Vincenzo Montella

Martin Rickett/PA via AP

Sevilla on 1st UCL quarterfinal in 60 years: “We had to change history”

Leave a comment

Sevilla is a tournament team, but what it pulled off Tuesday in Manchester is still a fine place to hang a hat.

Vincenzo Montella managed La Liga’s mainstays to something Unai Emery, Jorge Sampaoli, or Juande Ramos could not: Win a Champions League match in England.

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts to UCL exit ]

And there pressure was certainly on Montella and his bosses, who controversially fired manager Eduardo Berizzo a week after he returned from cancer treatment despite a memorable comeback versus Liverpool.

Here’s Sevilla president Jose Castro, via

“We needed a man and the man is here. It was a magical night, it was 60 years without being in the quarterfinals and we had to change history. It was a great match and we continue to dream of the Champions League.”

Mexico’s Miguel Layun couldn’t play in the match having represented Porto in the Champions League before transferring to Sevilla, but he was feeling the team spirit, too:

How to stop Alexis? “Padlock, tie him up,” says Sevilla boss

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

“Well, maybe we can lock him up with a padlock or tie him up with rope.”

Vincenzo Montella has mixed it up with Alexis Sanchez in the past, and he’s not relishing the need to stop him again without using non-traditional means.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

The Sevilla boss, 43, said he “remembered well” the Manchester United star from the Chilean’s playing time at Udinese,.

“He has improved his style a lot during his career and I think he can be a really good player in transition,” Montella said. “I think they have really good speed in attack.”

That padlock joke wasn’t the only quality quip from Montella, who said of Paul Pogba:

“He is a complete player. I hope he doesn’t play.”

Sevilla hosts United at 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

Montella to take over at Sevilla after AC Milan sacking

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Spanish side Sevilla confirmed Thursday that they were set to hire Italian manager Vincenzo Montella after coming to an agreement with AC Milan to terminate his contract.

Montella was fired as AC Milan boss in late November, but is still technically under contract until June 2019. Sevilla announced that AC Milan would terminate his contract, and he agreed a 2-year deal with the Spanish club through the same time as his old deal in Italy, which will be signed on Friday.

The 43-year-old was hired at AC Milan from Sampdoria as the Italian giants continued their desperate attempt to return to former glory. Instead, they finished the 2016/17 season in 6th, 28 points back of champions Juventus. The doldrums continued this season, with the club currently all the way down in 11th. Montella was fired after a 0-0 draw at home against Torino, with the club in 7th. In the five matches since he was dismissed, AC Milan has won just once.

Sevilla sacked Eduardo Berizzo just days before Christmas, and only days after Berizzo had returned from a battle with cancer. Sevilla currently sits in fifth in the La Liga table, two points back of Real Madrid. However, the club had gone four matches without a win. The Spanish side is still looking to adequately replace Jorge Sampaoli who left in the summer to take charge of Argentina. Fellow Italian Walter Mazzerri also reportedly interviewed for the position before Montella was chosen.

According to reports, Montella will employ former Sevilla midfielder Enzo Maresca as his assistant manager. Maresca is just 37 years old and only stopped playing in January 2017 when he was released by Hellas Verona. He has been assistant manager of Serie B side Ascoli Picchio since June.

AC Milan’s masterplan: Spend their way back to relevance

Photo credit: AC Milan
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) It’s the type of freewheeling spending spree that has been the domain of Middle East sheikhs and Russian oligarchs in recent years.

Only this time it’s the new Chinese owners of AC Milan who have been dominating football’s transfer market.

The signing of prized Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci from six-time defending Serie A champion Juventus on Friday boosted Milan’s offseason spending to 211 million euros (nearly $250 million) – easily the most in Europe.

Other recent signings by the Rossoneri have included forward Andre Silva from FC Porto; midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio), and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).

With teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma having agreed to extend his contract until 2021 and another big forward signing expected, Milan could be in position to challenge for its first Serie A title since 2011.

