Man City's agonising transfer miss as Italy legend reveals how 'close' he was to joining

Pep Guardiola looked to bring Leonardo Bonucci to Man City at the beginning of his tenure (Image: Getty)

Juventus and Italy legend Leonardo Bonucci has opened up on his failed move to Man City when Pep Guardiola had just taken charge of the Premier League giants. The Spaniard was looking to stamp his authority at the Etihad, and the defender was targeted in a big-money move.

With Bonucci having earned his reputation as one of the world’s best, Cty were willing to make him the most expensive ever defender in football. And now the Italian has offered some insight into the links, as well as Juventus putting him up for sale a year later.

Speaking to the Sun, Bonucci shared: “In 2016, Man City and I were close. They offered almost £100million to Juventus but together with the club we decided to continue. There were talks in 2017, too, after Juventus put me up for sale… in the end things had to go that way.

“Being managed by Guardiola would have been a great achievement because he would have improved me but I can’t complain because I won many trophies, individual awards and the Euros. I always let my heart dictate me, that’s why I stayed at Juventus.”

Former Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci was close to joining Man City in 2016 and 2017 (Image: Getty)

City’s defence could have looked a whole lot different with Bonucci in their ranks, but instead they signed John Stones from Everton in August 2016 for £47.5million, saving over £50m in the process which would be used elsewhere.

And the decision has turned out to be a very successful one for Man City, with Stones playing an integral role for Guardiola since his arrival – winning five Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, two FA Cups and two Carabao Cups.

Bonucci, now 36 and playing for Union Berlin, has sung the praises of the England international by dubbing him as a ‘leader’.

Man City signed John Stones instead from Everton in a £47.5million deal (Image: Getty)

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The Italian centre-back added: “I struggle to find a deficiency in players like Stones, who have won what he did. He’s a leader, reads the game well, has rhythms and is intelligent.

“He’s a technical player and a nasty defender. At City, Guardiola saw a perfect role for him, to be more of a ball-playing defender. He makes mistakes but who doesn’t? He’s still young and has a lot of time to improve and keep winning.

“In the end, who decides if someone is the best in the world? The fans, but with all due respect, it’s not really whether they like you or not. Stones has done great things and I like him a lot. He’s one of the best in the world.”