Sabatini: ‘Hickey is a Bologna player’ | Football Italia

  Director Walter Sabatini confirms ‘Aaron Hickey will be a Bologna player’ after striking a deal with Hearts for €2m (£1.78m). ‘He realised it was the best choice.’

  There had been strong reports in Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and more that Bologna had won the race, beating Bayern Munich and Celtic.

  “I am pleased to announce that Aaron Hickey will be a Bologna player,” director of sport Walter Sabatini told The Sunday Post.

  “Hearts have accepted our offer and the player is very happy to wear the Bologna shirt next season.”

  It’s believed to be a one-year loan with obligation to buy for a total of €2m.

  “It was not an easy negotiation. There were other very important teams

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following Hickey and who wanted to buy him, but in the end the player realised that coming to us would be the best choice for him.

  “In recent weeks, he had already been to Bologna and having visited our Sports Centre realised how important our project was.

  “We are very pleased to have closed this deal positively. Hickey is a very-talented guy, with a great future.”

  The 18-year-old left-back can also play in central defence or on the right side of defence.

  Image: hearts.co.uk

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De Zerbi wants to ‘limit the changes’ at Sassuolo | Football Italia

  Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi hopes to make as few changes as possible in the squad, to ‘arrive ready and tested’ for the first match against Cagliari.

  The Neroverdi, who finished eight in Serie A 2019-20, host Cagliari in the first match of 2020-21 and coach De Zerbi said he can’t evaluate the calendar until he knows how his squad have developed during the transfer market.

  “This year, to evaluate the calendar, it will be fundamental to understand the evolution of the transfer market, in reference to the tight deadlines before the championship,” De Zerbi said.

  “It’s sincerely premature to express judgments at this stage, when teams are still being set up.

  “Let’s say that our goal is to limit the changes in the squad and arrive ready and tested for the

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first day against Cagliari.”

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Another Lecce player has COVID

  Lecce defender Brayan Vera has tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire Serie B squad has gone into an isolated training camp.

  This is the second coronavirus case at Lecce, after midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis on Monday.

  A statement from the club notes Vera was tested later than the others, as he had permission for an extra few days before attending training.

  He had the test on Tuesday and it proved positive, so the player is in quarantine, albeit asymptomatic.

  As a precaution, Lecce

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announced they have cancelled this afternoon’s training session and are going into an isolated training camp.

  This is similar to the ‘bubble’ created when the teams restarted the season in June after three months of lockdown.

  It means the players and staff will remain in one structure where they can sleep, eat and train without contact with anyone outside of the group.

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Rastelli ‘never doubted’ Barella | Football Italia

  Former Cagliari coach Massimo Rastelli says Nicolò Barella has the character to ‘make the difference’ and ‘never doubted’ that he would find his place at Inter.

  Barella scored the opener when Inter beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 on Monday night and helped the Nerazzurri qualify for the semi-finals of the Europa League.

  The Italy international has managed to establish himself as a key member of Antonio Conte’s squad in his first season at San Siro, but his former coach had ‘not the slightest doubt’ he would make it at Inter.

  “Nicolò has always shown his great personality,” Rastelli told Radio Music Television. “When you stand out at that age, it means you have great technical qualities and a great character.

  “In the end, that makes the difference. I had not the slightest doubt that Nicolò would carve out a space in the team.”

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Ibanez injured, but added to Roma squad | Football Italia

  Roger Ibanez will be put into Roma’s Europa League squad, but he is out of the next Serie A match with SPAL due to a muscular problem.

  The centre-back was signed from Atalanta in the January transfer window and has become increasingly key to the side since the switch to a three-man defence.

  According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Ibanez will be added to the UEFA squad list for the Europa League in August, replacing Mert Cetin, who is on the market.

  Meanwhile, tests have shown Ibanez picked up a muscular problem in the adductor of his right thigh during last night’s 2-2 draw with Inter.

  He is out of the next match with SPAL, but will be evaluated on a daily basis.

  Federico Fazio, Nicolò Zaniolo, Davide Santon and Antonio Mirante will also miss out, as they are training separately.

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Juric the Gasperini protege | Football Italia_4

  Towards the end of last season, Hellas Verona were in a bad place. They had finally sacked Fabio Grosso, who despite having one of the strongest squads in Serie B, was struggling to mount any kind of genuine promotion challenge. In came Alfredo Aglietti, who performed a miracle to lead a lacklustre Gialloblu to promotion through the play-offs – only to be later dismissed.

