Veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci said he was delighted to take a break from his woes at Juventus and find refuge in the Italian national team competing at this week’s Nations League finals.
The 36-year-old said it had been a tough season at the troubled Serie A giants, who went out early in the Champions League, had points deducted in Serie A and saw their entire board resign.
“It's been a very tough season for me. I started the campaign in the team but then changes to the selection and injuries meant that I didn't feature as much in the second portion of the campaign,” Bonucci told a press conference on Wednesday ahead of Italy's Nations League semifinal against Spain in Enschede on Thursday.
“I'd like to thank the head coach for calling me up even though I only played against Udinese among Juventus’s most recent fixtures. It is really a breath of fresh air to be here because you've got a great group of lads.
“And the entire Italy delegation really does convey positive vibes to me. And that's the best thing that you can really feel around you,” he said.
Bonucci, who has won 120 caps for Italy, started only nine Serie A matches this season and rarely featured as they reached the Europa League semifinals
“I have still got a year on my contract but my aim is to try and savour these next two matches,” he said of the Nations League where the semifinal winners meet in Sunday’s final while the losers compete in a third-place playoff.
The competition gets underway on Wednesday with hosts Netherlands meeting Croatia in Rotterdam.
“I hope I manage to play both games because it's crucial to also give myself an answer as to who I am at this moment in time as a player and as to whether I'm still a big player for everyone,” Bonucci added.