Rome, Aug. 18 (GNA/dpa) – The surprise move of defensive ace Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus to AC Milan shook the Italian transfer market in July and underscored the intention of the Rossoneri to be back among the big guns of the Serie A.
Former Juve star Alessandro Del Piero said he thought about a joke when he heard of the Italy international’s departure after seven seasons and a record six Serie A titles with the Bianconeri.
Some fans insulted Bonucci on social media, with threats of special ‘welcome back’ treatment when he returns to Turin’s Allianz Arena in late March as captain of the Rossoneri.
For Milan fans, the signing confirmed the commitment of new president Li Yonghong, a Chinese entrepreneur, to the overhauling of a club boasting seven continental titles, five of them during the three-decade tenure of media magnate Silvio Berlusconi.
Milan won their 18th domestic title in 2011, but finished between sixth and 10th place in the last four seasons.
Last season’s sixth place shortened the break of the Rossoneri, who, in early August, won a first qualifier against Craiova on a 3-0 aggregate and Thursday all but secured a place in the Europa League group phase by with a 6-0 first-leg win against Shkendija.
Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux, which is based in Luxembourg and controlled by Li Yonghong, took over the club in April and in the past weeks spent around 200 million euros (236 million dollars) on new players, with Bonucci topping the list at 42 million euros and Portuguese striker Andre Silva, who joined from Porto, following at 38 million.
Argentine play-maker Lucas Biglia arrived from Lazio, but will delay his debut for about a month due to injury.
Bonucci said he was surprised by the warm welcome from the Rossoneri fans and said he was ready to become the squad’s leader.
‘I will give all of myself to help team, fans and club, and to defend this shirt from the first to the last second of each game,’ he told Milan TV.
Coach Vincenzo Montella has been busy fitting 10 new players into his squad while the club, however, have not yet retired from the market closing on August 31.
‘I expect my team to be more clinical,’ he said ahead of Thursday’s win against Shkendija. ‘Our ‘old players’ are behaving very well, they really made themselves available.’
In reply, Silva netted a brace and Fabio Borini, also a newcomer, found the net along with veterans Riccardo Montolivo, striking twice, and Luca Antonelli as Bonucci played his first competitive game with five other new signings