Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente admits “it’s only when you leave Juventus that you realise what you had. Gigi Buffon is the best captain I ever had and I’d love 11 Giorgio Chiellinis.”
The first leg of their Round of 16 is on Tuesday night and it’ll be an emotional return to Turin for the Spaniard.
“As soon as I finish training with Harry Kane and my other teammates, I come home and start again with my son: he is 20 months old, but only wants to play with the football,” Llorente told Tuttosport newspaper.
“I bought him a Tottenham shirt with Llorente on the back and on Tuesday, when I’m in Turin for the Champions League, I’ll take advantage of the situation to get him a Juventus one too. Perhaps a Dybala jersey.
“I only managed to spend pre-season training with Paulo, but it was enough to know he has the kind of ability that really catches the eye.”
Dybala has been out of action for a few weeks with a thigh strain and is increasingly unlikely to feature on Tuesday.
“We expect him to play. We always read he could return against us. I also heard that Blaise Matuidi is out and he’s a player I adore. He was my favourite in the PSG midfield.
“With Paulo or without, Juve remain a superpower. Just think of Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic, Douglas Costa…”
Although Llorente has scored for Sevilla against Juventus since leaving, he missed the trip to Turin, so how does he expect his first return to feel like?
“It’ll be a wonderful sensation. I experienced unforgettable moments, won five titles, reached a Champions League Final. All the fans continue to show me great affection via social media. They make me feel as if I was there for 10 years rather than two.
“Juve is a difficult place to leave. I left the Vinovo training ground crying. It’s also true what David Trezeguet said: it’s only when you leave Juventus that you realise what you had. I miss it like crazy and would love to return. It’s a special club because, despite being an enormous club, it’s like a family inside.
“There is a fine image of Juventus here and I raise it even more: I always speak very highly of the Bianconeri and give them a good rep.”
Llorente left in 2015, but many of his former teammates are still at the club.
“I spoke to Claudio Marchisio, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Giorgione Chiellini. It’ll be tough and I expect two rugged games, but we believe.
“I am ready to face Chiellini and also accustomed to getting a few knocks: I trained with him for two years! Giorgio trains the way he plays, he’s super professional. I’d love to have 11 Chiellinis in my team. The Juventus defence is fantastic, so for a striker to score against them always feels like a huge achievement.
“I already scored against Buffon in Seville, we went into the Europa League and then won that tournament. Buffon is the best captain I ever had. We spoke lately for his 40th birthday. I told him that he’s in such good shape he can play until 45.”
Llorente was asked if this current Juventus side is better than the one he left in 2015.
“They change every year, but remain at the top. It’ll be tough to replicate the 102 Serie A points we had in my first year… Napoli are having an extraordinary season, but I think in the end Juve will win the Scudetto again. I certainly hope so, as I’m cheering on my old teammates.”
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