NEWS
Friday December 1 2017
Marotta: 'No Alex Sandro problem'

Juventus director general Beppe Marotta praised Gonzalo Higuain’s “professionalism” to face Napoli despite injury and defended Alex Sandro.

It kicks off at the Stadio San Paolo at 19.45 GMT, follow the build-up and action as it happens on the LIVEBLOG.

Pipita insisted on starting tonight, even though he only had surgery on a broken bone in his hand on Monday.

“Higuain helped this rapid recovery process and we must acknowledge his professionalism. He might have some pain, but he wanted to be here at all costs and brings more quality to the squad,” Marotta told Mediaset Premium.

The Argentine was needed, as Mario Mandzukic, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Benedikt Howedes are injured, but the 4-3-2-1 formation has Kwadwo Asamoah in place of Alex Sandro.

“It’s not something more, it’s something different. We have a series of difficult matches that are not decisive, but are important for our path.

“The Coach has logical reasons for believing Asamoah is the right man to start in that role this evening. There will be time and space for all the players, including Alex Sandro.”

Marotta was asked if the Brazilian’s poor form was down to the failed summer transfer to Chelsea.

“We have said many times that when a player asks to be sold, regardless of prestige or importance within the team, we are in favour of a sale. When a player is unsatisfied, it is better to let him go.

“In the case of Alex Sandro, he was in full agreement with the idea of remaining with us. His performances are down to his own personal issues that we won’t go into here. We know that we have substitutes up to the task and I’m sure Asamoah will have a good performance tonight.

“At this moment, Napoli and Inter have had an extraordinary season. We have more or less the same points as last season, so we continue the way we are accustomed to.

“I always say Juventus rarely go at more than 70 per cent of our potential before Christmas, but the important thing is to stay up there, stay close to the leaders and the fight for the Scudetto will be much later. We were the hunted, now we are the hunters.”

There were reports of a brawl between Juventus players in the locker room, so Max Allegri joked he’d like a fight to fire the players up.

“I think there is a culture of envy, so that is the most appropriate response. We knew there was no need to reply to that story, as we have great professionals in the squad, Juventus keep a close eye on their behaviour and take action when needed, but in this case it is entirely unnecessary.

“Some squads need healthy competition for places to stay motivated. That’s not the case with us, as we have a group of great professionals. I thought Allegri’s reply in the Press conference was amusing and the right way to treat such stories.”