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By Sports Desk June 02, 2021

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  • Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals

    Gleison Bremer said his Juventus team-mates have pledged to ignore the Bianconeri's off-pitch woes after scoring the winner in Thursday's Coppa Italia quarter-final against Lazio.

    Bremer diverted Filip Kostic's cross home with a glancing header on the stroke of half-time as Juve clinched a 1-0 win over the Biancocelesti, teeing up a semi-final tie against Inter.

    The win provided welcome relief for a side sitting 13th in Serie A after being issued with a 15-point deduction last month, a sanction which has been compounded by a three-game winless run in the league. 

    Speaking after his goal sent Juve to their eighth Coppa Italia semi-final in nine seasons, Bremer admitted off-pitch issues had impacted the team in recent weeks, but revealed the squad's pledge to rediscover their focus.

    "I'm happy with this goal, but it was important to go through at this moment," the Brazil international told Mediaset.

    "We know we've played two games not up to par, but we talked to each other and what happens off the pitch cannot spill onto the pitch. The club will take care of it, we will take care of the pitch. 

    "Juventus are a top-level team, let's score as many points as possible and see where we'll be at end of the championship. 

    "At the beginning of the year we lost a little something, then we spoke and we found each other."

    Since the Coppa Italia quarter-finals became one-legged affairs in the 2008-09 season, Juve have won nine of their 10 such fixtures at home, the only exception being a 2011 defeat to Roma.

    Coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed Juve's mentality after the hard-fought victory, highlighting the improvements made since Sunday's shock defeat to Monza. 

    "The most important thing is the attitude, which was missing in the first half against Monza, where we conceded two easy goals," Allegri said.

    "The boys were good. They are responsible. They must understand that to win matches, in addition to tactics and technique, you need the right spirit. 

    "Today we won many tackles, we arrived first in duels, we defended well and played in an orderly and patient manner against good pressure from Lazio."

    Juventus were without Paul Pogba for Thursday's win, with the midfielder seeing his second debut for the club delayed once more after suffering another minor injury.

    Allegri does not expect him to return against Salernitana on Tuesday, saying: "Pogba is unlikely to be available in Salerno, because he's been doing little or nothing for a week. We hope to have him back as soon as possible because he's a player we count on. 

    "I've been in the world of football for 50 years. When things go against you, then you have to be patient to get out of it."

  • Juventus 1-0 Lazio: Bremer sends embattled Bianconeri to Coppa Italia semi-finals Juventus 1-0 Lazio: Bremer sends embattled Bianconeri to Coppa Italia semi-finals

    Juventus cast aside their recent woes to tee up an enticing Coppa Italia semi-final against Inter on Thursday as Gleison Bremer's first-half header guided them to a 1-0 win against Lazio.

    The Coppa Italia appears to represent Juve's best chance of silverware this season after a 15-point deduction ended their slim Serie A title hopes, and the hosts were good value for their win after dominating for long periods.

    Massimiliano Allegri's men missed two good chances before hitting the front on the stroke of half-time, with Bremer flicking Filip Kostic's inch-perfect delivery home.

    Juve were rarely troubled at the other end as Maurizio Sarri's visitors disappointed in the final third, and they will face their Derby d'Italia rivals across two legs in the last four after this routine win.

    Kostic drew a fingertip save from Luis Maximiano as Juve got on top after a tight opening to the contest, before Adrien Rabiot headed straight at the goalkeeper when left unmarked just before the half-hour mark.

    The Bianconeri made their pressure count one minute before the break as Bremer met Kostic's inswinging cross with a glancing header, which beat Maximiano to nestle in the bottom-left corner.

    Luis Alberto saw a long-range strike deflect narrowly over as Lazio improved following the half-time introduction of Pedro, while Danilo Cataldi worked Mattia Perin with a 25-yard free-kick.

    Juve substitute Moise Kean forced Maximiano into action at his near post following a rapid break with 20 minutes remaining, as the hosts looked to put the game to bed.

    Adam Marusic fizzed a long-range effort wide of the bottom-right corner as Lazio continued to hunt a leveller, but that was as close as they came to breaking down a resolute Juve backline.

  • Chelsea's spending spree, FFP and the real European Super League Chelsea's spending spree, FFP and the real European Super League

    The January transfer window set several records in the Premier League, with Chelsea's eye-watering spending spree sending shock waves across the football world.

    Todd Boehly's takeover last year resulted in major acquisitions ahead of the start of this season, including Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly, but it is the mid-season business that has really thrust the club under the spotlight.

    Chelsea's spending has split the footballing world down the middle, with some concerned by the outlay and what it means for Financial Fair Play (FFP), while others praised the club's hierarchy for their determination and ambition.

    Here, Stats Perform has broken down the Blues' activity, the controversies and FFP impact, as well as the vast differences to Europe's other top leagues.
     

    Spending spree

    Eight new faces arrived at Stamford Bridge in the mid-season window, seven of which were permanent signings, and all of whom were aged 23 or under.

