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Empoli Exclusives Serie A

Razvan Marin Discusses Empoli Transfer, Romania National Team, EURO 2024 & More

Empoli midfielder Razvan Marin was exclusively interviewed by TLN TV to discuss his transfer to the club, Manager Paolo Zanetti, impressive teammates, signing for Ajax, his most memorable career moment to date, EURO 2024, and much more.

Empoli Transfer

Following Cagliari’s relegation from Serie A, Marin signed for Empoli on a season-long loan with an option to buy.

“I was happy because when I heard about their interest about me, I was happy because I know that Empoli is a good club like with really everything that you need to perform, you will find here. I was happy and I didn’t think twice when I had to choose…”

Manager Paolo Zanetti

40-year-old Zanetti was appointed as Empoli Manager in June 2022 following a two-year stint with Venezia. After 22 matches this season, he holds a record of 6W-8D-8L, averaging 1.18 points per match.

“He really wants to do something with the club, with the team and not just to fight for not relegating in second division. So I think that’s really important and then he wants to play a nice football or fancy football – I like that style of coaching…”

Impressive Empoli Players

There is a mix of youth and experienced players, in addition to diversity, in this Empoli squad. Marin identified a few of his teammates that have stood out to him so far.

“Baldanzi, Fazzini that they played, also Satriano he’s also young, but he’s on loan from Inter Milan. And then with experience, we have Mattia Destro that he’s an important player in Serie A. We have a good mix, I think between young players and experienced players, so I think that’s good for the team…”

Signing for Ajax

Marin was named as one of Romania’s best prospects before joining Ajax, who are known for having a terrific academy and youth structure. Despite other potential opportunities, there was never any doubt when they came calling.

“Ajax was directly my first choice. When I heard about Ajax, and also I was like 23 years old so I was still young, but there were already some other clubs interested in me. But Ajax was coming first. They really wanted me and I didn’t think more I just said to my agent also I want to go to Ajax…”

Most Memorable Career Moment to Date

A regular on International Duty, with 44 caps at the age of 26, Marin has one moment that he cherishes the most so far; however, that is hopefully soon to change.

“My first game with Romania. Because I also scored and I gave an assist. So I had my perfect debut in the National Team and I hope next year to start with the qualification for euros and then I can create even more memories with the national Team…”

Romania & EURO 2024

Romania have been placed in Group I – alongside Andorra, Belarus, Israel, Kosovo, and Switzerland – for the UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifiers. Marin and his teammates have high hopes about participating in the competition.

“Yes, I think so, I really believe it. I spoke to my teammates – everyone really believes in this qualification group and we need to make it. We need to get there in the end of qualifications – we need to be there…”

Watch the Full Interview With Razvan Marin

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Napoli Serie A

Giovanni Di Lorenzo Discusses Napoli Captaincy & Scudetto Chances

Napoli defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 21 to speak about his growth as a professional, becoming the captain of the Partenopei, and the 2022-23 Scudetto.

Youth to Professional Career

A knack for scoring runs through the veins of fullback Di Lorenzo. He showed it right from the start.

“Like many others, I started out as a forward. I scored loads of goals, and that’s where my nickname Batigol comes from… Becoming a professional footballer was a lifelong dream of mine. Over time this became a realistic objective… I’m having the time of my life and I hope to keep this up…”

The New Captain of Napoli

Di Lorenzo, a mainstay for Napoli since 2019, inherited the captaincy last summer following Lorenzo Insigne’s departure. It’s a real tribute to the leadership qualities of one of Serie A’s less-heralded players.

“Wearing the captain’s armband fills me with pride. It’s a nice responsibility to have. When the coach appointed me as captain last summer, I was over the moon… It’s an important and challenging role. I try and justify my wearing of the armband every day and do a great job for these wonderful players….”

Napoli to Win the 2022-23 Scudetto?

No team from outside Milan or Turin has won Serie A since 2001. Using the narrative force of the underdog storyline, league leaders Napoli have the whole city behind them as they chase their third Scudetto.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my three and a half seasons here, it’s that Naples’ collective mood depends on how Napoli do. This means we carry a lot of responsibility for our fans I’d be lying to you if I said we didn’t have a great chance this season. However, the club and team are aware that there’s a long way to go…”

Full Interview With Giovanni Di Lorenzo

COMING SOON

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Juventus Serie A

Gianluca Zambrotta Discusses Lippi Impact on Career & Vlahovic Struggles at Juventus

Former Italian full-back Gianluca Zambrotta sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 19 to speak about his transformation as a player under Marcelo Lippi, the evolution of a full-back, and Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic.

