Fabio Quagliarella is the latest Juventus player to repeat the message - the Bianconeri are not thinking about the Scudetto, yet.
In a long interview with the club's official television channel, the 28-year-old spoke about Juve’s ambitions for the season in both the League and Cup, what Roma represent on Monday evening, his search for goals and his views on the chances afforded to youngsters at the top level of the game.
“The Coach is right to remember the two consecutive seventh place finishes,” began the Juve No 18 when asked about the team’s title ambitions. “We need to put in a lot of work and it is useless to talk about the title now. Expect us in March to understand better where we are.
“For now, we have the sole duty to work hard and continue on this path. Let us not forget that our rivals are many and fierce.
“I refer to Milan, who with [Alexandre] Pato and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic can win everything, and then to Napoli, who are a great team and very well placed in the field. We also cannot neglect Lazio or Udinese.”
Quagliarella started for the first time this season in Thursday’s Coppa Italia Last 16 win over Bologna. Despite being one of nine changes to Antonio Conte’s first XI, the former Napoli man believes it is a competition the club are taking seriously this season.
“We value the Coppa Italia, also because it is unfortunately the only competition alongside the League that we are in.
“At the beginning it is often snubbed, but then when you reach the quarter-finals or the semi-finals we take the utmost to win it. we want to go all the way, that’s for sure.”
There are rumours that the club will again dip into the transfer market this January, but it is something Quagliarella is reluctant to discuss. The forward has been linked in recent weeks with a departure himself.
“I do not know who will arrive or if anyone will arrive. Certain topics are up the directors, not us as players. Our job is to best welcome any new purchases to the dressing room.
“If you want to aim for great targets then you have to have a large and high-quality squad.”
Week 15 sees La Vecchia Signora face up to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. Whilst Luis Enrique’s side are seven places and 12 points behind League-leaders Juve, Quagliarella is insistent that preparations do not reflect such a gap.
“The Giallorossi come into the game in a particular period, especially in light of last Sunday when they had three players sent off in Florence.
“It is not a good time for them but they are always a great team, they will want to redeem themselves against Juventus. It will be a challenge, a match with the ‘sold out’ signs in the stands. That emphasises these situations.
“I am lacking a goal and hope to score against Roma. I will devote it to the club, who believed in my after my injury, and to my fans who are close to me in an incredible way.”
“I live to score goals and when I don’t, I suffer. Against Cesena I went close but I was prevented.”
This was in relation to having a goal-bound effort late in the game blocked by teammate Stephan Lichtsteiner.
“He apologised and gave me a box of Swiss chocolates.”
Indeed, Quagliarella suggests that team spirit is strong in Turin, whilst on-the-pitch success is down to Coach Conte.
“We are a single unit, an exceptional group. We feel very close and after the difficult years we’ve been through we have strengthened.
“Now we have Conte, with a clear vision - everyone knows what to do, even those who enter the game [as a replacement] progress. I don’t play very often? In the top clubs it is impossible to have a secure place.”
Quagliarella took the opportunity to then reflect on the current state of Italy’s youth development, something he says is close to his heart.
The forward spent his footballing education at Turin rivals Torino but managed just five Serie A appearances before being shipped out at 19 to make his name in the lower Leagues. Only after spells in Serie C2 with Florentia Viola, C1 with Chieti and in B back with Torino did Quagliarella then get another chance at Serie A, aged 22.
“Unfortunately, clubs in Italy never look to their own youth teams, instead preferring foreigners, so we have difficulty breaking through even in lower Leagues. This is the thing that gives me so much trouble.
“A club should buy abroad only great champions, otherwise it is best to rely on young Italians who should be given the opportunity to make mistakes and mature, but with actual space, not only playing for a year. If we continue as we are, the national team will suffer the consequences.”
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