Chiesa relishing Vlahovic link-up at Juventus as winger targets September return

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Federico Chiesa is relishing the chance to link up with Dusan Vlahovic at Juventus next season, with the winger confirming he is on course to return to action in September.

Italy international Chiesa has not played since sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Roma in January that subsequently required surgery.

The 24-year-old, one of the stars of Italy's triumphant Euro 2020 campaign last year, is back in the early stages of training but will not rush his recovery programme.

"My dream is to return as soon as possible, but there are schedules to be respected," he said at a Save The Children event in Turin on Friday.

"The Juventus medical staff have been fantastic, helping me with everything. Now I have started to run and make changes of direction.

"By the beginning of September I hope to be ready, but let's see if we can shorten the times a little. We have to make sure there are no relapses."

Chiesa made 18 appearances for Juventus in his second season with the club prior to being struck down by injury, scoring four goals and assisting two more.

His injury coincided with the signing of Vlahovic, whom he previously played alongside at Fiorentina, though the pair have yet to play together in the Bianconeri strip.

Vlahovic arrived in Turin with a big reputation and reached double figures for goal involvements in his 21 outings for Juve in the second half of last season.

Indeed, his 10 goals and assists combined were at least two more than any other Juve player between his debut in early February and the end of the campaign.

Dusan Vlahovic scored 24 Serie A goals last season
Dusan Vlahovic scored 24 Serie A goals last season

"We've already paired up and he is someone I get on with very well on the pitch," Chiesa said of Vlahovic. "He's a friend off it and that only makes things better on the pitch.

"I can't wait to play with him and provide him with some balls to score a few more goals."

Chiesa's injury lay-off was also a huge blow for Italy, who suffered a shock qualifying play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March to miss out on Qatar 2022.

And with Italy having failed to qualify for successive World Cups for the first time, either side of winning the European Championships, Chiesa accepts changes are required.

"[Roberto] Mancini and those who work with him know better than me. But we need change, new and fresh players," he said.

"We also need to change the Italian system, because the truth is that we are behind the other nations. The coach is right, the players in Italy don't play.

"Is the problem that there is no talent or training? We have to start asking ourselves these questions and change our mentality a bit. I think Mancini is the best person for the job.

"He did it after the first collapse by taking us to the top of Europe after missing the World Cup. So Mancini is the most suitable person.

"In my opinion training is fundamental. When I grew up in Fiorentina's youth sector they taught the basics; now they think about the result."

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