Franck Ribery's arrival at Salernitana was compared to Diego Maradona joining Napoli, but the veteran winger just wants to help the club retain their Serie A status. 

It was confirmed on Monday that Ribery, 38, had signed a one-year contract at the Stadio Arechi. The deal will be extended for another year if the club achieve certain sporting objectives. 

The former France international was a free agent after leaving Fiorentina, where he spent two seasons following the conclusion of a trophy-laden 12-year stint with Bayern Munich. 

He will spend 2021-22 with Salernitana, who have started their first top-flight campaign in 23 years with back-to-back defeats against Bologna and Roma. 

Salernitana sporting director Angelo Fabiani last week said Ribery could have the same impact on the club's profile as Maradona did at Napoli. 

Ribery was keen to steer clear of such hyperbole when presented to the media, though. 

"I know the director compared my arrival to that of Maradona at Napoli, but I didn't come here to talk about the titles that I won. When I'm on the field, the trophies I have lifted do not count," said Ribery. 

"I feel great and I am available to help Salernitana achieve safety. It's important to find a rhythm immediately, but I am aware that training with the team is very different to personal preparation. 

"I am a technical player, but I know the team matters and I have to help the younger players. My role in the locker room will have to be important. Communication makes the difference. 

"My mentality is completely different. I need a little time, but starting from tomorrow [Tuesday] I will join the group and I spoke with the medical staff and the coach about getting me ready. 

"The passion of the people here is incredible. I will never forget the crowd that was in the stadium for me. I still managed to get excited despite having played in the most prestigious stadiums in the world. It's up to me to repay their trust." 

Ribery has made 50 appearances in Serie A, scoring five goals and registering nine assists. Ahead of 2021-22, he was one of only five players to have scored in each of the past 17 seasons in the top five European leagues. 

The Frenchman completed 117 dribbles during his two seasons at Fiorentina. No player aged 30 or above at the end of the 2020-21 campaign had accumulated as many in the same time frame.

Fabiani added: "Ribery is an absolute phenomenon who has won everything in his career. 

"I hope that Ribery's arrival can help the team do something extraordinary." 

Could a Premier League return be on the cards for Leroy Sane?

Sane swapped Manchester City for Bayern Munich in 2020, however, it has not gone according to plan in his native Germany.

Chelsea are reportedly trying to lure Sane back to England.

 

TOP STORY – SANE TO MAKE ENGLAND RETURN?

Chelsea are keen to sign Leroy Sane from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to the Express.

Sane left Manchester City for Bayern in 2020 but the Germany international has struggled for form in Munich.

Champions League holders Chelsea – led by German boss Thomas Tuchel – are reportedly targeting Sane and are willing to include Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic in any deal.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United could target Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic in January, per Manchester Evening News. Brozovic is nearing the end of his Inter contract, with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona also among the Croatia international's admirers. The report has also linked United with Barca's Pedri and Borussia Monchengladbach forward Dennis Zakaria, who has been previously linked to City and Inter.

Liverpool are continuing contract talks with star Mohamed Salah, says the Liverpool Echo, which claims Salah is not asking for £500,000 per week, despite previous reports. Salah has been linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona previously.

Franck Ribery is set to join Serie A newcomers Salernitana on a free transfer, according to Fabrizio Romano. The former Bayern and France star has been without a club since leaving Fiorentina at the end of 2020-21.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Roma are hoping to sign Zenit star Sardar Azmoun on a free transfer at the end of the season.

- The front page of Monday's Tuttosport claims Inter are eyeing soon-to-be free agents Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli and Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso. Insigne has previously been linked with Milan and Liverpool, while the likes of United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Roma have been credited with interest in Tolisso.

- Calciomercato reports Inter are considering Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana as a long-term replacement for Samir Handanovic.

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."

What does the future hold for Juventus post-Cristiano Ronaldo?

Moise Kean arrived following Ronaldo's return to Manchester United but it was a relatively quiet transfer window in terms of incomings.

Juve, though, are reportedly planning for 2022 already and they are targeting a pair of forward stars.

 

TOP STORY – DUO EYED BY JUVE

Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic or Paris Saint-Germain's Mauro Icardi are in Juventus' plans for 2022, according to the front page of Wednesday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juve had a quiet end to the transfer window after Cristiano Ronaldo left Turin for Manchester United.

But Juve are reportedly set to target either Vlahovic – also linked with Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Inter – or Icardi at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

– Staying in Turin and Tuttosport says Juve will do everything to re-sign star Paulo Dybala. He has been linked with United, Tottenham and PSG previously.

 Lyon are expected to complete the signing of former Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng on a free transfer, claims Fabrizio Romano.

– Sky Sport Italia reports free agent Franck Ribery is in negotiations with Hellas Verona. Ribery is without a club since leaving Fiorentina at the end of 2020-21.

 Lautaro Martinez will sign a new deal with Inter until 2025 worth €6million per year, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Barcelona, City and Tottenham have been linked.

Franck Ribery made a public apology to his Fiorentina team-mates after the veteran French star was sent off for the seventh time in his club career.

The former Bayern Munich winger, who turns 38 on Wednesday, was dismissed by referee Fabio Maresca after going in studs-up on Davide Zappacosta during Saturday's Serie A clash away to Genoa.

That incident occurred in the 51st minute, with the teams locked at 1-1, and Fiorentina held on as the match finished without any further goals.

Fiorentina and Genoa lurk in lower mid-table, with both sides looking to banish the distant threat of relegation after the international break.

Ribery, who in 2012-13 beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win UEFA's Men's Player of the Year award, recognised he let down his Viola team-mates.

"Guys, I'm sorry I left you alone," he wrote on Twitter. "I didn't want to go in badly and I have already apologised. You fought to the end and you were very brave and careful. Keep going like this!"

Ribery joined Fiorentina on a two-year deal after being released by Bayern in 2019 and was sent off against Lazio early in his Serie A career. He had been dismissed four times for Bayern and once when playing for Marseille.

An ankle injury meant Ribery missed a large chunk of his debut season in Italy, when he scored three goals and had three assists in 21 games.

There have been flashes of his best in the current campaign, in which he has scored twice and had five assists in 23 appearances so far, also hitting the woodwork twice.

However, the number of chances he has created has dipped from 35 last season to 26 this term, despite spending 197 more minutes on the pitch, and his dribble success rate has also fallen, shrinking from 59.55 to 52.63 per cent.

Milan kept alive their faint hopes of Serie A title glory as Hakan Calhanoglu's fine strike sealed a pulsating 3-2 win over Fiorentina on Sunday. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had put them ahead after nine minutes to become the oldest player to reach 15 goals in a single Serie A season, aged 39 years and 169 days, but Erick Pulgar restored parity soon after.

Fiorentina took the lead shortly after the break thanks to a cool finish from Franck Ribery, yet Milan powered back thanks to Brahim Diaz and Calhanoglu's winner 19 minutes from full-time. 

The result means Milan move to within six points of leaders Inter, whose game against Sassuolo this weekend was called off after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

Fikayo Tomori cleared Martin Caceres' header off the line after five minutes as the hosts started brightly, but it was Milan who struck first. 

Simon Kjaer's clipped ball over the top found Ibrahimovic and the Sweden international struck past an exposed Bartlomiej Dragowski. 

That lead was cancelled out after 17 minutes, though, when Pulgar whipped a free-kick into Gianluigi Donnarumma's top-right corner from 20 yards. 

Both sides struck the crossbar before half-time, German Pezzella denied after an inventive flick from Valentin Eysseric's corner, while Ibrahimovic clipped against the frame of the goal after being played in by Calhanoglu.

La Viola went ahead six minutes after the restart, Ribery stroking home his second top-flight goal of the season from 15 yards after he had been teed up by Dusan Vlahovic.

The Rossoneri drew level in the 57th minute, however, when Diaz reacted quickest to poke home Kjaer's knockdown from a corner. 

Ibrahimovic struck the post with a cross before Calhanoglu slotted into substitute goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano's bottom-left corner from just inside the penalty area to ensure neighbours Inter cannot relax just yet.

 

 

Leroy Sane is beginning to show how important he can be to Bayern Munich after finding rhythm following a lengthy injury lay-off, says club great Franck Ribery.

Germany winger Sane joined Bayern from Manchester City in the close season but was in and out of the team as he continued to find fitness following the knee injury that restricted him to two appearances in his final campaign at the Etihad Stadium.

Across all competitions this season, Sane has eight goals and nine assists – both of which rank fourth among Bayern players this term.

He has also created 38 chances for his team-mates, 11 of those classing as Opta-defined 'big chances' – the fifth-best among Bayern's squad.

Ribery, who spent 12 years at Bayern, is delighted to see Sane begin to show his value at the Allianz Arena.

"I'm happy for him and for Bayern," Ribery told Sky Germany.

"When he came to Munich it was maybe a bit difficult for him at the beginning, the pressure was great. 

"But you shouldn't forget that he was out injured for a long time. It takes time. But things are going much better now, he's an important player for Bayern."

Ribery won nine Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals and the Champions League during a spectacular spell at Bayern.

The veteran winger has been linked with a return to Germany's top flight with Eintracht Frankfurt but for now the 37-year-old is purely focused on Fiorentina, whom he joined after departing Bayern in 2019.

"Of course, I miss the Bundesliga. I had my best time at Bayern and won a lot there," Ribery added. 

"My priority is here in Florence, I'm happy here. We still have a few games and we need the points. I want to help the club."

Franck Ribery wants to stay with Fiorentina but is awaiting discussions with the Serie A club over a new contract.

Ribery joined La Viola in August 2019 on a free transfer following his release from Bayern Munich, but his two-year deal expires at the end of the season.

The 37-year-old winger has just one goal and four assists in 17 appearances in Serie A this season, and Fiorentina's win percentage is lower with Ribery in the team than without him.

Since he joined the club they have a won 23.7 per cent of their 38 matches with him in the team and that climbs to 40 per cent without him (20 games).

"I am happy in Florence, I have already said it," Ribery told Sky Sport Italia.

"It's a beautiful city, I feel good with the fans, with the club and with my team-mates.

"What will I do next year? I am ready and remain at everyone's disposal, this question should be asked of the club."

Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said now was not the appropriate time to discuss Ribery's future, but acknowledged the former France international has been an asset to the club.

Prade said: "He's a leader, a man of important values and who must give us more from all points of view. Young players grow with him because he transmits important values.

"He will tell us what he wants to do in the future, but this is not the right time. We will talk about it in a more serene moment."

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