Football Index

A Sorry Day for Sarri

 

There’s only one place we can start when looking at yesterday’s action and that is, of course, Chelsea’s absolute pummeling at the hands of a ruthless Man City side.

Things are deteriorating remarkably quickly for Maurizio Sarri and co. and the 6-0 drubbing last night was a stark reminder of just how far behind Chelsea are when compared to City. Man City came out of the blocks absolutely flying and they found themselves 4-0 up within 25 minutes. The goals came courtesy of Raheem Sterling (£7.95) and Ilkay Gundogan (£1.62); whilst Sergio Aguero (£5.05) also scored a quick-fire brace in between. At this point, the game was always beyond Chelsea and the second half saw both Aguero and Sterling grab another goal each to complete the rout.

The result leaves Chelsea in 6th place, with a slightly inferior goal difference to Arsenal. Although the Blues have a winnable Europa League tie against Malmo, February is going to be a very crucial month for Sarri. With cup ties against Man City and Man United, as well as a league fixture with Tottenham on the horizon, this could be a make or break month for the Italian!

Back to the match and it seems that Aguero’s red hot streak has got pundits and traders alike drooling. With 7 goals in his last 4 matches, the Argentine now finds himself on 17 league goals for the season. Its little wonder, therefore, that Aguero was subject to a price increase of 26p yesterday. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t quite able to dislodge Youssef En-Nesyri (£1.52) from the attacker Match Day Dividends, as his score of 200 was outdone by the Moroccan, who managed an impressive total of 213. However, he did help himself to the Media Dividends with a score of 890 points.

While Chelsea’s woes continued, Tottenham have been steadily churning out results and they managed another strong display with a 3-1 victory over Leicester. Although most of the title talk has understandably revolved around City and Liverpool, Tottenham have quietly gone about their business in the league and they remain in touching distance with these two teams. Christian Eriksen (£4.76) showed his worth with a goal and an assist, whilst Son Heung-Min (£4.08) continued to show just how crucial he is to this Tottenham side. The South Korean has cropped up with 11 goals and 5 assists in his last 12 games and he has really stepped up to the plate in Harry Kane’s (£10.14) absence over the last few weeks.

It’s been a very different week for both Tottenham and Chelsea, but with both these London clubs still vying to be the best of the rest, the next month will certainly be one that could either make or break their seasons.

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Football Index

Maurizio Sarri Looking For Comfort In Former Player Elseid Hysaj

 

It’s no surprise that Chelsea have been linked with Napoli right-back Elseid Hysaj (£1.16). Not only has the 24-year-old been one of the Serie A side’s most consistent performers since joining the club in 2015, but he is a player in which Coach Maurizio Sarri truly trusts.

Life must’ve been hard for the Hysaj family growing up in Albania, as Elseid’s father emigrated to Italy just two months after he was born to find work as a bricklayer. By the age of 14, he was already a promising footballer and had joined his father on the peninsula in order to search for a club. The Empoli youth sector was the destination, having been rejected by nearby Fiorentina, but it wasn’t until the club were promoted to Serie A under Sarri that Hysaj began to shine.

In 2014/15, he would make 33 appearances for the club as the Coach perfected his attractive passing style, honed under methods such as drone technology in order to further increase the precision of his system.

It was no surprise that the right-back was one of the players Sarri would insist on taking Hysaj him to Napoli after he was recruited for the following campaign. His right-back made the third-highest number of average passes per game for Empoli in 14/15 (46.3) and connected with 80.4% of those attempts, all in a position not usually known for a high number in this particular stat.

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Hysaj would go on to make 37, 34 and 35 appearances respectively in each of the three seasons Sarri took charge of the Partenopei, reinforcing exactly how important the full-back is for a man who relies on regularity in order to achieve the necessary results. “Sarri leaving Napoli is not good news for me, as we’ve been working together for six years,” the player declared this summer after receiving news of his boss’ appointment at Stamford Bridge.

Despite heavy links to Chelsea last summer, Hysaj would remain at Napoli and has since made 14 league starts under new boss Carlo Ancelotti. However, the opening of the January transfer window has now reignited those claims, and the rumours have continued to be fuelled by the player’s agent.

“The important thing is hearing that Ancelotti respects Hysaj,” representative Mario Giuffredi told RAI after a meeting with the club last week. “He confirmed his faith in him. Of course, the January transfer window is always to be evaluated and there has been talk of Chelsea, for example. If there are situations that are mutually advantageous, then we’d evaluate them. If nothing happens in January, then we’ll discuss a contract extension.”

Yet the question of whether his arrival at Chelsea is what the club need right now remains to be seen. Sarri’s over-reliance on certain players is something the Coach was heavily criticised for during his time in the Italian top-flight, and such lack of rotation ultimately cost Napoli the chance to win the Scudetto last term.

“He tries to get players that he knows fit his style of football,” Empoli season ticket holder Francesco Sani thas said. “In itself this is nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but I see it as one of his weaknesses.”

Sarri’s “comfort blanket” approach with some of his former players is perhaps a cause for concern, but nor should this detract from the clear talent of Hysaj. The right-back is certainly an improvement on former Torino man Davide Zappacosta, and for this reason alone it may be worth a bid from Chelsea before the end of the month.

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Football Index

Chelsea Loanee Ola Aina Impressing in Serie A

 

Even the most diehard of Serie A supporters would likely admit that they had not heard of Torino wing-back Ola Aina before the current campaign began. Born in Southwark, the 22-year-old represented England at almost all international youth levels before opting to play for the Nigeria senior side, where he already has seven caps for the Super Eagles.

