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Aapo Virtanen: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Started on 6 November 2018 by Jack
Latest Reply on 5 September 2019 by Justice
A feat of the highest order, now bringing Finland, once minnows in national football, to the very top echelon of the game, by winning the famous old World Cup! All I can do is admire and applaud Aapo and his team, and the magnificent rise of Finnish football. And I hope Finland are not "Finnished"!, and go on to do it again in 2030, whether Aapo is there or not, as the building blocks have been for the biggest force to come from the northeast of Europe since the Vikings!
Ah the magic waistcoat doing wonders once more. Congratulations are in order, I feel. Finally a big boy now, lifting a trophy that only the greatest of managers have ever had the honour of doing. Well done Aapo, but does this signal the end of an era or the beginning of a new one?

Following his nation’s unthinkable World Cup victory, Finland legend Jari Litmanen has declared that the national team’s manager, Aapo Virtanen, is the ‘best Finn that has ever lived’

For a young man in his early thirties taking over the reigns of his local football team in the small tight-knit community of Oulu back in the festive period of 2017, it is not imaginable that Aapo Virtanen could’ve known he was to be a world champion, receiving glittering approval by a Finnish legend like Litmanen.

The former Ajax man, who made almost 600 appearances spanning across a 24-year career was interviewed by The Athletic shortly after Teemu Savolainen scored the decisive ninth minute goal to make Finland world champions to offer his thoughts on the state of Finnish football fifteen years on from his playing career ended at Helsinki.

The 137-time Finnish international stated: “For me, there is no other Finnish icon than Aapo Virtanen at this point. At no point in history before today’s result has one man brought more joy to my country than this man has, so for me he is the all-time Finnish icon in any genre.

“Of course, we can claim that the heroics of Pohjanpalo, the security of Tuomas Keskinen or the unpredictability of Teemu Savolainen were the heroes of the day however, Aapo Virtanen has accomplished too much in the game as a manager to even dispute that this was down to the playing staff. I’m not having it, it is all down to that one man Virtanen.”

The Vaasa coach continued, “When I was playing for Finland internationally, it was just a duty more than anything. I knew my achievements internationally would not match my accomplishments at club level and as a result I sort of despised being born in Finland, wishing I’d been born, or had connections to another more prosperous nation football-wise.

“I’m sure before Virtanen arrived, these Finland players felt the same way when they were called up under Kanerva. When Virtanen arrived as manager, it was as if the pride of being Finnish had been power-lifted into the hearts of every one of these players, spreading to every common man and woman in the nation at the same time. I remember meeting him before the World Cup began and he was stressed, I could tell, but he made the effort to be as kind and upbeat to every single person. I was enthralled by him myself.”

Litmanen went on to state that not only is he the most loved Finn ever, but that nobody in the game comes close to him as a manager.

“People can debate all they want, there is absolutely no other manager who can compete with Aapo on the planet at this moment in time. He is up there with Sir Alex Ferguson, Bob Paisley and the likes. He is simply unstoppable.”

Aapo Virtanen has previously stated his admiration of Jari Litmanen in the past and hoping that one day the pair will be able to work together as backroom staff, with Litmanen previously having youth coach and first-team coach roles at International Turku and Ekenas Tammisaari before taking up his current role at Vaasan Palloseura in August 2024 under the Jani Honkavaara regime.

Following the World Cup victory, Virtanen will seemingly follow up his promise of departing the Finnish national team - a promise made as part of the agreement to join Manchester City. He leaves the national team with a European Championship Final in 2024, a UEFA Nations League promotion, a huge increase in the nation’s world rankings and a World Cup victory over Holland.

Scott: It's easy to realise how the Finnish people became disillusioned by their national side all these years and why many turned to hockey instead with the lack of success on the football pitch. Aapo has certainly drawn in a long-awaited interest from the Finnish people by securing football's biggest prize! We will return to Leena shortly...

TheLFCFan: It was so brilliant to be able to sync the players I taught years before at Oulu in with the national side for one, but to crown them world champions is a whole new level. I'm so proud of my team, my past at Oulu and myself!

BigMaguire: Minnows no more. I can see Finland expanding on their football spending and turning it into the country's biggest sporting fixture after this success! It is highly likely that Aapo won't be there to continue his story there, but he has certainly ignited a huge flame in his time there.

Justice: Learned from the best in Southgate about World Cup dress code. Finally in the big league as you say among the greatest that have ever lived I should think! ;)
Don't think it is possible to dispute Litmanen's comments there. Aapo has taken a nation nobody expected anything from to World Cup winners. An incredible managerial career that is only going to continue to thrive!
Obviously Litmanen has never met Saara Aalto.
A sense of lamentation in Litmanen's interview there. It seems as if he was somewhat envious of the current crop of players winning, while the 'golden era' which includes Litmanen, Hyypia, Jaaskelainen (and Kalle Koskinen) mounted nothing more significant than a third-place finish in the qualifying rounds.
Winning the World Cup with Finland, what a send off to his international managerial career. Aapo can certainly leave on a high now.

