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    Chelsea given easier run at Aurelien Tchouameni transfer after Juventus pull out of race for Monaco star

    CHELSEA have been given a boost in their quest to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni after Juventus reportedly pulled out of the race.The 21-year-old has been heavily linked with a move away from the principality in 2022 following an impressive start to the season.
    Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni has been linked with a move to Chelsea next yearCredit: Getty
    Valued at £42million by the Ligue 1 outfit, Tchouameni has chipped in with two goals in 22 games for Niko Kovac’s men.
    His fine form saw him called up to the France senior side in August, with the player since being capped on seven occasions.
    Thomas Tuchel is understood to be a huge admirer of the ex-Bordeuax man, as he looks to lure him to Stamford Bridge next summer.
    Tchouameni, who is tied down at Monaco until 2024, has also been claimed to be on the radar of Juventus and Real Madrid.
    But according to Calciomercato, the Old Lady have decided against securing his services to give the Blues an easier run at landing him.
    They state that the Serie A side have deemed him as too expensive, with the club only open to signing him on loan, while Monaco will only allow him to move on a permanent deal.

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    As a result, Juve will now look to bring in other targets – notably Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic.
    Speaking to L’Equipe recently, Tchouameni declared that he isn’t paying attention to rumours over his future.
    He said: “My father called me, we talked about everything and he told me that I was on the front page of Marca. I went on Twitter and saw for myself.
    “I told him it was cool, but what does it actually matter? It doesn’t. The front page of Marca will not define me or allow me to perform well in matches.
    “It’s not real life, but it is the media world, the football business. They talk about me today but tomorrow, they’ll be talking about another.
    “In the dressing room, they put the cover up and laughed’ ‘Oh, you’re leaving us already?’.
    “It’s flattering, but I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about it.

    “When I started in Bordeaux, the media were already wondering every summer if Aurelien Tchouameni was going to move to a bigger club.
    “In 2018, they were already talking about Juventus or Milan.
    “I know for a fact that what is true in October is not necessarily what’s true in June. If I start to think that I’m going to leave, it will show directly in my performances on the pitch.”
    Chelsea stars Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso compete in bake off but Blues skipper cooks up ‘complete disaster’ More

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    Chelsea star Jorginho was paid measly £17 a WEEK in Italy before incredible rise to third in Ballon d’Or

    JORGINHO rounded off an incredible year by finishing third in the Ballon d’Or award rankings last night.The Chelsea star even ranked higher than Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe who ended up in sixth and ninth place respectively.
    Jorginho (far left) was on top of the world last night after clinching third place at the Ballon d’OrCredit: Getty
    But it wasn’t always glitzy bashes and accolades for the midfielder who used to receive a measly £17-a-week when playing in Italy for Veronas as a teenCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Only Lionel Messi who won the golden ball for the seventh time and runner-up Robert Lewandowski prevented Jorginho from scooping the accolade.
    But it wasn’t always glitz and glamour for the Brazilian-born Italian who started his career in Italy with Hellas Veronas being paid a measly £17-a-week wage to live on while living in a monastery with six other youngsters, reported Goal.
    His first cheque was so tight that even buying a happy meal was off the cards as it was too expensive.
    Jorginho who was 15 at the time, previously recalled to Players Tribune: “I’d go to the main square in Verona and buy a milkshake at McDonald’s.
    “It cost one euro. Fries? Burger? Forget it, man! Happy Meals were for the rich kids.”
    He also explained that the rest of his meagre pay packet was used for the basics such as mobile credit to talk to his family and for toiletries.
    Jorginho ended up in the cash-strapped position due to dodgy dealings by his then agent who pocketed £27,000 when the 29-year-old initially signed with Veronas.

