I wanted to take this Azzurri weekend to take some time off from the boys in yellow and red, but the mass media and info leakers of the world had other ideas. So here I am, tackling this bullshit rumors, inane news bits and FIGC gavel bangings which have so unexpectedly been bestowed upon us during this, the eve of the international weekend. So, if you're late to the party, here's the Azzurri-Georgia preview, now it's time for Roma.
Also, Mancini has to give himself golden showers now that he is newly single. Maybe he should just check craigslist.
Mancini - Di Natale Swap, Say It Ain't So...
My day full of exciting packing and cleaning was rudely interrupted by this little nugget from our favorite journalistic geniuses, channel 4 (not that an excuse to stop wasn't welcome):
Roma are planning an offer of up to £15m for Antonio Di Natale according to the latest reports in Italy.
Roma boss Luciano Spalletti believes Toto is the right man for his 4-2-3-1 system and the perfect replacement for Amantino Mancini, who could leave the Capitale at the end of the season.
The Brazilian winger is unsure whether to renew his contract, which expires on June 2009, and the Lupi could decide to cash in this summer.
Mancini has been eyed by Liverpool and Lyon, with the French giants ready to make a more than satisfactory £13m bid for him.
Note: C4 thieved this directly from controcampo and that £15m translated to roughly €21.5m. Grab the barf bag.
Listen, if Spalletti wants to swap Antonio Di Natale for Mancini AND €3m, then I'm turning in my Roman fancard and jumping on the Livorno front runner bandwagon. This summer his royal highness of insanity, Pietro Leonardi, was holding out for a whopping €10m for Toto (I prefer Dorothy). So his first 6 weeks of this season have seen that price more than double? Really? For a 30 year old striker who averages just 9 goals per Serie A campaign? Please.
The one worrisome part is The Grand Imperial Poobah's neverending hard on for his ex-Udinese men, picking up Little David and being less than subtle about his desire to nab Dorothy and Vincenzo Iaquinta last spring. How badly does he want Di Natale? Enough to sell off a guy who appears to be balking at signing his contract extension? Combining his love for Dorothy with the past situations with Cassano and Chivu and his supposed recent "bust up" with Mancini (reportedly putting him in his place), and this becomes altogether plausible, if improbable. (Also, picking up Di Natale in January means he's still cup eligible, food for thought.)
As for Mancini, who the hell knows how much of this is accurate. What we do know is it's October and we have yet to hear much about putting pen to paper and inking an extension to the contract that runs out after next season (June 2009), even though the month still has time left. So, the earlier they offload him, the higher their potential asking price (duh). What they sure as hell do not want is Mancinigate next summer, and having Mancini pick his club (Inter) and allowing the owner of said club (Moratti) make a ridiculous salary offer to his dickhead agent (Veloz - he is a dickhead) and once again eliminating any amount of leverage the Giallorossi hierarchy possibly can accrue. And as we all know, Moratti has wanted Mancini for a loooooooong time and that Figo guy will most likely be taking the next train to either retirement or big bucks Qatar after this year - leaving a spot open on the wings. Almost sickening to see what could possibly happen next summer. Chivugate all over again.
While I'm all for Mancini staying, if he doesn't sign an extension soon, I think we may see more of these rumors and I think they might actually be fairly true. Much will likely depend on the CL success or failures, but I would not be surprised one bit if Mancini has yet to sign an extension by January, he is put on the block.
As far as the numbers go in that rumor above, they're bullshit. Di Natale isn't worth nearly €21.5m. Mancini is worth more than €18.5m. And Di Natale isn't even close to Mancini's price - whatever it is. However, I could see something materializing with Toto and the same with Mancini, especially if Jean-Michel Aulas and Rafa Benitez see that 'For Sale' sign go up (sorry, JMA, guess who's winning that one).
Totti Suspiciously Avoids Drug Test; Or, He Had A Child
Just read this article:
MILAN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - A possible doping case against AS Roma striker Francesco Totti has been dropped, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said on Friday.
A statement on FIGC's Web site (www.figc.it) said that its Federal Court of Justice had agreed to archive the case after a request from the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping unit.
It gave no details of the possible offence committed by Totti but Italy's ANSA news service said the 31-year-old had been late for a routine doping test on May 13.
His second child Chanel was born on this date, which may be a reason why he was late for the test.
Under the rules, anti-doping authorities had to investigate the case although it had been kept quiet. The release of the statement stunned Italy, despite the fact the case was being archived. If new evidence emerges, the case can be reopened.
