Pogba

Will Paul Pogba leave Juventus?

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Paul Pogba. Europe’s Golden Boy. One of the most promising young players in Europe. And currently helping Juventus on their way to a third-straight scudetto.

source: AP
Will anyone be able to tempt Pogba away from Juventus?

As Pogba grows in stature, so, to, does interest in his future. The 20-year-old has been with the bianconeri since 2012, when he moved from Manchester United. Thanks to injuries to both Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo, the Frenchman was given his chance to shine in midfield this season, becoming a regular starter. He has six goals and five assists in his 26 league appearances with Juventus, and he’s also tipped to be headed to the World Cup with France.

It’s little wonder, then, that some of the biggest clubs in the world are rumored to be after his signature. Juventus, however, insist that Pogba is not for sale. The Old Lady are a buying club, not a selling one, says president Andrea Agnelli, and because they’re still working at building the side’s future, they have no intention of selling Pogba.

But that won’t stop other clubs from trying…

The Contenders

Manchester United

Yes, the club that let Pogba go for nothing now wants him back. David Moyes was in the stands on Wednesday, watching while France defeated the Netherlands 2-0. It’s said that the Frenchman is one of United’s top targets come summer, which is no surprise as the Red Devils are still lacking oomph in the midfield. Juan Mata may have brought them a bit of creativity, but Pogba’s technique wouldn’t go amiss in a side hoping to get themselves back on track.

Real Madrid

Real might be top of La Liga, in the hunt for a Champions League trophy and in general one of the best teams in the world right now, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use another midfielder in their midst – particularly one with Pogba’s power. Sky Italia reported that Beppe Marotta was in Madrid for talks with Real – under the cover of the friendly between Spain and Italy – but the Juve director general refused to say whether the talks had been about Pogba.

Paris Saint-Germain

Marotta was in Madrid, Agnelli in Paris, so where, oh where is Pogba going? Well, PSG are keen to add a few more native sons to their soil. Yes, they landed Yohan Cabaye in January, but the Parisians would sure love to put Pogba in midfield as well. If any club can test Juve’s desire to keep ahold of Pogba, it’s PSG and their piles of cash. You’d think that their squad is strong enough already, sitting eight points clear of Monaco in the Ligue 1 table and almost certainly securing a spot in the next round of the Champions League after beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 in Germany, but if there’s anything that Bayern Munich have taught us, it’s that it’s impossible for a team to be too good.

Mourinho: Leicester home should be Claudio Ranieri Stadium

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City shows his frustration as Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho cannot quite get his head around Leicester City’s firing of Claudio Ranieri.

The story is on the tips of the tongues of many in the Premier League, and Manchester United’s boss is no exception.

[ MORE: UEL draw | Who is Rostov? ]

Speaking Friday ahead of United’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton, here’s what Mourinho had to say.

From the BBC:

“He deserves the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri Stadium’. The most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful in football history.

“Now Leicester are in the highlights again with a decision that has everyone in football united. It’s very difficult to accept. It’s important to realize how football is and we need to react. I was sacked as a champion [by Chelsea], a giant negative as I thought – peanuts compared to Claudio.

“I don’t think he needs more. Nobody can do what he did. If some of the stories have just a little bit of truth, it is difficult to find words to justify but we have to be able to cope.”

Mourinho is giving voice to what many feel, this writer included. Ranieri is in a relegation fight, yes, but to fire him days after the Foxes stole a road goal against Sevilla that gives them reasonable odds to advance in the UEFA Champions League? It’s an odd one, and smacks a bit of, “Well, we can’t fire him if he beats Liverpool or Sevilla”.

Liverpool visits the King Power Stadium this weekend, and the Foxes will need an incredible response at home to topple the rested Reds. Sure the Premier League is win now, but add me to the chorus who thinks the new manager will have the same odds to fix Leicester as Ranieri.

Roma’s American president losing patience over stadium delay

James Pallotta, AS Roma
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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ROME (AP) Roma’s American president is starting to lose patience with city officials over long-delayed plans for a new stadium.

Ahead of a meeting between municipal authorities and club officials Friday, James Pallotta issued a statement saying the team expects “a massively positive result” from the encounter.

Pallotta adds “the alternative would be catastrophic for the future of AS Roma, Italian football, the city of Rome, and quite frankly for future business in Italy.”

[ MORE: PST feature on Pallotta ]

The mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project received another setback this week when cultural authorities announced plans to declare the proposed stadium site – an abandoned hippodrome – as a site of “particularly important interest.”

The project in Tor di Valle, halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, also includes three office towers.

Who is Manchester United’s UEL opponent Rostov?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 15: Jano Ananidze (L) of FC Spartak Moscow is challenged by Alexandru Gatcan of FC Rostov during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow v FC Rostov at Otkrytie Arena Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have learned their fate for the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The Red Devils face Russian side FC Rostov in the next round of the tournament, four victorious ties from claiming an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Spurs sent packing | Full UEL draw ]

So who is Rostov? Seventh in the Russian Premier League standings, Selmashi finished second last season and won the league in 1994 and 2008.

Rostov entered the Europa League after a run through the Champions League which saw the club knock out Anderlecht and Ajax, both still alive in the UEL, before finishing third behind Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the group stage. Rostov beat Sparta Prague in the Round of 32 of the UEL.

The club is led by former Moldova boss Ivan Daniliants. Its leading scorer is left wing Dmitri Poloz with 11 goals, and Ecuadorian national teamer Christian Noboa and Moldova veteran Alexandru Gațcan among its mainstays.

While some will make the case that a rough pitch, long trip, and stingy team makes this draw a bad one for United, Mourinho’s crew should triumph. How worse could it have been? This one won’t be easy, but consider Roma, Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach… even a reunion with Memphis Depay and Lyon would bring more of a challenge than Rostov.

Europa League draw: Man Utd learns fate

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, center back to camera, celebrates scoring the opening goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2nd right, and other teammates during a Europa League round of 32 second leg soccer match between Saint Etienne and Manchester United at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne, France, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
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The travel is tricky, but Manchester United’s draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 could’ve been much worse.

The Red Devils are off to Russia to face FC Rostov in the next round of the UEL competition.

[ MORE: Spurs out | Who is Rostov? ]

In another draw that leads you to question whether there’s anything random about it all, United and lone La Liga representative Celta Vigo drew winnable matches against Russian clubs, Roma has a tantalizing match against Lyon, and an all-Bundesliga match hits the docket.

Heck, we’ll even see an all-Belgian tie between Gent vs. Genk.

And in a draw which will have many glued to their sets, USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson will help Borussia Monchengladbach against German rivals Schalke. The first leg comes five days after the pair face off in Bundesliga play.

The Round of 16 legs will be played March 9 and 16.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar
Copenhagen vs. Ajax
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas
Lyon vs. Roma
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht
Gent vs. Genk