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Report: Allegri, Enrique have questions about Arsenal

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While Arsenal still has two games to play under Arsene Wenger, the club is busy putting feelers out for its next manager.

Two names on the bookies’ shortlists, Massimiliano Allegri and Luis Enrique, are reportedly in Arsenal’s sights. But the pair aren’t ready to sign on the dotted line at the Emirates just yet, according to a report from Sky Sports.

Presumably, the current Juventus boss Allegri and former Barcelona manager Enrique have issues with recent reports that the next Arsenal manager will have just $68 million to spend this summer on new signings, not including sales of players leaving the club.

Considering Arsenal’s season, falling well below expectations, it’s likely going to take more than a couple of signings this summer to bring Arsenal back to the level its fans remember from the early-to-mid 2000s, when it was challenging for Premier League titles and even the UEFA Champions League.

Michael Oliver branded “total chaos” by Juve president; Buffon seethes

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Juventus manager Max Allegri says referees, yes plural, decided the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal between his club and Real Madrid.

The Serie A powers clawed their way back from a 3-0 first leg deficit and seemed destined for extra time after two goals from Mario Mandzukic and an equalizer from Blaise Matuidi.

[ RECAP: Real 1-3 (4-3 agg.) Juve ]

But Mehdi Benatia knocked down Lucas Vasquez before the latter could head home a stoppage time winner, and Cristiano Ronaldo converted the penalty awarded by Michael Oliver.

That added to Allegri’s frustration from a first leg, stoppage time penalty not given to Juve in Turin.

“I feel bad for the lads who did well in Turin for 60 minutes and didn’t score the goals they did tonight,” Allegri said via Football Italia. “The penalty tonight was basically the reverse of what happened on Juan Cuadrado in the first leg… I said even at the time that incident would decide qualification.”

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo reacts ]

Allegri also said he was saving a pair of what he believed to be game-changing substitutions for extra time, and said the ref decided the tie.

Gianluigi Buffon, who was sent off for his protest of Oliver’s decision, was less reserved, saying Oliver wanted to play a major role in the match (from Football Italia):

“Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a garbage bin. On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating crisps.

“You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could’ve told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating. If you can’t handle the pressure and have the courage to make a decision, then you should just sit in the stands and eat your crisps.”

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli was also quite angry, calling for VAR after the game.

“The referee tonight was in total chaos,” Agnelli said. “It’s a pity, the performance of the boys remains, we confirmed – as did PSG last season and Roma last night – proved you can come back from 3-0 down to turn things around.”

The penalty is one of those calls that is only controversial because of when it took place, as most wouldn’t begrudge the award were it not stoppage time of a UEFA Champions League decider.

Italian president’s burning remarks provide path for USMNT

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There’s no question whether the Italian national team job is a different class than the United States men’s national team.

Aside from the fact that both sides failed to qualify for the World Cup, have a vacant manager’s chair, and decent recent results at youth level, the disparity is striking (and not all in negative ways for American fans).

[ MORE: McKennie impresses again ]

Italy has won four World Cups and a EURO, and played in four additional title games. Their domestic league is Top Five, and only six pool players who’ve been called up in the last 12 months come from outside Serie A. Three play in the Premier League, two in La Liga, and one in Ligue 1. It’s qualifying slate meant top Spain or face a home-and-home playoff with another top European team.

On the other hand, the U.S. faces the most forgiving qualifying run this side of Oceania. It’s room for improvement on the international stage is much higher, and its current group is so much further from its potential than the Italian side that it’s hard to find an apt comparison (Consider that, playoff loss aside, Italy has beat the following sides in the last 18 months: Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, and Uruguay).

Differences/similarities aside — and yes, it’s a tad ridiculous to get this deep into what separates Italy from the U.S. in terms of soccer — the USSF could do worse than monitoring how the Italians are handling their World Cup disaster.

1) Accepting responsibility without caveats about their previous successes — Here’s federation president Carlo Tavecchio (who it must be noted has said some reprehensible racist things. We would never gloss over something like that, but we’re talking about the soccer side here). After blasting player selection, he then said, ‘Yeah, but I hired the dude”:

“How can you not play [Lorenzo] Insigne? I told the staff, not him. I can’t intervene [with the coach], there are rules. I have to acknowledge it; I chose the coach. It’s been four days that I haven’t slept. I wake up continuously. We have always played crosses against tall defenders, some almost two meters tall. We had to play around them with the little players, who were on the bench.”

2) Waiting a while to make the correct move — By most accounts, this is very much the plan for the United States (especially with a presidential election looming in February). While most new presidents wouldn’t begrudge the hiring of an highly-qualified name, plenty of prospective bosses would want to wait until the new (or current) man in charge cements his place.

Tavecchio dropped plenty of names, and is especially interested in Chelsea’s Antonio Conte. And he said it’ll be worth the wait.

“We’re looking for the best. They already have commitments until June from a contractual point of view. Then when we get to June, who will be free? The ones are Ancelotti, Conte, Allegri, [Claudio] Ranieri and Mancini. This is the truth of those available.”

Granted the U.S. does not have the wealth of elite experience coaches that Italy does, but the Americans are also not limited to hiring an American.

USMNT interim boss Dave Sarachan is a respected soccer name who is not going to light the shop on fire while the right hire is made during this upcoming string of friendlies.

It’s a top-bottom failure. It includes nearly every part of the system, but the man in charge is the most important part considering that the USMNT should qualify for every World Cup and somehow managed to bungle it.

