Lucas Biglia

Getty Images

Kessie, Biglia apologize for bench altercation during Milan derby loss

Leave a comment

AC Milan duo Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia were left to apologize after an altercation on the touchline during Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Inter in the Milan derby at the San Siro.

In the 69th minute, with Inter up 3-1, Kessie was substituted off by AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso, and was visibly frustrated with the decision of his withdrawal. Biglia, while sitting in his seat on the bench, appeared to say something to him as he came off the pitch, which triggered the incident. Multiple teammates and staff are forced to hold Kessie back, while fellow unused substitute Diego Laxalt appears to try talking Biglia down from the seat next to him.

“It was the adrenaline of the match situation, I was frustrated coming off and really wanted to do more. I took it out on Lucas and it was a mistake, I apologized afterwards,” Kessie told Sky Sport Italia after the match. “He is older than me and I should learn from him. I’m sorry.”

While Biglia’s statement seemed like less of an admission of guilt, he still said he was embarrassed by the incident and admitted he could have handled it differently.

“Franck knows what I said and we clarified the situation afterwards,” the Argentine said. “We all want to win, but this is not something we should do in front of everyone. Maybe save it for the dressing room. We above all feel bad for this embarrassing scene, I feel ashamed of it and apologized to the team and coach in person. It was not what we wanted, we embarrassed the club we represent and it won’t happen again.”

One eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed that the problems between the two could run deeper than just this one moment. Lucas Biglia opened the scoring against Chievo Verona last time out in an eventual 2-1 win, and zoomed-out video showed the entire team celebrating with the Argentine goalscorer except Kessie, who glances at the rest of the celebrating squad for around five seconds before casually turning his back and strolling towards the center of the pitch for the restart.

The loss for Milan on Sunday dropped them into fourth, the final Champions League place in the Serie A table, with a six-point lead over fifth-placed Roma.

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.”

Monday transfer rumor roundup: Biglia to Liverpool, Michy to Magpies

Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With injuries mounting and clubs finding themselves in either surprising contention or relegation danger, the rumor mill’s been acting up a bit earlier than usual.

Given the relative nothing that goes down in January, it feels things might have a bit more life in 2016. With a wide-open Premier League at both the top and bottom end, England is no exception.

Express says that Southampton is “desperate” to get a new contract for Sadio Mane. Chelsea and Manchester United have long been-linked with Mane, but it’s difficult to imagine the 23-year-old wouldn’t have many more suitors if he became available for transfer.

[ TRANSFERS: Rangers want Arsenal to extend loan for USMNT’s Zelalem ]

Is Newcastle United going to turn to Belgian international striker Michy Batshuayi in the hopes of saving its Premier League life? The Marseille man is well-regarded and has nine goals this season. His price tag is said to near $50 million, but Express says $33 mil could do the trick. He has two goals in two caps for Belgium, and Express also claims Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs want the near 6-footer.

And since it’s not a Newcastle transfer note without multiple French ideas for the club, come January oft-rumored goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu of PSG could be Tim Krul’s replacement for the rest of the campaign.

during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and US Citta di Palermo at Stadio Olimpico on November 22, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
Getty Images

Spanish site Fichajes claims that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could turn to Serie A for veteran midfielder Lucas Biglia, but says the Lazio man is also wanted by Manchester United. The 38-times capped Argentine scored against Colombia last week.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback — Can Leicester do it? ]

Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini is the latest to say Andrea Pirlo isn’t coming back to Italy this winter. No surprise considering Pirlo said the same thing.

Staying in Italy, Gazzetta says both Manchester United and Arsenal are seeking the signature of young Juventus back liner Daniele Rugani. The 6-foot-2 center back can’t find playing time in Turin after moving from Empoli in the summer.

Mesut Ozil is set to sign a new deal with Arsenal, according to Soccerlens. And Marc Pugh has a new deal at Bournemouth.

Carlos Tevez returns to Argentinian squad after three-year gap

Leave a comment

Carlos Tevez has been recalled into the Argentina national team for the first time in over three years with friendlies against Croatia and Portugal coming up.

It’s been a long wait for the 30-year-old striker. He last appeared for his country in a loss to Uruguay in the 2011 Copa America semifinals when he came off the bench and missed the deciding penalty.

The match against Portugal will be at Old Trafford, meaning Tevez will return to the place he spent two seasons.

Tevez joins Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, and Sergio Aguero as strikers, with Javier Pastore, Erik Lamela, and Angel Di Maria also in the side to complete a vicious attacking lineup.

If the Juventus man plays, he would earn his 63rd cap with his country. The gap in his appearances largely coincided with the reign of Alejandro Sabella, who refused to select Tevez even once during his time in charge. Now, with former Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino at the helm, he has given respite to Tevez.

Full Argentina squad:

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Willy Caballero (Manchester City), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres)

Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi (Valencia), Cristian Ansaldi (Atletico Madrid), Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Federico Fazio (Tottenham), Federico Fernandez (Swansea), Ezequiel Garay (Zenit)

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Roberto Pereyra (Juventus), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Angel Di Maria (Manchester United), Erik Lamela (Tottenham), Javier Pastore (PSG), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica)

Attackers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Carlos Tevez (Juventus), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

Carlos Tevez still can’t get into the Argentinian national team

Leave a comment

New Argentina manager Gerardo Martino insisted he has no problems with Carlos Tevez, but still the Juventus striker can’t get into the team.

Despite scoring 19 Serie A goals last year and already bagging two in three matches in the new season, Tevez was left off the roster that boasts all the big names despite just friendlies on the upcoming docket.

Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, and Sergio Aguero were the three strikers Martino selected ahead of the 33-year-old Tevez, who hasn’t played for the national team since 2011.

“When I came here, I was asked if there were any problems with any player and I said no and from there are the conditions to consider anyone,” Martino told ESPN.

In fact, Martino even said the player is himself aware of what he must do. “I am not going to say if he is or is not in the next call-up,” Martino said. “But what does need to be said is what Tévez himself declared: ‘I have to work hard on the pitch to win a place,’ and he is undoubtedly doing very well.”

The 52-year-old manager took over for Alejandro Sabella after the World Cup, ending a three-year tenure in which he never picked Tevez for the national roster.

Tevez surely would like to redeem himself, with his most recent national call-up still leaving a sour taste in his and everyone’s mouths.  He was the only Argentinian to miss a penalty in the 2011 Copa America quarterfinal against Uruguay, and ultimately proved the losing miss.

Serie A players found it hard to get in the squad, as Inter striker Mauro Icardi was challenged by Martino to prove he’s fully focused on the game before he can return to the squad.  The 21-year-old has been engrossed in controversy involving his wife, who was the wife of former teammate Maxi Lopez.

Martino said Icardi needs to focus on “purely sporting terms” and when asked about Icardi’s highly publicized personal affairs, he said, “I think that I do not have to get into things that are not applicable.”

One man who did earn a return is PSG midfielder Javier Pastore.  The 25-year-old has 13 appearances for the national team, and was called back up despite PSG’s rough start to the domestic season. Pastore has two assists in four appearances so far.

Argentina has friendlies against Hong Kong and Brazil in the October international break.

The full Argentina squad:

Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzmán, Sergio Romero.

Defenders: Santiago Vergini, Mateo Musacchio, Pablo Zabaleta, Martín Demichelis, Marcos Rojo, Federico Fernández.

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano, Roberto Pereyra, Lucas Biglia, Javier Pastore, Angel Di María, Erik Lamela, Enzo Pérez, Nicolás Gaitán.

Strikers: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Agüero.