ARSENAL might’ve just got themselves the steal of the century. This week, the Gunners completed the signing of Fulham wonderkid Mika Biereth, 18, after he rejected a pro-contract with the Cottagers. The forward, who can play anywhere along the front three, was a revelation in the Premier League South last season – leading his club […] More
IF ever there was a reason to head to Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium, Gabriella Jukes might just be it.The beautiful model, 24, has been named as the presenter for SwansTV and will be delivering match-day coverage for the Championship club.
Gabriella Jukes is the new face of Swans TVCredit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
Stunning Jukes is a former Miss Wales 2019Credit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
Back in 2019, the new signing from Port Talbot was crowned Miss Wales.
The Scarlett Johansson lookalike is also an advocate for women’s rights and is an ambassador for Thrive Women’s Aid.
It was only two years ago that Jukes beat 33 other hopefuls across Wales to secure the coveted ‘Miss Wales’ title.
In 2017, she was a contestant on Britain’s Next Top Model and made it through to the final 14.
However, this time in the Miss Wales contest she was victorious. “Nothing is impossible if you work hard to achieve your dreams,” she said on accepting the crown.
She wowed the judges in categories including patriotic Welshwear, a red dress catwalk and traditional evening wear parade.
That was before a one-on-one interview with the judges to talk about things close to her heart, which includes charity work.
The win allowed her to represent Wales at the prestigious Miss World competition along with 110 other young women from all around the globe.
After winning Miss Wales, Jukes got the opportunity to compete in Miss WorldCredit: Miss World
Jukes walks the catwalk at Miss WorldCredit: PA
Jukes shows off her beauty and bikini bodCredit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
What matters most to Jukes is making sure women feel empowered to realise their full potential.
“I am someone who is full of determination and takes every opportunity that comes my way,” she says.
“If I can and help empower other young women to believe in themselves and reach their full potential, then that would be incredible. I want to show people that.”
The beautiful blonde also represents Thrive Women’s Aid, an organisation that helps raise awareness and aids women who have been affected by domestic violence.
Jukes believes in female empowermentCredit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
As an ambassador for Thrive Women’s Aid, Jukes hopes to raise awareness for women who have been affected by domestic violenceCredit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
Jukes is keen to offer her services to charityCredit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
Jukes’ credentials in sport are for all to see. She does karate, has played netball and loves athletics.
She also hosts a weekly podcast called She Has A Goal In Mind, that celebrates women in sport with the idea to encourage more females to participate.
After graduating from Cardiff University with a masters in sports broadcasting, Jukes is still keen to further herself.
Not only is she fluent in Welsh, she also completed a course in a sign language.
Next season, Swans fans will certainly be in good hands with Gabriella.
Jukes is a sports fan and has a masters in sports broadcasting from Cardiff UniversityCredit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
Swans fans will be in good hands with JukesCredit: https://www.instagram.com/gabriellajukes/?hl=en
Swansea unveil new kit featuring special new club badge for 2021-22 season More
IN terms of the dressing room jukebox, Tottenham’s stars might be in good hands with Pierluigi Gollini.Spurs are set to bring in the Italian shotstopper, 26, from Atalanta on a loan deal that could become permanent, if he makes 20 appearances for the Premier League club for £13million.
Spurs are bringing in Atalanta keeper Pierluigi Gollini to challenge for the No1 spotCredit: AFP
Gollini is a rapper and has released his own musicCredit: YouTube: EsseMagazine
Gollini already has experience of playing on our shores. First, he trained with Manchester United’s academy stars from the age of 17 for two years.
In 2016, he had a brief spell with Aston Villa before making his name at Atalanta and becoming an Italian international.
However, it’s his skills with the mic he’s fondly thought of as his alias Gollorius.
The 6ft 4in goalie fulfilled an ambition by releasing his own rap record called ‘Rapper with Gloves’.
Generous Gollini even made sure all proceeds from the song were donated to charity.
SING WHEN YOU’RE WINNING
In 2018, Gollini became rapper Gollorius and released his very own hip-hop song.
While Drake or Kendrick Lamar may not feel threatened just yet, ‘Rapper with Gloves’ has so far gained over a million views on YouTube.
And Gollini certainly looked the part with a huge gold chain draped around his neck over the top of a white tee.
In-between spitting lyrics impressively, Pierluigi is seen skipping and doing kick-ups with a group of kids in the promo video for the hit.
‘Rapper with Gloves’ managed to break into the Italian top 100. Any money made from its release was given to charity.
