Juventus confirm interest in Zuniga

The Colombian has said that he is open to moving to Turin but the Bianconeri say they do not want to ruin their relationship with Napoli in order to make it happen

Juventus director general Beppe Marotta has confirmed the club’s interest in signing Napoli wing-back Juan Camilo Zuniga.

The Bianconeri have been linked with the Colombia international all summer and the 27-year-old, who has just 12 months remaining on his contract with the Partenopei, admitted earlier this month that he would welcome a move to Turin.

Marotta has now admitted that the Italian champions are keen to do a deal, but not at the risk of ruining their good relationship with Napoli.

“He’s a player that arouses much interest,” the Juve director told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But it is a situation that concerns Napoli, who have every right to propose a contract renewal.

“We’re talking about an important player in [Rafael] Benitez’s squad, so I’m afraid it will be difficult to take him away.

“We, given the good relations between the two clubs, do not intend to interfere.”

Despite their interest in recruiting Zuniga, Marotta insists that Juve have no intention of selling Mauricio Isla, who is currently being courted by Inter.

“Isla will not move from Turin,” he declared. “There was involvement from one club, but we said no.

“We have [Simone] Pepe, whom we are re-integrating back into the squad [after injury] and we will count on him.”

Marotta did admit, however, that both Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella will be allowed to leave should they so desire.

“Juve are a top club and any player would have a hard time saying goodbye,” he explained. “In effect, though, we have six strikers, and that perhaps that is too many.

“However, for Matri and Quagliarella, much will depend on their own decisions.”

Juventus kicked off the defence of their Serie A title with a 1-0 victory away to Sampdoria on Saturday evening, with recent arrival Carlos Tevez scoring the only goal of the game.

Chelsea boss Mourinho seeks clarity on Rooney transfer

The 50-year-old admits that the Manchester United forward may change his mind and decide to stay at Old Trafford but wants the England international to make his feelings clear

Jose Mourinho has called on Wayne Rooney to make his feelings clear as the Chelsea manager discussed the club’s ongoing interest in the Manchester United striker.

The Portuguese was speaking after his side secured a point in a drab 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, in which he named a starting XI without an out-and-out striker.

The Blues have been heavily linked with Anzhi striker Samuel Eto’o late in the transfer window, following an unsuccessful summer pursuit of Rooney, but Mourinho has refused to throw in the towel, instead calling on the 27-year-old to make clear his intentions.

The Chelsea manager told reporters: “We have to speak but this club [Manchester United] must be a very special club, because in every club in the world when a player wants to leave, they don’t support him. They give him a hard time but they support him all the way.

“That proves this is a really special club with special fans and I think now he’ll decide he wants to stay. If he makes that decision, we will be the first to respect that and say ‘it’s over.’

“It depends on his reaction, on his feelings. If now, he doesn’t want to leave, we are out of the thing. We need to know what is happening.”

Chelsea negated much of United’s threat on Monday night, securing a result to keep them at the top of the Premier League table, and Mourinho felt that the stalemate was the right outcome.  

“I think the result is fair,” he remarked. “I think nobody did enough to be better than the opponent. I think we controlled the game for most of the time. We did not have real problems.

“Our passing for counterattack, to go from a defensive situation to an attacking situation, was not the best. We had very creative and fast players in attack but we lost simple passes and made lots of mistakes.

“In terms of attack, we didn’t give what we could or what we should, but I told the players before the game that we want to win and we would play to win. I think the players understood.

“For me, we didn’t create chances because when we recovered the ball we lost so many easy passes. I will watch it on video and find six, seven or eight easy passes to go for counterattack when the players should and could do more.

“It was a difficult match for them and a difficult match for us. We both wanted to win but we also didn’t want to lose. I think it was a really big match but at the end of the day, we have six points from our two matches at home.

“After this difficult start, we are fine. It was also a great experience for our kids – four guys in attack in Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Andre Schurrle and Oscar are four babies. To have this experience was very good for them.”

Rooney thrives at the heart of tug of war

The name of England’s talisman was chanted by both sets of supporters on a night when Jose Mourinho said the striker could now decide to stay at Old Trafford

COMMENT
By Wayne Veysey at Old Trafford

What a strange match.

On a night that put the ‘stale’ into stalemate, neither side were willing to sacrifice one point to win three.

And, even more bizarrely, Wayne Rooney, who has not always been an Old Trafford favourite over the last few years, was welcomed back like a prodigal son.

In a very impressive first start of the season, he found his name being frequently chanted by both sets of supporters.

