Top Stories

Tuesday Kickoff: Pirlo’s future unresolved; Walcott likely out two weeks; and more

AndreaPirloJuventus4 (Getty)


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:


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.


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.


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.


  1. Does anyone else place some of the blame for the decline of Man U this year to SAF. I have often rated great coaches in the way their team did after them. A great coach leaves on top and leaves great players in good form to there successor not a rebuilding project. SAF left an aging team that lacks dynamism. Yes he won the EPL last year, but as others have mentioned there closest rivals were in disarray as evident by both Manccini and DiMateo/Benitz getting sacked.

    SAF never reloaded after Ronaldo and while taking RVP was a great gamble that paid off and a shrewd move that weakened a rival the Dutch forward is now 30 and not getting any younger it’s asking a lot of Moyes to rely on the likes of him, Giggs and Ferdanand. It’s still early but I don’t see Man U winning any trophies especially with the roster talent that there other rivals posses.

    Lastly let’s not put all the blame on Moyes for the dearth of players signed this summer. I feel the Glazer ownership is short on money and wasn’t going to trust Moyes with the treasure he would have needed this transfer season to make any splashes.

  2. If I were him, I would run from Italy too. They don’t call it football, or even futball, they call it calcio! And they have playoffs for teams to get promoted, plus play in playoff-style tournaments determined by season standing. They don’t even attack, they just defend and counter like Bradley or Arena are coaching. What a bunch of clowns. He should go to England and Spain to learn about real football.

  3. Balotelli needs to figure out the referees is Italy (as opposed to England) can understand him if he cusses them in Italian.

    Poyet is an interesting choice because Brighton was a trendy team on the make, then they lost in the promotion playoffs (wait, you mean England has soccer playoffs…), and he had a rather strained exit that I’d swear was still being litigated.

    • Yes, England has soccer playoffs. The difference between them and MLS’ is that theirs actually mean something. Whereas ours is an excuse to extend our season by creating a pseudo tournament to crown a champion, belittling the seven months of successes it took to get that far. Lose half of your games? Doesn’t matter because you only need to win a handful at the end to win! That’s exactly how life works and a great motivator for players throughout the season.

      Whereas in England, those four (note: very limited) spots are given to the teams who finished 3-6 (note: the champions and runner-ups get rewarded). The winner of that small playoff gets a spot in a higher league and a quadruple factor added to their revenue. In the case of newly promoted BPL teams, that’s over $150M.

      Don’t associate the two.

    • As good as he was people underrated Fergie. He won Scottish titles and cups — breaking the traditional Old Firm stranglehold — as well as European silverware, with Aberdeen. He also had Scottish NT experience. As prized as Moyes is by the talking heads, his hardware cabinet consists of a division two title at Preston (and the Shield this season).

      • Sir Alex needs to return as the coach in perpetuity. They can record his banter and then, when he finally dies, they can taxidermy him and set him in a wheelchair on the sidelines and blare the recordings for the team and the refs. A taxidermied Sir Alex would do a better job than Moyes.

      • Either that or the team can be managed by his voice over the phone from when “calls” in to Special One TV.

        I’m still amazed that considering Mourinho has expressed interest and was available over the summer, that he didn’t get the job. He has the proven chops with that caliber of player, silverware in the case, as opposed to getting credit for just punching above perceived weight class.

      • Also, one thing I don’t think has dawned on Moyes yet is they won in spite of last year’s defense.

        That and Fellaini can’t keep up with an end to end game. May have something to do with wind resistance.

    • As a United fan who venomously opposed Moyes as our manager, he won’t go this season. Fergie has the power at United and Moyes was his personal recommendation. Add on that Fergie (and the other old hands at United) believe a manager should be given time to succeed, means Moyes gets at least two seasons. He has protection their.

      No one expects us to compete this season. Bar any huge embarrassment (MAYBE missing out on a CL spot), Moyes is here to stay. I just hope he learns A. how to acquire world class talent B. that he has world class talent on the bench that he doesn’t use (Kagawa!) and C. how to win against our arch rivals.

      • yes, i actually had considered all of that, and i agree to a great extent. my disagreement comes with (and this is only a feeling of early season queasiness) the suspicion that we may not qualify for CL, that this may, in fact be a rather embarrassing season. I would hope that if we get to about week 12 and the team is still floundering, the axe would fall.

      • It is shocking (at least to this outsider) to hear that “[n]o on expects [Manchester United] to compete this season.” I know SAF is no longer roaming the sideline, but what else would cause such a steep decline in expectations? It’s a pretty long way from EPL champions to “not competing.”

      • Brain Guy, there are a couple things to consider beyond SAF’s retirement:

        1) The huge points gap last season was misleading. While it’s quite possible United would have won the title regardless, the ease with which they won it had more to do with the internal problems at Chelsea and City than any difference in quality. The gap in quality between five of the top six teams is actually pretty small now (and really, that’s true across the whole EPL, thanks to the new TV deal).

