Federico Chiesa has vowed to make an impact for Juventus after a "horrible year" that saw him sidelined with a long-term injury.

The Italy international scored the winner in a 2-1 Coppa Italia victory against Monza on Thursday, his first goal in 378 days after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament 12 months ago.

Juventus have endured a turbulent spell in Chiesa's absence, ceding their Serie A crown to Milan and finding themselves adrift of runaway leaders Napoli this time around, as well as exiting the Champions League in the group stage.

Like the Bianconeri, Chiesa has a point to prove on his return and is pushing to aid his colleagues after being helpless amid their struggles in the past year.

"It has been a horrible year for me. I am now focusing on training and getting back into shape," he told Sport Mediaset.

"Let's say I need to get really into shape, getting used to playing every three days. I was not used to it, but I am trying to give my all to help my teammates, seeing as I was unable to help them for a year."

Chiesa's goal gave Juve a much-needed victory following a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Napoli last time out but, while it was a positive result, he admitted better performances are required.

"I think against Napoli we played very badly, we weren't aggressive enough, and I have to congratulate Monza as well for their performance tonight," he added.

"However, we defended well, were aggressive when they reached the edge of the area and know we can always score goals at the other end, but we definitely need to play better.

"As I said, we need to raise the bar. Atalanta will be a fundamental game for us to get back to the track we were on before Napoli."

Improvements are not just limited to the field, however, with significant changes in the club's hierarchy after president Andrea Agnelli, vice-president Pavel Nedved and other directors stepped down from their roles on Wednesday.

Chiesa feels the club is united in pursuit of their goals, as they bid for a successful second half of the season.

"Along with the new owners we will try to take Juve back to where the club deserves to be. We do our job on the field, the club does its off it."

Federico Chiesa dedicated Juventus' late victory over Udinese to Gianluca Vialli following the legendary former Bianconeri striker's death at the age of 58.

Vialli, who also played for Cremonese, Sampdoria and Chelsea, passed away in London on Friday.

He was originally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 and, after announcing he had been given the all-clear in April 2020, he was re-diagnosed the following year. 

Vialli played over 100 times for Juventus, with whom he won the Champions League, Serie A, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and the UEFA Cup across a four-season spell.

Juve paid tribute to Vialli with a minute's applause ahead of Saturday's 1-0 league win over Udinese and played footage of his greatest moments on the big screen at full-time.

Chiesa worked closely with Vialli during the latter's time working as Italy's assistant manager alongside Roberto Mancini, with the Azzurri's Euro 2020 triumph being the highlight.

After setting up Danilo's late winner against Udinese, second-half substitute Chiesa told DAZN: "Our first thoughts go to Gianluca Vialli. 

"He was a wonderful person and I was so lucky to cross paths with him in my life, as he was a real champion, but above all a marvellous human being. 

"At the Euros he really was like an extra player, he was on the pitch with us. We could talk for hours about what a great man he was. The victory is for him."

Thanks to their second late victory in a row to kick off 2023, Juventus have now won eight on the spin without conceding in Serie A for the first time since March 2018.

 

The Bianconeri have recovered from a slow start to the season to climb up to second and within four points of next opponents Napoli, who face Sampdoria on Sunday.

Despite closing the gap on the leaders, Allegri insists finishing in the top four remains the immediate target for his side.

"Napoli are still clearly the favourites to win the Scudetto," he said. "They have a big advantage, whereas we want to consolidate the top four. 

"We're almost halfway through the season and are doing well. As I said, raising the bar means the performances rather than the results or targets. 

"We have to take it one step at a time, focus on working and achieving the minimum objective, which is a top-four finish."

Juventus have now scored six goals after the 85th minute in Serie A this season, which is the most of any team. 

Danilo's tap-in against Udinese came after Leandro Paredes played in fellow substitute Chiesa, who in turn laid the ball on a plate for his stand-in skipper.

"We were a bit too hasty at times with our crosses and passes," Allegri said. "We knew there could be difficulties, but that the game would improve as time wore on.

"We brought home the win late on because of good fitness levels and also mental strength. 

"Technical skill is crucial, but if you don't have that desire to give that little bit extra and get there a few centimetres before your opponent, you don't win these games.”

Juve now have 12 clean sheets after their opening 17 Serie A games, a tally only Cagliari in the 1966-67 season (13) can better at this stage of a campaign.

"As the coach says, we have to keep raising the bar," Chiesa added. "Eight wins in a row isn't enough; we have to keep doing better."

Massimiliano Allegri believes Champions League qualification, rather than the Scudetto, remains Juventus' aim for the season despite their remarkable upturn in form.

Ahead of Saturday's meeting with Udinese, Juventus have won seven consecutive Serie A matches without conceding, putting them within seven points of league leaders Napoli.