From Winger to Full-Back

Zambrotta moved back to the future in 2002. Then Juventus manager Marcello Lippi transformed the speedy winger into one of the finest full-backs of his era, anticipating the modern evolution of the role.

“I must admit Lippi had great foresight because I played in that position under him for Italy and won the World Cup. Back then, there weren’t many full-backs in Italy who got forward so much and were able to perform equally at both ends of the pitch…”

The Evolution of a Full-Back

20 years on, full-backs have increasingly varied their positions and movement, not only bombing down the flanks but also attacking inside to create all kinds of headaches for the opposition.

“Nowadays coaches demand more on the offensive side than defending… Often, they’ll cut inside rather than go out to the wing. The full-back’s role has changed a bit and I think it’s more fun than it was before…”

Dusan Vlahovic

This season full-backs and wingers have provided assists for almost half of Juventus’ goals. Zambrotta says they’ll be instrumental in helping Dusan Vlahovic find the back of the net again. The striker, who’s returning from injury, hasn’t scored in three months.

“He’s obviously not scoring as much as you’d expect from him but you have to help players like that. I think in the second half of the season, playing alongside players like Kostic, who knows him really well, players like Cuadrado, like Chiesa, I’m not saying it will be easier but he’ll certainly get more support…”

Full Interview With Gianluca Zambrotta

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Serie A Torino

Nikola Vlasic Discusses Reasons for Joining Torino, Manager Juric & Idol

Torino attacker Nikola Vlasic sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 19 to speak about his reasons for joining the Granata, his football idol, and his responsibility in valuing the club’s history.

Joining Torino

Croatian attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic has played in his domestic league, in Russia and in England. He had a tough time at West Ham and that led to him joining Torino on loan in the summer. A fellow Croatian, his coach Ivan Juric, has helped him rebuild his confidence.

“He was of course the factor for me to come here, but not the only factor. I like the club, I like Italian football, I like the city, so it’s all different factors. You know, like I said, his famous style of football has also attracted me… When you feel the coach, the staff, the people in the club, have confidence in you, it’s easier to play and then they give you the freedom to express yourself on the pitch, this for me is the most important, because I just want to be happy and play football…”

Football Idol

His hard work has paid off internationally too. In the 2022 World Cup, he earned a Bronze medal with Croatia. A feat one of his idols, and a Serie A legend, achieved against all odds in the 1998 edition.

“Zvonimir Boban is huge in Croatia, and if you ask any player who is around my age, it will probably be Zvonomir Boban, Prosinecki – all the players that were third in the World Cup… He’s my favourite…”

Torino History

Torino’s glory days date back to the 1940s, but even a newcomer like Vlasic feels the responsibility of seeking to live up to the Granata’s glorious history.

“I feel it, because you know, every time I come to the Stadio Grande Olimpico Torino and I walk here around the locker room, the stadium, I see this… what this team has won, and all the faces and the names of the big players… You just feel it inside, when I’m in the city, when I walk around the centre, I feel the love the people have for this club, and you know, I feel the same…”

Full Interview With Nikola Vlasic

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Lazio Serie A

Ivan Provedel Discusses Lazio Debut & Club’s Seasonal Objective

Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 19 to speak about the start of his goalkeeping career, his debut for the club, and the team’s seasonal objective.

Provedel’s Career Story

Safe hands. One of Serie A’s best goalkeepers. But Lazio’s Provedel didn’t start out between the sticks. In fact, the first battle he won as a young footballer was the right to play in goal.

“I’ve always wanted to be a goalkeeper ever since I was little… For one reason or another, I’d always been a forward, but I got to a point where I just wanted to be a goalkeeper. I wanted to play in goal or give up football, and so it proved as I was lucky enough to find a small club near my home where I was given the chance to do that and that’s where it all began. It’s great to score goals but I feel better and more fulfilled if I make a great save as a goalkeeper…”

Unexpected But Exciting Lazio Start

After two convincing campaigns with Spezia, Provedel joined Lazio last summer. He was to be the team’s stand-in. Then, in Matchday 1, debutant keeper Luis Maximiano was sent off after only six minutes. Provedel experienced a sliding doors moment and became Maurizio Sarri’s first choice in goal.

“I came here four days before the opening game, so I never would’ve expected to play in it and it wouldn’t have been fair but then something happened and I’m here to give my all at all times… I know what it means to wear this jersey and how many fans we have getting behind us and how strongly they feel about the team, but I just try to think as much as I can about what I have to do to ensure I’m in the zone and focused on what I have to do….”