Manchester City are delighted to announce the signing of Argentinian attacking midfielder Paulo Dybala on a free transfer.

The 32-year-old joins the Club from Juventus on a two-year deal, subject to international clearance and will wear the number 10 shirt.

Dybala follows in the footsteps of Andrea Marcato in joining the Club from the Serie A side who arrived at the Etihad Stadium four years ago from Turin.

The attacking midfielder, who can also play as a forward, impressed at the 2026 World Cup with Argentina as he scored three goals in three games as his country finished in the Third Round of the tournament as City manager Aapo Virtanen went all the way to win the trophy this summer.

Admired for his flair, dribbling ability and incredible chance creating, Dybala hopes to help City to further success, while seeking to drive his personal achievements both on and off the pitch.

I’m very honoured to be here,” he declared.

“Manchester City – the name itself – is very attractive to me and I want to experience the English league. I know there are many good teams in the English league and many good players. I know from my own experience that they are strong, fast and very technical.”

Having started his career at youth level with Instituto Atlético Central Córdoba in his home nation of Argentina, Dybala signed for Serie A club Palermo in 2012.

He spent three seasons at Palermo, bagging 20 goals and 17 assists in 94 appearances across both Serie A and Serie B. In a £30million move to Juventus in 2015, Dybala really started to show his talent.

In the decade that he spent in Turin, he made 539 appearances for the club, scoring 194 goals and registering a total of 137 assists in that period as well. With such a resounding track record, City manager Aapo Virtanen has called this free transfer the ‘signing of the summer’ already, with Dybala assisting 15 times and scoring 9 times just last season as his team finished 5th in the league.

It is with Juventus that Dybala has won all of his club honours with six Serie A titles, five TIM Cups, three Italian Suppercoppa’s and one UEFA Europa League title, making him one of the most distinguished talents in Italian football history.

On the international stage, the attacking midfielder has enjoyed success, winning the Confederations Cup with Argentina in 2021 following the 2019 Copa América victory.

Since making his international debut, he has scored 27 goals in 95 caps, and is excited to showcase and enhance his abilities under Virtanen’s leadership.

TheLFCFan: If anybody has the gravitas to come out with something like that then it is someone as decorated as Litmanen!

Scott: Behave.

Justice: Definitely a sense of 'born in the wrong era', particularly with this Finnish squad not being as talented as the likes of the names you mentioned apart from that pathetic excuse of an 'iceman'.

SonOfAnarchy: Couldn't have been any better, no doubt about it!
I enjoyed the graphic, well played Jack. Dybala is an excellent acquisition. He adds experience, nous and, most importantly, quality. On a free transfer, he is a very low-risk signing, and certainly will have a massive commercial pull for the club.
That graphic is incredible. Nonetheless, an excellent signing, especially on a free transfer. Aapo is a real wheeler dealer!

Manchester City have today unveiled the signing of English winger Adam Robertson for a fee of £93 million from fellow Premier League outfit Burnley.

The 22-year-old signed a deal at the beginning of last season at Turf Moor until June 2028 which included a hefty £93,000,000 minimum release clause as agreed by manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Robertson signed for Burnley after impressing for his hometown club Boreham Wood in the National League and League Two between 2018 and 2020, making a £275,000 move to Burnley after 74 appearances for the League Two side, scoring 15 times and assisting 11 times in all competitions.

Joining in January 2021, Robertson only managed to make four appearances for Burnley during the 2020/21 campaign in the Premier League under Sean Dyche, making one assist.

It was the following 2021/22 season that Robertson really managed to make his mark, missing only one league game and making 58 starts across all competitions at just 17 years old. In his first full season at Turf Moor, the right-winger made 11 assists and scored 8 times across all competitions as he became renowned as one of England’s brightest young prospects.

As he makes his move over to Manchester City today, his time at Burnley consisted of 208 appearances, netting 39 goals and directly creating 35 goals.

“After so much negotiating between myself and Mauricio [Pochettino] - a manager I greatly respect - I am absolutely delighted to have Adam Robertson join us here at Manchester City.” The City manager Aapo Virtanen declared today upon arriving at the club’s training ground to complete the Robertson transfer.
Meanwhile, Manchester City still remain in talks with fellow Premier League clubs Chelsea and Liverpool over the sales of Claude Blondel and Salvatore Venturelli respectively. The futures of City legend Kevin De Bruyne and right-back Nélson Semedo still remain unclear with their contracts expiring at the end of this month but it is looking likely that the pair will depart on free transfers.

Justice: I thank your appreciation of the graphic ;) Apart from the high wages - which were easily paid for in themselves - I believe he is a very shrewd addition. He has lots of experience in trophy-winning which is needed if the club want to remain as winners and you are very correct in pointing out his commercial value.

