Friday Kickoff: Italy announces Conte as manager; Wenger looking to keep Campbell; and more

AntonioConteJuventus1-Cagliari2014 (Getty)

By RYAN TOLMICH

After falling short of the knockout round for the second straight World Cup, the Italian national team has announced the man they hope will guide them back to the heights of the team’s 2006 World Cup triumph.

Antonio Conte has been named manager of the Italian national team after the team parted ways with former manager Cesare Prandelli shortly following the World Cup. Conte, who featured 20 times for the national team as a player, led Juventus to three straight Serie A titles prior to taking charge of the national side.

The Italian FA announced that, in addition to salary, the 45-year-old manager’s contract contained bonuses for qualifying for Euro 2016, climbing five spots in the FIFA rankings, and participating in the Euro 2016 finals.

Conte’s appointment is Italy’s second big move of the week, with the federation announcing the appointment of new president Carlo Tavecchio earlier this week.

Here are some more news and notes to kickoff your Friday morning:

WENGER LOOKING TO KEEP CAMPBELL AT ARSENAL

After starring on both the Champions League and World Cup stages, 22-year-old forward Joel Campbell may have played his way into Arsenal’s plans.

Despite featuring attacking options such as Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hoping to hold onto the Costa Rican star for the upcoming Premier League season.

“He has come from a non-competitive world to a world with hyper-competition,” Wenger said. “He has adapted slowly, but has adapted very well, he has a very good spirit and attitude.

“He is a member of my squad at the moment. He had a good preparation and played well against Benfica. In training he is very focused and eager to do well. I would like to keep him.”

SUAREZ BEGINS TRAINING WITH BARCA TEAMMATES

For the first time since signing with the club in July, Luis Suarez looked like a Barcelona player.

Suarez joined his new Barcelona teammates for training Friday, just one day after being informed of the results of his appeal. Suarez had previously been banned from training as a result of his highly-publicized bite of Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup.

The former Liverpool forward acknowledged that he was “paying for a mistake,” but also looked forward to fully joining his new teammates at the conclusion of his suspension.

“Now, I’ll just have to wait to play again,” Suarez said, “make contact with the fans, and feel the sensation of playing in a stadium like the Camp Nou.

“I am very grateful to the club for all it has done for me over these last few weeks and days,” Suarez continued. “They have been great with me and I appreciate it because I am realizing my dream: to play for Barca.

QUICK KICKS

Russian club Zenit St Petersburg confirmed an agreement with Manchester City for the transfer of midfielder Javi Garcia. (REPORT)

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has denied claims that Chelsea have first option on midfielder Ross Barkley and defender John Stone. (REPORT)

Tony Pulis has stepped down as Crystal Palace manager after a meeting with co-chairman Steve Parish regarding transfer strategies. (REPORT)

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has signed a new five-year deal that will see the Argentine remain with the club until 2019. (REPORT)

What do you think of the hiring of Conte? How will Campbell perform at Arsenal this season? How do you think Suarez will adapt to his new team?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Italy announces Conte as manager; Wenger looking to keep Campbell; and more

  1. Jon says:

    It will be interesting to see how Conte manages to build a new Italy without Pirlo.

  2. The Imperative Voice says:

    Joe Gyau is with Borussia Dortmund?!

  3. Grunt says:

    Wenger could try a little harder too conceal his arrogance. The players Campbell beat out — to represent Costa Rica at multiple youth levels and to sign with Saprissa — might be surprised to hear they were “non-competitive”.

    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

      The competitive people he will play against now, finished fourth in Costa Rica’s group.

      Guys like that are beyond clueless.

  4. Brain Guy says:

    Two straight WCs without getting out of their group? Is Italy in full crisis mode? I know that even qualifying out of Europe is tough, but that’s not the Italy I know.

    • Increase says:

      They did well in the last Euro but doing so poorly in the WC is a concern. Italy seems to lack truly great players right now. Buffon and Pirlo won’t be around much longer and even DeRossi is 30.

      Anyone I am missing?

  5. Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

    Surprised to see Pulis go after he pulled out that dramatic turnaround for Palace last year. Oh well.

  6. Span says:

    @brainguy. I was in Italy this summer during the WC. I wouldn’t say that they are in crisis mode but many questioned Prandellis choices re squad selection…mainly omission of Rossi and over reliance on untested players. Many people forget that the ’10 team played without an injured Pirlo and Buffon. They were in the Euro final in ’12. This years team suffered from poor fitness and the lunacy of balotelli.

    Conte will not allow Balo to distract and the team will be fit and committed. Conte Doesn’t suffer fools. The interesting part what players he brings into the team. Most Italians are very happy with this choice.

    • Brain Guy says:

      Thanks for the information and insights. I forgot about Euro ’12. It will be interesting to follow this team over the upcoming Euro and WC cycles.

  7. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    Congrats to J. Campbell. A fearless, young player with good pace and flare. Great Concacaf player

    Hope he does well.

  8. Francois says:

    Reus to Atletico? WHAAAAATTTTTT? 27 million euro deal apparently in the works, with Atletico expecting the deal to be done shortly. All according to EspnFc.