Van der Vaart says Dest ‘thinks he’s much better than he is’

Fighting words from the former Dutch international

Former Netherlands star Rafael van der Vaart had a novel piece of criticism for Sergiño Dest, saying the right back may have just a little bit too much self confidence.

Dest is in the midst of a one-year loan at AC Milan, where he’s featured sporadically for the Serie A champions after joining in the summer from Barcelona.

The 22-year-old plays right back but his strength is in the attacking side of his game, which Van der Vaart believes causes him to take on more than a defender should.

“He can be very good, but he always takes too much on his plate. He thinks he is much better than he is,” Van der Vaart said in his role as a pundit on Dutch TV station Ziggo Sport.

“He is a defender and then you have to be a bit smart. He overestimates himself. It’s a quality to know what you can and cannot do. Even the best players in the world have that.

“I am a fan of his, but he should not believe in himself too much as a right back. You are right back for a reason.”

Dest was born and raised in the Netherlands but opted to represent the U.S. at the international level, despite interest from the Dutch federation when he was breaking into the Ajax first team as a teenager.

Van der Vaart said that right now, Dest would not be good enough to play for the Oranje.

“No, he has shown too little,” the ex-Tottenham man said.

Dest is expected to start at right back for the USMNT at the World Cup, with their first game on November 21 against Wales.

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France star Pogba to miss World Cup after injury setback

Pogba joins N’Golo Kante as key players who won’t be part of the French title defense

France star Paul Pogba will miss the 2022 World Cup, his agent Rafaela Pimenta has confirmed.

Pogba looked set to win his fitness battle earlier this month when he returned to training with Juventus following surgery on his meniscus in September.

However, Pogba suffered another setback, as reports said the midfielder is now dealing with a strained muscle in his thigh.

“Following yesterday and today’s medical review in Turin and Pittsburgh, it is extremely painful to inform Paul Pogba will still need recovery time from his surgery,” Pimenta said in a statement.

“For this reason, Paul will not be able to join Juventus squad before the World Cup break nor the French national team in Qatar. If wishful thinking would change things, Paul would be playing tomorrow.

“But what changes things are hard work, resilience and discipline, all of which are the only things in Paul’s mind at these challenging times. Paul will continue working giving his very best to be back on the pitch for the fans and his team as soon as possible.”

The 29-year-old has still yet to make his second debut for Juventus after rejoining the Serie A club on a free transfer from Manchester United this summer.

The midfielder initially chose a non-surgical regimen to rehab his injury, but lasted through just two training sessions before it became clear his knee wasn’t quite right.

Pogba joins N’Golo Kanté as key midfielders in France’s 2018 World Cup title run that will miss out on the defense in Qatar. Kanté is out four months after a setback to his troublesome hamstring injury.

Another vital player for France, Raphaël Varane, is in a race against time to be fit for Qatar, as the Manchester United defender has already been ruled out for his club until after the World Cup.

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Arsenal defender Pablo Mari ‘not seriously hurt’ after being stabbed at Milan supermarket

One man was reportedly killed in a knife attack at a supermarket outside Milan

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has said that defender Pablo Marí “seems to be OK” after he was stabbed in an attack at a supermarket just outside of Milan on Thursday.

Marí, who is currently on loan with Serie A side Monza, was hospitalized after multiple reports said a 46-year-old man took a knife off a shelf and attacked people at random.

La Repubblica reported that six people, including Marí, were stabbed and a 30-year-old cashier was killed in the attack at the Carrefour supermarket in Milanofiori of Assago, just outside Milan.

Sky Italy reported that the suspect has been arrested.

Speaking after Arsenal’s Europa League defeat to PSV on Thursday, Arteta told reporters of Marí: “I just found out. I know that [Arsenal sporting director] Edu is in touch with his relatives. He’s in hospital but seems to be OK.”

Monza CEO Adriano Galliani said that Marí had been stabbed in the back, but would recover quickly, while also confirming reports that the cashier had died.

“Unfortunately, I received terrible news, the store cashier died,” Galliani told Italian TV station TG2. “As for Pablo Marì he had a fairly deep wound on his back, a penetrating one, which however did not touch vital organs such as lungs or others. His life is not in danger. He certainly has problems but he should recover quickly despite some injured muscles.”