Objective for the Season

Lazio have the league’s third-best defense. Provedel has kept 10 clean sheets. Yet the Biancocelesti have been inconsistent – slipping from 2nd to 5th over their last five outings. The primary goal for this go-getting group of players is to finish in the top four.

“We’re being well managed, but I feel on the inside that there’s something else we can give in terms of extra quality and motivation among all of us to achieve something special. We want to get as high as possible and aren’t setting any limits. The club finished fifth last season, so we’d certainly like to improve on that…”

Full Interview With Ivan Provedel

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Monza Serie A

Andrea Petagna Discusses Career & Decisions for Joining Monza

Monza attacker Andrea Petagna sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 18 to speak about the impact that his Grandfather had on him becoming a football player, his career to date, and the decisions that led him to join the club this past summer.

Grandfather Francesco Petagna

Andrea Petagna’s grandfather, Francesco, played 250 matches in the top flight with Triestina. As a coach, he led SPAL for five consecutive seasons in Serie A, launching many talents, among them the hugely successful Fabio Capello.

“My granddad was the first person besides my dad who got me into football. We’d go down to the park and he’d tell me to keep hitting it against the wall because you have to work on improving your technique. I always wanted to use the big balls from Serie A and he’d tell me I had to master the small one first…”

Football Career to Date

Later, as a grandad, Francesco became little Andrea’s mentor. The first of a long series that includes Massimiliano Allegri, who gave the forward his Serie A and Champions League debuts… Then Gian Piero Gasperini, who kept him on track after disappointing spells in the lower divisions. And more recently Luciano Spalletti, who guided him during his last season at Napoli.

“I’ve had lots of coaches and they’ve all been important for my career, like a constant learning curve. At SPAL Semplici helped me score lots and I get on very well with Palladino. All my coaches have been important…”

Signing for Monza

After having come close to the Scudetto with the Partenopei, Andrea Petagna is now battling against relegation with Monza, just as he did at Spal. Though only 27, it’s now his turn to be the mentor for a young team making their debut in Serie A.

“I joined Monza mainly because of Galliani and Berlusconi. Galliani knew me when I was a kid and he gave me my first contract at AC Milan. On an organizational level, Monza is like Milan- it helps you perform at your best on the pitch… On our lockers, we have this quote from Galliani: ‘We took 110 years to reach Serie A.
We can’t go back down to Serie B after just one.’… I haven’t really proved myself yet but I’m working very hard because I want to show what I can do in the second half of the season and repay Galliani for his faith in me…”

Full Interview With Andrea Petagna

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Serie A Udinese

Gerard Deulofeu Discusses Udinese Manager Sottil & Teammate Samardzic

Udinese attacker Gerard Deulofeu sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 18 to speak about his maturity, skillset, manager Andrea Sottil, and rising talent Lazar Samardzic.

Maturity & Skillset

Since joining Udinese three years ago, Deulofeu has matured from an on-and-off performer into a game-changer and go-getter. This season, the 28-year-old Spaniard has also taken on the playmaker duties for the Bianconeri, providing assists, key passes and all-around leadership.

“The impact of a playmaker is crucial. My stats show that I’m a player who wants to see the ball, plays direct football and creates goalscoring opportunities. It’s true that our playing style means that I drop deeper into the midfield in order to get things going and start off attacks. I don’t score that many goals but I’m the fulcrum of our build-up play…”

New Manager Andrea Sottil

The man behind Deulofeu’s new leadership in the dressing room is manager Sottil. He’s shaped a very physical side that plays with nerve and ferocity, upsetting the established order in Serie A.

“After changing our mindset we now play like lions. We’re prepared to go the extra mile for our teammates. The example that the leaders and more experienced players need to set for the rest of the squad is that if you don’t put in the hard yards then you’ll get nowhere… There are many top teams out there who’ve got greater purchasing power than Udinese. How do we counteract that? By being fitter than them, and running further so that we beat them to the ball…”

Rising Star Lazar Samardzic

Udinese’s ambition to target a European place after their best-ever start to a top-flight campaign has also been fueled by a rising talent – attacking midfielder Lazar Samardzic.

“He’s a special player who’s got a wonderful left foot. It’s true that he’s young and needs to polish his game. The coaching staff and more experienced players make
him aware of what he needs to improve on. We make it known to him how much we trust him because he’s a crucial part of our team…”

Full Interview With Gerard Deulofeu

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Atalanta Serie A

Ademola Lookman Discusses Atalanta Debut & Manager Gasperini

Atalanta attacker Ademola Lookman sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 18 to speak about his perfect debut for the club, the supporters, and manager Gian Piero Gasperini.