He arrived in Turin on loan from Chelsea this past summer having also spent a temporary spell with Hull City in the Championship during the previous season, the youngster becoming a regular feature on Humberside with 44 appearances to his name in 2017/18.

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Making another loan move was clearly the right decision for him as opportunities in the Chelsea first team would have been scarce, Maurizio Sarri blessed with the likes of Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta, Davide Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri already fighting for the two wing back slots.

“I know this is a club that believes in young people and this is very important,” Aina declared upon his move to Turin, making a thinly-veiled dig towards his parent club. “In Italy I know that I can learn a lot, because the tactics and organisation of play are essential.”

He is indeed correct, and recent performances versus AC Milan and in the Turin derby with Juventus show that he is already benefiting from the tutelage of experienced boss Walter Mazzarri in the more tactical Italian game. While his statistics were always going to be lower versus the superiority of the still unbeaten Juve, a look at his previous match demonstrates just how well Aina is adapting to life in the Italian top flight.

At San Siro, he made one cross, three dribbles, and one shot on goal, while he also created two chances for team-mates and completed 93.1% of 29 passes attempted. The Chelsea loanee also impressed the defensive duties that his role demands, helping to keep Milan to a 0-0 scoreline with two tackles and one clearance in total.

 

David Amoyal

@DavidAmoyal

 

Bakayoko & Ola Aina both excellent tonight, look like keepers & long term starters for Milan and Torino

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While the player has stated his desire to play in the Premier League in the long-term, it is understood that Torino are ready to pay the £7 million buyout clause in his contract to keep him in Italy on a permanent basis, and his performances in Mazzarri’s 3-5-2 system certainly prove he deserves it.

Playing top-flight football offers me different challenges,” Aina revealed to Goal.com. “It has helped me to become a better player. I am bringing what I have learned here into the national side and I hope it will pay off in the long run.

“The players are really established and experienced so it was good to come up against that calibre of footballer. It will just make me better. I am working on the tactical side, positioning, staying concentrated and just being able to affect the game higher up the pitch as well.”

Whatever happens next, it is clear that Ola Aina is one to watch out for in the future.

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Talk Sport

Chelsea and Manchester United suffer blow as Inter Milan ‘reach agreement’ for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Inter Milan have swooped in ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United to reach a provisional agreement with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, according to reports in Italy.

The midfielder was in high demand during the summer and it was thought he would leave Lazio for a new challenge.

Lazio wanted £130million for Milinkovic-Savic during the summer
 

However, the Italian club dug their heels in over the Serbian’s price tag and refused to let him go for anything less than £130m.

That put off the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, who were keen to strike a deal for Milinkovic-Savic.

Inter too were reluctant to press ahead with a transfer, but that has now changed over the past few days.

According to Corriere della Sera, the club have now struck a provisional agreement with Milinkovic-Savic ahead of a move next summer.

Inter’s general manager-elect Beppe Marotta, who is joining the club from Juventus, is said to have brokered the deal.

Now, the club’s owners need to agree a fee with Lazio for the 23-year-old, who scored 12 goals in Serie A last season.

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Talk Sport

Transfer gossip: Chelsea and Manchester United target Mauro Icardi could be sold by Inter Milan with Financial Fair Play sanctions looming

Mauro Icardi could be on his way to either Manchester United or Chelsea with Inter Milan reportedly facing financial woes.

The San Siro club are, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, in line to receive sanctions from UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Regulations.

The Argentine has scored goals for fun in Serie A
 

The governing body are said to have informed Inter they need to balance their books and raise €50million (£44million) by June or risk facing sanctions.

To do so it has been suggested the Serie A side can generate the money through player sales – and Mauro Icardi is the prime target.

The striker is already a wanted man, with both Chelsea and Manchester United hot on his tail.

The Argentina international has already struck seven times this season in Serie A, and chipped in with two assists.

Chelsea and Manchester United would both love to snap up the 25-year-old and they may now get their chance if Inter need to raise funds.

Icardi currently has a release clause of around £90million in his current contract.

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FootballIndex Futures

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has blocked a January move from West Ham for England midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22. (Mirror)

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has blocked a January move from West Ham for England midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22. (Mirror)

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FootballIndex Futures

Arsenal and France centre-back Laurent Koscielny, 33, is a target for Barcelona, along with Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz, 31. (Mundo Deportivo – in Spanish)

Arsenal and France centre-back Laurent Koscielny, 33, is a target for Barcelona, along with Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz, 31. (Mundo Deportivo – in Spanish)

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Barcelona have re-opened talks with the representatives of Chelsea and Brazil winger Willian, 30, after the Blues rejected three offers over the summer. (La Sexta, via Metro)

Barcelona have re-opened talks with the representatives of Chelsea and Brazil winger Willian, 30, after the Blues rejected three offers over the summer. (La Sexta, via Metro)

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FootballIndex Futures

Chelsea & Liverpool unsure on bids for Aaron Ramsey

Chelsea are having second thoughts about making a move for Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey because of the impressive form of England internationals Ross Barkley, 24, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22. (Star)

Meanwhile, Liverpool have ruled out making a move for 27-year-old Wales international Ramsey, who is set to leave the Gunners for free in the summer. (Sky Sports)

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Chelsea and England midfielder Ross Barkley, 24, could be the “next Frank Lampard”, according to club legend Pat Nevin. (Love Sport Radio)

Chelsea and England midfielder Ross Barkley, 24, could be the “next Frank Lampard”, according to club legend Pat Nevin. (Love Sport Radio)

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