Marí signed for Arsenal in 2020 and made 12 Premier League appearances before heading out on loan, first to Udinese and then to Monza.

Arsenal released a statement after the attack, saying: “We are all shocked to hear the dreadful news about the stabbing in Italy, which has put a number of people in hospital including our on-loan centre-back Pablo Marí.

“We have been in contact with Pablo’s agent who has told us he’s in hospital and is not seriously hurt.

“Our thoughts are with Pablo and the other victims of this dreadful incident.”

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It won’t surprise you to learn Weston McKennie scored another header

The Juventus midfielder found the net off a corner kick against Empoli

Whether Weston McKennie is having a good game or a bad game, he will always be a dangerous weapon in the air.

So it proved once again on Friday, as the Juventus midfielder scored his side’s second goal against Empoli off a corner kick.

With Juve up a goal 10 minutes into the second half, the USMNT midfielder muscled off his defender and rose well to power home a header from the top of the six-yard box.

It was the second goal of the season for McKennie, whose first came, unsurprisingly, when he out-jumped a PSG defender to score off a corner kick in the Champions League.

McKennie has now scored 12 goals in his Juventus career, half of which have come off his head.

The USMNT will be hoping to see the 24-year-old’s scoring form translate to the international stage when they kick off their World Cup campaign in Qatar next month.

Watch McKennie’s goal vs. Empoli

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What does Max Allegri need to do to get sacked?

If a humiliating loss at Maccabi Haifa doesn’t do it, what will?

Tuesday’s humiliating defeat to Maccabi Haifa looked like it could finally be the end for embattled Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri’s side was steamrolled in Israel, looking hapless in a 2-0 defeat that likely spelled the end of their hopes for progressing past the Champions League group stage.

But there was Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli backing his coach after the game, even going as far as saying Allegri would be in charge for the rest of the season.

“It’s not the coach’s fault that we can’t even make a tackle,” Agnelli told Sky Sport Italia. “Allegri will stay at least until the end of the season. I feel ashamed for what is happening, I am angry, but I also know that football is played with 11 men, you lose and win with 11.

“In a situation like this, it’s not about one person. It’s a matter to be dealt with by a whole group. We feel ashamed, we apologize to our fans, because we know they must feel ashamed to walk around at the moment.”

Allegri’s first spell at Juventus brought massive success as he led the Bianconeri to five straight Serie A titles and two Champions League finals.

His second spell has been, well, just about the opposite.

Since taking over ahead of last season, Allegri has been unable to bring Juventus back to anything resembling its former glories. After a fourth-place finish last season, Juventus has sputtered to eight place in 2022-23 and is now on the verge of a Champions League exit.

The dressing room is split, fans are angry, the club is going backwards and playing inflexible, uninspiring soccer. Sounds like a recipe for a sacking, right?

But if it didn’t happen after the Maccabi Haifa loss, when would it? Allegri is under contract through 2025 and reportedly makes €9 million per season, which would make a parting of ways now rather costly for Juventus.

If Juventus doesn’t improve quickly, it will be worth considering what the cost of not sacking Allegri would be.

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Matthijs de Ligt decided to kick Juventus while they’re down

As if things weren’t bad enough in Turin right now

Juventus is going through something of a crisis right now.

The club has won just two of seven Serie A games to start the season, and has lost both of its Champions League matches. After falling to newly promoted Monza over the weekend, the calls for manager Massimiliano Allegri to be sacked have grown increasingly louder.

With all that as the backdrop, Matthijs de Ligt decided to kick his former side while they’re down.

De Ligt, who left Juve over the summer to join Bayern Munich, has accused his old team of lacking the required ambition to win the Champions League.

“I really enjoyed my time at Juventus, but felt the time had come for a fresh challenge,” De Ligt told NOS while on international duty with the Netherlands.

“Juve are a great team, but coming here was another step up for me, because Bayern have the ambition to win the Champions League. I didn’t get the sense of that at Juve.”

That comment will especially sting Juventus, which has been desperately seeking a Champions League title after not winning the competition since 1996.

The club had a run of nine consecutive Serie A titles snapped in 2020-21, when Inter won the Scudetto.

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Sergiño Dest wants to stay at AC Milan for the long haul

The Italian champions have a €20 million purchase option on the USMNT fullback

Sergiño Dest has expressed his desire to stay at AC Milan beyond his one-year loan deal with the Italian champions.

