Man Utd and Chelsea handed huge boost in chase for £73m star – reports

Another day, another rumour involving Paul Pogba.

Juventus’ central midfielder has been linked with every club up and down the country, consistently with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Now the Daily Star are reporting that because of the denial of a deal with Barcelona, as per Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola, that means the trio of clubs are back on ‘red alert’ over his possible signing.

“An agreement with FC Barcelona? Absolutely not,” Raiola told Le10 Sport.

Would it work?

Every team in the world would benefit from a signing like Paul Pogba.

However, it is slightly difficult to imagine where he’d fit in at Manchester City.

The Etihad Stadium side have a settled midfield, and with options like Fernando, Fernandinho, Fabian Delph, Yaya Toura and David Silva, it’s really not a priority area for Manuel Pellegrini.

However, both Man Utd and Chelsea would benefit from his arrival.

That is especially the case for Chelsea, who have been awful so far this season.

Furthermore, the Stamford Bridge club have seen Nemanja Matic struggle horrifically since the start of the new campaign, best demonstrated by his sending off in the match against West Ham yesterday. Chelsea lost 2-1.

If anyone is likely to move for Pogba in the United Kingdom, it could be the Blues, who will want to spend in January to ensure a Champions League place.

Rumour rater

Even though all three clubs will want to sign Pogba, the Star’s suggestion that because Raiola said that it means all of the clubs are on red alert is preposterous.

Yes, there is no agreement with Barcelona, but the Premier League sides will be as ready to pounce as they would have been prior to that quote.

Not only that, but Barca will remain the frontrunners heading in to January, when they can make an agreement with Pogba, should they choose.

Chelsea have previously been linked with a £73m move – it seems Pogba is the tabloid favourite that keeps cropping up.

Rumour rated: 1/5

Luciano Becchio to join Leeds United in next few days – reports

Leeds United could be on the cusp of bringing Luciano Becchio back to Elland Road, according to reports on social media.

A fan uploaded an image with Becchio in Leeds train station, claiming that the Argentine striker is on the cusp of signing for the Whites in the next few days.

Becchio has been without a club since leaving Belgrano, a side in his native Argentina, last month.

Would it work?

Leeds have started playing a 4-4-2 formation since the appointment of Steve Evans as head coach last week.

However, with both Chris Wood and Mirco Antenucci on the pitch, the Elland Road side do not have a back-up striker for the bench.

This is especially the case given Lee Erwin is out on loan.

Wood is a classic style target man, something Leeds definitely do not have in reserve.

Becchio would be an ideal option for that role. However, his fitness is up for debate, as he has not played much football since joining Rotherham on loan last season.

Becchio is, however, a better instinctive finisher than Wood, who has struggled to match good build-up play with clinical strikes in front of goal.

Rumour rater

It seems preposterous at first, why would a fan have the scoop? However, there is no real reason for Becchio to be in Leeds train station on any given Sunday.

Most tellingly, Becchio is clutching a copy of today’s The Sun, as also confirmed on Twitter.

Interestingly, while Massimo Cellino has previously denied an interest in bringing Becchio back, he has backed his coaches this season in the market, and Becchio is clearly a player Evans rates – having signed him at Rotherham.

However, another fan has said that Becchio has said he is just visiting Leeds, so it’s hard to tell what the truth of the situation is.

Rumour rating: 3/5

An Italian flag.

Serie A: Winners and Losers 2014/15

Serie A will draw to a close next week following a season of rejuvenation for Italian football. Clubs from the peninsula have re-established their reputation in European competition and the fare has been just as good on the domestic front. In a special guest post, Italian football expert David Thomas runs the rule over this season’s winners and losers.



Who else?

Having sealed a fourth consecutive scudetto, the Coppa Italia and an opportunity to complete an incredible treble in the Champions League final on June 6th, Juventus are close to joining the ranks of the great European sides of the past.

Regardless of the result in Berlin, their domination of the Italian game is unquestionable, and their juggling of domestic and continental cup campaigns impressive.

Much of the credit for this success must go to Massimiliano Allegri, the coach who has masterminded this success. As the season nears its climax, it is easy to forget the pressure he was under from the moment he stepped into the Vinovo training ground in July.

