Maxi hoping flattery will seal Juve deal

CATANIA - Maxi Lopez will see if a bout of flattery can seal a January move to Juventus, having told the Turin club they are worthy of the league title following Sunday's 3-1 win over his Catania side.

Media reports are full of speculation that Juve want out-of-favour Sampdoria forward Antonio Cassano or Argentine Maxi.

The striker burst on to the scene at Barcelona in 2005 before disappearing from the limelight, and he is back on song in Sicily.

The 26-year-old has scored 14 Serie A goals since joining Catania in January but could do nothing to stop third-placed Juve inflicting his side's first home league defeat in almost a year and moving six points behind leaders AC Milan.

"We met a tough team who were pumped up and have so much quality and a great squad," Maxi told Reuters at Catania's modest Stadio Massimino.

"We lost here for the first time in a year against a team that can win the scudetto. They are strong because they have great champions and a good tactical system."

SECRET SUPPORT

Juve last won the title in 2006 but that scudetto and their 2005 triumph were stripped from them in a match-fixing scandal and, after a season's demotion in Serie B, Italy's most successful domestic club have struggled to regain their former glory.

However, they remain Italy's best supported team despite the success of Inter Milan and AC Milan, with a host of Sicilians who turned up for Sunday's match secretly rooting for Juventus.

Having already played for Barca, Maxi is well aware of what it would mean to be at twice European champions Juve.

"If another great squad showed interest, it would give me great pleasure," said Maxi, who is eligible to play for Italy having represented Argentina only at youth level.

"I'm calm, my attitude has always been just to keep working."

In case a dream move does not work out, Maxi would happily stay in the laidback and friendly atmosphere of mid-table Catania, where the all-year-round good weather trumps wintry Turin and the views up nearby Mount Etna are breathtaking.

"I've still got two-three years left on my contract here so I'm just trying to improve at Catania," he said with a smile.


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