Transfers

Chelsea Targeting Leonardo Bonucci Makes Sense

 • by Thomas McIlroy
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It’s no surprise to see Leonardo Bonucci become a Chelsea transfer target once again.

According to Yahoo, the Juventus defender’s club future is up in the air after a row with coach Massimiliano Allegri.

If I Bianconeri don’t change their manager in the summer, Bonucci reportedly wants to leave.

And it is no surprise to see a potential link up with former boss Antonio Conte mooted.

A public row

Despite a public reconciliation, Yahoo claim the relationship between Bonucci and Allegri has been badly damaged by an on-field argument during February’s win over Palermo.

Indeed, the coach excluded the centre-back from the Champions League tie at Porto after a touchline incident where Allegri was caught on camera shouting: “shut up d******d, f*** off.”

Bonucci responded by telling his manager to go to hell.

And the 29-year-old has since gone to publicly take the Juve squad out for a meal in Turin as way of a public apology, and has since returned to the squad.

But it is claimed that is only a sticking plaster, with the defender seeing his future at the Juventus Stadium as untenable should Allegri, who has been linked with the Arsenal and Barcelona jobs, stay in the summer.

A reunion?

If Bonucci doesn’t get on with Allegri, it’s fair to say he is a big fan of Chelsea manager Conte.

The duo worked together for three years at Juventus, before linking up again when Conte took over the Italy national side.

And last year, the centre-back heaped praise on his then Italy boss.

“He’s the coach who took me onto the next level, right from the day he arrived at Juve,” Bonucci said.

“We had a few disagreements at the very start, partly because I wasn’t in good shape, but he taught me a lot on a tactical level.

“If I am one of the best today, part of that is down to him.”

Although those comments were made over a year ago, they do imply that the Juventus man would be more than happy to see himself reunited with Conte once again.

And Yahoo report that Conte is keen on the defender.

The Italian coach is set for a new and improved contract at Chelsea after probably leading them to the Premier League title in his first season in English football.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

READ MORE: How Antonio Conte Has Tactically Evolved Chelsea

It’s reported that he will use these negotiations to insist on investment in a squad which he doesn’t believe is currently suited to retaining the title and properly competing for the Champions League.

He’s thought to see Bonucci as someone who could improve his defence, but it won’t be easy to persuade the Blues hierarchy to splash out on someone who will be 30 come the summer, especially with Juventus unlikely to consider selling for below a world record fee for a defender.

What would Bonucci offer Chelsea?

So for such a big fee, what should Blues fans expect from Bonucci if he turns up at Stamford Bridge?

“Leo’s been born with the God-given privilege of sweet feet,” hailed Gianluigi Buffon during last year’s European Championships.

“Those sweet feet mean that he can take big risks on the ball, even in the most stressful situations, but I must add that over the past year, his defensive reading of the game has improved hugely to the point that he’s one of the best defenders in the world.”

When he arrived at Juventus for €15.5million back in 2010, the Turin side were clearly paying for potential – at the time he was prone to lapses in concentration, poor positioning and basic errors.

But the arrival of Conte changed that and developed him into the great defender we see today – Chelsea fans know from the likes of Victor Moses and Pedro that Conte can take a player to the next level.

He may soon be 30, but as John Terry has shown at Stamford Bridge, defenders can play on way into their 30s.

Italy and Juventus defender Leandro Bonucci

Not only is Bonucci a great man marker, he’s a leader and a warrior. He’ll fight for everything on the pitch, something he owed to motivation expert Alberto Ferrarini.

“I made sure Leo would always be focused and ignore everything around him,” he told Tuttosport.

“That’s how I started turning him into a soldier.”

How does Bonucci compare to Chelsea’s current defensive options?

With one of the best defences in the league, Conte has got the best out of César Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill.

And Bonucci tends to play in the middle of a back three, a position that Luiz has excelled in this season.

If you look at the league stats this season, Bonucci commits more fouls per 90 minutes (1.02) than the current Chelsea back three.

He also wins the fewest duels (46.72 per cent) of the quartet – with Cahill winning the most at 56.04 per cent.

But Bonucci’s 59.09 per cent success rate in aerial duels is nearly ten per cent higher than Azpilicueta and Luiz, and just behind Cahill’s 62.28 per cent.

Yet, if you compare him to just Luiz, he wins a similar amount of tackles in that central role – Bonucci wins 0.78 tackles per 90 minutes compared to the Brazilian’s 0.75.

He does lose more tackles though – 1.22 per 90 compared to Luiz’s 0.96.

The duo make a similar number of interceptions per 90 too – Bonucci makes 2.29 and Luiz makes 2.25.

On his way?

If Allegri does stay at Juventus, there is a real possibility Bonucci will move on.

But you have to take into account that it was only in December when he signed a new five-year deal at Juventus.

And speaking then, he said: “I have many goals, which are to become even more of a legend at this club, to still improve myself personally and to continue to have this passion inside that helps me in times of trouble.”

It sounded then like he wanted to stay in Turin for the foreseeable future.

Yet, the opportunity to join up with Conte, the man who arguably made him, could prove too hard to turn down.

And Chelsea fans know they’ll need to strengthen if they want to compete on two fronts next season, and the arrival of Bonucci would definitely be a statement of intent from the Blues.

Now read: Will Antonio Conte Stick With 3-4-3 At Chelsea?

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