Mattia De Sciglio

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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Italian full-backs on the market

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A pair of Italian full-backs are dominating the Saturday morning transfer headlines, and they could have a direct effect on each other’s futures.

Roma is reportedly interested in Manchester United right-back Matteo Darmian, and according to a number of reports from Italy, are challenging Inter for his signature. The Milan club has been linked with Darmian for some time, but Roma’s name next to his is a new one.

The 27-year-old has struggled for playing time, often serving as second-fiddle to Antonio Valencia who Jose Mourinho seemed to prefer. Darmian was often moved to left-back to fit into the United squad, but even then saw competition from Daley Blind and Luke Shaw.

24-year-old Mattia de Sciglio could also be on the move, with his AC Milan contract running out next summer. Like Gianluigi Donnarumma, he seems intent on a move elsewhere rather than a new deal at the San Siro, and both Napoli and Juventus seem the most likely destinations.

[ Thursday Transfer Rumor Roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]

According to Italian newspaper Il Mattino, de Sciglio could be on his way to Napoli on a four-year contract, but he has also long been linked with Juventus, especially with the potential departure of Dani Alves and heavy interest in Alex Sandro. Manchester City is also known to be in the market for a full-back, but they have yet to be specifically linked to de Sciglio.

Speaking of Alex Sandro, Juventus confirmed they have rejected a bid from Chelsea for the Brazilian full-back. Sandro dazzled Europe during Juventus’s run through the Champions League, and has earned himself links to other big clubs throughout Europe.

Juventus executive Guiseppe Marotta told reporters early Saturday, “We said no to a very good offer from Chelsea for Alex Sandro. But we know that we are competing with clubs that are in a position to offer wages that are not rational for us and players are always their own boss.”

Reports all over England tabbed the “very good offer” at a whopping $70 million, which would potentially be a Chelsea transfer record, with the 2011 capture of Fernando Torres currently at the top of the chart.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been looking to strengthen his defensive line with a season of Champions League play to come. Sandro would likely end up fitting into Conte’s three-at-the-back formation on the wing, giving competition to Marcos Alonso down the left.

As the Kylian Mbappe saga continues to drone on, Arsenal remains a hot destination for the French youngster to land. However, Arsenal is not often known to drop the amount of money possibly required to land the Monaco teenager. Therefore, the possibility of a player moving in the opposite direction remains high.

With Arsenal in a massive battle with Real Madrid for the 18-year-old, a report in the Sun has suggested that Olivier Giroud could be sent to Monaco in addition to a world record fee. This would be an attempt by Arsenal to counter the $150 million Madrid bid reported by L’Equipe a few days ago.

Giroud has repeatedly stated his desire to stay at Arsenal and help them return to Champions League play, and would have to agree to a move away from the Emirates in order for the deal to work.

La Liga & Serie A roundup: Real Madrid back on track; AC Milan squander points again

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:

Real Madrid 3-0 Espanyol

For 24 hours, Real Madrid are back level on games played and four points ahead of both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who play each other on Sunday (3 pm ET), atop the La Liga standings. Cristiano Ronaldo shared the goals exceedingly nicely with his teammates in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Espanyol.

James Rodriguez (6th La Liga goal of the 2014-15 season) and Gareth Bale (8th goal, 2014-15) put the game out of reach early as they netted goals in the 12th and 28th minutes, respectively, before Nacho Fernandez scored his first league goal of the season to complete the scoring.

Celta Vigo 1-1 Valencia

Valencia’s Champions League quest took a bit of a hit on Saturday as Los Che (35 points) gave up a second-half lead away to Celta Vigo and dropped two points which would have seen Nuno Espirito Santo’s side go four points clear of Sevilla (33), who now have two games in hand, in the race for fourth.

Rodrigo put Valencia ahead with a low, powerful effort from 22 yards out which slipped underneath the goalkeeper after 43 minutes, but Fabian Orellana equalized for Os Célticos just past the hour mark and the 1-1 scoreline held despite the hosts’ greatest efforts otherwise.

Malaga 1-1 Villarreal

Villarreal (32 points) were unable to capitalize on Valencia’s in their own chase for Champions League qualification. Likewise, El Submarino Amarillo were a goal ahead away from home, only to concede the equalizer on the hour mark and drop two points in a game in which they out-possessed their opponents but failed to create more than a couple clear goalscoring opportunities.

