Juventus have terminated the contract of striker Gonzalo Higuain with the Argentine joining Inter Miami in the US Major League Soccer on Friday.
The 32-year-old joins former Juventus teammate Blaise Matuidi at the Florida team after leaving the Serie A champion and will play in the same league as his older brother Federico, who is now with D.C. United.
“Individually, my goal is to demonstrate that I can contribute and continue playing great football here,” Argentine Higuain said. “I hope I can achieve that because I have all the tools necessary to succeed.”
Higuain moved to Juventus for 90 million euros (today $106.5 million) from Napoli in 2016, but after two solid seasons fell out of favor and spent the 2018-19 campaign on loan first at AC Milan and then Chelsea before rejoining Juve last summer.
New Juve coach Andrea Pirlo has said that Higuain, who played in three World Cups for Argentina and scored 31 goals in 75 international appearances, was not part of the club’s plans.
He leaves having helped Juve to win three Serie A titles, including their most recent triumph last season.
“I want to thank Inter Miami for the effort it has made to sign me,” added Higuain. “I think it will be a beautiful experience in my life.
“It’s what I was looking for — a new experience, a new league and a beautiful city. I’m really happy to be here and that it’s official.
“My goal is to try to transmit all the experience I acquired in Europe and to help the team grow.”
Anything would help the Miami, who are bottom of the overall table with two wins and two drawn in 11 matches. They have managed only nine goals and their 0-5 start was the worst for any first-year MLS club.
Higuain’s Inter Miami debut is expected on September 23 when the New York Red Bulls visit South Florida.
“We are pleased to close a deal with Gonzalo and add an experienced and successful goalscorer, who has excelled in the world’s best teams and leagues,” Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said.
“Our goal is to not only bring elite players to Inter Miami, but also good people that share our ambition and aspiration of making history in North American futbol, and we’re confident we have found that in Gonzalo.”
France’s World Cup-winning midfielder Blaise Matuidi is leaving Juventus by mutual consent after three years, the Italian champions announced on Wednesday.
Matuidi, 33, joined the Turin giants from Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 and had one year left on his contract.
It is reported he is set to move to the United States to join David Beckham’s Major League Soccer club Inter Miami.
“Blaise Matuidi and Juventus say goodbye with the consensual termination of the player’s contract,” Juventus said in a statement.
“With our colours on his back, he fought and played his heart out in every single game; placing constant pressure on the opponents, tearing apart the run of play and ever so eloquently relaunching the ball into action.”
Matudi, who played in the 2018 World Cup final when France beat Croatia 4-2, won three Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup at Juventus.
He also won four Ligue 1 titles during six years at PSG, having previously played for French clubs Troyes and Saint Etienne.
Matuidi played 98 games for Juventus in Serie A and 133 times in all competitions, second only to Argentine forward Paulo Dybala (134).
He helped Juventus win a ninth Serie A title in a row this season.
But the club’s failure to advance past the Champions League last 16 led to the sacking of coach Maurizio Sarri after a single season. He has been replaced by former Juventus and Italy star Andrea Pirlo.
“To have been a member of the Juventus family is a dream come true, an honour,” Matuidi wrote on Instagram.
“I discovered an incredible institution, teammates who have become more than that.
“I will always remain your number 1 fan, or rather number 14. Thank you Juventus, a very real thank you.”
Former Italy and Juventus star Andrea Pirlo was Saturday named as the Italian champions’ new coach, just hours after Maurizio Sarri’s sacking.
Sarri, 61, leaves Juventus after just one season, a day after the Turin giants crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 to French club Lyon.
The 41-year-old Pirlo, who has no previous top-level coaching experience, has signed a two-year contract until June 2022.
He had recently been appointed coach of the Juventus U23 side, who play in the third division.
“Pirlo has had a legendary career as a player, winning everything from the Champions League to the World Cup in 2006,” Juventus said.
“In his four years at the centre of the Juventus midfield, Pirlo won as many league titles, a Coppa Italia and two Italian Super Cups.
“Today, begins a new chapter of his career in the world of football, as it was said almost a week ago: from Maestro to Mister.
“From today he will be THE coach for everyone at Juventus, as the club has decided to entrust him with the technical leadership of the first team, after having already selected him for Juventus Under 23.
