DAVID Trezeguet has pledged loyalty to Italian champions Juventus, but the news that the French international's goalscoring gift is undiminished by his recent injury lay-off looks set to rekindle the interest of European predators.
Trezeguet, 25, notched a weekend hat-trick in the 4-1 victory over Chievo Verona that kept the Juve on the heels of leaders AC Milan.
'Treze-gol' insists all is well at Turin. “I am happy at Juve,” the striker told his website. “I have a contract until 2005 and intend to respect it.”
But after recent reports that Barcelona were monitoring him there could yet be an attempt by the Catalan side to produce a signing to rival arch-rivals Real Madrid`s audacious swoops for Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo.
History proves Trezeguet travels well. Born in the French city of Rouen as the son of an Argentinian footballer, he spent his childhood in the Buenos Aires suburb of Florida.
His early career was spent at Platense, making his debut in 1994.
A year later Trezeguet made his first big switch, turning his back on Argentina as he joined Monaco and adopted French nationality. He joined the Monaco youth academy and in 1996 played in France's Euro under-18 championship winning side. But it was 1997-8 that proved his breakthrough year as Trezeguet scored 18 goals in 21 matches.
His timing was perfect. With the World Cup looming France coach Aime Jacquet gave him his debut as a substitute in January 1998 in a friendly with Spain to inaugurate the Stade de France.
Named in Jacquet's World Cup squad he bagged his first international goal in France`s 1-0 friendly victory over Finland at Helsinki.
A memorable tournament for France saw Trezeguet score against Saudi Arabia. He started against Denmark and Paraguay and played some part in every game on the way to the final, but sat out the decider as Zidane led France to a 3-0 victory over Brazil.
It was famously the World Cup won without strikers. Although Trezeguet, Thierry Henry (two) and Christophe Dugarry (one) did strike against minnows South Africa and Saudi Arabia they and Stephane Guivarc'h failed when it mattered as Laurent Blanc, Lilian Thuram and Zidane became match-winners.
But Trezeguet was a world champion and celebrated with 26 goals in his next season at Monaco. Increasingly disenchanted with life on the rock he was filmed reading a newspaper during a team-talk by then Monaco coach Jean Tigana.
In the millennium year of 2000 Trezeguet was getting itchy feet and in the countdown to Euro 2000 Juve made their move. Jacquet's successor Roger Lemerre allowed Juve officials into France's Belgian hideout to clinch Trezeguet's signature.
Juve fans must have had mixed feelings a few weeks later when Trezeguet made his biggest impact yet. His golden goal in Rotterdam won France the title as the crown slipped through Italy's hands.
Arriving at the Stadio Delle Alpi, Trezeguet quickly sidelined Filippo Inzaghi and set up a partnership with Alessandro Del Piero, but Juve had to settle for runners-up spot behind Roma.
Inzaghi's departure, Del Piero`s indifferent form and Zidane's move in 2001 to Real Madrid established Trezeguet as the new favourite.
He clocked up 24 goals to share the title of capocannoniere (top scorer) with Piacenza`s veteran Dario Hubner as Juve snatched the title from long-time leaders Inter Milan on the last day of the 2001-2 season.
At 25 the world is Trezeguet's oyster. Whether the itinerant instinct remains or whether he truly has found his stage in Turin remains to be seen.– PA