Italian shotstopper Gollini showed he has a flair for spitting lyrics on single ‘Rapper with Gloves’Credit: YouTube: EsseMagazine
Under the moniker Gollorius, Gollini scored a top 100 hit in ItalyCredit: Instagram @piergollo
RED DEVIL’S DELIGHT
Gollini began his football career at Fiorentina’s academy, before embarking on a potentially career-changing move to England.
At 17, he joined Manchester United’s academy where he would spend the next two years.
However, he found first team opportunities hard to come by at Old Trafford.
Around the same time he was with the Red Devils, David De Gea was beginning to make his name with the club.
In 2014, he returned to Italy with Hellas Verona after failing to establish himself.
Gollini was part of Man Utd’s academy when he was 17Credit: Getty
After failing to make the grade with United, Gollini may have felt he had a point to prove in England.
Aston Villa took a chance on him in 2016, when Roberto Di Matteo was boss and they were in the Championship.
However, as soon as the ex-Chelsea manager was given the boot he found himself out of favour under Steve Bruce.
He made 20 appearances in the 2016-17 season, before he was told he surplus to requirements.
Gollini was soon shipped out on loan to Atalanta, where he would undoubtedly prove himself.
Gollini returned to England with Aston Villa but failed to impress in the ChampionshipCredit: PA:Press Association
FINDING HIS FEET
In 2018, Gollini signed a permanent deal with the Serie A side.
Initially, he spent the first half of the year as backup to Etrit Berisha. But in the second half of the season he managed to dislodge his rival.
By 2019-20, he was first choice – appearing for Atalanta in their debut Champions League campaign.
Proving to be an astute buy, his performances helped the club reached the last-16 of the tournament.
And in the league, they finished a respectable third in their last two seasons with Gollini between the sticks.
DREAM TEAM IS BACK! SIGN UP NOW FOR THE 21/22 SEASON FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN £100,000
At Atalanta Gollini found his feet and proved to be a top keeperCredit: Getty
Although Gianluigi Donnarumma is, and will probably be for some time, the undisputed No1 for Italy – Gollini is an able deputy.
In November, 2019 he earned his first (and only) cap when Roberto Mancini called up for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Appearing as a second half substitute for Donnarumma, Gollini kept a clean sheet in the 3-0 win.
Tottenham fans will be hoping the opposition will draw blanks against their new keeper, when he makes his bow for the club.
Capped by Italy in 2019, Gollini appears to have a bright futureCredit: Getty
Incoming Tottenham signing Pierluigi Gollini ‘so happy’ as Atalanta keeper travels to airport to complete transfer More
TALK about a fish out of water.Although us Essex boys like to think we know glamour, a night at Faces or Sugar Hut isn’t quite the same as heading to a restaurant owned by two Premier League stars in Mayfair.
Brazilian stars Willian and David Luiz own Babbo restaurant in Mayfair
But here we are, heading to Babbo, the eatery owned by Arsenal star Willian and Chelsea legend David Luiz – who for some reason have an Italian, not Brazilian, restaurant.
Footballers and famous faces had been flocking to the restaurant since it opened in April 2018, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Ronaldo and Niall Horan all stopping by.
Standing outside Green Park station watching Ferraris and chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royces cruise past, I wonder if it’s as obvious as I think it is that I don’t fit in.
Winding our way down Piccadilly searching for Babbo things go from bad to worse as a bus splashes us with muddy rainwater.
Big names like Neymar and Gabriel Jesus hit up Babbo for some first-rate foodCredit: Instagram
Rio Ferdinand can’t resist the Italian food when he is in LondonCredit: Instagram
But me and my partner press on, finally seeing our destination up ahead.
On another street lined with supercars that cost as much as my house, one looks out of place as we approach.
A classic white Fiat 500 has been spray-painted a vivid yellow, blue and green with two fists bumping – an interesting look for sure.
It also begs the question how much the pair pay in parking if this car is parked outside 24/7.
A lamb dish at Babbo similar to what Sun man Tom hadCredit: Instagram
The interior decor at Babbo was an acquired taste
We head inside – well we try at least.
After 30 seconds trying to push open a glass door we realise there’s actually a button to make it slide open.
That kind of technology hasn’t yet reached my part of the world.
Inside and the decor is exactly as you’d expect from two millionaire footballers – definitely expensive and definitely a little bit tacky.
Two giant murals plaster the walls, while there are neon lights under the bar and even a DJ booth which starts cranking up the volume at around 8pm.
We were led to our table by a host who could have been a model to be waited on by a waitress who could have been a model.
