Leonardo Bonucci thought he’d see out his career at Juventus, but explains the differences defending at Union Berlin and the reassurances he received from Italy coach Luciano Spalletti.

The centre-back made no secret of his desire to stay in Turin for the final year of his contract, which will probably also be the last year of his playing career, but Max Allegri and the club froze him out.

He eventually accepted a transfer to Union Berlin, where he is able to play in the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

“To be perfectly honest, leaving Italy was not in my plans,” Bonucci told Kicker.

“Juve was my life. I thought I would see out my career there, but I don’t want to talk about Juve right now.”

He had other options to remain in Italy, including Lazio and Serie B outfit Sampdoria, but decided to go to Germany.

“I wanted to break out of my comfort zone, experience a new culture, a new language and lifestyle. I wanted this experience and now I am concentrated on this.

“Admittedly, it is very tricky to get a hang of the language, while the lifestyle and even the football is different. In the Bundesliga, the teams push further up, so it we have to cover the space behind the defensive line.

“When I first arrived, I told the coach that I needed 3-4 weeks to get back in shape and we are nearly there.”

It has been reported that Bonucci was determined to play on until the end of this season so that he could participate in EURO 2024 with Italy.

“I spoke with Spalletti two weeks ago. He said that I would have to play a lot of games if I was to get back into the Azzurri side. I know it is difficult, but my main objective is to be called up to the Euros.”

By the time that tournament comes around, Bonucci will have already celebrated his 37th birthday.

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