By DAN KARELL
With his contract ending at the end of the season, Juventus’ star midfielder Andrea Pirlo’s future is in the air.
The 34-year-old Italian National Team starter has been substituted early in two of Juventus’ four Serie A matches so far, and after coming off in Juve’s 2-1 victory against Hellas Verona on Sunday, Pirlo stormed down the tunnel, igniting rumors that he’s not getting on well with manager Antonio Conte anymore. In response to Pirlo’s actions, Conte created a new rule that all substituted players must sit on the bench the rest of the match with the team, and if they don’t they risk being out of the first team for one month.
In addition, with the contract issue still unresolved, reports in England state that there’s a chance that Pirlo could take his talents abroad as soon as this January, whether to the Premier League or La Liga, as Carlo Ancelotti is keen on bringing his former star at AC Milan into the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, there are still reports in Italy that say that the Juventus front office are going to sit down with Pirlo and his representatives in the coming weeks to discuss a new deal.
Here are some more stories to get your Tuesday started:
WALCOTT COULD MISS TWO WEEKS
Arsenal’s Theo Walcott was a late stratch on Sunday morning, but his stomach injury looks to be worse than expected.
Originally ruled as an illness, scans on his injury have told the medical staff that Walcott will likely miss two weeks of action, keeping him out of the team’s trip to Swansea City on Saturday and next Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League against Napoli at the Emirates Stadium.
Walcott’s injury adds to Arsene Wenger’s injury list headache, joining the likes of Santiago Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Lukas Podolski as wingers on the training table. It’s also a selection headache to England National Team manager Roy Hodgson, who could be without another of his starters if Walcott isn’t fit by the international break next month.
VAN PERSIE TO MISS CAPITAL ONE CUP WITH INJURY
Manchester United forward Robin Van Persie has been ruled out of the club’s Capital One Cup match on Wednesday against Liverpool due to the groin injury he suffered just ahead of the Manchester derby.
Without Van Persie in the lineup on Sunday, Man United slumped to a 4-0 defeat to Manchester City, but the injury has reportedly kept the Netherlands international out of training this week. Depending on his recovery, David Moyes said during his pre-match press conference that there is an “outside chance” of Van Persie featuring on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion.
The 30-year-old forward has started the 2013/2014 campaign under Moyes in fine form, with six goals already in all competitions.
MILAN DECLINE TO APPEAL BALOTELLI SUSPENSION
AC Milan and their front office sent a strong statement to star forward Mario Balotelli on Tuesday.
A day after Balotelli was banned for two further matches following his red card dismissal at the end of Sunday’s 2-1 loss at home against Napoli, Milan announced that they wouldn’t appeal the suspension to the Italy international, meaning that Balotelli will miss the away match against Juventus on October 6.
Both teammates and the head coach Massimiliano Allegri decried Balotelli’s actions following the final whistle, saying that he needs to learn to control himself better.
Despite not appealing the Balotelli suspension, Milan did say that they would appeal the decision from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to close their ultras section for their next home game, following alleged discriminatory chants towards Napoli fans and their players.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet has emerged as the front runner for the open Sunderland job. (REPORT)
Hamburg SV have appointed former Netherlands head coach Bert Van Marwijk to be the German club’s new manager. (REPORT)
Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis admitted on Tuesday that Internacional striker Leandro Damião was his preferred signing after selling Edinson Cavani, but a deal couldn’t be reached with Damião’s agent. (REPORT)
The Republic of Ireland have tabbed U21 head coach Noel King as the senior side’s interim boss as they continue to look for a new manager after sacking Giovanni Trapattoni. (REPORT)
Real Sociedad will ask to take Jonathan Dos Santos on loan from Barcelona for the rest of the season. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you see Pirlo leaving Juventus? How big of a loss is Walcott? Do you see Van Persie returning on Saturday? What statement is Milan making to Balotelli?
Share your thoughts below.