That record may keeping going lower and lower. SOCCER – Paris St Germain celebrate their record eighth French League Cup title after beating AS Monaco 3-0 in the final at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. All three of their major signings in Higuain, Pjanic and Alves played a key role and started as Juventus reached their second Champions League final in two years, but it would be heartbreak again for the Italians as they were crushed 4-1 by Real Madrid. Juventus won the league and cup double under coach Max Allegri and reached the Champions League final in one of their greatest seasons to date. The big one. With Juventus still desperate to win the Champions League and hungry to sign a top tier player who could lead them to Euro glory, an opportunity presented itself with Cristiano Ronaldo looking to leave the Bernabeu. With Dybala still confidently putting the goals away, Douglas Costa was signed on an initial loan deal to support him, with the club paying a £4m loan fee before turning it permanent the following season for £35m after an impressive campaign saw him play 47 times and score six goals. At times he looked like he was still adapting to life in Italy but has managed to rack up 75 appearances and looks like a trusted member of the squad.
Teen star Louis Rees-Zammit can have an instant impact for Wales in the Six Nations according to new coach Wayne Pivac, who included the 18-year-old as one of five uncapped players in his squad. But with Giovcino, Quagliarella and Vucinic all leaving the club, it was time to further add to the forward line – and it was time for another Paratici master stroke as he snapped up promising 18-year-old PSG star Kingsley Coman on a free transfer. Confidence hit a new low in November when the French lost for the first time to Fiji, and at home. With Pogba gone, in came Miralem Pjanic from Roma, with the Bosnian midfielder proving to be an instant hit – while Mario Lemina was another squad option in the middle of the park after signing permanently from Marseille. Paratici found the spiritual successor to Llorente, a big target man who could hold up play and also fire the club towards a big goal tally, as Mario Mandzukic came in from Atletico Madrid. However, in Jose Mourinho, Bale found only another prickly relationship – the player being called out in public over his training efforts. However, with more than £200m spent, you would have expected a lot more from the players who came in.
Ramsey, however, has proven to be one of Paratici’s worst signings – putting him on £400,000 a week wages, with the Welshman struggling to justify his eye-watering weekly salary. The Croatian was one of three signings up front – the second was Simone Zaza, who the club had signed years earlier in a co-ownership deal before he was sent to Sassuolo. Pjanic had gone the other way to the Nou Camp for a similar fee, while the club were also able to get Higuain and Matuidi off the wage bill as they joined Inter Miami. Traditionalists may squeal but sadly our county players likely won’t have much need for their whites this summer and that’s the way it’ll have to be. TENNIS – Spain’s Rafa Nadal serves against Nicolas Kiefer at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Florida, on his way to a straight sets victory over the German. The U.S. Women’s Open is next week, the first of two straight LPGA Tour official events in San Francisco. Figures from the Women’s Sports Foundation show that by age 14, girls drop out of sports at two times the rate of boys, with the lack of opportunities and access to equipment, social stigma, and safety and transportation cited as key reasons.
They were submitted for consideration before the show was axed. Juventus began to think about life after Gianluigi Buffon as they brought in a quality goalkeeper as his future successor – Wojciech Szczesny. The previous season he had made another signing for the future by acquiring Dejan Kulusevski from Atalanta – with the Swedish star linking up with the club after a loan at Parma. But the statement signing in defence was Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt – who had just led a young Ajax team to the Champions League semi-finals, dumping Juve out in the process. That game also saw another new signing start the match in Patrice Evra, who arrived on a free transfer from Manchester United. Tea on day four of the Test brought a lap of honour by match volunteers. He was never prolific in Turin but ended up staying for four seasons – providing 44 goals in total. And in defence was another veteran costing nothing as Barcelona right-back Dani Alves, hailed as one of the best in the world, arrived in Turin on another free.