Carlo Ancelotti drops update on David Ospina’s future with Napoli

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti has indicated that goalkeeper David Ospina has a future with the Serie A outfit beyond the current campaign. The Colombia international has made 11 appearances in the Serie A since his season-long loan move from Arsenal in the summer but his future has come under question with Alex Meret competing with him for the number one role.

Speaking to reporters, Ancelotti clarified that the Colombian has a future with the Naples outfit regardless of the games he plays from now and the end of the season. He added that Ospina should have started for the midweek Europa League week game but a minor illness meant that he was dropped to the bench, he said: “Ospina was meant to play on Thursday in the Europa League, but wasn’t feeling up to it, so I switched things around and used him [against Torino] instead. Ospina will remain at Napoli next season, regardless of how many games he plays.”

Elsewhere, Ancelotti spoke about the frustration with the recent run of league results after the team drew 0-0 for the second game running despite dominating the proceedings, he added: “We play very well, but we are not able to score the goals that we should score. In a match like this you are supposed to win for the way you performed. But if we didn’t win, we can’t put the blame on anyone else but ourselves, because in two matches [against Fiorentina and Torino] we had 18 chances and we didn’t score a single goal.” With the stalemate, the Naples outfit appear very much out of the title race with 13 points separating from league leaders Juventus. Nonetheless, they could still end up with potential silverware from the Europa League where they are among the favourites to reach at least the semi-final stage of the competition. The Naples outfit secured a comfortable 3-1 triumph over FC Zurich during the away leg of the round of 32 stage.

Roberto Mancini open to Mario Balotelli’s international comeback

Italy manager Roberto Mancini has said that Mario Balotelli can make another comeback to the national team, if he can produce consistent performance with new club Marseille. The marksman previously featured for Italy at the Nations League last year but he appears determined to find a way to the Azzurri after switching clubs during the winter transfer window.

Speaking to reporters, Mancini indicated that Balotelli can make a comeback with the Azzurri for the upcoming internationals, provided he can find the consistency with the scoring, he said: “We haven’t lost sight of anyone. Mario is part of the group.He knows that well and he also knows that it depends on him, not me. So far he’s played little. [On Sunday] he played only his second game in months. “But if he scores consistently between now and the end of March, maybe he could come back.”

Balotelli had failed to find the scoresheet in 10 appearances for Nice during the ongoing campaign and he found himself out of favour under Patrick Vieira at one stage. As such, he decided to terminate his contract to make the switch to Les Phoceens and the move has certainly worked out with him scoring in two of his three appearances.

Meanwhile, veteran star Fabio Quagliarella has been called up to training camp ahead of the selection for the internationals next month and Mancini has not ruled out the marksman’s comeback despite him turning 36 earlier in the year, he added: “He deserves to be here, despite his age. He is playing well, scoring goals and is one of the top-scorers [in Serie A]. He has always been a very strong player. “But he himself knows well that he may not be the future of the team.” Quagliarella may be approaching the final years of his professional career but he had gone head-to-head with Cristiano Ronaldo in the scoring charts and he has netted 16 goals during the league campaign. The veteran recently broke a Serie A scoring record after netting for 11 successive matches.

Antonio Di Gennaro says Inter Milan can’t afford to lose Mauro Icardi

Former Serie A winner Antonio Di Gennaro has said that Inter Milan can’t afford to lose the services of Mauro Icardi in the near future unless they are able to recruit a replacement with the same level of pedigree. The Nerazzurri captain currently has more than two years remaining on his existing deal but his future has still come under scrutiny with the tempting £96m release clause inserted into his contract.

Speaking to RMC Sport, Di Gennaro suggested that the Nerazzurri would find it difficult to replace Icardi, given players of the same capacity would command significant wages. He added that the San Siro outfit should seek to commit the Argentine to a long-term deal with the economic demands of the striker being within the affordable range.

He told: “If you want to replace someone like him then Inter would need a player of the same level who would have a very big salary. I think that a club that is planning very well like Inter cannot lose someone like Icardi. Inter has it in their mind to keep Icardi and I think there is not so much of a gap on the economic level. If everyone has the same will and agreement can be found.”

Icardi’s release clause has certainly kept the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid interested over the past few months and this has increased the urgency from Inter’s end to resolve the marksman’s future. Still, they have not been able to find the breakthrough with the player’s wife and agent and the next few months could give an indication over the progress made. Icardi has not enjoyed the same vein of form as the previous campaign but he has nonetheless contributed nine goals in the Serie A including a few late winners. The striker’s consistency has also caught the eye of Argentina of late with manager Lionel Scaloni regularly calling him upfor international friendlies.

Tiemoue Bakayoko open to permanent stay with AC Milan

French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko has admitted that he is open to remaining with AC Milan beyond the conclusion of the ongoing campaign. The 24-year-old joined the Rossoneri on a season-long loan from Chelsea during the summer but his beginning was far from impressive with manager Gennaro Gattuso questioning his abilities with the ball.

