'He is an important player' - Allegri quashes Benatia exit rumours after Man Utd & Barcelona links

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The Moroccan defender has been linked with a move away from the Italian champions in the January transfer window

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has played down rumours of Medhi Benatia leaving the club in January, insisting that he still has a role to play.

Benatia has been linked with moves to both Manchester United and Barcelona in recent weeks, after the return of Leonardo Bonucci to Juventus has seen his playing time reduced. 

Despite this, Allegri is adamant that the defender is still a key member of his squad, stating that rotation is important at big clubs. 

"Benatia? When you are in a big team there’s time when you can stay out. I think he played 50% of our games so far. He's an important player." Allegri said ahead of Wednesday's Champions League tie with United.

Although Allegri insists Benatia is an important player, the centre-half has only played four of 11 Serie A games this season compared to his 21 appearances in the league last season.

The 31-year-old has made it no secret that he is unhappy with his current situation and, with Barcelona reportedly looking to add an experienced defender to their ranks in January, Benatia could be high on their list of targets.

"I'm struggling playing a game every now and then," he told La Stampa earlier this week.

"Last year I did well because I had more consistency, unfortunately I don't have it this year. It's part of my job, and I work to always be ready, but it's not a pleasant situation."

The Moroccan has experience of sharing game time as he sat behind Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng whilst at Bayern Munich, as well as being fourth choice behind Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Bonucci at Juve.

He said: "It's normal that I'm not enjoying it, I'm 31 and I want to play as much as possible.

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"January? Let's see what happens, how I'm used, if Juve still need me, if Allegri wants me…

"I'm available to the team, as long as I'm here I'll give my all. If I'm needed in the Champions League I'll be ready."

 

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