    Chelsea's business shows a focus on the future, having paid a premium price for talent and potential rather than established stars – the exception perhaps being Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix.

    Capped 28 times by Portugal, Joao Felix was a statement addition until the end of the season with the hope he can provide the cutting edge Chelsea have lacked in the final third and push the club back into the hunt for Champions League football.

    The other seven additions, however, fit a different mould. While they will likely be utilised by Graham Potter this season, they all represent a relatively unknown quantity, despite some impressive feats.

    In the record-breaking deal to sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica, Chelsea paid a fee higher than a British club ever has previously to bring in the Argentine, who was named young player of the tournament in his nation's World Cup-winning campaign.

    Yet he does not even have a full year of European football under his belt, with the situation similar for Mykhaylo Mudryk – a player who caught the eye with his Champions League displays, but one who has not featured in a top domestic league.

    In total, Chelsea reportedly spent more than £280million on Fernandez, Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Malo Gusto, Andrey Santos and David Datro Fofana.

    Only two, Badiashile and Gusto, were signed from one of Europe's top-five European leagues, and Ligue 1 is widely considered to be the weakest financially compared to the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A and Bundesliga.

    While the figures spent have led to scrutiny, a bigger cause of controversy is the apparent exploitation of a loophole in FFP regulations by issuing long-term deals to spread the fees across several years of financial reports.

    According to reports, the Chelsea hierarchy believe they are the first to exploit a football transfer market weakness in the valuation of younger players and with the length of contracts given to signings.
     

    Chelsea controversy

    Amortisation of the fees spent in the January window has allowed Chelsea to spread the costs of their spending spree for budgetary purposes across the next eight seasons and beyond, handing out contracts with lengths that have rarely, if ever, been seen before.

    Mudryk penned an eight-and-a-half-year deal at Stamford Bridge, tying him down beyond 2030, with similar deals issued to the rest of their January additions.

    In fact, the shortest contract issued by the Blues was the six-year deal for striker Fofana, running until 2029, and even that is longer than most of the rest of the Premier League teams have handed new signings last month.

    To put how it works into context, the majority of Chelsea's spending spree in excess of £280m will be spread across eight years, resulting in an annual cost of just £35m.

    Chelsea can easily offset that cost with player sales which, unlike transfer fees for purchased players, are booked immediately into the financial records in one lump sum – and Potter has a number within his squad who could be sold at the end of the campaign.

    This approach, crucially, is not against FFP regulations but UEFA has reportedly identified the loophole and are shifting the goalposts in future by setting a five-year limit for FFP – although this would not change things hugely.

    If Chelsea's £280m spree was spread across five years, it would equate to £56m a year. Again, that is a fee the Blues can offset with player sales, TV revenue and sponsorship deals.

    On top of this, from 2023-24, the allowable loss limit in FFP will be doubled from €30m (£26.6m) to €60m (£53.2m), while clubs judged to be in good financial health will be granted a further €30m in allowable losses over a three-year period.

    That means that Chelsea could be permitted to lose as much as €90m (£80m) over three years, triple the old limit.
     

    European impact

    The most eye-catching fact from the January window is that Chelsea spent more than the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and LaLiga combined – as well as spending more than the other 19 clubs in the Premier League.

    Spending in England dwarfed that on the continent, with a reported outlay of over £800m from the Premier League compared to £110m in Ligue 1, £60m in the Bundesliga, £25m in Serie A and £25m in LaLiga.

    While Chelsea's spending made up the majority of the Premier League figures, the divide between English football and the other top leagues in Europe is highlighted by spending elsewhere in the league.

    Four of the bottom five clubs in the Premier League spent a reported total of £175m on new players, a figure that eclipses the total spending from any of Europe's other top five leagues.

    European clubs, to put it simply, cannot compete. Brighton and Hove Albion staved off bids in excess of £70m for Moises Caicedo and it is difficult to imagine a similar situation had such a figure been offered to a side on the continent amid the current economic climate in football.

    The biggest difference is that Premier League sides can afford to take risks and fail in the market, whereas those in Europe have no choice but to be more shrewd in their spending or suffer huge consequences – just take a look at Barcelona.

    English clubs, meanwhile, can simply cut ties if things do not work out. Chelsea spent a reported £97.5m to sign Romelu Lukaku, only to loan him to Inter just a year later, while Timo Werner arrived from RB Leipzig in 2020 for a reported £45m and returned to the Bundesliga side last year for almost half that fee.

    Chelsea are not alone in that regard. Arsenal's club-record signing Nicolas Pepe, signed for a reported £72m, is spending the season on loan at Nice, Tottenham's club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele is similarly outcast and Paul Pogba left Manchester United for nothing after the club paid a reported £89.5m to capture him from Juventus.

    Two years ago, football rallied against the creation of a European Super League but the reality is it already exists – it's just known by a different name.

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