After 21 goals in 10 U15 games, 24 in 26 for the U17’s, six in 10 for Grosso’s Primavera and 10 in 21 games for Italy’s national youth sides Moise Kean has turned some heads around Europe. He made his first start for Juventus’ under-19’s against Bari in mid-September despite having only turned 16 in February but he outclassed the opposition and scored a fine goal to win the game. The team is coached by 2006 World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, who has seen him rise through the ranks and has promoted him despite his young age.

He is the talk of the town around Italy and has been compared to Mario Balotelli although only for his ability and not for his off field antics and after scoring in each of his two UEFA Youth League group stage games this season, a competition he also starred in last season while only 15, and in all three U19 matches, Kean is in Juventus’ full squad. This has come at an opportune moment as Juventus are enduring something of an injury crisis in attack what with Mario Mandzukic and Marko Pjaca out with serious injuries so Max Allegri has only Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala available.

Kean’s scoring record is quite remarkable and doesn’t seem to drop off even as he is progressed further and further. He was quoted as saying that shooting, heading and pace are his best strengths so it’s not surprising that he scores a lot but his physical presence is also a major contributing factor to this. 6ft tall and already remarkably muscular, he has everything needed to lead the line at youth level, though Grosso has occasionally deployed him on the flank. In either role his running, control and desire to get into the box make him a nightmare for defenders, with most young full-backs lacking anything near the speed or power to prevent him bursting beyond them and causing problems.

Time will only tell if he can take the pressure of first team football, playing alongside superstars such as Higuain but if he has the right people around him and looks to learn from his peers the future can only be bright. His crossing has often lacked accuracy and his final pass and decision making needs improvement and as he gets older, he’ll come across higher quality defenders who will match his strength, meaning his decision-making will need to improve as he will have less time to play his game.

Juventus’ history of developing and bringing players through into the first team is basically non-existent in recent times what with Claudio Marchisio being the only example of such a thing happening in the past few decades. A few others such as Sebastian Giovinco and Paolo De Ceglie made a few appearances, but Kean is certainly the hope for Juventus to break this worrying trend. The club’s sporting director Fabio Paratici and director general Beppe Marotta are unsurprisingly eager to tie Kean down to a permanent contract in order to fend off interest from Europe’s elite but wherever he ends up he is likely to be a future star.

About the author – Liam Bailes

Liam has been a football fanatic since the early 1990s and continues to be delighted by the sport today. He follows the 5 big European leagues as well as the npower championship and major cup competitions both domestically and internationally. He is an FA level 2 coach and loves to be involved with football at every opportunity.


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It has been three years since Napoli made a huge double-edged statement in a bid to climb back to Italian football’s peak, and again they find themselves at a crossroads.

In the summer of 2013, Rafael Benitez, fresh from success against the tide at Chelsea, and Gonzalo Higuain, looking for regular first team football after a frustrating spell at Real Madrid, arrived in the hope of taking a real challenge to intense rivals Juventus for the scudetto. It never really materialised.

By that point, the Bianconeri had won two successive titles and reasserted themselves at the top after a turbulent decade, mostly centring around the calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Three years on, Napoli, themselves no strangers to off field issues having been declared bankrupt in 2004, are without both Benitez and Higuain and the rebuilding starts again.

Success proved illusive for Benitez before he departed for Real Madrid last year, finishing third and fifth in his two seasons at the Stadio San Paolo, while Higuain came into his own under new boss Maurizio Sarri, netting 36 goals as the Partenopei ran closer than ever, clinching second place.

They may not have the numbers to compete with the likes of Juve, Milan and Inter, but Napoli are a club brimming with history. Their aim, since the glory days of Diego Maradona in the 1980s and early 90s, has always been to get back there, and at times it has looked like they may do, under both Sarri and the man who preceded Benitez, Walter Mazzarri.

But their foes in Turin have proven too strong on many an occasion, and in truth it looks unlikely to change any time soon. Football in Italy has a unique feel, but in Naples fans are not afraid to take extreme measures to show the love for their club. If all is well, the atmosphere is amazing, if not then hostility is ramped up, but either way it is a spectacle to behold.

