Tuchel will take no risks with Lukaku for Juve clash, Havertz a doubt

By Sports Desk November 22, 2021

Thomas Tuchel is unsure whether Romelu Lukaku will return for Chelsea's Champions League showdown with Juventus, while Kai Havertz could miss out entirely.

Record signing Lukaku has been out for a month due to an ankle injury, but is closing in on a comeback.

The Belgium striker was able to resume training last week, but Blues manager Tuchel will not rush him back into the side at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

While Lukaku's involvement appears undecided, Havertz seems unlikely to feature after suffering a hamstring injury against Leicester City.

Jorginho will be available after coming off with cramp in the win over the Foxes as the second-placed holders look for a win that would put them level on 12 points with the Group H leaders.

Asked about the possibility of Lukaku returning, Tuchel said: "Not sure yet. He seemed okay in training yesterday [Sunday], we will see about the reaction.

"He has an appointment with the doctors and physios. Maybe we can bring 20 players to the squad. The last minutes would be the absolute maximum.

"Jorginho is absolutely okay. Kai had a hamstring problem so we took him off and we have some doubts with him."

Chelsea are unbeaten in nine matches – winning seven and edging a penalty shootout – since losing 1-0 to the Bianconeri in September.

It has been reported that owner Roman Abramovich could be in attendance for the battle between the top two, but Tuchel says that will not give his side extra motivation to put on a show.

The German said: "Our show is the basics. We give our very best if the owner is here or if he is not here. He will watch us closely anyway if he isn't here.

"We put a show on a daily basis and that is with hard work to make him happy and all our supporters who are in the stadium tomorrow. We need everyone full on and ourselves to be at the top level."

The London club have only won one of their past 10 Champions League encounters with Italian sides.

Tuchel says Chelsea will not shoot themselves in the foot by taking a gung-ho approach to trying to qualify as group winners.

"We will not risk our qualification and go all in if the situation is like this, but we will try everything to win the game and the group and to do this, we have to win the game," said the former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund boss.

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  • Florence and the talent machine: The players who left Fiorentina in big moves Florence and the talent machine: The players who left Fiorentina in big moves

    Every league seems to have those teams that just produce talent on an apparently non-stop basis, before those players inevitably get picked off by the bigger boys.

    In Germany, you can't move for former Schalke or Stuttgart players. There's Lyon and Monaco in France, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia in Spain, Southampton and Aston Villa in England.

    In Italy, that team is probably Fiorentina, who appear to be in the same position once again as La Viola are reportedly on the verge of selling star striker Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus for a deal believed to be in the region of €75million.

    Stats Perform takes a look at some of the biggest names in Italian football who made a name for themselves with the team from Tuscany, and what they went on to achieve in the game.

     

    Roberto Baggio

    Having begun his career at Vicenza, The Divine Ponytail's move to Fiorentina saw his star rise as he spent five impressive years in the purple shirt.

    However, after he helped Fiorentina to the 1990 UEFA Cup final, only to be defeated over two ill-tempered legs by their great rivals Juventus, salt was very much rubbed into the fans' wounds as the Bianconeri paid a then world-record fee to take Baggio.

    Reports claimed that fans hurled bricks, chains and Molotov cocktails at Fiorentina's headquarters, and for the two days after the transfer was announced, club president Flavio Pontello took shelter in the stadium, with 50 injuries and nine arrests recorded.

    Baggio would only improve his reputation further at Juve, winning the UEFA Cup in 1993, before securing a league and cup double two years later, scoring 115 goals in 200 games across five seasons before moving to Milan, where he won another Scudetto in his first year.

    After being dismissed by Fabio Capello at San Siro in 1997, Baggio had an impressive season at Bologna where he scored a personal best 22 league goals, before moving back to the city of Milan with Inter.

    Things did not work out at the Nerazzurri but he still went on to enjoy four final seasons in Serie A with Brescia, where he reached double figures in each campaign before retiring in 2004.