Ready to order and for some reason my dulcet wide boy tones were lost in translation with the nice Italian lady asking me for my food.
First up we shared some arancini topped with shaved truffle, looking like little curls from David Luiz’s head.
The only truffles I’d previously tasted were the Galaxy variety out of a Celebrations box, but I knew the black stuff was worth more than its weight in gold – and it was delicious.
Niall Horan of One Direction fame pops in for a bite to eatCredit: Instagram
For our second course we shared some veal tagliatelli, which turned out to be some of the best pasta I’ve ever tasted, the pasta slightly hard and the meat cooked to perfection in a beautiful oily sauce.
For my main it was a rack of lamb and it goes without saying that I like my meat well done.
The waitress insisted I should have it medium rare so we settled on medium.
If the thing had hopped up and run off my plate I wouldn’t have been surprised – I don’t think it had ever been in a kitchen.
My partner had sea bass with a lemongrass sauce which, she says, was excellent.
The lamb was good but not really to my palate – I really do prefer well done.
It was served with foie gras, another highfalutin dish that does nothing for me.
For desert I went traditionally Italian with the tiramisu.
Only it wasn’t traditional, the chefs at Babbo instead going for a riff on a classic.
I believe the term is ‘deconstructed’ but the tiramisu was coffee ice-cream, marscapone and crumble, with a chocolate ball.
The waitress then brought over a cup of espresso – pouring it on my desert to melt the chocolate and bring the flavours together.
The tiramisu was excellent, although the double shot so late at night had me buzzing more than the last time I hit Mayfair hotspot Mahiki.
It then came to the part of the night I’d been dreading all along: the bill.
A restaurant owned by two footballers and situated in Mayfair was never going to be cheap and so it proved.
It came in at £180 – and neither of us were even on the sauce, having two mocktails each.
I almost fell out of my chair in a panic, praying that this would get past the finance lot who deal with expenses.
The food and service was both excellent although at this price it would have to be for a very special occasion. More
IT used to be that when you left Arsenal, your career would suffer a terrible downward spiral.But now it seems the opposite with Serge Gnabry one of the most sought-after stars in world football after some outrageous displays for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and Champions League.
Serge Gnabry continues to remind Arsenal fans what they’re missingCredit: Getty – Contributor
All in all though, this lot flopped in the red half of North London but went on to enjoy a new lease of life elsewhere.
SunSport guides you through Arsenal flops who have shone after saying their goodbyes to their team-mates at London Colney – starting with the man of the moment.SERGE GNABRY
The German forward signed for Arsene Wenger when he was 16 in 2010 in a deal worth around £100,000,
It was seen as a major coup, with many pundits calling Gnabry the future of German football.
Even Mesut Ozil would later go on to say that Gnabry was the best player he played with – after starring as an 18-year-old in a Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.
But, despite earning a nomination for the 2013 Golden Boy Award, a serious knee injury halted his progress.
When he returned to fitness, Gnabry found himself frozen out the side so he went on a disastrous loan to West Brom.
However, he only played three times for the Baggies with Tony Pulis saying he didn’t think the wide man was good enough for the Premier League.
Wenger sold Gnabry to Werder Bremen for £5m in 2017, and after starring in the Bundesliga a season later he earned a move to Bayern Munich, where he has destroyed defences across Europe ever since.
Gnabry was described as the best player he ever played with by Mesut OzilCredit: Getty – Contributor
Gnabry has excelled at Bayern Munich and won their player of the year last seasonCredit: Getty – Contributor
Once linked with a return to Arsenal, with Liverpool and Everton also said to be interested, Malen left London in 2017 for PSV.
He was originally an Ajax youth product, before the Gunners signed him for 2015.
But Malen failed to make the first team, despite Arsene Wenger describing the forward as having ‘interesting qualities’ on a pre-season tour of Australia and China.
In 2018, Malen starred as PSV went on to win the Dutch title, and he contributed 11 goals in all competitions.
And he’s gone from strength-to-strength since, even starring for a star-studded Holland team.
Originally an Ajax academy player, Malen never got his chance in the first team for the GunnersCredit: Rex Features
Since leaving the Gunners, Malen has starred at PSV and has been capped by HollandCredit: Getty – Contributor
In 2015, Bennacer left French side Arles to join the Gunners.
His debut came in a League Cup tie that same year – a diabolical 3-0 loss to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.
Wanting to play first team football, Bennacer went out on loan to Ligue 2 side Tours in 2017, and impressed enough to earn a permanent move to Italian side Empoli.