The Bianconeri's tally of 11 Serie A clean sheets is a joint-high in the big five European leagues this season (alongside Barcelona), helping them turn their campaign around in dramatic fashion after Allegri came under pressure before the World Cup. 

While some have suggested Napoli's midweek defeat to Inter opens the title race up to several teams, Allegri says a top-four finish remains a more realistic aim for his men.

Asked how Napoli's first Serie A loss of the season impacted Juventus' title hopes, Allegri said: "They don't change. Napoli are the clear favourites, they are many points ahead after 16 games. 

"They've had a stoppage and that's it, but I'd say that Napoli are having an extraordinary year and are still the clear favourites. 

"Then there's the Inter and Milan. Our goal is to stay in the top four and play for our chances in the Coppa Italia and Europa League."

Juventus are set to receive a further boost when they host Andrea Sottil's team, with Angel Di Maria available for the first time since scoring in Argentina's thrilling World Cup final triumph against France last month.

"Tomorrow, returning to the stadium with our fans and with the stadium full will be a good opportunity for us," Allegri said.

"We have recovered Di Maria. [Leandro] Paredes is improving in condition. Bremer is a bit tired and I will evaluate their conditions today."

Allegri introduced winger Federico Chiesa after 55 minutes in Wednesday's 1-0 win at Cremonese, for just his third Serie A appearance since suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament last January.

While the Bianconeri boss is uncertain whether Chiesa is ready to start, he is enthused by the Italy international's recovery and expects him to have some level of participation.

"The other day he played one half if you consider added time. Those who enter the second half with added time always play almost one half anyway," Allegri said. "Chiesa did well, physically he needed a match like this, picking up the pace a lot. 

"He's growing in his condition; I don't know if I'll be able to get him to start, but the more he goes on the more playing time he puts in. I'm very happy."

Massimiliano Allegri is not worried about Dusan Vlahovic's absence and revealed the striker was back running in training on Friday.

Vlahovic has been struggling with a groin injury as Juve prepare to resume the Serie A season against Cremonese next Wednesday following a break for the World Cup.

The Serbia international scored in his only World Cup start in Qatar, finding the back of the net in a 3-2 defeat to Switzerland.

Vlahovic is the Bianconeri's leading scorer this season with seven goals and head coach Allegri is not concerned over his injury issues.

He said after a 1-1 friendly draw with Standard Liege on Friday: "No. I'm never worried, think what philosophy of life I have. I see all things as an opportunity.

"If we had had [Paul] Pogba and all the great players we have, perhaps [Fabio] Miretti, [Nicolo] Fagioli would not have played.

"They are all good to say: 'Don't let young players play'. Young players, unless they are extraordinary players, play if certain situations arise."

Pogba is working his way back to full fitness after missing the World Cup due to a knee injury.

The 29-year-old is waiting on his first appearance of the season after rejoining the Turin giants following his Manchester United exit.

Allegri said of the France midfielder: "Pogba has been running for four to five days, he's been doing work and his knee is responding well.

"Then there's [Mattia] De Sciglio who's working, [Juan] Cuadrado ran and his knee doesn't bother him, [Leonardo] Bonucci's inflammation is slowly improving. We need to be confident and concentrate on what we have."

Allegri was also able to provide an encouraging update on Federico Chiesa's fitness, too.

"Today he had personalised and therefore differentiated work planned, yesterday he was part of the team and I saw him very well, even too much and I stopped him," he said of the Italy forward.

Massimiliano Allegri is set to make a number of late calls on his Juventus XI for Sunday's Derby d'Italia, with Dusan Vlahovic still not fully fit.

Vlahovic has not featured for the Bianconeri since their costly Champions League defeat to Benfica in the middle of last week.

And the Serbia striker may not return in time to take on Inter this weekend, as Allegri revealed an ongoing groin issue at his pre-match news conference on Saturday.

The coach could at least offer a more positive update on Angel Di Maria and Bremer, who are both back in the fold, although he would not confirm the role of either player at Allianz Stadium.

"[Di Maria and Bremer] are recovered – the only doubt is Vlahovic, because he is not well and tomorrow I have to evaluate," Allegri said.

"On Bremer and Di Maria, I have to decide whether to let both play or just one, but I have to evaluate."

Pressed further on Vlahovic, he replied: "We don't know if he's okay, because he's missed sessions.

"If he is well and tells me he is available, he will be on the bench; otherwise, it is useless to bring a player who cannot play."

Allegri added he would also "evaluate and decide" whether Di Maria and Bremer may be able to start on Sunday.

"The important thing is to have everyone available," he said.