  A little over a year later, Hellas, who were expected to go straight back down, have defied all expectations to sit firmly in mid-table, well away from the bottom three. The mastermind behind all of this is Aglietti’s replacement Ivan Juric, a protege of one of the most respected coaches in Europe, Gian Piero Gasperini. Though his road to Verona was an eventful one.

  Juric first met Gasperini during his playing career, when the latter was appointed as Crotone manager in 2003. Under Gasperini, the Calabrese would win promotion to Serie B and achieve their joint-highest ever league finish. When the Piedmont tactician was given the Genoa job in 2006, Juric followed, becoming a key part of the team that secured a return to the top-flight after an absence of eleven years.

  The Croatian would represent I Grifone for three more seasons before hanging up his boots in 2010. Shortly after, he set about starting his coaching career, studying for his badges and becoming assistant manager of Genoa’s Primavera team. Just a year later, Gasperini appointed him as his assistant at his new club, Internazionale.

  This was a clear indication of the excellent rapport between the two men and Gasperini’s recognition of Juric’s footballing intelligence and coaching potential. Gasperini didn’t last long at Inter and Juric followed him to his next club, Palermo, where they had two separate spells thanks to the trigger-happy nature of the owner at the time, Maurizio Zamparini.

  In 2013, Juric decided he was ready to forge his own managerial career. He returned to Genoa to manage their Primavera team for a season before moving to third-tier side Mantova. The Croatian had teething problems at the start of his spell at the Danilo Martelli, however, winning just one of his first 10 games, but would eventually lead them to a comfortable mid-table finish.

  Despite this inauspicious start to his coaching career, Serie B outfit Crotone would appoint him as their manager at the start of the 2015-16 season. The year before, I Pitagorici had finished just one point above the relegation places. With Juric at the helm – alongside a number of key additions including Alex Cordaz, Federico Ricci and Ante Budimir – Crotone would unexpectedly challenge for promotion to Serie A.

  They occupied one of the two automatic promotion spots for most of the season and ultimately won promotion to Serie A for the first time in their history. Naturally, Juric’s historic achievement would catch the attention of a bigger club and he wouldn’t remain at Crotone for their maiden season in the top-flight.

  In the summer of 2016, Gasperini, who had been back at Genoa for three seasons by that point, left the Luigi Ferraris to take charge of Atalanta. The stars were aligned. Juric was a promising, young coach who already knew the club well and possessed similar ideas to his mentor. Thus, he became Gasperini’s replacement at Genoa.

  To say his time at Genoa was chaotic would be an understatement. His first spell lasted less than a year; sacked in February 2017 after a humiliating 5-0 defeat to bottom-placed Pescara. Just two months later, he was back, but was sacked again 12 games into the 2017-18 season, with the Grifone sitting in the relegation zone.

  So it was a massive shock when, early into the 2018-19 season, Juric returned for a third spell following the dismissal of Davide Ballardini. He lasted just seven games, with no wins, before being sacked again.

  By this point, his managerial reputation was in tatters. He had gone from one of the most exciting coaches in Italy to a punchline. So his appointment at Hellas Verona in June 2019 was met with understandable scepticism. But in less than a year, he’s managed to restore his reputation and then some.

  Juric had Hellas competing for a Europa League spot for most of the season, despite minimal spending in the transfer market. They’ve fallen away from contention for Europe since the restart, but they still seem likely to finish in the top-half, a stellar achievement for a team that everyone doubted last August.

  The Croatian has earned praise from his mentor, Gasperini, for his accomplishments. “I think they’re the revelation of the season, also because of the playing style they have developed.”

  Gasperini’s praise of his protege’s tactical approach is amusing, since the two employ a very similar style of play. Both tend to set out their teams in a 3-4-2-1 or 3-4-1-2 formation, with a positive and aggressive approach to the game. Clearly, Juric has learned a lot from the nine years spent with the 62-year-old tactician.

  There’s still a long way to go until he can match Gasperini’s achievements, but he is taking it slower now. He has recently signed a new deal with Verona, indicating that he feels there is still much work to do before he can move on to bigger things.

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