Ancelotti

Real Madrid denies Gonzalo Higuaín to Napoli is done; Is he slipping away from Arsenal?

Leave a comment

When Juventus, one of the first clubs linked to Gonzalo Higuaín this summer, decided to take Carlos Tévez from Manchester City, the Argentine that’s currently living out his last days at Real Madrid seemed destined for Arsenal, the team that was competing with the Bianconeri for the Argentine’s signature. But as time has passed and Arsenal’s become distracted by other targets, the Higuaín courtship has stalled. Now other clubs are assuming Juventus’s place as Arsenal’s rivals for the 25-year-old.

The main competitor seems to be Napoli, with speculation surround Serie A’s runners-up becoming so intense that Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has had to deny a fee’s been agreed. Given Napoli’s recently sold Edinson Cavani, has that money to blow, is in need of a striker, and can offer players Champions League soccer, the Higuaín connection makes sense on a lot of levels, least of which is the work Rafa Benítez did the last time he had spent a prolonged period of time with a world-class striker (the Liverpool version of Fernando Torres).

But per Ancelotti, speaking yesterday, there’s still a way to go before Higuaín’s in Naples. Asked about a deal being in place to send him to Italy:

“Not true, I don’t have any news about this …

“I think that now we have to speak about Higuain as a Real Madrid player. He is a fantastic player and a fantastic striker who took one minute to score tonight.

“I spoke to him this week. He is a Real Madrid player and until we have news we have to consider him as a Real Madrid player and I would like him to stay with us.

“He is very important to us and nothing else – it is not my business to judge the price of a player.”

Ancelotti’s last point is important when considering the weight of his words. To a certain extent, his words are obligatory, the type of remarks any considerate coach would say about a player who’s still training with the team. But Ancelotti also isn’t somebody who’ll make the final decision about if, when, and to where Higuaín is sold. In that vein, there’s a chance Ancelotti can speak with a plausible deniability when it comes to transfer news.

Still, there’s a momentum surrounding Higuaín’s possible move east instead of north. It’s enough to make reporters questions Ancelotti. It’s enough to make Arsenal fans fear another rumor of a big signing will fail to materialize.

Until Higuaín’s unveiled in Naples, however, there’s chance to salvage this deal, but if there’s any truth to the rumors surrounding Suárez, Arsenal may be playing the dog that drops its bone into the stream.

Ancelotti may be impatient, but Real Madrid wait should prove inconsequential

Leave a comment

By now we’re long disillusioned of any notion Carlo Ancelotti will stay at Paris Saint-Germain. He’s going to Real Madrid, with the sides waiting for ancillary pieces to fall into place before confirming the shuffle. The biggest piece: Identifying a successor at the Parc de Princes.

It’s a topic we’ve begun openly discussing, with the likes of André Villas-Boas, Michael Laudrup, and Guus Hiddink linked with a move to the French champions. But with each of those men currently employed (Tottenham, Swansea, Anzhi), it may be a while before this puzzle comes together. If PSG finds their man we may hear about it, but formalities may be held up while another club’s sent on a search to find yet another manager. After all, that’s essentially what’s happened with Ancelotti’s move to the southwest.

As noted today by Marca, the whole process has left Ancelotti impatient – an understandable feeling, but one his current employers shouldn’t give a second thought. Under contract in Paris, Ancelotti is breaking his deal to move to Madrid. It’s not a rare occurrence in world soccer, but if PSG want to take their sweet time while working through the inconvenience, Ancelotti and Real have to respect their decision.

That, according to the report, is exactly what’s happening:

This means that Real Madrid will have to wait until PSG has signed and sealed Ancelotti’s replacement, and not worry about the bad image this impasse is having on the forward strategy of the club.

Sources at Real Madrid were quite relaxed about the question of the new manager on Sunday. Ancelotti’s signing is a certainty, and Real Madrid and PSG have almost reached an agreement about the terms of the transfer. The two clubs are friends, and therefore the negotiation process of the French club for signing a new manager has to be respected.

The wait should prove inconsequential. At a club like Real Madrid, summer transfer business will proceed as usual regardless of when Ancelotti arrives. Florentino Perez is going to target a name or two. The rest of the sporting staff will continue pursing their long-term targets. As long as Ancelotti arrives before players are called back to Madrid, the club won’t miss a beat.

For now, though, Ancelotti gets to live with the inconveniences born of breaking a contract to join another club.

Carlo Ancelotti denies Zlatan Ibrahimovic pursuing a PSG exit

Leave a comment

Paris Saint-Germain closed out their season with a 3-1 win at Lorient on Sunday, a result you probably didn’t hear much about. Most people have long moved on from France, Ligue 1’s circuit joining the litany of European league with a runaway winter.

After Sunday’s 38th match day, PSG held a 12-point lead on second place Marseille, the inevitability of their third title managing the remarkable feat of meeting the league’s sanguine preseason expectations. Nobody was expected to keep up with PSG, and that’s exactly what happened.