When Juventus poached Higuain from their grasp, paying a £75million buyout clause in his contract in the closed season, Napoli were stunned, forced to pick over the bones of a shattering blow, while still attempting to continue Sarri’s good work over the coming years.

This is a club for the people, with fans who love a talisman, and that is part of the reason Higuain will never be forgiven. Maradona, Higuain and Edinson Cavani, amongst others, have shouldered the responsibility of bringing success to this most unique of football clubs, but they have changed tactic as they continue to push for as third league title in their history.

Luring Higuain was in direct response to the sale of Cavani, for over £50million, to Paris-Saint Germain. The Argentine provided a guarantee of success given his experience, but his replacement, Arkadiusz Milik, a 22-year-old Polish striker from Ajax, cannot make the same promises. His arrival has very much been part of a theme, too.

Younger players with potential have been recruited to work under Sarri, meaning Napoli are looking further into the future than ever before. Amadou Diawara, Marko Rog and Piotr Zielinski, three other examples, are unlikely to hit the ground running, but the trio of exciting midfielders will go far, given time.

Diawara, a central midfielder signed from Bologna, was chased by a host of European clubs, but forced through a move to Napoli. The 19-year-old Guinean’s growth in Italy has been rapid, enjoying a single stellar campaign in Serie A. His pace, strength and power are typical of a player of his ilk, but his technical abilities set him apart and he should thrive in years to come.

Most impressive about these signings is the versatility between them. Rog is more creative and has an eye for goal. Though he has only signed on loan from Dinamo Zagreb initially, Napoli will be obligated to make the deal permanent for €12.5million come the end of the season. Should he fulfil his potential, that fee will prove a steal, and Rog, 21, could possibly take the mantle as chief playmaker from long–serving midfielder Marek Hamsik.

Liverpool were keen on 22-year-old Polish international winger Zielinski, reportedly failing to lure him from Udinese early in the summer before a deal was struck to keep him in Italy as the transfer deadline ticked closer. Extremely talented with tricks and pace in abundance, at 5 ft 11 he is powerful and strong, offering something different to Dries Maertens out wide. Despite only playing a handful of times in Udine, Zielinski really came into his own on loan at Sarri’s former club Empoli last season, scoring five goals in 35 Serie A games.

Gonzalo Higuain’s exit may cast a dark shadow for Napoli, and their title challenge may be over before it starts in the eyes of some, but with four excellent young players in Milik, Diawara, Rog and Zielinski all moving to the club, something exciting may just be brewing in southern Italy over the coming years.

About the author – Harry De Cosemo

Harry is a European football writer specialising in English, Spanish and Italian football. He has worked for a number of top publications including MARCA in English, uMAXIT football, FourFourTwo, Squawka and the Press Association.

twitter: @harrydecosemo

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Barcelona’s Luis Suárez signed off with a hattrick against Granada to take his tally to 40 goals for the season. This meant that not only did he become the first player other than Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to finish as La Liga’s top scorer since 2009, but he also won the European Golden Shoe.

For the second time in his career, Luis Suárez will be presented with the European Golden Shoe, having previously shared the prize with Ronaldo in 2014. The Golden Shoe caps a fantastic season for the Uruguayan who has scored a total of 59 goals in 52 appearances.

Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain ended the season with 36 goals to finish runner-up and in doing so broke Gunnar Nordahl’s 66-year record for most number of goals in a Serie A season.

Last seasons winner, Ronaldo, finished third with 35 goals.

Golden Shoe

Only the leading five countries in the UEFA rankings (England, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain) have two as their multiplayer. This is to emphasise the difference in performance level between clubs from those countries and those of other nations.


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To varying degrees, each of the clubs from last season’s Premier League top four have experienced a disappointing 2015-16 campaign. Champions Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United have all fallen short of pre-season expectations, which means we can expect change this summer. Managerial changes have already been confirmed for Chelsea and City, with the appointments of Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola respectively. And many fans of Arsenal and United are hoping for a similar overhaul at their own clubs.

