If you don’t care for Italian football, scroll far, far down, because there’s a lot of Serie A-based news forthcoming.
AC Milan will be saying goodbye to eight players in June, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
A couple of names we already know will be on their way out, including Paolo Maldini, who’ll be retiring after a long and distinguished career.
Brazilians Cafu and Serginho, both 37, will depart as well, along with fellow veteran defenders Giuseppe Favalli and Dario Simic, the latter of which is going to Lazio on loan next week.
As expected, Ronaldo looks to be on his way out, with injury problems plaguing his chances of a contract renewal in Milan. He’s been linked with a move to Turkey (Fenerbahce) or back to Brazil (Flamengo), so he isn’t without options.
The only young player that appears to be headed for greener pastures looks to be French starlet Yoann Gourcuff. The 21-year old midfielder was tipped to have a bright future in Milan when he joined the Rossoneri from Rennes following the 2005/06 season, but has reportedly been told that he has no future at the club.
That’s great news for Arsenal, who were in the hunt to sign him before he spurned them for Milan, but have kept him firmly in their sights. The Telegraph reported earlier this month that Arsenal were lining up a 15 million GBP move for Gourcuff, but this news might mean that he could cost significantly less, which is even better news for Arsene Wenger.
Oh, last but not least, Dida’s supposed to be leaving as well, but it might not be soon enough if he commits a few more inexcusable errors in the second half of the season.
As for AC’s rivals, Inter, the Nerazzurri are set to make a January move for Portuguese playmaker Maniche. Inter Milan are running away with another Scudetto, but are in need of some reinforcements in midfield, where they’re dealing with several key injuries.
According to the report by the Corriere dello Sport, the Atletico Madrid star is available for 8 million euros, which might be a little high for Inter Milan supremo Massimo Moratti, who is willing to shell out only five million. The 30-year old is also a target of Chelsea, who he played with in 2005/06, and Sporting, where Maniche would earn the distinction of having played for all three of Portugal’s ‘Big Three,’ having previously played for Benfica and Porto.
Fiorentina striker Adrian Mutu is on Roma’s wish list, but that’s one late Christmas present that won’t be happening, as the Viola’s sporting direcotr, Pantaleo Corvino has said that the club have no intention of selling him. You can’t blame them either. Mutu was a key part of their push towards the UEFA Cup last season, and will be a vital part of their run in that competition and towards another high finish in Serie A.
There’s also the usual Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko rumors, but there’s no need to go over them, as we all know that AC Milan want them both, and it’s just a matter of if they’re actually going to be sold by their respective clubs. I will let you know when something definite is happening.
From redundant, we go to outrageous, as Napoli are reportedly trying to line up the finances to make a bid for Leo Messi, in the hopes that he’ll be the second coming of Maradona, according to the Barcelona-based El Mundo Deportivo, no less (by way of Goal.com).
Maradona left Barca for Napoli in 1984 and led the club to two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup title, before a rather acrimonious departure, due to his issues with drugs, among other things.
They might be hoping for fate to shine on them twice, but it’s going to cost a lot more than the then-world record 6.9 million GBP they paid for Maradona, who wanted to leave Barca, as opposed to Messi, who would cost juuuuuuuust a little more than that if he was up for sale, which he isn’t, or if he wanted to leave, which he doesn’t.
But, you’ve got to give them some credit for trying, if the report is true, and if they do get the money up for the bid, the least Barca could do is loan him for a little while, unless they actually decided to take the money and cash in on him. A better idea, however, might be for Napoli to invest that money on a squad of good players to build a foundation for the future, and rediscover their success that way, as opposed to spending it all on one guy.
Okay, if you scrolled down, you can start reading now.
Manchester United, Liverpool, and Everton are reportedly battling it out for Valladolid goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo. The three clubs recently sent scouts to see the 18-year old, who just made his first-team debut this month, but impressed by keeping a clean sheet against Villareal. With his buyout clause standing at only 4.5 million euros, all three clubs can meet the price needed to make a move for him if they so choose to.
Speaking of Liverpool, a couple of their players have been linked with moves away from Merseyside, but Rafa Benitez isn’t so willing to let anyone go, even if they’re unhappy about not getting much playing time. That includes Peter Crouch, who has only four goals this season, all in the Champions League, and with Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, Dirk Kuyt, and Andriy Voronin all options up front, there aren’t enough starts to go around to satisfy everyone. That matters not to Benitez, who has slapped a 40 million GBP price tag on Crouch, which equates to about a million pounds an inch for the 6’7 beanpole.
Unfortunately for Rafa, if he doesn’t sell, he likely won’t be able to buy until summer, given the tight pockets of the club’s owners, who are apparently pretty content to let Benitez make do with the personnel that he has, according to a comment concerning the Benitez vs. the Americans transfer row made by co-owner Tom Hicks’ in a recent interview in Sports Illustrated.
A bit of Manchester United loan news – youngster Kieran Lee is expected to go out on loan to QPR, Manchester United future talent Darren Gibson has had his loan spell with Wolves extended, and Hull are aiming to keep Frazier Campbell onboard for the rest of the season, although that depends on how the striker situation at Old Trafford pans out. In all fairness, it’s not as if FC can do more for Manchester United than Manucho or Dong (although I could be wrong), so expect FC to stay at Hull as well.
In other news, Reading appear to have Macedonian striker Ilco Naumoski signed and sealed, with all that’s left is the delivery. The 24-year old, who plays for Austrian side SV Mattersburg, may make the move in January, but according to the man himself, in an interview with Vreme, it is up to his club to decide if they want to let him go then or wait until the summer, when their domestic season is over. The latter might be the decision in the end, as Mattersburg are one of a crowd of clubs in the running for the title in the Austrian top flight.
Lastly, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Motherwell’s Phil O’Donnell and to the club and its fans. All should keep them in your thoughts and prayers.