In 2018, he helped his club get promoted to Serie A, but despite the fact they were relegated the following season Bennacer looked like one of Europe’s most promising midfielders.
AC Milan signed him in the summer for around £14.2m, with the Gunners reportedly making £4.5m from a sell-on clause.
Bennacer also starred for Algeria – winning the Africa Cup of Nations for his country in 2019.
Ismael Bennacer made his debut for Arsenal in a disastrous 3-0 defeat to Sheffield WednesdayCredit: Getty – Contributor
Last summer AC Milan made Bennacer a big-money signing for £14.2mCredit: Getty – Contributor
If Juventus see you as the eventual replacement to Gianluigi Buffon, you can’t be that bad can you?
After getting tired of Szczesny’s antics on and off the pitch, including getting caught smoking in the showers, Wenger and Arsenal decided to move the Polish international on in a loan deal to Roma for two years, before they agreed a permanent move to Juventus for a fee in the region of £11m in 2017.
At Roma, Szczesny kept 14 clean sheets in his second season and helped the club achieve their highest ever Serie A points total.
Then, following Buffon’s departure in 2018, he inherited the No1 shirt at the Old Lady and has won two Serie A titles and a Coppa Italia.
Arsene Wenger grew tired of Szczesny’s antics and he moved to ItalyCredit: Reuters
Szczesny ended up replacing the legendary Gigi Buffon at Juventus and has won two Serie A titlesCredit: Getty – Contributor
Reine-Adelaide started his career at Lens and there was a major buzz when Arsenal acquired his services.
A flying winger, he never really got a sniff in Wenger’s first team – appearing in FA Cup matches against Sunderland and Sutton United.
All in all, he made just six appearances before he was moved on to Angers in 2018 for an undisclosed fee following a successful loan.
In 2018-19, he was recognised as one of France’s best young players, and he earned a big money move to Lyon to replace the departing Nabil Fekir.
Arsenal fans must’ve been scratching their heads when they saw the transfer fee… he cost the French side almost £25m.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide never broke through into the Arsenal first teamCredit: Getty – Contributor
Lyon paid around £25m for Reine-Adelaide last summerCredit: Getty – Contributor
The Mexican Robbie Fowler, Wenger once called him.
He joined Arsenal in 2005 after helping Mexico win the Under-17 World Cup and winning the Golden Boot.
Vela showed flashes of brilliance in an Arsenal shirt, particularly in the League Cup, where he once scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 demolition of Sheffield United in 2008.
With first team opportunities limited, Vela went to West Brom on loan and then to Real Sociedad where he became a star in La Liga.
His move was made permanent to Sociedad for a fee of just £2.5m in 2012, and he has since gone on to star in the MLS for Los Angeles FC.
Carlos Vela was once described as the Mexican Robbie Fowler by Arsene WengerCredit: AFP
Vela is now one of the stars of MLS for Los Angeles FCCredit: Getty – Contributor
GIOVANNI VAN BRONCKHORST
After starring at Rangers, Dutch international Van Bronckhorst was signed by Wenger in 2001 for a fee of £8m.
He was signed as the replacement for the departing Emmanuel Petit to partner Patrick Vieira in Arsenal’s engine room.
However, a cruciate ligament injury saw him on the treatment room after just a few months at the club.
He returned but Wenger struggled to find his best position, with Van Bronckhorst alternating between midfield and left back.
In 2003, he was loaned to Barcelona – where he went on to make 155 appearances, won two La Liga titles and a Champions League (ironically a 2-1 win over Arsenal).
Van Bronckhorst appeared in the 2010 World Cup final for Holland.
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst was bought as the replacement for Emmanuel Petit for £8mCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Van Bronckhorst left Arsenal for Barcelona and won the Champions League against his old clubCredit: AP:Associated Press
Given the No8 shirt for the departing Freddie Ljungberg, Diarra was called a ‘multi-functional player’ by Wenger and a great addition to the squad.
However, Wenger hardly ever played the French international.
Instead, Mathieu Flamini was chosen to partner Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park and midfielder Diarra occasionally played at right-back.
After just five months at Arsenal, he was sold to Portsmouth for £5.5.m in 2008, won the FA Cup that same season before agreeing a stunning £18.8m move to Real Madrid in 2009.
He won the LaLiga title in Spain, and then in his latter years the treble with PSG in 2018.
Now retired, he got 34 caps for France… but only played seven times for Arsenal.
Lassana Diarra struggled to dislodge Mathieu Flamini in the Arsenal midfieldCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
After leaving Arsenal Diarra enjoyed a glittering career at Real Madrid, PSG and later MarseilleCredit: AFP – Getty
You know you’ve done well when you’ve left the Gunners and they reportedly consider re-signing you.
