Leonardo Bonucci has confirmed that he is taking legal action against Juventus, claiming that the Serie A club has not told the truth about their treatment of him after he was frozen out and eventually sold over the summer.
Veteran defender Bonucci, who has won a host of trophies with club and country over his long career, was shunted aside by Juve in pre-season, missing out on July’s tour in the USA and training away from the first team.
And the 36-year-old said he had made the “hard decision” to sue the club for which he played over 500 times and won eight league titles for what he considers “humiliating” treatment.
“It’s a decision that’s been a long time coming and is due to the fact that I’ve read and heard a lot of things that aren’t true,” said Bonucci in an interview with Mediaset released on Thursday.
Bonucci, who signed for Union Berlin last month, claims he was only told in mid-July that he was no longer in Juve’s plans, contrary to the club’s version of events in which he was told twice, in October last year and February.
“I didn’t have any discussion with the club on that date, nor did I with the coach (Massimiliano Allegri), who called me into his office at the end of March… he told me in his way that I should quit at the end of June because I wanted to be a coach so I needed to speed things up,” Bonucci added.
“I told him that I respected his decision but that I intended to play on until at least the end of the European Championship next year. The conversation ended there.”
‘Holding Juve back’
Bonucci claims that he was then told by Juve after their last home match of last season that he would be fifth or sixth choice for the coming campaign, and says his reply was “no problem”.
He says he then heard nothing from the club until a home visit in from sporting directors Giovanni Manna and Cristiano Giuntoli who told him that his “presence in the dressing room was holding Juve back”.
“I am simply asserting my rights provided for in (professional football’s) collective bargaining agreement… which says players should be put in the condition to train with the team, regardless of any selection decisions, and have the right to acceptable physical preparation for the coming season,” said Bonucci.
“I wasn’t given that… I wasn’t given the chance to go out onto the training field with my own teammates, take part in training matches. I felt empty and humiliated, and not put in the condition to do what I love most and that’s play football.”
Bonucci, who says he will donate any proceeds from his legal action to charity, was also left out of Luciano Spalletti’s first Italy squad this month, losing his captaincy of the national team.
He was Azzurri skipper under former coach Roberto Mancini following the retirement of Giorgio Chiellini last year, and became a national hero in 2021 as a key part of the team which won the last European Championship.
Last month Juve denied claims by the head of the player’s union, Umberto Calcagno, that Bonucci’s “dignity is being trampled on”.
Juve defended the “legitimacy of its actions towards all registered players who are recognised and are fully guaranteed all the rights” agreed in football’s collective bargaining agreement.
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