Facing a potential exodus of two of their top players and coming off a disappointing International Champions Cup opener loss, Juventus hope to right their preseason against Tottenham on Tuesday at Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side were dealt a setback by the host city’s Melbourne Victory, losing 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw despite promising 20-year-old Carlos Blanco’s stunning long-range strike in the 58th minute.
However, it is the offseason for the Old Lady and Spurs with more pressing matters on the table. For Juventus, it's the status of superstar Paul Pogba and their chase Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain and Barcelona's Javier Mascherano that are grabbing headlines.
Pogba, coming off an up-and-down showing at the European championships, has been heavily linked with a return to Manchester United for more than £100 million. Higuain, who has a buyout clause of £79 million, and Mascherano, who has yet to sign a contract extension with Barcelona, might be considered the combined replacement for Pogba. Sky Sports reported that Higuain has agreed to a deal with Juventus, but there has been no confirmation from Higuain or the club.
In typical manager protocol, Allegri would not discuss Pogba or Higuain's status.
"I am not going to talk about the transfer market news, we are just here to get ready. The club is going to talk about the transfer market and they are doing very well so I am happy in that regard," the Italian said.
But in turn, Allegri is using the preseason as a means to work in Juve’s newest signings, Miralem Pjanic and Medhi Benatia. Juventus handed Serie A rival Roma 24 million for the midfielder Pjanic, while defender Benatia is presently on loan from Bundesliga titan Bayern Munich.
"Benatia is going to play as well as Pjanic and [Roberto] Pereyra," Allegri said. "Probably we are going to play with four defenders with either a young player or Alex Sandro at right-back.
"It is an important test. We will use it to test our condition. We will then finish our training season for the summer in Hong Kong. Tomorrow is going to be a very different game [to Tuesday]. There is going to be more intensity.
"I am going to try and play the players who played the first half of the last game more, even though it was only the first match. We are not sure if they are in the ideal condition to play a full match."
Spurs, on the other hand, haven’t stepped back on the pitch since May, when Newcastle United handed them a 5-1 crushing that denied Mauricio Pochettino’s side second place on the Premier League table.
But with the new domestic campaign approaching, even with a chance to upend Juve and possibly Atletico Madrid on Friday, Pochettino has opted to leave most of his top players behind. Tottenham kept leading scorer Harry Kane, as well as Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, and keeper Hugo Lloris back home. Spurs will also miss Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Moussa Dembele.
All had commitments to the Euros and Pochettino likely won his players over even more by allowing them time away from the pitch.
“We regret that they won’t be involved in the tour,” Pochettino said. “It was a very difficult decision for me, but it was important that they build their fitness after ... a very stressful (last) season. With Euros as well, it was very difficult.
“We always say the same thing, they are not machines. They are people who feel, who need to rest and need to recover. They have maybe only 15-20 days of holidays and for them it is very important to be fit for the next season.
“We have ahead a very important season with Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and we need to be ready to compete.
“I think that you can appreciate that it was the best decision.”
Tottenham, meanwhile, added striker Vincent Janssen earlier this month and defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama on Saturday. They have been linked to Marseille winger Georges-Kevin N'Koudou.
Start Time: 6 a.m. ET
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