Marco Verrati’s former agent has defended Napoli’s decision to pull out of the move to sign Arsenal-bound Nicolas Pepe, claiming that “the price is excessive.”
The Ivory Coast international is set to join Arsenal for €80m after a number of Premier League and Napoli showed interest in the winger.
The Lille star had been in advanced negotiations for a move to Napoli, with his agents flying in by helicopter for talks, but Arsenal offered better personal terms and agreed to pay the large commission for his representatives.
“Pepe plays in a puppet league where the only team is Paris Saint-Germain,” Verratti’s former agent Donato Di Campli told Radio Kiss Kiss as cited by Football Italia.
“I think the price is excessive. We’re talking about a player who did very well for one season in a team, Lille, that would be in the relegation zone in Serie A.
“I therefore agree with (Napoli President) Aurelio De Laurentiis, who is seriously considering the wisdom of this transfer. Pepe would be a gamble for Italy, not someone to rely on.”
Meanwhile, RMC Sport claim Pepe will be in London on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning ahead of a medical.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Rob Green has highlighted the qualities of Kepa Arrizabalaga on the field, claiming the Spaniard could play as a central midfielder.
The former England No 1 retired at the end of last season after spending a season as a backup stopper for the west London club.
The 39-year-old was reflecting on how modern goalkeeping has changed to encourage those between the sticks be more competent in possession, report the Daily Mail.
And he told BBC Radio Five Live that his former team-mate Kepa, and fellow Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero, were more than capable of holding their own with the ball at their feet.
When asked what had changed the most between his day and modern the game, Green said: ‘The expectation of playing out from the back and how to do it.
‘He (Kepa) puts the ball down, right foot, left foot, and will ping a perfect pass into the path of the full back whose making a run down the wing.
‘You go wow, he could play in centre midfield.
‘You go back to when someone like Barthez, with United years ago, well he actually plays out in training, Kepa could do that and hold his own no problem.
‘Willy Caballero is also excellent at playing out from the back with his feet.
‘That’s what the expectation is now, and that’s what you get brought up on in academy structures and that’s the way its gone forward.
‘I remember not having the back-pass rule, that’s a) how old I am and b) how much it’s changed.
‘They’ll say: I’ll get one in a thousand wrong or one a season wrong, but the way we’re playing, it’s a fundamental (part) of how we’re going to play and that one a season, yeah, we’ll take that on the chin.’
Green left Chelsea without having played a minute of competitive action but did end the campaign by lifting the Europa League trophy in Baku.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi was reportedly bundled away from an Ibiza nightclub by security when a man appeared to attack the Barcelona forward.
The shocking moment was captured on camera, with security guards seen surrounding the Argentina international as he left the venue.
The incident unfolded during an event at the Ushuaia Beach Hotel on the Spanish party island of Majorca , where the 32-year-old was joined by wife Antonela, as well as two of his current Barcelona teammates, report the Mirror.
Barca stars Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba were also present, as was long-time pal Cesc Fabregas , who previously played for the Catalan giants between 2011 and 2014.
It is unclear what caused the incident to unfold and who was involved, and there is no suggestion that Messi did anything wrong.
A clip of the nasty scenes has been widely shared on social media, with the post captioned: “A guy in the Ibiza party tried to fight with Messi.
“Messi is unharmed and was safely escorted out of the area by the security guards.”
Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley has revealed Frank Lampard to him and his teammate Mason Mount during preseason games to improve their goalscoring ability.
Lampard is searching to strike the right balance in a team shorn of the goals and assists of Eden Hazard and unable to raid the market because of a transfer ban.
According to the former Everton star, the Chelsea told them them to express themselves “on the pitch, take risks, don’t be too safe, shoot, try and create chances.”
Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola and former had earlier seen similarities between Ross Barkley and Frank Lampard in the area of being dangerous in the box.
Meanwhile, Lampard is trying to bring Barkley and other creative midfielders at Stamdford Bridge to the level of scoring as many goals as possible by asking them to trust their instincts and embrace risk.
This advice is, of course, very important to a team shorn of the goals and assists of Eden Hazard and unable to raid the market because of a transfer ban.
