From Real Madrid to PSG- Are major European clubs ignoring the special one Jose Mourinho?

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Jose Mourinho has been out of a job since being sacked as Manchester United manager back in December and while he is adamant that he will be back coaching soon, it doesn’t seem that way at all. One could, with all validity wonder if the same European super clubs have had enough of the special one?

One huge telling point was when Mourinho was linked with a return back to Real Madrid. And it almost made sense given how poor the club had been under Santiago Solari. True Solari could not be wholly blamed for Madrid’s chaotic season but his name simply did not scream ‘big enough’ for the club. Madrid were not getting the desired results and Mourinho was out of a job.

There was talk and then a feeling that Florentino Perez the Real Madrid president would go back to Mourinho. It’s true that his style the first time around did not seem to fit the club, but with Mourinho comes trophies- there have always been trophies before the inevitable meltdown. But this time Madrid passed and before you could say French football legend- Zinedine Zidane was back at the same club he had walked out on the summer before. Mourinho had been ignored.

There was talk he could go back to Portugal and coach Porto where the glory all started. But Mourinho himself dismissed this idea. Then there was the Bayern Munich link but despite Novak Kovac’s up and down season in his debut one for the club, Bayern did win the league and he doesn’t look like he will be going anywhere.

The links continued- how about PSG? The job would surely have been the perfect fit for Mourinho who would have had a bottomless pit of money to buy whoever he wants. But PSG turned round and gave current coach Thomas Tuchel a new 3 year deal.

Once Juventus had parted ways with Massimo Allegri this seemed to open up the door for Mourinho to seamlessly join the biggest and best club in Italy where he would be reunited with Cristiano Ronaldo. But Juventus appointed Maurizio Sarri instead.

So now we arrive at a point where all of the vacancies at the big clubs have long but gone. It just makes that question even more intriguing- where will Mourinho go next?

That club could be Newcastle United, a club that never would have been linked with Mourinho even six months ago. The change is that the Magpies might be taken over and a cash injection that much to rival PSG could be on the cards, with the club seeing a major overhaul.

All of this could sound ideal for Mourinho apart from the fact that even when clubs get taken over and are thrown pots of money at them it takes time to adapt and become used to winning league titles- it did for Manchester City. For Chelsea it was quicker, but then again by that point Arsenal were fading in the mid 2000s and Chelsea’s only legit rival was Manchester United.

Now the Premier League is incredibly hard to win and next season it should be a two way tussle between Manchester City and Liverpool. As for Mourinho if he does join Newcastle, will he be around to see the club reap the benefits, before his 3rd season syndrome kicks in?

Football is a party and for now it feels like Mourinho does not have an invitation.

Sarri out, Lampard in but could this be a huge mistake for Chelsea?

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And so it was confirmed over the weekend that Maurizio Sarri has left Chelsea and took the reigns at Italian champions Juventus after just one season. And the favourite a 1/20 bet to take over is Frank Lampard, but could this be a huge mistake from the Europa League cup winners?

Giving Lampard the job actually makes no sense at all, but this isn’t to discredit him in anyway. Lampard is an intelligent person, was a wonderful football player, knows the game inside out and knows how to win as a player. But surely the key factor here is that he used to play for Chelsea and is rightly regarded as a club legend. So with that knowledge, are we to believe that the only reason Lampard looks set for the job at Stamford Bridge is because he is a club legend and ex player. It does seem so.

Sarri was never liked at the club and it is no surprise that he packed his bags. This is unfortunate, he was obviously a good coach for the Blues, winning the Europa League in his debut season, finishing 3rd, losing 2 games at home all season and reaching the Carabao Cup final. Fans complained of his tactics and always selecting Jorginho, who for them was underperforming but always got the chance to play. Scapegoating comes to mind and perhaps Sarri was right to leave after a year if he felt no love.

Lampard will be warmly welcomed there is no doubt about that and everyone will want him to do well. But the fact is that he has just one professional season under his belt and that was in the Championship with Derby. He had some highs with the club reaching the play-off finals but they did not win it and in the league they finished 6th, just like they had the previous season without Lampard.

Perhaps this is all in the timing and no one is suggesting that Lampard is not good enough to coach Chelsea. But he will have a hard ask on his hands. Eden Hazard by far the clubs best player has left for Real Madrid and the club face a two window transfer ban. This could be reduced to one window on appeal but if it is it is still likely to be this summers one that is affected.

