Leonardo Bonucci Return to Juventus Initiated by Milan, Per Club General Manager

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2018

AC Milan's defender Leonardo Bonucci from Italy (L) celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus Vs AC Milan on March 31, 2018 at the 'Allianz Stadium' in Turin. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO        (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Leonardo Bonucci wants to return to Juventus after just one season at AC Milan, according to Rossoneri general manager Leonardo.

The Brazilian described how Milan are open to letting Bonucci get his way, per Football Italia: "The desire (to talk to Juve) started with Leonardo Bonucci, so if we can, we’ll make it happen. We have no objection to it. It all started from an idea, a very sensible and quiet one. It’s from here that all the talk started."

While Leonardo also said it's "not definite" Bonucci will move on, Juve haven't been shy about talking up the possible return of their former player.

Bianconeri general manager Giuseppe Marotta told TopCalcio24 (h/t Football Italia): "Leonardo wants to come to us and we want to satisfy him. It's a complicated negotiation though. We're trying and we've offered (Gonzalo) Higuain to the Rossoneri, but without a positive result."

Marotta has admitted Juventus and Bonuccit are interested in a reunion.
Marotta has admitted Juventus and Bonuccit are interested in a reunion.Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Marotta indicated discussions may continue when the Serie A fixtures are released on Thursday. For the moment, though, Bonucci remains a member of the Rossoneri.

Milan invested £35.1 million in the ball-playing centre-back last summer, with Bonucci going on to make 46 starts in all competitions. He formed a particularly effective partnership alongside Alessio Romagnoli once former Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso succeeded Vincenzo Montella as manager.

Gattuso tried to build his team around a secure base, something the 40-year-old will likely continue to do after Leonardo confirmed his future as manager, per Football Italia: "Gattuso? My view is shared by the club, Gattuso was the first to be confirmed, this has never been up for discussion."

Leonardo also downplayed suggestions Milan are in pursuit of former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. The FA Cup and Premier League title winner was recently said to be on the verge of replacing Gattuso, according to Radio Kiss Kiss (h/t Metro).

Gattuso wants Bonucci to stay put.
Gattuso wants Bonucci to stay put.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Gattuso appeared to hint Bonucci wants to leave, but he also said he must try to talk him into staying, per Zinny Boswell of Sky Sports. It would make sense for Gattuso to want Bonucci to stay since his experience and track record as a winner still makes him a useful mentor for gifted 23-year-old Romagnoli.

Going back to Turin may also be a tougher sell than expected, despite Juve's unchallenged position as the powerhouse of Serie A, as well as a fixture in the UEFA Champions League.

However, Bonucci originally moved on amid rumours of tension with manager Massimiliano Allegri, an idea the player lent credence to when speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t ESPN FC's Ben Gladwell) last August.

If Bonucci has put those issues behind him, Juve would likely welcome their former talisman back with open arms. If not, the Rossoneri may yet be able to keep one of their most important players.