coach them up more than he was on the field.
In total, Bonucci started just nine Serie A matches last season and appeared in only 16 total.
Where he goes from here is very much an unknown at the moment. He has been linked with a move to Newcastle as well as potentially Sampdoria in Serie B, which is coached by former Juve teammate and manager Andrea Pirlo. There has also been chatter regarding a potential bid from Saudi Arabia, although previous reports suggested Bonucci would turn those down in favor of staying at Juventus.
But now with Giuntoli making his presence known and informing Bonucci of his technical plans that don’t involve the last remaining part of the famed BBC defense, who knows if the same offers that might have been turned down now become something to entertain.