Miralem Pjanic

Pjanic to Barcelona
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Breaking down the Arthur for Pjanic plus cash ‘swap’ for Barca, Juve

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Juventus got a little younger on Monday but also made sure to keep a couple veterans around Turin.

The Old Lady completed a swap deal, sending Miralem Pjanic plus cash to Barcelona for midfielder Arthur, while also announcing new contracts for Gianluigi Buffon and Georgio Chiellini.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Barcelona says it paid $67 million for the 30-year-old Pjanic, while Juve spent about $81 million to get Arthur.

Barca could get another $11 million if Arthur hits bonuses, and there’s a good chance for that.

The Blaugranas have been a mess aside from Lionel Messi’s typical brilliance, and have been passed by Real Madrid both in the table and long-term prognosis. Board room drama has not helped anything.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Understandably, Barca is getting blasted for the swap deal and that’s an easy argument to make given Arthur’s age and status as one of the club’s more consistent performers.

But here’s a devil’s advocate take.

Pjanic a move to embrace the back end of Messi’s prime

Messi remains the best creator in the world if not flat-out best player but his window has to be closing despite his seemingly immortal skills. Consider:

  • Only Thomas Muller (21) has more league assists than the Argentine and only four have more goals.
  • Robert Lewandowski is the only player to have as many combined goals and assists as Messi, and the Polish striker’s season is over.
  • Messi been named Man of the Match in 18 of his 27 appearances which is a ton even accounting for reputation.

Arthur v. Pjanic

It’s unlikely that he’ll fall off a cliff next season, but he needs some help in shouldering the playmaking load.

Let’s get this out of the way: Arthur is a force and will bring power and 1v1 skills to a Juventus team which is long in the tooth outside of Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt, and Rodrigo Betancur.

But Pjanic can simultaneously mentor Frenkie de Jong and combine with the young Dutchman to produce a metronomic midfield and allow Barca’s creators up top to do their thing.

Barca’s also been a bit snakebit this year. No team is possessing the ball more than Quique Setien’s men, with 62.5 percent of the ball having an edge on Man City (62.0), PSG (61.8), Bayern Munich (61.5), and Bayer Leverkusen (60.1) the only clubs above 60 percent.

Don’t get me wrong: Arguing for this move paying off more for Juve than Barcelona is very easy and the Catalan side’s embarrassing off-field season — let alone years of poor personnel planning — makes the jokes even easier. Right now, Messi isn’t just carrying Barca, he’s bearing the entire weight of the club’s reputation.

The goal seems to be to get Messi another Champions League, something that could still happen this season if the defense avoids gaffes. Barca is a top ten team in shots conceded per game, better than even Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig.

Plus there will be sales of Philippe Coutinho, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, and others to go with the $14 million left over from the swap deal.

Arthur to Juventus
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Why Juventus loves the move

Arthur is a beast, and can combine with Betancur to provide a complete midfield duo that is equal parts relentless, physical, and technical.

They’ll only grow under the tutelage and pressure that comes from playing with an older roster conditioned to winning.

Consider the ages of Juve’s top minutes contributors in Serie A play. Leonardo Bonucci is 33, Cristiano Ronaldo 35, and Juan Cuadrado 32. Then comes Pjanic (30), Alex Sandro (29), de Ligt (20), Blaise Matuidi (33), Dybala (26), and Betancur (23).

Arthur is yet to collect the track record of Pjanic and there will be an adjustment but even if the swap doesn’t pan out, the Old Lady will have risked $14 million on a 23-year-old with 20 Brazil caps.

What about Buffon and Chiellini and their combined 77 years on God’s green earth?

This makes sense, too.

Buffon was strong in the Italian Cup run and provides invaluable depth in experience as one of th best goalkeepers in the history of the game.

Chiellini missed most of the season with cruciate ligament injuries but even at 35 remains an adequate player and loyal servant.

The legends want to keep playing, will accept their roles, and there’s no reason to see them in another shirt.

Transfer news: Spurs want Neves, Man Utd hopes for van de Beek

Neves to Tottenham
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Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are hoping to pick off talent from Ajax and Wolves, respectively, while a Chelsea target reportedly only has eyes for Barcelona

[ MORE: Everton loanee Kenny scores beauty ]

Wolves’ incredible season has increased interest in a number of their assets, and Jose Mourinho is eyeing one of his Portuguese compatriots currently at the Molineux.

Le10sport reports that the Tottenham Hotspur boss wants to bring 23-year-old Ruben Neves to North London and that the player is open to the idea.

Neves is a fixture in the Wolves’ lineup, having moved from Porto in 2017 for just under $20 million.

He’s 125 times for Wolves since joining them for the 2017-18 promotion campaign in the Championship, scoring 15 times with seven assists.

Ruben Neves would be a part of a young midfield engine with Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele and others, including 19-year-old Oliver Skipp.

Spurs also have Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, and Eric Dier and all of the above are contracted for a while. Dier’s contract expires first (2021), and he’s rumored to be signing a new deal in North London.

Neves has 16 caps for Portugal and it’s worth noting that there’s no guarantee that Wolves won’t have better European standing than Spurs next season.


The Sunday Times says Donny van de Beek’s Real Madrid move is in doubt and that Manchester United may reap the benefits.

The story goes that Real may not be able to spend as much money as planned this summer due the coronavirus, ending their agreement to buy the Ajax midfielder.

United then would swoop into the mix, though the report says the club would expect that his price tag may not be as high due to the pandemic.

Ajax has confirmed it’s ready to sell Van de Beek if he’d like to leave the Netherlands. Everton, Spurs, and Manchester United had been linked with Van de Beek.

