Lorenzo Insigne: Napoli President Admits Star Man Could Be Sold (Don’t Get Excited Liverpool Fans)

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has conceded that Lorenzo Insigne could be sold this summer, despite a previous insistence that the forward would remain at the club.

The 28-year-old homegrown talent has played at Napoli, bar three loan spells, his entire career and is something of a club icon at Stadio San Paolo, having scored 77 goals in over 300 appearances. 

Regardless, his future is often speculated on in the gossip columns with frequent links to the Premier League and many of Europe’s other big hitters.

Lorenzo Insigne

Napoli president De Laurentiis has frequently stamped out talk of a transfer, but now seems to have softened his stance, hinting that Insigne could move under the right circumstances.

De Laurentiis told reporters, as quoted by ​TEAMtalk: “If we receive offers that can allow us to replace them then [Insigne and teammate Allan] we can talk about it. If not, if we receive offers in the last 10 days of the transfer window then it’s not possible anymore.”

Back in winter, it was reported that ​Liverpool had seen a ​€70m bid rejected for Insigne – who scored the winner in a 1-0 win for Napoli over the Reds in the Champions League group stages. However, manager ​Jurgen Klopp later dismissed those rumours by saying, “We will not sign Lorenzo Insigne. He’s a very good player, but I guess he has a long-term contract at Napoli and we will not even try.”

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Whether the oft-outspoken De Laurentiis’ comments give Klopp and the Liverpool hierarchy pause for thought remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely.

Liverpool appear destined for a summer of little activity on the recruitment front, with a backup full back the only real necessity for the European champions.

Despite Daniel Sturridge’s departure, most credible sources claim young start Rhian Brewster and Champions League hero Divock Origi will be afforded more game time in 2019/20.

Insigne too had his say on his future back in May, suggesting he’s going nowhere when he told Sky Sport Italia (via TEAMtlak): “A contract renewal? I’m waiting for the president.

“For my part there’s maximum availability. We both want to move forward together. I hope that the signing of the contract will come soon.”

Chances are De Laurentiis, a wily operator accustomed to public mind games, is simply using the media to his own end as contract negotiations with Insigne continue. That is, if the comments have even been reported correctly.

Meanwhile, Napoli’s official account shot down rumours that manager Carlo Ancelotti had sanctioned the sales of stars Allan and Insigne, with the comment ‘silly season is now in full swing.’

That much we can all agree on.

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Women’s World Cup Diaries: It’s Time for Referee Discourse 2 – Electric Boogaloo

It’s been 20 days​ since the Women’s World Cup kicked off. 20 short, short days in which we’ve seen records shattered, new laws applied, upsets, people being upset, penalties, penalties, VAR, penalties, VAR and VAR again. 

The tournament is reaching its final stages, down to just the eight elite teams who’ll fight it out to hold the world championship belt (it’s a belt, right?) for the next four years. This is where the finest margins separate the best sides, where the smallest decisions could be the difference between glory and four years in the wilderness. 

Hell, there are still Olympic places up for grabs. 


Getting refereeing decisions right is more important than ever, when matches – futures, careers – can hinge on a single decision. This is why VAR was brought into football, to get these decisions right and to make sure the human error of a non-player doesn’t make the difference. It’s the perfect system. 

Which, obviously, is why this has been one of the most controversial World Cups ever on the refereeing side, with more penalties awarded already than any Women’s World Cup in history. And we haven’t even kicked off the quarter-finals yet.

Pierluigi Collina came out this week in his role as chairman of FIFA’s Referees Committee and gave a 90 minute press conference which…could charitably be described as ‘detailed’, and less charitably described as ‘like a bald Bielsa’. He got out from behind the desk and showed people screenshots of VAR decisions on his phone, to ‘prove’ that they were correct. They were, as they say, the actions of a severely rattled man. 

The Pro Evolution cover star is on the defensive after three weeks of controversy, including Cameroon disagreeing with a VAR ruling on the pitch against England, new penalty laws for goalkeepers being enforced (in a new way), Japan being knocked out by a VAR-awarded penalty for a harsh handball, and suggestions that the biggest event in the women’s game has been used as a ‘guinea pig’ for changes. 

In a lot of ways, Collina’s explanations were fair – the World Cup was unfortunate to kick off a couple of days earlier than the Under-20 World Cup, Copa America and AFCON, but all of those have been applying the same laws. 