It’s the type of outlay made by the likes of Roman Abramovich when he took over Chelsea in 2003, Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City in 2008 and the Qatari investors in Paris Saint-Germain in 2011.

The overhaul reminds former Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi of when Silvio Berlusconi took control of the club three decades ago and quickly acquired the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Carlo Ancelotti and Frank Rijkaard.

The important thing, Sacchi said in an editorial in the Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday, will be for the new owners to give Milan coach Vincenzo Montella the time to mold a proper squad.

“Berlusconi and (former Milan vice president Adriano) Galliani were extraordinary and determined with me, showing confidence and respect for me even though we were far from the top by Christmas,” Sacchi wrote.

“Montella’s job won’t be easy,” Sacchi added. “He’s going to have to create the right chemistry and find a system of playing that makes all of these players thrive.”

Milan went on to win two European Cups under Sacchi and ushered in a period of dominance by Italian clubs.

With seven European and Champions League titles in all, Milan sits second only to Real Madrid’s 12.

But after three years without any appearances at all in Europe, Milan is looking to regain its place among football’s elite.

The Chinese-led consortium that purchased Milan from Berlusconi for $800 million in April has infused the club with cash.

By the time Serie A starts in mid-August, Milan’s starting 11 could consist of nine new players.

While Bonucci is considered Italy’s top defender – which is saying something in a nation that prides itself on its defending – the last piece of Milan’s transfer puzzle could be the one that alters the balance of power in Serie A.

If Bonucci, as he has intimated, is able to convince former Juventus teammate and current Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata to join him at Milan, the Rossoneri might just have enough firepower to end Juve’s stranglehold on the “scudetto” (title).

The other forwards Milan is considering signing include: Andrea Belotti, who scored 26 goals for Torino last season; Nikola Kalinic, the scrappy Fiorentina striker; or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the still-improving Borussia Dortmund marksman who ended his youth career with Milan.

Whoever Milan chooses, he will pair in attack with the 21-year-old Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo’s wingman with Portugal, whose transfer cost 38 million euros ($42.5 million).

Bonucci’s transfer fee topped the 40 million euro ($45 million) mark, and the center back was signed to a five-year contract worth up to 10 million euros ($11 million) per season, including bonuses – making him the highest-paid player in Italy.

In an unusual move, Milan will also make Bonucci the club’s captain before he even plays a match for the team.

“The truth is they’ve gone beyond expectations,” former Milan stalwart Demetrio Albertini said of the new owners. “But if amount of money invested were the only measure that counted, Paris Saint-Germain should have won at least a couple Champions League titles by now.”

Montella extends contract as AC Milan prepares market moves

Getty Images
1 Comment

MILAN (AP) Vincenzo Montella extended his contract as AC Milan coach by one year through the 2018-19 season on Tuesday as the Rossoneri prepare to make a major impact in the transfer market.

The announcement was made live on Facebook with Montella, Milan CEO Marco Fassone and sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli.

The move came two days after Montella guided Milan to a sixth-place finish in Serie A and a spot in the Europa League playoffs in his first season in charge.

The seven-time European champions have not played in Europe in three years.

Montella also led Milan to a penalty shootout win over Juventus in the Italian Super Cup in December.

“Now Milan can aim for more glorious objectives that are more in line with the history of this club,” Montella said.

“Last night we had dinner together and in no time we reached an agreement,” Montella added. “Then this morning we got together to sign.”

Also Tuesday, Milan announced the signing of Argentine-born center back Mateo Musacchio from Villarreal.

Musacchio, who also has an Italian passport, signed a four-year contract.

Milan is also reportedly ready to spend 28 million euros ($31 million) to sign Ivory Coast midfielder Franck Kessie from Atalanta.

Kessie was undergoing medical exams Tuesday.

The Gazzetta dello Sport has also reported that Milan is hoping to sign striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for 60 million euros (nearly $70 million).

A Chinese-led consortium that purchased Milan from Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million last month has infused the club with cash.