Should they line up on the bench, they would likely join Federico Chiesa, whose successful return to action following an ACL tear has given his coach "a pleasant surprise".

"Now, I just have to increase his minutes," Allegri said. "Tomorrow he will definitely be part of the game."

As Inter coach Simone Inzaghi had earlier in the day, Allegri played down the importance of this match in the context of the season.

But Allegri acknowledged the need for Juve to get a result in this fixture, having taken only a single point against the Nerazzurri last term.

"It would be important [to move above Inter], but the season is long," he said. "Last year we never beat them, and we will have to do everything we can to reverse the trend."

Massimiliano Allegri ruled out Paul Pogba from his Juventus plans for Friday's clash with Empoli, saying it would be "pure madness" to rush the midfielder's recovery.

Juventus have been unable to field Pogba or Federico Chiesa this season, with the France midfielder undergoing knee surgery last month and Italy forward Chiesa suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January.

Pogba was initially a doubt for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, although France coach Didier Deschamps was upbeat regarding his recovery earlier this week.

Speaking at Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, Deschamps said: "His programme is going well. The important thing is that he is cured, I think he will be, and this is already a good thing."

Despite both Pogba and Chiesa being pictured in team training recently, head coach Allegri said Juventus must treat their returns with caution.

"Let's see the real things, the reality today is that Chiesa and Pogba don't have them," Allegri told a pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"Chiesa did two training sessions with the team, Pogba trained temporarily, but very partially with the team. Avoid writing all that stuff there, you have a fantasy.

"Players have not even trained with the team [and you] write that after two days they are available. Fantasy is a power and it is very beautiful. Tomorrow they will not be there.

"I, too, would like everyone available, especially to make changes. With those we have, we will have a great match tomorrow, and we will prepare well for Benfica.

"Chiesa has already made progress. On Saturday morning there will be a friendly for Federico, to see how he moves on the whole field.

"Paul has done some partial work with the team, but we are on Thursday and until Tuesday there are four days. Damaging his work is pure madness."

After their meeting with Empoli, Juventus will have just three days to recover ahead of the decisive Champions League clash with Benfica, but Allegri would not be drawn on whether striker Dusan Vlahovic would be rested on Friday.

"Dusan, regardless of his goal, played one of the best games on a technical level [against Torino last week]," Allegri said.

"[Moise] Kean also did well, I'm happy with Moise because he's growing, he's physically better, and he makes himself available for the team above all.

"To obtain results, everyone must be available, and there seem to be good signs of this. Tomorrow will not be easy; among other things, they beat us last year."

Vlahovic has scored three goals in three Serie A appearances against Empoli, including his first league double for Juventus in February. The Serbian has also hit the net five times in five home league games this season.

Federico Chiesa has returned to first-team training with Juventus, nine months after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The Italy international underwent surgery after injuring his left knee in a Serie A win over Roma in January, causing him to miss the rest of Juventus' 2021-22 campaign.

Chiesa, who starred in the Azzurri's Euro 2020 triumph last year, scored four goals and added two assists in all competitions last season before suffering the injury.

A statement on Juventus' website revealed the attacker "began a partial and gradual return to the group" on Monday after coach Massimiliano Allegri recently professed his hope the 24-year-old would return to action before the World Cup.
 
Juventus host Maccabi Haifa in a huge Champions League group-stage match on Wednesday, having suffered back-to-back defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica so far in the competition.

The Bianconeri have never previously lost their first three games of a Champions League campaign, and they were eliminated from their group the last time they failed to record a victory in their opening three matches (in 2013-14 – D2 L1).

Massimiliano Allegri called for Juventus to become more "unpleasant" as he said the Bianconeri must remain in Scudetto contention by the time Serie A breaks for the World Cup in November.

Juventus have made a solid if unspectacular start to the new campaign, taking nine points from their first five Serie A matches while remaining unbeaten.

But Allegri's men have faced criticism for their tepid style, and were outplayed by Paris Saint-Germain when they suffered a 2-1 defeat in their Champions League opener on Tuesday. 

That result means the Bianconeri have started a Champions League campaign with a loss for just the second time in their 23 participations in the competition (W13 D8), also losing to Barcelona in September 2017 (3-0).

Allegri believes Juventus were too "nice" on their trip to France and called for them to toughen up ahead of Sunday's match against Salernitana.

"After 2-0 there was a good match, a good reaction. I don't like that Juve played well after the 2-0, and we have also become nice," Allegri said on Saturday.

"That's not good. I am very angry, you have to be unpleasant, so we are successful. Otherwise we get used to being nice and pretty and losers, and that's not good! 

"You have to take the positives from the game. The boys know it, we have a game to face with the right seriousness.