Serie A Debut 

August 13th, Matchday 1, away to Sampdoria. Lookman had come to Bergamo from Leipzig just a few days before. In the 63′, he replaced Luis Muriel.

“I was very happy to score that goal, just happy to make my debut, to get minutes in my first game, to be able to score and help the team win was the cherry on top…”

Atalanta Supporters

After that great start, the 23-year-old, born in England but with a Nigerian passport, had to wait a whole month to find the back of the net again. Soon though he became his club’s most prolific striker thus far in the campaign – and his celebration has become one of the most popular and recognizable in Serie A.

“Our fans are amazing for 90 minutes they don’t stop singing, cheering, despite results, we may be winning or losing but they are always behind us, as a squad and as a team we feel the love they have for us and we appreciate that…”

Gian Piero Gasperini

As a striker, the main task is to score goals, but if your team goes by the name of Atalanta, you first have to settle into their playing system. It took Lookman less time than any other new Bergamaschi signing in recent years.

“Definitely, Mr. Gasperini is a very intelligent and hard-working man, everybody knows he is a very tough man also, he wants and demands the most from all of us, on the training pitch and on the match day. In that way is very clear in his understanding of how he wants us to attack and defend…”

Full Interview With Ademola Lookman

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Juventus Serie A

Andrea Barzagli Discusses Juventus Form, Allegri & Return of Chiesa

Former Italian defender Andrea Barzagli sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 18 to speak about Juventus’ recent excellent form, Massimiliano Allegri, and the return of Federico Chiesa.

Juventus Form & Defensive Dominance

Eight consecutive wins since October. Juventus have powered into second place. They’re now genuine title contenders. Remarkably, they haven’t conceded in that run – but Barzagli, the former Bianconeri centre-back, says this watertight defence is a trademark of Max Allegri’s philosophy.

“Juve have a long tradition of great defenders and traditionally Serie A is won by the team with the best defence. The team’s very much built in Allegri’s image
and steeped in the club’s DNA. The aim is to win by being solid and through your star players… From the outside, you may not like watching a team just defend, but you have to be constantly on your toes and stay focused. That’s no mean feat…”

Change From Italian to Brazilian Identity In the Backline

Barzagli, together with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, were the defensive triumvirate nicknamed BBC that made Juventus invincible and impregnable for almost a decade. Today, the Bianconeri’s defensive wall has a Brazilian flair.

“They’ve switched to a back three with Bremer in the middle and Alex Sandro at centre-back, because I think he’s less suited to playing on the flank now. Danilo is a supremely intelligent player who can do both jobs. Those three Brazilians are highly reliable. That’s a key attribute common to Italian defenders but I must say they’re having an excellent season…”

The Return of Federico Chiesa

Allegri has made a habit of winning games by a minimal margin but with the long-awaited return from injury of creative forward Federico Chiesa, Barzagli thinks the team will get an offensive upgrade.

“Chiesa changes things because in the modern game the real match-winners are those who can beat their man. The ones who run at you and create things. There aren’t that many like that and Chiesa is one of them…”

Full Interview With Andrea Barzagli

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Milan Serie A

Alessandro Nesta Discusses the New Milan & Rafael Leao

Former Italian defender Alessandro Nesta sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 17 to speak about Milan’s change in strategy, the 2022-23 Scudetto, and Rafael Leao.

A Change in Strategy

After five trophies with Lazio, Nesta moved to Milan – and won nine more, including two Champions League titles. That was when the Rossoneri dominated Italian football – and the transfer market.

“The club policy has changed a lot in recent years. Once upon a time, they would spend 80-100 million on a player. Now they have to look for youth. It wasn’t easy for a club like Milan to make that sort of change… Everything is working because the tactical side is on the same page as what the club does in the market…”

2022-23 Scudetto 

While Milan were crowned Italian Champions in the 2021-22 Serie A season, they are currently trailing Napoli by five points after Matchday 16. However, Nesta does not see this being a problem for the Rossoneri.

“Milan are playing catch-up. Napoli have won so many games that they’ve opened up a gap but there’s a long way to go and Napoli struggle when problems arise. When that happens the chasing pack can take advantage…”

Rafael Leao

Leao was the Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign, and Nesta believes Milan can thrive with him at the center of their project.

“To win games you need players who can beat their man. Leao does that for you. He’s improved a lot but he still needs to go up another notch…”

Full Interview With Alessandro Nesta