There’s still some tone deafness about the penalty thing though. “The vast majority of penalties taken [before June 1 rule-change] were wrongly taken, particularly those saved, because it was almost impossible for the goalkeeper to respect the laws. We had to change something. We have been surprised [by the criticism]…honestly, we thought we made the goalkeeper’s job easier.”

To an extent, he’s right. But by applying the new, more lenient law to the letter – while the old law was not applied – they haven’t made the goalkeeper’s job easier. If the old law had been applied, then the change would be welcomed. It wasn’t, so it hasn’t been. 


What They’ve Said

“I genuinely cannot understand what’s going on in this tournament,” Casey Stoney, Manchester United Women’s manager.

“There have been some strange situations of course…Goal-line technology is good for the game but I don’t think anyone has the final solution for VAR yet,” Thomas Dennerby, Nigeria manager. 

“There was just a miscarriage of justice. Why should I talk about anything else. A game and a sport and the referee made a lot of mistakes,” Alain Djeumfa, Cameroon coach. 

“We were prepared for Cameroon to be really physical, but it seems like the ref in our game was a little lenient…I’m not sure if they’re thinking about the fact that you can only get two cards before you miss a game, but if you set an example you won’t have to give a lot of cards,” Ali Riley, New Zealand captain.

We were trying to tell the ref that [Spain were too physical] in the beginning, it felt like they were up Alex [Morgan]’s back every single time and it wasn’t called that much,” Megan Rapinoe, USA captain. 

“Ultimately we’ve got to get on with it, whether it’s right or wrong it’s the rule. Maybe everyone at the World Cup should stop moaning about it, because it’s not going to change,” Phil Neville, England coach. 

“It just seems cruel. It just seems really really cruel, and so pedantic. For something so new to be introduced on such a big stage is kind of hard to get your head around in terms of changing habits,” Karen Bardsley, England goalkeeper. 

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Man Utd Ask About Samuel Umtiti Future After Barcelona Line Up Victor Lindelof as Target

​Manchester United have apparently inquired about the future of their long-term transfer target Samuel Umtiti at Barcelona.

The France international has been the subject of much speculation throughout the transfer window so far, being most notably linked with a move away from the club as Barcelona looked to sign Ajax sensation Matthijs de Ligt.

The Dutchman now appears to be off to Juventus after agreeing personal terms with the Turin-based club, but Barcelona’s Umtiti is claimed to be emerging as a transfer target for long-term suitors Manchester United.

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According to Mundo Deportivo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has asked about Umtiti’s availability ahead of the 2019/20 season, something which has come as a reaction to the news that Barcelona were interested in signing Victor Lindelöf.

United have been heavily linked with a move for Umtiti in the past during his days at Lyon, and while the Red Devils are in the market for a new centre back, it’s unknown how much of this latest story is simply a reaction to Lindelöf being eyed up by Barça.

Officially, Barcelona are not entertaining the idea of selling Umtiti this summer as he’s still seen as a vital part of the club’s long-term plans.

Behind the scenes, however, MD claim that there are genuine concerns over the 25-year-old’s physicality, having already seen Umtiti miss large chunks of his three-year spell in Catalonia due to injuries, specifically relating to a knee problem last season.

As things stand, Barcelona are currently planning for the new season with four centre-backs in mind: Gerard PiquéClément Lenglet, Umtiti and Jean-Clair Todibo – though the latter could be loaned out depending on his performances in pre-season.


But any new incomings, either de Ligt or Lindelöf being among them, could see Barcelona soften their stance on Umtiti as they’ll look to balance the books this summer, having already spent €87m to sign Frenkie de Jong (Ajax) and Emerson (Atlético Mineiro), while a deal for Antoine Griezmann seems imminent.

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Ayoze Perez Seeking Newcastle Exit Following Departure of Rafa Benitez

​Newcastle forward Ayoze Perez could be heading for the St. James’ Park exit door this summer, with Valencia reportedly interested in bringing him back to Spain.

The 25-year-old is a fans favourite up on Tyneside, but has spoken of discontent at recent months over the club’s lack of investment in new players – which in Perez’s opinion would allow the club to reach the next level.

Rafael Benitez

Couple that frustration with the departure of manager Rafa Benitez, and it’s apparent why Perez is reportedly interested in talking to the Champions League hopefuls.

