Serie A Weekly News Recap

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The transfer market rages on and few deals were completed this week: none this summer will be bigger than the blockbuster transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. Jorginho and Maurizio Sarri reunites at Chelsea. Lazio acquired Francesco Acerbi from Sassuolo and sent Felipe Anderson to West Ham, while Atalanta signed Duvan Zapata from Sampdoria. The Blucerchiati also sold Lucas Torreira to Arsenal.

A new chapter in the Milan’s ownership saga: Yonghong Li did not re-pay the latest €32M loan by Elliott, the negotiations for a last-minute sale have collapsed and the hedge fund has officially taken over and is assembling the new management. Continue reading

Arsenal win the Lucas Torreira sweepstakes

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Sampdoria and Arsenal have reached agreement for the transfer of the 22-year-old midfielder Lucas Torreira. The Gunners will pay slightly more than the €25M release clause, the reported fee is €30M, but in this way they will be able to dilute the payment in multiple installments. Long coveted in particular by Napoli, he has signed a five-year contract. It is a record sale for the Blucerchiati.

The playmaker leaves Serie A after 74 appearances in two years. He was brought in Italy by Pescara from Montevideo Wanderers in February of 2013. After a year and a half in the U-19 team, he debuted in Serie B in May of 2015. The Blucerchiati were quick to act and acquired him that summer for cheap, even though he had featured in just five games. He remained on loan at the Delfino the following season, where he asserted himself as one of the top young prospects in that role and scored five times.

He permanently joined Sampdoria in the summer of 2016 and immediately became a mainstay under Marco Giampaolo. Extremely durable, he barely missed any matches in the last two seasons. He showed off his shooting skills in 2017/2018, where he racked up four scores, including some belters.

He was a no.10 earlier in his career, an aspect that gives him above average technique, then he was moved back and developed into a superb deep-lying playmaker. Despite his size, his contribution is massive in both phases and on his day, he is everywhere. A skilled passer with high IQ, he ranked second in recovered balls last year, behind only Milan Skriniar, 13th in ground covered, 3rd in fouls suffered.

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Why Russia and Croatia both fancy their chances of reaching the semi-finals

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England will never get a better chance of reaching the World Cup final. That has been the rhetoric among fans and journalists for over a week now. While Gareth Southgate and his players are determined to remain humble, there is already a certain arrogance creeping into the mind-set of many people around the Three Lions camp. Amid the battle cries of ‘It’s Coming Home’, it seems to have been forgotten that none of Sweden, Russia or Croatia will simply roll over and give England a free pass to the final, where they would face one of Uruguay, France, Brazil or Belgium. Continue reading

Russia Star Golovin Tops World Cup Assists Chart

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With the World Cup in Russia providing plenty of moments of drama, controversy and downright outstanding football, let’s now take a look at which players are helping their own country’s cause by providing the most assists. Midfielders tend to be the big hitters in this category, picking up the ball from defenders and moving it forward to their colleagues up front to dispatch the ball into the back of the net. This tournament has been no different of course, with Uruguay’s Carlos Sánchez the only non-midfielder near the top of the charts. He has provided assists for two goals from his native attacking position up front, but the others who are also on two assists (so far) are all from the middle of the park.

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Talented but error-prone Leno could succeed at Arsenal

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Arsenal have confirmed a deal to sign the goalkeeper Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen for a fee believed to be an initial £19.2m. The 26-year-old was part of Germany’s Confederations Cup winning squad in 2017 but narrowly missed out on this summer’s team to Russia.

Leno’s arrival signals Unai Emery’s quick decision-making. Petr Cech will go down as one of the best goalkeepers in history and has been a fantastic professional during his years at Chelsea and latterly Arsenal but at 36 years old the former Czech international is getting by in age and has become increasingly prone to mistakes. David Ospina has never really convinced since his 2014 summer arrival in Nice and a club of Arsenal’s stature simply couldn’t rely on him.

Leno will undoubtedly be Arsenal’s first choice goalkeeper next term. Yet there are questions to be asked of his aptitude and whether he is indeed of the highest quality. At the Confederations Cup last year, Tom Rogic’s shot travelled underneath him as he failed to get down quickly enough. That was followed up in the second half when the ball slipped from his grasp from a free-kick and led to a goal. Germany went on to beat Australia 3-2 but Leno never recovered. Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen played the rest of the tournament.

Leno got his start at Leverkusen in rather bizarre circumstances. In August 2011, the club’s two goalkeepers were out injured and a loan was quickly arranged for then 19-year-old Leno who was at Stuttgart. He went on to have an impressive campaign, topping Kicker Magazine’s rankings as the Bundesliga’s best goalkeeper at the end of his first season in 2012 and then again in 2014. Leno counts former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann as his mentor. In the 2013/14 season alone, Leno saved six penalties but everything changed when Roger Schmidt was appointed as Leverkusen boss in the summer of 2014.

