Transfers Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Madrid prepare €200m bid for De Bruyne Goal Last updated 1 year ago 02:00 2/19/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(6) Getty Images Transfers Premier League Bundesliga Ligue 1 Serie A Primera División Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond Madrid prepare massive De Bruyne bidReal Madrid president Florentino Perez is prepared to smash the club transfer record with a €200 million offer for Kevin De Bruyne, claims Don Balon.The Manchester City midfielder has been in sparkling form this season, spearheading the club’s march to the Premier League summit. AdChoices广告And while Madrid do not lack for talent in the engine room, Perez is desperate to see one of the world’s best midfielders pull on the Blancos shirt and is willing to pay big money for the privilege. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Madrid to offer £100m plus Bale for HazardReal Madrid are set to offer £100m plus Gareth Bale to Chelsea in an attempt to land Eden Hazard, reports the Express.The Spanish giants have made the Belgian their top target for the summer, and the 27-year-old is yet to sign a new deal with the Blues. And Los Blancos are now willing to part with former Tottenham star Bale and a massive amount of cash in order to get a deal done. Inter & AC Milan want Balotelli backInter and AC Milan are looking to lure Mario Balotelli back to San Siro from Nice this summer, The Sun reports.The striker has been impressive again this season, netting twice on Thursday as they Nice 3-2 to Lokomotiv Moscow in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie — taking his tally to 21 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions.However, the Italian’s time in Ligue 1 has not been all smooth, as was shown last week when he was given a yellow card for complaining to the referee about racist abuse coming from the crowd.Balotelli has been linked with a return to Italy already, with Juventus said to be looking for a way to sign him, but he could opt for a more familiar club, with both Milan clubs interested.Bailey could get England World Cup call-upEngland are considering including Leon Bailey in their squad for the 2018 World Cup if the Bayer Leverkusen winger switches allegiance from Jamaica, The Mirror says.The 20-year-old has impressed since joining Bayer Leverkusen and has already been linked with a move to Chelsea and Manchester United. However, he could be set for a change at national team level first as the Football Association look to capitalise on his eligibility to play for England.The Jamaica Under-23 international qualifies for the Three Lions through his grandparents, and the British newspaper reports that Gareth Southgate is considering making a call to the winger.Zidane considers Real Madrid exitZinedine Zidane is considering leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season, according to AS.The French coach himself has admitted that he finds his job in charge of the European champions “tiring”, but maintains he is not ready to leave the club. However, the Spanish outlet claims Zidane has already told those around him that he will walk away if he feels he cannot take the team forward, with that time seemingly approaching.The former Madrid and Juventus star is said to have his sights set on taking over the France national team when Didier Deschamps leaves. Milan eyeing MemphisAC Milan are keeping an eye on Memphis Depay’s progress at Lyon and are considering making an offer for the winger in the summer, reports Calciomercato.The Netherlands international has impressed since joining the French side from Manchester United and has scored 12 times in 30 Ligue 1 and Europa League appearances this season.While Milan are yet to make contact with Lyon, they are hoping to lure Memphis to Serie A during the next transfer window as they continue to scout him. PSG in for Marcos RojoParis Saint-Germain are lining up a £30 million offer for Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo as the Argentina international holds off on signing a new contract, The Mirror claims.Jose Mourinho has grown frustrated by how long negotiations are taking as the Old Trafford club look to tie Rojo to a new long-term deal, but talks are likely to be disrupted even further as PSG are hoping to reunite him with compatriot Angel Di Maria in the French capital.Herrera wants Italy switchHector Herrera is in talks with AC Milan and is looking to make a summer move from Porto, A Bola reports.The 27-year-old Mexico international is contracted to the Portuguese side until 2019 and the club are expected to demand Milan meet his €40 million release clause if they want to land him. But Herrera is apparently already in talks with the Rossoneri and hopes to begin next term in Serie A.Spurs line up Watford double swoopTottenham are eyeing a £50million double swoop on Watford for Richarlison and Abdoulaye Doucoure, reports The Sun . Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino wants to add support for star man Harry Kane and has been impressed by the Brazilian in the Premier League.Doucoure hasn’t signed a new deal and would add a measure of stability to Tottenham’s midfielder at a relatively cheap price, with the two players set for big wage hikes with the London club. Man City ready to move for WeiglManchester City have been scouting Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl and are ready to make him one of the club’s top targets for the summer window, according to the Mirror . Pep Guardiola wants an enforcer in his midfielder, but the 22-year-old will not be a cheap option. BVB will not listen to offers until they reach the £40m-mark. Chelsea want Aguero for HazardManchester City are ready to offer make a £150million offer to bring in Chelsea star Eden Hazard, but the Blues are only willing to listen if Sergio Aguero is part of the deal, reports the Sunday Star (via the Mirror ). Both players still have two years left on their current deals, and Real Madrid are closely following the situation.Neymar won’t receive Ronaldo’s Madrid wagesRumours of Neymar joining Real Madrid persist, but the signing of the Brazilian star would come with a hefty financial penalty for the player, according to Don Balon .While PSG’s potential exit from the Champions League has put the players at the club, including Neymar, on notice, an alleged clause in Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract dictates that he must be the top earner for Madrid. With Los Blancos set to keep the Portuguese for at least one more season, that clause would force the PSG star to take a substantial pay cut to join the Spanish giants. Mane set for Liverpool pay riseLiverpool are set to hand Sadio Mane a bumper pay rise after his showing for the club in the Champions League, reports the Mirror .With three years left to run on his current deal there is no rush for a new contract, but if the forward is willing to sign on for two extra years he would be in line to double his wages and move in line with the club’s top earners. Arsenal preparing for life without WengerArsenal are preparing for life without Arsene Wenger, according to the Daily Mail . Josh Kroenke, son of owner Stan, has moved to London to conduct an in-depth review of all aspects of the club.While the report claims that the younger Kroenke won’t be interfering with the daily running of the London outfit, the move is seen as part of Ivan Gazidis’ promise that there would be a “catalyst of change.”Mou & Poch top PSG wishlistJose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino are on PSG’s shortlist to replace Unai Emery, according to the Mirror . Emery is under pressure following the French side’s loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie. Should the club not recover in the return leg, it is expected that the Ligue 1 side’s owners will move swiftly, with the Tottenham and Manchester United managers at the top of the list along with former Barca manager Luis Enrique. Chelsea to use Batshuayi in Pulisic bidChelsea are hoping Borussia Dortmund’s interest in keeping Michy Batshauyi will boost their hopes of signing Christian Pulisic, claims the Daily Mail .Batshuayi has been quick to make an impact during his loan spell at Dortmund , with reports claiming the Bundesliga club want to sign the striker on a permanent basis.If Dortmund do make a permanent push for Batshuayi in the summer, then Chelsea are ready to use that interest as leverage in their bid for Pulisic.Man Utd fan Pulisic , who has also been linked with the likes of Liverpool and Real Madrid, is one of football’s best young players, and Chelsea are eager to steal a march on their rivals to sign the USA international.Liverpool want Ceballos to replace CoutinhoLiverpool have found their Philippe Coutinho replacement at Anfield, with Dani Ceballos the ideal choice for Jurgen Klopp according to Don Balon .Coutinho left the Reds in January to join Barcelona for €160 million, but Klopp has not yet used that money to bring in a new midfielder, preferring to bide his time and wait until the summer.Ceballos is seen as a suitable candidate for Coutinho’s former role in the Liverpool XI, and is reportedly unhappy with a lack of first-team opportunities under Zinedine Zidane at Santiago Bernabeu. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Real Madrid Vazquez and Asensio important to Madrid, says Zidane Dom Farrell Last updated 1 year ago 06:52 2/22/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Real Madrid Primera División Leganés v Real Madrid Leganés Zinédine Zidane Gareth Bale Videos Some fans are keen to see more of the two young stars but their coach insists he is well aware of the duo’s qualities Zinedine Zidane insisted Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio are vitally important players to the Real Madrid cause.Vazquez scored Madrid’s 11th-minute equaliser and Asensio worked tirelessly in attack and defence in Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Leganes, which moves the reigning champions up to third in La Liga.The Spain international duo came to the fore as Cristiano Ronaldo was given the match off and Gareth Bale was rested on the bench, only heightening the perception that they arguably deserve more than the status of mere understudies in a squad punching below their weight this season. Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player “I think they have always been important for me, I’m glad for Lucas because he deserves it,” Zidane told a post-match news conference.”He fought before the game. He was not well, he played a great game like Asensio, everybody in general, and [Mateo] Kovacic. He has played a lot lately and he has done great.”We want to continue. We have had complicated moments and we have to take advantage to continue.”There are a group of 25 players here, they know it’s difficult. What matters is that they are very good and they show that when they have to play.” Four wins on the spin… pic.twitter.com/xjHnpFzTDo— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 21, 2018Such depth allowed Zidane to give Bale a lighter workload and he conceded the Wales international’s injury woes over the past year must remain a consideration.”I’m happy with him, we have to go little by little with him,” he added.”What we want is for him to hit his best and we’re getting there.”We’ll look at the matches that are coming up next and at how we’re going to manage them.”We are good and in good form and I am counting on all my players.”
