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Juventus eager to secure Benitez for next season

Juventus are increasingly keen to secure Rafael Benitez for next season after their disappointing campaign suffered further blows in recent days.

Juve have already dismissed Ciro Ferrara after the club’s elimination from the Champions League and Coppa Italia, while his short-term replacement, Alberto Zaccheroni, saw the club exit the Europa League last week after defeat to Fulham.

Their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are also in doubt after a 1-0 defeat to Sampdoria on Sunday left them sixth in the table.

Zaccheroni is in place until the end of the season, but the club’s deputy director general, Roberto Bettega, has indicated that they are eager to press ahead with the appointment of a manager for the new campaign.

“The objective now is to make it to the Champions League zone of the table,” he said. “We must not ignore the current situation but at the same time it would be wrong not to think of the future. My task is not saying what Juve’s problem is but acting on it.”

Arsenal appeal Vermaelen suspension as Van Persie returns

Arsenal have appealed against Thomas Vermaelen‘s red card against West Ham on Saturday.

Vermaelen was sent off and conceded a penalty as Guillermo Franco went through on goal at the end of the first half during Arsenal’s 2-0 victory, and the Gunners believe referee Martin Atkinson made an incorrect decision.

In a statement, the FA said: “The FA has received a claim for wrongful dismissal from Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen. “Vermaelen was shown a red card for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity during Arsenal’s match against West Ham United on Saturday 20 March. “A Regulatory Commission will hear the claim on Tuesday 23 March.”

Meanwhile, Robin van Persie is set to step up his comeback from injury as he returns from the Netherlands this week.

Van Persie has not played since November after suffering ankle ligament damage and Arsene Wenger hopes he will be available for selection for the final weeks of the season.

“I think he will be back [with the club] this week,” he said on the club’s official website. “We sent our fitness coach out to Holland, where Robin has been having his rehabilitation. Physically he looks very sharp but we aim at least to wait a month.”

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