Antonio Conte leaves Juventus: Reports suggest Arturo Vidal's possible move to Manchester United was behind surprise exit
Massimo Allegri and Roberto Mancini are in the running to take over at the Juventus Stadium, but the new manager may not have Vidal among their squad when they arrive
Antonio Conte has left Juventus after four years with the Italian club, with suggestions that the forced sale of midfielder Arturo Vidal to Manchester United could be the reasoning behind his surprise exit.
The 44-year-old departs after winning three consecutive Serie A titles, and the expectation was that he would lead the Old Lady into the new season as Juventus look to retain their title as well as launch a serious attempt to win the Champions League for a first time since 1996.
But the news was broken late on Tuesday evening on the club’s website, and despite having a year left to run on his contract, Conte confirmed he was leaving via a video message.
“I have decided to terminate my contract with Juventus,” he said.
“I have matured with time and my feelings led me to make this choice. It may be more difficult to keep winning with Juventus.
“An enormous thank you for what you have given to me as a player and as a coach. I have always been close to you. I want to say that the journey taken in recent years has been historic.
“Winning is difficult. It comes with a lot of effort, especially in a club like Juventus where there is the obligation of victory, but I showed I'm a winner.”
Conte is tipped as the next Italy manager following the resignation of Cesare Prandelli following the World Cup, although former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is also in the running after he left Galatasaray after a year in charge of the Turkish club.
But Conte was quick to dampen rumours that he could become the next national team coach, adding: “Right now I'm thinking about the present and the decision taken.”
Reports suggest that Conte decided to leave after the club informed him they intend to sell Chile midfielder Vidal should United agree a deal with the club, after talks took place between the Premier League club and the player’s agent took place regarding a £35m deal.
United are said to be unwilling to shell out a large fee for Vidal, who were originally said to want £45m plus United winger Nani, but £35m appears to be closer to the mark that United officials are looking for.
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Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon was quick to praise Conte for his work over the past four years, and labelled his departure as a big “loss” for the Italian champions, but admitted that he had left in place a strong club that can deal with his exit.
“We've lost a great coach but great players and a smart club remain in place,” said Buffon.
“Now we need to stay together even more and show what we're worth, disregarding Conte.”
Conte was also given a warm sending off from the club’s president Andrea Agnelli, who admitted to being “saddened” by his departure and called the 44-year-old a “great leader”.
“Dear Antonio, you have been a great leader and this news saddens me greatly,” he wrote in a statement published on the club’s official site.
“Three years together have led us to write history with three consecutive titles and two Italian cups.
“You have given a group of highly talented professionals who will be at the disposal of the new coach to continue writing the future.
“You are in the history of the Bianconeri colours and whatever choice you make, a Juventus victory will always make you smile.
“Antonio, thank you for everything. Til the end.”
Roberto Mancini is a potential replacement for Conte Conte remains one of Juventus’ most successful and adored players, making over 500 appearances for the Bianconeri and winning five league titles in the process. He arrived at the club in 2011 from Siena, and managed to lead his Juventus side to an unbeaten season, clinching the Serie A at the first attempt.
However, he was banned for 10 months in 2013 – later reduced to a four month touchline ban – for failing to report attempted match-fixing during his time with Siena, and despite insisting his innocence, missed a large chunk of last season.
With Conte gone, former AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri is expected to be announced as the next man to lead Juventus, with the Associated Press reporting that a deal has been agreed for him to takeover. Mancini also stands a chance of taking the job should he be overlooked for the national team, although Allegri looks to have beaten him to the job.
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