That information comes from Goal who claim that Valencia are keen to strike a deal for Perez. Newcastle, though, will hold out for a fee of around £22m – which the Spaniards deem to be too much at this stage of the transfer window. 

Perez has scored 48 goals in 195 appearances for Newcastle since joining the club from Tenerife, netting 33 Premier League goals in that time. Last season, he formed a high quality partnership with Salomon Rondon and scored ten goals in his final 12 appearances of the season to steer the Magpies to safety.

Ayoze Perez

Despite their success, ​Newcastle have failed to sign Rondon on a permanent basis, instead allowing the Venezuelan striker to return to parent club West Brom. Benitez, who will depart as manager when his contract expires at the end of June, was keen to pursue a deal but the club feel the Baggies’ valuation is excessive as he is nearing 30 years of age.

Uncertainty among the playing staff, uncertainty of who the manager will be and uncertainty of who will be owning the club heading into next season paints a very sorry picture up in the North East – and fans will no doubt be hoping for any positive news in the upcoming days.

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What Man Utd Can Expect if They Sign Sean Longstaff – From a Newcastle Fan’s Perspective

Daniel James. Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Sean Longstaff?

Yes, it seems as if ​Ole Gunnar Solskjær can’t get enough of the Newcastle midfielder, who may very well become the Red Devils’ third signing of the summer (assuming there aren’t any major cock-ups with AWB’s impending arrival). 

So, given all the attention surrounding the Englishman, I thought it would behove you, the ​Man Utd faithful, to learn a little bit more about the 21-year-old and what he could bring to Old Trafford – from the perspective of a Toon fan.


He’s a Born Leader

Sean Longstaff,Jamaal Lascelles

Longstaff had a breakout season in the league last year, and he only played nine games. How is this possible? 

For one, his introduction to the Newcastle midfield came at a time when the ​Magpies were, as is tradition, fighting a battle against relegation. He had a 17-minute cameo against Liverpool for his first taste of Premier League action (where we got smacked 4-0), and then got the start in a 2-1 loss against Chelsea a couple of weeks later.

But it was the next seven matches where Longstaff demonstrated that he had the cojones to whip a broken Newcastle squad into shape. Playing with a controlled ferocity and commanding presence, Longstaff’s composure, passing and tackling (more on this later) created a sense of calm throughout the Magpies midfield, and it was his effort in the incredible 2-1 win against Man City – where he won the decisive penalty to put the Toon ahead – that had fans losing their collective minds.

Here is a ‘man’ (he is only 21 after all) who was born to wear the Newcastle armband. Ready to give his all for the shirt, and get stuck into teammates who aren’t doing the same. You don’t find his type all that often.


You Like Passing? He’s Got Passing

Sure, nine games is a small sample size – but we saw enough of Longstaff’s skill at finding his teammates last season to know that he can become an exceptional passer from a deep playmaker position in the midfield.

He banged out an average of 32.6 passes per game, achieving an 80.9% success rate – including one assist. 


He’s Not Afraid of Getting Stuck in

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Longstaff’s work rate is off the charts, as evidenced by his hounding of Fernandinho in the aforementioned victory over Manchester City, which led to the penalty. 

He’s also an excellent tackler, capable of winning the ball cleanly whilst also sending a message to both opponents and teammates. That message? Don’t f*#k with me.

​Tackle Success Rate 76%​
Interceptions​ ​10
​Recoveries ​46
​Duels Won ​38
​Blocked Shots ​3

Remember, the above is only for nine games, but he had a higher successful challenge rate (64%) and only eight fewer interceptions than Paul Pogba last season. Food for thought.


Did I Mention He’s Only 21?


At such a young age, Lonstaff has already shown that he’s not afraid of playing  – and leading – on the big stage. 

His heart and desire can’t be questioned, his endurance is outstanding (the guy is like N’Golo Kante, he never stops running) and his passing and tackling, whilst still raw and in need of refinement, can help him become a future England international and one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League – that’s not an exaggeration. 

If United do buy him, they will have an outstanding young player on their hands, who if they mould and coach properly, can become one of the greats for the Red Devils. It pains me to write that, seeing that he’s a boyhood Newcastle fan who worked his way up through the academy, but with the current situation at St James’ Park, he deserves better.

If you love someone, set them free. 

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