Baby full-back Pol Lirola celebrates his loan move: 'I chose Juventus and Serie A, now I choose Sassuolo'.
The 19-year-old is but the latest open exchange between the Bianconeri and the Neroverdi, who have been operating in a fruitful synergy for several years now.
“In 2014 I played my first game with Espanyol's third category and after the shower I found my agent together with Juve's chief scout,” Lirola recounted to the Gazzetta dello Sport. “They told me that the Bianconeri wanted me and I had no doubts.
“I chose Juve [over the likes of Manchester City and Barcelona] because I love Italian football. It's the most complete and formative championship.
“I thought Juve would be the best place to grow and develop my value.”
The Spaniard then discussed the features that he believes to be important in a modern full-back.
“He's above all else a defender, and he must keep his concentration levels high for the entire game. That's one of the very first things that [Coach Eusebio] Di Francesco taught me.
“But the best full-backs are those who can also give something when attacking. I started as a winger, so I've got a greater inclination to push forward.
“I grew up with the legend of [Philipp] Lahm, but I rather see myself in Dani Alves, allowing for the correct proportions. It's a shame I couldn't train with him, I left before he joined us.
“[Stephan] Lichtsteiner gave me a lot of advice on how to improve. In Spain there's less of an exchange with the senior squad, whilst [Max] Allegri often called us to train with the adults. Every session is a university lesson.
“The first three months were the hardest. I couldn't play because I was waiting to complete the bureaucratic practices to be registered. Thankfully, in Italy it's easy to get integrated, although I do miss the sea.”
At Sassuolo, Lirola managed an assist for Domenico Berardi in his first Europa League game against Red Star.
“As soon as I arrived, Di Francesco told me: 'I don't care about your age, if you're humble, willing to learn and you deserve to play, then you'll get a shirt'.
“Passing from the juniors to Serie A is a big leap but together with my father and Juve we decided this was the right moment to go on loan, and we chose Sassuolo as the best environment.
“Allegri and Di Francesco are both knowledgeable Coaches, who help you but who can also be very direct. Allegri, who coached Sassuolo, was the first to suggest this choice to me.
“Do young players struggle in Italy? It's certainly easier to give a striker his debut over a defender, because players at the back have a lot of responsibility and Coaches prefer to rely on experience.
“But I see no skepticism against youngsters. Take Berardi, he's young but he's exceptional, and here he's been given the opportunity to prove that.
“Knowing that my club considers me an investment for the future is something that fills me with pride. My objective is to develop here over two years so that I can be worthy of them. Playing with Juve is my dream.”
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