Notebook: Ajax’s Brian Brobbey interview, Barca build for future with Pablo Torre, Fiorentina’s stadium plans

We are almost at the end of another loaded week in soccer and as always, there are some stories which have gone on in Europe and perhaps snuck by unnoticed. We put some of those on your radar including a taster from CBS Sports’ exclusive chat with Ajax’s Brian Brobbey, Barcelona signing Pablo Torre and Fiorentina’s Artemio Franchi finally getting a makeover.

Our picks.

Brobbey eyes UCL second leg

Ajax Amsterdam meet SL Benfica in next week’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 games and Brian Brobbey (Paramount+), who has returned to his formative club on loan from RB Leipzig, will be hoping to feature after recovering from his recent injury. CBS Sports spoke exclusively with the 20-year-old about his ambitions for the remainder of this season in the Netherlands.

“The Championship win was a great experience,” he said. “We picked up the two national trophies and I was happy to be a part of it. We must do it again this season. We are going to try to win everything. We want to go far in the Champions League, but the important thing are the two domestic cups.”

Brobbey is not looking beyond the end of this campaign and admitted that Ajax supporters have a big role to play as the Dutch giants attempt to qualify for the UCL quarterfinals at their Portuguese rivals’ expense after a 2-2 draw in the first leg.

“I just want to help the team and be important,” said Brobbey. “The coach needs me, and I am here to score some goals. The fans are very important. Having them with us gives us an extra boost and I think it will be crazy.”

Barca raid Santander for Torre

Barcelona have announced the signing of Pablo Torre from Racing Santander and confirmed that the 18-year-old attacking midfielder will initially play for the B team after signing a contract until 2026 which starts this summer.

“Barcelona and Racing Santander have reached an agreement for the transfer of player Pablo Torre,” read a statement. “The fixed fee is $5.5 million plus variables depending on how the player develops in future years, which could surpass $22 million. Torre will complete the season at his current club and will sign a contract on 30 June 2026 and he will join Barca B from the summer onwards.”

Why it matters: Barca continue to build for the future and have picked up a player many of their rivals were looking at slapped a $110 million release clause into his deal so that they can demand a significant fee if it does not work out at Camp Nou.

Viola get Artemio Franchi boost

Fiorentina have been boosted by the news that their Stadio Artemio Franchi home will finally undergo a much-needed facelift after the project was presented earlier this week and lauded as “a gift to the city of Florence and to Fiorentina” by FIGC president Gabriele Gravina.

“We are a little tied down by excessive bureaucracy and a lack of initiative on the part of the private sector,” said the Italian soccer chief. “The issue of stadiums is topical; tomorrow is now and we can no longer lose ground if we want to recover all that we have lost. I hope that this initiative will be a stimulus for many other realities.”

Why it matters: Serie A needs new or renovated venues with Fiorentina’s home particularly complicated as Rocco Commisso has found out in recent years and this move could signal the first of a number of projects which could help to modernize the Italian game.

Augsburg-Mainz off due to COVID

The German Football League (DFL) confirmed on Thursday that this weekend’s Bundesliga clash between FC Augsburg and Mainz 05 is off as the away side dealing with too many COVID-19 cases in their squad after last week’s clash with Borussia Dortmund was also postponed.

“The match will be rescheduled because Mainz still does not have the minimum number of players required by the DFL match regulations as a result of positive corona findings,” said the DFL.

“We would all rather have played football on Saturday,” added Mainz sporting director Christian Heidel. “However, we are relieved that the DFL approved our request. It is a decision made in the spirit of fair play and health of the players.”

Why it matters: This is now Mainz’s second consecutive postponed Bundesliga game due to COVID, so clearly the pandemic remains an issue despite taking a back seat in recent weeks.

Streich extends with Freiburg

SC Freiburg have extended the contract of Christian Streich who remains the longest-serving Bundesliga boss with no date specified — as always — when the club communicated the news. His staff members are all staying on too aside from goalkeeping coach Andreas Kronenberg, who will be replaced by Michael Muller.

Why it matters: In his role since 2011, Streich is now the longest-serving Bundesliga manager by some way and Freiburg are a model of consistency as they push for European qualification.

Granada dismiss Moreno

LaLiga outfit Granada CF moved to dismiss Robert Moreno after a 3-1 loss to Valencia CF last weekend left the club close to the drop zone. The move had been coming for weeks after five wins all season, six defeats from their last seven and an embarrassing Copa del Rey exit. Ruben Torrecilla is the interim boss.  

Why it matters: Moreno’s once promising managerial career now lists failures with AS Monaco and Granada while he was linked with Barcelona before Xavi made his triumphant return. How he picks himself up next will be interesting.

Ex-Ligue 1 scout gets 18 years in jail

A former Ligue 1 scout has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. Known as Ahmed .H, the 49-year-old had 13 young players accuse him between 2003 and 2018 with nine concerning rape and sexual assault.

Why it matters: Considering that the man in question was a scout for FC Nantes at one point, it is an illustration of how far reaching this problem is. Although he could still appeal, this sort of harsh sanction could encourage other victims to speak up so that the domestic game can continue to cleanse itself.

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