"We work day-by-day to create conditions to achieve goals. But it takes something else. You don't have to be nice or pretty."

 

Juventus have been beset by injuries – including those suffered by new arrivals Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria – in the season's early weeks, and are also waiting on the recovery of Federico Chiesa, who has not featured since undergoing surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in January.

With Serie A set to pause for almost two months from early November, Allegri believes remaining in contention until the World Cup starts will be crucial for their Scudetto hopes.

"At this moment, with the numerical difficulties, we need to arrive in November in the best possible ranking condition," Allegri said.

"I know that there is a great desire to work, to return to winning even if it is not easy. We were missing players from the beginning, important players.

"In January we will recover everyone but we cannot ruin everything this month.

"[What] if we take away the equivalent of Pogba, Di Maria and Chiesa from the other teams? 

"We must be happy with what we are doing, knowing that the prospects are rosy."

On Chiesa, Allegri added: "I hope to have him before the World Cup break. He will be at 100 per cent in January, now there is a month left, he is working on the field alone. 

"We hope to have him as soon as possible with the team in a partial role."

Juventus are looking to defend a strong record against Salernitana when they host Davide Nicola's men on Sunday; the Bianconeri have won four of the teams' previous six Serie A meetings (D1 L1), keeping five clean sheets.

Aaron Ramsey has been left out of Juventus' squad for their pre-season tour of the United States amid reports the midfielder wants his contract terminated in Turin.

The Wales international struggled for appearances last season before he was considered surplus to requirements as Massimiliano Allegri sent him on loan to Rangers.

Ramsey helped the Scottish Premiership side to the Europa League final but missed a penalty in the shoot-out as Eintracht Frankfurt lifted the trophy in Seville.

The 31-year-old is entering the final 12 months of his contract with Juve, but reports suggest he wants to cut short his deal to end a frustrating and injury-marred spell with the Serie A side.

Cardiff City are said to be among front-runners to sign Ramsey – who played just 97 Serie A minutes last season – with Burnley, Rangers and a host of MLS sides also linked to the midfielder.

Ramsey will want to be playing regular first-team club football ahead of going to the World Cup with Wales in November.

As Juventus head off the US, where they face C.D. Guadalajara, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Federico Chiesa is another to have been left out of the 27-man squad as he continues his recovery from an ACL injury.

There are also injury concerns Mattia De Sciglio, Kaio Jorge and Arthur, who is reportedly a target for Arsenal should Mikel Arteta not be able to sign Leicester City star Youri Tielemans.

Meanwhile, Adrien Rabiot had already confirmed on Wednesday that he would miss the tour due to "personal reasons" and was subsequently left out of Allegri's squad that was announced the following day.

Gleison Bremer, Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria have all been included as Juventus prepare to see their new arrivals in action.

Massimiliano Allegri insists Juventus "will be ready" if defender Matthijs de Ligt leaves for Bayern Munich, as he revealed talks were ongoing regarding a transfer for the Netherlands international.

De Ligt has been strongly linked with the Bundesliga champions throughout the transfer window, with Juventus chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene revealing last month that the former Ajax man wants to leave the Bianconeri.

The 22-year-old has made 87 Serie A appearances since joining Juventus for a reported €85million in 2019 but has struggled for consistency in Italy.

Having won eight consecutive league titles prior to De Ligt's arrival, Juventus have only lifted one Scudetto in three seasons with the Dutchman.

Meanwhile, Juventus never conceded more than 30 league goals during any of those eight successive title triumphs but have let in a minimum of 37 in each campaign since De Ligt joined.

Speaking on Juventus' pre-season tour of the United States on Tuesday, Allegri conceded a move to Germany was a possibility for De Ligt, but he is optimistic positive about the club's plan to replace him.

"Yesterday there was a meeting with Bayern Munich, but at the moment he is a Juventus player," Allegri said of De Ligt.

"In football, anything can happen, but if he leaves the club will be ready."

De Ligt contributed to Juventus keeping 11 clean sheets in his 31 league appearances last season, featuring in more shutouts than any other Bianconeri defender.

 

Meanwhile, Juventus have moved to recruit Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria on free transfers in an attempt to add more creativity to a side that scored just 57 Serie A goals last season – that was the fewest they have netted in a single campaign since finishing seventh in 2010-11.

And Allegri is expecting big things from his new stars as he highlighted the importance of making a fast start to the upcoming Serie A season.

"Pogba and Di Maria are important players who raise the technical level of the team and take away responsibilities from some players," he added. "I am very happy that they have arrived. 

"Pogba has arrived in the right way, with determination and with desire. In recent years he has not played at his level, now he is back home and can give us a hand. Paul has a level of physique and quality that can help us.

