Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Two

Results: Roma and Juventus shared the spoils in an entertaining fixture to cap off the Sunday slateNapoli demolished Genoa, Milan easily got past Crotone, while Verona nipped Udinese to stay perfect in the season. Inter furiously rallied back late against Fiorentina, while Lazio breezed past Cagliari and Atalanta toyed with Torino, so the three ‘top four’ teams that had their opener delayed were all successful. Among the newly promoted teams, Benevento got off to a brilliant start as they mounted a glorious comeback against Sampdoria, tough sledding instead for Spezia, which run into an in-form Sassuolo. Continue reading

Milan sign Sandro Tonali

On Wednesday, Milan completed the acquisition of one of the brightest Italian prospects: Sandro Tonali from Brescia. While he was close to joining Juventus in January and then for months looked for poised to move to Inter, Milan swooped in late and acquired him with the formula of a €10M season-long loan with a €15M option to buy plus €10M potential add-ons and the 10% of a future sale upward of €30M, so at least €3M. The player will earn €2M per year.

Tonali made his Serie A debut in the recently concluded season after flourishing over the previous two campaigns in the second league. He was one of the few positive notes for the Rondinelle amidst all the struggles and coaching changes and tallied one goal and seven assists, mostly thanks to his prowess on set pieces, and often managed to pull the strings and produce momentum-changing solo runs within matches. Continue reading

Bakayoko, Brahim Diaz and Tonali – Milan could secure all three as persistent rumours emerge

After what was a few slow weeks since the 2019/20 season was concluded, Milan are making waves on the transfer market. At least in the newspapers, thus far. In addition to the renewal of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which more or less has been confirmed by the Swede, the Rossoneri are ready to make some important signings. 

Stefano Pioli’s men did well to finish in sixth place this past season and inarguably was one of the best top two Italian teams in the post-lockdown period. Not just in terms of the standings, which show that Milan finished in second place this year, but also their style of play and the new-found mentality in the squad. Continue reading

Does Brahim Diaz have a future at Real Madrid?

It’s now one year since Brahim Diaz made his debut for Real Madrid. At the time, the midfielder’s signing from Manchester City was viewed as quite the coup for the Spanish giants. Brahim might have struggled for first team opportunities under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, but this was a player who seemingly had a bright future in the game.

The initial impression made by the youngster was a good one. Real Madrid suffered a dismal second half of the 2018/19 season, but Brahim was one bright spark for them. Heading into the summer, it seemed that he would be a part of Zinedine Zidane’s plans going forward. That no longer looks to be the case, though.

This season, Brahim has played just 41 minutes for Real Madrid. Even taking into account the appearances made towards the end of last season, he has received just 435 minutes of first team football in a year. That is not nearly enough for a player at this stage of his development. He needs to play.

For Brahim, this has raised the possibility that he could be loaned out in the January transfer window. Of course, Real Madrid already have a number of bright, young talents out on loan – Martin Odegaard is at Real Sociedad, Achraf Hakimi is at Borussia Dortmund and Takefusa Kubo is at Real Mallorca – and so this wouldn’t be a decision without precedent. What’s more, the success of the aforementioned trio proves the success of this programme, with Odegaard one of the best players in La Liga this season.

This would suggest that Real Madrid still have high hopes for Brahim. Odegaard, for instance, is still considered a key part of the club’s future, but is out at Real Sociedad to gain first team experience. A similar sort of move for Brahim would surely serve him well and return him to the Santiago Bernabeu a more hardened professional and more rounded player.

However, other reports claim Real Madrid would be open to offloading Brahim entirely, seemingly unconvinced that he will ever be good enough for them. This would be a hasty decision, particularly given how few first team opportunities he has been handed this season. Brahim has never been given the chance to show what he can do in a winning team. Getting rid of him now would be a waste.

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Brahim Diaz is back from injury and Real Madrid might need him immediately

Within just a few months of arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu, Brahim Diaz had played as many games for Real Madrid as he had in three years for Manchester City. The 20-year-old midfielder isn’t a Galactico and wasn’t given the usual ticker-tape reception upon his arrival in the Spanish capital. Signed for just €17 million in January, Brahim was meant to be one for the future, but he made an immediate impression.

The midfielder missed the vast majority of Real Madrid’s pre-season with a persistent hamstring injury and then suffered an abdominal strain just as he was getting close to a return in late August. Finally, however, it seems that Brahim will be an option for Zinedine Zidane again. The Frenchman might need him immediately.

Real Madrid’s midfield has been difficult to work out over the early part of the season. Their season as a whole to this point has defied deciphering. Zidane finds himself under intense pressure. It seems that just one more adverse result will be enough to force Florentino Perez to pull the trigger with Jose Mourinho reportedly waiting in the wings to take over at any time.

Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have all played well at points, but they have also suffered almighty dips in form. Fede Valverde has forced his way into the first team fold. The young Uruguayan has publicly made the point that he deserves even more game time, but he is the only player Zidane can bring into his midfield to freshen things up and rotate.

This is where Brahim might come in from this weekend. The 20-year-old caught the eye in the final games of last season, finding the net and notching an assist in the five starting appearances he made in La Liga. His drive and energy through the centre of the pitch could certainly be of use to Real Madrid at this moment. It could give the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard the supply line they need.

Brahim certainly isn’t the sole solution to Real Madrid’s problems. Despite the good first impression he made over the second half of last season, the 20-year-old is still one for the future, but he could help ease the logjam that has developed in Zidane’s midfield. He could bring something different.

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Brahim Diaz joining Real Madrid leaves more questions than answers

Brahim Diaz

Real Madrid have confirmed the signing of Manchester City teenager Brahim Diaz on a six-and-a-half year deal, but is it right move for the club and, more importantly, is it the right move for the player?

Diaz, 19, joined City’s youth system from Malaga in 2013 but his contract in Manchester was due to expire this summer. For a number of months he had been telling reporters that he wanted a move way to guarantee more first-team football elsewhere, which he believed would help aid his development as a player. Continue reading