Transfer talk and a painful absence

Claudio Ranieri isn’t a happy man

There’s been commotion in Italy on Saturday, as Juventus manager Claudio Ranieri walked out of a press conference after the assembled hacks pushed him on the future of Argentine playmaker Sergio Almirón, who’s wanted by River Plate. Boca Juniors signing Julio César Cáceres revealed he’s taking a pay cut to join his new side, and selección midfielder Federico Insúa is returning home to Argentina… for surgery.

Ranieri’s got previous with Argentine playmakers, having had a spat with Ariel Ortega during his time at Valencia, and it seems his relationship with Almirón has taken a turn for the worst of late. At first, although he was never a starter, Almirón was given plenty of opportunities off the bench. On the 6th December, though, he missed a sitter and got sent off against his former club Empoli in the Coppa Italia as Juve crashed to a 2-1 defeat.

River initially expressed an interest after Diego Simeone took charge, but the Old Lady weren’t happy with the loan fee offered. Now, however, Olympiakos of Greece – who’ve just signed River midfielder Fernando Belluschi – are reportedly showing an interest, and could provide a way out for Almirón. Ranieri, though, is keeping tight lipped. When asked by an Italian journalist about Almirón’s future he simply replied: ‘That’s all, gentlemen, thank you and good day,’ before walking out.

Cáceres, the former River centre-back, won’t have endeared himself to his old club’s fans with his remarks in Olé that ‘Boca are a big motivation [to return to Argentina],’ and that if a concrete offer has been made, Americo Gallego, manager of his current club Tigres, will surely understand the Paraguayan’s desire to return to Argentina. River are rumoured to be showing an interest in re-signing the former favourite, but Cáceres sees Boca’s approach as being far more concrete, and the Xeneize are making him feel more wanted. An offer in the region of US$2 million has been mentioned.

Another Mexico-based player completes this piece, Federico ‘Pocho‘ Insúa. The playmaker, who of late has been a regular bench-warmer for the national side, has picked up a nasty knee injury which has left his club América with little option but to send him back to Buenos Aires for surgery. The operation will be to correct a rupture in his left knee ligaments, and will be carried out by Boca surgeon Jorge Batista.

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