Vincenzo Iaquinta claims Mario Mandzukic, not Cristiano Ronaldo, is the ‘irreplaceable’ player in Juventus’ attack.
Juve signed Ronaldo with the clear intention of winning the Champions League, but Iaquinta – a striker himself who scored 40 goals for the Bianconeri – disagreed the No 7 was any more important than Mandzukic.
“This Juventus can win the Champions League,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The Bianconeri were already among the four best teams in Europe and now with Ronaldo, they have a player who can make the difference in the decisive games. This can really be the year when they win it.
“I don’t see Juventus having any rivals for the Scudetto. They’re all playing for second place, although Napoli have something more.
“The recent match between them said a lot: Napoli had a great game, but the Bianconeri always win when they decide to hit the gas.
“Ronaldo and Dybala can play together. Paulo must drop deeper so he can get the ball and he must be given freedom.
“Personally I see him better behind the strikers: he hurts opponents more if he plays between the lines and has a clear sight of goal.
“Mario does an incredible job and creates space for CR7. He’s crucial: he fights in defence, runs as much as four players and has also found consistency in front of goal.
“He’s irreplaceable and he lets Allegri use different systems. Thanks to him, the trident with Dybala and Ronaldo is sustainable.
So why did his spell with the Old Lady come to an abrupt end in 2011?
“And to think Conte was crazy for me…” lamented the 2006 World Cup winner.
“As soon as he arrived, he told me to get fit quickly as he was very much banking on me. He took me to one side and told me not to worry.
“Unfortunately, after my knee operation in 2011, my body stopped holding up. Once I’d regained full fitness, my muscles gave way.
“I felt several snags and strains, but I also felt Conte’s support every day. I got hurt again when I returned from my loan at Cesena, so I was out for the entire season.”