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Juventus star: It was hard to say no to Manchester City and Pep Guardiola…

The Leonardo Bonucci to Manchester City saga has been well documented. One of Pep Guardiola’s “favourite players”, the Juventus and Italy centre-back was persistently linked with a move to Manchester City last summer and even beyond before he renewed his Juve contract in December to put an end to speculation.

Given the defensive frailities that have since emerged in City’s back four, Bonucci could have been a crucial signing for City’s title aspirations, but it wasn’t to be.

The 29-year-old was interviewed by Sky Italia at the Gran Galà del Calcio awards ceremony last night and was specifically asked about the Manchester City interest, confirming an offer was made and his head was turned. Bonucci said:

“It (turning down City) was not a decision I took lightly.

“When one of the best coaches in the world (Pep Guardiola) shows so much appreciation and respect, it is hard to say no. My heart prevailed.

“I’m playing for one of the biggest teams in Italy and the world, and we can win in Italy and Europe.”

Pep Guardiola and Leonardo Bonucci could have been a great partnership and it is clear that Bonucci was tempted, but in the end the Italian just couldn’t bring himself to leave his beloved club.

Manchester City are set to reinforce their central defence again next summer, with the three names linked most being Virgil van Dijk (25, Southampton), Aymeric Laporte (22, Athletic Bilbao) and Lucas Hernández (20, Atlético Madrid).

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