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Ronaldo learns fine for mocking Simeone with groin grab

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Diego Simeone was fined around $23,000 for his groin-centered celebrations when Atletico Madrid beat Juventus in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie, and now Cristiano Ronaldo has been nipped the same fee for the same gesture.

Ronaldo’s came on the field following his hat trick, as Juve stormed back to thump Simeone’s Atleti and march on to the UCL quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Hazard, Real, and the back-up plan ]

Charged by UEFA earlier this week, Ronaldo has now learned his punishment. It’s almost $1000 more.

How will he afford it?!!?!?! He reportedly makes just under $700,000 per week.

To be fair, it couldn’t be exactly the same price, given the sentiment behind such a fine is that it’s mean to rile up a crowd. Ronaldo’s move would’ve been viewed as a slight at Simeone and hence just a bit more of an antagonistic one.

Icardi ends six-week exile at Inter as he resumes training

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MILAN (AP) Mauro Icardi has resumed training with his Inter Milan teammates, ending a six-week exile.

Icardi has not been on the field in more than a month, since being stripped of the captaincy amid protracted contract negotiations.

The 26-year-old Icardi has said he has a knee injury, although the club has said tests did not reveal any problem.

The Argentine forward returned to team training on Thursday with others who had not been called up for international duty.

Icardi could be called up for Inter’s next match on March 31, at home to Lazio in Serie A.

With 29 goals, Icardi was the joint top scorer in Serie A last season, sharing the honor with Ciro Immobile of Lazio. He has nine goals in 20 Serie A appearances this season.

Fellow Argentine Lautaro Martinez has stepped up in his absence, weighing in with four goals in his past nine matches.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

More arrests made in corruption scandal over Roma stadium

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ROME (AP) The president of Rome’s city council has been arrested for allegedly accepting bribes in a widening corruption scandal centered on Roma’s long-delayed plans to build a new stadium.

Marcello De Vito of the governing 5-Star Movement was picked up by police for allegedly taking payments from the stadium’s former constructor, Luca Parnassi, to help advance the project. Three other people were also arrested.

Parnassi was among nine people arrested in June when the scandal was first revealed.

Roma’s American president, James Pallotta, first presented the stadium plan in March 2014, saying that it would be ready for the 2016-17 season – yet construction has still not started.

Pallotta has since cut ties with Parnassi and is currently negotiating a 105 million euro ($120 million) deal to buy the proposed stadium site in Tor di Valle himself.

Tor di Valle is located about halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Mane to Real Madrid; Manolas to Man United?

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Now that you’ve all recovered from the January transfer window, it is time to focus on the summer transfer window.

[ MORE: Sacramento, St. Louis in MLS?

After all, the transfer window opens in just a few months time for Premier League clubs. With that in mind, here are couple of juicy rumors doing the rounds…

A report from France Football claims that Zinedine Zidane wants to make Liverpool’s Sadio Mane one of his first big signings back at Real Madrid.

Mane, 26, only signed a new contract with Liverpool in November but the Senegalese flyer has been in sensational form in recent months and is carrying their hopes of winning the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. Per the report, Zidane is a huge fan of Mane and wanted to sign him in the summer of 2018 before he abruptly left Real.

Mane has scored 20 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool this season, and has scored 11 times in his last 11 games. And besides his improving goalscoring record he has the one thing modern teams want: blistering pace.

Whether or not Mane could be tempted to leave Liverpool this summer remains to be seen, but if they do win either the PL title or the UCL, is that a good time for Mane to move on?

He may believe it won’t get any better than that, but leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah and breaking up that partnership would certainly upset Liverpool fans and neutrals alike. Zizou plans to rebuild this ageing Real team and it is quite right that he wants Mane to be the future of their attack alongside the likes of Vinicius Junior.


Man United’s plans to sign a new center back haven’t been a secret for some time now. We just weren’t sure if that was a priority since Jose Mourinho left and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived as the new caretaker manager.

It appears getting in a new commanding center half is still a top priority for the Red Devils.

A report from Calciomercato in Italy has linked United with a move for Roma and Greece defender Kostas Manolas, with the 27-year-old said to have a $39.8 million release clause in his contract if Roma do not qualify for the Champions League. They are currently four points off the top four with 10 games left in Serie A.

The powerful Greek defender has been a regular at Roma over the past five seasons and was influential in their run to the Champions League semifinals last season. With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling handed new contracts recently, United’s policy when it comes to retaining their current center backs is strange.

Victor Lindelof has improved drastically under Solskjaer, but it seems like both Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo will be sold this summer. Toby Alderweireld and Kalidou Koulibaly have both been linked with moves to United, and having Manolas and Alderweireld as center backs, with one of Lindelof, Smalling and Jones alongside them in a 3-4-3 formation could work very well.

Teen Zaniolo could make Italy debut after stunning season

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Nicolo Zaniolo had not played a match in Italy’s top flight less than a year ago but could make his first appearance for Italy this week.

Zaniolo, 19, has had a breakthrough season and has emerged as one of Serie A’s most promising talents since his move to Roma from Inter Milan last summer.

[ MORE: PL Player of Year candidates ]

He scored his first Champions League goals last month as he led Roma to a 2-1 win at home against Porto in the first leg of the round of 16.

Although Zaniolo received an Italy call-up in September, he did not make an appearance. He could make his debut in the upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Finland and Liechtenstein.

“It’s credit to (former Roma coach Eusebio) Di Francesco, who gave him the possibility of playing almost all the time, in the Champions League and in Serie A, giving him enormous confidence,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said on Monday.

“He is a young lad. He has always done well. It’s clear that when you’re young, you can have moments that are more difficult, but he has talent and now he has the chance to make his international debut and that’s the same for everyone who is here.”

Zaniolo is one of two teenagers in the Italy squad. Juventus forward Moise Kean turned 19 last month.

There are also five players under 22 on the 29-man list.

“What’s interesting in the league is that, compared to four or five months ago, the youngsters are playing more and so they have improved,” Mancini said. “This is a positive thing for them, for Italian football, for the Italy team and the under-21 team.

“I called up a few more players so I can evaluate them and because I don’t know the conditions of all the lads. I also had to leave some out with great sadness.”

One of those players left out was Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli was included in Mancini’s first two squads and played his first matches for Italy since the 2014 World Cup. This is the third consecutive time he has been omitted despite scoring five goals in eight matches for Marseille.

“Mario is still not in optimal condition for the national team,” Mancini said. “He has improved on a physical level. He has a good scoring average and can improve more. We expect a lot from him.”

Also called up was veteran Fabio Quagliarella, who could make his first Italy appearance in nearly 10 years.

Quagliarella, 36, leads Serie A in scoring. The Sampdoria forward has 21 goals, two more than Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek.

Italy kicks off its qualifying campaign on Saturday against Finland in Udine before hosting Liechtenstein in Parma three days later.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports