Ribery to Salernitana would be like Maradona to Napoli, claim Serie A new boys

By Sports Desk September 03, 2021

Salernitana are attempting to sign Franck Ribery and claim the arrival of the veteran winger could have the same impact as Diego Maradona's move to Napoli.

Ribery, now 38, is a free agent after leaving Fiorentina at the end of last season.

The former France international is clearly past his peak, having won the Champions League with Bayern Munich eight years ago, but he still scored five goals and supplied nine assists in 50 Serie A games for Fiorentina – creating 70 chances and completing 117 dribbles.

Salernitana sporting director Angelo Fabiani believes bringing in Ribery would be a coup to rank alongside Napoli's 1984 Maradona deal.

The late Argentina legend established himself as one of the greatest players of all time over seven years in Naples in the 1980s and early 1990s, winning the Partenopei's only Scudetti in 1986–87 and 1989–90.

Ribery would not be expected to win games alone as Maradona was, though.

Salernitana have already landed one eye-catching signing in the form of Simy, the forward brought in on loan from Crotone after scoring 20 league goals last season.

His shot conversion rate of 31.75 per cent was the best of all players with 10 or more goals.

Fabiani feels Salernitana have such a strong squad, despite losing their first two matches of the season, that Ribery would merely be "the cherry".

"It is true that there may be an interest in this player," he told Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. "But to make marriages you have to have two.

"We have the idea. To find an agreement, it takes days, continuous talks. It is not even an economic problem, it is a problem of feasibility.

"Salernitana may be interested, but the player's agreement must also arrive.

"At Salernitana, there is not only Simy. We have a strong team with many players who are certainties. The squad is complete in all its departments.

"Then if a cherry comes on the cake like Ribery, it will all be worth it.

"Bringing Ribery to Salerno would be like bringing Maradona to Naples. The player would raise the global vision of football in a market like ours.

"The offer is there and the player is evaluating it. We are confident."

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    Olivier Giroud acknowledged Milan's display in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Torino was by no means impressive but applauded the team for still managing to get the job done.

    Giroud got the only goal of the game in the 14th minute, tapping in from close range after Rade Krunic flicked on a corner.

    Precious few clear-cut opportunities came for Milan thereafter – their 1.1 expected goals (xG) value was better than Torino's (0.6), but 0.8 of the Rossoneri's total was attributed to Giroud's goal, highlighting the dearth of quality chances after the breakthrough.

    Torino came on strong in the latter stages, with Tonny Sanabria forcing a save from Ciprian Tatarusanu and Dennis Praet having a deflected effort hit the crossbar.

    It was hardly an emphatic performance from Milan, who had great trouble in their 4-2 weekend win at Bologna as well, but it moved them to the top of the table at least until Thursday and also ensured they reached the 10-match mark with nine victories for only the second time ever (also 1954-55).

    And Giroud feels Milan can cut themselves some slack as long as they get results.

    "We play every three days, and that's just not easy on the body," Giroud told DAZN. "Not everything was perfect, but we won and that's the most important thing.

    "We played a good game, I think. Torino are a strong, physical team. They're aggressive in tackles and there were plenty of challenges with Bremer, who's a great defender.

    "I'm really happy because we started well and Torino didn't really create lots of scoring opportunities. That shows we were really solid at the back, and we've taken the three points, which is the most important thing.

    "We can do better at times. It's not perfect, but Torino are very tough to play against, and we got the three points. That's what I really like about this team [Milan], especially when playing at home, we want to make the fans happy with a lot of energy and passion."

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    Reece James scored the winning spot-kick against Aston Villa in round three, and it was the wing-back who netted the decider again on Tuesday.

    Once more without the injured strike duo of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, Chelsea went ahead through Kai Havertz, but Che Adams hit back early in the second half.

    Kepa Arrizabalaga and Fraser Forster both then saved a penalty each in the shoot-out, yet it was ultimately Will Smallbone's miss that proved costly as the five-time winners progressed.

    Chelsea had set the tone when Ross Barkley delivered a teasing corner from which Saul Niguez forced Forster into a fine stop in the sixth minute.

    Havertz twice went close before he punctured Southampton's resolve on the cusp of half-time when a defensive lapse allowed the Germany international to head home Hakim Ziyech's corner.

    That lead lasted only two minutes into the second half, however.

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    Milan took full advantage of Napoli's Sunday slip-up as the Rossoneri beat Torino 1-0 in Serie A thanks to Olivier Giroud's early goal, the win putting them top of the table on Tuesday.

    Napoli's 0-0 draw with Roma at the weekend meant the Partenopei only sat at the top of the pile thanks to goal difference, but Milan just about got the job done at San Siro to go first at least until Thursday.

    Giroud's early effort was one of few clear-cut chances in the entire match, with the Frenchman becoming only the second player in the three-points-for-a-win era to score in his first three home league appearances for Milan (after Mario Balotelli in 2013).

    For the vast majority of the match, Torino looked the better side but their inability to consistently worry the Milan defence meant the hosts were able to hold on to a slender victory.

    A scrappy opening was devoid of excitement, but Milan went ahead with their first meaningful attack in the 14th minute, as Giroud met Rade Krunic's flick-on and tapped in from close range.

    It was not until the final action of the first half that Milan went close again, with Krunic getting another header away, although this time it landed just wide with Giroud not there to guide it in.

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    While the win puts Milan top at least until Napoli face Bologna on Thursday, their performance was hardly an emphatic statement.

    The Giroud goal aside, Milan never really looked like scoring – their cumulative expected goals figure was 1.1, though 0.8 of that was attributed to the France forward's tap-in.

    Thankfully for them, once Pierre Kalulu went off at the break, Milan were mostly solid in defence, with Torino restricted to only one major opportunity.

    Kalulu caught short

    Deployed at left-back from the start, the youngster was withdrawn at the break after struggling in the first half. He was careless in possession on several occasions and just never looked an assuring presence defensively.

    Tonali takes plaudits

    It was a match with few standout performances in truth, but Sandro Tonali did catch the eye. He was one of only two Milan players to play more than one key pass (two) and he worked hard throughout his 65 minutes on the pitch – his 14 duels were bettered by only three team-mates, all of whom played at least 22 more minutes.

    What's next?

    A trip to Jose Mourinho's Roma awaits Milan on Sunday. Torino host Sampdoria the day before.

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