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Monchi rules out Spain return amid Barcelona rumours – football news

In-demand Roma sporting director Monchi has dismissed speculation linking him with Barcelona.

The former goalkeeper, 49, is believed to be wanted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs after cementing his reputation as a skilled negotiator in the transfer market.

He secured Roma a hefty transfer fee for the sale of Alisson to Liverpool and previously engineered five Europa League triumphs at Sevilla, with whom he spent the entirety of a modest playing career.

Barcelona are reportedly battling Manchester United for his services but Monchi is not ready to return to his native Spain.

“I’m not thinking of going back because I’m happy where I am,” he told radio station Cadena COPE.

“I don’t pay attention to things that don’t make sense, like an offer from Barca.

“I am about the present. I don’t worry about anything other than the day to day and I still have years left on my contract with Roma.”

Article continues below

Monchi was speaking ahead of Roma’s opening Champions League match against Real Madrid.

The Giallorossi reached the semi-finals last term, but have won just one of four fixtures in an unconvincing start to the new Serie A season.

Roma find themselves in Group G, with CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen in addition to the reigning European champions.

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Serie B suspended after Pro Vercelli win appeal – football news

Serie B has been suspended as a row following the financial collapse of three teams continues.

The Italian second tier got under way with 19 teams after financial issues at Bari, Avellino and Cesena prevented the teams from taking their place.

Siena, Novara, Catania, Ternana and Pro Vercelli protested against the decision not to replace those clubs with sides from the third division, leading to the start of Serie C being delayed.

Fixtures took place in both Serie B and Serie C over the weekend but Pro Vercelli have now won an appeal to have the case reopened.

Serie B president Franco Frattini confirmed on Tuesday the regional administrative court (Tar) of Lazio has opted to suspend the division.

“The new fact is the Lazio Tar, as well as suspending the ruling, has also suspended the league,” former Italian cabinet minister Frattini told inBlu Radio .

“It is clear that, while we wait until the result of Tar’s order on October 9 it will not be possible to play in Serie B.

Article continues below

“And this appears impossible to me given the sporting passion of millions of fans. Therefore, on Friday, the board Guarantee Committee will re-examine the idea of a whole new line-up.

“The committee will decide whether Serie B should have 22 or 19 teams. If we decide there should be 22, next Monday, we will decide which three out of the teams will be brought in.

“Being a judge in this matter is very complicated. I deal with mafia trials – every week I write sentences on mafia infiltration in the economy and yet I have to say that this football gives some problems.”

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Video: Zlatan’s Journey – a timeline of Ibrahimovic’s most important goals – football news

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AC Milan embarrassing against Cagliari, blasts Gattuso – football news

Gennaro Gattuso said he laughs when AC Milan are hailed as Serie A challengers and lashed out at his team’s “embarrassing” performance against Cagliari.

Gonzalo Higuain’s first Rossoneri goal salvaged a draw at Sardegna Arena on Sunday, cancelling out Joao Pedro’s early opener on the midfielder’s return from a doping ban.

Suso forced two saves from Alessio Cragno in the closing stages, while Higuain headed a Diego Laxalt cross wide, but Gattuso was furious at his side’s first-half display.

“The start we have had is a problem that we have to solve,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.

“The first 20 minutes were embarrassing. If you go down 2-0 in this game we cannot recover it anymore.

“We did a lot of good, but in those 20 minutes it was a very bad game on the mental level, tactical, over everything.

“I did not see any offensive insertion in the first half hour, that’s not good enough. The road is still long, today we went well.”

Milan have a game in hand over leaders Juventus but sit eight points off the pace after their opening three fixtures, leading Gattuso to mock pundits who suggest they could rival the Bianconeri.

“I laugh when people say that we are the second or third best team,” he added.

Article continues below

“Our potential is strong, but if we do not win these games it becomes tough. 

“I do not want to throw my hands in the air, but there is still a long way to go. If we can learn to manage certain situations we can have an important season.

“If you want to be a contender for a championship you cannot afford to have an attitude like this – and this happened last year.”