Against Lorient, Zlatan Ibrahimovic added his 30th goal of the season and PSG had a man sent off late, but the day’s real action came after the game. That’s when the press corps got to speak with PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti, who has been linked with the open job at Real Madrid. Having just completed his first full season in Paris, Ancelotti’s told PSG management he would like to succeed José Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu.

To his credit, Ancelotti didn’t deny his desire to move, though he did admit, “I don’t know if it was my last game.” PSG has denied Real Madrid’s request to speak to Ancelotti, ostensibly insistent the Italian see out the last year on his deal.

But thanks to a report earlier in the day from Sky Italia, Ancelotti’s prospective move to the southwest was only part of the drama. Ibrahimovic, according to reports, had told Paris Saint-Germain  he wanted to leave should Ancelotti depart. It was a rumor Ancelotti was quick to put to rest.

“Ibrahimovic has not asked to leave the club,” Ancelotti said, going on to tell reporters the Swedish attacker’s future was not linked to his. Coming of indecisive talks on Saturday with club president Nasser Al Khelaifi, the head coach’s future still isn’t clear enough to have hangers-on.

All reason says Ancelotti will end up at Real Madrid by next season, and with PSG’s 2012-13 having just finished, it’s too early to see these types of denials as hold much weight. Ancelotti’s implicitly acknowledged his desire to move. The middling media-speak does little to change that.

The Ibrahimovic news, however, is just denial fighting rumor. Though Sky Italia’s reporting Ibrahimovic might want to move, PSG (through Ancelotti) are saying they know nothing about it.

It’s all the same contradicting paper talk we read every summer. This year, silly season’s off to a quick start.

PSG, Ancelotti, and Real Madrid: Four basic facts of Carlo’s Spanish future

Leave a comment

Here’s all you need to know about Carlo Ancelotti’s future at Paris Saint-Germain:

  • He has one-year left on his deal in Paris.
  • He wants to move to Real Madrid.
  • Real Madrid want him.
  • PSG’s would be a highly sought after job.

Keep that in mind when you read about PSG’s current stance. In case you hadn’t heard, Real Madrid requested to talk to the Milan legend in connection with their impending coaching vacancy. PSG, of course, refused the request, the first step in what’s bound to be a negotiation for Ancelotti’s services.

At least, that has to be the end game. Right? There’s no way PSG can think holding a coach in the last year of his deal after he seems ready to go could possibly be good for their 2013-14 campaign. They may not like the fact the Ancelotti wants to leave, but holding him to the last year of the deal – especially when you’re capable of drawing a high-profile replacement – would be foolhardy, particularly in the face of possible compensation.

What may really be happening is a stall. One of the big fears PSG should have is whether the loss of Ancelotti could lead to some of their players requesting similar moves, unsettled by the loss of a well-respected manager. Before Ancelotti’s allowed to go, PSG need to have a plan of succession in place, identifying a man whose clout with the squad can replace that of Ancelotti’s. Denying Real now only to grant their request later gives them time to line up a replacement.

And getting that man shouldn’t be too difficult, even if you’re unlikely to find a man with Ancelotti’s reputation. But if Jupp Heynckes wins on Saturday, his hiring wouldn’t keep PSG’s project in track? (Though that seems like a very unlikely hiring.) Or if you wanted to snag an up-and-coming manager, a man with Michael Laudrup’s playing career would immediately command respect from PSG’s dressing room. And potentially the best fit, Laurent Blanc, is also readily available.

PSG’s executive are smart enough to know this, as are Real’s. While you’re sure to see some headlines that hint the Parisians are flashing their claws, expect Ancelotti to be in Madrid when the 2013-14 season begins.

Beckham will start again versus Barcelona, Ancelotti says

1 Comment

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti pledged today that David Beckham will “definitely start” against Barcelona next week.

The former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder started in the Champions League for the first time in three years in Tuesday’s 2-2 quarter-finals, first-leg tie at Parc des Princes.

He was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go – playing top-level club soccer against the best team on the planet aged 37 can be tiring, we imagine – and his performance drew criticism from some sections of the French media. (What are they complaining about? The guy’s playing for free! Can’t beat that for value.)

But Ancelotti said that the bad reviews were “unjust“, “not normal” and that Beckham had “a really good match”. The Italian also denied that PSG’s brand-aware Qatari owners had ordered him to pick the ex-England captain. All set for a repeat next Wednesday at the Nou Camp, then.

All in all, matters ultimately went PSG’s way on Tuesday. Not so much this afternoon as their lead at the top of Ligue 1 was cut.

Andre-Pierre Gignac’s 41st-minute goal was enough for Marseille to beat mid-table Bordeaux 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome.

That win reduced PSG’s advantage over their great rivals to four points, though Ancelotti’s side have played a game fewer. And their fixture list is highly favorable down the stretch, with only a trip to third-placed Lyon likely to tax them significantly.

With eight games still to play for most teams, there’s a while to go. Beating Barcelona is surely a long shot. But it looks highly likely that all the Middle-Eastern investment in the club will finally pay off, and – somewhat remarkably for such a famous club in France’s biggest city – PSG will claim their first domestic league title since 1993-94. After his success in MLS Cup with L.A., it’d be Beckham’s second championship in six months.