Leonardo Bonucci was voted the best player of the 2015/2016 season last year, cementing his position as one of the best, if not the best defender in the world. Juventus cleaned up in Milan, eight players being included in the Team of the Year, and taking both best coach and best team of the year.
Bonucci was originally a Viterbese player, where he stayed until he was eighteen. He was a hot prospect, and was sold to Inter for the lowly sum of €40 thousand, practically a gift. He never truly found his place with the Nerazzuri, going on loan twice in two years, to Treviso and Pisa respecively. The Italian was transferred once again, this time in a trade deal which resulted in Diego Milito and Thiago Motta coming to Inter. Genoa then agreed to a co-ownership deal with Bari, who would be able to use the services of the defender. Bonucci was already starting to show talent, forming an excellent defensive partnership with Ranocchia. In fact, Bari had the second best defensive record at one point during the season.
After a stellar season, he was transferred to current club Juventus for €14.5 million, a more modest sum. This is where he found his place. Antonio Conte saw promise in the young defender, and instead of making him compete with Barzagli for the spot, he switched to a more unusual three at the back formation. Alongside the rock-solid defensive trio of Andrea Barzagli, Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus was and is a force to be reckoned with. They now have arguably the best defense in world football, allowing a league-low sixteen goals this season. Despite various transfer rumors from clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea, Bonucci chose to stay in Italy and continue with La Vecchia Signora.
Bonucci has proved vital for Juventus. In the last five seasons, he has averaged a 7.06 rating from WhoScored in the Serie A, an imprresive feat for any player, especially a defender. He has scored nineteen goals and assisted eight times, a feat not truly indicative of his passing skills. Perhaps the best passing defender in the game, Bonucci is known for his long through balls, and he shows finesse and talent in his passing that resemble a midfielder. He has an eighty percent tackle success rate, very impressive to say the least, and Juventus have benefited greatly from it.
Bonucci is about all you can ask for in a defender. He is capable of distributing the ball from the back, providing clinical passes from long range. He can defend the goal like no other, making sure that veteran Gianluigi Buffon doesn’t have to do much. He can score goals with his head and with his feet when presented the chance, and he has lead Juventus to a record-setting five Serie A titles in a row.
Bonucci has developed into one of the most talented defenders in the world, and at twenty-nine years of age, it seems as though he will be there for many more years. Congratulations to Bonucci for a great season and a well-deserved award.
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