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    HIs dire financial circumstances continued for a year-and-a-half until he met goalkeeper Rafael Pinheiro who took the Italy Euro 2020 winner under his wing.
    Rafael realised that Jorginho was being shortchanged and alerted Veronas’ hierarchy to his plight.
    Rafael explained to the Serie A side that if they wanted to keep hold of Jorginho they’d have to reward him with a proper contract or risk losing him.
    It then emerged that Veronas had a contract lined up for Jorginho all along, but his crooked agent hadn’t disclosed the offer, according to Rafael.
    The 39-year-old keeper then mediated negotiation proceedings between Jorginho and his family and the club to make sure he was given a fair contract this time around.
    And at this point, life changed for Jorginho as he was able to buy the things he desired.
    Rafael said: “After this, he bought a house for his parents and a car to have his own way of becoming a soccer player. It was impossible to be a player on €20-a-week.”
    These days, buying a Happy Meal is the least of Jorginho’s worries as he’s now considered one of the best players in the world.
    At Veronas he was known as the ‘Wolf of the future’ but nowadays he’s earned the moniker ‘The Professor’ for his intuitive knowledge of the game.
    His precision has helped him lift the Champions League with Chelsea in May, and lift the Euro 2020 trophy with Italy.
    But despite all his success, Jorginho’s never forgotten what Rafael did for him in Italy and up to this day they remain in close contact. referring to each other as brothers.
    And being Jorginho’s ‘brother’ comes with its perks as he’s given Rafael tickets to come and see all his big games, including Chelsea’s emphatic Champions League final win against Manchester City.
    Rafael added: “He is my brother, not with blood, but through our friendship.
    “For me, it was a good experience to see him win. He has won everything this year. He is the midfielder and the brains of his teams.”

    Rio Ferdinand is ‘baffled’ that Jorginho is among the favourites to win this year’s Ballon d’O More

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    Barcelona got £225m Inter offer for Lionel Messi in 2006 – more than QUADRUPLE the world-record transfer fee at time

    BARCELONA turned down a £225million Inter Milan bid for Lionel Messi in 2006, according to their former club president Joan Laporta.The Catalan politician served as the club’s chief between 2003 and 2010 before returning earlier this year.
    Messi was already hot property back in 2006Credit: AFP – Getty
    Joan Laporta revealed the bid back in AprilCredit: EPA
    And Laporta, 59, was asked about the future of unhappy talisman Lionel Messi – leading to a stunning admission.
    He told Radio Onda Cero in April: “Nobody who loves Barcelona can have doubts about Messi.
    “We rejected a £225m offer coming from Inter in 2006. [Massimo] Moratti wanted to bring him to his club.”
    The offer dwarfed what was the transfer world-record at the time, which was then the £46.6m that Real Madrid paid for Zinedine Zidane in 2001.
    At the time, inspired by the likes of Javier Zanetti, Adriano and Luis Figo, Inter had just won Serie A – while Messi had picked up his first Champions League medal with Barca.
    The Argentine, now 34, has gone on to pick up three more – but not since 2015.
    Ultimately, Barcelona lost their talisman for nothing when he departed for Paris Saint-Germain once his contract expired.
    And former club figure Jaume Llopis has hammered Laporta for his handling of the Messi and CVC investment saga.
    The transfer record was previously held by Zinedine Zidane at £46.6mCredit: AFP

    The former Espai Barca member told Cadena SER: “The first contract was not accepted because, according to Laporta, it meant mortgaging the TV rights of Barcelona for the next 50 years.
    “But CVC were willing to negotiate. And they did not negotiate either.
    “Laporta was convinced by Ferran Reverter, the new CEO, that it was not possible to sign with CVC, and by Florentino Perez with the European Super League project.
    “It also happens that Ferran Reverter has a long-standing friendship with Florentino Perez and between them they convinced him and Laporta to radically change his mind and refuse to continue negotiating.”
    Lionel Messi greets PSG fans as they light flares and scream his name at historic unveiling More

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    Jose Mourinho reveals ‘humble’ Roma kid Felix Afena-Gyan jumped on him to celebrate goal and remind him of £700 promise

    JOSE MOURINHO has revealed Roma match-winner Felix Afena-Gyan ran over and hugged him during his goal celebration because he was reminding him of their £700 bet.The 18-year-old youngster came off the bench with less than 15 minutes remaining with the deadlock yet to be broken against Genoa on Sunday.
    The youngster has burst onto the scene at RomaCredit: Getty
    Mourinho has confirmed he will buy Afena-Gyan the expensive shoesCredit: Getty
    Afena-Gyan then went on to score twice to win Roma the match 2-0, a brace that included a 25-yard thunderbolt in stoppage time.
    But it was his opening goal which led the teenager to sprint over to the sidelines and hug coach Mourinho.
    And the former Chelsea boss revealed after the game the reason behind Afena-Gyan’s celebration.
    He told Football Italia: “I had promised to buy Felix the shoes he really likes, which are really expensive – they cost 800 euros. So he ran over and told me not to forget!
    “Tomorrow morning, the first thing I do is buy him the boots.”
    Afena-Gyan was handed his Roma debut by Mourinho last month, a steep rise from when he was playing schoolboy football in Ghana just two years ago.

