Gigi Buffon has poured scorn on those trying to destabilise the club ahead of a crucial 20 days ahead, insisting reports of a fight between him and Benatia are “patently invented”.

“It’s the kind of gossip, patently invented, that comes when teams like Juventus who don’t have an Achilles Heel lose,” Buffon told JTV.

“They try to destabilise the environment and undermine the certainty and the union of the group. It’s normal, it’s happened ever since I’ve been at Juventus.

“I find it logical and proper to confront what happened, but no-one – at least in my 17 years at Juventus – is allowed to point the finger at someone and blame an error for a defeat.

“What’s more, as long as I’m captain of this team that will never happen.

“I’d like to add that Medhi is an extremely respectful lad and that he’s tied to our cause with an education and way of being that I’m sorry I’m forced to highlight.

“I have to do it though, because in the face of news which is, if not defamatory at least false, I think clarification is need to protect the group and Medhi, who is a splendid lad.

“We’ve dropped five very important points in recent days, but we’re still first with a very small advantage.

“We need to try and carry that through to the end, that’s our role and our duty.

“A run of nine months like we’ve had this season brings a huge expenditure of physical and mental energy, but  now there are twenty days left and so we have to reach the limit of our potential.

“If the others are better than us we’ll congratulate them, because in a 38-game league season the winner always deserves it.

“That’s a thought that still very far away though. The match with Inter is a decisive one, but the ones with Bologna, Roma, and Verona will be too… and then there’s the Coppa Italia final.

“There are 20 days to go, in which we’ll have to return to the pitch with ferocity and ‘sporting brutality’ and in which we all have to be united.

“If not we’ll play into the hands of our opponents and those who, in our few moments of difficulty, have always tried to create problems with ill-founded news, without ever succeeding.

“In this case too I’d like to think that we as a squad and the Juventus populace will be able to circle the wagons and create a wall of protection which will allow us to experience these 20 days as the real Juventus.”