Milan ready Cassano move as shadow of Ancelotti hangs over Ranieri
With Inter kicking back in the warmth of Adu Dhabi ahead of their glorified friendly, sorry, the moment they will be crowned world champions of club football, the rest of non-Nerazzurri supporting Italy will be concentrating on much more important matters back home.
Rafa Benitez might be set to save his neck at the court of Moratti with victory over TP Mazembe, but that issue is of fleeting interest compared to that of whether Antonio Cassano will step into RonaldinhoÃ¢ÂÂs dancing shoes at AC Milan, whether Carlo Ancelotti will become the new emperor of Rome, whether the countryÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League representatives would end up with nightmare draws, and whether most of the games in northern Italy would be snowed off to bring 2010 to a frigid end?
Cold comfort could yet be found for Cassano, as the court of arbitration has decided that the Sampdoria rebelÃ¢ÂÂs contract will not be rescinded. The ruling was delayed yet again until Thursday evening and in turn it was delaying any decision on the Bari boyÃ¢ÂÂs future.
Cassano was sitting at home in Genoa waiting for his agent to tell him of the tribunalÃ¢ÂÂs ruling - which will be definitive and not subject to appeal. In short, he will remain under contract but suspended without pay until January 31 and then paid only half his salary until the end of the contract in 2013.
Samp president Riccardo Garrone is apparently expecting to field offers for the man who reportedly called him Ã¢ÂÂan old so and so Ã¢ÂÂ¦Ã¢ÂÂ and Milan are in prime position to add to their growing number of players with bad-boy reputations.
With Filippo Inzaghi a long-term absentee and Alexandre Pato never far from the treatment table, Massimiliano Allegri has been given the green-light to bring in another striker, although CassanoÃ¢ÂÂs arrival would put RonaldinhoÃ¢ÂÂs future at the club very much in doubt.
President Silvio Berlusconi is feeling flushed with the festive spirit after surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament, and has decided that he needs to make another grand statement on the transfer front.
CassanoÃ¢ÂÂs erratic behaviour has followed him wherever he has been, but Milan will be hoping the fact that they are a Ã¢ÂÂspecial clubÃ¢ÂÂ which requires a certain standard of behaviour - combined with the fact a move would represent the playerÃ¢ÂÂs last real chance to play for a top team and possibly forge a return to the national side - is enough to see him change his ways, for good.
With the courts deciding not to side with Sampdoria, Adriano Galliani has already set out a plan to bring in the forward on a loan deal, which would mean the Rossoneri could afford to pay CassanoÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂ¬2.5 million salary until June when a permanent option could be taken up.
Milan attempted to sign Cassano a few seasons back, only for Paolo Maldini and his fellow senior squad members to veto the move. But with the legendary captain gone, the remaining old guard are towing the party line.
Now, CassanoÃ¢ÂÂs arrival very depends on Dinho heading out the exit door and whispers suggest Berlusconi has given the go-ahead for the sale of the Brazilian who has been on the fringes of AllegriÃ¢ÂÂs plans for the last month or so.
The former Barcelona starÃ¢ÂÂs contract expires in June and so far there has been little talk of an extension. David BeckhamÃ¢ÂÂs LA Galaxy have been interested in taking him Stateside for some months now, although the player himself seems to be more tempted to return to his native Brazil to take a punt at winning the Brasilero Serie A and the Copa Libertadores.
Just a few days ago his brother and agent Roberto de Assis met with Palmeiras, although no deal has been reached so far. We will know more on Saturday after the match against AS Roma, which could prove to be the last time Ron pulls on a Milan shirt even if it is just to sit on the bench.
This weekend could also be the beginning of the end of Claudio RanieriÃ¢ÂÂs reign in charge of Roma, with the long shadow of Carlo Ancelotti known to be cast over the RomanÃ¢ÂÂs future.
The Giallorossi have courted their former player in the past but, with new owners hopefully in charge before the end of the campaign, RanieriÃ¢ÂÂs contract will not survive the summer, in part for his failure to handle the big personalities Ã¢ÂÂ and we all know who the biggest ego is in the Capital?
In the meantime, Allegri, Ranieri, Benitez, Francesco Totti and the rest were left mulling over some festive tidings from UEFA who handed all three Italian clubs more than winnable ties in the last sixteen of the Champions League although as they always say a lot can happen between now and the end of February.