Official: Tonali signs for Milan | Football Italia

  Sandro Tonali is officially a new Milan player after completing his medical and will wear the Number 8 jersey.

  The midfielder made the move from Brescia, on loan for €10m with option to buy for €10m, plus up to €15m in add-ons and a 10 per cent cut of any future sale.

  The medical tests were performed today and he signed the five-year contract this afternoon.

  He had been very close to joining Inter for similar terms, but after the Nerazzurri kept pushing back the completion while they focused on other targets, Milan came in with their own offer.

  Tonali is a lifelong Rossoneri supporter, so Brescia President Massimo Cellino assured it was an easy choice for the 20-year-old to make.

  “We are delighted to welcome Sandro Tonali to AC Milan,” said CEO Ivan Gazidis.

  “He is one of the most


promising young talents in international football. Sandro has a love for the Club and an understanding of its values that will add to what we want to build together. Welcome Sandro!”

  There were reports he called Gennaro Gattuso personally to ask if he could inherit his Number 8 jersey.

  “We are happy to welcome Sandro to the Rossoneri family,” said technical director Paolo Maldini.

  “We are convinced he can give an important contribution to build a successful future together. He is a midfielder of great prospects who will know how to interpret the values of our club.”


  Official Statement: Sandro Tonali

  Comunicato Ufficiale: Sandro Tonali

  #ReadyToUnleash #SempreMilan

  — AC Milan (@acmilan) September 9, 2020

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Juventus plan to reopen stadium | Football Italia

  Juventus have presented a viable plan to get season ticket holders back into the stadium from the opening round of the Serie A season.

  All competitive games have been played behind closed doors in Italy since the lockdown in early March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The news of a plan to re-open the Allianz Juventus Stadium was confirmed by the regional assembly of Piedmont and their governor Alberto Cirio.

  “We can return to normality, with the utmost respect for the rules and prevention of further contagion,” Cirio told news agency Ansa.

  “The objective of the club is to be ready for the first game.”

  They aren’t the only ones, but appear to be the


first to have provided the report and plan to the Technical Scientific Committee for evaluation.

  Napoli have been allowing 1,000 fans into their pre-season training sessions and friendlies, while Sampdoria are set to play a friendly with Alessandria in front of 1,000 supporters too.

  Juve’s first home game of the season would be against Sampdoria on the weekend of September 19-20.

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Everton latest Florenzi option | Football Italia

  Everton are the latest club interested in Roma full-back Alessandro Florenzi, joining Leeds United, Fiorentina, Cagliari, Atalanta and Juventus.

  The 29-year-old is admired for his


versatility, able to play as a right-back, left-back, in midfield, on the wing, or as part of a trident attack.

  He joined Valencia on loan in January, but barely played due to the lock-down and an ill-timed bout of chicken pox.

  Previously the Roma captain, now not part of coach Paulo Fonseca’s plans, Florenzi has several clubs scrambling for his signature.

  Sky Sport Italia transfer pundit Gianluca Di Marzio now points to Everton, where Carlo Ancelotti would appreciate working with the Italy international.

  Other candidates include Premier League new boys Leeds, while in Serie A there is interest from Atalanta, Cagliari, Fiorentina and even Juventus.

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Failure is a fine line | Football Italia

  Maurizio Sarri was much-maligned for saying Juventus directors would be ‘amateurs’ to judge him on one Champions League match, but he was ultimately right. The decision to sack him had already been made, regardless of the result with Lyon. That’s just as well, because the 3-1 victory over Manchester City proved Juve were hardly the only victims of Rudi Garcia’s ruthless side. That same Pep Guardiola who Bianconeri fans have craved for years, the one they maintain will end the Champions League curse, has wasted millions on the transfer market only to see Max Allegri twice get closer than he did.

  Juventus are obsessed with winning this trophy, but they’re not the only ones, they are simply insulted more for failing. Have they done any worse in the tournament than PSG, a side that scraped past Atalanta in stoppages for their first semi-final in decades? Or Manchester City, with Guardiola unable to get them into the final four throughout his extremely expensive tenure? How many more times are Guardiola’s fans going to excuse him with talk of bad luck when the quarter-finals are always his downfall?