“Today’s choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes.”
Pirlo began his playing career at his hometown team Brescia in 1995 and went on to play for Inter, AC Milan and Juve from 2011 before moving in 2015 for two seasons with New York City FC in the MLS.
During his four seasons with Juventus he won Serie A four times and one Italian Cup.
Capped 116 times for Italy, Pirlo was a key figure in the team that won the 2006 World Cup.
He also won two Champions Leagues and two league titles with Milan during his 22-year playing career.
Juventus sacked coach Maurizio Sarri on Saturday after the Italian club’s Champions League last 16 exit to Lyon.
Despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s double in a 2-1 home win on Friday, Juve fell 2-2 on aggregate to the French club, ending their quest for a title they last won in 1996.
“Maurizio Sarri has been relieved of his post as coach of the first team,” the nine-time reigning Serie A champions said in a statement.
Sarri, 61, replaced Massimiliano Allegri last season, after leading Chelsea to success in the Europa League.
“The club would like to thank the coach for having written a new page in Juventus’ history with the victory of the ninth-consecutive championship, the culmination of a personal journey that led him to climb all the divisions of Italian football,” the team.
Despite leading Juve to a ninth straight Scudetto, his first as a coach, Sarri paid for the club’s failure on the European stage.
Juve also lost in two finals this season, the Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup.
Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said he was “bitter” as the Italian giants crashed out of the Champions League on Friday to Lyon despite a Cristiano Ronaldo double giving the hosts a 2-1 win over the French club on the night.
Captain Memphis Depay’s 12th-minute penalty, however, sealed Lyon’s berth in the quarter-finals with a 2-2 aggregate score to go through on away goals.
A goal up after winning February’s first leg, Lyon will face Manchester City at the final tournament in Lisbon.
“I am very bitter, I understand how much this competition is cursed for Juve,” said Sarri, who took over as coach last summer.
The Turin side have won the tournament twice, but not since 1996.
They have been runners-up seven times, including twice in the last five years.
Sarri’s side were coming off a tough battle to win a ninth consecutive league title in Italy, against an opponent who were fresh after Ligue 1 was cancelled five months ago because of coronavirus.
“The regret is to have missed the first half in Lyon. At this level it costs,” continued Sarri of the first leg played back in February.
“They had a much more logical preparation than ours.
“I’m going home sad because we are beaten, but tonight we had a good game.
“We were immediately behind with a penalty which for me is crazy, much more than questionable.
“But they gave everything and fought to the end. Juve had a good game and Lyon suffered a lot.”
“If I weren’t devastated by the elimination, I would be happy with tonight’s performance, because we brought out so much energy and the team responded with character and showed that they have recovered in the last few days.”
Depay’s penalty put Rudi Garcia’s side two goals ahead in the tie and left Juve with a mountain to climb.
Needing to score three unanswered goals in order to go through, Ronaldo tried his best to drag the Italian champions over the line.
He levelled the scores on the night with a penalty of his own with two minutes left in the opening period before crashing a second home on the hour mark.
Lyon managed to hold on to set up a clash with Pep Guardiola’s City, who put out 13-time winners Real Madrid, on August 15.
“Ronaldo is a pillar of Juventus,” said Juventus president Andrea Agnelli.
“In the Champions League, it’s disappointing because we had a dream.
Serie A champions Juventus on Thursday unveiled their new home kit for the 2020-21 season, returning to the traditional stripes which they dropped this term.
Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates this season wore a half-and-half jersey with white on the right and black on the left.
“Tradition is represented by the return of the black and white stripes which present themselves in a new and more modern form,” Juventus said.
The stripes are black “brush strokes” of an artist on a white background, with the club logo and sponsorship details in gold.
“The stripes are designed as a single brush stroke on the front and the sleeves, giving the kit a new and attractive design, all while maintaining the DNA of the club as well as showcasing the beginning of a new era.”
Juventus sealed their 36th Serie A title, and ninth in succession, last weekend.
The club were founded in 1897, but players have worn black and white stripes of various types since 1903.
Juventus crashed to a humiliating 2-0 defeat at Cagliari on Wednesday, days after sealing their ninth consecutive Serie A title, prompting coach Maurizio Sarri to consider fielding his Under-23 team in Saturday’s finale to conserve resources ahead of their Champions League challenge.