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‘I was a little tense’ – Ronaldo relieved to get off the mark for Juventus – football news

Cristiano Ronaldo thanked his Juventus team-mates for helping him through a dry spell after he scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo.

The 33-year-old failed to find the net in his first three Serie A matches following a €112million transfer from Real Madrid in July before finally breaking his duck on Sunday.

He scored from close range after 50 minutes to break the deadlock and then followed up with a second 15 minutes later, angling in a drive to secure the points for Massimiliano Allegri’s men.

Ronaldo praised the way Juventus broke down a stubborn visiting defence and admitted that his failure to find the net had been starting to play on his mind.

“I’m very happy, we started well,” he told Mediaset.

“Sassuolo defend well, but we put in an intense performance and deserved to win.

“I really wanted to score these first goals and I’m happy to have found the net.

“This is football. The important thing is that the team wins. Obviously, I was a little tense with all the talk of Real Madrid and not scoring, but I thank my team-mates for supporting me throughout.

“I knew that I was working well and it was only a matter of time. I am adapting well to Italian football.”

Juventus travel to Valencia for their opening Champions League fixture on Wednesday and Ronaldo is looking forward to playing again in a competition he has won three times in the last three years with Madrid.

Manchester United and Young Boys are also in Group H and Ronaldo acknowledged that a tough task lies ahead for Juventus, who reached the quarter-finals last season.

“The Champions League is my favourite tournament,” he said.

“It’s a very difficult group, we know that we can do well and Juve must focus on being the best.”

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Spalletti demands ‘a lot better’ from Nainggolan – football news

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti conceded that he is expecting more from Radja Nainggolan following his move from Roma.

Nainggolan joined Inter in June and was reunited with Spalletti, who previously coached him at Roma.

Inter are reported to have paid €23.5 million (£21m/$48m) plus Davide Santon and Nicolo Zaniolo for the 30-year-old, but he has featured in just one of their three Serie A outings so far.

He also scored in that appearance against Bologna, but Spalletti wants more from the Belgian away from the offensive side of the game

“Nainggolan is a strong player, as are all of his team-mates, otherwise they would not play here,” Spalletti told reporters ahead of Saturday’s clash with Parma.

“He’s more striking than just being about scoring goals. He’s that kind of player who gives those flashes like in Bologna.

“But then there are other statistics, the consistency he has in the game, and on these numbers he can do a lot better.

“At the end of the game, we look at the performance data. He can give us something more, can improve, but then he is one that can make the difference.”

Inter will be out to claim a second successive win when Parma visit, but they will once again be without talented striker Lautaro Martinez, who Spalletti suspects will also miss the Champions League opener at home to Tottenham on Tuesday.

Article continues below

The Argentina forward joined for a reported €23 million from Racing Club in pre-season, but injuries have disrupted his start to life in Serie A, with a haematoma in his calf – which prevented him playing for his country during the international break – causing him discomfort.

“His situation is improving,” Spalletti said. “He is healing, but we still have to evaluate him.

“For Tottenham we will have to see. Personally, I think it’s unlikely because they are problems that, if not healed completely, can lead to a long lay-off, but we are still calm.”

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Pogba to make Juventus return? Pirlo believes second move from Man Utd is possible – football news

Paul Pogba completing a second switch from Manchester United to Juventus would come as no surprise to former Bianconeri star Andrea Pirlo.

The French midfielder first left Old Trafford for Turin back in 2012, with the decision taken to head for Italy after reaching the end of his contract in England.

Four productive years in Serie A saw Pogba establish himself as a global superstar, with United investing £89 million ($117m) to bring him back onto their books in the summer of 2016.

The 25-year-old is now a World Cup winner, but he has found the going tough at times in the Premier League as his form and attitude continue to be called into question.

Another big-money transfer is now being mooted, with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain considered to be among his many suitors.

A return to Juve has also been mentioned, with Pirlo telling Tuttosport of those rumours: “It would not surprise me because Juventus is looking for the best and if one player goes away it is not said that they cannot return.”