        2) United has a lot of age issues. Our lead striker, our most consistent CM, and 3/4 of our backline are all aging and/or injury prone. Throw in the unfortunate reliance on Giggsy to plug holes and you have a recipe for trouble.

        3) Everyone else strengthened, even Liverpool. I don’t exactly feel United need(ed)(s) a ton of spending, especially with some of the kids coming up, but we needed, at a minimum, a quality box-to-box CM and cover/speed at left back. Both weaknesses were exposed badly against City. And no, Buttner is not a viable solution yet.

        4) Last season, United benefited from a pair of absolutely ridiculous personal performances, from RVP (for half the season, anyways) and Carrick (who basically did the work of two men). It’s unlikely they’ll replicate that again, and even if Rooney is playing pretty well right now, he’s still not worth both an in-form RVP and in-form Carrick.

        5) Mentality. It’s been quite a while since United has mounted a particularly vigorous title defense, even under Fergie. Even if he had stayed, the post-title slump has sort of become a fact of life at Old Trafford. It’s not like the 90’s anymore.

        But, that’s not to say the change in management isn’t a factor: it’s obviously a huge one. But all the other issues loom large too. And then there’s other connected problems: Moyes is under a lot more pressure to play “attractive, attacking football” than Fergie was, for obvious reasons. If Fergie lined up United pragmatically against City or, in particular last season, Madrid, people just accepted it. Moyes doesn’t get that benefit of the doubt, so we seem to end up with bizarre 50/50 lineups that are neither designed to besiege nor to confound. And that unfortunately include Ashley Young.

      • Thanks for your thoughtful response. Sounds like a perfect storm has hit Moyes, who is stuck being “the guy who follows The Guy.” Are they still a top-four club? Or have age, and their competition, finally caught up with them?

      • We’re still a top 6 club. Whether we finish in the top 4 (or top 3) depends on a lot of variables. I suspect most supporters would be pretty happy this season to finish top 3, get out of the CL group stages, and blood some kids.

    • Absolutely! Bring Pirlo to MLS, he would be enormously worthy of a DP contract, even at 34-35. Barros Schellotto was older when he was leading the Crew to victories and trophies, so I’m sure Pirlo could do it. He would be a huge addition to the Red Bulls.

      • I think signings at his age are risky, but del Piero is playing in Sydney now, and Montreal is a nice little O-30 Serie A side.

      • I don’t think you’ve noticed that Pirlo, like a fine wine, has gotten better with age and that what he brings to the game, which is the silkiest touch a deep-lying playmaker can have, especially on long balls, doesn’t exactly depart with age. His touch isn’t going to desert him and he’s never needed speed or strength to be one of the greatest players in his generation, so why would age cripple him where it never did Beckham. I’m quite certain that if Real Madrid think it’s worth it to have a look at him, and MLS side would be fine doing the same.

        My opinion is that he, like Lampard, has way too much to offer in the top flight in Europe still and won’t come across the pond while he still has some good years left.

      • If CFC hadn’t replaced Benitez with Mourinho I think Lampard would be in LA.

        Beckham’s career here turned out fine but those first few years were worrisome, ankle problems, achilles, etc.

        Depending how mobile he is you’re getting into the Valderrama question of whether playmaking is worth playing team defense with 10 people. There have been some successful, slow playmakers like Schelotto but there have also been some #10s who never won here in part because they couldn’t be bothered playing two ways.

      • Pirlo isn’t Valderrama. He positions himself very intelligently in defense. No, he’s never going to physically impose himself but he reads the game at a very high level and is extremely disciplined in defense as well as offense. He isn’t going to force everyone around him to make up for him on D because he’s smart enough to know where to be at all times. The injuries could be a problem, but you take that chance with any player. I concede that the risk is greater with someone of his age, but having someone on your team who just two summers ago was probably the best player of Euro 2012 and still one of the automatic starting XI for Italy’s national team seems to me to far outweigh the risk.

      • He’s not a #10, he operates much more deeply and understands the defensive responsibilities associated with playing a defensive center midfield responsibility. Nobody on Juve has to “make up” for his defensive liabilities because he doesn’t have them.

      • While I agree that Pirlo is still an amazing player and that his technique and vision aren’t likely to desert him, I’m not convinced he’d fit in well in MLS. Referees in the league are shockingly lax and players are very physical, all of which amounts of a significant toll on aging bodies. I suspect he’d be better off in a European league, especially La Liga.

      • Has NYRB had any academy players yet?? WIth all this money the keep spending if i was a NY fan i would rather see them spend it on an Academy that can produce some players to play along all these big names. Shit with they money the spend they could create an academy that could compare to Barca’s academy. Look at RSL they are a mid table with there money but yet can produce Academy guys every year. Just food for thought

Leave a Comment