With the influx of cash generated by the new Premier League TV deal, coupled with the scorn of this season’s underachievement, we can also expect major surgery to each club’s playing staff, with no expense spared.

Champions Chelsea have fallen furthest, recovering from early season relegation form – which saw José Mourinho given his walking papers in December – just enough to clamber up to mid-table under veteran Dutch coach Guus Hiddink. Billionaire owner Roman Abramovic will not be taking his club’s failure to qualify for European competition lightly, and will likely arm his incoming Italian coach with a hefty budget to overhaul the squad.

Despite the change of manager, the Blues are being linked with a pair of familiar faces in Everton duo John Stones and Romelu Lukaku. England defender Stones was subject of Chelsea’s affection last summer under Mourinho, with Everton rejecting their £40m bid. It now seems that, despite the absence of Mourinho, Stones is still very much a wanted man at Stamford Bridge. And Lukaku, of course, will be no stranger to Chelsea fans as he previously played for the club following a £16.5m move from Anderlecht as a teenager in 2011. The big Belgian never got a fair chance in the Chelsea first-team and was shipped out on loan before being sold to Everton for £28m two seasons ago. If widespread reports are to be believed, the hard-nosed Conte wants to give Lukaku another shot, and is willing to pay £60m to do so.

With a striker and a centre-back identified as targets, that would give the impression that Diego Costa and out-of-contract captain John Terry may be surplus to requirements. Both players have plenty still to offer but with Costa’s ability to attract controversy and Terry’s advancing years, Conte may feel that the time is right to refresh things.

It is also thought that Conte will want midfield re-enforcements, and that he’ll look to the familiar surroundings of Serie A for answers. Roma pair Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic are believed to be high on his wish list.

Manchester City were runners-up, and many people’s tip to regain the Premier League trophy following a £130m investment in squad improvements. But, despite a one-year contract extension for manager Manuel Pellegrini, the former Malaga boss appeared a lame duck amid speculation that Pep Guardiola was to usurp his position next season — speculation that has since been confirmed.

City’s squad is not in an obvious state of disrepair. And aside from central defence, where almost £70m has been spent on Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi in the last two seasons, with little return – City’s is a squad that would require only a minor tweaking to get them firing again.

But Guardiola will want to shape City in his image. Despite an abundance of athletic, technically proficient midfielders, Guardiola will want to fill the centre of the park with master-passers, capable of executing his brand of attacking artistry.

For that, it seems he has earmarked Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gündogan. The 25-year-old German playmaker possesses the requisite skill on the ball and passing acumen to bring Guardiola’s City vision to life.

In addition to Gündogan, Guardiola is also likely to want a ball-playing centre-back, and a midfield pivot in the mould of his former Barcelona charge Sergio Busquets. It is believed that a tug-of-war for John Stones may ensue between City and Chelsea, although City are also known admirers of Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte, and retain their interest despite the young Frenchman breaking his ankle on international duty recently.

With Busquets not for sale, and Guardiola claiming he will not raid the Bayern team he is leaving behind, the search for an ideal pivot may prove tricky. Another Dortmund player, 20-year-old Julian Weigl, would be an ideal fit with the way he has conducted the BVB orchestra from deep this season. But Weigl is relatively inexperienced, this being his first season of top-flight football, and Dortmund will be reticent to sanction the sale of a second key midfielder in one summer.

In terms of league position, it looks like Arsenal will finish exactly where they were least season: fourth. But this season will be remembered as a huge opportunity missed for the Gunners. With the rest of the top four tripping over their shoelaces for most of the campaign, this was Arsenal’s big chance to step up and claim their first title in 12 years. But alas, despite sitting top in January, the Premier League trophy seems beyond their grasp as we approach the final stages of the season.

Planning ahead in the transfer market is key to success on Soccer Manager.

So where can Arsenal improve in order to make a real challenge next season? They finally sorted the goalkeeper position last summer by recruiting Petr Cech from Chelsea, but Wenger’s failure to sign a single outfield player until Mohamed Elneny came in in January, has cost Arsenal dearly.

