World Football Gossip Roundup: Nicolas Anelka, Mario Balotelli, Arsene Wenger
It's almost like Nicolas Anelka was never gone at all.
Anelka, the former Arsenal, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain man, is returning to Europe after a short tenure in China. His destination provides the lead story for this Sunday edition of the B/R World Football Gossip Roundup.
Inside, we also have updates on Mario Balotelli's future, Chelsea's squad size, Arsene Wenger's future options and Major League Soccer's quest for English stars.
Read on for all the details.
Nicolas Anelka Joins Juventus on Loan
Former French international forward Nicolas Anelka has joined Italian champions Juventus on loan for the rest of the season (via The Guardian).
Anelka, 33, formerly played for Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea, among others, before joining Shanghai Shenhua of China in 2012.
"It can be a good move for the short term, then at the end of the season we'll evaluate what must be done," Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta said. "He is filling a hole. It is a five-month contract with an option for the second season, if things go well."
Mario Balotelli Latest
There are conflicting stories about the future of Manchester City's Italian forward Mario Balotelli.
According to Goal.com, AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani has said Balotelli is not returning to Italy. Galliani also denied deals for Brazilian midfielder Kaka and Ivorian forward Didier Drogba.
"Kaka and Drogba are 101% not coming to Milan. Balotelli? He is 99.9 percent," said Galliani.
According to Italian newspapers cited by Football-Italia.net, Milan have offered Manchester City €20 million for Balotelli.
Agent Ernesto Bronzetti was quoted as saying, “I think by January 31 Balotelli will be at San Siro. It’s only a matter of €5m difference between the clubs.”
Balotelli, 22, joined City from Inter Milan in 2010. He has been capped 16 times by Italy, scoring five goals.
Rafael Benitez Says Chelsea Need Bigger Squad
Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has told owner Roman Abramovich that Chelsea's squad is too small to compete for multiple honors (via ESPN FC).
Benitez, 52, took over as Chelsea's manager following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo in November. The Blues bought Senegalese striker Demba Ba from Newcastle this month.
"We cannot rest too many players because our squad is not that big in certain positions,” Benitez said. “I had a good conversation about this with the owner the other day. I gave my opinion, he listened to me, but I have to concentrate on the team."
Real Madrid Want Arsene Wenger?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is Real Madrid president Florentino Perez's top choice for Real's next manager, according to the Sunday People (via Sunday Mirror).
Wenger, 63, joined Arsenal in 1996 and has won three league titles and four FA Cups in England. Real could reportedly match his £7 million salary.
Jose Mourinho, 50, is the current manager of Real Madrid, but he has come under pressure recently due to poor results and reported player unrest.
MLS Asks David Beckham to Recruit Steven Gerrard, Other English Stars?
Beckham, 37, left the Galaxy after the club won its second straight MLS Cup final in December. He has not announced his plans for the future.
The four English "targets" would reportedly be Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Chelsea's Ashley Cole, Manchester United's Michael Carrick and Stoke's Peter Crouch.