Thursday Kickoff: Prandelli could remain Italy manager; Özil back in Arsenal squad; and more

Thursday Kickoff: Prandelli could remain Italy manager; Özil back in Arsenal squad; and more

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Thursday Kickoff: Prandelli could remain Italy manager; Özil back in Arsenal squad; and more

CesarePrandelliItaly1-SpainConfederationsCup2013 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Cesare Prandelli is expected to discuss his future with the Italian National Team next month, but he may have already made up his mind.

According to Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport, Prandelli has decided to accept a four-year contract extension from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). The news is a surprise since he’s publicly stated his desire since Euro 2012 that he’d like to return to being a club coach.

One of Prandelli’s demands in a new Italy deal would be a promotion to technical director of all Italian National Teams, similar to Jurgen Klinsmann’s new title with U.S. Soccer. The report states that there’s still a chance that Prandelli could decide against signing a new deal if an offer from abroad (Tottenham) comes, or even one from within Italy (Inter Milan.

Under Prandelli, Italy made the Euro 2012 final, the Confederations Cup semifinals, and the team went undefeated in qualification for the 2014 World Cup. They’ve been placed in Group D with England, Uruguay, and Costa Rica.

Here are some more stories to get your Thursday started:

ÖZIL RETURNS FOR ARSENAL

Following his absence against Sunderland last Saturday, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil is set for a return to the starting lineup.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed to reporters on Thursday at a press conference that the German international will be in the squad set to face Stoke City on Saturday. Özil was left out of the Arsenal side against Sunderland following a disappointing performance mid-week against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen is also available for selection this weekend, and could potentially play left back in place of the injured Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal.

Wenger also defended his decision to give his players a two-day break, citing that his team has been playing nearly non-stop without a break since early December.

GRIEZMANN CALLED INTO FRANCE SQUAD

A potential star of the French National Team has made a late bid to make the World Cup squad.

France National Team head coach included uncapped Real Sociedad attacking midfielder Antoine Griezmann in his squad for next Wednesday’s friendly match against the Netherlands in Paris. Griezmann, who has scored 15 goals in 23 La Liga matches this season, was suspended until December 31, 2013 after being caught at a night club while with the France Under-21 squad in November 2012.

Also included in the France squad is Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, Franck Ribery, Paul Pogba, and Laurent Koscielny. Some notable names left off the squad include the injured Samir Nasri, Eric Abidal, Alexandre Lacazette, and Florian Thauvin.

Paris Saint-Germain full back Lucas Digne could also win his first cap if he plays against the Netherlands.

QUICK KICKS

Greece National Team head coach Fernando Santos will step down following the 2014 World Cup. (REPORT)

Phil Jagielka has been ruled out of both Everton and England’s next matches with a hamstring injury. (REPORT)

Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino will serve a one-game ban after being sent off last Saturday in his side’s 3-1 defeat to Real Sociedad. (REPORT)

The Spanish National Team will face Bolivia in a send off friendly match on May 30 in Sevilla. (REPORT)

Fiorentina forward Mario Gomez is set for his first start since mid-September, more than five months removed from a serious knee injury. (REPORT)

Borussia Dortmund are eying FC Torino and former Italian youth international forward Ciro Immobile as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Think that the FIGC should re-sign Prandelli or move in a different direction? Do you see Özil starting vs. Stoke? Do you think Griezmann could make his first France appearance next Wednesday?

Share your thoughts below.

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