Juventus’ Weston McKennie breaks COVID rules, Karim Benzema trial news, more under-the-radar stories this week
The international break is now over, and club soccer is about to return this weekend with plenty of important league clashes in store, especially in the Premier League. However, despite the recent pause, there has been no shortage of headlines across the continent, and we are here to catch you up on everything that you might have missed. From Weston McKennie’s ill-advised dinner with Paulo Dybala and Arthur Melo to the latest on the Olympique Lyonnais star Memphis Depay, we have you covered.
These are the stories that might have slipped under your radar.
Juve’s Pirlo drops McKennie, Dyabala and Arthur
Juventus and USMNT star McKennie will not feature in this weekend’s Derby della Mole along with Dybala and Melo after the trio broke COVID-19 rules with a dinner party with coach Andrea Pirlo revealing pre-match that the three have “not been selected” while Dybala confirmed his “mistake.”
Benzema trial set for October
Real Madrid and France’s Karim Benzema will appear in court later this year for his role in an alleged attempt to blackmail former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena with Oct. 20-22 now set as his appearance dates which the 33-year-old branded “a farce” via social media.
It’s a make-or-break week ahead for Benzema’s Real Madrid with their Champions League tie against Liverpool on Tuesday on Paramount+ and El Clasico on April 10.
Featured Game | Real Madrid vs. Liverpool
James admits Real prevented Atletico switch
James Rodriguez has confirmed to ESPN that a move from Real Madrid to bitter rivals Atletico was prevented before he eventually joined Everton: “It was nearly a done deal and I spoke with (Diego) Simeone),” said the Colombia international. “He said I would be important but Real did not let me go. Florentino Perez knew I would not play much under (Zinedine) Zidane.”
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UEFA confirms 5 Euro substitutions
European soccer’s governing body has confirmed that this summer’s Euros will feature five substitutions per team as “the reasons for the five-substitutions rule remain valid against the background of national and international football calendars affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The UEFA Nations League finals and relegation playouts will also benefit from this extension.
Torreira wants out of Europe
Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira wants to leave Europe to return to South America after the tragic death of his mother due to COVID-19: “I want to be close to home and family,” said the Atletico loanee. “I want to go to Boca Juniors, and I hope the clubs can agree. It has been two years since I enjoyed myself. Hopefully the teams can agree a loan. I will do it for my father. He asked me and I will do it.”
Boca Juniors, six points outside first in their group, host Defensa y Justicia on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET on Paramount+ in Matchday 8 of Argentina’s Copa de la Liga .
Villa’s Konsa extends
He might not be as big a name as Jack Grealish, but Ezri Konsa has played a significant role in Aston Villa’s revival of late and the 23-year-old is even knocking on the door of England’s senior side with recognition surely a matter of time, as reflected by the Birmingham giants’ decision to hand him a contract extension until 2026 that should see him remain at Villa Park this summer.
Memphis muses apparel line
Olympique Lyonnais’ Memphis Depay could be on the move this summer and the Netherlands international appears to be musing branching out into sportswear by consulting his social media followers on what he should do once his Under Armour deal expires.
Lazio chief suspended 7 months for COVID breach
The Italian FA has suspended SS Lazio president Claudio Lotito for seven months for his role in the Serie A club breaking COVID-19 protocol and the Biancocelesti have been handed a $176,000 fine with doctors Ivo Pulcini and Fabio Rodia banned for 12 months as well.
Schalke appoint Knabel as sporting director
After recent links with Ralf Rangnick went cold, Bundesliga crisis club Schalke 04 have named Pete Knabel as their new head of sport and communication: “Peter’s work is defined by strategic thinking and a clear hallmark,” said Dr. Jens Buchta, Schalke’s supervisory chairman. “He has not only proven this during his three years as technical director for academy and development, but also over the last few weeks since taking on general sporting responsibilities for the club. We have full faith in him and trust that he will successfully lead the rebuilding of our first team.”