Calcio Bag - July 13th, 2018
We are back for this Friday the 13th edition of the Calcio Bag. We have gotten great feedback regarding the Calcio Bag so far, and this has been the best edition yet! As always, if you have a question for the Calcio Bag please submit it to me via Twitter @CPerfetto11 (you can also DM me). Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to those who have submitted questions! Now, let's get down to it...
"What is the latest on Alex Sandro to Manchester United?" - @Kowshic07 via Twitter
So unfortunately for United fans, the hottest rumors right now regarding Alex Sandro are saying PSG is interested. Unfortunately for fans of PSG and United, credible reports out of Italy have been quiet about Sandro leaving Juventus. At the moment, he doesn't seem like he is forcing his way out of the club, and Juve have a policy of only letting players go if they ask. The arrival of Ronaldo has also increased the club's chances of keeping their star players, as they will now get the opportunity to play with one of the best players in the world. Juve will probably have to sell some players in order to raise funds to help with the Ronaldo deal, but I don't know if Sandro will be one of them. At the moment, with Leonardo Spinazzola out the only person that can play left-back is Mattia De Sciglio, and while he is a solid player, he will not offer nearly as much going forward as Sandro does. One thing that does go in United's favor, however, is that Juve just signed Joao Cancelo so they could choose to have him be the attacking full-back and use the left-back as the more defensive position. If Juventus does indeed intend to go with this strategy, I could see them sending Sandro to United for Matteo Darmian and cash.
"Do you see Bale leaving Madrid" - @JarredNoake via Twitter
"Will Bale to Manchester United happen?" - @Ali_naqqash via Twitter
So this is a two part question. Let's start with the first one which addresses whether or not Bale will leave Madrid. To be honest, I think Bale's departure will depend on suitors and Real Madrid's ability to sign a major star like Neymar. If Real Madrid can sign a player like Neymar, they will be willing to let Bale go because Bale should still command a decent transfer fee. With the departures of Ronaldo and Bale, Real Madrid can pay for Neymar's wages and still save money. There are obviously a lot of moving parts to this transfer as Bale would need to find a club and PSG would have to be willing to sell Neymar. At the end of the day I think Real Madrid would be willing to let him go.
As far as Bale going to United. I think logically they are one of the few places who have the money and interest in signing the Welsh player. Even though he has been marred by injuries and inconsistencies lately, he still has shown flashes of brilliance like his overhead kick against Liverpool in the Champions League final. He can still make the difference and would welcome a return to the Premier League. I really think this will also depend on Real Madrid's ability to land a star player. If no other big name comes to Madrid, Bale could be open to remaining now that Ronaldo has left. If a star player comes, he will not want to be in his shadow. According to my colleague Sam at Cloud Sports (@CSportsFootball/@SamuelTahir_ on Twitter), United are looking for a right-wing and would welcome him to Old Trafford. Sam has also mentioned that Bale is set to meet with Real Madrid's new coach in the next couple of weeks and his situation will be much clearer after that.
"Will United be signing a forward/striker in this transfer window?" - @OllyWebb7 via Twitter
For this question, I am going to defer to my colleague at Cloud Sports, Sam. He believes in addition to a right-wing, United are looking for a back-up striker and have shown interest in Mario Mandzukic. Sam and I both agree that this will be a difficult transaction (read more about this later in the column). United are also interested in Willian who has played for Mourinho before and fits the right-wing description, if they are not able to sign Bale. Willian has been of major interest to Barcelona lately though, and United could miss out on him because they are waiting for the Bale situation to clear up. At the end of the day, Sam believes are reports state that United are definitely interested in a back-up for Romelu Lukaku and a right-wing.
"Is Barcelona moving away from the La Masia promotion process?" - @MoeketsiMolefe9 via Twitter
So as someone who follows Barcelona from afar, I agree with the perception that Barcelona are moving away from promoting from their youth academy. They have now turned to signing young players from other clubs like Yerry Mina and Oumsane Dembele, just to name a few, and the La Masia products are having a hard time breaking into the team. My colleague Darryl on Cloud Sports is the La Liga expert (Follow him on Twitter @Darryl_Geraghty) and he believes that Alena and Sergi Roberto are two prime examples of how Barcelona are moving away from the system. In the past, Darryl believes, they would promote players and let them play such as Pedro or Busquets; however, now in the case of Alena he is having a hard time getting into the squad or any playing time. It also took Sergi Roberto a while to gain the trust of the club and the manager. It's certainly a shame to see such a legendary system that has produced so many players for both Barcelona and Spain lose some of its luster lately.
