Pep Guardiola described Leonardo Bonucci as one of his “favourite ever players” earlier this year after his Bayern Munich side faced Bonucci’s Juventus in the Champions League. So it was no surprise when Pep’s new club Manchester City targeted the 29-year-old Italy defender as part of Pep’s squad makeover upon arriving at the Etihad.
Signing a player Juventus are not open to selling is always difficult, particularly an Italian one as loyal as Bonucci. However, Gazzetta dello Sport frequently reported that Bonucci was tempted by the idea of working with Guardiola, a claim probably backed up by the fact his agent made repeated visits to Manchester for talks.
In the end, though, City’s offer and continued interest in Bonucci appears to have ended the same way as earlier attempts to sign Aymeric Laporte. According to Tuttosport today, Bonucci has decided to turn down City and remain in Turin.
One thing to keep in mind is that Tuttosport is a Juventus mouthpiece, much like Marca with Real Madrid or SPORT with Barcelona, so there is still a possibility this could be exaggerated, but the lack of progress following City’s initial bid suggests the player has decided to stay.
City have reportedly been chasing two ball-playing centre-backs all summer, with John Stones one of them. With Laporte pledging his future to Athletic Bilbao and Bonucci now seeming to do likewise with Juventus, another player could be targeted. Roma centre-back, Kostas Manolas, has been rumoured to be that man, with his agent confirming interest from Premier League clubs including City. Alternatively, Pep could convert someone in the existing squad to that role, after experimenting with several players as centre-backs, or even hand Jason Denayer a chance.