They need a striker capable of 30 goals. Olivier Giroud is a solid centre-forward, and will always score his fair share, but his is not the sort of world-class option Arsenal can pin their hopes on. They were strongly linked with moves for Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín last summer, both of which, at the time, seemed fanciful. But following a season of off-field controversy, maybe Real Madrid would be more willing to listen to offers for their French striker this time around. And Higuaín has had a phenomenal season with Napoli, netting 30 Serie A goals, but after three seasons in Naples, maybe the Argentinian would be open to change this summer.

Arsenal also need a reliable centre-back to partner Laurent Koscielny. Per Mertesacker, though vastly experienced, can be exposed by strikers with pace, and Gabriel Paulista is a decent back-up option. Perhaps someone along the lines of Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk would represent a good option. Having had a year to acclimatise to the Premier League, the former Celtic player could add an assuredness to the Arsenal backline.

Manchester United currently sit fifth in the table, having finished fourth last season. The top four is not beyond their reach, but those already occupying the Champions League-qualifying spaces look reluctant to budge.

Whether Dutch manager Louis van Gaal is allowed to see out the final year of his contract, or whether the myriad rumours are to be believed and José Mourinho will be in charge next season, remains to be seen. But either way, United could use some squad improvements.

Despite spending £250m on incomings over the past two years, United’s squad still has holes. Daley Blind has coped admirably as a make-shift centre-back, but the former Ajax player is much better suited to a left-back or midfield role. Like Chelsea and City, United are thought to be weighing up an offer for John Stones, with the idea being that he could form a lasting partnership for club and country with Chris Smalling.

One of United’s foremost priorities this summer will be to hold on to David de Gea. The Spanish goalkeeper has developed into arguably the world’s best in his position over the last three years, and the Red Devils will have to fend off interest from Real Madrid.

A player strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford, with many European press outlets claiming a deal is already in place, is Benfica’s Renato Sanches. The 18-year-old box-to-box midfielder broke into the first-team at the Estádio da Luz earlier this season and has been a fixture ever since. Though still very raw – his short passing game needs refinement – the young Portuguese possesses the kind of energy and drive that has been lacking from United’s midfield for several years.

Whether or not United feel the need to sign a striker this summer depends how much they are willing to rely on 18-year-old Marcus Rashford next season. Rashford has been outstanding since bursting onto the scene in United’s Europa League triumph over Midtjylland in February, but it may be wise to bring in an experienced head to take some of the pressure off the still-developing Englishman. Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be the perfect solution. The 34-year-old Swede is out of contract at the end of the season and has already hinted that his future may lie in the Premier League. The main caveat being that the PSG striker does not see eye-to-eye with van Gaal, so a switch to Old Trafford would likely have to be preceded by Mourinho being appointed manager.

About the author – Ryan Baldi

Ryan is a Midlands based freelance sports writer specialising in European football. He has been fascinated with the continental game ever since he was presented with his first football kit at the age of 7 years old whilst on holiday in Spain – a Barcelona strip with ‘Romario 10’ printed in the back. A contributor to numerous footballing websites, Ryan has also covered martial arts for local and national print publications.  Ryan’s musing on European football can be found here and you can find him on twitter: @RyanBaldiEFB.


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When Higuaín left Real Madrid in 2013, many critics said that he was making the biggest mistake in his career, and that it was a step back in his football life. Well, I can guarantee that those critics must now be ashamed of those words. The Argentinian is, by now, the most likely player to win the European Golden Shoe (former European Golden Boot), having scored an astonishing total of 25 goals in 28 games so far this season.

We’ve got to admit it’s pretty impressive, and the striker does not seem to be showing any signs of faltering.. Despite his age – he recently turned 28-years-old -, Higuaín is showing that he was mistreated in Madrid, where he was only in the shadows of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It is clear that some may say that Real made a huge mistake in letting him go. I do agree, but Higuaín surely doesn’t: leaving the Bernabeu gave the talented striker a major boost in his career. And Napoli’ supporters are now immensely grateful to the former manager Rafael Benitez to have brought such a savior to the club.

