Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Soccer notebook: Jonathan Ikone Fiorentina bound, Niko Kovac set to be out at Monaco in Ligue 1 and more

One final time in 2021, we catch you up with some of the stories you might have missed this week with numerous European clubs taking advantage of the winter break to do some early business ahead of January and a return to action. From Jonathan Ikone leaving Lille OSC for Fiorentina to Angers SCO’s massive COVID-19 outbreak, we are your one-stop shop for those elusive stories which often slip by undetected.

Our picks.

Viola add Jonathan Ikone

Lille have confirmed that Ikone, 23, will join Fiorentina when the winter transfer window opens on January 3 after a total agreement was reached between the two clubs. The Paris Saint-Germain youth academy product is now a full France international and helped LOSC to last season’s Ligue 1 title ahead of his formative club.

Monaco to move on from Niko Kovac

AS Monaco are expected to make the departure of coach Niko Kovac with the principality outfit sixth in the Ligue 1 table. Although not disastrous, the German-born former Croatia international has been under scrutiny for some time as has sporting director Paul Mitchell.

Meanwhile, City Football Group-owned ESTAC Troyes have also decided to part ways with Laurent Batlles with the club one point above the relegation places. The 46-year-old was strongly linked with Montpellier HSC over the summer after guiding the Aube outfit back to Le Championnat.

Cuisance catch for Venezia

Venezia are closing in on the signing of Michael Cuisance from Bayern Munich with the 22-year-old Frenchman expected to complete his move to Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo shortly. Despite a failed loan move to Olympique de Marseille last season which ultimately saw him excluded from the senior setup, his potential remains high, and he will likely welcome a new start as part of a youthful project.

Rafinha returns to Spain

The Brazil international’s PSG nightmare is over after he completed a loan signing until the end of the season with Real Sociedad after the 28-year-old barely featured under Mauricio Pochettino in the French capital. Will Rafinha be able to impress enough to earn the move permanently?

Monchengladbach faces end of season exodus

The Bundesliga outfit have confirmed that both Matthias Ginter and Denis Zakaria have announced their decisions to leave at the end of the season when their contracts expire: “We know now who we can plan with for next season and who will not be here,” said sporting director Max Eberl. “We have clarity going into the second half of this season. This was important for us.”

Salernitana saviors emerge?

Although the Serie A strugglers are not yet safe, three Italy-based groups have shown interest with the possibility of a joint bid raising the prospect of an extension to the buyout process which could see the Granata fight on in Italy’s topflight — for now — at a price of around $17 million.

Chelsea count costs

UEFA Champions League titleholders Chelsea have announced losses of nearly $197 million after the tax year for June 30 of this year. Although turnover rose from around $523 million to $563 million, the London club say that no crowds due to COVID-19 and reduced player sales were the main reason for the losses.

Osimhen could miss AFCON

Victor Osimhen has tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time which means that his eligibility for the Africa Cup of Nations is in major doubt. The Nigeria international was due to have his cheekbone injury assessed in Naples but has since tested positive and is now required to isolate for at least one week.

“Consequently, the local authorities have ordered that Osimhen self-isolate, and the check-up will be rescheduled after he has tested negative and his period of isolation ends,” read a Napoli statement.

Meanwhile, France’s Angers have confirmed an incredible 19 positive cases from a squad of 30 with staff members also testing positive. The Ligue 1 club have already requested that their Ligue 1 clash with AS Saint-Etienne be postponed while temporary measures are being taken by the French Football Federation to ensure that there are as few postponed games as possible.

China declares tattoos taboo

Finally, Chinese soccer players who represent the national team have been banned from getting tattoos and advised to remove existing ones as part of a government directive. Per China’s sports administration body, internationally selecting players with body art at senior and youth level is strictly prohibited to set a better example to society.

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