    Gabriel Batistuta

    There is arguably no more iconic player in Fiorentina history. A striker who football fans of a certain vintage remember banging in goals on Sunday afternoons during the nineties.

    Unlike most of the players on this list, Batistuta actually spent the majority of his career at Fiorentina, staying for nine years before his big-money move to Roma.

    The man affectionately known as 'Batigol' remains the club's record goalscorer with 159 goals in 198 games, though it does help his record that people like Vlahovic are usually sold before they can get anywhere near that total.

    Though he had won a Coppa Italia, Batistuta wanted a Scudetto and moved to Roma in 2000 in order to get it. It was the highest fee ever paid for a player over the age of 30, a record which stood until Leonardo Bonucci moved to Milan from Juventus in 2017.

    It seemed like a justified move when Batistuta scored 20 goals, including netting against his former club, on the way to winning the title in his first season in the Italian capital, but was unable to reach those heights again, scoring just 11 over the following season and a half before a loan move to Inter.

    Rui Costa

    The Portuguese maestro had made a name for himself at Benfica before moving to Italy in 1994 and making 230 appearances in seven years with La Viola, winning two Coppa Italia titles.

    However, like Batistuta, Rui Costa was moved on for big money to try and help the club's finances, ending up at Milan for a then club-record fee of around £35m.

    Rui Costa spent five years at San Siro where he won six trophies, including the Champions League in 2003 and Scudetto a year later. He moved back to Benfica in 2006 after the emergence of Kaka saw his minutes reduced.

    Federico Bernardeschi

    Bernardeschi came through the youth ranks at Fiorentina, with big things expected of him as he burst onto the scene after an impressive loan at Crotone in Serie B in the 2013-14 season.

    During three years in the first team, Bernardeschi scored 23 goals in 93 games and registered 11 assists, which unfortunately for Viola fans saw old enemies Juve come swooping in again.

    He has claimed three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies in Turin, as well as being a part of the Italy squad that won the rescheduled Euro 2020 last year.

    Bernardeschi, who has scored just 11 times in 170 games for Juve, largely remains a squad player under Massimiliano Allegri, in part because of this next man...

    Federico Chiesa

    Another Fiorentina youth product, Chiesa had all eyes on him as soon as he broke through due to being the son of former Viola and Italy striker Enrico Chiesa.

    Chiesa Jr made his first-team debut, somewhat ironically, against Juve at the age of 18, and over the next couple of years began to establish himself as the potential future of the club.

    More suited to playing out wide than his father, who was a traditional central striker, Chiesa's managed 34 goals and 19 assists in 153 games at Fiorentina but it his tenacity, pace and skill that sets him apart.

    That was enough to tempt – yes, you guessed it – Juve to come along and take him on a two-year loan, with an obligation to make it permanent at the end of the current campaign.

    Chiesa had an impressive first season at Juve, including scoring the winning goal in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, before starring for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, scoring twice in seven appearances and making the team of the tournament.

    He started 2021-22 in sharp form, only for a serious knee injury to end his season early.

     

    There also must be honourable mentions for the likes of Luca Toni, whose emergence at Fiorentina earned him a lucrative move to Bayern Munich, and Francesco Toldo - he was sold to Inter at the same time that Costa was packed off to Milan to ease club debts.

    Juan Cuadrado (now at Juventus) and Marcos Alonso were both sold to Chelsea for decent money two years apart, while Felipe Melo (Juventus), Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) and Matias Vecino (Inter) continued Fiorentina's philosophy of buying low and selling high.

    The path well-trodden out of the Stadio Artemio Franchi has often led to bigger and better things, and that bodes well for Vlahovic now that it appears he will be the next in line.

    He seems to have all the tools to be the star striker this current, rather dour, edition of the Bianconeri require. Indeed, Vlahovic's 33 goals in Serie A last season matched the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve in 2020.

