Performance to determine worth of Juventus’ signings: Barzagli

Turin, Aug 4 (IANS) Veteran Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli has praised the quality of the Italian football champions’ new recruits but stressed that only performance will show whether they are a stronger force to reckon with as compared to the past.

Juventus have added Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, veteran defender Dani Alves, midfielder Miralem Pjanic, defender Medhi Benatia, and winger Marko Pjaca as new additions this summer.

With such striking reinforcements, the 35-year-old Barzagli predicted another strong and possibly better showing on all fronts from the five-time consecutive Italian champions while adding that only results will decide if the club’s previous unit is superior to that of 2015/16.

“Some top players have arrived and they have undoubtedly raised the quality of our squad — but results next season will decide whether this team is better than last year’s. Our goal is to ensure that it is,” Barzagli told Juventus’ website on Wednesday.

“There are some excellent defensive units across the continent and with the additions of Dani Alves and Medhi Benatia — two players with a proven track record of silverware and experience — I feel that now we’ve taken another step forward ourselves.

“Given the number of matches we will be playing, Higuain may well be the difference for us over the course of the season. He is an excellent centre forward and he has shown that with the number of goals he has scored everywhere he has been.”

Juventus have positioned themselves as the numero uno side in Italy but they are still searching an European top-flight title since the 95-96 European Cup triumph.

In the last two years, they have shown that they belong to the world’s best five clubs but the European title has eluded them. In the 2014-15 season, they failed against Barcelona in the final, while in the last season, Bayern Munich eliminated them in a classic encounter that went to extra-time.

And Barzagli didn’t hide the disappointment and is hopeful of lasting the distance in his final two season of his career.

“As ever, our objectives are to triumph in Italy, express ourselves in Europe and improve on our achievements of the previous campaign,” the former Wolfsburg and Palermo player said.

“The Champions League is a competition like no other with a handful of truly world-class contenders. For me, I see this as one of my last two opportunities to win it; quite simply it’s the pinnacle for clubs and players alike,” he added.

“We know that the road to get to the final is a tough one and to advance through the competition you need a host of factors in your favour such as injuries, form and even a touch of fortune.

“We’ve grown a lot over the last few seasons and we hope to go a step or two further this time around.”

Barzagli, who decided to quit international football at the end of the Euro last month, is also eager to reverse the decision after holding positive talks with new national team coach Giampiero Ventura.

“It was great to meet the new coach and my first impression was good; the meeting he held with me and the other Italians in the squad was very productive. I have always been intrigued by him as a manager for his attention to detail and his knowledge about the game,” Barzagli, who has represented Italy in 61 matches, said.

“The fire in my belly is back and if I can stay in form and in good condition physically then I don’t see why I couldn’t return to the international setup once more. Of course it’s not up to me but should the coach call me up, my response would most likely be a positive one.”



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