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Manager Watch: Mourinho vs. Guardiola

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By ESPN Staff

Zlatan exit improved Del Piero, claims Juve chief

Juventus president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli claims Zlatan Ibrahimovic's move to Inter Milan two years ago has led to Alessandro Del Piero's upturn in form.

Juve take on Serie A leaders Inter on Saturday in the Derby of Italy at the San Siro with Ibrahimovic and Del Piero now regarded as the best two strikers in the country.

Veteran Del Piero finished last season as the top scorer in Italy's top flight and has continued that blistering form into the 2008/09 campaign. But Cobolli Gigli believes the 34-year-old would struggle to replicate those achievements in tandem with Ibrahimovic.

"I sometimes wonder what would have happened had he (Zlatan) stayed," he said. "Del Piero is proving to be better now than two years ago. It was an impossible attacking duo. I think by being away from each other they give the best of themselves.

"Now we have other strikers like Amauri and Vincenzo Iaquinta in the team and life goes on without regrets."

Ibrahimovic's transfer in August 2006 created waves at the time - the player opting to leave Juve shortly after the Bianconeri were demoted to Serie B for their part in the match-fixing scandal - but Cobolli Gigli believes the Turin club no longer have any issues with the Sweden international.

"Zlatan is a world-class player but in the end his departure has been for the best," Cobolli Gigli added. "It was Ibrahimovic that decided to leave Juve.

"Our club administrator met with his agent for a whole night to try to convince Zlatan to stay. But it was a separation wanted by the player."

Juve, third in the standings, are three points behind Inter going into this weekend's encounter.

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