Transfers Lautaro Martinez, Arthur & 15 summer transfer targets in Brazil & Argentina Daniel Edwards Last updated 1 year ago 17:55 2/27/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Getty/Goal Transfers Superliga Serie A The two South American giants have a rich pool of talent, and plenty of young stars will be followed by Europe’s biggest clubs in the summer
World Cup Neymar ‘practically impossible’ to stop, admits Arsenal new boy Lichtsteiner Iain Strachan 22:21 6/16/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) JOE KLAMAR World Cup Neymar Brazil v Switzerland Brazil Switzerland Switzerland are adamant they can upset Brazil in their World Cup opener on Sunday, despite the threat posed by the most expensive player on the planet Stephan Lichtsteiner has acknowledged that it is “practically impossible” to stop Neymar throughout an entire match, describing him as one of the “best and most complete” forwards in the game, but Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic nevertheless insists his team are determined to beat Brazil when they meet at the World Cup on Sunday.All eyes will be on Neymar at Rostov Arena when the Selecao superstar, who suffered a broken metatarsal in February, returns to competitive action on the biggest stage of all, seeking to help the pre-tournament favourites orchestrate a sixth World Cup triumph.Having regained full fitness, Neymar scored in Brazil’s friendly wins over Croatia and Austria before their arrival in Russia, and Lichtsteiner, who left Juventus to join Arsenal at the end of the domestic season, has no illusions about the scale of the task Switzerland face in attempting to halt the Paris Saint-Germain attacker. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now Arsenal would be selling their soul with Mourinho move Asked how his side plans to deal with the deadly former Santos and Barcelona striker, Switzerland captain Lichtsteiner said: “Well, I believe it is practically impossible to completely neutralise Neymar over 90 minutes, he’s probably the best and most complete in that position in the world. “It’s about using our strengths, our fullbacks as wingers to go forward, as a weapon. We have to be very cohesive as a team and close the gaps when we confront those individual players. “I don’t think this is the moment to release our strategy, we have to keep it under wraps. But we’re going to be running fast.”Petkovic, meanwhile, has been impressed by Brazil’s progress under Tite, but the Switzerland coach has no intention of affording the South American heavyweights an easy ride next to the banks of the Don River. “They are an excellent team, a team that has undergone great development in the last four years,” he said.”They’re [now] much more European in their playing style, we need to give them respect. “But I much prefer to focus on my team. We’re not here to make a lovely match against Brazil but to win it.”Despite the daunting challenge awaiting his players, the 54-year-old exuded quiet confidence on the eve of the game, insisting Switzerland are targeting all three points to start their campaign in Group E.”For me as a coach, as a football teacher, a draw is not enough,” he said.”We always try to achieve the maximum, to win, that is obviously the case, we will do everything to achieve this. “If the opponent is better at performing on the pitch and we have to settle for a draw we will accept that. But we prefer to focus on winning and we have that ambition.”
The newly constructed Glen and Pat Medland Pavilion will play host to teams from Broome, Hedland and Karratha who are competing across the Mixed ‘A’, ‘B’ and Under 18’s divisions. The tournament will commence on Friday afternoon and continue into the night which promises to be an exciting start to the tournament under lights and kick off a big weekend of Touch Football in the North West.This year’s championships will see Karratha returning to defend their title not only as North West Mixed Open champions but also state champions, although this year Broome looks to be strong contenders at the championships entering an extraordinary eight teams into this year’s tournament. Four Broome teams will contest the Under 18’s divisions, while the Mixed ‘B’ division will see three teams from Broome and one from Hedland battle it out. The 2012 event will see the inaugural North West Affiliate Development Conference run in conjunction with the North West Championships taking place from Friday through to Sunday. This exciting new program will enable an expanded and more interactive approach by Touch Football Western Australia in improving all aspects of Touch Football in the North West areas of Western Australia, with affiliates Broome, Port Headland and Karratha taking part. The conference will include a Level 1 Coaching course, a combined Level 2/3 Referee course, School and Junior Development clinics as well as administration and logistical development and education.For further information, updates and results please visit the North West Championships website:http://www.sportingpulse.com/assoc_page.cgi?c=14-935-0-0-0
Brighton midfielder Solly March on Chelsea defeat: We had nothing to loseby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBrighton midfielder Solly March from positives from defeat at home to Chelsea.March pulled a goal back for the Seagulls after first-half strikes from Pedro and Eden Hazard, and Hughton decided to focus on his team’s second-half reaction, as they created chances to equalise against the Blues.March said, “We had nothing to lose. We wanted to get at them and show them that we were better in the second half.“We did that after the break and we won the half. But at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough, so we’re a bit disappointed.“I think we looked okay at times, but perhaps we tried forcing it too much with our final ball and when we got into the final third.“We will work on that for the next game and hopefully we will improve.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Everton boss Silva to release Holgate for loanby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveEverton boss Marco Silva is ready to release Mason Holgate for loan.The Mirror says Everton are considering letting Holgate leave on loan in January.The 22-year-old is down the Goodison Park pecking order under new manager Marco Silva.Everton favour a six month move over a full-time switch unless a big offer comes their way.Fulham, Derby County and Sheffield United are all considering their positions. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Newcastle boss Benitez coy about interest in Groningen winger Doanby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveNewcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is coy about their interest in FC Groningen winger Ritsu Doan.The Japanese youngster has been linked with a January move to the Toon.Asked directly about Doan, Benitez refused to rule anything out.”Normally we do not talk about players with the media,” he said. “But in this case I tell you that we are not even able to talk about it. We must first have a meeting (with the club management). Then we see what our targets will be. People ask me about Doan, but we do not yet know who we want to get.”
Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold loves the FA Cupby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold admits he loves the FA Cup.The Reds meet Wolves in the third round today.“We’re going there to win,” said Alexander-Arnold, 20.“It’s not a free hit against Wolves. It’s a chance to win a trophy – and everyone at Liverpool wants to win things.“We’re not going there to get knocked out. We want to win. It becomes a habit.“I remember Steven Gerrard’s goal against West Ham. It was a great final and a great day for the club.“We’re all trying to get back to those days again – and hopefully that will happen this season.“Liverpool is a great club with a massive history, and the players who are here now must carry that responsibility.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Wim Kieft: Ajax playing Real Madrid just at right timeby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Holland striker Wim Kieft believes Ajax will be facing Real Madrid just at the right time.The two teams will meet next month in the Champions League round of 16.After Madrid’s defeat at home to Real Sociedad, Kieft said: “The way Real Madrid plays … There is no tempo, there is no joy in playing, there is no willingness, it always starts with willingness.”If you see with what ball pace is played by Real Madrid, then it is for Ajax to hope that they can match this level, because then you have a very good chance.”Real Madrid are painful to watch.” About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn sets season targetby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveSouthampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn insists a top ten finish is within their grasp.The Saints have gone through major changes as Ralph Hasenhuttl took over as coach last season. Gunn told the Mirror: “We definitely want to aim for the top half of the Premier League.“Having a younger squad is something the club and the manager have progressively changed. We’re a fresh, athletic team and that’s the way the manager wants us to play – fast, pressing high and with energy. The manager is very enthusiastic.“It’s really good to see and I think it rubs off on the lads. It’s infectious.“It’s big for the fans as well, they want to see a team with enthusiasm, desire and he definitely forces that on us, makes us show it and provide it on the pitch for the fans.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Bayern Munich boss Kovac full of admiration for Tottenham and Pochettinoby Paul Vegas24 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBayern Munich boss Niko Kovac has spoken of his admiration for Tottenham rival Mauricio Pochettino.The Bundesliga champions are in London for Tuesday’s Champions League Group B clash with Spurs and Kovac is impressed with the Premier League side.Pochettino has turned them from Europa League also-rans into European Cup finalists and that has not gone unnoticed by the Croatian, who admits coming to watch a Spurs game three years ago.”It is a very, very positive development,” the Croatian said. “In 2016 I was here and they were in the old stadium, I was here to watch Tottenham against Swansea, the flair was different, the stadium was smaller, but the atmosphere was strong.”You can see what it means when you have a good coach, a good manager.”In my opinion Tottenham have a very positive light in European football, they are now able to compete with the very big teams, even if it didn’t look that way seven or eight years ago.”They have continuity, he was given time and he has done a great job and that is an example for others.”It is definitely going to be a game with level footing, when you look at the players from both teams they are all world class from different countries.”