The Turkish midfielder was linked with a stunning return to Arsenal, who were believed to have offered him a deal when he was out of contract at Besiktas in 2018.
Alas, the Turkish international who now has 42 caps for his country decided to stay put.
Ozyakup came through the Arsenal academy, and was part of their team that lifted the FA Youth Cup in 2009.
However, he only ever made two appearances, once of those was in the League Cup against Shrewsbury, and was sold to Besiktas for £400,000.
Described by former Turkish international Rıdvan Dilmen as an ‘intelligent player’ he has been compared to Zinedine Zidane for his dribbling abilities.
You can bet Arsenal are kicking themselves they let him go, too.
Oguzhan Ozyakup was reportedly offered the chance to re-sign for the Gunners in 2018Credit: Getty – Contributor
Ozyakup is now a regular for Besiktas and has been compared to Zinedine ZidaneCredit: Getty – Contributor
Darren Bent is is worried about Arteta’s reign at Arsenal now they are 15th in the league More
IF Mikel Arteta is struggling to get his message across on the training ground, you can bet he will lean on his assistant Carlos Cuesta for help.The coaching prodigy, 25, speaks a remarkable six languages; English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French and Catalan.
Arsenal coaching prodigy Carlos Cuesta, 25, is a big influence at London ColneyCredit: Getty
Therefore, he is able to communicate with many of Arsenal’s stars in their mother tongue.
Cuesta already boasts a rich CV in football having spent time with Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
His tactical nous at London Colney will help shape the Gunners next season, who will be looking to get back to winning ways after a dismal campaign last time out.
Despite his tender years, Cuesta already holds a Uefa Pro Licence.
Astonishingly, he began his coaching badges at the age of 18 and scored a job with Atletico Madrid.
He was later installed as U13 coach for the LaLiga giants, while juggling studies at Porto University.
Cuesta would listen attentively to lecturer Vitor Frade, who was an influence on Jose Mourinho, about Tactical Periodisation.
Rather than focus on the fitness aspects of the game, the training method encourages teams to focus primarily on the systems of play that a team intends to use.
Mourinho, a devout Frade follower, once revealed: “Many clubs do fitness work separately sending players for 45 minutes with a fitness coach, but I don’t believe in this.
Cuesta speaks six languages and is able to communicate with Arsenal stars like Aubameyang in their mother’s tongueCredit: Getty
“I do not believe in practising skills separately. You have to put together all these aspects in a match situation. There are exercises that can improve your physical qualities using the ball.”
And Cuesta holds the method in high regard. But the ambitious Spaniard was soon on the move to learn more.
TIME IN TURIN
Aged just 22, Cuesta was ready for a new challenge.
After meeting coaches from Juventus at the LaLiga Promises tournament he was invited to share his philosophy with the club’s directors.
They were instantly impressed and offered him a permanent role.
Cuesta was the assistant of the U17’s and aided now Cremonese Fabio Pecchia’s U23 team.
He learned about the Italian game, defensive patterns and styles, that enhanced his knowledge.
Interestingly, Arteta had Cuesta in his sights in 2018.
Arteta was impressed by Cuesta when they first met at Manchester City in 2018Credit: Getty
Cuesta in action with Alexandre LacazetteCredit: Getty
Before he took on a job at Juve, he enjoyed a study visit to Manchester City to observe Pep Guardiola and his now boss in action.
Enthusiastic Cuesta had initially sent City an analysis report about their attacking play, which prompted the club to invite him to observe training.
He later told a Spanish newspaper that working with Arteta was the highlight of his trip.
“He will be a great coach,” Cuesta told El Pais.
“He was able to verify the importance of details in elite training sessions and game analysis.”
Last year, shortly after winning the FA Cup, Arteta made sure Cuesta was installed as one of his coaches, along with Miguel Molina and Andreas Georgson.
He will be a great coach. He was able to verify the importance of details in elite training sessions and game analysis.”Carlos Cuesta on Mikel Arteta
METHOD TO THE MADNESS
Cuesta works on a one-on-one basis with the players.
His focus is heavy on technical skills and tactical ideas, while physical loading is kept to the minimum.
The training sessions are filmed and Cuesta does a lot of video analysis with Arsenal’s stars individually.
For Cuesta it’s about holistically working out a player’s identity to find out what they need to thrive, leaning on their physical, mental, technical and tactical capabilities and requirements.
All is a must in player development to help the team achieve success on the pitch.