  The arrogance of the media in Italy and England when drawing Lyon came back to bite them. This side finished seventh in Ligue 1, but only after changing their coach midway through and being without Memphis Depay for most of the season. It would be like comparing the Milan that ended the campaign with the one we saw lose 5-0 to Atalanta in December.

  How do you think Kylian Mbappé knows what ‘Farmers’ League’ even means? It’s because he saw it so much on social media from arrogant twerps who wanted to make themselves look good to their mates. So when he tweeted that out after Lyon eliminated Manchester City 3-1, it was the perfect response to months of childish insults based on nothing.

  The top four teams in the Champions League are from France and Germany, the divisions most often referred to as ‘Farmers’ Leagues’ by people who also confidently claim Aston Villa could beat Bayern Munich and genuinely believe it. People who say Kalidou Koulibaly is over-rated, but also that Virgil van Dijk is better than Paolo Maldini ever was. You know the type.

  The Champions League has always been a bit of a lottery, by no means always rewarding the best team throughout the competition, but rather those that finish the season with the most gas in the tank. That has never been more evident than after a pandemic that saw French and German teams get significantly more rest compared to the Spanish, English and especially Italians in the weeks before the European fixtures resumed. Without home and away legs, it takes on the added frisson of a World Cup tournament, where one bad day can destroy everything and there’s no making up for it. Get your tactics or starting XI wrong, and you’ve wasted at least half the tie. How many times would Bayern Munich have to play Barcelona again to get another 8-2 result?

  Nuance has been almost entirely eradicated in the age of social media, so it’s no surprise to see it have the same effect on football. Allegri was not a failure for reaching the Final twice, yet he is far more harshly judged than Guardiola, largely by Juventus fans who so badly wanted Pep to replace him last summer. Imagine the Bianconeri keeping Guardiola during his recent Champions League track record, having spent a fraction of what he did at Manchester City. It just wouldn’t happen.

  Italian football fans of other clubs constantly bring up the lack of European success at Juventus as if it were some sort of ‘proof’ that they only succeed in Serie A because of help from referees. That is nonsense. In that case, how do you explain Manchester City and PSG struggling to progress past the quarter-finals every single year? Some clubs are simply better suited to the long drag of a league format, rather than the more focused knockout round approach. That doesn’t negate everything they’ve done in other tournaments, nor make their entire season a failure.

  I even read some claim it’s irrelevant how well Atalanta played, all people will remember is that they lost. In that case, why bother watching football at all? Just check the results,


make your judgment, and move on. That feels like what some people are already doing, anyway, and it’s not what sport is about.

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Ansaldi continues at Torino | Football Italia

  Torino have officially announced the extension of Cristian Ansaldi’s contract until June 2021.

  The Argentine full-back has committed to the Granata by signing


a new one-year deal at the Grande Torino.

  “Torino Football Club are pleased to announce that they have renewed the contract for the sports performances of football player Cristian Ansaldi until June 30, 2021,” the club wrote in a statement.

  The 33-year-old arrived on loan from Inter in August 2017 and moved on a permanent deal ahead of 2019-20.

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Atalanta to cash in on Malinovskyi? | Football Italia

  Atalanta could be tempted to sell Ruslan Malinovskyi, who has more than doubled his value in only one season with La Dea.

  The 27-year-old arrived from KRC Genk last summer and has impressed enough to be linked with the Italian giants after a successful first season with the Nerazzurri.

  Tuttomercatoweb claims La Dea would consider selling the attacking midfielder for €30m, after having signed him for €13.6m in July 2019.

  The Ukraine international signed a deal until June 2024 in Bergamo and closed his first campaign on eight goals and five assists in 34 League games.

  Malinovskyi played nine times in the Champions League this term, helping the Orobici to the quarter-finals of the competition, chipping in with a goal and an assist in the process.

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Official: SPAL appoint Marino | Football Italia

  SPAL have officially announced Pasquale Marino as the new head coach at the Paolo Mazza.

