One of the last remaining players from one of Juventus’ greatest eras has officially left the building.
And it certainly wasn’t as amicable as the other guys, but he has gone nonetheless.
Juventus announced on Friday, the final day of the summer transfer window, that former captain Leonardo Bonucci has seen his summer-long dispute with the club come to an end. The 36-year-old Bonucci, who announced in the final weeks of last season that the 2023-24 campaign would be his last in anticipation of his contract in Turin expiring, has signed with Bundesliga side and Champions League participant Union Berlin.
Bonucci, who was in the process of taking legal action to try and get back into the Juventus squad after being frozen out by Max Allegri and new football chief Cristiano Giuntoli, signed a one-year deal with Union. The deal has an option for a second, according to reports.
Thank you, Leo! ⚪️⚫— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) September 1, 2023
The official wording of the deal, courtesy of Juventus’ press office:
Turin, 1 September 2023 - Juventus Football Club S.p.A. announces that an agreement with 1. FC Union Berlin has been reached for the free definitive disposal of the registration rights of the player Leonardo Bonucci.
This operation generates a negative economic impact of approximately € 5.6 million on the 2022/2023 financial year due to the partial write-down of the net book value of the player’s registration rights.
There it is, folks. There is the resolution. It may not be the resolution that one side clearly wanted, but it’s a resolution nonetheless. We know this because as Bonucci was pictured walking to his flight to Rome (where he was set to catch a private flight to Berlin) on Thursday at the Turin-Caselle Airport, it was not exactly a happy kind of look on his face. Bonucci was asked if there will be a farewell to Juventus supporters and his was rather short.
That’s not going to be the only lasting image of Bonucci’s Juventus career, but it’s certainly a sad way to go out knowing just how many seasons he has played in Turin.
But ever since the summers of 2017 and 2018, things have always been a little complicated between Bonucci, Juventus and a number of supporters.
That summer of 2017 is when Bonucci, coming off a second straight loss in a Champions League final in the span of three seasons, decided that he needed to get away from Juventus and signed with Milan. All of a year later and a rather roller coaster-like season with Milan, Bonucci made it be known that he wanted to come back to Juventus. He did indeed make his return to Juve, but there very much was that lingering feeling of what had happened the summer before when he demanded a transfer away from the club in which he had won so much before.
Bonucci’s second tenure at Juventus was certainly not as successful as the first. That obviously had to do with the quality of the squad as a whole, but Bonucci’s skillset was becoming limited as he aged into his early and then mid-30s. Bonucci’s final season with Juventus proved to be his lone year as club captain, taking over for former teammate Giorgio Chiellini. With injury issues keeping him out for a large portion of the 2022-23 season, it was Danilo who took over as captain and now wears the armband full time.
Love him or hate him, Bonucci’s impact with Juventus won’t be forgotten. He was part of a defense with Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Gigi Buffon that was one of the best Serie A had ever seen, and it was his ability to impact things in attack as well with his passing ability to allow Juve to do things that other teams couldn’t. Bonucci is one of six players in club history to have over 500 appearances to their name.
So as much of an awkward exit both of Bonucci’s have been, he certainly will go down in club lore as quite the player indeed.