‘He’s been saying, “Express yourself on the pitch, take risks, don’t be too safe, shoot, try and create chances”,’ said Barkley.
‘It is something I can do and it’s what he’s been putting across to me in training and the pre-season games. You don’t want to play in your shell, you want to be off-the-cuff sometimes to take chances and make something happen.
‘That’s what players like myself, Mason and Ruben, when he’s back, want to express on the pitch. You can’t be too worried if you take a risk and whether it’s not going to come off. You have to try to make things happen. I’m looking forward to taking my chances.’
After only three Premier League goals in 18 months at Chelsea, Barkley hopes new manager Lampard will revive the creative side of his game which so impressed when he burst from the academy at Everton.
‘He was one of my idols as a kid,’ said the 25-year-old Barkley. ‘I was always watching Match of the Day and you saw him every week scoring goals.
‘Now he is our manager and it is brilliant for all the players. He’s a legend of the game — the highest scoring midfielder in Premier League history and so we are going to take all he has to give us. He will help all the midfielders.
‘I’ve been playing a bit further forward. He’s told me to think like a striker, especially as a No 10, but to help out defensively and work hard off the ball.”
Barkley, deployed mostly in a No 10 role under Lampard, scored in a pre-season friendly at Reading on Sunday.
Mount replaced him at half-time and was on target twice in a 4-3 win which hinted at plenty of goals despite the exit of Hazard.
‘We will all step up to the plate,’ said Barkley. ‘You have to fill in. Everyone in the squad understands that he was a great player but he is gone.
‘He has new challenges now and we have to replace his goals and create the chances. Last season when Eden wasn’t playing we still won games, we still created chances.
‘We know he is an exceptional player but we have exceptional players in the squad and young players like Callum Hudson-Odoi who is coming back from injury and we have signed Christian Pulisic.
‘We have wingers who can create from tight positions, players who can shoot from distance and strikers — young and experienced — who are hungry for goals.’
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club are already planning ahead of post-Lionel Messi era.
And although there is no suggestion 32-year-old Messi is set to hang up his boots anytime soon, Bartomeu says the club have ‘an obligation’ to minimise the loss when he does.
The Argentine star has been a fixture in the club’s attack for the past 14 seasons but celebrated his 32nd birthday last month and thoughts may now be turning to the future of the club behind him.
“I think our obligation is to work in the post-Messi era,” Bartomeu explained to reporters, as cited by Diario AS.
“We are already thinking about that because we are bringing new players. As president I hope that Leo is still with us for many years but we have to think about this change for when he decides to stop playing.”
The Argentine forward remains the central point of the club’s attack and despite prolonged investment over the years, is widely regarded as the world’s most valuable player, report Football Espana.
Messi has netted 603 goals across 687 first-team appearances for the Blaugrana and has won 34 trophies at his time with the club, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has disclosed that club’s starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi is yet to sign a new deal with Chelsea, but admits talks have moved on “very well”.
There were reports last week that the youngster had agreed a new contract with the Stamford Bridge club throwing their supporters into frenzy.
Lampard has downplayed such contract agreements, but assured there is hope at the end of the tunnel.
His words: “I think agreed would mean signed so we’re not quite there but what’s very clear is the club are working towards that,” Lampard said. “Talks moved on very well in the last week or two but it’s not done yet.
“The one thing that’s clear to me is I want to keep him here. He’s a player we cherish.
“Players who come through the academy are the present and the future of the club so we’re doing everything we can to get there. I hope it’s news to be confirmed soon.”
During the talks, Hudson-Odoi’s representatives are said to have requested for the club’s No.10, as part of their prayers, for the player.
His is expected to sign five-year deal, which will be worth £180,000 a week.
And on the ruptured Achilles’ tendon injury, Lampard stated that Hudson-Odoi’s progress is encouraging, assuring Blues faithful that he might even be back with the first team soon.
“He’s not training with us yet but the injury is coming on well,” Lampard added.
“Ahead of schedule I get scared of saying but from the first diagnosis he’s ahead of schedule.”