Rumour Has It: Arsenal revive interest in Juventus' Locatelli, Real give up on Mbappe

By Sports Desk September 19, 2022

Arsenal were heavily linked with Manuel Locatelli more than 12 months ago and look set to revive their interest.

Locatelli won plenty of admirers with his performances for Italy at Euro 2020.

Among them was Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, but at the time Locatelli preferred to join Juventus.

TOP STORY – GUNNERS TO REVIVE LOCATELLI INTEREST

Premier League leaders Arsenal will renew their pursuit of Italy international Manuel Locatelli in the near future, claims Calciomercato.

The Gunners have previously been linked with the 24-year-old Juventus midfielder, who is on loan from Sassuolo.

Locatelli was signed by the Bianconeri in August 2021 on a two-year loan, with Juventus holding the obligation to purchase him for €25 million payable over three years plus €12.5m in potential add-ons.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid will not stand in the way of Mariano Diaz should he decide to exit the club across town to join Atletico Madrid, according to El Nacional. It has previously been reported Atletico are targeting the 29-year-old striker.

Madrid will not pursue a deal for Paris Saint-Germain attacker Kylian Mbappe if he has no interest in signing, according to Marca. Mbappe was close to joining the Spanish giants in the off-season as a free agent after a long chase, before signing a lucrative extension with PSG.

– The Sun claims that Leicester City may be forced to stick with manager Brendan Rodgers as it will be too expensive for the club to sack him amid their awful start to the new Premier League season. According to the report, the Foxes would need to pay Rodgers more than £10 million to sack him, with three years left on his deal.

Chelsea's overhaul continues with the club on the cusp of appointing Christoph Freund as their new sporting director, claims The Guardian. Freund is with Austrian champions Salzburg. The Blues recently replaced Thomas Tuchel with Graham Potter as head coach.

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    Charles De Ketelaere has completed his move from Milan to Atalanta after the Europa League champions signed the Belgian on a permanent deal.

    Atalanta confirmed the transfer on Saturday after activating a buy option included in the 23-year-old's loan deal, with De Ketelaere joining in a reported move worth up to €24million.

    De Ketelaere failed to impress in his debut season in Italy after joining the Rossoneri from Club Brugge, but found form after a season-long loan deal to Bergamo in the 2023-24 campaign.

    The forward helped Gian Piero Gasperini's side to a top-four finish in Serie A, as well as lifting the Europa League trophy for Atalanta's first-ever success on the European stage.

    Only Ademola Lookman and Gianluca Scamacca (both 26) provided more direct goal contributions across all competitions than De Ketelaere's 25 last term.

    Gasperini unlocked a side to the former Milan man that the Rossoneri failed to find, too, with De Ketelaere creating more open-play chances (78) than any other team-mate across all competitions.

    That form has brought a permanent reward for De Ketelaere, who is preparing for Euro 2024 with Belgium in Germany, where the Red Devils will face Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine in Group E.

  • Hernandez unsure on Milan future as France defender focuses on Euro 2024 Hernandez unsure on Milan future as France defender focuses on Euro 2024

    Theo Hernandez refused to disclose whether his future remains with Milan amid links to Bayern Munich, as the France international places his full focus on Euro 2024.

    Defender Hernandez, brother of Paris Saint-Germain's Lucas, has reportedly drawn interest from Vincent Kompany's Bayern as the Bundesliga giants aim to bolster their defence.

    The 26-year-old continues to impress for the Serie A side, who appointed Paulo Fonseca as Stefano Pioli's success this week, despite Milan finishing well behind rivals Inter in the 2023-24 campaign.

    Unsurprisingly, his reliable form has led to speculation over his future in Italy, though Hernandez does not want to think about that ahead of France's Euro 2024 opener against Austria on Monday.

    "Now I am 100 per cent focused on the Euros," Hernandez said on Saturday. 

    "Whether I will stay at Milan or leave, we'll see about this afterwards."

    Pressed on a potential return to Spain, Hernandez responded: "At the moment I'm not thinking about it yet."

    Hernandez was a key figure for Milan once again in the season just past, with no defender scoring more than his five Serie A goals.