"Last year we didn't even win a trophy. With the additions, for now, of Di Maria, Pogba, [Federico] Gatti, and the returns of [Federico] Chiesa and [Weston] McKennie, [we] make the team more competitive. 

"Winning is never easy and we must do everything to win the championship. The first three months will be important."

Chiesa suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, six months on from starring in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph, and Allegri says Juve fans will have to remain patient as the winger recovers.

"Chiesa should return in mid-September," he said. "Then, with these injuries I am very cautious. He will return to 100 per cent from January onwards."

Romelu Lukaku completing his return to Inter would make the Nerazzurri favourites to win Serie A next season, according to Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.

Lukaku is reportedly nearing an Inter comeback less than a year after making a club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, where he scored just eight Premier League goals as Thomas Tuchel's men finished third.

The Belgian had scored 30 goals and added 11 assists during his final season with Inter, helping the Nerazzurri end an 11-year wait for a league title as they finished 12 points clear of local rivals Milan.

While the Rossoneri fought back to end their own long Scudetto drought last month, Costacurta believes the return of Lukaku would shift the balance of power in Inter's favour.

"I think they also were [favourites] last year," he told TuttoMercato.

"Inter were the strongest last year and with Lukaku the gap with the others is getting wider."

 

Costacurta also expects Juventus to be back in the title mix after they finished fourth in consecutive Serie A seasons, but claims the return of Federico Chiesa, who sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, is more important to their prospects than the potential arrival of Paul Pogba.  

"A lot will depend on the recovery of Chiesa, one of the best players in Europe. If he recovers well, Juve will fight against Inter," the former defender said.

"This will be the blow, the one that most of all can shift the balance. More than Pogba."

Meanwhile, Milan are reportedly looking to bolster their own attack with moves for departing Liverpool forward Divock Origi and Real Madrid's Marco Asensio, and Costacurta, who won five European Cup/Champions League titles with the Rossoneri, believes both would be useful additions.

"I have never been in love with him [Origi], but he is a wonderful player," he said.

"Like [Olivier] Giroud, he will be able to help. They are not extraordinary players, but [you need] to have players like that, like Giroud last year." 

On Asensio, Costacurta added: "He is an excellent player, he has a lot of quality."

Costacurta's glittering playing career saw him establish a fearsome defensive partnership with Milan's current technical director Paolo Maldini, and although reports have suggested the Rossoneri legend could leave in the absence of a new contract offer, Costacurta remains confident his old friend will extend his stay.

"I can't imagine a Milan without Paolo Maldini," he said. "I don't think they [the club] are morons and so I imagine that as soon as they can, Maldini will sign. 

"I don't even ask myself the problem. A radical change of strategy would be harmful. 

"It seems to me that everything is going very well. The limited budget leads to a lot of ideas, I wouldn't worry much about it."

Federico Chiesa is relishing the chance to link up with Dusan Vlahovic at Juventus next season, with the winger confirming he is on course to return to action in September. 

Italy international Chiesa has not played since sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Roma in January that subsequently required surgery.

The 24-year-old, one of the stars of Italy's triumphant Euro 2020 campaign last year, is back in the early stages of training but will not rush his recovery programme.

"My dream is to return as soon as possible, but there are schedules to be respected," he said at a Save The Children event in Turin on Friday.

"The Juventus medical staff have been fantastic, helping me with everything. Now I have started to run and make changes of direction.

"By the beginning of September I hope to be ready, but let's see if we can shorten the times a little. We have to make sure there are no relapses."

Chiesa made 18 appearances for Juventus in his second season with the club prior to being struck down by injury, scoring four goals and assisting two more.

His injury coincided with the signing of Vlahovic, whom he previously played alongside at Fiorentina, though the pair have yet to play together in the Bianconeri strip.

Vlahovic arrived in Turin with a big reputation and reached double figures for goal involvements in his 21 outings for Juve in the second half of last season.

Indeed, his 10 goals and assists combined were at least two more than any other Juve player between his debut in early February and the end of the campaign.

 

"We've already paired up and he is someone I get on with very well on the pitch," Chiesa said of Vlahovic. "He's a friend off it and that only makes things better on the pitch.

"I can't wait to play with him and provide him with some balls to score a few more goals."

Chiesa's injury lay-off was also a huge blow for Italy, who suffered a shock qualifying play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March to miss out on Qatar 2022.

And with Italy having failed to qualify for successive World Cups for the first time, either side of winning the European Championships, Chiesa accepts changes are required.

"[Roberto] Mancini and those who work with him know better than me. But we need change, new and fresh players," he said. 

"We also need to change the Italian system, because the truth is that we are behind the other nations. The coach is right, the players in Italy don't play.