    He caught the eye of the first team after netting six goals in five games for Roma’s U19s and has now officially burst on to the scene for Mourinho’s side.
    In his three appearances so far, he has scored two goals and also changed the game as an impact sub against Cagliari.
    And Mourinho confirmed after his brace against Genoa that he would be staying with the first team from now on.
    He added: “I am sorry for Mister De Rossi and the Primavera squad, but Felix will stay with us.
    “The Primavera work close to us, so Felix and another four or five players have come across to the senior squad.
    “You get these kids now who think they know everything, but he is humble and you can sense he just absorbs all this information from everyone around him. That’s fantastic.
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    “What impressed me the most was his cool head in front of goal. If he is not in terms of technique fantastic, he does have a strong mentality.”
    Roma’s Serie A victory comes off the back of two successive league defeats before the international break.
    Mourinho’s side now sit fifth in the table, just three points behind Atalanta in fourth. More

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    Watch Roma kid Afena-Gyan pile on Mourinho in celebration as he comes off bench to score twice including STUNNER in win

    JOSE MOURINHO’S Roma returned to winning ways on Sunday night as teenager Felix Afena-Gyan netted a SENSATIONAL double in a 2-0 win over Genoa.The 18-year-old came on in the 74th minute with the game goalless and made a crucial impact on the match.
    Afena-Gyan was making his third appearance for RomaCredit: AP
    What a time to score your first goal for Roma! 🤩18-year-old Felix Afena-Gyan comes off the bench and nicks a vital late goal for Mourinho’s side in Genoa 👏 pic.twitter.com/D2qUWgcbVj— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 21, 2021

    The teenager sprinted over to Mourinho when he netted his first goalCredit: EPA
    Afena-Gyan grabbed hold of Mourinho and hugged him after scoring his first goal for Roma
    In the 82nd minute former Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan powered through the heart of the Genoa defence before sliding in the substitute to fire home from close range.
    And Afena-Gyan celebrated his first Roma goal in some style by storming over to the touchline and grabbing hold of Mourinho.
    The former Chelsea and Spurs manager did not look best pleased with the youngster as he reacted by telling his players to keep calm and remain focused.
    But Afena-Gyan then treated his manager to a moment of magic in stoppage time to seal the victory.
    The Ghanaian latched on to a loose ball midway inside the Genoa half and let rip with a venomous effort that flew into the top corner.
    Afena-Gyan was handed his Roma debut by Mourinho last month, a steep rise from when he was playing schoolboy football in Ghana just two years ago.

    😱 OH MY WORD!Felix Afena-Gyan unleashes an absolute thunderbolt to seal the win for Roma 🚀Two goals in 12 minutes for the 18-year-old! 👏 pic.twitter.com/gLsLPYdOkr— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 21, 2021

    He caught the eye of the first team after netting six goals in five games for Roma’s U19s and has now officially burst on to the scene for Mourinho’s side.
    In his three appearances so far, he has scored two goals and also changed the game as an impact sub against Cagliari.
    Mourinho referenced him during a post-match Instagram post last month, saying: “Game over… 3 points… Nice food (can’t go to dressing room) and one more kid Felix Afena-Gyan.”
    Speaking about his relationship with Mourinho, Afena-Gyan previously told journalist Gianluca di Marzio: “He is a great coach, especially with young players. He is a coach who encourages you, who motivates you, I like him a lot.
    “He pushes and encourages you to do what he wants, to give the best of you and improve day after day. That this relationship with me is due to the commitment I put into every training, to my hard work on the pitch.
    “I’m sure that if I didn’t work as hard as I do, the coach might not mention me in an Instagram photo like he did.
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    “Does the coach talk about my qualities? Probably the coach refers to some of my characteristics, I am aware of my speed and of attacking the depth, the spaces.”
    Roma’s Serie A victory comes off the back of two successive league defeats before the international break.
    Mourinho’s side now sit fifth in the table, just three points behind Atalanta in fourth. More

