Dybala wishes to stay and Allegri’s presser

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Paulo Dybala talked to the journalist at an Adidas event yesterday, backtracking from his brother recent remark’s about being unhappy at Juventus: “He speaks for himself. I have discussed with Fabio Paratici, he knows that I want to continue playing with Juventus. Then it is not up to me, the management will make his choices based on the new coach’s ideas, but I want to stay.”

On the new coach: “I believe even the executives do not even know yet, I hope he will be a great one in order to win everything. That is the most important thing, then the fans want to see good football and few managers are capable in that area. We have thanked and greeted Massimiliano Allegri, we are very grateful for what he has done.” Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 38

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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi are suspended, while Joao Cancelo and Mario Mandzukic both fractured their nose in the same week and are unavailable for Sunday. Alex Sandro is dealing with a rib contusion. Douglas Costa (calf), Mattia Perin (shoulder) and Sami Khedira (knee) remain sidelined as expected. Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested, while Wojciech Szczesny has suffered a knee injury.

Napoli: Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Amadou Diawara looked close to returning from a foot fracture for a pair of weeks, but he was again unable to make the squad list, like Adam Ounas that is banged up and David Ospina, who is still in Colombia. Mario Rui is out with an undisclosed injury.  Continue reading

Allegri dodges questions about future

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Massimiliano Allegri talked to the press earlier today: “I will meet with the president next week. What has been written in these last few days amuses me because I wonder what would have they done to me if I did not take home any trophy. Maybe they would have burned or impaled me. I am used to it, it is part of the game, it shakes things up a little otherwise there would not be much to talk about regarding Juventus. We will discuss everything with the chairman. I had told him before the second leg with Ajax that I would stay.”

“It has happened every season, there is more buzz now because we were eliminated early in Champions League, maybe somebody thought we would have an easier path. The summit has not been postponed, it will go down earlier than usual. It does not make sense to speak now about what will happen there.” Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 36

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Atalanta-Genoa: the Bergamaschi keep soaring and bested Lazio in a seminal clash last week, garnering their third win a row and building a little lead over Roma in the race to get the fourth position. They have not been defeated since the beginning of March. The Griffon is coming off two 1-1 ties in a row, versus SPAL and Roma, squandering a massive late opportunity on Sunday. They are four points above the third-to-last position. Suspensions are piling up for Gian Piero Gasperini and he will not be able to count on two defensive centre-pieces, Gianluca Mancini and Andrea Masiello, and more importantly on Alejandro Gomez, which will also not allow him to rotate the squad much ahead of next week’s cup final. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata will take on an even larger load than usual: the Slovenian genius has been slowed down by some nagging injuries, while the Colombian powerhouse continues to lay hurt on opponents. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 35

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David Ospina: he is reportedly drawing the starts in order to trigger the option to buy him from Arsenal, either way, he or Alex Meret are in a good spot this week since Cagliari would have by far the worst clip in terms road goal if they had not scored three to Chievo and they might be without their second banana Joao Pedro on Sunday.

Federico Fazio: Roma have turned it around defensively, conceding just once in the last three matches and this week they will tangle with a Genoa team that has scored in just three of their last ten fixtures. The Argentinian centre-back and Aleksandar Kolarov are also the most likely to contribute on the other end considering their remarkable season tallies. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 35

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Juventus-Torino: the Bianconeri have no more achievements to pursue in Serie A, but they still showed up at San Siro last week and equalized in the second half after a poor start. They have yet to drop one at home. The Granata continue to be in the hunt not only for a Europa League berth: the fourth spot is four points away. They have defeated Milan and Genoa in their last two contests and have lost just once in the past 14. Cristiano Ronaldo scored last week and Miralem Pjanic has contributed with two assists recently. Federico Bernardeschi and Moise Kean are alternating next to the Portuguese ace, but neither is in supreme form, while Juan Cuadrado is starting to look sprier and Joao Cancelo is coming back on too. Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – Round 34

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Like the previous game against Fiorentina, the Inter clash was again a tale of two halves, as the Bianconeri got off to a very lackadaisical start but improved as the game progressed and were able to grab the equalizer and legitimize it late in the second half.

