It had become a true contest between Virgil van Dijk and Leonardo Bonucci to see who could be linked to Chelsea more often without Chelsea having any true hopes of making that transfer an actual reality. Bonucci had the advantage of history and age, Van Dijk had the advantage of Southampton’s protectionism and Liverpool’s very public failures.
Bonucci was probably already edging the race despite Southampton keeping Van Dijk under the stairs, behind lock and key, sealed with a tapping-up hex, but thanks to Juventus coach Max Allegri, the Juventus defender has now jumped firmly into the lead and thus even further away from Chelsea.
“[Bonucci] is an important player, an extraordinary player, and above all he has to understand that he’ll be the future leader of the Juventus dressing room.”
-Max Allegri; source: Sky Italia via Mail
(That’s also front page news at Corriere dello Sport, with the verdict of Allegri “blocking” Conte. Meanwhile, Tuttosport are sitting back and enjoying the battle between Conte and Juve chief Marotta for not just Bonucci, but presumably Alex Sandro as well.)
Those comments from Allegri were said in the context of the public bust-up between him and Bonucci last season, which saw the defender banished to the stands for one game before both the coach and the player admitted that they could’ve handled the situation better. All that nonsense has probably been smoothed well over by now, as has the incident of Bonucci getting into it with Dybala and Barzagli during the Champions League final. Those things were cracks upon which transfer rumors could be built, but just as one would expect of anything built on such unstable foundation, they were not exactly solid.
If Chelsea are to reinforce Conte’s options at center back with a big money signing in addition to loan returnee Andreas Christensen, that probably won’t be Leonardo Bonucci. Which we should’ve known already, but it’s probably worth repeating since the rumor mill continues to dredge up his name.
(It may not be Virgil van Dijk either, so don’t get your hopes up.)