It is thought that Lampard has struck a deal where what ever happens he will be in the job for at least 2 years. This seems like fantasy, and if Chelsea have a nightmare first season under him, he could be fired and a bright promising career in management could fizzle out at least if Lampard has dreams of coaching the bigger teams.

Of course one can think back to another club legend taking the coach’s job just a few months ago, that was Thierry Henry at Monaco, and look how that ended, sacked after three months and replaced with the man he had taken the job from.

At the same time look at this from his point of view- he loves Chelsea and if they have come calling for him, that will be too hard to refuse. At the same time does he really want to spend another season in the Championship when he could be in charge of a Premier League club who are also in the Champions League? Of course not, and so unless there are any last minute hitches this will happen and he should be wished good luck.

 

 

Juventus announce Sarri as their new coach

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It took longer than anticipated, but Juventus finally have their new coach: former Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, who has reportedly penned a three-year, €18M contract. Sarri is coming off a third-placed finish with the Blues and recently won the first trophy of his career by beating Arsenal in the Europa League final. It took a small financial compensation in order to release him from his deal with the English club. Despite the relative success of his tenure, Sarri butted heads with the players and the management and was never embraced by the fans during his time in London and at some point was at risk of being axed mid-season. Continue reading

Juventus or Real Madrid? Where will Paul Pogba end up?

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It is no secret that Paul Pogba has not enjoyed the greatest of times at Manchester United and the Frenchman looks set to leave the club this summer, but who for?

Reports have suggested that Fabio Paratici the sporting director of Juventus is in London and having talks with Manchester United representatives about Pogba joining the club. Actually he would be re-joining since United bought Pogba from the Old Lady back in 2016. What has been interesting is that if Juventus do buy Pogba then the player has spent his footballing career switching from these clubs alone, since he started his professional career with United back in 2010.

One wonders if Pogba’s indecisions and playing back and forth for the same clubs sums up his career thus far? The midfielder remains an enigma- a delightful player to watch on the ball and fearsome coming forward but his total inconsistency marks him out to be a player that may well end his footballing career as simply a footnote in the history of the game.

Alongside Juventus’ interest seems to be another and that is Real Madrid who are rebuilding this season after a chaotic last one. Los Blancos have already spent near to £300m on acquiring five players including Eden Hazard and it is thought that coach Zinedine Zidane would love to work with Pogba. Pogba himself may feel that a fresh change is needed from returning to Italy again. One thing is clear and that is United could do with offloading a player that they already know could fetch the club upwards of £100m and release funds to invest in players that want to play for the club and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Keeping with United they have upscaled their interest in Crystal Palace player Aaron Wan-Bissaka who impressed this past season as the Eagles finished strongly. But the talking price seems to be spiralling out of control and one figure has the Palace player at £70m. For now he is on top of Solskjaer’s list and United agree to that sum it seems highly unlikely that they won’t get their man.

West Ham raised eyebrows by purchasing the exciting 23 year old Pablo Fornals. The attacking midfielder cost the Hammers just £24m which is seen as a bargain in today’s football. He comes from Villarreal and even though he had an average last season he is seen as a very good prospect and will add attacking flair to West Ham’s forward line.

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Is Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt really worth €400,000 a week?

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Death and taxes are two things certain in this life, the other is Ajax selling their best players before they have got full use of them. Frankie de Jong is already a Barcelona player and it seems almost certain that Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt will be leaving in the summer.

French champions PSG have emerged as the forerunners to buy the player and they have reportedly made an offer of around €60m euros to Ajax with future add on’s for the young prospect. It doesn’t stop there though and PSG have reportedly offered de Ligt wages of 400,000 euros a week. This is a stunning amount and PSG obviously mean business if this is indeed true. It seems like it is as when the news broke PSG did not rush to deny it.

But let’s take a few steps back here and ask is de Ligt a player that most of us had not heard of at the beginning of the season worth so much?

True Ajax have just won the Dutch league and followed that up with the cup and it is true that de Ligt has had a good season. With Ajax in the league he was part of a defence that conceded 29 goals all season and kept 15 clean sheets.

But what has really turned PSG and other European superpowers onto the 19 year old was his performances in the Champions League. His team knocked out Real Madrid who had won the competition for 3 years running and then ended Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream by dumping out Juventus. However they couldn’t overcome a passionate Tottenham side who beat them on the away goal rule. Therein lies a problem.