  Marino left Empoli after 2019-20 and has signed a deal until June 2021 in Ferrara, with an option of a further year.

  The former midfielder began his coaching career at Milazzo in 1997 and has vast experience from Serie A and Serie B, after spells with Catania, Udinese, Parma, Genoa and Frosinone.

  SPAL finished last in Serie A 2019-20, after two seasons in the top flight and Marino has been given the task to guide them back to the Italian elite.

  Empoli finished seventh in Serie B, but eventually lost out on a place in the play-offs after a 1-1 draw with Chievo in the qualifiers this month.

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Serie A 2019

  Fabio Liverani deserves credit for sticking to his football philosophy and fighting to the bitter end in pure Lecce style, writes Susy Campanale.

  The vast majority of neutrals were cheering on Lecce to cause a final day of the season turnaround and secure their Serie A safety. It was nothing against Genoa, of course, but the Salentini brought so much entertainment and spirit to their brief sojourn in the top flight.

  Read the full feature as part of our 2019-20 Serie A Season Review here.

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Relegation battle goes down to the wire | Football Italia_3

  With just 10 minutes left to go in their game against Udinese, Lecce were looking set to be relegated to Serie B after just one season back in the top flight. It didn’t matter that the team directly above them, Genoa, were getting a 5-0 beating at Sassuolo. The full three points was the minimum if Lecce were to stand any chance of avoiding relegation, and with 80 minutes on the clock, they were drawing 1-1.

  Then, in the 81st minute, Lecce put themselves into the lead through Gianluca Lapadula. The Giallorossi faithful would have no doubt been in raptures had they been at the Dacia Arena. Fabio Liverani’s side would hold on to that lead to take the battle for 17th place to the final game of the season.

  As it stands, the situation is this: SPAL and Brescia are down, while Lecce are 18th with 35 points and Genoa are 17th with 36 points. Because Genoa have a better head-to-head record, that means if they finish level, the Grifone will stay up.

  It’s still in Genoa’s hands, as if Davide Nicola’s men win against Hellas Verona, then they are safe. If they draw or lose and Lecce get the victory against Parma, it’ll send the fallen giants into Serie B.

  It will be remarkable if Lecce do manage to stay up, considering they have conceded a whopping 81 goals in 37 rounds. In a season that has been dominated by attack-minded teams and with even Scudetto winners Juventus leaking 40 goals, it would be only fitting for the Salentini to stay up.

  Fabio Liverani deserves credit for sticking to his tactical guns, never trying to play it safe or excessively defensive, to scrape draws here and there or put up the barricades against the big clubs. It worked, because they got impressive draws against Juventus and Inter, beating Napoli and Lazio. They’re still fighting because Lecce are pro-active and closer in spirit to Sassuolo than SPAL, more Hellas Verona than Chievo. They would already have been in front had it not been for this passionate pursuit of victory, coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Bologna, then losing in stoppages on the counter-attack against 10 men.

  It would also be amazing to see two of the newly-promoted teams survive in Serie A, because Verona have spent most of the campaign comfortably mid-table, whereas only Brescia are guaranteed the drop – and it was the Rondinelle who won the Serie B title last term.

  The only thing standing between Lecce and top flight confirmation is Genoa, a team who have been here before and seemingly learned no lessons. Just last season, they only stayed up because they had a better head-to-head record over relegated Empoli. It has been yet another turbulent year for Il Grifone, with three managerial changes and a failure to string together a decent run of form. Aurelio Andreazzoli was an intriguing choice for coach, quickly shelved for the bizarre decision to bring in Thiago Motta from the PSG youth academy, then finally acknowledging this was a relegation battle and hiring the specialist in miracles, ex-Crotone boss Davide Nicola, as well as completely transforming the squad in the January transfer market. If most teams have had two seasons in one due to the lockdown, Genoa have had about four.

  When Genoa beat Lecce 2-1 in a chaotic match, with Marco Mancosu missing a penalty, it seemed as if the die had been cast. However, a glance at the fixture list showed the Marassi outfit had a much tougher run-in and that has proved to be the case.