"What do you think Real Madrid will do next as they don't have Ronaldo anymore with them to lead the line? What is your preference, if you were at Madrid what would you have done?" - @ravisutariya1 via Twitter
This is a great question Ravi! As we spoke about earlier in the piece, I could see Real Madrid going after another "galactico" like Neymar to fill Ronaldo's shoes. Let's be real here (pun intended ;), although losing Ronaldo is a major loss for anyone, including Real, they still have so much talent on that team. They might not win the Champions League again next year (they might not have with Ronaldo either as four in a row is a bit mad), but they will definitely still contend. Madrid have a great midfield in Modric and Kroos, great attacking options with Isco and Asensio and a very solid defense. I think the loss of Ronaldo could see them sign a striker or an attacking player, as they will need one for depth purposes.
If I were at Real Madrid, I would do one thing and one thing only: sign Kylian M'Bappe. The young French player is already a huge star, and has performed magnificently for club and country. At 19 years old, he has already brought Monaco to the semi-finals of the Champions League and France to the final of the World Cup. That is major experience for a player of his age, and winning is in his DNA. If I were Real Madrid, I wouldn't even consider Neymar at this point, I would want M'Bappe. He is going to be around for a long time and has the flair and personality to be a big star and Ronaldo's ultimate successor.
"Where will Mandzukic play next season? Do Juventus have to keep him as a more physical counterpart for CR7? Is he as rumored ready move onto a new club?" - @ZekeTell via Twitter
Thank you to my Di Marzio colleague, Zeke, for this question! So as we know, the signing of Ronaldo kind of changed Juve's fortunes a bit. Players that may have wanted to leave before, will now surely want to stay to play with Ronaldo. As far as Mandzukic, I would not let him go if I were at Juve. The rumors lately have been pointing towards a Higuain exit, and I believe this makes more sense. Mandzukic is a necessity in this team. He is very physical, as you've stated, and he is flexible tactically. He spends a lot of time on the left-wing for Juve. Higuain is more one dimensional and will not be happy being a substitute to Ronaldo. Mandzukic, meanwhile, can play on the wing, can be the back-up striker to CR7, and really helps the team in the defensive phase. Mario's World Cup performances have solidified that he is still a valuable asset to any team, and Juve will not want to let him go at this point. I also don't see him forcing his way out as he always finds playing time in the squad and he is the epitome of Juve's grinta.
"The prospects of Dybala leaving Juventus following CR7's arrival?" - @SivanJohn_ via Twitter
Along with Mandzukic, I think chances are on the side of Dybala staying at Juventus. They will surely want to capitalize on a Dybala/Ronaldo/Douglas Costa front line. As I've stated before, a player like Dybala might have wanted to leave Juventus to play for a "bigger" club like Real Madrid, Barcelona, etc... but Juventus has just jumped to the top with the acquisition of Ronaldo. I don't believe La Joya will request a move given the current circumstances, and Juve probably don't plan on selling him. The only reason they would sell him is if they need money to fund the Ronaldo deal, but I would be shocked if Juve closed the Ronaldo deal if they knew they would have to sell Dybala. They surely want the two of them in the lineup together. Expect others to be sacrificed, but not Paulo Dybala.
"How do you rate Juve's Champions League Chances? And what can we expect from Elliott in Milan this summer?" - @SamuelTahir_ via Twitter
Thank you to Sam for the question! The addition of Ronaldo has to put Juventus up there with the favorites for the competition. In the past four years, here are Juve's results in the competition:
2018 - Out in the QFs due to controversially last minute penalty call against Real Madrid
2017 - Lost in the finals to Real Madrid
2016 - Out to Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 in extra time
2015 - Lost to Barcelona in the finals
They have done very well in the competition, and should be regarded as challengers even without Ronaldo. This deal is just icing on the cake. Now, you need luck to win the competition as well, but if we're talking about favorites for the competition for next year, you would look at the usual suspects but I believe Juventus is a top three favorite to win the competition given the arrival of CR7. We have to see who they sell before making an accurate prediction, though.
As far as Milan. The Elliott takeover is a great thing for the club. Feel sorry for Yonghong Li if he really invested his fortune in Milan and now has lost everything, but for the club itself this is a positive. Elliott is a big American corporation with a lot of money. There is no longer any issues with who is owning the club. Everyone knows Elliott and knows they have the finances. FFP will hinder Elliott's ability to spend on the transfer market, unfortunately, but if Milan is able to participate in the Europa League, I think they will purchase players. The plan seems to be for Milan to sell players that are surplus to requirements, and make three quality signings. They should be able to finance this between Elliott and possible sales. Milan is in a much, much better position today than they were a week ago thanks to the Elliott takeover.
Thanks for all of the questions! Hope you enjoyed this week's Calcio Bag. Please visit the other articles on our site and if you enjoyed this, give myself (@CPerfetto11) and @CSportsfootball a follow on Twitter.