The international break can be a slow time for news, but what to make of multiple reports claiming that Max Allegri is in discussion with a pair of struggling traditional Premier League powers?
Tuttosport claims that Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have interest in hiring the Italian manager, adding that United has had “intensified” contact with him.
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Noise out of Old Trafford continues to back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while there is no real buzz that Mauricio Pochettino is on the verge of leaving Spurs.
The 52-year-old Allegri has won Serie A once with AC Milan and five times with Juventus, claiming a Serie C title with Sassuolo in 2007-08.
Is there anything to it? He’d be a great hire for either side. In United’s case, he’d be a marked upgrade on their current boss.
The top 20 players under the age of 21 in European soccer have been announced, as the famous Golden Boy award nominees for 2019 will raise a few eyebrows.
An award dished out by Italian outlet Tuttosport, previous stars to be named Golden Boy include Raheem Sterling, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba, as Matthijs de Ligt was the winner in 2018 and is nominated once again.
Nominees must be under the age of 21 and play in one of Europe’s top-flight leagues.
Four of the 20 finalists play in the Premier League with Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Matteo Guendouzi and Moise Kean all named on the shortlist.
Alongside de Ligt, the likes of Joao Felix, Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz are all expected to be among the favorites for the award. Felix’s rise to stardom at Benfica and Atletico Madrid will likely see him win this award.
Canada’s Alphonso Davies is a finalist as the former Vancouver Whitecaps star continues to develop at Bayern Munich.
Below is the full list of nominees for 2019, with the winner announced on December 16 as media outlets across Europe vote for the winner.
Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
Matthijs de Light (Juventus)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal)
Erling Braut Haland (RB Salzburg)
Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Moise Kean (Everton)
Kang-in Lee (Valencia)
Andriy Oleksiyovych Lunin (Real Valladolid)
Donyell Malen (PSV)
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Rodrygo (Real Madrid)
Jadon Sancho (BVB)
Ferran Torres (Valencia)
Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
Nicolo Zaniolo (AS Roma)
Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon thought his chance for a fairytale ending disappeared, but may still claim the last jewel for his crown.
Buffon’s Champions League campaigns have ended at the hands of Real Madrid and Manchester United the past two seasons, the latter at PSG, but the legendary keeper still has something left in the tank after returning to Juventus this season.
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“I felt the need to have that experience in Paris, to go outside my comfort zone,” Buffon told Football-Italia. “There was no guarantee that would go well, but the fact that it did made me a more complete person.
“However, at a certain point, I felt the call of home and family. Being back two weekends per month wasn’t enough for me. I decided to return to Turin, but that wasn’t the only reason. It was like closing a perfect circle with the teammates of a lifetime, albeit in a less important role than the one I had before.”
Buffon won Ligue 1 with PSG last season, his first outside Juve since arriving from Parma in 2001.
Buffon says “it’s a source of pride” that Juve gave him another chance at age 41, where he’s spelling Wojciech Szczesny
“I don’t feel that I’ve given all I can, not the full 100 per cent. Maybe I am missing that 15 per cent I need for the grand finale of this career.”
Mario Mandzukic and Manchester United have reportedly reached a verbal agreement that will allow him to join the club in January if a fee can be agreed with Juventus.
Mandzukic, 33, has not played for Juve this season and will leave sooner rather than later. Juve reportedly wants $11 million for the Croatian.
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Football-Italia says Juve has dropped its asking price about $5 million since the summer, and that Mandzukic had been recruited by clubs in Major League Soccer but prefers United.
He scored 10 goals and seven assists in 33 matches last season, about what he’s done since his 20-goal campaign with Atletico Madrid in 2014/15 inspired Juve to swoop for his services.
It would be a desperate but thrifty move for United, who needs depth but would not be adding an improvement over Marcus Rashford. In fact, the players had similar seasons last year. Rashford is obviously much younger and more explosive, but Mandzukic pitches in more defensively and has plenty of wisdom.
Would there be a better addition on the market? Our guess is yes, especially considering Ibrahimovic may be available for free. Ibrahimovic scored 29 goals with 10 assists at United before departing for two prolific seasons with the LA Galaxy (52 goals, 14 assists) and is out-of-contract on New Year’s Day.
There’s a similar vibe to Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s arrival at United, thought Mandzukic has never quite reached the prolific scoring heights of the monstrous Swede.
Following reports over the last 48 hours, Sampdoria has indeed hired Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, replacing Eusebio Di Francesco who was let go after a horrid start of six defeats in the first seven matches.
Ranieri takes over for Di Francesco for the second time this calendar year, having served as Roma caretaker manager in March after Di Francesco was fired. The Italian’s first match in charge of Sampdoria will come against Roma next Sunday on his 68th birthday.
The former Leicester City and Fulham boss reportedly signs on a two-year contract with an option to terminate should the team be relegated. Sampdoria has been a fixture in Serie A since 1950, relegated four times in that span but only spending 11 combined seasons outside the top flight in that span.
Aside from winning the Premier League with the Foxes against all odds, Ranieri has won silverware with Valencia and Fiorentina, plus lower-league silverware at Cagliari and Monaco.
According to reports, a pair of other managers in Stefano Pioli and Gennaro Gattuso both turned down the position before Ranieri accepted. Pioli accepted the AC Milan position just three days ago, while Gattuso reportedly considered the job before turning it down. Former Sampdoria manager Marco Giampaolo became available after being fired at AC Milan just days ago, but Serie A rules stipulate that a manager can only work for one top flight club in a season.
Sampdoria has been miserable this season, scoring just four goals while conceding 16 through the first seven matches of the season. Their lone win, a 1-0 victory over Torino in late September, is sandwiched by a pair of three-game losing streaks. For what it’s worth, their early-season schedule has been difficult, with home defeats to Lazio and Fiorentina plus a home loss to Napoli. Things get a bit easier for Ranieri despite the opener against Roma, facing just one more top-seven side before meeting Juventus in late December.