The Juventus defender claims that Pep Guardiola was eager to bring him to Etihad Stadium in 2020, but he didn’t want to leave his “home” in Turin
Leonardo Bonucci has revealed that Manchester City wanted to sign him last year, while also claiming that a “presumptuous” comment from Declan Rice inspired Italy to Euro 2020 glory.
Bonucci has spent his entire career to date in Italy, taking in spells with Viterbese, Inter, Genoa and Bari before joining Juventus in 2010.
The defender also played for AC Milan in 2017-18, but rejoined Juve at the end of a turbulent campaign at San Siro that saw him admit that he’d made a mistake in deciding to leave the Allianz Stadium.
What’s been said?
Bonucci has also had several opportunities to head to the Premier League, with the 34-year-old claiming that he has been on Pep Guardiola’s radar at City for the best part of five years.
He concedes that his admiration for Guardiola almost led to a transfer to the Etihad Stadium coming to fruition at one stage, but also says he rejected the Catalan’s advances in 2020 with a view to making sure he goes down as a club legend at Juve.
“I had this dream of being coached by Pep,” Bonucci told The Athletic. “The closest we came was in 2016. I was on the brink of joining City. We were down to the very last details then Juventus decided not to sell.
“We decided to stay together. Then, when I went to AC Milan, I could have gone to City but several things had to fall into place for it to happen. I’d also given my word to Milan. Last year, I spoke to Pep again.
“He wanted me but I told him: ‘Juventus is my home. I’m happy here. I feel at home here’. I wanted to make up the ground I lost by going to Milan for a season.
“Becoming a symbol of Juventus again is the most exciting thing I could be doing in my career right now.”
Bonucci on Rice making Italy ‘angry’ at Euro 2020
The Juve talisman also discussed his success with Italy at the European Championship, which he says was fuelled by a desire to prove England supporters and one of their country’s star players wrong.
Bonucci concedes that the Azzurri squad were left “angry” after hearing “It’s Coming Home” sung by Three Lions fans all summer and West Ham midfielder Rice claiming they were more motivated to win the competition than Italy ahead of the final.
“We didn’t pay much attention to it until the Spain game,” said the centre-back, who helped his country beat England on penalties in the showpiece event. “Then the anger inside of us began to mount. We wanted to show them that the final hadn’t already been decided.
“That they hadn’t already won. Hearing that song on repeat and the comment from Declan Rice saying England were 10 times more motivated to win than us… well, they’re the kind of mistakes young players make.
“You don’t say that. You should never say you want something more than somebody else or you’re better than somebody else.
“You should always put yourself on the same level as your opponent, keep a low profile and strike at the right moment. That’s what we did. We never said we were going to win, just that we were an inch away from going all the way and getting the right result. We were never presumptuous about it.
“We stayed humble and that’s what made the difference. We had a great team, a great coach and a great staff behind us. To give our country and ourselves that kind of joy was something truly special.”