Ivory Coast Forward Didier Drogba (C) celebrates at the end of the 2013 African Cup of Nations football match Ivory Coast vs Tunisia in Rustenburg on January 26, 2013 at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in a Group D match. Ivory Coast won 3-0. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly become one of the most coveted goalkeepers in the world, and he’s only 17 years old.
And that’s why AC Milan plans on doing everything in its power to hold on to the Italy international.
According to CalcioMercato, the Rossoneri are preparing to lock up Donnarumma to a big deal once he turns 18 next week in order to fend off the likes of Premier League duo Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid.
However, agent Mino Raiola could stand in the way of Milan as they attempt to negotiate with the promising shot stopper out of fear that the club won’t be able to compete with Europe’s best teams.
Also, it has been suggested that Raiola is seeking at least $4.25 million per season for Donnarumma plus add ons, while Milan is said to be willing to go as high as $2.1 million annually.
Donnarumma is currently in his second professional season with Milan and has risen to the Italian national team level over the past year as well. The young keeper is seen as the logical successor to Gianluigi Buffon once his international career concludes.Follow @MattReedFutbol
AMATRICE, Italy (AP) Italian great Roberto Baggio marked his 50th birthday on Saturday by visiting towns devastated by earthquakes last year.
Baggio opted not to celebrate his milestone surrounded by celebrities, and instead spent the day in Amatrice, which was almost wiped out by the Aug. 24 earthquake.
The former world footballer of the year, who met children and others from the central Italy region, said “it was very emotional,” and he went there with his family “to fully understand what so many people are going through.”
Baggio also met the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, and said they will remain in contact, “and we will try to do something concrete.”
Baggio was moving on to nearby Norcia, which was also damaged, and there was a party organized with a birthday cake.
The Aug. 24 quake killed nearly 300 people and left a further 4,000 homeless. There were aftershocks for several days as well as more quakes in October and January.
Baggio, who was nicknamed “Il Divin Codino” (The Divine Ponytail) for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, scored 27 goals in 57 appearances for Italy and helped the Azzurri to third place in the 1990 World Cup and runner-up four years later, when he famously missed the last penalty kick of the shootout in the final with Brazil.
He won the Serie A title with Juventus in 1995 and with AC Milan the following year.
As the Premier League sides have dwindled down in this season’s FA Cup, two of England’s big boys will hope to avoid upsets on Sunday.
At the moment, six PL clubs remain in the competition after Chelsea and Middlesbrough advanced on Saturday and Manchester City was held to a draw against Huddersfield. Arsenal will meet non-league affiliated side Sutton United on Monday.
Fulham vs. Tottenham — 9 a.m. ET
While Spurs have come away victorious in five of their six FA Cup encounters against Fulham in the past, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will face a tough test on Sunday. Fulham is currently battling to stay in the race for promotion next season to re-join England’s top flight but the Craven Cottage side will have a legitimate chance to make some noise after knocking off Hull City and Cardiff in the past two rounds.
Meanwhile, Spurs will likely be without striker Harry Kane, who picked up an injury in Thursday’s defeat against Gent in the Europa League. Tottenham has struggled away from home as of late, having won just two of their last 14 fixtures away from White Hart Lane.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET
The two sides haven’t met in the FA Cup since back in the 1980s, a win for Manchester United, and Sunday’s encounter likely won’t be much a walk in the park for Rovers. Blackburn is fighting for survival in the Championship, making their performance in the FA Cup all the more critical for morale over the second half of the season. However, key suspensions to both Hope Akpan and Elliott Bennett will leave Blackburn shorthanded.
Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils will be missing several key players as well, including Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, both of whom are injured. United has done well away from home recently, only falling once in its previous nine encounters away from Old Trafford.Follow @MattReedFutbol
PARIS (AP) Nice striker Mario Balotelli has more red cards away from home than goals this season.
The Italian has scored nine in the French league so far, but all have been at home. On Saturday he was sent off for the second time on his travels, and for the third time overall during his first campaign in France. However, despite his red card, Nice won at Lorient 1-0 to move up to second place behind Monaco.
Balotelli returned to the side after missing last weekend’s action with a fever, but was shown a straight red following an altercation with Lorient defender Zargo Toure. From initial video replays, it seemed difficult to ascertain what Balotelli did wrong other than backing into Toure with his arms up as they challenged for a ball.
Nice coach Lucien Favre was no closer to an explanation after the game, although he suggested Balotelli may have spoken out of turn to referee Tony Chapron.
“I didn’t see what happened. All of a sudden he was coming off and I said to myself, `What’s happened?”‘ Favre said. “I didn’t see when he (the referee) gave the red card and I don’t know why. It seems that he talked back to the referee.”
Favre refuted any notion that Balotelli might be getting singled out unfairly by referees.
“He’s not on referees’ radars. They are totally neutral,” Favre said. “If there is reason to send a player off, then they will.”
Midfielder Wylan Cyprien scored his seventh in the league after being set up by right back Arnaud Souquet early on.
Nice is three points behind Monaco, and one point ahead of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which is at home to Toulouse on Sunday. Lorient is in last place.
MARSEILLE 2, RENNES 0
Marseille showed it can cope without top scorer Bafetimbi Gomis, as it maintained its push for a top-four finish and place in the Europa League next season.
Gomis has been Marseille’s best player, scoring 16 league goals, but injured a knee last weekend and is expected to be out for up to six weeks.
In his absence, wingers Clinton N'Jie and Florian Thauvin grabbed second-half goals as Marseille moved level on points with fifth-place Saint-Etienne and one point behind fourth-place Lyon. They are both playing on Sunday.
France playmaker Dimitri Payet went close three times – hitting the crossbar with a rasping shot – before starting the move that led to N’Jie’s goal in the second half.
Five minutes later, Thauvin scored a powerful swerving shot into the top corner from 20 meters after running onto a neat back heel from midfielder Morgan Sanson.
Inconsistent Marseille has won its last three home games but lost its last three away.
Next Sunday comes bitter rival Paris Saint-Germain, a must-win game in the eyes of the passionate Marseille fans at Stade Velodrome.
“We’re confident when we play at the Velodrome, but I’d like to us to do the same away from home,” Marseille left back Patrice Evra said.
Mid-table Angers won 1-0 at home against Nancy, which is one place above the relegation zone.
Lille, down to 10 men, beat Caen 1-0 in Lille coach Franck Passi’s first match in charge. Attacking midfielder Anwar El Ghazi, who came from Ajax last month, struck shortly after Lille center half Adama Soumaoro was sent off.
Also, Metz drew with Nantes 1-1.
In Sunday’s other games, it is: Lyon vs Dijon, Montpellier vs. Saint-Etienne, and Bordeaux vs. Guingamp.