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    Meet North Korean football ace Han Kwang-Song, who Kim Jong-un banned from interviews and blocked from Prem transfer

    FORMER JUVENTUS ace Han Kwang-Song once had the world at his feet as one of Italy’s most promising young forwards.The 23-year-old, who is central to Kim Jong-un’s plan for North Korea to become a genuine force in world football, joined Qatari side Al-Duhail in 2020 after failing to make a single appearance in Turin.
    North Korea star Han Kwang-Song is now at  Qatari club Al-DuhailCredit: Getty Images
    The 23-year-old was once one of Italy’s brightest prospects but struggled at JuventusCredit: Getty Images
    Juve signed the player for around £4.25million in 2019 but he never played for the first-team, only appearing on the bench twice.
    The majority of his time was spent in the Under-23s, where he failed to score in 17 appearances at the third-tier Serie C level.
    A steep fall from grace for Han, who first arrived in Europe with Cagliari and went on to become the first-ever North Korean to play and score in Serie A.
    Born in Pyongyang, the forward featured at a football academy in Barcelona before returning to his homeland to join FC Chobyong.
    He then impressed at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup in Chile and Italian senator Antonio Razzi, close friends with Kim Jong-un, invited Han to join the ISM Academy in Italy.
    Their footballers have been prohibited from appearing on TV, otherwise they would have repatriated him. Han is scaredPerugia president Massimiliano Santopadre
    After breaking through at Cagliari, he soon began impressing on loan at Perugia, and his form saw him invited on to sports show La Domenica Sportiva.
    The star was waiting in his hotel in Milan to be taken to the studio when the government of Pyongyang reportedly ordered a ban on the starlet making a public appearance over the phone, according to La Stampa.
    Perugia president Massimiliano Santopadre said: “A call from a not very clear ministry figure arrived and it blocked everything.
    “Negotiating was impossible because Pyongyang want to talk only and exclusively with Han.
    “The situation with their government has become even more rigid and their footballers have been prohibited from appearing on TV, otherwise they would have repatriated him. Han is scared.”
    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un once blocked Han from making a TV appearance in ItalyCredit: REUTERS
    Mundo Deportivo claimed that Kim Jong-un acts as a father figure to Han and has always wanted to control everything, including the youngster’s career.
    The North Korean dictator was even said to have been an avid watcher of Serie A to keep up on his fellow countryman’s progress.
    Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool were once rumoured to be interesting in signing Han but the British government would have likely moved to block any Premier League move.
    Expert in North Korean sport, Dr Udo Merkel, claimed this would have occurred because part of Han’s wages have to be sent home by law.
    The move is not going to happen as long as the UN sanctions stay in placeDr Udo Merkel on Han’s failed Premier League move

    The Brighton University lecturer told the Daily Star: “Under current UN sanctions money sent to the North Korean government would be seriously considered support for the nuclear programme for the country.
    “So I don’t think, under current the situation with several UN sanctions, and several UN resolutions banning the country from trading with any other countries to export, for example oil products and lots of other things to North Korea, that the move would be possible.
    “The move is not going to happen as long as the UN sanctions stay in place.”
    Asked if the British government would block the move, he said: “I think that is the most likely scenario.” More

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    Brit footballers who tried to crack Serie A include Beckham, Gascoigne, Souness, Smalling, Ramsey and now Abraham

    TAMMY ABRAHAM is the latest British footballer to have a crack at Serie A.The forward completed a £34million switch to Roma from Chelsea in the summer, linking up with former Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
    Tammy Abraham has completed a £34m move to Roma from Chelsea
    The England international is believed to be on £80,000 a week for five years – the same as he was on at Chelsea.
    And it is understood Chelsea inserted a £68m buy-back clause into the deal – which can be triggered in two years’ time.
    Here SunSport examines the British players who have have walked the path before Abraham by trying to boss Serie A.
    FIKAYO TOMORI
    Tomori joined AC Milan on loan in January as he looked for more regular football having been frozen out by Chelsea.
    Milan made the deal permanent in June – paying the Blues £24m for the centre-back.
    The 23-year-old impressed in his first five months at the San Siro, where he made 22 appearances and even scored a goal.
    His early-season form in 2021-22 earned him a recall to the England senior squad, too.
    Fikayo Tomori has been with AC Milan since January and made the move permanent in June

