In his first press conference of the 2013/14 campaign, Antonio Conte stressed that his main aim for the Juventus team this season is growth, and in that regard he believes they have already been extraordinarily successful.
He expressed his delight at the way in which the club has acquitted itself in the transfer market despite not enjoying the stratospheric financial resources of other European giants, describing how his squad has been significantly strengthened by the signings of Carlos Tévez and Fernando Llorente.
Warning of the threats of Napoli, Inter, Milan and Fiorentina amongst others, the 43-year-old said that it would be very difficult to repeat the great success of last season. However, with a determined work ethic and passionate displays on the pitch it is not unreasonable, Conte believes, for the Bianconeri to aim for a historic third successive Scudetto.
Here is a selection of the manager’s quotes from this afternoon’s media conference at Juventus Center in Vinovo:
Growth - “I think that Juventus are working to bring in players who can help us develop year on year, whilst at the same time taking the current economic crisis into account.”
‘Extraordinary’ acquisitions - “As far as I’m concerned, improving the quality of our strikeforce with Tévez and Llorente for just nine million euros represents an extraordinary achievement.”
Player departures - “When you’re bringing in players like Tévez, for nine million euros, in these times of financial crisis, you need to balance that by bringing in nine million from elsewhere, so it’s inevitable there will be some sad departures. I’m got a strong bond with all the lads I’ve worked with over the past two years. They’ve shown me great commitment.”
Aiming for the history books - “Reclaiming our title was very difficult and doing it for a third year would represent a historic achievement, a feat Juventus managed between 1930 and 1935.”
Progress during the Conte era - “In the last two years, Juventus have managed to return to what they represent: a winning team. We’ve regained the image that the club has always held both in Italy and on a worldwide scale.”
Determination and hard work - “We know that if we don’t work with commitment, humility and the desire to push ourselves to the limit on a daily basis, we won’t achieve important goals this season.”
Competition in attack - “We’ve now got six first-team strikers, we’ll see what happens. Everyone knows that I don’t have favourites. I choose my starting line-up based on what I see in training and during the games themselves.”
The number 10 shirt - “I’m not interested in the number a player wears. What counts is what he shows during the week in training and both on and off the field of play. A player could even wear 124 as far as I’m concerned. What matters is that whoever wears the Juventus shirt honours it in the best possible way, showing desire, passion and commitment.”
Competition in Europe - “Bayern and Barcelona have reinforced even further, so it’s difficult to see the gap diminishing. We must work a great deal on the pitch, there’s no way we can think about shortening the gap through signings, the others are too far ahead. We’ll bring in three players for 20 million, while the others buy one for 30. Or even 63 million, as we saw with PSG and Cavani.”
Domestic rivals - “Napoli have hired a great manager in Benitez, a man who has won everything and is also underrated. As far as the other teams are concerned, Inter have a good squad and an excellent coach. Milan with Balotelli were only defeated by us in the second half of the season.
“There’s also the likes of Fiorentina in the mix, a team who can no longer be considered a provincial side following the acquisition of a player like Gomez. Garcia’s arrival at Roma will bring plenty of enthusiasm and competence. Lazio also have a useful squad and approach the campaign on the back of last season’s Coppa Italia win.”
Strength of Italian football - “I’m happy that foreign greats have chosen to ply their trade here, it’s stimulating for all concerned.”