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Conte: No Drogba for hard-up Juve

Updated: 2012-12-18 08:02
By Agence France-Presse in Milan ( China Daily)

Conte: No Drogba for hard-up Juve

Juventus coach Antonio Conte refuted claims the Serie A champion is on the verge of signing former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Juve extended its lead over title challenger Inter Milan to seven points on Sunday thanks to a 3-0 rout of Atalanta.

But despite reports claiming Bianconeri has been in talks with Drogba's representatives, Conte said Juventus - and indeed other major clubs in Italy - are in no financial position to sign top players.

Asked if Drogba would fit Juve's search for a top striker, Conte was unequivocal.

"Transfer talk seems disrespectful to the players in my team, especially at the current moment," said Conte, who returned to the touchline last week following a four-month ban from the sport for his role in a match-fixing affair.

"It's a critical time as far as the economy is concerned and it's the same for several other teams," said Conte.

"We won't be signing any top players because we're not in a position to. Neither us, nor other top teams in the Italian league."

A report in Sunday's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper claimed Juve had made "significant progress" in its bid to sign Drogba, who the report claimed agreed in principle to an 18-month deal to join the Serie A champion.

The 34-year-old signed with Shanghai Shenhua in July but the Cote d'Ivoire striker could be reconsidering his options after a disappointing start to his career in China.

Sunday's report said both parties had agreed "in principle" to an 18-month contract but had yet to negotiate and agree on financial terms.

While Juventus president Beppe Moratta is reported to have offered Drogba 3.5 million euros ($4.6 million) plus bonuses per season the striker's demands hover around the five million euros mark, plus bonuses.

Considered a legend at Chelsea, Drogba headed the equalizer and scored the winning penalty in the Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich last season.

Juventus routed Chelsea 3-0 in Turin recently on its way to qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League, as the Blues became the first defending champions to fail to make it past the group stages.

(China Daily 12/18/2012 page22)

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