Joao Cancelo: nobody really stood out in the back-line in this one, as it wobbled severely in the first 15 minutes, where the Nerazzurri nabbed an early lead with an impressive volley by Radja Nainggolan and had two legit more chances to score, but then turned it around. Wojciech Szczesny was imperfect on the goal, where he touched the ball but could not palm it away, but atoned later with two or three key saves. Continue reading

Allegri Set to Experiment in Final Games

With their season all but wrapped up, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is ready to take the opportunity and experiment with his roster. In recent press conferences, the Juventus tactician has alluded to the fact that he’s ready to try new things with his eleven, and will reportedly start doing so with the Inter game. This season, Allegri has altered his eleven almost every single game, which in turn, lead Juventus to play without a clear identity regularly. With the pressure now on Allegri more than ever, it’s of paramount importance that he finally nails down his best formation, and setup ahead of the new season.

In his pre-match press conference before the Inter game, Allegri told reporters the following:

“Bernardeschi is forced to play as a forward but I want to see if he can play as a central midfielder in the future. It’s an experiment that excites me. The other variation I want to try is that of Cancelo as a mezz’ala. Other than that, seeing Emre Can in defence is nothing new.”

As Allegri suggested here, Bernardeschi’s future could be as a mezz’ala. The former Fiorentina man has featured centrally at times this season with success. With Juventus lacking quality in the middle of the park, an issue that plagued the side in the Champions League, Bernardeschi’s quality has been a welcomed addition in the midfield, and has offered some much needed innovation from deep.

Cancelo, on the other hand, started the season wonderfully, and was a constant menace down the right-hand side early on. However, as the season wore on, the Portuguese international slowed down, and struggled to impose himself on games. In addition, Cancelo proved to be a defensive liability at times, switching off in crucial moments.

As a result, Allegri often opted for Mattia De Sciglio, and is now considering using Cancelo in the midfield. While this idea is an interesting one, Cancelo’s future is, without a doubt, at right back and deserves to prove himself there. The former Valencia man, like any other young defender, will make defensive mistakes, and will need to learn from them. When he was in form, he was one of Juve’s best players bar none, and deserves a shot to recreate that form next season. As a result, this midfield experiment should hopefully be just that; an experiment.

As for Emre Can, his future may, in fact, lie in defence. The Juventus faithful were first given a glimpse of this in their Champions League encounter against Atletico Madrid, when the German dropped back from midfield as Juventus’ third centre-back alongside Bonucci and Chiellini. In doing so, Can nullified Alvaro Morata’s threat and arguably had his best performance in bianconero. This tactical wrinkle bore fruits, and is something Allegri will have on his mind moving into next season. When the former Liverpool man first broke out through the German ranks, it was in defence. Next season, expect to see more of Can at the back, especially considering Juve’s recent struggles back there.

While claiming their eighth consecutive Scudetto early was anticlimactic, it gives Allegri a unique opportunity to experiment with his side in ways that weren’t possible before. Whether it’s Bernardeschi in midfield or Can in defence, expect to see a different Juve next season.

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Allegri addresses the media before the Inter tilt

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Massimiliano Allegri held the traditional pre-game presser today: “We do not feel scrutinized. We had a good game in Ferrara, Juventus-Inter is always important. We will play in front of 70k people in a marvelous stadium, we will try to do our best to come away with a satisfying result. We can not have gaffes, we are Juventus, we aim to make more points and have some stimulating fixtures coming up.”

