Football Index

Higuain

 

Both AC Milan and Juventus are in Saudi Arabia, but – rather than focussing on Wednesday night’s Supercoppa Italiana between the two Serie A clubs – the headlines are very much centred around a player that has a history with each of them. Gonzalo Higuain moved to San Siro on loan in the summer after becoming surplus to requirements in Turin, for the most part due to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Argentina international often displays a lack of mental toughness and has struggled to adjust to life in a red and black shirt, prompting multiple claims in the press that he could be due to join up with one of his former bosses at Chelsea. Under the tutelage of Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, Higuain had the best campaign of his career to date, breaking the Serie A single season scoring record with an astonishing 36 goals.

Now, reports of a move are gathering pace, with Sky Italia having reported on Tuesday that the striker will sit out of the SuperCoppa ahead of the impending transfer. Of course, the finer details will have to be ironed out, as Milan paid Juventus a £16 million fee for a season-long loan. The Rossoneri will have to be reimbursed somehow, as will his parent club, with the Premier League outfit liable to cover the bill.

But why is the striker so keen to move already? His initial transfer was lauded as a fresh challenge, and supporters of the Milan giants were hoping that this was the missing piece of the puzzle that could see them qualify for the Champions League. “I chose Milan because I liked the conviction with which they sought me out and the conviction in their project,” the Argentine confessed to La Gazzetta dello Sport back in October.

Time moves on swiftly in football, and after a quick flurry of goals in his first three months after arriving in Milan, Higuain now has just one goal to his name since the end of October. That period also saw him sent off in a match against former club Juve, his tendency to lose his cool under pressure rearing its ugly head once again.

The striker does seem to enjoy a good relationship with Gennaro Gattuso at least, the boss having joked that if it was up to him he would “invite him to my house, lock him in a room and throw him food every two to three hours” after last weekend’s Coppa Italia win over Sampdoria. Even his Coach admits he can’t put his finger on the exact problem, however it does look as though the current environment just isn’t right for him at the present time.

It was his former boss at Real Madrid, Fabio Capello, that hit the nail on the head regarding the situation. “I hope that for Milan’s sake, he can overcome his mental block and score lots of goals between now and the end of the season,” he told Radio Anch’io Sport earlier this week. Higuain’s quality isn’t up for discussion. My feeling is that Higuain wants to go and play under a Coach who knows his qualities and can enhance them.

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and Milan don’t need a striker that is unable to score goals. Chelsea, on the other hand, could find that the signing of Higuain will become golden as he makes his emotional reunion with Maurizio Sarri.

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Football Index

Derby d’Italia

This Friday sees a huge clash in Serie A as Juventus host Inter at the Allianz Stadium in Turin. The Nerazzurri are already 11 points behind their rivals after 14 matches, and defeat here would see any small hopes of a title win fade to nothing as Juve march on towards an eighth consecutive Scudetto.

Yet more than a heavily-favoured champion facing an unfancied pretender to the belt, this is a rivalry so fierce that it was handed the title of “Derby d’Italia” (Derby of Italy) back in 1967 by journalist Gianni Brera. That teams from two separate cities – albeit separated by just 90 miles in the North of the country – now have derby status in the matches between them is testament to a series of incidents that have caused an intense dislike.

One of the most notable of these was when Juve were stripped of their Serie A title in 2005/06 and relegated to Serie B for the following campaign during the Calciopolicontroversy. A further crushing blow would then be delivered when their league win was handed to third-placed Inter after AC Milan in second were also given a points deduction.

Moving into more present times, well-loved Juventus director general Beppe Marotta looks to have made the move to San Siro after the Bianconeri opted to move forward without him. The 61-year-old has been the man responsible for sourcing Juve’s incredibly astute signings since 2010, a foundation from which their unprecedented recent success was built.

“We’ll see” was the answer given to reporters by Marotta outside a Lega Serie A meeting, when questioned over rumours that he will be officially unveiled in a new capacity at Inter ahead of Friday’s anticipated encounter. If so, it will be a poignant moment indeed, especially as this will be seen by many as a sure-fire way to close the gap.

A good summer in the transfer market saw Inter impress on paper, however boss Luciano Spalletti is yet to get his team firing on all cylinders, a tendency for inconsistency harming their chances of getting near a Juventus team that remain unbeaten in the league this term. Even if they are still a long way from making a genuine attempt at the title, a win over their despised rivals on Friday will certainly give them some hope that they are heading in the right direction.

Last year’s fixtures between the pair first saw a monumental effort from Inter secure a 0-0 away from home, but the match in Turin was poignant in that it was the last of an unbeaten start to 2017/18 for Inter – Spalletti’s side going on to notch up two losses followed by five consecutive draws. It was followed by a thrilling 3-2 away win for Juve at San Siro, scoring on 87 and 89 minutes to take home all three points in a victory which effectively handed the Bianconeri the title towards the end of the season.

All of the above factors give this fixture a real intensity, and neutral supporters can look forward to something special at the end of the working week. It is now 51 years since Brera gave this match its moniker, and it has been living up to it ever since.