"Is the problem that there is no talent or training? We have to start asking ourselves these questions and change our mentality a bit. I think Mancini is the best person for the job.

"He did it after the first collapse by taking us to the top of Europe after missing the World Cup. So Mancini is the most suitable person. 

"In my opinion training is fundamental. When I grew up in Fiorentina's youth sector they taught the basics; now they think about the result."

Dusan Vlahovic pledged to improve on his first half-season with Juventus and "become a champion" as the Bianconeri prepare to end their Serie A campaign against his former club Fiorentina.

Vlahovic joined Massimiliano Allegri's side in a €70million move in January after scoring 17 goals in 21 Serie A appearances for Vincenzo Italiano's men this season, adding a further seven in 14 league appearances for the Old Lady since arriving in Turin.

The striker became the joint-highest scoring Serbian player in Serie A history in Monday's 2-2 draw with Lazio (51 – level with Dejan Stankovic), while one more league goal would make him just the second player aged under 23 years old to hit 25 in a Serie A season in 60 years – the other being Ronaldo for Inter in 1997-98.

However, Vlahovic has struggled to match his Fiorentina form during Juventus' frustrating end to the campaign, averaging a league goal every 151.86 minutes for Juve as opposed to every 109.47 minutes for his former club.

Juventus are guaranteed to finish fourth in Serie A for a second consecutive season, having won the title in each of the nine previous campaigns, and lost the Coppa Italia final to rivals Inter this month.

But Vlahovic remains happy with his decision to move to Turin and sees room for improvement moving forward.

Speaking at the Turin book fair, Vlahovic was asked about former Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli labelling him a "true champion" recently, replying: "I would like to say, speaking of myself as a champion... I don't like it. There is a long way to go, to work. I will give my all and I hope I will become a champion.

"I like Juve's DNA, this desire to fight and not give up, to go over the limit, until the end. 

"I am a bit like that too. I like working, above all because when I stop playing, even if it's early, I don't want to have regrets. I want to give everything, I don't want to have regrets. 

"This is my job, I am privileged and I don't see why it should be different. You can always do better. Even when you have done something extraordinary, you must be aware and satisfied, without exaggerating."

Juventus can end this Serie A campaign with a maximum of 73 points, guaranteeing their worst such return since the 2010-11 campaign (58 points, under Luigi Delneri).

The Bianconeri's hopes of a successful campaign suffered a huge blow when Italy's Euro 2020 star Federico Chiesa suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January.

Vlahovic played with Chiesa at Fiorentina and cannot wait to see the winger return to full fitness next term as he looks to rekindle their on-pitch relationship.

"He saw me grow up as a kid," he said of Chiesa. "We shared three years at Fiorentina, luckily we're together again. 

"He got injured when I arrived, I hope he'll be back as soon as possible. We hope to find our understanding on the pitch, which has remained from Florence. 

"I can't wait to play with him, to take the field and fight with him and win together."

What do Dusan Vlahovic, Dodi Lukebakio and Gaetan Laborde all have in common?

As of this moment, not much – aside from having been touted as the next Newcastle United signing. But if Vlahovic gets a goal for Juventus against Fiorentina on Wednesday, he will join Wolfsburg's Lukebakio (who joined on loan from Hertha Berlin) and Rennes' Laborde (who signed from Montpellier) as the only players in Europe's top five leagues to score for and against the same team this season.

Vlahovic said his feelings were "a bit mixed" as he contemplated facing the Viola at the Artemio Franchi, where he spent four years after joining as an 18-year-old from Partizan. "It's a bit strange," he told DAZN, to prepare for a game against the team for whom he scored 33 times in Serie A in 2021, equalling the competition's calendar-year record set by Cristiano Ronaldo – the man he was bought to replace in Turin.

The sentiment among Fiorentina's faithful will be a bit more, well, partisan. Vlahovic's January transfer, completed on his 22nd birthday for an initial fee of €70million, sparked levels of fury among the fan base arguably not seen since the Roberto Baggio riots of the early 1990s. Fiorentina ultras vented their anger not just at the player, but at the club itself, lambasting president Rocco Commisso for doing deals with "the ultimate evil" after previously promising never to sell their best players to the hated Bianconeri.

Meanwhile, Vlahovic has got on with the day job of scoring goals, and with three in his past two games, Juve are beginning to hope of a surprise late challenge for the Champions League and Serie A titles. Before then comes the small matter of a Coppa Italia semi-final in Florence, and the chance for Vlahovic to take a step closer to a first trophy outside Serbia by knocking out his old employers.

And he wouldn't be the first Juve player to return to haunt Fiorentina...

Roberto Baggio

Baggio isn't the sole reason Fiorentina don't like Juventus, but ask someone to explain the rivalry and his name will likely come up pretty quickly.