Sacked by Milan the previous January, Allegri did not seem to many Juventini as the man to replace Antonio Conte, who had dragged the club from mediocrity to the peak of the Italian game during his three seasons in charge.

Taking the supporter’s protests in his stride, Allegri has not dismantled the successful team he inherited, but tweaked it, introducing new ideas and new signings slowly, and the results have been better for it.

Star man: Alvaro Morata

Thanks to the continued shrewdness of Giuseppe Marotta’s transfer policy, additions such as Patrice Evra, Roberto Pereyra and Alvaro Morata have given Allegri’s side the depth required to challenge on all fronts. Morata in particular has flourished under Allegri, having waited patiently for an extended run in the team.

While he would probably have preferred to be on the bench when Napoli defender Miguel Britos arrived to head-butt him on Saturday, the former Real Madrid striker has discovered the knack of scoring important goals at important times.

It is a knack which could serve him well in Berlin, as the club where winning means everything look to scoop the lot.


Highly Commended


After three seasons of relegation dogfights and mid-table obscurity, the Grifone have given their fans something to get excited about in 2014/15.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have built on their 14th place finish last year, playing an attractive style of football with plenty of direct running. As it stands, Genoa sit sixth in the table and under any other set of circumstances, they would have guaranteed a Europa League place with a game to spare.

Their hopes are likely to be scuppered, however, by UEFA, who have denied them a licence for next year’s competition for their failure to provide an alternative home ground to Marassi, which has been deemed unfit. Whether or not their appeal is successful, this season represents a major step forward for the Genoese club.

Their rise is made all the more impressive when set against a backdrop of significant personnel changes, a familiar situation in Liguria in recent years. With eight in and eight out in January alone, the side underwent a period of flux which temporarily damaged the team’s performance. Having taken 18 points from the last 24 on offer, however, they have again found an effective balance, and you cannot help but wonder what this group could achieve with a little consistency.

Star man: Andrea Bertolacci

Andrea Bertolacci could be seen to reflect his team in microcosm. One of Genoa’s most improved performers this term, he is a box-to-box player with greater technical qualities than his role suggests. At his best, the recently-capped Italy midfielder has the ability to hurt any Serie A defence, as illustrated by his sensational solo goal against Milan in April.

Along with team mates Diego Perotti and Iago Falque, Bertolacci’s growth in confidence has led to interest from some of the peninsula’s giants, but he would be well advised to continue his development at Marassi, even if it cannot offer European football in the immediate future.


The Losers

Inter/AC Milan

They share a stadium, so why not an award?

It has been a terrible season for both tenants of San Siro. 2014/15 was always going to feel somewhat peculiar, as neither Milan nor Inter competed in the Champions League for the first time in 13 years. Both held ambitions at the start of the league season of a return to the top 3, yet both have come up woefully short.

Whether their mutual aspirations were remotely realistic is questionable, as its safe to say that both have looked a shadow of their former selves. Off the pitch, both clubs posted significant losses on their most recent accounts, and their early form offered no consolation. Heading into the first Derby della Madonnina of the season in November, Milan and Inter sat 7th and 9th in the table respectively.

What went wrong?

Behind even their beleaguered city rivals, the mind of Inter owner Erick Thohir was made up; coach Walter Mazzarri was sacked and Roberto Mancini returned, looking to reinvigorate a dull, reactive Nerazzurri side.

After a slow start, Mancini appears to have made Inter entertain again with spells of good form, but defensive frailties have put paid to any lingering hopes of European qualification, and the campaign must be considered a failure.


Milan’s patience with rookie coach Filippo Inzaghi has so far endured, but it appears to be wearing paper thin. Inzaghi’s legendary status at the club may have played a part in their restraint, but there is also a recognition that the Rossoneri squad is not up to scratch.

As Giovanni Trapattoni recently suggested, Milan are trying to “make fine wine out of turnips”.  Nonetheless, ‘enough’ is clearly enough for the Curva Sud, who made their feelings clear during Milan’s 3-1 home defeat to Genoa in April, gathering together in the otherwise empty tier to spell out ‘BASTA’.

Since the derby in November, they had seen their team drift through the season, picking up only six wins in twenty games. It is likely that Inzaghi will vacate the bench at the Giuseppe Meazza at the season’s end, while Mancini will understandably be given another chance; neither club, however, can take many positives from their deeply underwhelming campaigns.