Gunners fans will be hoping Cuesta’s methods will translate to trophies next year.
Cuesta works with individuals on a one-to-one basisCredit: Getty
Arsenal fans will be hoping Cuesta’s methods bring the club success going forwardCredit: Getty
Ex-Arsenal defender William Saliba completes Marseille transfer More
ITALIAN goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnaruma’s meteoric rise began at just 16 years and 242 days old.The giant stopper, who is only 22 now, became the second youngest goalkeeper to play in a Serie A match when he appeared between the sticks against Sassuolo for Milan at the San Siro.
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has had an epic rise in the gameCredit: Getty
The heir to Gianluigi Buffon’s throne, the 6ft 5in keeper was instrumental in Italy winning Euro 2020.
He even walked away with Player of the Tournament – becoming the first goalkeeper to officially win the award.
Next season he begins a new chapter of his life at PSG after leaving boyhood club Milan, where he played a remarkable 251 times despite his tender years.
Donnarumma started his career with Napoli, having been born just outside the city in Castellammare di Stabia.
In 2013, aged just 14, he would leave Napoli for the Rossoneri, who paid around £200,000 for the teenager.
His elder brother Antonio was already on Milan’s books, so he had family to lean on.
As part of the academy, the younger Donnarumma rose through the ranks with the Giovanissimi, then the Allievi, and finally the now extinct Primavera that gave 15-19 year-olds a competitive experience.
He always played above his age, so it was no surprise a first team call-up was round the corner sooner rather than later.
Donnarumma alongside his brother AntonioCredit: AFP
Ahead of the 2015-16 season, former Milan manager Siniša Mihajlović promoted Donnarumma to the first team squad, initially as third-choice behind Diego López and Christian Abbiati.
However, after a stunning pre-season he soon forced himself into Mihajlović’s thoughts.
By October, he was picked ahead of Lopez to make his bow against Sassuolo.
At the age of 16 years and 242 days, he was just 13 days shy of Giuseppe Sacchi’s record made 73 years earlier.
Afterwards, his rival Lopez told reporters Donnarumma is “the future of Milan and of Italian football”.
At the age of 16 Donnarumma managed to break into AC Milan’s sideCredit: AFP or licensors
HERO TO VILLAIN
No sooner had Donnarumma established himself as Milan No1, a contract wrangle began over his future.
Already represented by super agent Mino Raiola, it was announced he wouldn’t be renewing his contract with the club in 2017.
Fans were left fuming and threw mocked up fake bank notes with his face on to the pitch during an Under-21 game against Denmark.
It left the wonderkid devastated and a poor showing at the U21 European Championships that summer damaged his stock.
But Raiola and Donnarumma got what they wanted, eventually. A month later they put pen to paper on a four-year deal worth £5million-per-annum.
A clause was also inserted into the contract that Milan had to sign his brother Antonio, who was playing for Greek side Asteras Tripolis, as a back-up goalkeeper on a salary close to £1million-per-year.
Fake bank notes with Donnarumma’s face on them were thrown on to the pitch during an U21 game after a contract wrangle with AC MilanCredit: Rex Features
ITALY RECORD BREAKER
Already making great strides at Milan and with the U21s, it was a natural progression for Donnarumma to earn full international recognition.
In 2016, he made his debut against France – fittingly come on as a half-time sub for his hero Buffon in a 3-1 loss.
In doing so, Gianluigi made history as the youngest ever goalkeeper to appear for the national side at just 17 years and 189 days.
When Buffon hung up his gloves for Italy in 2018, Roberto Mancini didn’t have a difficult decision to make.
Donnarumma was immediately installed as Italy’s No1 and started in all the matches of the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League.
Donnarumma is the heir to Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon’s throneCredit: Getty
ANOTHER CONTRACT WRANGLE
Ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, Milan were desperate for Donnarumma to extend his deal.
But Raiola’s demands proved unrealistic for a club struggling with the financial implications the coronavirus has had on football’s top clubs.
At one point, it was claimed that Raiola was asking for around £850,000-per-month for his client, as well as £17million in agent commission.
Back in May, he pulled out of all negotiations with a conclusion unlikely to be found.
Milan director of football Paolo Maldini later confirmed that Donnarumma would leave Milan when his contract expired on 30 June, putting Europe’s top clubs on alert.
“He was a protagonist, a leader and often a captain,” Maldini said of Donnarumma on AC Milan’s Twitch channel.
“A professional must also be ready to change his shirt. It is increasingly difficult to start a career in one place and finish it there.