However, the Frenchman has since made impressive progress at the heart of the midfield amid the club’s injury crisis at the centre of the park and he has already made 20 appearances during the first half of the season. Speaking to Milan News, the former Monaco man has acknowledged that he is pleased to have made progress with the Rossoneri after enduring a difficult start where his future with the club was questioned.

He added that he is pleased to commit his long-term future to the Rossoneri, although the final decision has to be taken by the San Siro giants, who have the option to buy him at the end of the season, he told: “I don’t think anything special has changed. I’ve carried on training and working hard, and when you do that things change. I’m happy because I’m playing well with the team. The future? I’m happy here but it’s not my decision, it’s Milan and Chelsea’s. We’ll talk at the end of the season to see what we can do.”

Meanwhile, Milan ended the calendar year on a high after securing a 2-1 comeback triumph over SPAL at the San Siro. The Rossoneri had recently gone through some unwanted history after going four winless matches without finding the scoresheet but they managed to put the disappointment to bed against SPAL, where Gonzalo Higuain scored the match-defining goal. With the outcome, the Rossoneri have been able to close the gap on the Champions League positions with just one point separating them fourth-placed Lazio.

Kalidou Koulibaly hoping to repay Napoli with Scudetto

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has revealed his ambition of winning the Scudetto with the Naples outfit after they failed to do so during the previous campaign. The Serie A outfit were on course to end Juventus’ dominance for the Scudetto last term but their challenge feel apart during the final months which saw them finish second with a six-point deficit.

Despite the outcome, Koulibaly was recently named among the African Player of The Year contenders and speaking about the same, he said: “The most important thing is that I always try to improve so I can show everyone that I can be one of the best defenders in the world. For me, when I scored this goal I was really happy. I really want to win something with Napoli, they give me a lot of love and confidence. I want to give something back to them and I hope it will be the Scudetto.”
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Antonio Conte in no rush to return to management

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has indicated that he is not in a hurry to return to management. The 48-year-old was recently being fancied to take over the managerial vacancy at Real Madrid but he happened to dismiss the speculation shortly after which caretaker Santiago Scolari was recruited by Real Madrid on a permanent basis.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Conte has suggested that he is prepared to wait for the right opportunity ahead and does not have the immediate thought to returning to management, he said:  “For a manager of my level it is better to wait instead of jumping on a train. I prefer to wait for June and to start a path with a new team, a new project. For the moment, I don’t feel the urge to go back to work. Maybe in a two or three months I will feel the desire and I’ll say something different from what I am saying now.”
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Allegri Lauds Juve’s Win Over Udinese

Massimiliano Allegri claimed that Juventus had one of their best games of the campaign as they produced a strong 2-0 victory over Udinese during the weekend. Cristiano Ronaldo and Rodrigo Bentancur were on the scoresheet for the defending champions, as they opened up a nine point lead over Napoli following the weekend matches.

Ronaldo was returning back to the starting lineup after missing out on the midweek Champions League game due to a suspension. He also managed to score for the first time since the infamous rape allegations against him have been opened up. Continue reading Allegri Lauds Juve’s Win Over Udinese

Carlo Ancelotti – Napoli are destined to improve

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti has suggested that his side are destined to improve despite making a good start to the Serie A season. The Naples outfit have already acquired nine points from the first four games of the new campaign but Ancelotti has lamented the need for improvement as the season goes along.

Speaking after the 1-0 win over Fiorentina, Ancelotti said: “Napoli are destined to improveand we must do so quickly.We now have a lot of games coming and that will help us. They are all of a high level and all in all we are ready. So many reasons [for the change of formation]. It reduces the defensive role of Insigne. The team can defend well in either system and I’m more used to the other way of playing but I don’t see problems with this. We were solid, compact, and sometimes a bit disjointed and off balance.”
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Juventus boss calls for patience with Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus manager Max Allegri has urged the fans to show patience towards summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo, who failed to score for the second game on the bounce. Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic found the net during the league clash against Lazio and this ensured that the club picked up the perfect tally of six points from their opening two games.

Speaking after the match, Allegri spoke about the nature of the game whilst stressing that the supporters need to have more patience with Ronaldo, he said: “We rushed things a bit at the start. There was a risk that we could get ahead of ourselves with all the excitement among the fans around Cristiano’s home debut. We needed to show a bit more patience. At times our play is too frenetic and at others we go to sleep, but we need to move the ball more quickly when the opposition tire. That said, we will improve and I’m pleased because this is an important win in our first match against a direct rival.”
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Ilkay Gundogan has no plans to leave Manchester City

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has stressed that he has no plans of leaving the Citizens despite the ongoing speculation over his future. The Germany international has been linked with a potential move to Barcelona in recent weeks as they seek a replacement for Andres Iniesta but Gundogan remains content with his club situation.

Speaking to Arab News, Gundogan highlighted that he has two more years remaining on his existing deal and he has no desire to leave the club, unless they decide otherwise, he said: “I have plenty of time on my current contract, two years to go.But it also depends on the club if they want me to stay. Everyone can see and feel I am really happy here.With the way we play, with the people around me, in the city, in the community, I really enjoy it here and really enjoy my life. I’m happy.It was great to win the Premier League title, but there are plenty of things still to achieve.”
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