Napoli have jumped to the top of the league, 2 points ahead of the current champions Juventus. Maurizio Sarri, Higuaín’s actual manager, said that he’s “becoming the best striker in Europe and perhaps in the world”. I couldn’t agree more: the Argentinian has awakened the interest of former UEFA Champions League winners, Bayern Munich.

The owner of the “Die Roten”, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, confirmed the German side’s pursuit of the Italian Serie A’s top scorer. Surely Napoli will not be willing to let their Nugget (translation of the Spanish term “Pipita”) go, now that he’s shining more than ever. But a fair offer (let’s say €75Million) would be very tempting. But let me be honest: if Zenit St. Petersburg are able to decline €90Million for Hulk, I don’t know what Higuain’s real price is. But that’s just my own opinion

Argentina’s National Team head coach, Gerardo Martino, now a real headache. When he can count on Messi, Dybala, Higuaín, Agüero and Tevez, to form the attacking trio (Argentina plays in a 4-3-3), the real trouble is which of those high-quality players will belong in the Starting 11.

In my opinion, I would rather see Messi, Dybala and Higuaín; they would be a fierce trident in Argentina’s attack. But we will have to wait to see if Higuaín is able to keep up with the high standards that he has accustomed Napoli’s supporters to.

In the Italian League, the striker is truly deadly: 23 goals in the same amount of matches. If he continues this level of form he will no doubt be one of the main candidates for the European Golden Shoe.

About the author – Luis Costa

Luis has a great passion for football and has been playing Soccer Manager for 5 years. He played semi-professional football for 13 years and is currently a regional referee in Madeira’s football association.


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In the eight days between Inter’s 4-0 victory over Frosinone last weekend and Monday night’s trip to Napoli, Roberto Mancini would have devoted much of his time to coming up with a strategy to stop Mauricio Sarri’s in-form outfit from scoring. After 65 seconds at the Stadio San Paolo, those plans lay in ruins.

It was an awful start from Inter, who fell behind almost instantly when Gonzalo Higuain clinically fired the ball past goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and into the back of the net. They struggled to create anything of note for the remainder of the first period, and things got even worse in the 44th minute when left-back Yuto Nagatomo was given his marching orders after being shown his second yellow card.

It was always going to be an extremely difficult task for the visitors from then on, but their spirited second-half showing will have given Mancini and the club’s fans hope that they are genuine title contenders this term. After Adem Ljajic pulled a goal back following Higuain’s second of the evening just after the hour-mark, Inter had had some excellent chances to grab an equaliser: Ljajic and Marcelo Brozovic could have made better decisions in promising positions, before substitute Stevan Jovetic and centre-back Joao Miranda both hit the post in injury time, with the latter’s header brilliantly pushed on to the woodwork by Pepe Reina.

In the end, Napoli were a little fortunate to escape with all three points, but the two-time Scudetto winners will simply be delighted that they hung on for the victory that sent them top of the Serie A table after 14 matches for the first time since 1989/90, the year in which they last won the league. Having begun the campaign looking to consolidate under new boss Sarri and, at best, launch a challenge for the Champions League places, Napoli are now many people’s favourites for the championship.

Higuain is a big reason for that tag, with his brace against Inter boosting his goal tally for the season to 12. No-one in the division has hit the back of the net more often than the Argentina international, whose display against Inter would have been all the more pleasing after some significant misses in big games for club and country in the last 18 months or so.

Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon have also impressed as part of an exciting front three, with Allan, Jorginho and captain Marek Hamsik – redeployed deeper in the pitch by Sarri – all thriving as part of a midfield trio in behind.

Further back, centre-halves Kalidou Koulibaly and Raul Albiol are both much-improved, with full-backs Faouzi Ghoulah and Elseid Hysaj also earning plaudits as part of a backline that has conceded only nine goals in the league, a record bettered by no other Serie A side. Their 26 goals scored, meanwhile, makes Napoli the third-most productive attackers in Italy’s top flight behind Roma and Fiorentina.