    It might be tough to take (again) for Viola fans, but if history is anything to go by, their next hero won't be far away.

    Of course, he'll probably also sign for Juve eventually, but that will just be a case of crossing the Ponte Vecchio when they come to it.

  • Rumour Has It: Martial loan agreement reached between Sevilla and Man Utd Rumour Has It: Martial loan agreement reached between Sevilla and Man Utd

    Anthony Martial has made no secret of his desire to leave Manchester United in the January window – and the France international appears to have been granted his wish.

    Restricted to just four starts in all competitions this season, Martial has very much been on the periphery at United in what is his seventh campaign at the club.

    However, there are no shortage of suitors for Martial and it looks increasingly likely that the 26-year-old will spend the remainder of the campaign away from Old Trafford.


    TOP STORY – SECOND TIME LUCKY FOR SEVILLA

    Sevilla had a loan bid for Martial rejected earlier this month, but Goal reports that the issues have been ironed out and the out-of-favour forward is now set to undergo a medical.

    Juventus are said to have been among a number of other European sides in the running to sign Martial, but Sevilla were always his preferred destination.

    The LaLiga club are expected to pay a loan fee for the former Monaco man, potentially as much as €5.96million (£5m), while the player himself will accept a cut in wages.


    ROUND-UP

    – After growing frustrated in their attempt to sign Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina, The Sun reports that Arsenal may now instead go after Real Madrid's Luka Jovic this month.

    – Calciomercato claims that Serie A leaders Inter are close to strengthening their squad with the addition of striker Felipe Caicedo from Genoa.

    Watford are set to move quickly on the back of sacking head coach Claudio Ranieri by bringing in Roy Hodgson as early as Tuesday, according to Sky Sports.

    – Goal suggest that Bayern Munich are targeting Chelsea's Andreas Christensen on a free transfer after Niklas Sule turned down the offer of a new contract in Bavaria.

    Manchester City are increasingly confident of wrapping up a deal for Julian Alvarez. However, the Daily Mail reports that the striker will initially remain on loan with River Plate.

    Newcastle United have made a fresh approach for Man Utd winger Jesse Lingard, according to The Telegraph. The Magpies are happy to pay a £6m loan fee.

  • Fiorentina have received 'important offers' for Vlahovic Fiorentina have received 'important offers' for Vlahovic

    Fiorentina have received "important offers" for Dusan Vlahovic and would even be willing to let him move to rivals Juventus. 

    Vlahovic is one of the most in-demand players in Europe after a sensational 2021 saw him join Cristiano Ronaldo and Luca Toni as the only players in the past 60 years to score more than 30 Serie A goals in a calendar year. 

    The 21-year-old has found the back of the net 20 times in 24 appearances in all competitions this season alone, with Ciro Immobile (21) the only Serie A player to have registered more. 

    Vlahovic will be out of contract at the end of next season and has been heavily linked with Juve, Arsenal and Manchester City.

    Fiorentina are open to selling him and have received offers, but the lack of responses from the player's camp have hampered their chances of doing a deal during the January transfer window. 

    The Viola are hoping to receive in the region of €70million but have also offered the striker a new contract in an attempt to avoid losing him for nothing when his deal expires. 

    "We've received some important offers for him but have never received feedback from his agents," Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade told Sportitalia. 

    "There has always been great transparency on our part in all communication. All the doors are open. We really want to understand what the agents and the player want to do. 

    "We're ready to spend money with important offers for his renewal. We also have important offers to sell him. A club like Fiorentina cannot afford to lose a player on a free transfer.  

    "They were all valid and satisfactory offers, with payment methods that suited us. We couldn't go ahead with the deal because there was never any contact with the player's agents. 

    "It's an important valuation, over €70million with no swap deal and no way of paying in instalments. The president has imposed this on us." 

    Asked specifically if Fiorentina would even be willing to sell to Juve, Prade replied: "The doors are open to everyone." 

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