TIDYING UP ALL THE LOOSE STORIES IN FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
By Romeo Agresti | Juventus Correspondent
BIANCONERI TO OFFER €7M [£5.6M] FOR LLORENTE BUT LEWANDOWSKI STILL A TARGET
Juventus continue to monitor the market with the aim of expanding their fleet of attackers. The Serie A leaders are pondering a double solution by making a January bid for Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente, with a summer move for Manchester United target Robert Lewandowski.
The word around Vinovo suggests that the Bianconeri are willing to invest €7 million [£5.6m] in Llorente, with the Spain international said to be looking for a move due to his continued ostracism at the hands of Marcelo Bielsa at the Vicente Calderon.
Should the 27-year-old decide against a move to Turin, the Old Lady will then turn their attentions instead to Lewandowski, whose rise to prominence has continued unabated despite Borussia Dortmund having fallen 14 points off the pace set by Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this season.
In the meantime, general director Giuseppe Marotta and the brains trust at Corso Galileo Ferraris will discuss the best package they will be able to offer the club and player should the 24-year-old Poland international become their new focus of attention.
MARRONE LINED UP FOR LOAN SPELL IN LIGURIA
Whether Llorente arrives or not in January, one player who would be willing to depart Vinovo, at least temporarily, in the winter transfer window is Luca Marrone.
The 22-year-old midfielder has been training all season as a centre-back for the purpose of being used as an alternative to Leonardo Bonucci in the Old Lady's back three, with his qualities thought to be well suited to directing the defensive line. But he has inevitably failed to break into the first team with any regularity so far, making only two league starts this season.
As a result, he is set to accept a loan move in order to get game time, but he would remain intent on returning to Juventus in the summer. Both Genoa and Sampdoria are both expected to show an interest in taking Marrone off the hands of Antonio Conte for the second half of the season, with the Bianconeri coach still said to be dubious about the idea of playing the Juve youth product more regularly.
Much the same can be said of Lucio. The former Brazil captain has already asked his agent to seek out alternative employment for him in the January window. Having failed to break into the first-team picture since his move from Inter in the summer, he can boast concrete offers - most notably from Turkey and Germany, and together with the Juve board he is set to move on for the benefit of both the player and the club.
CONTE REJOICES AT RETURN TO TOUCHLINE
Antonio Conte's return from enforced exile was marked with victory amidst the icy rain in Palermo on Sunday. Afterwards he told Juventus Channel of his delight at being back at pitch level.
"When you're missing the smell of the turf, it's a bitter pill, even if you have worked with the team all week" said Conte. "The emotions of the game are unique and you miss them, but the episode has still been informative for me.
"Attaining the results were have in the recent months shows that I have special players, a special team, and perhaps I am also special too."
Thanks to their success at Palermo, the Bianconeri look set to enjoy a happy and prosperous (in points) Christmas break, to the delight of all Juventini.