Dusan Vlahovic will always be grateful to Fiorentina and is calm ahead of his first return to Florence, according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.
The Serbia international joined Juve for an initial €70million free in January, bringing an end to a three-and-a-half-year stay at Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Vlahovic had previously turned down the offer of a new contract with Fiorentina, forcing the club’s hand somewhat as he had just 18 months to run on his existing deal.
After reportedly rejecting proposals from Premier League sides Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle United among others, Vlahovic instead opted for Serie A rivals Juventus.
Having also lost Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa to Juve in recent years, Vlahovic’s choice of club did not go down well with Fiorentina’s devoted supporters.
The forward’s home is reported to have been under surveillance in the days leading up to the transfer, while some fans took to the streets to protest.
And in an open letter published in January, Fiorentina fans labelled Serie A top scorer Vlahovic “a coward” for joining Juve.
Ahead of Wednesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg, Fiorentina released a statement asking their fans to avoid derogatory and racist chants aimed towards the striker.
Allegri did not confirm whether Vlahovic would start against his former side, but he expects the 22-year-old to perform well regardless of the reception he receives.
“I believe in the intelligence and culture of the Florentine fans,” Allegri said at Tuesday’s pre-match news conference.
“Vlahovic will always be grateful to everyone in Florence, society and the environment, who raised him and allowed him to arrive at Juventus.
“He is calm. It’s normal. He’s a 22-year-old boy who returns to an environment where he grew up and gave him the opportunity to go to Juventus.
“It is normal there is emotion. For him it will still be a particular match, but it is serene and so he must remain calm, otherwise he would never play against Fiorentina again.
“There are steps to be taken for the boy to mature.”
2 – Dušan Vlahović (22 years, 25 days) is the second youngest player to score on their Champions League debut for Juventus after Alessandro Del Piero (20 years 308 days). Arrival. pic.twitter.com/XieQ5Anqbc
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 22, 2022
Vlahovic matched Cristiano Ronaldo’s high mark of the past 60 years in scoring 33 Serie A goals in a single calendar year when doing so in 2021.
He has carried that form with him to Turin, his four goals at least three more than any Juve team-mate since his debut against Verona on February 6.
Indeed, Vlahovic scored the fastest debut goal in Champions League history last week with his strike just 32 seconds into the 1-1 last-16 first-leg draw with Villarreal.
Should he score again in midweek, Vlahovic would become the third player in Europe’s top five leagues after Dodi Lukebakio (Wolfsburg) and Gaetan Laborde (Montpellier) to net for and against any one team in all competitions this season.
While Allegri is pleased with the Serbia international’s instant impact, however, he accepts there is room for improvement in other departments, with Juve winning just one of their past four games.
“We need to improve something else,” he said. “We have conceded very avoidable goals, and it means that after scoring and everything seems to be done, we relax a bit.
“In the last few games, we slept on goals, so we need to reactivate our attention, because when we lose fear, we become dangerous; not perceiving danger becomes a problem.
“We could have conceded goals but not in those situations. From now until the end of the season, conceding few goals means reaching the top four.”
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