The pony-tailed posterboy of Italian football developed into a star in his five years in Tuscany even before his rise to global fame at the 1990 World Cup on home soil. It was in that same year that Juve signed him from Fiorentina for an approximate fee of £8million, smashing the world transfer record and sparking furious Fiorentina fans to take to the streets in protest.

Baggio claimed he never really wanted to leave and, when he returned to face them in Bianconeri colours on April 7, he refused to take a penalty ostensibly out of concern that goalkeeper Gianmatteo Mareggini would know where he would put it. Luigi Di Biagio stepped up instead, missed, and Juve lost. Picking up a Fiorentina scarf didn't help Baggio to endear himself to the Juve faithful, either.

Still, over the next five years, Baggio would fire them to Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup glory and become the first Italian since Paolo Rossi in 1982 to win the Ballon d'Or (it would be 13 more years before another, Fabio Cannavaro, did the same).

Giorgio Chiellini

If Baggio's transfer sparked a riot, Giorgio Chiellini's permanent move to Juve in 2005 prompted more of a quiet grumble. He spent 2004-05 with the Viola after they and Juve reached a co-ownership deal, so it was always anticipated the suits in Turin might stump up the full amount for his registration rights.

Of course, watching Chiellini win nine Scudetti, five Coppa Italia crowns and Euro 2020 as part of a glittering Azzurri career has left plenty of Fiorentina fans with an unshakeable sense of 'what if'.

In December 2005, Chiellini started against Fiorentina in a frankly unfair back four that also featured Lillian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta, with Juve claiming a 2-1 win thanks to Mauro Camoranesi's 88th-minute goal. 

He's since gone on to face Fiorentina 17 times in Serie A, losing just twice. But, more importantly, Chiellini has become a Juve great – he is just two games away from putting himself third behind Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon on the club's all-time appearances list.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi may have moved out of season, but that didn't stop Fiorentina fans venting their anger in response to his €40m switch. They hung a banner outside the stadium that made their displeasure fairly clear. It read: "Who wouldn't like to spit in your face… you s***** hunchback".

His move to the Old Lady came after a something of a breakthrough season as he scored 11 times in Serie A – that was an improvement of nine from the two he'd got the previous campaign.

Unsurprisingly he was jeered and targeted by banners on his first return to Florence in February 2018, though Bernardeschi had the last laugh, curling a free-kick in as Juve won 2-0. It's fair to say he didn't abstain from celebrating, letting out a huge scream.

"I celebrated when I scored because I believe a professional should respect the fans. I've always been grateful to Fiorentina, and always will, for the way they looked after me and helped me develop, but I made a career choice and now I play for another team," he told Sky Sport Italia at the time.

But Bernardeschi's struggled to have the same kind of importance to Juve, rather being used as more of a utility and back-up player, which is reflected by the fact he's scored just eight league goals for the club.

Federico Chiesa

If Fiorentina fans are upset on Wednesday, just wait until next season when Federico Chiesa is fit again and lining up alongside Vlahovic. The pair appeared together 41 times for the Viola before Chiesa's October 2020 departure for Turin.

Chiesa, who is out for the rest of the season following damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, will be a permanent Juve player in 2022-23. For now, remarkably, he is merely on loan from Fiorentina.

Such deals that appear to favour the buying club are not uncommon in Serie A, but Fiorentina supporters could be forgiven for being furious as their club again accommodated the transfer of a star player to their bitter rivals.

Chiesa – the son of former Fiorentina forward Enrico – dazzled in his final full season in Florence, with 11 goals and six assists, and has done likewise for Juve following a slightly tricky start. At the time of his injury – before Vlahovic's arrival – he was the Bianconeri's standout performer.

Every league seems to have those teams that just produce talent on an apparently non-stop basis, before those players inevitably get picked off by the bigger boys.

In Germany, you can't move for former Schalke or Stuttgart players. There's Lyon and Monaco in France, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia in Spain, Southampton and Aston Villa in England.

In Italy, that team is probably Fiorentina, who are in the same position once again after La Viola sold star striker Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus in a €70million deal.

Stats Perform takes a look at some of the biggest names in Italian football who made a name for themselves with the team from Tuscany, and what they went on to achieve in the game.

 

Roberto Baggio

Having begun his career at Vicenza, The Divine Ponytail's move to Fiorentina saw his star rise as he spent five impressive years in the purple shirt.

However, after he helped Fiorentina to the 1990 UEFA Cup final, only to be defeated over two ill-tempered legs by their great rivals Juventus, salt was very much rubbed into the fans' wounds as the Bianconeri paid a then world-record fee to take Baggio.