Van de Beek just turned 23, and has 10 goals and 11 assists in 37 matches this season after registering 17 and 13 in 57 appearances in 2018/19.


Miralem Pjanic has his eyes set on one destination: the Camp Nou.

Juventus’ 30-year-old midfielder has reportedly turned down advances from Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the hopes of landing at Barcelona.

Pjanic has a contract in Turin through the 2022-23 season, where he’s started every Serie A match when healthy. He’s been in the last four Teams of the Year in Italy’s top flight.

The 92-times capped Bosnia and Herzegovina man has 14 international goals and signed for Juve from Roma in 2016.

Juventus midfielder Pjanic avoids serious injury

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Juventus was worried that Miralem Pjanic would miss significant time after the Bosnia international limped off just eight minutes into his substitute appearance in the 2-0 win over Brescia on Sunday.

Thankfully for The Old Lady, it was just a scare. The club announced Monday that tests on Pjanic’s injury “excluded any muscle injuries” and that “only a slight strain to the right adductor was observed.”

[ MORE: USMNT injuries piling up ]

While the club stated officially that “his condition will be evaluated in the coming days,” reports are that Pjanic could be in the mix for Saturday’s league match against SPAL as well as next week’s Champions League knockout game against Olympique Lyonnais. The club also has a massive title bout with Inter the following weekend.

Inserted into a deeper-lying role, Pjanic has been a workhorse for Juventus this season, already logging over 2,500 minutes across all competitions. Since scoring three Serie A goals and assisting three others before the end of October, Pjanic’s production has dropped off the table, with no goals and an assist since that time. He was ineffective against Chievo Verona in the road loss last weekend, seeing him dropped to a substitute role against Brescia in favor of Aaron Ramsey, with Rodrigo Bentancur dropping into the defensive midfield role.

It’s not the only good news Juventus has seen of late in the injury department. 35-year-old captain Giorgio Chiellini just returned against Bresica from an ACL tear, his first appearance since going down after the opening match of the season. Douglas Costa is out 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury, but that certainly could have been worse. One of the deepest teams in Europe continues to plug along.

Serie A: Juventus win 5th straight; Napoli cruise past Verona (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid lose to Mallorca; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann send Barca top ]

Juventus 2-1 Bologna

Juve were made to work a bit — but not too much — en route to a 2-1 victory over Bologna. It’s their fifth straight win in league play and again puts them four points clear of Inter Milan, who are yet to play this weekend.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a pinpoint finish from a tight angle in the 19th minute, but Bologna hit back just seven minutes later when Danilo smashed home a half-volley after Juve failed to clear a corner kick. It was 1-1 at halftime, but not much longer than that. Miralem Pjanic picked out the near post and slotted home past the goalkeeper in the 54th minute to give Juve their deserved winner.

Napoli 2-0 Verona

Napoli, on the other hand, had their backs against the wall early when Verona visited the San Paolo Stadium. Goalkeeper Alex Meret was the hero early on with a fantastic double-save before Carlo Ancelotti’s side settled in and took control of the game.

Arkadiusz Milik got on the end of Fabian Ruiz’s cross right in front of goal, leaving the Polish forward with the simplest of tap-ins to make it 1-0 in the 37 minute. Milik made it 2-0 when he got a glancing touch on a sensation free kick from Lorenzo Insigne in the 67th.

The victory sees Napoli hang onto fourth in the league table and move to within two points of second-place Inter.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Lazio 3-3 Atalanta

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo v. Inter Milan — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Roma — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese v. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Cagliari v. SPAL — 9 a.m. ET
Parma v. Genoa — 12 p.m. ET
AC Milan v. Lecce — 2:45 p.m. ET

Serie A roundup: Inter stay perfect, Ronaldo scores in Juventus win (video)

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Antonio Conte‘s new-look Inter Milan, who are on a six-game winning streak, headline Saturday’s Serie A action.

Sampdoria 1-3 Inter Milan

Who would have guessed? Inter Milan are unrecognizable – for the better – under the 50-year-old manager. On Saturday, Inter thumped Sampdoria  3-1, extending their winning streak to six games – a perfect start to the new season.

Loanee Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal with the Black and Blues, only to get sent off for yellow card accumulation a minute into the second half.

Down 2-0, Jakub Jankto pumped in hope into the home side, turning and quickly striking the ball with his left foot into the back of the net. It was the first goal Inter had allowed in three league games.

If Conte’s sides are known for something, though, it’s a well-balanced scheme. When Sampdoria gained control and pragmatism in the second half, Inter’s defensive stability helped contain the visitor’s lead.

And in the 61st minute, Nicolo Barella sealed it for Inter with a second-chance tap-in in the six-yard box.

Inter’s first true test comes midweek as the Italian giant meets Barcelona at the Camp Nou in Champions League play. Sampdoria, on the other side, prepares for Hellas Verona.

Juventus 2-0 SPAL

There’s Inter Milan, and then there’s Juventus. With 16 points after six games, the Old Lady is at the heels of Conte’s side. On Saturday, they, too, took care of business, winning 2-0 at home against SPAL.

In midair, following a light bounce, Miralem Pjanic’s strike curled into the top left corner of Etrit Berisha goal, who recorded eight saves throughout the 90 minutes. It was halftime, and Juventus were up 1-0.
In the second half, Juventus continued their dominance, possessing the ball 67 percent of the time and recording 12 shots. Following a whipping cross from Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo headed home his third goal of the season in the 78th minute.

A Champions League match Bayer Leverkusen are next in the queue for Juventus. But just days later, they’ll have a legitimate chance to take first place in the table as they travel to Milan to take on Inter. SPAL prepare for to take on Parma next.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 1- 4 Atalanta