Scott: Thank you Scoot, hope you enjoyed your involvement :P Aapo has gone very Del Boy with the signing of Dybala, although perhaps not so much with the signing of Robertson!
Wow, what a signing. £93 million for an English talent, no surprise there. Looks like Aapo is really shaping the squad into an even more dominant force now. Can't see who can stand in Citeh's way.
Since when did Burnley ever have assets such as him? Pochettino at Burnley? The future seems to be scary. A huge profit for them though and they'll certainly be able to reinvest into the squad with that kind of money. An excellent, young player comes through the doors at City, meanwhile.

You love to see it! ;)

Kevin De Bruyne and Nélson Semedo are among those released by City

Manchester City have confirmed the two transfer departures of central midfielders Claude Blondel and Salvatore Venturelli to Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

Blondel, 21, only managed to make nine appearances in the three years that the Frenchman was contracted to the club. He signed in 2023 for £1.6million from Ligue 1 outfit and his boyhood club Olympique Lyonnais with Carlo Ancelotti - the manager of Manchester City at the time - immediately loaning him out to Borussia Dortmund for the season.

Blondel was a success in his first loan spell to the Bundesliga, making 26 appearances for BVB and added five assists in the process despite the club’s lowly sixth-placed finish in that 2023/24 campaign.

Blondel’s fairly impressive performances for Dortmund still did not earn him a spot under Ancelotti at the Etihad Stadium as he was once again loaned out abroad to join Internazionale for the 2024/25 Serie A season. Playing a defensive midfield role in Italy, Blondel once again was a key first-team player for the side loaning him, making 31 appearances in the league.

Aapo Virtanen’s arrival at Manchester City meant that he was not loaned out for the third consecutive year despite being on the club’s loan list. In fact, Blondel made his first competitive appearance for City under Virtanen as he marginally helped his club to the Premier League title with six appearances in the league campaign as well as a few other cup and European appearances.

Today, he finalises his £17.25million move to Nuno Espírito Santo’s Chelsea outfit who finished sixth place for the third season running last year.

Salvatore Venturelli’s nightmare stay at the Etihad Stadium was also finally put to an end today as he completed his £30million move to Anfield this afternoon.

Joining from Serie A side Lazio for a fee of £65million last season after he impressed Virtanen during the City manager’s stay at Fiorentina, Venturelli was crowded out by the huge amount of quality competition in his position at centre-midfield.

During the entire 2025/26 campaign, Venturelli never made a start as he made 18 substitute appearances in all competitions, scoring once and assisting twice. City have made a £35million loss on the 23-year-old Italian who promised so much upon his arrival in Manchester.

With English club’s releasing players who have come to the end of their contracts, City have released fifteen players of their own, including two first-teamers in Kevin De Bruyne and Nélson Semedo.

Kevin De Bruyne spent a total of ten years at Manchester City, making an unbelievable 547 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring 122 goals from central midfield after he joined in 2015 in a £54million deal, moving from Wolfsburg.

He finishes his career in Manchester with nineteen trophies to his name, including three UEFA Champions League titles and seven Premier League titles, becoming one of the most decorated footballers in the game at the age of 35.

Nélson Semedo spent six years at Manchester City after signing for £45million from Barcelona back in July 2020. He made 253 appearances as he established himself as the club’s starting right-back throughout his entire stay, winning thirteen trophies with the club to add to the honours he won at both Benfica and Barcelona previously.

The full released list is as follows: Kevin De Bruyne, Nélson Semedo, Joel Stewart, Dylan Lonergan, Ian Phillips, Cauley Sale, Martin McDonald, Jay Kendrick-Peate, Ibrahim Oliseh, Sam Wharton, Mark Foyle, Graham Lindsey, Isaac Rocha, Lee Knott, Pat McKeown.

SonOfAnarchy: I certainly paid the English premium for this one, that's for sure. One of my aims is definitely to increase the amount of homegrown talents in the squad and Robertson fits the bill perfectly with his nationality and talent.

Scott: Well, the squad that they have certainly didn't bring the best out of Robertson who was undoubtedly and far beyond the best player in their squad. Poch has had a fall from grace, for sure after being sacked from both his roles at Spurs in 2019 and then from Newcastle after four years in charge. Took over from a ten-year Dyche reign in January 2025 BUT Spurs have offered a compensation of £4.8m to take him back from Burnley!
Manchester City are losing a legend in De Bruyne - someone who gave more years of service than most at the Etihad. His departure will certainly be felt in the dressing-room. Blondel's departure makes a lot of sense considering he was unable to ever really force his way into the squad. The same can be said for Venturelli, although you've lost a lot of money. It's a shame that piece of business never worked out. The margin lost is quite sizeable, even if it may not be much for City's standards.

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