    AARON RAMSEY
    Ramsey’s Italian job could be over.
    The former Arsenal midfielder, who joined Juventus in 2019, is being linked with a moved back to the Premier League – with the likes of  Newcastle, Wolves and Tottenham said to be in the hunt for the Wales star’s services.
    He hasn’t quite hit the heights in Serie A as he did with the Gunners on our shores, and he’s certainly not the first British footballer to try and crack Italian football.
    Aaron Ramsey has failed to light up Serie ACredit: Getty Images – Getty
    ASHLEY YOUNG
    In January 2020, Young left Manchester United for Inter Milan, in what seemed quite a strange move.
    In the twilight years of his career (he’s now 36) the winger turned full-back didn’t appear to have much left to offer.
    However, he enjoyed a renaissance in Milan under Antonio Conte – helping end the club’s long wait for the Serie A title.
    He moved back to Aston Villa in the summer of 2021.
    Ashley Young’s Inter Milan won the 20-21 Serie A titleCredit: Getty
    CHRIS SMALLING
    Smalling, 31, enjoyed a successful loan at Roma in the 2019-20 season, so the club decided they had to retain his services.
    They even paid Manchester United a whopping £14m to secure a deal for the centre-back.
    However, last season his fitness was called into question.
    He suffered with knee and thigh injuries and even had food poisoning, which saw him play just 21 games.
    And this season things are not much better, missing much of the season with a hamstring problem.
    Chris Smalling has had mixed fortunes at RomaCredit: EPA
    RAY WILKINS
    To consider Butch’s success, you need only look back to 2018.
    His premature death, at the age of 61, saw former clubs Chelsea and Man Utd go into mourning and pay tribute to their former midfielder – and AC Milan were no different.
    Team-mate Franco Baresi held up a Milan shirt with Wilkins’ name on the back and laid a wreath while the players wore black armbands at the San Siro.
    Wilkins spent three years in Milan and set a British record when he moved from Old Trafford in 1984 for £1.5m.
    Former Chelsea and Man United midfielder Ray Wilkins was a huge success at AC MilanCredit: Getty – Contributor
    “It was an immense time for me,” Wilkins recalled.
    “The game was played more like an international than a league game, like a game of chess where you had to pit your wits against the best.”
    Despite not winning a trophy in his three years at the club, Wilkins was one of the big success stories of British exports to Italy.
    Milan’s website remembers him as ‘a serious and meticulous professional’ known for his ‘exemplary correctness’ and ‘extraordinary tactical intelligence’.
    Franco Baresi paid tribute to Wilkins at the Milan derby after his death in AprilCredit: Getty – Contributor
    PAUL INCE
    The Guv’nor spent two years on the blue and black side of Milan.
    Like Wilkins, Ince is remembered as a success for his time at the San Siro after making a £7.5m move from United in 1995.
    But Ince’s start in Italy wasn’t quite so smooth as there were rumours of a return to the Premier League just five months after arriving.
    Ince, who lived by the picturesque Lake Como, later revealed that he may well have gone back to England had Roy Hodgson not taken charge.
    The England international brought energy to the Inter midfield alongside Nicola Berti as the two men dominated the centre of the park.
    Paul Ince had a difficult start at Inter but is still adored by fansCredit: AP:Associated Press
    Ince is remembered as a hero by the Inter fans, especially after helping the club reach the Uefa Cup final in 1996.
    Sadly for the England man, it ended with the all-too-familiar feeling of defeat in a penalty shoot-out.DAVID PLATT
    If it wasn’t for that stunning volley in extra time of England’s Italia 90 quarter-final, Platt may have never made the move.
    The following year he was signed by Bari from Aston Villa in a deal worth £5.5m and immediately immersed himself in the Italian culture.
    “I wanted to become an Italian, speak like an Italian, to live and eat like an Italian,” Platt once said.
    It took just a few months for him to be fluent in the language.
    Despite Bari being relegated, Platt was a success in the side and earned a move to Juventus.
    His stay in Turin wasn’t so fruitful and he ended up joining Sven Goran Eriksson at Sampdoria where he enjoyed his best period, with 17 goals in 55 appearances.
    Platt was so highly regarded, he ended up returning to be the club’s manager in 1998, but that didn’t work out quite so well.
    David Platt immersed himself in Italian culture after joining Bari in 1991Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    Platt played for three Italian clubs and his biggest success came at SampdoriaCredit: Getty – Contributor
    PAUL GASCOIGNE
    Mainstream English interest in Serie A began with Gazza.
    His £5.5m move from Spurs to Lazio saw millions of English people follow the Italian game and led to coverage on Channel 4.
    Gazzetta Football Italia was born out of the England man’s move.
    Gascoigne is remembered fondly in Italy and his iconic celebration, with arms outstretched after scoring an 89th-minute equaliser against rivals Roma, will never be forgotten.
    But Gazza’s time in Serie A saw him struggle with injury problems.
    In three seasons at Lazio, he managed to play in only 47 games and score just six goals.