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Brighton youngster Steven Alzate called into Colombia U23 squadby Paul Vegas23 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBrighton youngster Steven Alzate has been called into the Colombia under-23 squad for two friendlies.Head coach Arturo Reyes included Alzate in his list for fixtures against Peru on October 10 and 13 in Lima.Alzate was born in London of Colombian parents, reports The Argus.He has made no secret of the fact that he would love to play international football for Colombia.
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Evans insists Leicester due big things under Rodgersby Paul Vegas21 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveJonny Evans insists Leicester City are on their way to big things under manager Brendan Rodgers.With Rodgers, Leicester have emerged as serious contenders for a top-four place with defender Evans playing a key role in their push for a Champions League spot. “We always aim high and we’ve got ambitions to really try to achieve something this season,” said Evans to the Mirror.“Before the season started, our aim was to break into the European places and that’s something we’ll try to achieve.“One of the biggest changes Brendan Rodgers has made is changing the mentality, giving the lads belief.“He’s a very positive manager. He’s obviously got his tactical abilities too, and we’re learning from him every day. He’s always challenging us on that side and giving the lads the confidence to go and express themselves.“He’s very demanding but in a way that all the lads are responding to him. But the biggest thing is that you have to believe you can achieve something and that’s something he’s trying to give to us as players.“Football can change so quickly. We won the league and then finished seventh the next season.“So it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen. But we’ve got great owners who are backing the club in a tremendous way. They’re very ambitious and that filters down from the top.”
Pablo Machin named new head coach of Espanyolby Carlos Volcano18 days agoSend to a friendShare the lovePablo Machin has been named new head coach of Espanyol.The former Girona and Sevilla boss takes over from David Gallego, who was sacked on Monday.Machin had been out of a job since leaving Sevilla in March and will be presented at the RCDE Stadium on Tuesday morning.Espanyol are currently in 19th position in LaLiga Santander and haven’t won a home game all season. TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
YouTube VineBig UCLA forward Tony Parker has emerged as a difference maker during the Bruins’ surprise run to the Sweet 16, and his off-season training is a big reason. After averaging just 2.4 points per game as a freshman and 6.9 as a sophomore, Parker now averages 11.4 points as a junior, and showed off a refined offensive game in the post against UAB, when he dropped 28 points in the 92-75 win. Parker is also one of the funniest players on the team, by all accounts, and had a classic quote when asked about his off-season weight loss.Parker said he’s lost more than 20 pounds since his freshman season. “My nickname around the locker room and campus is big sexy,” Parker said. “So, keeping my hair being curled and my body in a nice manner—it’s good for the team and the basketball and it’s good for the ladies off the court.”“Big Sexy” will need another big game this weekend when he will battle down low with Gonzaga’s talented forward trio of Kyle Przemek Karnowski, Domantas Sabonis, and Kyle Wiltjer. [SI.com]
Two goals from Ola Toivonen sent Melbourne Victory top of the A-League with a 2-1 win at Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.The Swede scored in each half, either side of a penalty from Alexander Baumjohann, to give the visitors all three points at ANZ Stadium and put them back above Sydney FC on goal difference.Lawrence Thomas made two fine saves to deny Wanderers a first-half breakthrough before Toivonen netted just before the break, combining with James Troisi before slotting home to become the first Victory player to score in five consecutive A-League games. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Baumjohann deservedly drew Wanderers level from the spot 74 minutes in after being tripped by Storm Roux, and only a brilliant goal-line clearance from Leigh Broxham denied them a 2-1 lead.Just as the game looked to be heading for a draw, Toivonen was on hand to bundle Troisi’s deflected cross from the right into the net, with Thomas tipping Nick Fitzgerald’s late shot onto the post to deny the home side a point.In the earlier match, 10-man Wellington Phoenix survived an onslaught to claim a 0-0 draw away to Adelaide United.A sluggish first half came to life after the break when Mandi was sent off for kicking out at Vince Lia in the 68th minute.United attempted 32 shots at goal but somehow failed to find the net, meaning they remain level with Mark Rudan’s side on 16 points from 11 games.FT | A point each after a feisty contest. @AdelaideUnited couldn’t make the breakthrough against a 10-man @WgtnPhoenixFC. #ALeague #ADLvWEL #SummerOfHeroes pic.twitter.com/0wYMyNJKcs— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) January 5, 2019
