Milan shock swap in the making
MILAN, Italy ● AC Milan forward Antonio Cassano and Inter Milan striker Giampaolo Pazzini were discussing personal terms on Monday over a surprise swap deal.
Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani confirmed the possible exchange between the rival clubs after the Rossoneri’s 3-2 defeat by Serie A champions Juventus in the Berlusconi Trophy friendly on Sunday.
“Talks are ongoing. Antonio has asked to be sold, let’s see what happens. The most probable scenario is a swap,” he told reporters.
The deal would seem to make sense for both sides who are not immune to doing business together and saw rivals Juve seal the scudetto last term after the Milan duo had dominated for five years.
Milan and owner Silvio Berlusconi are cutting costs and sold top striker and former Inter player Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris St Germain last month but have so far failed to replace the powerful Swede, angering fans who feel the club have lost ambition.
Italian international Cassano, who has only been at Milan for a year and a half and was struck down by a heart complaint for much of last term, said at Euro 2012 in June that he was unsure about his Rossoneri future.
Milan need an out-and-out striker like Pazzini to replace Ibrahimovic. Cassano plays more in the ‘hole’ behind a forward and Massimiliano Allegri’s side already use Robinho in that role.
Inter and Pazzini struggled in front of goal last term and the Italy striker, who missed out on being picked for Euro 2012 where the Azzurri lost to Spain in the final, has long been linked with a move.
A transfer to seven-times European champions Milan is better than the 28-year-old could have ever hoped for as he tries to reignite his career.
The Serie A season starts this weekend with a cloud over Juve after manager Antonio Conte was banned for 10 months for not reporting match-fixing while at Siena. He is appealing against the suspension.
● Premier League side Swansea City have agreed a fee for Celtic’s South Korea midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng.
The 23-year-old Ki, capped 47 times by his country, has been with the Scottish champions since 2010.
“It will be unfortunate to lose a talented player but that’s been our strategy at the club now for the last two or three years,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon was quoted as saying on the BBC’s website (www.bbc.co.uk) on Monday.
“We cultivate players then move them on. We feel it’s good business.”
Ki was one of South Korea’s best performers as they won an Olympic bronze medal at the recent London Games.
● Reading have completed the signing of former Arsenal and Manchester City goalkeeper Stuart Taylor on a one-year contract.
Taylor, 31, has been training with the Royals since being released by City at the end of last season, and the newly-promoted Berkshire club have been keen to sign him as cover for first choice Adam Federici.
And after fellow ‘keeper Mikkel Andersen completed a one-month loan move to Portsmouth, the Madejski Stadium club finalised the Taylor switch.
Nick Hammond, Reading’s director of football, told the club’s official website: “I’m delighted to have signed Stuart. He is a very experienced goalkeeper at the top level, and having him here allows us to loan Mikkel Andersen out and get him some games.
“Mikkel was very patient last year. He is an outstanding goalkeeper and did a great service to the team last season supporting Adam Federici, so he has fully earned the opportunity to go and play.”
● Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has confirmed that defender Kieran Richardson has stated his desire to leave the club.
Richardson, 27, joined the Wearsiders from Manchester United in 2007 for a fee of £5.5 million but now wants a change of scenery.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, O’Neill said: “Kieran came to see me in the transfer window and for family issues and what have you, he thought maybe a change would suit him.”
O’Neill praised Richardson’s performance after Sunderland’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal on Saturday – and confirmed the club have not yet received an offer, despite reports that West Ham and QPR were interested in the player.
“It’s been ongoing but no-one has come in and made an offer. Naturally, if he plays like that I’d like to keep him,” O’Neill said. “On Saturday I thought he was splendid for us.”
Elsewhere Sunderland have been linked with a move for full-back Ivan Strinic. Reports at the weekend claimed that the Wearsiders had submitted an offer of £5 million for the 25-year old.
It’s believed FC Dnipro would want more that that for the Croatia international, but that a deal could still happen.