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 By Ben Gladwell

Juventus' Massimiliano Allegri cools Leonardo Bonucci exit speculation

Massimiliano Allegri says Leonardo Bonucci is "the future leader of the Juventus dressing room," despite speculation which continues to link him with a move to the Premier League.

Manchester City and Chelsea have both been linked with moves for the defender, who had a bust-up with Allegri last season.

Allegri says that altercation, which saw Bonucci dropped for the Champions League fixture with Porto in February, was necessary and did not ruin but rather reinforced their relationship.

"In the management of the Bonucci incident, at that moment it was right to do what I did," Allegri told Sky Sport Italia. "There are moments when it is right to turn a blind eye and moments when you instead need to keep both eyes wide open.

"At that moment in time, Leo got it wrong. Even I got it wrong, and I punished myself for it, and it was right that Leo was dropped. It was an important and decisive game and even if we had lost, we would have found the strength to win the next 10.

"We played a good game against Porto and then Bonucci was back in two days later because he's an important player, an extraordinary player and, above all, he needs to realise that he is going to be the future leader of the Juventus dressing room."

Leonardo Bunocci
Leonardo Bonucci has played in two Champions League finals with Juventus.

Bonucci has a contract until 2021 with Juventus, but continues to be linked with both City, whose coach Pep Guardiola has said he is a big admirer, and Chelsea, whose coach Antonio Conte worked with him both in Turin and with Italy.

Those rumours were reinforced when it was reported that he had been involved in an argument with teammates at half-time of the Champions League final with Real Madrid -- speculation the player dismissed on social media.

What actually happened during the interval in Cardiff remains unknown, although Allegri says he made mistakes.

"It's a game which will serve as a lesson to us, especially in the way we manage matches," Allegri said. "You can't play a full game at 100 miles per hour and we could not imagine playing a second half the way we had played the first because we pushed a lot in the first 45 minutes, so we needed to have more authority and know our rhythm better.

"At the end of the first half, I should have made two or three changes, but it was impossible to do that because when you're playing a final, there is always the prospect of extra time and, at the time, we had [Miralem] Pjanic with a bad knee and [Mario] Mandzukic with an ankle which was swelling, so I sent the same players out, hoping that the game would go in a certain way and that we would manage to hold out for the next 20 minutes.

"They had already started to gain the upper hand in the final five minutes of the first half, whereas they had been statues for the first 40 minutes and were scared of conceding. In the second half, when they saw us struggling more, they turned us over."

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.


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