HOLD Outgoing coach Allegri confident of bright Juventus future

Massimiliano Allegri feels he will leave Juventus with the potential to go on and win the Champions League after it was announced he would step down as head coach at the end of the season.

The 51-year-old has been in charge of the Turin club since joining from fellow Serie A heavyweights AC Milan in 2014, and won the league title in each of his five seasons in charge.

However, despite domestic dominance, which also included four Coppa Italia titles, Allegri could not deliver European success, losing two Champions League finals – against Barcelona in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2017.

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Even the arrival of star signing Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, for a fee reported to be 100million euros (£90m) could not push Allegri’s side on, eventually coming up short against Ajax in this season’s quarter-final.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli sat alongside Allegri for Saturday’s press conference at the Allianz Stadium in what was an emotional occasion, with first-team players also in attendance.

Allegri, whose contract had been set to run through to June 2020, was presented with a commemorative shirt by Agnelli which had on the back “History Alone” above the number five.

The former Cagliari boss, clearly moved by Agnelli’s speech in tribute to the club’s out-going head coach, is in no doubt Juventus can continue to grow following his departure.

“I leave a winning team which has the potential to repeat its achievements in Italy and have another great Champions League campaign. Unfortunately, some situations meant we couldn’t go all the way (during my time),” said Allegri, who will take charge of his final home league match against Atalanta on Sunday.

“We talked, expressed our ideas on what was best for Juventus and the future of Juventus. After that, the club evaluated it and decided it was best that I wouldn’t be the coach of Juventus next season.

“I leave behind a solid group with extraordinary players, both technically and as men, because you need good men to win as well as good footballers.”

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Agnelli maintained he would not make any comment on the next Juventus head coach, with both former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino having been swiftly linked with the vacancy.

“We must be able to make the right decision and make them in the right moment. Only the future will tell us if these decisions are the right ones,” said the Juventus president, adding that this had been the most difficult choice to make.

“When this team comes together in July, it will begin with the objective of winning, both in Italy and in Europe.”

There had been reports of a growing rift between the head coach and vice-president Pavel Nedved over the future direction of the team. Allegri, though, stressed the parting was amicable.

Massimiliano Allegri (PA)

Massimiliano Allegri twice saw his Juventus side beaten in the Champions League final (Nick Potts/PA)

“Some things were written that were not correct, suggesting I asked for a long contract, for a squad revolution and different players, but we never got to that,” Allegri said.

“We simply realised it was best not to continue together. It was far more simple than you seem to think.

“We had five extraordinary years together and must be proud of that, but enough, because tomorrow we have to celebrate. All the rest is chatter.

“Juventus will start next season with a super club and an extraordinary squad.”

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Allegri had been linked with a move to the English Premier League, but for now, does not intend to make any quick decisions.

“Maybe I need a little rest too, but perhaps after July 15 I might inevitably feel the desire to get back to work and I will evaluate the situations that are proposed,” he said.

“Otherwise, I will have a year to dedicate myself to my family and my friends. We will see.”

In-form Atalanta travel to Juve having climbed up to fourth spot in Serie A on the back of an unbeaten 11-game run which has included eight victories.

Atalanta did suffer their first defeat since February on Wednesday when they were beaten 2-0 by Lazio in the Coppa Italia final, but Gian Piero Gasperini is hoping for a better outcome this weekend.

He told a press conference, as reported by his club’s website: “Tomorrow will be a very difficult task, at the home of Juventus who have won the championship, and with a party in progress.

“But if we could get something then we would be mathematically certain that with a victory on the final day we would be in the Champions League.”

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