Dest completed a loan move from Barcelona on deadline day, with Milan holding an option to purchase the fullback at the end of the season for a reported €20 million.

The U.S. international has made a pair of Champions League appearances off the bench for Milan, and is still waiting to make his Serie A debut. On Friday, he was presented to the media and spoke of his desire to convince Milan to activate the purchase option on his deal.

“I will give 100 percent and show that at the end of the season Milan should decide to keep me. The only thing I can do now is to give my best,” Dest said.

“I think I’m a versatile defender, who can play left and right. I think my best position is as a fullback, but with attacking characteristics. Then the manager will decide.”

Dest added that he feels his style is well suited to how Milan coach Stefano Pioli wants to play.

“Pioli’s game is very good, he can allow me to develop my game in the best possible way,” Dest said. “This season can be an opportunity for me to help the team, developing both my attacking and defensive characteristics.”

Given how Xavi froze him out at Barcelona, Dest’s best bet moving forward may be to convince Milan by the end of the season that he’s worth €20m.

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That may be it for Paul Pogba’s World Cup hopes

The midfielder is undergoing surgery, and Juventus expects him back in January

Paul Pogba’s hopes of playing at the 2022 World Cup have been dealt a major blow as the France and Juventus midfielder will have to undergo surgery on his troublesome knee injury.

Pogba opted to pursue a conservative course of therapy on his meniscus injury last month, but that plan has not been successful and the France star will now be forced under the knife.

“This morning Pogba trained for the second time, but then stopped, and it was then decided that he undergo surgery,” said Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri at a press conference on Monday.

“We will realistically get him back in January.”

When asked if Pogba would be fit in time for the World Cup, Allegri responded: “The World Cup is not my problem, Juventus’ problem is that he comes back in January.”

Pogba has yet to make his second Juventus debut after returning to the club from Manchester United on a free transfer this summer. The 29-year-old picked up the knee injury in a preseason training session.

France will be aiming to retain its World Cup title this winter after winning the 2018 tournament. Pogba scored in a 4-2 final win against Croatia in Moscow.

On the bright side for France, a potential standoff between Pogba and Kylian Mbappé over an alleged witch doctor’s curse may no longer be an issue.

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Sergiño Dest knew he had to get out of Barcelona

The USMNT defender said it was an easy decision to join AC Milan

Sergiño Dest has said joining AC Milan from Barcelona was an easy decision as he looks for more playing time ahead of the World Cup.

Dest completed a year-long loan move on deadline day, with the Italian champions holding an option to purchase the fullback.

The loan came amid Barcelona boss Xavi’s decision to freeze Dest out of his team, with the USMNT defender not even making the matchday squad for two of the club’s three games this season.

After making the move to Serie A, Dest admitted that he needed to find a place where he’d see the field as he eyes a starting spot for the USMNT in Qatar.

“It was an easy decision to make,” Dest told AC Milan’s official website, “Everything happened really quickly, like in one day. I had to make a decision really quick to change my life – to go to another club, in another country, in another culture. I love this club and it’s a club I wanted to play for when I was younger and I think this is a nice step for me and a good chance to play again.”

Dest added: “I need to get minutes for the World Cup. I need to play, not only for the World Cup, I just want to play always. They gave me a great opportunity so I didn’t even think twice. I was like, ‘I have to do it, I have to play.'”

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AC Milan rescues Sergiño Dest from his Barcelona purgatory

The 21-year-old will join the Serie A champion on loan with an option to buy

Sergiño Dest has joined AC Milan on loan from Barcelona, the Italian club has announced.

The USMNT right back will join the Serie A champions on a season-long loan, with a €20 million purchase option at the end of the season that would see him sign a contract through 2027.

For Dest, a move away from Barcelona was badly needed after he was sidelined by head coach Xavi to begin the season.

When asked if Dest was an option at right back, Xavi said: “He knows what the situation is.”

With that message received loud and clear, the 21-year-old has opted to continue his career in Serie A after spending just over two seasons with Barcelona after joining from Ajax in 2020.

In Milan, Dest looks set to compete for minutes at right back with Alessandro Florenzi and Davide Calabria, though he has also shown the ability to play at left back.

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