Thiago Motta leaving Bologna to join Juventus as coach

Thiago Motta was announced as Juventus’ new coach on Wednesday, replacing the fired Massimiliano Allegri. (Michele Nucci/AP)

BOLOGNA, Italy (AP) — Just a day after celebrating an historic Champions League qualification, Bologna coach Thiago Motta informed the club he will not be in charge for its return to Europe’s elite.

Bologna announced on Thursday that Motta decided not to renew his contract, freeing the 41-year-old to potentially take up the vacant position at Juventus.

“The club would like to thank Thiago for the incredible work he has done during his time here and wish him all the best for his career going forward,” Bologna said in a statement, adding Motta told the club of his decision in the morning.

Motta had the difficult task of replacing Siniša Mihajlović in September 2022, shortly before the much-loved coach died of leukemia.

He steered Bologna to a ninth-place finish before the team went way beyond expectations this year, in his first full season in charge.

Bologna qualified for the Champions League for the first time. It’s only appearance in the old European Cup in 1964-65 ended in a quick exit in the preliminary round.

The team is third in Serie A with one round remaining. It is level with Juventus and two points above Atalanta, which also has a game in hand.

Motta’s exciting brand of soccer has attracted plaudits but also interest from other clubs and the former Inter Milan player has reportedly already been in talks with Juventus, which acrimoniously fired Massimiliano Allegri last week.

“In the past two years, I have got to know a well-prepared and winning coach,” Bologna President Joey Saputo said. “He has instilled a brilliant style of play in this time. Reaching the Champions League means he and all these players will go down in our club’s history.

“I would have liked him to stay at Bologna but I can only ever thank him and his staff for these amazing two seasons and I wish him the best for the future.”

Bologna marked its Champions League qualification with an open-top bus parade through the city on Wednesday and celebrated with thousands of fans.

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