A tepid opening period was livened up by Manchester United fans chanting ‘Rooney, Rooney’ and the the Chelsea’s hardcore responding by chanting the striker’s name and adding, ‘We’ll see you next week’.

There was so much love for the 27-year-old in the stadium that it felt like a floating heart should land on the centre circle and whisk him off to wherever he wished.

“Probably now he decides he wants to stay,” opined a deadpan Jose Mourinho afterwards in reference to Chelsea’s summer-long pursuit of Rooney. “This must be a very special club because in every [other] club in the world, when a player wants to leave they don’t support him.”

The player himself has not uttered a single word about where he wants to be playing his football beyond September 2 but, privately, he has made it clear he is aching for a new challenge and a change of environment. If he wanted to stay, he has certainly had plenty of time and opportunity to say so in public.

Rooney’s body language on his full return appeared fairly ambivalent. Yes, he was eager, looked sharp and his all-round performance stood out in a sea of mediocrity.

But his face remained stonily impassive and revealed barely a flicker of emotion throughout the match. It was almost like he was playing on auto-pilot.

There were no goals for him to celebrate or curse, or, indeed, virtually ignore, as he did during a cameo substitute role against Swansea City eight days previously. The public merely saw a fine striker whose future has dominated the football news agenda all summer put in a fine display, although it would be over-egging it to claim he ran the show.

The fact that Mourinho went to Old Trafford without a recognised centre-forward in his starting X1, despite having three available, could be interpreted by Rooney as an advert for the No.9 role at Stamford Bridge.

Most managers would have been slaughtered for being so negative but Mourinho is not most managers.

The Portugese’s post-match comments could be taken as him admitting defeat in a pursuit of Rooney that has already included two formal bids for the player.

Samuel Eto’o has already been lined up as a mighty handy Plan B should United maintain their stance of refusing to sell a key player to a title rival.

But it would be a surprise if there was not one more twist in this saga over the next week.

“It is now up to Rooney to finish this story one way or another,” added Mourinho.

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Moyes open to late Bale raid

Goal understands that Real Madrid have agreed a deal with Tottenham to sign the Welshman for a world-record €100 million but the Scot could yet throw a spanner in the works

David Moyes has admitted Manchester United “are always interested in the best players” after being quizzed over rumours linking them with a bid for Gareth Bale.

Though Goal understands that Spurs have agreed an €100 million deal with Real Madrid for the sale of the Welshman for a world-record fee, reports have claimed that more than one team have made an offer.

Moyes insisted that no bid has been made by his side for last season’s PFA Player of the Year but suggested that they were considering the Tottenham talisman.

“Manchester United will always be interested in the best players. We’re always looking to improve the team,” the Scot told reporters after his side’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

“The owners have given me every opportunity to bring in whoever I want so we’ll continue looking at those players.

“It’s been tough in this window, I must say. We are always in for the best players.”

Roma accept Tottenham's €35m Lamela bid

The Argentine winger is expected to fly to London on Tuesday to formalise his move to White Hart Lane after Spurs’ club-record offer was accepted by the Italians

By Wayne Veysey

Roma have accepted a €35 million offer from Tottenham for Erik Lamela, Goal has learned.

The Argentina international is expected to fly to London on Tuesday to formalise what will be a club-record deal.

Lamela’s representatives were in the English capital on Monday, negotiating the terms of a €76,000-a-week, five-year contract, and the transfer is expected to be completed in the next 48 hours.

Goal understands that the fee for the 21-year-old winger is €30m plus €4.9m of performance-related add-ons linked to appearances and Champions League qualification.

The signing of Lamela would be the third time this summer that Spurs have smashed their previous transfer record, following the purchases of Roberto Soldado and Paulinho.

As reported by Goal, Spurs and Roma opened preliminary discussions about Lamela a fortnight ago.

Despite selling Pablo Osvaldo to Southampton in a deal worth up to €20m earlier in August, Roma are looking to trim costs and have decided to also cash in on their prize asset after Spurs met their asking price.

Lamela was named on the bench for the club’s Serie A opener against newly-promoted Livorno on Sunday as manager Rudi Garcia began preparing for life without the Argentine.

With former Arsenal forward Gervinho earmarked to play on the right flank this season and club legend Francesco Totti on the left, Lamela had suddenly become expendable at the Stadio Olimpico.

Meanwhile, Tottenham have finally agreed an €100m deal to sell Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, with the Welshman set to be unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu in the next 48 hours.