Wednesday August 30 2017
Chiellini: ‘Bonucci is a brother’

Giorgio Chiellini bears no malice toward Leonardo Bonucci for leaving Juventus - “we remain friends and brothers”.

The centre-back completed a shock move to Milan earlier this summer, breaking up the famous ‘BBC’ defence he had formed alongside Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.

The trio have all been reunited on Italy duty this week, and there is no ill-feeling over this summer’s transfer.

“I was sure Bonucci would stay at Juve,” Chiellini admitted in today’s Press conference.

“It’s a pleasure to be back here together, with a person with whom I shared so many beautiful moments and made so many sacrifices.

“It’s hard to go forward with a constantly unchanged group. We’re used to changes, and this year there haven’t been big changes.

“We expended a lot to reach Cardiff [for the Champions League final] and it’s normal there’s a bit of rust to shake off.

“We talked to him [Bonucci] when he left and we still talk to him. He was more than a teammate, we remain friends and brothers. The person remains.

“Sooner or later everyone stops.”

Benedikt Howedes is currently undergoing his medicals with the Bianconeri, but Chiellini doesn’t see him as a Bonucci replacement.

“He’s different from Bonucci. It would be wrong to look for a player like Bonucci, just as it would have been wrong to look for a player like [Andrea] Pirlo. You need to find the balance in the squad.

“When Buffon stops? We’ll have to keep playing, he’ll be replaced by a great goalkeeper.”

Italy face Spain and Israel in this international break, with the former being seen as decisive in who tops the World Cup qualification group.

“We’ll find a different Spain,” Chiellini warned.

“They’ve restarted with a young CT [Julen Lopetegui], to expect to face a team like we did in Paris [at Euro 2016] would be wrong.

“I expect to see a more lively team and at home they’ll be dangerous, they’re a great team to play. The important thing is to get to the World Cup.

“I hope we can breathe the same air in Russia that we did in Montpellier, those were strong emotions.

“We’re calm, we’re ready, we want to transit the idea of being a strong squad, for our own growth.

“After Spain-Italy there will still be a lot of matches to play, there will be other important matches.

“Games with Spain have always been technical and tactical, I don’t expect us to win 3-0 but nor do I expect us to lose 3-0.

“Alvaro Morata? I think he’s an exceptional player. He has the margins to improve even more, and working with [Antonio] Conte he’ll get even better.

“He’s an incredible player, worth the money spent on him. If he has space to attack he’s devastating, he attacks crosses well too but he doesn’t like playing with his back to goal.

“He’s grown a lot.”

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