America needs a bungle-free hire.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Coutinho to Barcelona, Roberto to Man United

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With Barcelona frantically looking to replace Neymar before the window closes, Philippe Coutinho remains their top priority, and while it still seems unlikely, they are taking a “never say never” stance, according to Spanish journalist Guillem Balague.

According to Balague’s reports on Twitter, Liverpool is still refusing to sell at any price, having already officially rejected an offer of $94 million in as little as 45 minutes after it was received. Barcelona knows that the best way to push Liverpool to act is player pressure, and Balague reports they already have a deal hammered out with Coutinho, although that seems hard to believe because it would almost certainly have enraged the Reds for tapping up.

It seems likely that the only way Barcelona can get Liverpool to sell is if Coutinho were to ask for the transfer himself, because the Reds are holding their ground to keep their best player.


According to a report by The Sun, Bayern Munich is hoping to test Tottenham Hotspur over the availability of midfielder Eric Dier.

It’s hard to see Spurs chairman Daniel Levy allowing Dier to leave after cashing in on Kyle Walker, especially after the club already rebuffed Manchester United for Dier earlier in the summer. Bayern apparently hopes that Spurs turned United down after not wanting to sell to a league rival, and that they’d have a better chance of securing the England international with a move out of the Premier League.

Spurs have been criticized this summer for failing to bring in reinforcements, with in-house replacement Kieran Trippier set to replace Walker. Therefore, it’s tough to envision Dier being successfully pried away.


With Manchester United unable to grab Dier from Spurs, they seem to be targeting another midfielder in Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto. According to Spanish outlet Don Balon, the Red Devils are considering triggering Roberto’s release clause of $47 million.

United is hoping to cash in on the chance that Barcelona could bump Roberto down the depth chart if they replace Neymar with another midfielder. In addition, Roberto was often a scapegoat for some of Barcelona’s failures last season, and he might be available for departure should a team want to pay up.

The 25-year-old is under contract at Barcelona until 2019, but should Manchester United trigger the release clause, that would not matter, as they found out in the Neymar saga. The Red Devils reportedly would face competition from Chelsea and Roma.


Chelsea have been told there is “no chance” they will sign Juventus full-back Alex Sandro.

Old Lady boss Massimiliano Allegri said after a friendly in London against Tottenham, that, “Alex Sandro is a Juventus player and he will stay one.” When asked again, he said “no chance.”

Sandro was linked with Chelsea after a stellar season at Juventus where he helped the club reach the Champions League final. The Blues seemed like a perfect landing spot with Sandro excelling in a three-CB system at Juventus, the same system that Conte plays at Stamford Bridge.

Allegri’s coaching stock should take a hit after Champions League dud

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Coming into Saturday’s Champions League final, Massimiliano Allegri had one of the fastest-rising coaching stocks in European soccer.

Following the 4-1 Real Madrid win, Allegri still remains one of the top coaches in Europe, but after being thoroughly out-coached by Zinedine Zidane in the second half, other top teams will most certainly take note.

With the score tied at 1-1 at halftime, Zidane – no stranger to taking obscene risks in important games – looked to spark his lethargic Real Madrid all-star squad by bombing both full-backs Marcelo and Dani Carvajal as far forward as possible. The two had 46 touches in the Juventus half through the 45 minutes; they racked up over half that in the 15 minutes after halftime alone.

The strategy worked, and immediately Juventus found itself pinned back in its own half – of the 5 chances created between those two players, four came between the 45th and 65th minute (only Carvajal’s assist on the first Madrid goal came outside that span).

With his team suddenly under siege, Allegri made no changes, tactically or otherwise. Likely, he hoped to take advantage of the counter opportunities presented by a suddenly relentless Madrid, but those opportunities never presented themselves. Juventus had a full 15 minutes to change tactics before the Spanish giants scored its quickfire double to put the game out of reach.

After a first half in which Juventus saw itself the better side, Madrid’s time was clearly coming, and Allegri most certainly had to be prepared for the eventual onslaught his team would face. Yet when it came to fruition, he had no response until it was too late, bringing on Juan Cuadrado with the scoreline now 3-1 and the game all but lost.

This is not to take away any credit from Real Madrid, who deserved to win the crown. Their squad is utterly loaded, potentially one of the best teams ever, and stopping them would be a tall task. Yet for a Juventus club that had conceded all of three goals the entire Champions League tournament, they were the most equipped of anyone to halt the Madrid machine, and they showed that through the first 45 minutes. Allegri froze when his team desperately needed some type of reaction. He quite simply came up small in the season’s biggest moment.

To make matters worse, after the match he criticized the squad for slumping mentally after Madrid’s second goal.

“We conceded that goal with a deflection and then let go psychologically,” Allegri said. “We should’ve reacted and defended with nails and teeth, but this is another step we have to take in [the] future to learn from this and mature. Even if Real Madrid had a very good second half and have excellent players who can change the game at any moment, that second goal knocked the wind out of our sails.” That’s a weak response from a man who should have shouldered much of the blame.

Max Allegri has no doubt guided Juventus through a fabulous campaign, and has proven a man who has squeezed the most out of this squad on numerous occasions. He should still remain a top coach among the European landscape as it stands. However, when prospective clubs down the road inspect his full body of work, this blemish should be one they inquire about. In a match that Juventus appeared up to the task, their manager went missing when they needed him the most.