Juventus have refused to be drawn on links to Pogba, but displayed their ambition once again during the last transfer window as they completed a €100m (£89m/$117m) deal for five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese has helped to raise expectations and the collective quality at the Allianz Stadium, despite being yet to open his goal account.

He is expected to be a positive influence on those around him, with Pirlo calling on Paulo Dybala to model himself on the former Real Madrid star and force his way back into the fold after another spell on the bench.

Paulo Dybala Juventus 2018-19

The legendary playmaker said of the Argentine forward: “Accepting not starting from the beginning is not easy for anyone. Paulo must do everything to play as much as possible.

“If he starts training with the desire of Ronaldo then it will be difficult to leave him out. 

Article continues below

“When you do not play, it means that you have to do something more.

“The qualities of Dybala are not in question. To become a fundamental player for Juventus he must find something inside him, he must do it first of all for himself.”

Juve are set to return to action after the international break on Sunday with a home date against Sassuolo.

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Who is Giovanni Simeone? The son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego is Argentina’s new scoring star – football news

It was the surname everybody wanted to see back in the Argentina set-up. The identity of its bearer, however, was rather unexpected.

While the Albiceleste faithful will have to wait some time longer to see Diego Simeone line up on the team’s bench as he continues to thrive at Atletico Madrid, his son Giovanni has completed a roundabout route to the national team that culminated in a thrilling headed debut goal for the young Fiorentina hotshot. Just 10 more to go and he will have equalled the record of his father in 106 Argentina appearances!

One might say that Gio had been groomed for success. Shortly after helping an experimental Argentina side – the likes of Lionel Messi, Nicolas Otamendi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria were all left at home for this current FIFA window – under the gaze of interim coach Lionel Scaloni cruise to a 3-0 win over Guatemala, the striker shared a poignant family photo.

Not for the Simeones, of course, stock album pictures of chain restaurants, theme parks and days in the countryside. Gio featured out on the pitch with his illustrious father decked in the Argentina colours.

“How exciting! What can I say… just keep fighting for your dreams,” he wrote on Instagram in a tribute to his father on that most auspicious of days. It is not just El Cholo’s example as a warrior on the field that the new Argentina cap has followed. Simeone Jr. received his break in the River Plate academy back in 2008, when at the tender age of 13 he followed his father when the latter took up the coaching job at the Buenos Aires giant.

Any accusations of nepotism were quickly brushed aside. Diego lasted just 12 months in the River hotseat, leaving with the bizarre distinction of having finished in both first and last place in the same calendar year with the same club (the Argentine Primera Division at that time featuring two short tournaments of 19 games per season). Gio, however, stayed and fought for his place, and was handed his first-team debut just months after his 18th birthday in 2013 after shining throughout the club’s youth divisions.

Simeone’s time in the intensely competitive Argentine top flight was solid rather than spectacular. Starved of first-team football at River, after two years and just 35 games on the Millonario fringes he made the brave choice to kick-start his career at the less fashionable Banfield. Gio also laid down a marker in the 2015 South American Under-20 Championships, smashing nine goals in nine to lead Argentina to the crown – Angel Correa, now starring under Simeone Sr. at Atletico was another star of that side.

Still, and despite two decent terms with Banfield, when Genoa swooped for the youngster in 2016 it was still largely on his evident potential rather than his statistics in front of the net.

 
 
 
 
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Emocionante! Que decir…simplemente luchen por sus sueños! #debut @afaseleccion 🇦🇷⚽️

A post shared by Gio Simeone (@simeonegiovanni) on

Happily, and just like the old man, he took to Serie A like a duck to water. Naturally rangy, almost waif-like in his six-foot build, Gio has worked incessantly to build himself up and avoid being bundled off the ball, a fate that blighted him all too often while still learning his trade in Argentina.

At Genoa and now Gabriel Batistuta’s old stamping ground of La Viola he averages a more than respectable goal every three games and so far in 2018-19 has beaten the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Icardi and Gonzalo Higuain in opening his Serie A account.

Could we one day see father and son team up at Atletico? Diego, sadly, believes not. “He is a kid who has what it takes to play with me, but unfortunately I will never take him with me,” the coach told COPE .