    Only Inter's Federico Dimarco (11) bettered Hernandez's nine direct goal contributions in the league among defenders, too, as the pair prepare to compete at the European Championship in Germany.

    France boss Didier Deschamps will be expected to utilise the attacking side of Hernandez's game once more as Les Bleus aim to go one better than at Euro 2016, when they lost to Portugal in the final.

    "We are working to be at our best, this is a competition where there are very good national teams," he added. 

    "We have made good preparations and now we feel the impatience to play this debut match. We have to get to the end like in the 2022 World Cup. There are many leaders in this group, and I am very happy to be here.

    "We are working on various things. I like attacking, I love the offensive phase. With the coach we tried various situations.

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  • Austria v France: Mbappe will never go against the collective, assures Deschamps Austria v France: Mbappe will never go against the collective, assures Deschamps

    Kylian Mbappe will always put the team first and is ready to lead from the front as France prepare to open their Euro 2024 campaign against Austria, says Didier Deschamps.

    Having scored 44 goals in his final season with Paris Saint-Germain before sealing his long-awaited move to Real Madrid, Mbappe will captain his country at a first major tournament, following Hugo Lloris' international retirement.

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    Mbappe failed to score at that tournament, but his coach is certain he is in top condition ahead of Monday's game in Dusseldorf.

    "He is always at the centre of things. That won't change," Deschamps told The Athletic of Mbappe. 

    "He will not do anything that goes against the collective interest. It won't be any problem. He is in very good shape, very happy, and concentrated on working hard. 

    "The most important thing is that he has the greatest possible freedom. My objective is to put him in the best conditions, and put the team in the best conditions, so that he can be as effective as possible."

    Asked about Mbappe's leadership qualities, Deschamps continued: "He speaks but he is not there to be overbearing. 

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    Opponents Austria have been touted by some as a potential surprise package after impressing in their first qualification campaign under Ralf Rangnick, finishing just one point behind Belgium.

    "If we're complete, then we're a team that is very hard to beat," the former Manchester United boss said. "We're able to compete with anyone at a high level. 

    "We saw that during friendlies against Germany and Italy [both 2-0 wins], but also during the qualifiers against Sweden [2-0 and 3-1 victories]. 

    "We're not going to the Euros just to participate. We have faith in ourselves and believe we can qualify for the next round."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    Austria – Marcel Sabitzer

    Sabitzer was involved in six goals in seven appearances during Euro 2024 qualifying (four goals, two assists), the most of any Austria player.

    The Borussia Dortmund man also created the most big chances (four) and accumulated the highest expected assists figure (1.6 xA) of any Austrian.

    France – Kylian Mbappe 

    Across the last three major international tournaments (2018 World Cup, Euro 2020 and 2022 World Cup), Mbappe has scored 12 goals. Harry Kane is the only European player to match that tally.

    However, all of those goals have come at World Cups. He failed to convert any of his 14 shots at Euro 2020 and also missed the decisive spot-kick as France lost to Switzerland on penalties. He will be desperate to atone at this tournament, starting on Monday.

    MATCH PREDICTION – FRANCE WIN

    France enter Euro 2024 as one of the favourites, with the Opta supercomputer giving them a 19.1 per cent chance of lifting the trophy before the tournament began. They are expected to live up to that billing here.

    Les Bleus have reached the final at three of their last four major tournaments, being losing finalists at Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup and winning the 2018 World Cup.

    They plundered 29 goals in their eight qualifiers, with 14 different players getting on the scoresheet for them (excluding own goals) – the largest spread of any nation. 

    With the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann – who has 18 goal contributions at major tournaments since the start of Euro 2016 (11 goals, seven assists) – supporting Mbappe, they should have too much for Austria.

    Austria have only won one of their last 10 matches against France in all competitions (two draws, seven defeats), triumphing 3-1 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier in September 2008.

    The teams have, however, managed one win apiece from their two previous tournament meetings. Austria claimed a 3-2 victory at the 1934 World Cup, and France won 1-0 at the 1982 competition.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Austria – 15.5% 

    France – 65.8%

    Draw – 18.7%

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