Tearful Hernanes leaves Lazio for Inter Milan

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Around 200 Lazio fans gathered at Claudio Lotito’s home Friday morning. Word had gotten out. Hernanes, the club’s best player since his arrival in Rome three summers ago, was reportedly set to leave the Aquile. Singing the Brazilian’s praises over the next three hours, the small throng of devotees hoped to change their club president’s mind.

As Friday progressed, a slightly different picture of the deal unfolded. In tears as he left the club the he led to last year’s Coppa Italia title, the 28-year-old Brazilian international confessed he’d pushed for the €20 million ($27 million) move. Lotito hadn’t forced him out. He’d decided it was time to go, a decision he explained via Facebook:

“I would like to explain my tears because I’ve seen [Lazio] have been misunderstood. I cried not because the club president was stopping me leaving.

“I cried because the negotiation between the two clubs is happening.

“I had the possibility to leave Rome, the place I love, the supporters I love. But it has to be me who told the president I would like to leave because I think it’s best for me on a professional level.

Late Friday Italy-time, Inter finally confirmed the news, announcing Hernanes had signed a deal that commits him to the Nerazzurri through the 2017-18 season.

The World Cup’s coming up, but the move is as likely to hurt Hernanes as help. He’s in Luiz Felipie Scolari’s team, but he’s struggling to crack the Seleçao’s starting XI. Instead, this move seems to be all about Hernanes’s club future. At 28, his value possibly peaked a player who has become one of Italy’s best midfielders has decided to move on, electing to join Erik Thorir’s rebuild in Milan rather than confirm his legend in Rome.

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source: AP
Since arriving at Lazio in the summer of 2011, Hernanez has posted 11-, 8-, and 11-goals seasons while helping the Aquile to the Italian Cup last May. (Photo source: AP.)

It’s a crucial loss for a Lazio team that just found its footing. While the team did lose the defense of their Coppa title with yesterday’s quarterfinal loss to Napoli, a four-game unbeaten run in Serie A has lifted the team into the league’s top half. Thanks to that mini-revival — organized by the restored Edy Reja — the Aquile are only five points back of a European spot. The team currently holding that spot: Inter Milan.

Lazio would have to pass four teams to snare that spot. Given the irregular form the team has shown for most of the season, they’ll need a  longer run of success before being considered serious top-five contenders. In the face of that uncertainty, cashing in on Inter’s $27 million offer may have made more sense. At 28 years old, Hernanes is unlikely to garner a much better offer in the future.

For Inter, the coup gives head coach Walter Mazzarri a valuable addition to Esteban Cambiasso in central midfield.  Averaging 10 goals per season over the previous three campaigns, Hernanes adds another scoring threat to a team that’s relied on a variety of attackers to complement Rodrigo Palacio (team-leading 10 goals).

“Hernanes is a golden boy,” Mazzarri said in a television interview after the signing. “I’ve always known that.”


Capable of controlling a game from the middle the Brazilian could be an ideal fit for Mazzarri’s approach, whether he’s used as part of a strong two with Cambiasso or given room to surge forward if he plays in a three. Especially with Fredy Guarín’s situation unsettled at Inter, Hernanes may be necessary if the team’s going to return to Europe.

That’s a fit that won’t do anything to console Lazio fans. Maybe Hernanes isn’t leaving for the reasons they assumed, but he’s still leaving. Their team has lost their best player; or, at least, the man who’s been their best player over the last three-and-a-half years. Though Hernanes may have wanted it to happen, and the team got top dollar, that won’t make this any easier to take on the blue side of Rome.


EFL Cup Tues. preview: Spurs-Reds, plenty of non-PL participants

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on August 27, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup).

Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit.

[ MORE: Finland’s “Leicester” gets it done ]

That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.

That said, the Reds didn’t have to play at all last week, while this will be Spurs third match in a week. Spurs have been to the EFL Cup final thrice since 2008, and one of two teams (Chelsea) to make three finals this decade. Liverpool will start Simon Mignolet between the sticks.

The remaining four EFL Cup matches include at least one team outside the Premier League.

Arsenal will host USMNT midfielder Danny Williams and Reading.

— Hull City is off to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.

— Newcastle United is leading the Championship, and will get a visit from Preston North End in the first of two matches between the two sides this week.

— Norwich City will pay a visit to Elland Road and Garry Monk‘s Leeds United.

FC Dallas gave injured Mauro Diaz a home champagne shower (video)

FRISCO, TX - APRIL 12:  Mauro Diaz #10 of the FC Dallas controls the ball against the Seattle Sounders FC on April 12, 2014 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
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FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.

Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.

[ MORE: Pre-playoff power rankings ]


VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

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The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast