Mauro Discardi?- Inter striker again left out of squad to face Sampdoria

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Inter Milan appear to be ready to dig their heels in over the Mauro Icardi issue after the Argentine striker was not included in their lineup to play Sampdoria over the weekend. Icardi, who had been stripped of captaincy earlier in the week, also didn’t make the trip to Austria to play Rapid Vienna in the first of their Europa League knockout tie.

Inter won both games without Icardi by a single goal margin, beating Rapid 1-0 and Sampdoria 2-1. Against Rapid, the winner was scored from the penalty spot by Icardi’s compatriot Lautaro Martinez, while the goals against Samp came from the boots of Danilo D’Ambrosio and Radja Nainggolan. It was a third straight win (and a third straight clean sheet) for the Nerazzurri while Samp slumped to their third straight loss after previous defeats at the hands of Napoli and Frosinone.

Inter will be at home to Rapid for their next game while Sampdoria will travel to Cagliari.

Inter appoint Handanovic as captain | Will Icardi leave the Nerazzurri?

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Inter Milan have officially taken the captaincy off striker Mauro Icardi and handed it to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. The announcement was made earlier today and raises doubts over the Argentine international’s future at the San Siro.

Icardi had inked a contract extension in 2016 that would keep him at the club till 2021. That deal also included a 110 million euro release clause for any foreign clubs interested in his services. The likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid were linked with him last summer, but no deal materialised, and the striker stayed at the club.

Inter apparently want Icardi to ink a new deal, but progress on that front has been non existent. Club officials put it down to the hard negotiating nature of Wanda Nara, Icardi’s wife and agent, and talks have apparently reached an impasse, which has forced the powers that be to take the armband off him.

Icardi is also not in the Inter squad for their midweek Europa League clash against Rapid Vienna.

Icardi’s team mate, Marcelo Brozovic, was seen liking posts on social media site Instagram that talked of the captaincy being taken off the former. It’s been long rumoured that Icardi’s relationship with the Croatian contingent at Inter isn’t exactly the best.

Could Icardi be off in the summer? Appears so, unless the club and he both have a change of heart!

Handa

(via Twitter)

The most legendary football clubs- Teams with “mythical status”

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France Football have today unveiled a rather interesting list- rating teams by their “mythical status”. The best way we understand this is for teams that had their heyday in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, or influenced the game in a manner that saw them write their names into the annals of history.

It probably explains why Ajax, with ex legends both on and off the pitch, like Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels, and their Total Football concept, are first on this list. And also explains why teams that have obtained success in more recent times, like Manchester City and PSG, are not on it.

Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona occupy spots 2-5. Other teams that certainly fit into this category (in our opinion!) are the likes of Santos, Benfica, River Plate, New York Cosmos and Budapest Honved. There is a sense of nostalgia about the past greatness of these teams in the current generation, which explains their mythical status.

Interesting list though- here it is below in full (countries on the side in French)

Mythical Status Club

Man City 6-0 Chelsea | Blues hammered at the Etihad

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Man City laid down a statement of intent on Sunday afternoon as they demolished rivals Chelsea 6-0, thereby inflicting upon the Blues their worst defeat since 1991. Sergio Aguero was the star at the Etihad with a hat trick, his 9th at the stadium and 11th overall in the Premier League, equalling the legendary Alan Shearer’s record.

Chelsea’s defending was shambolic- only strugglers Fulham have conceded more than them in the league this year, and City turned in another dazzling attacking display to raise more doubts over the future of Blues boss Maurizio Sarri. Continue reading

Boro 1-1 Leeds | Whites fall two points behind Canaries

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Leeds fell two points behind Norwich City after being held by Middlesbrough at the Riverside. Lewis Wing’s 47th minute effort seemed to be enough to condemn the Whites to their third defeat in four games, but Kalvin Phillips popped up with an equaliser deep into stoppage time to give the visitors a point.

The result kept Leeds three points ahead of Sheffield United, who squandered a 3-0 lead with less than 10 minutes to go at Villa Park, with AVFC securing an unlikely draw.

Since Spygate, Leeds’ results haven’t been great. They’ve won only once in four games, and that was on the road against struggling Rotherham. Marcelo Bielsa’s men will take on Swansea at home in midweek.

Norwich, who had taken top spot in the Championship following their 3-1 win at Elland Road last week, Continue reading

Shandong Luneng sign Fellaini

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Marouane Fellaini has opted to continue his career in China after moving to CSL outfit Shandong Luneng. The Belgian midfielder joined Manchester United from Everton in 2013, and scored 22 times in 177 appearances for the Red Devils. He was brought to the club by David Moyes, his former manager at Goodison Park.

Fellaini was a key figure under Jose Mourinho, and to many fans, was a symbol of the unattractive, laboured football that United used to play under the Special One. He’s however scored some key goals for the club- Juventus in the Champions League in Turin being a classic example.

While Mourinho liked Fellaini, his replacement, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, did not appear to regard the Belgian as a vital part of his plans, featuring only once in seven Premiership games under the Norwegian.

At United, Fellaini won two titles- the 2016 FA Cup and the 2017 Europa League.

Marouane China

Batshuayi moves to Palace on loan

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Crystal Palace have completed the loan signing of Mitchy Batshuayi from Chelsea till the end of the season. The Belgian had been linked with a variety of clubs on transfer deadline day, with potential moves to West Ham, Real Betis, Everton and even Tottenham Hotspur being touted in the press, but eventually opted to move to Selhurst Park.

