Serie A defender Leonardo Bonucci has disputed claims he contacted Manchester City regarding the possibility of completing a summer move to the the Etihad Stadium. The denial comes after City CEO Ferran Soriano suggested last month that the Juventus centre-back personally called the Premier League title contenders in order to register his keen interest in playing under Pep Guardiola.
"At the moment there are a lot of players that want to play under Pep," Soriano told Catalan radio station RAC1. "The Italian central defender Bonucci wants to play for him and he called us. I called the Juventus sporting director [Fabio Paratici] and he told me they didn't want to sell. There ended the story."
Challenging those clams in a recent interview with La Domenica Sportiva, Bonucci asserted that there has been no contact between him and the Premier League title contenders. He said: "Manchester City said that I had called them to move there? I did not call anybody, they have not called me personally."
Bonucci has made over 200 appearances for reigning Italian champions since joining from Bari in 2010, winning five Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia crowns. The 29-year-old, under contract in Turin until 2020 after signing a five-year extension last summer, has earned widespread plaudits for his consistent performances for both club and country in the so-called "BBBC" alongside fellow defensive stalwarts Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.
Bonucci in particular impressed during Italy's run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, where he set-up Emanuele Giaccherini with a glorious long pass during an opening Group E win over Belgium before taking a penalty in the last-eight draw with Germany. He was, along with Simone Zaza, Graziano Pelle and Manchester United's Matteo Darmian, one of four Azzurri players to miss during a somewhat farcical 6-5 penalty shootout defeat in Bordeaux.
Those stellar performances under Antonio Conte and the pair's previously successful relationship at Juventus saw Bonucci heavily linked with his compatriot's first summer transfer window at Stamford Bridge. That deal never came to fruition, though, with Chelsea eventually having to settle for a somewhat panicked reunion with David Luiz and the £23m signing of Marcos Alonso after also coming up frustratingly failing to capture the signature of either Kalidou Koulibaly or AC Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli.
Chelsea's pursuit of Bonucci does not appear to be over just yet, with The Telegraph claiming in early October that billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has communicated to Conte that he is willing to launch a mammoth bid worth in excess of £60m to sign the player in January. It is worth noting, however, that such reports came at a time when the Blues were experiencing something of a wobble that was rooted in obvious defensive issues.
The picture has changed since then, with Chelsea having reeled off five consecutive Premier League victories without conceding a single goal since switching to Conte's preferred three-man defensive system before a 2-0 win over Hull City. The Blues thrashed Everton by five goals to nil on Saturday (5 November) and temporarily went top of the Premier League courtesy of a brace from Eden Hazard and goals from Alonso, Diego Costa and Pedro.