Torino fans face agonizing end to the transfer window amid Belotti speculation

Reuters
Torino fans are facing an agonizing few days before finding out whether their club really is going to keep hold of striker Andrea Belotti.
Reuters
Imaginechina

Torino striker Andrea Belotti (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Sassuolo during their Italian Serie A match at the Olimpico Stadium in Turin on August 27, 2017. Torino won 3-0.

Torino fans are facing an agonizing few days before finding out whether their club really is going to keep hold of striker Andrea Belotti.

The 23-year-old, arguably the pick of the new generation of Italian players, scored 26 goals in Serie A last season and has been the subject of speculation over a move to a big European club throughout the transfer window.

Club president Urbano Cairo has insisted he does not want to sell the player and has inserted 100-million euro (US$119.4 million) buyout clause into Belotti's contract, which runs until 2021.

But he has also admitted he would not be able to hold on to Belotti should a big European club decide to pay up.

The transfer window, which ends on Thursday in most of Europe, is a nerve-wracking time for supporters of middle-sized clubs such as Torino.

Rather than dreaming about who their club might sign, they instead fret over which top players they could lose.

Belotti gave the supporters another reminder of his potential as he led the club to a 3-0 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.

After opening the scoring with a stunning scissors kick, the player known as the Rooster took a trip back to his days as a winger by slaloming through the Sassuolo defense to lay on the third for Joel Obi.

"He is still hasn't reached his best," Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said. "But that goal showed that he is worth 100 million euros."

AC Milan, Chelsea and AS Monaco are among clubs who would like to get their hands on the player, according to media reports.

When Belotti missed the official presentation of the new Torino strip last month, speculation mounted that he would be on his way.

But Mihajlovic, speaking before Sunday's game, said he was convinced the threat of losing his top player had passed.

"The transfer rumors may have influenced him a little, even if only subconsciously, that's inevitable," said Mihajlovic.

"But I think he will stay with us, I don't think anyone will turn up with 100 million euros before the end of the transfer window."

Even so, Mihajlovic suggested that the club should have added further safeguards to avoid last minute surprises and spare the supporters a nerve-wracking week.

“It would’ve been wise to introduce a limit on the release clause, so it couldn’t be activated late in the transfer session," he said.

AFP

AC Milan midfielder Suso celebrates after scoring against Cagliari during their 2-1 Serie A victory at the 'Giuseppe Meazza' Stadium in Milan on August 27, 2017.

Second-half screamer

Elsewhere in Serie A on Sunday, Piotr Zielinski hit a second-half screamer as Dries Mertens inspired Napoli to a 3-1 win over Atalanta, while newcomer SPAL claimed its first goals and first win since coming up.

Looking to keep pace with six-time champion Juventus after a Paulo Dybala hat-trick pushed the Turin giant to a 4-2 comeback win over Genoa on Saturday, Maurizio Sarri's Napoli dominated Atalanta for long spells.

But after Bryan Cristante's header from an Alejandro Gomez corner stunned the San Paolo into silence on 15 minutes, it took until Zielinki's superb 56th-minute strike from outside the area for Napoli's confidence to return.

"Zielinski's goal changed the game for us," said Atalanta coach Gianpiero Gasperini.

Napoli was transformed, with Allan chipping up a pass for Lorenzo Insigne to nod across the face of goal where Mertens volleyed home for Napoli's second.

That goal took the wind out of Atalanta's sails and Napoli secured the points with a fine passing move that saw Mertens set up Marko Rog with a deft touch to turn in at the far post from 10 yards.

The win saw Napoli join Juventus, Inter Milan, Milan and Sampdoria in amassing a maximum six points from two matches this season.

Spanish forward Suso struck to hand Milan a 2-1 win over Cagliari as Vincenzo Montella's men made it two from two.

For the second week in succession, Milan youngster Patrick Cutrone welcomed a Suso assist, the Spaniard picking the youngster out at the back post on 10 minutes to guide the ball past Alessio Cragno.

Joao Pedro hit a 56th-minute leveler for the Sardinians.

But Suso, a part of Montella's side before Milan spent close to 200 million euros in the summer transfer market, sealed the points with a superbly-hit free-kick.

Sampdoria stunned Fiorentina 2-1 in Florence with Fabio Quagliarella's 35th-minute penalty ultimately proving the difference.

The defeat put pressure on Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli. Sacked by Inter three games before the end of last season, his new side now prop up the fledgling table.

There was further drama with league newcomer SPAL hitting its first Serie A goals in nearly 50 years, and claiming its first win of the campaign, with a 3-2 defeat of Udinese in Ferrara.

Strikes by recent signing Marco Borriello and Manuel Lazzarri, who has been with the club since its days in Serie D, had SPAL 2-0 up by the interval.

Udinese saw goals from Bram Nuytinck and French veteran Cyril Thereau, with an 87th-minute penalty, pull it level late on.

But Luca Rizzo, who had come off the bench, stunned the visitors with a 94th-minute winner.


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