Milan's Bonucci grateful to Inter for early grounding

AC Milan's Leonardo Bonucci will face Inter on Sunday and the defender is thankful for a spell with the Nerazzurri in his younger days.

Leonardo Bonucci... "I predict a Milan victory, but I won't tell you [by] how much."   -  Getty Images

Leonardo Bonucci looked back fondly on his formative years spent at Inter as he prepares to face his old club for city rival AC Milan on Sunday. The Italy international had a stint with the Nerazzurri as a teenager, making his Serie A debut in 2006 before moving to Treviso.

He heads into the latest instalment of the Derby della Madonnina on the other side of the divide as an inconsistent Milan looks to overcome an Inter side reinvigorated under Luciano Spalletti. "I arrived when I was 17 years old and had two splendid years in their youth academy, where I really improved a lot," Bonucci told Tencent Sports.

"They are a good side with some great individual talents and chose an important coach in Luciano Spalletti. We'll have to be very wary and give our best. I would take Antonio Candreva and Eder off the Inter squad, as they are my Italy team-mates and they're two really great guys.

"I predict a Milan victory, but I won't tell you [by] how much."

'Most important arena in Italy'

Bonucci completed a shock move from Juventus ahead of this season, and the 30-year-old says the promise of a fresh challenge lured him to San Siro. "This stadium is the history of football, the most important arena in Italy. Stepping into San Siro always has an effect on you," Bonucci said.

"Fortunately, now when I go in there, the crowd is on my side! The fans will help us during difficult moments and make us doubly joyful when we are to celebrate great victories. The Rossoneri project is what pushed me to choose this great challenge. I knew there would be difficulties, but I accepted it because I wanted to challenge myself again.

"The objective is to set no limitations in Serie A or the Europa League. Qualification for the Champions League must be the minimum target, as Milan have to play in that tournament every year."

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