    Failing to learn the language saw Gazza struggle to settle and he ended up moving to Rangers in 1995.
    Recently, however, he kept a host of young Italian fans riveted by his antics in their version of I’m a Celebrity.
    Paul Gascoigne made Italian football popular among the English but his time in Serie A was plighted by injuriesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    DAVID BECKHAM
    Becks loved Milan so much he went there twice.
    Two years after leaving Real Madrid for LA Galaxy, the former England captain headed on loan to the San Siro and was a hit in the red and black of AC Milan.
    Beckham was back on the continent and competing at the top again but his sojourn was seen as a money-maker in Milan.
    Then vice-president Adriano Galliani said: “Football today is about full stadiums and sponsors, and superstars like Beckham fill them up. With him, Kaka and Ronaldinho, it will be a dream team.”
    It was a star-studded squad but they won nothing.
    Beckham scored twice in 18 appearances in his first season but played just 11 games the following campaign.
    David Beckham was on loan at AC Milan twiceCredit: Getty – Contributor
    ASHLEY COLE
    A contender for the Premier League’s greatest left-back, it didn’t quite work out for Cole in Rome.
    The former Arsenal and Chelsea man’s most memorable moment from two years at Roma was actually off the pitch.
    A team photo appeared to show Cole physically separate from his team-mates, with subsequent stories of how he was isolated.
    In an interview with Soccer AM, Cole explained the snap: “I’m on the end [of the line] and my friend next to me Urby Emanuelson was stood next to me – but he leaned forward.
    “I’m so hot and tired and stood there like this [Cole slumps]… I had friends there, I had great friends.”
    Cole’s contract at the Stadio Olimpico was terminated by mutual consent in 2016 after just 16 appearances for the club.
    Ashley Cole’s time at Roma is memorable for this incredible team photo
    Ashley Cole’s contract at Roma was terminated by mutual consent in 2016Credit: Reuters
    JOE HART
    It was meant to be his revival.
    After being dropped by new Man City boss Pep Guardiola, England’s former No1 headed to Torino on loan to revive his career.
    But the move didn’t go so well.
    In Hart’s first game he was blamed for Atalanta’s equaliser when his punch from a corner fell to an opponent who scored.
    And it all ended in acrimony when Torino’s president criticised the keeper for his performances and mentality.
    Urbano Cairo told Tuttosport: “There’s too much being said about Hart.
    “Since this has been happening, his performance levels have dropped. This is already the third time we concede a goal this way and that’s a bit too much.”
    Joe Hart tried to revive his career with a loan move to TorinoCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    GRAEME SOUNESS
    Rewind three decades and Graeme Souness’ move to Sampdoria saw the club rise to a greater status in Italy.
    The Scot marshalled the midfield and dominated each game in his two years at Samp in the mid-80s.
    Unlike many of the Brits abroad, Souness lifted the Coppa Italia in his first season at the club with a win over AC Milan after he’d scored in the first leg.
    Souness remembered Samp as a welcoming club.
    He told Football Italia: “We had a great President in Paolo Mantovani and he treated everyone like his own son. It’s a lovely club in beautiful city.
    “I was lucky enough to be there and I can honestly say it was one of the best times in my career.”
    Graeme Souness thrived in Italy and won the Coppa Italia in his first year at SampdoriaCredit: Getty – Contributor
    LEE SHARPE
    After struggling with injuries, Leeds boss David O’Leary loaned Sharpe out to Sampdoria.
    The former Man Utd midfielder was joining David Platt – the club’s boss – and looking to revive his career.
    But an issue with Platt’s coaching badges meant he was replaced by Luciano Spalletti, and Sharpe’s opportunities nose-dived.
    “I’d had a while out with a cruciate knee injury,” Sharpe said.
    “I wasn’t properly match-fit. So they put me on a training programme and in matches I was getting half an hour here and an hour there.
    “But after four or five weeks Platty ran into difficulty because he didn’t have his coaching badges and it all fell away really.”
    Lee Sharpe’s loan move from Leeds didn’t work out after a change of managementCredit: Reuters
    IAN RUSH
    Did he say it or didn’t he?
    The prolific Welsh striker’s two years at Juventus are remembered for a controversial quote that Rush denies ever saying.
    “I couldn’t settle in Italy, it was like living in a foreign country,” he was claimed to have said.
    Speaking to FourFourTwo in 2016, Rush said: “I didn’t actually say Italy was ‘like living in a foreign country’.
    Ian Rush’s time in Italy is remembered for a controversial quote he claims he never saidCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    “No one has ever seen a direct quote from me saying that. I’m blaming Kenny Dalglish.
    “When he re-signed me, a reporter asked me, ‘Why have you come back?’ Kenny quipped: ‘He said it was like playing in a foreign country.’ He’s got a lot to answer for!”
    Rush was welcomed to Turin by 5,000 adoring fans but went on to score just seven goals in 29 appearances.
    He remembered the Old Lady as ‘the right club at the wrong time’.
    Tammy Abraham talks about joining new club Roma in £34m transfer from Chelsea More