Jonathan dos Santos, younger brother of teammate Giovani, put Villarreal up 1-0 with an extremely tight-angled finish during first-half stoppage time, but Nordin Amrabat lifted the ball over an onrushing Sergio Asenjo well outside the 18-yard box and found the back of the net to keep Malaga (31) alive in their own quest for European qualification.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 2-1 Getafe

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Almeria vs. Sevilla (6 am ET)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Elche (11 am ET)
Granada vs. Real Sociedad (1 pm ET)
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid (3 pm ET)


source: AP
Jeremy Menez, AC Milan

Torino 1-1 AC Milan

Jeremy Menez’s strong season for AC Milan continued on Saturday as the Frenchman netted his ninth Serie A goal of the season, a third-minute penalty to give the Rossoneri a dream start. The game’s next big moments would come in the 30th and 45th minutes as Milan defender Mattia De Sciglio picked up a pair of first-half yellow cards and left his team a man down for the entirety of the second half.

Milan soaked up the pressure well for 35 minutes, holding dearly onto their slim 1-0 lead before Kamil Glik finally broke through and gave Torino a deserved equalizing goal in the 81st minute. The Polish defender rose above everyone else to put his head on Bruno Peres corner kick. Milan (26 points) currently occupy Serie A’s seventh-place spot, while Torino (19) are seven points clear of the relegation zone in 13th.

Sassuolo 1-1 Udinese

A place in Serie A’s top half was on the line as Sassuolo (24 points, 10th) hosted Udinese (23, 11th) on Saturday. Goals from Sassuolo’s Simone Zaza (15h minute) and Udinese’s Cyril Thereau (26th) canceled each other out and saw the sides end the day in the exact same place they started.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Inter Milan vs. Genoa (6:30 am ET)
Roma vs. Lazio (9 am ET)
Sampdoria vs. Empoli (9 am ET)
Atalanta vs. Chievo (9 am ET)
Cagliari vs. Cesena (9 am ET)
Fiorentina vs. Palermo (9 am ET)
Hellas Verona vs. Parma (9 am ET)
Napoli vs. Juventus (2:45 pm ET)

Mario Balotelli excluded from Italy squad prepping for Euro 2016 qualifiers

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New Italy boss Antonio Conte has named his roster for upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Malta, but striker Mario Balotelli, who has been considered one of Italy’s more dynamic forwards, didn’t make the cut again.

And this action arrived after Brendan Rogers decided to nix the Italian from his usual starting XI in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over West Brom earlier today.

Balotelli was also excluded from his country’s friendly vs. the Netherlands and Euro qualifier against Norway in September.

Conte has added a fresh face to replace the 24-year-old striker in the forward rotation. His name is Graziano Pelle and he’s enjoyed a great beginning to the season, scoring five goals in eight games so far this season. Pelle is a huge reason for Southampton’s early year success.

On the defensive side, youngster Daniele Rugani received his very first call-up to the senior team, and the Blues highest-capped defender, Juventus man Giorgio Chellini, is unsurprisingly set to star for his country.

Below is the complete roster, via ESPN FC.

Goakeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (Juventus), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Daniele Rugani (Empoli).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Poli (AC Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Mattia Destro (Roma), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Inter Milan), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Sassuolo).

Update: Gianluigi Buffon to miss Italy clash with England

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Earlier today, the news broke that Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had injured his ankle during training, and needed tests to determine whether he would be able to start against England.

The reports are in, and the news isn’t good for the azzurri. The ‘keeper, who’s been first-choice for his country for over a decade, will sit out Italy’s first match.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli first described the injury as a light twist, but after undergoing physiotherapy, the injury was revealed to be more serious than previously thought. There is no word yet on whether Buffon will be available for the game against Costa Rica next Friday, or the final group stage game, against Uruguay, next Tuesday.

In absence of Buffon, Prandelli will deploy Salvatore Sirigu between the sticks. Sirigu has experience at the highest levels, as the starting goalkeeper for Paris Saint-Germain, but he’s also been dealing with injury. His bruised ribs aren’t enough to prompt Italy to turn to Mattia Perin, however. The 21-year-old, who plays for Genoa, has yet to be capped for Italy.

Italy are also without Riccardo Montolivo, who broke his leg in the warm-up match against Ireland and had to be cut from the squad, and Mattia De Sciglio, who was injured in training earlier in the week. Without three of their expected starting XI, will Italy stumble? Or are they strong enough to overcome England?