90min’s Definitive European Player Power Rankings: Week 27 – Grace & Frankie Special

Torino FC v SS Lazio - Serie A
Ciro Immobile is Serie A’s top scorer | Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Ligue 1 is long gone and the Bundesliga season may now be over, but there’s still been plenty of football for us to enjoy this week.

And when there’s football, there’s only one thing to do: rank the top 15 performers across Europe right now.

This week, it’s over to the glamorous Grace and Frankie to give us a hand.

Pierre-Emerick AubameyangPierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang netted twice against Norwich | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

“Have you met me? I avoid all hard conversations. It’s why I carry hard liquor.”

His contract conversation might be a tough one, but one thing which isn’t difficult for Aubameyang is scoring goals.

Two more against Norwich takes his tally for the season to 19. Decent.

Kevin De BruyneKevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne tore Liverpool apart | Pool/Getty Images

“Excuse me, have you ever wondered if Ben and Jerry make more than ice cream together?”

Ben and Jerry make outstanding ice cream and De Bruyne makes outstanding passes on the pitch.

He was unplayable in Manchester City’s 4-0 win over Liverpool, ending with one goal and an assist.

Special shout-out to Phil Foden, who’s playing like a man desperate to get in the power rankings.

Edin DzekoEdin Dzeko
Dzeko was not at his best this week | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

“Sol’s probably going to ask you to do an interpretive dance.”
“I don’t think I can. I mean, I could. I mean, I usually see where my body takes me in the moment. Kah! KAH! Kah.”
“Definitely don’t do that.”

Whatever Edin Džeko did over this last week, he should probably try and do the exact opposite next week.

The Roma man drew blanks against both AC Milan and Udinese, and now his side are back in a Europa League battle.

Kai HavertzKai Havertz
Havertz may have played his final Bundesliga game | Pool/Getty Images

“Your struggle is an inspiration to all of us. Here are your Gucci loafers.”

Havertz spent the majority of Bayer Leverkusen’s 1-0 win over Mainz 05 on the bench, watching on as his slide failed to secure a spot in the Champions League.

If you can hear a ringing, it’s probably Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid blowing up Havertz’s phone. Cha-ching.

Sancho’s season did not end well | GUIDO KIRCHNER/Getty Images

“Would you mind taking me back home or setting me on fire?”

Someone just pay up and bring Sancho back to England already.

He lost his spot in the Borussia Dortmund side towards the end of the season and managed just 45 minutes as his side were thumped 4-0 by Hoffenheim. Yikes.

Haaland drew a blank against Hoffenheim | INA FASSBENDER/Getty Images

“This is not the energy I wanted to start my vision quest with.”

That 4-0 loss wasn’t kind to Haaland, who was forced to remember what it’s like not scoring a bazillion goals in 0.3 nanoseconds.

“I just prefer to have everybody like me.”

Nobody liked Sørloth during his time with Crystal Palace, but everyone at Trabzonspor worships the ground he walks on.

He added yet another goal this week, taking his tally for the season to 28 in all competitions – the same amount as parent club Palace have managed in the league this year.

Timo WernerTimo Werner
Timo Werner is already a Chelsea player | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

“I love spinning your bonkers ideas into gold!”

Werner’s decision to snub Bayern last summer was met with ridicule, but now he’s an elite striker and set to pocket close to £300,000-a-week with Chelsea.

Christian PulisicChristian Pulisic
Pulisic was one of few Chelsea players to impress against West Ham | Visionhaus/Getty Images

“Once you see the real me, you are gonna run for the hills.”

Chelsea tried to make sure fans didn’t see Christian Pulisic as a replacement for Eden Hazard, but that hasn’t really worked out.

I mean, he was forced to carry Chelsea in the 3-2 loss to West Ham as nobody else on the team turned up. Sound familiar?

Romelu LukakuRomelu Lukaku
Lukaku endured a tough week | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

“I gained another pound today. But I think it’s a pound of knowledge.”

Once ridiculed for his weight, Lukaku is now slimmer and more prolific than ever.

Well, he didn’t score in either of Inter’s two matches this week, but that’s not the point.

Anthony MartialAnthony Martial
Martial has impressed since the restart | Michael Steele/Getty Images

“I am young. My joints are supple.”

Like Grace and Frankie themselves, Anthony Martial is living his best life now that he has met Bruno Fernandes.

He might not have found the back of the net against Brighton, but his general performance shows just how good he’s feeling these days.

Ciro Immobile, Marco ParoloCiro Immobile, Marco Parolo
Immobile has been unplayable this year | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

“Can we wrap this up? I have to do clubbing.”

One goal against Fiorentina. One goal against Torino. Immobile is a man possessed.

He’s still got a bit of work to do if Lazio are to wrap up the Serie A title – Juventus are four points clear – but there’ll be a whole lot of clubbing to do if he can pull it off. Maybe this weekend, seeing as he’s suspended…

Maurizio Sarri, Cristiano RonaldoMaurizio Sarri, Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo netted twice this week | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

“Sweet, muscular Jesus!”

The man looking to spoil Immobile’s party, Ronaldo was busy doing Ronaldo things this week.

One goal and two assists against Lecce was followed up by another goal against Genoa, keeping Juventus on track for a major league-record ninth consecutive title.

Lionel MessiLionel Messi
Messi did his best to keep Barcelona in the title race | David Ramos/Getty Images

“You can’t see me, you can’t stop me.”

Just imagine where Barcelona would be without Messi.

Made to do all the work for the billionth time this year, Messi bagged two assists against Celta Vigo and was involved in both goals against Atlético Madrid, but even that wasn’t enough to keep Barcelona from dropping behind in the title race.