Cagliari’s 20-year-old forward Luca Gagliano tapped in the opener eight minutes into his first Serie A match, beating veteran Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon to score his first top division goal.
And the young Italian then teed up Giovanni Simeone in first half stoppage time to give Cagliari their first win over Juventus in 11 years.
“The 40 goals conceded (this season) may be a concern, but tonight’s game is not,” said Sarri.
“We had nine injured and we came from a championship won 68 hours ago, so it was an atypical game that should be taken for what it is.
“We are the only ones in Europe who have played five games in 12 days, the League has created big problems for us.
“Let’s see how we are tomorrow and if it is appropriate to line up the Under-23 team on Saturday against Roma to recover better.”
Cristiano Ronaldo missed the chance to keep pace with Serie A’s leading scorer Ciro Immobile, the Portuguese now four goals behind the Lazio forward’s tally of 35 with one match remaining.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had a goal ruled offside after 16 minutes and was denied twice by Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno as the 13th-placed Sardinians ended their eight-match winless run.
It was a worrying performance for Sarri’s side, who have won just two of their last seven games, with key forwards Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa fighting for fitness ahead of the Champions League showdown with Lyon on August 7 in Turin, when they need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit.
Immobile on target
In Rome, Immobile moved to within one goal of equalling the Serie A single season scoring record as Lazio beat relegated Brescia 2-0 to stay in the race for second place.
Immobile struck eight minutes from time to close in on Gonzalo Higuain’s record of 36 goals, scored for Napoli in 2015-16.
Lazio are fourth, equal on 78 points with third-placed Atalanta, who beat Parma 2-1 on Tuesday, and one adrift of Inter Milan who are second following their 2-0 win over Napoli.
Inter and Atalanta will go head-to-head this weekend with Lazio’s last game at seventh-placed Napoli.
Immobile helped Joaquin Correa open the scoring after 16 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico, with Correa returning the favour late on.
Behind the top four, who are assured of Champions League football next season, Roma sealed their Europa League group stage berth with a 3-2 win at Torino.
Napoli have already secured their place as a result of their Italian Cup win while AC Milan, who will finish sixth, must go through the Europa League qualifying rounds despite beating Sampdoria 4-1.
Zlatan AKA ‘Benjamin Button’
Stefano Pioli’s side remain four points behind Roma after Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice and set up a third in a dominating display against Samp.
The 38-year-old got his head to an Ante Rebic cross within four minutes in Genoa for his fastest goal in the Italian top flight, before nodding the ball across for Hakan Calhanoglu to add the second six minutes after the break.
Turkish winger Calhanoglu provided the cross which allowed Ibrahimovic to add his second of the night.
Leao added a fourth in injury time as Milan extended their unbeaten run to 11 games.
Ibrahimovic has scored nine league goals since rejoining Milan in January.
The veteran brings his club tally to 51 goals for the club, combined with his previous stint between 2010 and 2012.
He also becomes the first player to have scored 50 goals for both Milan clubs, with 57 netted during his time at city rivals Inter from 2006 to 2009.
“Like Benjamin Button, I’ve always been young, never old,” said Ibrahimovic of the film of a man who ages in reverse.
“They tell me I’m old and tired but I’m just warming up.”
Lecce’s bid for survival will go down to the final day after they came from behind to beat Udinese 2-1.
The southern club occupy the final relegation position but are now just one point behind 17th-placed Genoa, who were hammered 5-0 at Sassuolo.
Both Lecce and Genoa will face Parma and Hellas Verona respectively at the weekend hoping to avoid joining Brescia and SPAL in Serie B.
Cristiano Ronaldo powered Juventus to their ninth straight Serie A title on Sunday in a 2-0 win over Sampdoria that put them over the line with two matches to spare.
Ronaldo opened the scoring deep into first half stoppage time in Turin and then had a hand in Federico Bernardeschi netting the second after 66 minutes.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner missed a late penalty but Maurizio Sarri’s side moved seven points ahead of second-placed Inter Milan to seal a 36th ‘Scudetto’.
The title is Sarri’s first and extends a record run which Antonio Conte started with three titles from 2012 and Massimiliano Allegri continued with the following five.
