Sampdoria rule out Cassano move to Man City

Sampdoria have ruled out the possibility of Antonio Cassano moving to Manchester City this winter. Reports have linked the former Real Madrid and Roma striker with a switch to City but the Serie A club's administrator, Beppe Marotta, insisted yesterday he was not for sale.

"Regarding the interest of Manchester City for Cassano, I must say that Antonio will not leave Genoa in January," Marotta said. "Since he arrived at Sampdoria, Antonio has delighted us with his fantastic play and it's normal that this will attract interest from great clubs in Europe, including Manchester City. But I wouldn't talk about an open negotiation, there are other clubs that want Antonio."

The 26-year-old striker has already turned down an offer to join City, in the summer of 2007, when he opted for a return to Serie A and joined Sampdoria on loan from Real Madrid.

Cassano has never fulfilled the promise that persuaded Roma to sign him as an 18-year-old for £19.5m in 2000 from Bari. His career has been dogged by incidents of indiscipline and when he was suspended by Real in October 2006 said he would "walk all the way back to Rome" to get away from their then coach, Fabio Capello.

The Juventus coach, Claudio Ranieri, has revealed he pulled out of a move for Xabi Alonso this summer because he felt the Liverpool midfielder was "too slow". Juventus held talks with Liverpool over the Spain international – a member of the Euro 2008-winning side – but Alonso remained at Anfield.

"He was a player we wanted," Ranieri said. "But he is a player, who even though he is an extraordinary man and a great professional, left me perplexed by the slowness of his movement in midfield. In the midfield of Rafa Benitez's Liverpool, where all of them are little soldiers, he finds himself in a fantastic position.

"But in our midfield, he would have found it hard to support the midfield line, seeing as [the Juve wingers] Mauro Camoranesi and Pavel Nedved are not players that come back to give support like Liverpool's wingers."

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