“We must thank those who gave so much for Milan and Gigio did it, without ever disrespecting the club. Our paths divide here and I can only wish him the best.”
After 251 games for AC Milan, Donnarumma revealed he was leaving the club when his contract expired in JuneCredit: Getty
EURO 2020 TRIUMPH
Although he went into the Euros with a cloud hanging over his head about his future, Donnarumma didn’t show any cracks in his armour.
The youngster gave an assured performance in the tournament as the Azzuri managed to go all the way.
Wearing a fetching pair of spiked Adidas Predator gloves, he punched and patted away everything thrown at him to keep three clean sheets in the group stages.
And his penalty heroics against Spain and England in the semi-final and final showed how difficult he is to beat from 12 yards.
After the final at Wembley Donnarumma was crowned the Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament.
The official award has only existed since 1996, with previous winners including Matthias Sammer, Zinedine Zidane, Theo Zagorakis, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Antoine Griezmann.
UEFA published on its website the Player of the Tournament in 1984, 1988 and 1992. The winners were Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Peter Schmeichel, respectively.
However, these winners are unofficial – making Donnarumma the first keeper to legitimately win the award.
Donnarumma’s penalty heroics inspired Italy to win the EurosCredit: Getty – Pool
After the final Donnarumma was crowned Euro 2020 Player of the TournamentCredit: EPA
A NEW CHAPTER
Next season, Donnarumma will begin with PSG who confirmed his capture on a free transfer on Wednesday.
“I am very happy to be part of this great club,” he said after completing a deal worth a rumoured £200,000 a week.
“I feel ready to take on this new challenge, and continue to grow here.
“With Paris, I want to win as much as possible and give joy to the supporters.”
It’s likely he will be joined on his new quest by long-term girlfriend, Alessia Elefante, who prefers to keep out of the public eye.
He will add a winning mentality to Pochettino’s men, as well as one vital skill.
Should the French side go to penalties in a crucial Champions League tie, you wouldn’t bank against him becoming the hero yet again.
Next season Donnarumma will be playing his football at PSG
Donnarumma will likely be joined in Paris by his long-term girlfriend AlessiaCredit: alessia_elefante_gossip
Alessia and Donnarumma are ready for their next chapter in ParisCredit: Instagram @gigiodonna99 More
ARSENAL play Hibernian on Tuesday evening as Mikel Arteta’s men begin their pre-season trip to Scotland.And the Gunners are likely to give a run out to new £8million signing Nuno Taveres.
Arsenal new boy Nuno Tavares is likely to get a run out in a friendly against HibernianCredit: Getty
Left-back Tavares has been touted as a future Portugal internationalCredit: Getty
The Portuguese left-back, 21, is expected to provide competition for first choice defender Kieran Tierney.
But, according to his former boss Jorge Jesus, in years to come the 6ft star will be a mainstay for his country.
“Nuno Tavares will be the future left back for Benfica and the Portuguese national team,” Jesus revealed last year.
“I have no doubts. Yes, he has a lot to learn, but I like his offensive qualities and his desire to always play forward.”
However, his first few years as a pro haven’t gone without controversy.
Tavares began his youth career at rivals Sporting Lisbon, before joining the Seixal academy in 2015.
He made his breakthrough in the 2019-20 season, filling in ably for André Almeida at right-back.
His Primeira Liga debut against F.C. Paços de Ferreira was a Roy of the Rovers moment – scoring once and assisting twice.
In the next campaign, he mustered 14 more appearances in all competitions.
However, with Alex Grimaldo in front of him chances were always going to be limited.
Nuno Tavares will be the future left back for Benfica and the Portuguese national team.”Jorge Jesus, Benfica manager
GREAT GOING FORWARD
With a leggy running style likened to Alphonso Davies, Tavares’ main strength is going forward.
Given his height, he also has plenty of power to drive past his opposite number.
Arteta is already blessed with a great crosser of the ball in Scotland’s Tierney from the left flank.
Tavares shares a similar talent for crossing – from long passes to the back post to cut backs to the edge of the area, his range of delivery is superb.
If there’s a criticism to his game, it’s his concentration levels and positional play that have been questioned.
Defensive sessions with Steve Round, Arteta’s assistant, should help alleviate those weaknesses from his game.
Taveres’ leggy style has been compared to Alphonso DaviesCredit: Getty
Nuno linked up with his team-mates on Monday at training ahead of Arsenal’s trip to ScotlandCredit: Getty
Although Tavares showed plenty of promise at Benfica, there were times he tested the fans’ patience.