Reports claimed that fans hurled bricks, chains and Molotov cocktails at Fiorentina's headquarters, and for the two days after the transfer was announced, club president Flavio Pontello took shelter in the stadium, with 50 injuries and nine arrests recorded.

Baggio would only improve his reputation further at Juve, winning the UEFA Cup in 1993, before securing a league and cup double two years later, scoring 115 goals in 200 games across five seasons before moving to Milan, where he won another Scudetto in his first year.

After being dismissed by Fabio Capello at San Siro in 1997, Baggio had an impressive season at Bologna where he scored a personal best 22 league goals, before moving back to the city of Milan with Inter.

Things did not work out at the Nerazzurri but he still went on to enjoy four final seasons in Serie A with Brescia, where he reached double figures in each campaign before retiring in 2004.

Gabriel Batistuta

There is arguably no more iconic player in Fiorentina history. A striker who football fans of a certain vintage remember banging in goals on Sunday afternoons during the nineties.

Unlike most of the players on this list, Batistuta actually spent the majority of his career at Fiorentina, staying for nine years before his big-money move to Roma.

The man affectionately known as 'Batigol' remains the club's record goalscorer with 159 goals in 198 games, though it does help his record that people like Vlahovic are usually sold before they can get anywhere near that total.

Though he had won a Coppa Italia, Batistuta wanted a Scudetto and moved to Roma in 2000 in order to get it. It was the highest fee ever paid for a player over the age of 30, a record which stood until Leonardo Bonucci moved to Milan from Juventus in 2017.

It seemed like a justified move when Batistuta scored 20 goals, including netting against his former club, on the way to winning the title in his first season in the Italian capital, but was unable to reach those heights again, scoring just 11 over the following season and a half before a loan move to Inter.

Rui Costa

The Portuguese maestro had made a name for himself at Benfica before moving to Italy in 1994 and making 230 appearances in seven years with La Viola, winning two Coppa Italia titles.

However, like Batistuta, Rui Costa was moved on for big money to try and help the club's finances, ending up at Milan for a then club-record fee of around £35m.

Rui Costa spent five years at San Siro where he won six trophies, including the Champions League in 2003 and Scudetto a year later. He moved back to Benfica in 2006 after the emergence of Kaka saw his minutes reduced.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi came through the youth ranks at Fiorentina, with big things expected of him as he burst onto the scene after an impressive loan at Crotone in Serie B in the 2013-14 season.

During three years in the first team, Bernardeschi scored 23 goals in 93 games and registered 11 assists, which unfortunately for Viola fans saw old enemies Juve come swooping in again.

He has claimed three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies in Turin, as well as being a part of the Italy squad that won the rescheduled Euro 2020 last year.

Bernardeschi, who has scored just 11 times in 170 games for Juve, largely remains a squad player under Massimiliano Allegri, in part because of this next man...

Federico Chiesa

Another Fiorentina youth product, Chiesa had all eyes on him as soon as he broke through due to being the son of former Viola and Italy striker Enrico Chiesa.

Chiesa Jr made his first-team debut, somewhat ironically, against Juve at the age of 18, and over the next couple of years began to establish himself as the potential future of the club.

More suited to playing out wide than his father, who was a traditional central striker, Chiesa's managed 34 goals and 19 assists in 153 games at Fiorentina but it his tenacity, pace and skill that sets him apart.

That was enough to tempt – yes, you guessed it – Juve to come along and take him on a two-year loan, with an obligation to make it permanent at the end of the current campaign.

Chiesa had an impressive first season at Juve, including scoring the winning goal in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, before starring for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, scoring twice in seven appearances and making the team of the tournament.

He started 2021-22 in sharp form, only for a serious knee injury to end his season early.

 

There also must be honourable mentions for the likes of Luca Toni, whose emergence at Fiorentina earned him a lucrative move to Bayern Munich, and Francesco Toldo - he was sold to Inter at the same time that Costa was packed off to Milan to ease club debts.

Juan Cuadrado (now at Juventus) and Marcos Alonso were both sold to Chelsea for decent money two years apart, while Felipe Melo (Juventus), Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) and Matias Vecino (Inter) continued Fiorentina's philosophy of buying low and selling high.

The path well-trodden out of the Stadio Artemio Franchi has often led to bigger and better things, and that bodes well for Vlahovic now that it appears he will be the next in line.

He seems to have all the tools to be the star striker this current, rather dour, edition of the Bianconeri require. Indeed, Vlahovic's 33 goals in Serie A last season matched the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve in 2020.

It might be tough to take (again) for Viola fans, but if history is anything to go by, their next hero won't be far away.

Of course, he'll probably also sign for Juve eventually, but that will just be a case of crossing the Ponte Vecchio when they come to it.

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