“I don’t want to say never, but… it is very difficult to have your son in the dressing room, for him and for the relationship. If in five or six years he earns a much higher profile than that which he has now then we are talking about something else. He is playing out his career in the best way possible.”

Article continues below

Gio Simeone Argentina Guatemala 08092018

For Argentina, too, Gio faces an uphill battle to stay in the nation’s long-term plans. Sergio Aguero and Higuain are still around, proven scorers at the elite level, while among the next generation Icardi – preferred by Scaloni for the rather more competitive friendly on Tuesday against Colombia while Simeone made a late cameo off the bench – and his Inter partner Lautaro Martinez (ruled out of the US tour due to injury) are considered slightly ahead of Simeone, who cuts a more static traditional figure compared to that pair’s more dynamic skillset.

Still just 23 though, he has everything required to build on that positive debut and cause further headaches for the next Argentina coach when it comes to picking the Albiceleste’s centre-forward for the next four years ahead of Qatar 2022. And one thing is for certain: having grown up under the fiercely intense wing of father Diego, Gio will never lack the hunger and drive to succeed.

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Cristiano Ronaldo to open ‘CR7’ hotel in Paris – football news

Cristiano Ronaldo has announced he will open the sixth edition of his “CR7” hotel chain in Paris in 2021. 

Currently the Portuguese superstar has two “CR7” hotels open: one in LIsbon and one in Funchal, his hometown and capital of the island of Madeira.

The two Portuguese hotels, which opened in 2016, are set to be joined by three new outposts in 2020: Madrid, New York and Marrakech.

And the Juventus star’s empire will grow the following year with a 210-room hotel in Paris, set to be located on the “Left Bank” of the city on the southern side of the Seine River. 

Article continues below

Like the other five hotels, the €60 million (£53m/$70m) venture in Paris will be a 50-50 investment between Ronaldo and the Portuguese hotel group Pestana.

“It is quite expected that the Pestana CR7 brand will move to Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world,” Ronaldo said in a press release.

Before he moves into the business world Ronaldo has plenty left to achieve on the field, with the Juve star recently earning the joint-top rating in the soon-to-be-released video game FIFA 19.

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Ronaldo’s Juventus switch came as a surprise – Suarez – football news

Barcelona star Luis Suarez has admitted that he was surprised to see Cristiano Ronaldo leave Real Madrid in the summer but stressed that it makes little difference to his side.

While Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone believes the Portuguese star’s departure for €112m (£100m/$130) in the summer has drawn his side on a par with Real, Suarez has refused to jump to a similar conclusion.

The Uruguay international has admitted he did not see the deal coming but at the same time believes Los Blancos should be respected just as they always were.

“Obviously it came as a little surprise because of how good things had gone for him in Madrid, everything he had won there and how Madrid had helped him grow as a player,” he told ESPN.

“So it surprises you a bit, but that’s football for you. One day you can say that you are happy where you are and the next day things may change. It’s a decision which must be respected, it was taken for a reason.

“But we are in the Spanish league and we’re competing against Real Madrid, Atletico, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal and all the other teams.

“We’re not competing against one player. One player can make a difference or can make a team better, but the reality is that we expect to be playing against the best Madrid possible, against the best Atletico and against the best teams and players.”

The former Liverpool man spoke of the pressure experienced at a top club and said that it can be difficult to find time to enjoy individual successes.

Luis Suarez

“It’s not that Barcelona players feel a lot of pressure, but being at Barcelona limits the possibility of enjoying the match you won on Sunday because on Wednesday you already have another one,” he confessed.

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“And if on Wednesday you win a Champions League semi-final or a quarter-final, you can’t enjoy it because on Saturday or Sunday you have another game. It is the continuous pressure that you put on yourself to perform at an elite level.

“In the long run, you start to remember the good times. But many times you’re unable to enjoy the moment itself because you are competing at the top level of the game. But it’s also nice to live with that pressure because it enables you to live through incredible moments.”

Suarez expects to be back in action this weekend for Barca when they face Real Sociedad on Saturday

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