And the problem is a normal one- de Ligt for all his greatness is still a teenager and is still sometimes naïve. He has a tendency to make basic errors- that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good defender, but one should question the money that PSG want to offer Ajax for a player who hasn’t won anything out of the Dutch league and is still so young.

Of course PSG’s answer would be that he will only get better- but surely that is the risk at stake. True everything does point to de Ligt having a fantastic future in football. He is currently captain of Ajax, which in itself is stunning given his age and he is now a regular starter for the Netherlands. And yet it could still not work out as it should for the player.

PSG have laid down a marker and that amount of wages per week has made de Ligt sit up and think. Think because it is fairly obvious that he has Barcelona or Real Madrid more on his mind than PSG. But will he take the money? Both Barca and Madrid one would feel are unlikely to offer de Ligt that type of money at 19- but then again in the world of football who really knows?

 

 

 

Agnelli’s wealth, League’s assembly and players’ soundbites

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Forbes recently released a list of the richest owners in football and the Agnelli family, which is obviously represented by the president of the club Andrea, are ranked fifth with a $15.9B net worth. They trail to Carlos Slim (Real Oviedo, $59.3B), Francois Pinault (Rennes, $31.7B), Mansour bin Zayd Al Nahyan (Manchester City, $23B), Dietrich Mateschitz (Red Bull teams, $18.9B), while they precede Roman Abramovich (Chelsea, $12.4B), Philip Anschutz (Los Angeles Galaxy, $11B), Stan Kroenke (Arsenal, $8.8B), Zhang Jindong (Inter, $6.8B), Dmitry Rybolovlev (Monaco, $6.8B) and Nasser Al-Khelaifi (PSG, $6.2B). Continue reading

Paratici preaches patience in coaching search

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Sporting director Fabio Paratici received an award as executive of the year at the Football Leader event in Naples and naturally provided an update on the coaching search: “We have very clear ideas and we are working on them. We need some patience, there are few options, not just one name. There is not a set date to make a decision, we are very serene.”

Maurizio Sarri had an interview with Vanity Fair, where he expressed his desire to return to Italy, so the director commented: “Every Italian says so, you eat very well here. I have many friends in Naples, I unplugged for few days without paying much attention to the rumours.” The Chelsea boss did not mention Juventus, on the contrary had some choice words for the club’s motto: ‘Winning is not important, it is the only thing that matters’, calling it an extreme that clouds  the minds of the the fans. Continue reading

Where next for Federico Chiesa?

With the summer transfer window now open, Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa is attracting interest from Italy’s elite, as well as a host of other European giants. Coming off his best season with la viola, it’s only natural that the 21-year-old is turning heads. However, in recent times, Fiorentina’s brass have come out and denied rumours linking their star with a move away.

The statement is as follows, as per Football Italia: 

“We have read continuous news about Chiesa’s future and where he will play next season. The current owners would like to point out that Federico is a Fiorentina player, linked to the club by a long contract, and therefore, as far as we are concerned, Chiesa will play in Florence next season. He must be a symbolic player for the team we will build.”

This season Chiesa had his most productive season in Florence, scoring 12 goals and registering three assists in all competitions. The Italian international mostly featured on the right wing as an out-and-out winger or in a deeper role as a wing-back, but also made cameos on the opposite wing and even centrally.

Due to his versatility, Inter and Juventus have enquired about the 21-year-old but are yet to submit a formal bid to Fiorentina. Bayern Munich are also said to be interested in Chiesa. Let’s now assess the Fiorentina man’s options going into this summer.

1) Inter

After recently appointing Antonio Conte, Inter are now ready to begin their summer transfer window, and have reportedly identified Chiesa as one of their targets. Given Conte will introduce his trademark 3-5-2 shortly, the Inter tactician will need two-way wide players capable of making the difference. Chiesa represents exactly this, and will likely slot in wonderfully on the right-hand side in Milano.

While the winger has demonstrated that he’s capable of delivering the goods in his final third all-while remaining defensively responsible, he’s always played his best football when tracking back wasn’t his priority. Currently, neither Matteo Politano or Antonio Candreva fit the bill of a traditional Conte wide man, hence the Chiesa links remain in play. Riddled of their Financial Fair Play concerns, except Inter to emerge as a major player in the Chiesa sweepstakes.