Schmidt changed Leverkusen’s style of play radically, a high line and a gung-ho approach leaving Leno horridly exposed at times. It was no coincidence signs of decline became obvious during the Schmidt Years. Leno was ill-equipped to play as a sweeper and the vast spaces ahead of him did him no favours. There werea litany of errors: handling mistakes, parrying into opponents or missing the ball when he comes out of his area tp clear the ball.

For all these faults there is a goalkeeper in Leno somewhere and the German should benefit from Emery’s hands-on approach at Arsenal. With a little bit of patience and extensive time on the training ground, Leno should be able to iron out most of his howlers. It shouldn’t be forgotten even a player of David de Gea’s talents needed some time to adapt to the high-octane nature of the Premier League. There may be a few hairy moments next season but in Leno, Arsenal have acquired a goalkeeper capable of becoming top class in due time.

Jack Wilshere confirms Arsenal departure after Emery meeting

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Jack Wilshere has confirmed he is leaving Arsenal at the end of this month when his current contract with the club expires. The midfielder who has been on the books of the north London club since he was nine announced his decision on social media after a meeting with Unai Emery, the club’s new manager.

The 26-year-old met with Emery and claims his “playing time would be significantly reduced” under the new boss.

“Such was my desire to stay that I had in fact recently agreed to sign a financially reduced contract in order to commit my future to the club,” Wilshere wrote on Instagram.

“However, following my meeting with the new manager I was made aware that, although the reduced contract offer remained, it was made clear to me that my playing time would be significantly reduced should I decide to stay.

“I am sure everyone can understand that at this point in my life and career I need to be playing regular first team football and following my meeting with Mr Emery I came away feeling that it would be very difficult for me to do so at Arsenal. Given this, I feel I have no option but to pursue other opportunities in order to progress my career on the pitch.”

Wilshere made 197 appearances for Arsenal, including 38 last season in what was his best tally since 2013/14 in what has been an injury-ravaged period.

The midfielder was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England party to the ongoing World Cup in Russia. Everton, Juventus and Besiktas have been linked with Wilshere in the past but Wilshere is keeping mum about his next destination.

“I’m feeling fit, sharp and strong and will be working tirelessly to ensure I am in peak condition ahead of the new season,” he continued. “I’ll now be taking the time necessary to consider my options before deciding on the next stage of my career. I would like to place on record my respect for Mr Emery and my appreciation for his honesty and candor [sic], and I wish him, the team and the club all the very best for the future.”

Wilshere became Arsenal’s youngest-ever player when he made his debut aged 16 and 256 days in a Premier League win over Blackburn Rovers in 2008. He was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 2010/11 and also earned a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year that season.

Wilshere singled out Arsène Wenger for praise and thanked “everyone at the academy for helping me to fulfil my dream and of course the fans, who I have always shared such a special relationship with.”

Arsenal also released a statement: “Everyone at Arsenal would like to wish Jack Wilshere a successful future following his decision to seek new opportunities. Since joining our Academy more than 17 years ago aged just nine Jack has been a tremendous player for the club and a much-loved member of the Arsenal family. Thank you Jack for your contribution and the fantastic memories. Good luck in the future.”

Stephan Lichtsteiner joins Arsenal

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Stephan Lichtsteiner has left Juventus to join Arsenal on a free transfer, both clubs have announced on Tuesday. The 34-year-old fullback, whose departure was pretty much certain for months, was linked to Borussia Dortmund and Monaco in the past few weeks, but in the end the Gunners were able to secure the signing.

The former Lazio player has won the Scudetto in each season with Bianconeri and was one of the few members still in the squad, alongside only Claudio Marchisio and Giorgio Chiellini, from the first Antonio Conte title back in 2012. In Turin, he also lifted five Coppa Italia and four Supercoppa. He has collected 258 appearances with Juventus, scoring 15 goals.  Continue reading

Player profile – Mesut Özil (Germany)

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When Germany manager Joachim Löw announces his final squad to travel with him to the World Cup in Russia this summer, there are several names already expected to feature on the list. It is very likely that there will be a mix of youth and experience, and that makes the inclusion of players like Thomas Muller – who we looked at last week – and Arsenal star Mesut Ozil very likely. The stalwarts are the two most capped players in Löw’s provisional squad, with the final list set to be submitted ahead of the tournament’s kickoff on 14th June. With Germany looking to defend their title having won the 2014 World Cup, the fitness and form of these two will of course prove key if they are to progress as far as expected in the tournament.

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