The talent was at the centre of controversy when a video he filmed of his barber slamming team-mate Grimaldo appeared on Instagram.
In the clip, his barber said: “This kid is the future, that f***ing Spaniard (Grimaldo) will never leave for the kid to flourish.”
Nuno replied, “If not in Benfica, it will be in another place,” which angered Benfica fans.
Then there was the big reveal of Lisbon-born wonderkid’s tattoo.
On his arm he has a massive lion tattoo, which also happens to be the nickname of Benfica’s rivals Sporting.
At Arsenal, under no-nonsense Arteta, Tavares will have to get used to being a squad player initially.
Gunners fans will hope that, at the least, he’s changed his barber.
Benfica fans fell out with Tavares after a controversial video was leaked with his barber slamming team-mate Alex GrimaldoCredit: AFP
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BUKAYO Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford shouldn’t feel disheartened after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.The brave trio join a list of star names who also failed from 12-yards in major tournaments.
Bukayo Saka should take comfort that plenty of great players have missed crucial penaltiesCredit: Getty
From a Ballon d’Or winner to France’s golden boy and even a US singer, Saka, Sancho and Rashford are in good company.
SunSport gives the lowdown on most shocking penalty misses.
We only recently saw how cruel penalty shootouts can be in this Euros – with France star Mbappe being the fall guy against Switzerland.
With the score standing at 5-4, the PSG star stepped up in their last-16 clash to keep his country in the competition.
Lo-and-behold, as often happens, the pressure was too much. Yann Sommer was the hero and France were out.
Cue a massive apology from Mbappe to the nation after.
Mbappe sees his penalty saved at Euro 2020Credit: Reuters
MARCO VAN BASTEN
Four years prior Dutch striker Van Basten was the hero of Netherlands’ Euro ’88 campaign.
But he would have forgotten his stunning volley in the final against the USSR after missing a spot-kick against Denmark in the ’92 semi-final against Denmark.
Peter Schmeichel guessed the right way and the-then World Footballer of the Year was left heartbroken.
Van Basten sees his effort pushed away by SchmeichelCredit: Rex
The setting was Portugal in 2004, and we were playing the hosts.
After a fascinating contest that ended 2-2 after extra time, it was a dreaded penalty shootout that would divide the teams.
First up was England captain Beckham, who previously missed his last two penalties.
And it wasn’t first time lucky, with Golden Balls slipping just as he was striking the ball and missing the target by some way.
Beckham loses his footing and misses against Portugal at Euro 2004Credit: Action Images
The 2006 World Cup final wasn’t short of incident – it was infamously the game where Zinedine Zidane lost his marbles and head-butted Marco Materazzi.
Forward Trezeguet, a hero six years prior with a golden goal against the Italians in the Euro 2000 final, stepped up to the mark with the score at 2-2.
However, perhaps feeling the heat he rattled an effort agains the bar. His was the only miss, as Italy were victorious 5-4.
Trezeguet’s effort cannons off the barCredit: Getty
Ghana were within crossbar inches of reaching the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup, in what has to be one of the greatest injustices in recent times,
The African nation were awarded a penalty in the last moments of extra time when Luis Suarez deliberately handled the ball on the line and was sent off.
Gyan had the chance to be a hero, but he thundered an effort against the crossbar.
Uruguay would then go on to win the penalty shootout 4-2 after Ghana’s spirit was shattered.
Asamoah Gyan is left heartbroken after missing his penalty against Uruguay in the last moments of extra timeCredit: AFP
The Divine Ponytail was Italy’s saviour more than once during the 1994 World Cup.
Baggio, the best player in the world, carried his country to the final where they would play a drab 0-0 draw with Brazil.
With five goals already to his name in the competition, a penalty in the shootout wouldn’t be too hard for Baggio to muster?
But it was. With tired legs, he fired his over the bar. Brazil were winners. Baggio was devastated.
Baggio inexplicably misses his spot kick in the 1994 World Cup finalCredit: AFP
It’s ironic that the 1994 World Cup began with a missed penalty and was ended by it.
Singer Diana Ross performed at a very OTT opening ceremony in Chicago, and she had one job.
During the elaborate set-up she had to take a penalty, get in target (we presume goalie would move out the way) and the goal would explode in dramatic fashion.
The goal and the goalie did their part, but Ross screwed her shot wide.
However, that didn’t deter the seasoned performer from continuing to belt out hit ‘I’m Coming Out’ as she rushed to a stage behind the now parted goal.
The penalty miss didn’t stop Ross belting out ‘I’m Coming Out’Credit: Rex Features
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