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Juventus looking to strengthen

8 May 2013-DPA

Serie A champion Juventus is wrapping up celebrations of a second straight title and focusing on a campaign to improve its chances of success in Europe.

Ahead of the 1-0 win over Palermo, which put the Bianconeri out of reach with three games left, coach Antonio Conte hinted that his future at the club depends on the will to make some serious purchases.

"As a man I want to stay, 100 per cent," Conte said last week.

"But as a professional I want to have a clear picture to decide (about the future).

"It is a matter of respect toward the fans, the club and myself. We had two extraordinary seasons."

A meeting with director general Giuseppe Marotta and president Andrea Agnelli will occur soon after the mid-week round - with money matters high in the agenda.

Conte, who retired in 2004 after 13 seasons as Juve midfielder and returned as coach in 2011, is likely to obtain a pay rise from $3.85 million per season to $6.42 million, which would make him the highest paid coach in Serie A.

The 43-year-old also expects money to be spent for two or three top-notch players that should allow Juve to keep dominating the home league and improve on this year's performance in the Champions League.

Juve made it easily the quarter-finals but was eliminated 4-0 on aggregate by Bayern Munich, which progressed to the all-German final against Borussia Dortmund.

"The expectations around Juve are growing higher," Marotta said on Monday during a Radio Rai show, adding that "Conte wants to stay on," and warning that "it takes time to bridge the gap in Europe."

Marotta noted that Bayern's power has been built over several years and its budget allowed it to buy Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao for $51.4 milllion euros, a record transfer fee in the Bundesliga.

Juve, meanwhile, has already secured striker Fernando Llorente from Athletic Bilbao as a free agent and is said to be in negotiations for Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, who could be available for about $32 million.

Other strikers being eyed are maverick Swedish ace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played at Juve from 2004 to 2006, Liverpool's Uruguayan Luis Suarez, and Stevan Jovetic, although Fiorentina appears unlikely to sell the Montenegrin to its Serie A rival.

Conte also wants new faces in midfield, where playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who turns 34 this month, may enjoy being rested in easier games.

In defence, custodian Gianluigi Buffon is as reliable as ever at 35, while defenders Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini make up one of Europe's best packages, with 20 goals conceded from 35 home league games.

On the selling side, defensive midfielder Stephan Lichtsteiner and forward Mirko Vucinic may go, but rarely fielded strikers Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella are also in doubt.

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