  Genoa and Lecce’s fates will be decided on the last day of the season. Lecce are at home to Parma and would fancy themselves to get a result against a team who have lost seven out of 12 games played since the restart. Meanwhile, Genoa will face Hellas Verona, a side who were promoted along with Brescia and Lecce, yet have spent the whole season comfortably mid-table.

  There’s another twist in the tale, because Verona’s coach is former Genoa player and tactician Ivan Juric. The man who wept during a press conference in 2018 when he feared that he wouldn’t be able to steer his beloved club away from the drop zone. He spent the final four years of his playing career at Marassi and returns here knowing he could be responsible for sending Genoa into the ignominy of Serie B.

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Napoli flying the flag | Football Italia

  Gennaro Gattuso painted the Saturday night match as a test for the upcoming Champions League Round of 16, pointing to the similarities in playing style between Roberto De Zerbi’s Sassuolo and Barcelona. It was a stretch, but had some truth to it, so we might see the Napoli offside trap play a crucial part at Camp Nou.

  This meeting between two of the Peninsula’s most exciting attacks was unlikely to skimp on emotion and chances at both ends. Despite the forecast for a high-scoring affair, the domestic fates of both clubs were already decided before kick-off, leaving little to play for at the San Paolo. Nevertheless, Napoli and Sassuolo fulfilled expectations in a pulsating encounter that demonstrated why the visitors have become Serie A’s Cinderella side, while an erratic home team can look forward to a bright future under Gattuso.

  Few expected these squads to be where they were heading into Saturday night’s match-up. Sassuolo had become accustomed to finishing in the bottom half of the table since their debut top-flight campaign in 2013-14, after the initial heights of a Europa League run under Eusebio Di Francesco had dissipated. Meanwhile, Napoli established themselves as a consistent challenger to Juve’s throne over the past few years.

  The Neroverdi’s unlikely rise is largely down to the brilliant work of Roberto De Zerbi, whose forward-thinking outlook has drawn the admiration of none other than Pep Guardiola. Even though Napoli came into Week 36 as close to 18th-placed Lecce as they were to the top of the table, Gattuso also deserves credit for turning around a club that was a shambles both on and off the field before he took over in December. Illustrious predecessors Carlo Ancelotti and Maurizio Sarri were unable to lift a major trophy with the Neapolitans, which Gattuso did at the first time of asking in the Coppa Italia Final against Juventus.

  That epic night against The Old Lady was a reminder of how an in-form Napoli can be a match for anyone in Europe. They were similarly inspired in the first half against the Neroverdi, breaking through the visitors’ midfield press to repeatedly threaten Andrea Consigli’s goal. By the break, the Partenopei deserved much more than their slender 1-0 lead.

  Yet, the second stanza confirmed that Napoli’s rehabilitation under Gattuso is far from complete. The crisp interchanges of the first 45 minutes were replaced by a laxness in possession that let Sassuolo grow into the game. Elseid Hysaj looked far less comfortable containing the lively Domenico Berardi than he did charging upfield from an unfamiliar left-back role. In midweek, VAR had condemned the hosts to a contentious defeat at Parma, with two questionable penalty decisions going against Gattuso’s men. Yet, the technology saved them here, ruling out no less than four Sassuolo goals for offside.

  Even in defeat, Sassuolo can take encouragement from their improved second half performance. Their thrilling eight-match unbeaten run after the lockdown will go down as one of the high points in a glorious recent history for the club. Napoli’s Serie A showings this season are unlikely to be remembered as fondly, but all will be forgiven if they can pair their Coppa triumph with a deep run in the Champions League.

  Gattuso has not cured Napoli’s Jekyll and Hyde tendencies, but the fight and organization they showed to manage the closing stages of Saturday’s triumph bodes well for the impending clash against Barcelona. Sassuolo’s transformation into one of Europe’s brightest attacking outfits would have seemed impossible just a few short years ago. A Napoli victory at the Camp Nou could be deemed similarly far-fetched, giving Gattuso the chance to end a tumultuous campaign in a blaze of glory.

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