Every transfer window has its saga and this month is no different. Mauro Icardi is in the sights of goal-shy Real Madrid while the striker’s agent and wife, Wanda, uses their interest to squeeze more money out of Inter .The Spanish giants are struggling since their all-time record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Argentine in Serie A, so much so that they are reportedly willing to pay €110 million for their man.For Madridstas who don’t know much about Icardi, the links will be underwhelming. A quick look on YouTube at his highlights reel will suggest that his only moment of Ronaldo-esque inspiration was last season’s Goal of the Season winner against Sampdoria. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? But even that effort wasn’t a 30-yard screamer, an acrobatic overhead kick or a breath-taking solo goal. It was a simple piece of brilliance conducted in the six-yard box, as he backheeled the ball past the despairing dive of a bewildered Emiliano Viviano.It was superb skill, but it’s the words ‘simple’, ‘brilliance’ and ‘six-yard box’ that best describe Icardi and make his development into the greatest No.9 in world football even more remarkable.These being his outstanding attributes explain why he is often overlooked, in a world where Ronaldo and Lionel Messi dazzle the sport every week with something extraordinary.While those two are of another species, Icardi is an ugly duckling; an old-fashioned, poaching centre-forward at the very top of the game.His goal-scoring record is exceptional, particularly for a 25-year-old: 120 goals in 204 games put him ninth in Inter’s list of all-time scorers, his time at San Siro making up all but 33 games and 11 goals of his professional career.The Argentine averages 0.6 goals per game and is just three strikes behind Christian Vieri’s total for the Nerazzurri .“The fact that it is his first experience in the Champions League seems a lie,” Ivan Rakitic told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He is one of the best strikers in the world. Scoring a goal from just 15 touches? Pippo Inzaghi is back!”One might argue that Luis Suarez or Harry Kane fall into his category, and that both are better than Icardi. Yet both are much more.Kane’s will to track back, get involved in build-up play and his ability to score top-quality goals outside of the area make him much more than a centre-forward. On the other hand, Suarez will always be much more than a fox in the box, even if his move to Barcelona has seen him deployed as a natural No.9 after such a free-roaming role at Liverpool.It is perhaps not since Inzaghi, Ruud van Nistelrooy or David Trezeguet that the game has seen a player who possesses such ruthlessness in an area of just 18 yards.This is a player with a better chance conversion rate this season than Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as the aforementioned Kane and Suarez; a player who sparks into life when the ball is near but looks disinterested the rest of the time.That perhaps offers another explanation for the lack of hype around Icardi; his perceived laziness.Even Inter boss, Luciano Spalletti, has publicly stated that he would like Icardi to contribute more outside of the penalty area, telling Sky Sport Italia: “When we are under pressure, he should be closer to the rest of the team and help by holding the ball up. I think he’d do even more if he came deeper and combined with the midfielders.”With high pressing a huge part of today’s game, critics can also be quick to jump on the Argentine’s back when he isn’t running at breakneck speed to close down a defender in possession, something his former team-mate Eder has called “unfair criticism” of a “world-class” player, speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport .But what may appear as lazy to some is simply another version of defending from the front. Watch closer and the striker is constantly cutting off options for his opposing centre-backs and always pressing if a chance for his team to regain the ball arises.It’s something that Icardi himself has recognised and addressed, emphasising the importance of his main duty on the football pitch.“The attacker has to score, the midfielder has to play, the defender has to defend, and the goalkeeper has to save,” he told Corriere dello Sport.