2) Juventus

Juventus have been keeping tabs on the Fiorentina winger for the better part of one year now, and will reportedly use the summer transfer window to lure him to Turin. However, with Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi and Juan Cuadrado still at the club, Juve’s wide areas are heavily populated and Chiesa will find playing time hard to come by.

Given Juve’s need to bolster their midfield and defence, 70 million euros on a winger would be money poorly spent. Moreover, the bianconeri are still without a manager, and will hold off on any major purchases for the time being. In any case, Juventus are arguably not the best fit for the young winger as he’ll need consistent playing time to progress his game. Despite this, much like Inter, the Italian champions will likely table a bid for Chiesa shortly.

3) Bayern Munich 

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the German giants have recently seen their offer  rejected by Chiesa, as the winger prefers to remain in Serie A. As Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are set to hang up the boots in Bavaria, Bayern Munich are now targeting a number of wingers to bolster their ranks.

Bayern are said to be interested in Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, but are keeping tabs on Fiorentina’s Chiesa, as well. While Bayern’s offensive style of play would suit Chiesa, leaving Italy at this stage in his career may not be the best bet. Despite the early rejection, don’t rule them out just yet.

In any case, Chiesa would be wise on holding off a move for the time being, and use the following year to develop his game further. Currently, there are concerns over the winger’s decision-making and end product, and he could really use another season in Tuscany.

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Rugani set to benefit from Sarri appointment

Recently, it’s been heavily reported that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is nearing an exit, and is close to signing a contract with Italian champions Juventus. This comes following a successful season in London, that saw the Italian tactician steer the English giants back into the Champions League after a solid third-place finish, and claim the Europa League in emphatic fashion.

Despite his success, Sarri intends on leaving, and is likely returning to Italy with the bianconeri as front-runners for his signature. According to Italian media outlets, the former Napoli boss feels his work at Chelsea went under-appreciated, and is leaving as a result of this. While Juventus’ offensive players will be licking their lips at the prospect of Sarriball, including a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, one player to keep an eye on is Daniele Rugani.

The defender had a torrid season under Massimiliano Allegri, and failed to take his game to the next level, as many expected him to. Every time he featured, Juventus’ rearguard looked shaky, and never had any sense of cohesion. However, Rugani is a player Sarri has valued for a long time now, and even pushed for his signing when he was at Napoli. Even if it never materialized, it shows Sarri holds the defender in high regard.

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When the pair were together at Empoli, the young defender was a crucial part in the tactician’s setup, and played an integral part to his possession-based buildup out of the back. Outside of his confidence on the ball, Rugani was a lockdown defender in Tuscany, something that he has since failed to translate to Juventus.

At Juventus, it’s been a complete different story for the centre-back. Often playing second fiddle to Leonardo Bonucci, Mehdi Benatia or Giorgio Chiellini, Rugani has struggled for consistency, and has looked a shade of his former self when called upon. This season, the former Empoli man was regularly bested by physical opposition, and often looked timid in possession. With Bonucci and Chiellini on the wrong side of thirty, it’s time Rugani steps up and delivers on the hype.

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While question marks remain over his ability due to his recent exploits, Rugani was fantastic at Empoli under Sarri, and proved to be one of the league’s top defenders. Should Sarri join the bianconeri, as it’s largely being reported by the ever reliable Romeo Agresti, expect Rugani to have a bigger role at the club. In addition to the added responsibility, the 24-year-old will have the complete faith of his manager, something that might have been lacking under Allegri.

With his newfound confidence, Rugani will experience a resurgence of sorts, and could potentially develop into the defender many expected him to be. Under Sarri, much like it was the case at Empoli, Rugani could continue his progression as a ball-playing defender. In recent times, this aspect to Rugani’s game has stagnated, as he has focused solely on defending.

With his risk-averse mentality holding him back, Rugani hasn’t been able to demonstrate his complete ability, and has since been labelled a flop. That being said, expect the tune to change under Sarri’s guidance and witness Rugani reborn. After all, it may just be his last shot at redemption in Turin.

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The Top Five Managers From the 2018/19 Serie A Season

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Finally, we end the series with the ‘allenatori,’ the men in charge of the day to day and marathon that is 38 crucial rounds of calcio.

Here are the five best managers from this past season. Continue reading