Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici has confirmed that Mario Mandzukic did not travel with the rest of the squad to face Fiorentina as the striker is currently locked in talks with an unnamed Qatari team.
The Croatian was linked with a move away from Turin throughout the summer, with Manchester United among the big-name European sides said to have harboured an interest, but ultimately the striker remained at Juventus as the summer window swung shut.
Now, however, having been left out of the Italian giants' Champions League squad, it is clear that Mandzukic is not part of coach Maurizio Sarri's plans and as such has been free to open talks with interested parties.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia of Mandzukic's situation on Saturday, Paratici said:
“There are opportunities that have presented themselves in the market. There is a situation at stake in Qatar and we decided, in agreement with the coach, the player and his agent, that it was best he didn't come on this trip.
“Mario has been a very important player for us over the years. He has proved himself at every level and we will always be thankful to him.”
Reports in Italy have suggested that a reunion with former Juve centre-back Medhi Benatia at Al-Duhail could be on the cards, while Al-Gharafa was also mentioned.
Back in Italy, Old Lady boss Sarri has returned to the bench after being hospitalised with a bout of pneumonia and Paratici is glad to have the trainer back after a period of uncertainty.
“Sarri is very relaxed,” he said. “But, of course, I challenge any coach to be calm when he can't stay on the touchline in contact with his team during a match! It was a difficult situation.”
With the boss back and the squad – bolstered by summer additions – ready to get on with the rest of the season, Paratici admitted that he feels the Serie A champions are now even stronger than last term.
“We are always thinking of ways to take an extra step forward and improve a little bit every time – I think we've done that again this season,” he concluded.