“People talk too much about my involvement in the game, which many say is poor, not enough, but I don’t give a damn about what the journalists and critics say. I know only one way to help my team-mates and the coach, and that’s to put it in the net.” What is most important for Icardi, though, is that continues to be guided by coaches who recognise his skillset, his strengths and his weaknesses.To throw him into a high-pressing system, to ask him to drop off deeper and get involved in the build-up earlier, or to work the ball into the box on the ground instead of also looking for the cross, would all be to reduce the impact of the man Gonzalo Higuain described as “an assassin”.Spalletti is a coach who understands Icardi.”Mauro has very precise characteristics,” he said. “When it comes to finishing, he has no weaknesses, he’s perfect. In the penalty area, he is an animal. However, there are times when perhaps he needs to come back more to help get us out of difficult situations.”However, just when defenders think they are keeping this man quiet, that is when he is most dangerous.His stats this season could not make that much clearer. In games where Icardi has played 60 minutes or more, he is averaging just 23 touches per game – only five of which are in the box.However, he’s scored 13 goals, provided two assists and created 19 chances. Not bad for a man who doesn’t do much.Icardi is an anomaly, a modern-day enigma. He’s not a player for a moment of magic; he’s a player who, given a sniff of the ball, will stick it in the net.At just 25, it’s exciting to see just how much longer he can continue his incredible goal-scoring. With the direction the game is taking, it does not seem like long before the classic No.9 is gone for good – at the very top, anyway.So, let us maintain the lack of fuss around Icardi and simply enjoy him for what he is; the last of a dying breed.
England cruised into a second consecutive Women’s World Cup semi-final courtesy of a dominant 3-0 win over Norway on Thursday.After the unsavoury narrative surrounding England’s ill-tempered last-16 win over Cameroon, the focus was back on football in the quarter-finals and, with defenders Steph Houghton and Millie Bright fit to start, Phil Neville’s side controlled proceedings.Jill Scott netted in a third different World Cup to put the Lionesses ahead, before Ellen White scored her sixth finals goal – the most ever for an England player – and fifth of this tournament. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? The irrepressible Lucy Bronze added a brilliant third and England were able to take their foot off the pedal for the final 30 minutes, running out comfortable winners even with Nikita Parris missing a late penalty.England were beaten by Japan in the last four in 2015 but will have the opportunity to improve on that performance against either hosts France or defending champions the United States.It was a flying start for England, who recorded their fastest ever Women’s World Cup goal, timed at two minutes and six seconds.Bronze stormed down the right and pulled the ball back from the byline for Scott to prod in off the left-hand post after White initially missed her kick.Parris should have done better as she shanked wide after working space on her left foot in the area, before White crashed a powerful strike against the post from a similarly promising position.The two made amends five minutes before the break, though, as Parris squared for White – compared by Neville to Alan Shearer and Michael Owen – to tap into the net.4 – Ellen White is the second English player to score in four consecutive FIFA World Cup appearances after Gary Lineker between 1986 & 1990 – she is the first English player to do so in a single edition. Unremitting. #FIFAWWC #NOR #ENG #NORENG pic.twitter.com/ycNCfkufZz— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 27, 2019And a slow start to the second half was quickly forgotten when Bronze powered into the roof of the net from 20 yards following a right-wing Beth Mead free-kick in the 57th minute.Houghton cleared off the goal line from Lisa-Marie Utland in a brief England blip, while Karen Bardsley denied Isabell Herlovsen, but Neville’s side could have had a fourth.Captain Houghton was shoved to the ground in the area by Maria Thorisdottir and Parris took the spot-kick, only for Ingrid Hjelmseth to save well and limit the damage for Norway.Key Opta Facts:- England have reached the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup in back-to-back editions of the tournament (also 2015); they had never reached the final four in the competition before this.- Norway have been eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s World Cup for just a second time (also 2003 v USA), having previously progressed from four of their five ties at this stage.- Norway have been eliminated from the Women’s World Cup by England in consecutive tournaments (also 2015 last 16); England are the second nation to knock them out of more than one edition of the competition (also USA, 1991 and 2003).- Ellen White is now England’s outright record goalscorer at the Women’s World Cup (six goals), with her strike today moving her ahead of Fara Williams (five).- White is the second English player to score in four consecutive FIFA World Cup appearances after Gary Lineker between 1986 and 1990 – she is the first English player to do so in a single edition.- Jill Scott (2007, 2011 and 2019) is only the second ever player to score in three separate Women’s World Cup tournaments for England, after Fara Williams (2007, 2011 and 2015). read more