No shit, huh? There was a fucking investigation for this? The guy had a kid. He wanted to be there. Case closed. The end. Don't even get me started on WADA and the IOC. Completely illogical agencies which are run by paranoia. Try being an athlete and getting just a common cold. The answer? Deal with it. Doping doesn't need to be regulated as much as these agencies do. (I'm done - but I blame Lance)
Napoli Fans Banned
I'll keep this brief. I don't like the politics and extracurricular activities of football. It's still just a sport and I think too many fans forget that. These guys are getting paid a lot of money to be kids again, and in most instances it shouldn't "define" who they are as people. Violence in the stands is inexcusable and a black mark on those who participate. Put things in relative perspective. There is much more in life than we should be up in arms about, like the atrocities throughout Africa. Or the damage we are doing as a collective society to the environment. Or the intolerances of genders, races, religions and various demographic groups.
If banning Napoli fans for an away game will help curb violence then I am all for it. If emptying out the Olimpico for the game will help curb violence then I am all for it. Do the Napoli fans deserve it? I can't say. Do other clubs deserve it more? Probably. But if it will help, I don't care. Do whatever needs to be done, and punish all of those who are deserving. But drastic measures need to be taken. It's just a game.
(I can't even begin to imagine what would happen if I was at a game and I heard racist chants, as was the case with some Inter fans recently. I know I would be dragged out of that stadium in handcuffs along with as many offenders on stretchers as possible - and I'm white. Sometimes I'm ashamed to be a fan.)
I) Maybe I missed the memo on this one, but Alessio Cerci is being compared to Thierry Henry all of a sudden. Seriously, I knew he was good and performing well, but does anyone think we're going a little far at the moment? Let's turn the hype meter way down people.
II) Non-Roma, but I figure this needs to be answered. From goal.com: "Will Gianluigi Buffon Become The Best Ever?"
There are two separate questions here as far as I'm concerned. One was unasked, which is "Is Buffon the best of all time." In a word: No. That's the Black Spider, Lev Yashin.
The other is: "What does the future hold?" Tough question, because Buffon is in his goalkeeping prime (29) at the moment, and likely has another 5-6 years minimum with which to terrorize Italian strikers. While Yashin didn't play for either a national or club (at least on the European scene) powerhouse, he dominated games from between the pipes. I used to own an old DVD of football history, and the brilliance that Yashin supplied was amazing. To the point where he is still today the only goalkeeper in history to take home the European Footballer of the Year Award (selection committee notwithstanding, it still means a little - especially for a keeper).
Gigi's performance in Germany was phenomenal, with one own goal and a PK conceded - just phenomenal. Much of the credit goes to Fabio Cannavaro & Friends rebuilding the Berlin Wall in front of goal, but that does not mean Gigi was not tested hard at times. To most of us it was much of the same that we'd seen in Serie A over the past however many years. Yashin won a Euro, but I don't think we can compare team accomplishments because this Azzurri side is vastly superior to the old USSR. Here's a nice stat: 78 USSR caps, 70 goals conceded. Buffon has the same number of caps as of today, with 57 goals conceded. Could that difference be attributed to having names like Nesta, Maldini, Cannavaro, etc etc in front of Buffon? I think you could make that argument.
I don't know nearly enough to comment on the domestic side of the USSR in the 50's & 60's, but we do know Gigi Buffon has gone up against some pretty decent Italian and European sides. The other difference is athletes of today are bigger, faster, stronger, have better training methods and better equipment, amongst other things. Having seen some video of Lev and a helluva lot of Gigi over the past few years, I think it's fair to say Lev dominated his era like no goalkeeper in history, including Gigi. However, Gigi will most likely be the best goalkeeper in history and probably should be by the time his career is over. Evolution is just running its course.
As a Roma fan, having Gianluca Curci being dubbed "the next Gigi" really is scintillating. Hell, if he is even 75% of Gigi they easily have the best keeper in the peninsula. And then we'll have another Italian-Russian debate: Curci or Igor Akinfeyev?
III) Marco Andreolli lives! Not only that, but he wants to come back in the last 5 minutes of The Derby and score a goal against the bastards in baby blue. I have smaller goals. Like seeing him on the field before March. But either one works.
IV) Matteo Ferrari and his reps will be meeting with the management next week. Stay tuned, because if they can't wrap up these extensions, January could be a very busy month.