Sarri’s team had missed the chance to wrap up the title on Thursday when the ‘Old Lady’ of Italian football fell to a 2-1 defeat at Udinese.
But they made no mistake at the Allianz Stadium despite being pushed hard by Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria, one of the most in-form teams since the return of Serie A from the three-month coronavirus lockdown.
“It is the most beautiful success, even the most difficult because we wanted it and suffered,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci.
“We started on a new path with a lot of scepticism around us, we gave everything, despite some slip-ups.
“It was a complicated year for everyone in the world, it was difficult to return after so many months not playing.”
Despite his 35 years Ronaldo shrugged off the quick succession of matches played in hot summer weather after the lockdown, bringing his tally to 31 this season.
The Portuguese striker has scored 10 goals since football returned in Italy on June 20, more than any other player in Europe.
He also matched former Italy World Cup winner Felice Borel, who was the last player to score 31 goals for Juventus in the 1933-34 season.
But he remains three goals behind Serie A’s leading scorer Ciro Immobile, who scored a hat-trick earlier in Lazio’s 5-1 win over Hellas Verona.
“Delighted for the second consecutive championship and to continue building the history of this great and splendid club,” said Ronaldo on Instagram.
“This title is dedicated to all Juventus fans, in particular to those who have suffered and are suffering from the pandemic that has taken us all by surprise by overturning the world.
“It was not easy! Your courage, your attitude and your determination were the strength we needed to face this tight final of the championship and fight to the end for this title that belongs to all of Italy.
“A big hug to you all!”
The breakthrough came in the final move of the first half, when Pjanic cleverly rolled a pass across the penalty area to allow Ronaldo to lash home his 31st league goal of the season.
Juventus made sure of the title in second half when Bernardeschi pounced on the rebound of a Ronaldo shot and tapped in a decisive finish.
Sampdoria had no way back into the game and had to play the final 20 minutes a man down when Morten Thorsby was sent off for a second yellow card.
But the match could prove costly for Juventus before the return leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Lyon on August 7, when they need to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first match in France.
Danilo took a knock, while influential forward Paulo Dybala limping off with a muscular problem early in the match will be a worry for Sarri with Lyon’s visit to Turin less than two weeks away.
Cristiano Ronaldo is eyeing more records as Juventus head for Udinese on Thursday with a ninth consecutive Serie A title within their grasp.
Ronaldo scored a double on Monday against Lazio to bring his tally to 51 Serie A goals since arriving in Turin in July 2018.
The 35-year-old not only became the first player to achieve a half century of goals in Italy, Spain and England, but was also the fastest, doing so in 61 league games.
Last year the five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored 21 goals in his first season in Italy, but thanks to his brace against Lazio he brought his tally to 30 this term, with four games remaining.
Another goal would see him match former Italy World Cup winner Felice Borel, who was the last player to score 31 goals for Juventus in the 1933-34 season.
For Ronaldo the title of top scorer — ‘Capocannoniere’ — is up for grabs, as he is currently level on 30 with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile.
And he could even overtake Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, the top scorer in Europe with 34 goals in the Bundesliga this season.
There is also the record of Argentine teammate Gonzalo Higuain, who was Serie A top scorer under Sarri at Napoli in the 2015–16 season with 36 goals.
“Cristiano is unpredictable,” said Sarri. “If he puts his mind to something, he’s very determined.
“Not only physically, but, above all, mentally: he is a champion with his feet, but also with his head.”
– ‘Give your all’ –
“Very important victory! We’re almost there guys! Let’s go,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram after the Lazio game.
Juventus can seal the title with a win over 16th-placed Udinese, but it depends on Inter Milan, who are eight points behind the champions, losing to Fiorentina at the San Siro on Wednesday.
Otherwise they could win their 36th Scudetto on Sunday, at home against Sampdoria, giving Sarri, 61, his first league title.
It would allow them to start preparing for the Champions League, and overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit against French club Lyon in the last 16 next month.
“Juventus are still the best side in the league,” said Inter boss Antonio Conte, who coached the Turin side to the first three titles in their current run of league triumphs.
“They’re set to win their ninth Scudetto in a row. We can learn from them.
“We’ve got to keep trying to improve, to be more involved in the title race, so we can eventually get our hands on the Scudetto.”
