HONG KONG: Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri believes the absence of the club's marquee names from their pre-season tour of Asia might prove a blessing in disguise as he prepares the Turin giants for a tilt at an unprecedented sixth straight Serie A title.
"It has given young players their chance," Allegri said Saturday as the Juventus tour came to a close.
"From what we have learned we will go back to Italy now and some will stay and some will move on to get experience from other teams. So it has been very positive."
This summer's European Championship, coming on the back of a hectic domestic season, meant the Italian had to leave as many as 15 first-team regulars out of Juve's tour through Australia and then to Hong Kong.
But Allegri says their absence gave him more time to focus his attention on the likes of new signing Miralem Pjanic, lured over for 32 million euros ($35.6 million) from Roma, as well as the Brazilian duo of Alex Sandro and Hernanes, who both joined Juve last year and will be hoping for more game time in 2016.
Defender Medhi Benatia, recruited on a season-loan from Bayern Munich, was also put through his paces –- and impressed -- as did rising star Paulo Dybala, the 22-year-old Argentinian coming fresh from a breakout first season for Juventus that saw him score 19 goals from 34 appearances after crossing from Palermo.
Both Dybala and Benatia scored in Juve's 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in Melbourne on Tuesday, while 20-year-old Spaniard Carlos Blanco lit up their 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory last Saturday with a 50-yard screamer.
Benatia looks ready to add some bite to the Juve defence with his forward runs and was again on the scoresheet as the team wrapped up the tour with a 2-1 win over Hong Kong outfit South China.
"I’m very satisfied," smiled Allegri. "He’s been a very positive addition to the squad."
The second goal came from 21-year-old Lorenzo Rosseti, another of Juve’s young guns to impress their manager while their more seasoned teammates were back home.
- Merging the squads -
Allegri flew out of Hong Kong on Saturday night -– no doubt hoping he would arrive to hear the 100 million euro saga of midfielder Paul Pogba's "will he or won't he" transfer to Manchester United had been put to bed. The 48-year-old had throughout the tour pretty much avoided all mention of whatever business might be going on.
"I don’t like to talk about the market," was his offering on the matter in Hong Kong. "On Tuesday I will be back at the club and talk about it then. What I can say is I am happy with what we have done on the market so far."
Allegri will hook up with the rest of his squad on his return to Juventus Turin base, among them club-record signing Gonzalo Higuain, the Argentine striker captured for a reported 90 million euros from rivals Napoli.
It's hoped Serie A's top-scorer last season with 36 goals from all competitions will add the firepower needed to helped Juventus break a European Champions League drought that dates way back to 1996. Juve were finalists two seasons ago and last year fell in the round of 16 to eventual champions Bayern.
Allegri said Higuain would formally meet his new teammates as the two squads -– those on tour and those left behind –- get together on Tuesday.
"The plan is well defined," said Allegri. "We will merge the two parts of the team. Those who have toured will be more advanced in their condition and we have three pre-season matches left now before the season starts to get everyone to the same level."