Palace, managed by Roy Hodgson, are currently 15th in the table and will take on Fulham this weekend. Batshuayi should make his debut against the Cottagers and will be key to their chances of winning, especially in the absence of Wilfried Zaha, who is suspended for this clash after his red card in their 1-1 draw against Southampton.

Batshu

(via Twitter)

The Palace loan spell is the 25 year old Belgian’s third since joining Chelsea from Marseille in 2016- the previous two being with Dortmund in Germany and Valencia in Spain. The BVB spell was a successful one; the VCF one not so much, and Palace fans will be hoping that it is the Dortmund version of Batshuayi who turns up for them.

Magpies complete double swoop; break transfer record by signing Almiron

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Newcastle have completed the signing of Miguel Almiron from MLS outfit Atalanta United for a club record £20m. The fee is the highest the Magpies have paid for a player, eclipsing Michael Owen’s long standing £16m record, set in 2005 when they acquired the England striker from Real Madrid.

In another deadline day swoop, the Magpies also completed the signing of Antonio Barreca on loan from AS Monaco till the end of the season.

Mike Ashley has often been criticised in the past for not making enough funds available to purchase new players, with many long suffering fans often wishing for better support for Rafa Benitez. The Magpies stunned Man City 2-1 at home a few days ago, leading many to say that they would be challenging for an European spot if Benitez had the same level of backing as some of the other teams in the bottom half of the table.

Newcastle are 14th in the league currently and will square off against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.

Almiron

Atletico Madrid sign Alvaro Morata on 18 month loan

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La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid have officially confirmed the signing of Alvaro Morata on loan from Premier League outfit Chelsea. The Spanish striker will be at the Wanda Metropolitano till the end of the 2019/20 season, thus making it an eighteen month loan stint for the 26 year old.

Morata joined Chelsea from Real Madrid in the summer of 2017, but has never quite had the impact he was expected to. Most of Chelsea’s signings that summer excepting Antonio Rudiger- the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Davide Zappacosta and Tiemoue Bakayoko and Morata have failed to establish themselves at the Bridge. It probably represents one of the worst transfer windows in recent history for the club, given the money that was splurged on these players. The quartet mentioned above cost the Blues well over £150m, and the London outfit, in all probability, will have to take a hit on these players when they permanently leave the club.

The Morata switch comes after Chelsea signed Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus till the end of the season (with an option to buy)

Morata scored 24 goals in 72 games across all competitions for Chelsea. The Blues are fourth in the league table at the time of this transfer, while Atleti are second in La Liga.

The most shocking football transfers- KPB to Barca and more!

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The football world has been rocked by strange and unexplained transfers more than one time. From superstars arriving at lowly clubs to virtual unknowns being signed by juggernauts, some football transfers are as baffling as wearing a winter jacket on a beach.

Starting with Kevin Prince Boateng’s recent arrival to Barcelona, we list some of the most shocking football transfers ever.

Kevin Prince Boateng

A few days ago, Barcelona shocked the world by signing Sasuolo’s Ghanaian recently converted false-nine. It’s not that Boateng is not a well-known name in football – it’s just that he’s more known for his antics rather than his qualities.

Granted, his spell at AC Milan has been fruitful (who can forget that goal against Barca?) and he played well for Sasuolo this season. However, even with Barca needing a striker who can come off the bench after Munir left for Sevilla, Boateng doesn’t seem to be the answer. He’s obviously not as talented as Suarez, Messi or Dembele, so it remains to be seen if he’ll be a hit or a miss. Continue reading

QPR 2-1 Leeds | First Cup third round win without replay in 22 years for R’s

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Queens Park Rangers picked up their first FA Cup third round win without a replay in 22 years as they upset Leeds 2-1 at Loftus Road. A penalty from Aramide Oteh and a header from Jake Bidwell were enough to seal Rangers’ progress to the fourth round, where they will face Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

For Leeds, Aapo Halme was their solitary goal scorer, pouncing on a mistake from opposition keeper Matt Ingram.

A loss for QPR would’ve seen them earn the unwanted distinction of becoming the first team to lose 50 FA Cup third round ties.

Things could’ve been very different for the Whites had Tyler Roberts scored in the first minute. As it happended, his effort hit BOTH posts, but didn’t go in!

Marcelo Bielsa’s men will be in action again on Friday when they take on Derby County at Elland Road.

Check out all the action and highlights from the game below Continue reading

Lucas Hernandez to become world’s most expensive defender?

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French World Cup winning star Lucas Hernandez could become the world’s most expensive defender after reports in Spain emerged linking the 22 year old to a January move to Bayern Munich. The Bavarian giants are reportedly willing to match his release clause (85 million euros) which will make young Hernandez the world’s most expensive defender, eclipsing the fee Liverpool paid Southampton for Virgil van Dijk last season.

Lucas Hernandez Bayern

It would be interesting to see if the transfer materialises- Bayern are normally not known for spending such amounts of money- it would essentially be more than double than that of their current record signing (Corentin Tollisso). However one could argue that the market has reached a stage where such fees are “normal”, and Bayern need to spend heavily on reinforcements if they are to challenge for continental honours again. Continue reading

Benitez wins Manager of the Month for November 2018

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Newcastle United’s Rafa Benitez has been named the Premier League’s Manager of the Month for November 2018. Benitez steered the Magpies to consecutive victories against Watford, Bournemouth and Burnley to take them out of the drop zone. The wins against the Hornets and the Cherries came at St.James Park, while the victory against the Clarets was achieved at Turf Moor.

Benitez is the second Spanish manager to win the MOTM award for this season following Javi Gracia’s success in August 2018. It is the 7th time he’s won this award during his managerial career. Continue reading