AC Milan’s new sporting director Leonardo revealed Thursday that team captain Leonardo Bonucci wants to return to Juventus just one season after signing for the club from the Serie A champions.
“I’ve met with a range of clubs, including Juventus,” the Brazilian said at a press conference in which he was unveiled in his new role at Milan.
“The desire (to talk to Juve) came from him, so if the conditions are right, we’ll try to make it happen.”
On Tuesday coach Gennaro Gattuso admitted that Bonucci wants to leave Milan, who could only finish sixth last season despite spending over 200 million euros ($233 million) on new players last summer — of which 42 million euros were reportedly spent on the Italian international centre-back.
However, Leonardo’s announcement was confirmation of reports that he wanted to return to Turin, where he won six league titles and reached two Champions League finals with Juve.
Bonucci’s potential departure shows that the troubled times are not yet over for AC Milan despite being readmitted to next season’s Europa League last week, thanks to the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturning a season-long ban for violating UEFA’s financial fair play rules.
American hedge fund Elliott Management took over Milan earlier this month after the club’s former Chinese owners, long rumoured to be struggling financially, failed to repay 32 million euros lent by Elliott to finance the final instalment of two capital increases worth a total of 120 million euros.
Elliot has pledged to inject 50 million euros to bring financial stability to the seven-time European champions.
Leonardo, a former Milan player admitted that Milan wouldn’t be making any big moves in the summer transfer market and said that Gattuso would remain coach despite rumours of Antonio Conte replacing him.
Gattuso stabilised the club last season after stepping up from youth team coach to replace sacked Vincenzo Montella in late November, with Milan in disarray place after losing six of their opening 14 matches.
He took his side to the Italian Cup final, where they were soundly beaten 4-0 by Juve, who conquered their fourth straight domestic double.
“I and the club agree. Gattuso was the first person to be confirmed,” Leonardo said.
“He is a coach who is constantly developing, he is a Milan man and it’s with him that we will begin.”