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FootballIndex Futures

Juventus are expected to make a move for Manchester United’s Spanish midfielder Juan Mata, 30 in January. Mata is in the final year of his contract at Old Trafford. (Evening Standard)

Juventus are expected to make a move for Manchester United’s Spanish midfielder Juan Mata, 30 in January. Mata is in the final year of his contract at Old Trafford. (Evening Standard)

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Talk Sport

Transfer news: Manchester United and Tottenham face battle with Juventus for Serie A star Nikola Milenkovic

Manchester United and Tottenham will be challenged by Juventus for Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, say reports in Italy.

The 21-year-old only arrived in Florence at the start of last season and went on to play 16 times in Serie A.

Fiorentina star Nikola Milenkovic clears the ball against Lazio.

 

He is yet to miss a minute of their 10 league games so far this campaign and has impressed with a series of solid displays at both centre-back and right-back.

Now Fiorentina are bracing themselves for offers with United and Tottenham reportedly keen on luring him to England.

Both Premier League sides are in the market for a new defender and they have ear-marked Milenkovic as a star of the future.

Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic in action.
 

But, according to Tuttosport, Juventus have also joined the race to sign the Serbian as they attempt to sign a long-term successor for 37-year-old Andrea Barzagli.

Ajax teen Matthijs de Ligt is also on their list but it has been suggested that Milenkovic could come cheaper than the £45m-rated Dutchman.


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FootballIndex Futures

Juventus would be keen to sign Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez in January if Bayern Munich are willing to cut short the 27-year-old’s loan deal from Real Madrid. (Mail)

Juventus would be keen to sign Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez in January if Bayern Munich are willing to cut short the 27-year-old’s loan deal from Real Madrid. (Mail)

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Talk Sport

Manchester United transfer news: In-form star Anthony Martial being eyed by Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan

Italian trio Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan are all monitoring the contract situation of Manchester United star Anthony Martial.

The young French forward has been in impressive form of late, bagging four goals in his last four appearances for the club and there are rumours that United are preparing to offer the 22-year-old a new long-term contract.

Manchester United star Anthony Martial applauds his fans.

 

Martial was linked with a summer exit from United after failing to nail down a regular spot in Jose Mourinho’s first-team squad, but he insisted upon staying at Old Trafford and fighting for his place.

However, while he has enjoyed a recent upturn in form, recent reports have suggested that Martial is no closer to agreeing a new contract at United.

And, according to Tutto Mercato, Juventus, Inter and AC Milan are all poised to make their moves should his contract issue not be resolved.

Martial’s current deal expires next summer and while there is no indication that a new deal is close to being agreed, United are reportedly confident of keeping hold of the in-demand forward.

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FootballIndex Futures

Juve in swoop for Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic and Federico Chiesa?

Juventus are keen to sign 21-year-old Serbia defender Nikola Milenkovic, who is thought to be a target for Tottenham and Manchester United. Juve are also interested in Italy midfielder Federico Chiesa, 21, but Fiorentinaare likely to demand in excess of 100m euros (£89m) for the pair. (Calciomercato)

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Talk Sport

Transfer news: Juventus ready to sign Man City wonderkid Phil Foden for just £175,000

Manchester City could lose wonderkid Phil Foden for just £175,000 as Juventus plot a shock transfer swoop next summer, according to The Mirror.

The 18-year-old midfield ace is set to be out of contract at the end of the current season and the Italian giants are readying a move should talks about a new deal fail to reach a conclusion at the Etihad Stadium.

Foden has the potential to be one of the best in the world.
 

If the deal were to occur it would echo the one which saw rivals Manchester United lose Paul Pogba to the same team.

If a new deal isn’t confirmed then Foden will be available for a minimal fee, owed to City for their development of the player.

News of Juventus’ interest is likely to put pressure on manager Pep Guardiola and the club given the loss of Jadon Sancho last season and what appears to be the imminent exit of Brahim Diaz to Real Madrid.

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FootballIndex Futures

Juventus are keen to bring Paul Pogba back to the club and could make a move for the 25-year-old Manchester United and France midfielder as soon as the January transfer window opens. (Tuttosport, via Mail on Sunday)

Juventus are keen to bring Paul Pogba back to the club and could make a move for the 25-year-old Manchester United and France midfielder as soon as the January transfer window opens. (Tuttosport, via Mail on Sunday)

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Talk Sport

Chelsea transfer news: Blues suffer blow in pursuit of Juventus defender Daniele Rugani

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has dismissed claims of a rift with Chelsea target Daniele Rugani by describing him as the Italian champion’s “future”.

Reports this week claimed Rugani had fallen out with Allegri over a lack of playing time this season.

Rugani looks set to stay at Juve
 

The centre-back has made just two appearances so far this term and he is said to be growing frustrated.

Juventus fought hard to keep the 24-year-old in the summer and they repeatedly rejected a number of bids from Chelsea.

Rugani was led to believe that strong stance was an indication of how much he would play this season, but that has not been the case.

However, the Juve boss has cooled such talk by hailing the Italian as the club’s future.

“Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Mehdi Benatia have great experience,” said Allegri.

“I have some great defenders, so I’m sorry to leave Daniele Rugani out because he’s our future.”

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