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    Arsenal considering signing Juventus star Dejan Kulusevski in swap transfer for Nicolas Pepe

    ARSENAL are reportedly interested in signing Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski in a swap deal for Nicolas Pepe.The Gunners splashed the cash in the summer transfer window and were the biggest spenders in the Premier League.
    Kulusevski could be set for a move to the Premier LeagueCredit: Getty
    Pepe has struggled since arriving in North LondonCredit: Rex
    But rather than resting on their laurels, Mikel Arteta is hoping to improve his squad further and believes Kulusevski could be the addition they need.
    The 21-year-old has featured 62 times for the Serie A giants since making his debut in 2020, scoring eight goals.
    But he has been out favour so far this season, starting just two of Juventus’ 12 league matches.
    As a result, he has been linked with a move away from Italy, with Tottenham also keeping tabs on the talented Swede.
    And Tutto Juve are now reporting that Arsenal would be willing to offer record transfer Pepe in exchange for Kulusevski.
    Pepe, 26, arrived at the Emirates in 2019 for a huge £72million, shattering the club’s previous highest fee of £56m for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

    But he has failed to live up to the expectations of Arsenal fans, netting just 25 times in 98 games.
    In the 2021-22 campaign so far the Ivory Coast international has started five of the Gunners’ 11 Premier League games.
    And with the likes of Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard in the squad, he could now be surplus to requirements.
    However, it was reported earlier this week that Arsenal are struggling to find a suitor for Pepe as they attempt to offload him.
    With his current deal running until 2024, he is expected to be incredibly difficult to sell for a cash value.
    So a swap for Kulusevski may be the perfect solution to Arsenal’s Pepe-shaped problem.
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    As well as the Juve forward, Arsenal have also been linked with a move for Club Brugge winger Noa Lang.
    A £25million January bid is reportedly being prepared for Lang – the exact price tag slapped on Pepe’s head.
    But Arsenal boss Arteta faces competition from the likes of AC Milan to land the winger’s signature. More