MILAN (AFP) – Juventus coach Antonio Conte has rubbished claims the Serie A champions are on the verge of signing former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
Juve extended their lead over title challengers Inter Milan to seven points on Sunday thanks to a 3-0 rout of Atalanta.
But despite reports claiming the Bianconeri have been in talks with Drogba’s representatives, Conte said Juventus – and indeed other major clubs in Italy – are in no financial position to sign top players.
Asked if Drogba would fit Juve’s search for a top striker, Conte was unequivocal.
“Transfer talk seems disrespectful to the players in my team, especially at the current moment,” said Conte, who returned to the touchline last week following a four-month ban from the sport for his role in a match-fixing affair.
Speaking to Sky Italia, Conte added: “It’s a critical time as far as the economy is concerned and it’s the same for several other teams.
“We won’t be signing any top players because we’re not in a position to. Neither us, nor other top teams in the Italian league.”
A report in Sunday’s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper claimed Juve had made “significant progress” in their bid to sign Drogba, who the report claimed has agreed in principle to an 18-month deal to join the Serie A champions.
The 34-year-old signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua in July but the Ivory Coast striker could be reconsidering his options after a disappointing start to his career in China.
Sunday’s report said both parties had agreed “in principle” to an 18-month contract but had yet to negotiate and agree financial terms.
While Juventus president Beppe Moratta is reported to have offered Drogba 3.5 million euros plus bonuses per season the striker’s demands hover around the five million mark, plus bonuses.
Considered a legend at Chelsea, Drogba headed the equaliser and scored the winning penalty in the Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich last season.
Juventus routed Chelsea 3-0 in Turin recently on their way to qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League, as the Blues became the first defending champions to fail to make it past the group stages.