Tuesday May 14 2013
Conte to stay at Juve – Agnelli

Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli is confident that boss Antonio Conte will still be sitting on the bench next season.

Conte has refused to commit his future to the Old Lady until he has met with club officials to discuss their next steps after consecutive Scudetto wins.

“The ‘next’ meeting was last week,” the Bianconeri President said in a lengthy interview with Sky Sport Italia. “Antonio came to my house and we spoke for a couple of hours.

“Antonio has had two particularly intense years: The first when he left Siena and dedicated himself completely to every aspect of Juventus, and last year, including his rather difficult and unpleasant summer.

“Although we had gone undefeated and won the League, he had also ended up in the clutches of the calcioscommesse legal proceedings. He’s not had a break for two years and, in my opinion, a week off to relax would do him good.

“Antonio knows the expectations at Juventus and knows perfectly well that although winning seems normal again, that’s not the case.

“We discussed his own expectations and he wanted to go over with me what he required in order to continue on this journey, asking me for guarantees, but you can’t give guarantees to anyone.

“I would like the guarantee of winning the Champions League next year, but there are no guarantees. I reassured him: The ambition of the club, my personal ambition and his own, is to win.

“The day after I met him, I went to see director general Beppe Marotta, sporting director Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved, and in those meetings we outlined Juventus’ strategy in the transfer market.

“Antonio has always said that it’s not a question of money, and it isn’t. He wants to have and continue to have the assurance that the conditions are in place for us to keep winning, and I feel those conditions are in place.

“It will be a joint effort: The work of the Coach, the work of the staff, evaluating what and who needs to be brought in to continue winning.

“Today everything is in place, I think every part of the club wants to continue winning, in Italy and Europe.

“It’s difficult because next year we have a date with history because Juventus, except for the five-year streak in the 1930s, have never won three successive Scudetto titles, so we need to focus on next year and this date with history.

“We want to be the first Juventus side to win three consecutive League titles and go as far as possible in Europe.

“With enthusiasm, passion, desire, dedication, a lot of work, and if everyone is on the same page, we can hopefully reach our objective.

“The uncertainties over Conte are completely resolved on my part, I never had any doubts.

“He needed a pat on the back and to know that the project was going ahead. I told him not to worry because as long as I'm here the hunger for success will be here too.”

Conte is understood to be keen on getting some top quality players in during the summer transfer session.

“At the moment Italian football is going through a rough patch,” Agnelli underlined. “I recently defined Serie A as a League undergoing a period of transition, but one that had not yet reached its destination.

“This must be applied to the whole system, because if we become a League undergoing transition we won't be able to attract players that cost €30m, €40m or €50m.

“We like to define these as 'top players' even if they don't work out in the team, and 'top players' cost a lot.

“Fernando Llorente [who Juve have picked up on a Bosman] had a €37m release clause in his contract. If we had signed him last season he would have been classified as a 'top player', whereas if he costs nothing, I'm not sure.

“What I mean is, it's just a matter of how these things are done. If I look at our best signings, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Andrea Barzagli and Andrea Pirlo, our total investment was around €14m – that’s an average of €3m.

“If we think we have to spend money at all costs, it isn't true – we have to be able to find bargains like these as well.

“All things considered, I can only praise the work of Marotta, Paratici and Nedved.”

Juventus have been hotly linked with Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain.

“Would I like Ibra back? No. Sure? Sure.

“Higuain? I must explain that I call this part of the market 'firepower'. Firepower is the cost of players on the books plus returns.

“This year we're coming close to €200m, which puts us sixth, seventh, eighth, or maybe ninth in Europe. For the budget to work, we need to reach at least the quarter-finals of the Champions League every year.

“We know perfectly well that a bigger budget doesn’t mean better results in sport. You need to be able to manage both it and the players as best you can, because motivation, hard work and a will to win always bring out that little bit extra.

“However, the budget we draw up for the sporting side of things is most definitely a large one. I have always believed this to be the case.

“Decisions are delegated first of all to Marotta, who then discusses them with Paratici, with Nedved and then with Conte himself, since he is an integral part of the decision-making process.

“They must not exceed the figure set down. They can dismantle and rebuild as much as they want as long as the total cost of players' wages countered by returns does not exceed the figure that has been agreed.”

There have also been suggestions that Juventus could sell one from Vidal or Claudio Marchisio to boost funds.

“I can only reiterate that these are decisions that are made by the technical staff,” Agnelli added. “They can discuss it among themselves and I go along with them.

“What's important, in my opinion, is to keep our objective firmly in mind, which is to win, and to remember to stay within our firepower, which today stands at around €200m.

“With this in mind, they must do the best they can to manage the situation, in the knowledge that our ambition is to win every single competition we take part in.”