The signs, then, are increasingly positive for Sarri’s charges, who have taken 29 points from the last 33 on offer. If they maintain their current performance levels in the coming weeks, Napoli will be extremely difficult to knock off top spot.

About the Author – Greg Lea

Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, The Guardian, World Soccer, Goal, The National, Squawka, Eurosport, The Blizzard + others.

Twitter @GregLeaFootball


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With the score level at 2-2, the ball was placed on the spot and fans huddled in together, holding their breath.

What happened next would shape Napoli’s future, granting them either Champions League or Europa League football and individually, had the possibility of exalting Gonzalo Higuain to something of a higher figure in the crazed footballing city of Naples, Italy.

But it wasn’t to be.

The 27-year-old sent his penalty over the bar in the 76th minute against Lazio and San Paolo’s punters fell back into their seats, shocked by what they had just witnessed. Stefano Pioli’s side would go on to convert two more chances, crushing Napoli’s Champions League dreams from what would’ve been an amazing comeback.

Of course in the aftermath of that glaring penalty miss, no one will remember el Pipita’s brace in the space of nine minutes that brought the Partenopei level. Out of that miss, which was his third effort saved out of six total last season, was born another demon, another nightmare in the mind of the former Real Madrid man.

If Higuain had the possibility of waving a wand to completely wipe his memory from July 2014 to July 2015, he’d do it in a heartbeat.

Although the forward scored 29 goals in all competitions for Napoli last season and two match-winners for Argentina between the World Cup and Copa America, Higuain most importantly, failed to rise to the occasion in the biggest moments of the past year.

It first started in the World Cup final when the forward was gifted an incredible chance from a headed back-pass from Toni Kroos that sent the Argentine one-on-one with Manuel Neuer. But the 27-year-old hurried his wind-up and scuffed the shot, firing it wide left.

Looking past his crucial domestic saved penalties, previously coming from matches where the club failed to win, Higuain had a date in the Copa America final against host nation Chile.

With the match in its final minute of added time, Lionel Messi burst through the centre of the pitch, beating two defenders before finding Ezequiel Lavezzi in space. The 30-year-old played a squared ball to an oncoming Higuain at the far post, but the forward only managed to hit the side netting in the dying seconds of the final that could have own the match.

Higuain then had a chance to right his wrongs in the penalty shoot-out, being chosen as the second kicker after Messi. But this time again, Pipita skied his effort over the bar.

Turning the clock back to the beginning of last season, it must be said that Higuain endured a heavy World Cup hangover, with the forward failing to score in the first seven Serie A matches of the season.

Flailing his arms outwards in frustration with his teammates was a common sight for the former River Plate marksman and his actions portrayed a thoroughly annoyed figure on the pitch.

Napoli’s new coach Maurizio Sarri noticed it as well. When asked about the Argentine this past summer, the 56-year-old responded, “Higuain can improve, lately when I’ve seen him he’s looked too nervous, if he played with a smile he could do more.

“He has to go out there and have fun. Whoever smiles and has fun on the pitch always wins in the long run.”

It felt like salt in the wounds for Napoli supporters when the Biancocelesti failed to reach the Champions League group stages after falling to Bayer Leverkusen in the play-off, so the atmosphere at San Paolo will be even more charged for a revenge match.

And when asked about the tasty fixture, Pioli understands that their last encounter bears no connection to this weekend’s clash, stating, “The 4-2 result in May was a wonderful night full of emotions, but that is the past and tomorrow is our present.”

Although a goal for Higuain against Lazio this weekend won’t help Neapolitans forget what could have been on the final matchday of last season, it will certainly aid in easing the pain.

With two goals to his name so far this term, Higuain is hoping his third arrives this weekend to help to extinguish the demons of his past that have haunted him for so long.

About the author – Matthew Amalfitano

Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, the Independent, Betfair, beIN Sports USA, Squawka and others.

twitter: _MattFootball


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