On the meeting with Andrea Agnelli: “Our motivation will be the same as previous years. We will plan to create new goals growing-wise for everybody involved and to be as competitive as we should be. We will analyze what went well and what poorly. You need to evaluate the seasons properly in order to lay the foundations to be successful in the future. We have not set a date, there have been some holidays after the Fiorentina game. We are already ahead of schedule since we usually sat down in June.” Continue reading

What Inter’s pursuit of Danilo says of market for wingbacks

In recent years we saw the value of center backs sky rocket on the market. The old adage that you should only spend significantly on goal scorer was turned over its head with the prices paid for David Luiz, John Stones and finally when Virgil Van Dijk’s transfer set the record for highest fee paid for a player at his position.

It has now become an expectation that above average center backs will go for very significant prices since they are now viewed as must haves for clubs that want to win. This same phenomenon is expected to now also start applying to a position that is even more scarce on the market, especially for Serie A clubs, with fullbacks/wingbacks becoming the “IT” position- everyone wants them but few have them.

The rule of supply and demand certainly also applies to football transfers. If there are very few quality players at a certain position and have multiple teams bidding on them, their price will increase faster than Salah flies down the pitch. The domino effect of this is that even lesser players will start going for fees that will surprise the average fan- I was thinking about all these factors when we first heard Inter are strongly pursuing Danilo.

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The nerazzurri have had a revolving door at the right back position. They would have liked to keep Cancelo last summer, but their Financial Fair Play restrictions made it next to impossible so they brought Sime Vrsaljko back to Serie A on a loan with option to buy deal but the former Sassuolo defender struggled after suffering an injury during Croatia’s impressive run in the World Cup.

To their credit, Inter acted quickly to fill the void during the January window by acquiring Cedric Soares in January (on you guessed it, a loan with option to buy deal) but the Portuguese international failed to impress leaving Danilo D’Ambrosio as Spalletti’s more reliable option at right back. Inter are already looking to the future and have identified Danilo as their top target.

The Brazilian failed to establish himself at Manchester City and is now looking for a new opportunity. But there’s an issue- his enormous wages. The scarcity at the right back position helped Danilo land a contract with annual wages of around 5 million euro net of taxes including substantial bonuses. To put things in perspective, that is more than Skriniar received on his recent extension and about what Inter’s top earners make.

Are Inter desperate enough to fill the void at the right back position that they’ll come close to offering Danilo his current wages to entice him to come? While Danilo does have serious defensive liabilities, you would probably get the most out of his offensive abilities by using him as a right wing back on a defense that features three stud center backs- something Inter will have once they announce the signing of Diego Godin. In addition, when Inter scan the market, they’ll see that there aren’t enough options to fill the needs of all the teams in the market for a right back- including many of their rivals in Serie A.

It wasn’t long ago that Napoli had one of the best wingback duos in Serie A in Hysaj and Ghoulam. While the Albanian right back’s struggles can be partly justified by the fact Sarri left (the two were together at Empoli before reuniting at Napoli), he went from being arguably the most complete player at his position in Serie A to a total liability. Ghoulam on the other hand has never been the same player since his second knee injury.

To replace Hysaj, Napoli are looking for a player to compliment Malcuit who has shown to be quite adept offensively. The partenopei’s first target is Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier, who would certainly be an intriguing option for Ancelotti- it remains to be seen if Napoli can convince him to leave the Premier League (where he’s also being pursued by Manchester United) and if they can meet Tottenham’s price. In addition to Napoli, bot Roma and Lazio could use upgrades at both wing back positions while Milan could consider looking to improve from Ricardo Rodriguez.

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Considering how competitive the wing back market has become in recent years, it’s not surprisingly to have seen Juventus invest so much at the position. The bianconeri gave a substantial raise to Alex Sandro despite his fairly significant drop in performance in the past two season and then invested 40 million euro in Joao Cancelo. Juventus didn’t stop there since they also acquired De Sciglio last summer and decided to bring Spinazzola back to Turin.

Trying to bridge the gap with the bianconeri at the wing back position will be a priority for Serie A clubs this summer- considering the lack of quality options, one thing is for sure- it will be very expensive to try and make it happen.