Inter Milan, who have not won the title since their historic treble in 2010 under Jose Mourinho, are however assured of a Champions League place next season.
“It’s great that we’ve achieved this goal,” continued Conte, “it was one of the club’s main requests, to improve our results compared to previous seasons and to steady the ship so that things aren’t so hectic at the end of the season.”
Against Franck Ribery’s Fiorentina they were held 1-1 earlier this season, with the 12th-placed Tuscany side coming off back-to-back wins.
“They’ve got a good squad of players, they’re a good team and Giuseppe Iachini is doing a great job as coach,” added Conte.
“They’ll be unfazed by us, but when you’re up against Inter you always have the motivation to give your all.”
Lazio, in fourth, play at Cagliari after their league hopes were dashed at Juventus on Monday. They too are also poised to return to the Champions League after 13 years, as they are 11 points clear of fifth-placed Roma.
Juventus wasted the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of Serie A as the defending champions blew a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired AC Milan on Tuesday, after second-placed Lazio’s shock defeat at Lecce.
Maurizio Sarri’s men led through goals from Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo early in the second half, but were then blown away by a brilliant Milan display as Ibrahimovic scored and had an assist.
Milan coach Stefano Pioli, who could reportedly be sacked at the end of the season, saw his side boost their hopes of European qualification by moving above Roma and Napoli into fifth.
“I am not remotely thinking about August 3 or the future. I am thinking of the next game,” Pioli told DAZN. “There have been some tough moments, but I love what I do.”
Juve remain on track for a ninth straight title, sitting seven points clear of Lazio with seven matches remaining, but could have rendered the race all but over with a victory.
The loss snapped the Turin giants’ seven-game winning run in the league.
Juventus dominated the first half without finding a breakthrough as the closest they came was when Leonardo Bonucci glanced Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick wide when unmarked only three yards from goal.
Ibrahimovic had a couple of speculative efforts easily held by Wojciech Szczesny at the other end and also saw a goal ruled out for offside.
The reigning champions burst into life after the interval though, as French international Adrien Rabiot drove forward and fired a fine left-footed shot from the edge of the area into the top corner to score his first Serie A goal.
Ronaldo doubled the advantage less than eight minutes into the second half, netting for the fifth consecutive game and for the 26th time in Serie A this term with a cool finish.
But Milan were handed a lifeline out of nowhere on the hour mark as Bonucci was penalised for handball, and Ibrahimovic stepped up to score his sixth goal since returning to the San Siro from LA Galaxy in January.
The 38-year-old made it back-to-back games with a goal and an assist in the 66th minute, teeing up Franck Kessie to score with a deflected strike.
Incredibly, Milan completed the turnaround with their third goal in five minutes as Rafael Leao beat Szczesny at his near post.
Ante Rebic had an excellent chance to make it 4-2 with 12 minutes remaining, but Szczesny did well to save with his boot,
The Croatian international wrapped up the points two minutes later though with his 10th league goal of the season.
Lazio stumble again
Earlier, Lazio, who lost 3-0 to Milan at the weekend, slumped to a second straight loss, beaten 2-1 at relegation-threatened Lecce.
Defender Patric added to Lazio’s problems in injury time as he was dismissed for biting Lecce’s Giulio Donati and could face a lengthy ban, especially with the strict COVID-19 regulations in place.
“Our dream must continue, which is to qualify mathematically for the Champions League,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.
“We hope to achieve it as soon as possible, but that is our only objective.”
Lecce ended a six-match losing streak in dramatic fashion to climb out of the relegation zone.
Lazio were without strikers Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo through suspension against Milan, but both played a part as the latter gave the visitors a fifth minute lead, shortly after Lecce midfielder Marco Mancosu’s strike was ruled out by VAR for a handball in the build-up.
But the hosts grabbed a deserved equaliser on the half-hour mark when Senegalese forward Khouma Babacar nodded home Filippo Falco’s cross.
Lazio survived a massive scare on the stroke of half-time as Lecce were awarded a penalty for a controversial handball against Patric, but Mancosu spooned his spot-kick over the crossbar.
Lecce centre-back Fabio Lucioni headed in a corner to give the home team a shock lead early in the second half.
Patric’s moment of madness came in the third minute of added time when he bit Donati on the arm.