Messi has now either scored or assisted 21 of Barça’s last 25 La Liga goals – a whopping 84%. Anyone else fancy stepping up?

Robert LewandowskiRobert Lewandowski
Lewandowski won yet another Torjagerkanone | Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

“You know, at my age I only have one speed: breakneck. Of course I don’t call it that. Because it is a very real fear.” 

The Bundesliga season is over and Lewandowski is sitting the power ranking throne.

He fired home one last goal against Wolfsburg – his 34th in just 31 games – and still has the DfB-Pokal final to look forward to.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!


Remembering Italy’s Devastating Counter Attacking Goal Against Germany in World Cup 2006

Alessandro Del Piero
Semi-final Germany v Italy – World Cup 2006 | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Chiudete le valigie amici, andiamo a Berlino!

To all of the world outside of Italy, those words hold very little significance. But to every Azzurri supporter who witnessed one of the greatest and most celebrated World Cup goals in history back in 2006, that sentence is etched into their memories for the rest of time.

Pack your bags everyone, we’re off to Berlin! For Italy, this is their ‘They think it’s all over’ moment.

Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro (L) andItalian defender Fabio Cannavaro (L) and
Italy went on to lift the 2006 World Cup | PASCAL PAVANI/Getty Images

In one of the most gripping matches that international football has ever produced, Italy faced hosts Germany in the 2006 World Cup semi-final, hoping to conquer Dortmund and progress to the nation’s capital.

It was a time of turmoil in Italy, as it came shortly after the calciopoli scandal, which saw giants Juventus relegated for their part in match-fixing offences. Tensions were high between players, supporters and media within the beautiful game, but the country banded together, and what they would go on to achieve was simply remarkable.

A tournament full of drama reached its peak in Dortmund, with both Italy and Germany dealing blow after blow to their opponents, but neither finding the back of the net. Gli Azzurri hit the woodwork twice, going excruciatingly close, while the hosts forced Gianluigi Buffon into some smart saves.

And in the 119th minute – sweet release. Fabio Grosso, one of the many heroes from this brilliant Italy side, broke the deadlock with the purest strike of a football in his career, bending the ball into the top corner from an Andrea Pirlo no-look pass.

Despair for Germany, but ecstasy for Italy. But that iconic moment in World Cup history was soon overshadowed by a counter-attack designed by the Gods, and a passage of play which confirmed Fabio Cannavaro’s status as the best defender in the world, and soon-to-be Ballon d’Or winner.

The move began with a frantic and desperate Germany pumping the ball back into the Italy penalty area, knowing they were only seconds away from elimination from their home tournament. But there was one man whose destiny was to lead his nation to eternal glory.

Cannavaro leapt above his attacker, repelling the ball from the danger zone with one of the most powerful headers in defensive history. But the centre-back wasn’t finished there. Not content with the distance he’d put between danger and goal, Italy’s captain hurtled towards Lukas Podolski in the midfield, and threw his body in the way, chesting the ball to the safety of teammate Francesco Totti.

As far as bravery and drive goes, there’s no better scene that truly epitomises what it means to be a defender and a leader. A moment so great, that commentator Fabio Caressa bellowed in appreciation ‘CANNAVARO, CANNAVARO.’ No other words were needed.

But Italy were not satisfied with simply hoofing the ball downfield, or taking it to the corner flag to waste precious seconds. Totti, a man who would never pass up the opportunity of splitting open a defence, saw Alberto Gilardino pulling to the left of his marker. And naturally, Totti found him with ease.

Gilardino changed his course, and instead chose to dart back inside, surprising the German defence. He waited, waited, waited, and then, when a shooting opportunity seemed to have passed, shocked everyone by playing an inch-perfect reverse ball to his left.

Italian forward Alessandro Del Piero (L)Italian forward Alessandro Del Piero (L)
Italian forward Alessandro Del Piero (L) | AFP/Getty Images

From nowhere, off the picture, from another planet, Alessandro Del Piero came careering into view, charging towards this dead ball, motionless, about 12 yards from goal, to the left of the penalty spot. Jens Lehmann rushed to close him down, but it was no use. This is Ale Del Piero we’re talking about.

The Italian marksman opened up his body, took aim, and fired a curling missile into the top corner, breaking the net and German hearts simultaneously. Game over. Mission complete. Italy were going to Berlin, where they would go on to lift the fourth World Cup of their illustrious history.

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It was a strike that highlighted everything which made this Italy team great. Heart, defensive solidity, a sprinkling of stardust and a ruthless edge which could not be halted. It was a goal which led Cannavaro to become the third defender in history to win the Ballon d’Or. and it was a sweeping 17-second move that will go down as one of the best – and most underrated goals in football history.

What a goal.


Real Madrid Will Live to Regret Achraf Hakimi’s Sale to Inter

Achraf Hakimi
Achraf Hakimi has joined Inter Milan on a five-year deal | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

After two seasons on loan with Borussia Dortmund, honing his craft at the top level in one of the best environments, Achraf Hakimi seemed ready to step up to the plate and carve his name into the prestigious Real Madrid starting lineup.

Or so we thought.

Instead, Madrid have decided to strike while the iron is hot and sell their young full back to Inter for a fee of around £36m. It spells the end to Hakimi’s career with Los Blancos, taking many around the club – who had seen him as the future of the club’s right-hand side – by surprise.

Achraf HakimiAchraf Hakimi
Hakimi made just 17 appearances for Real Madrid’s first team | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

This isn’t the first flash sale of a young talent at Real Madrid and it certainly won’t be the last, but Los Blancos could be kicking themselves sooner rather than later in this instance. Their failure to pull the trigger on keeping Hakimi is comparable to WWE failing to let literally any of their NXT talent carry the torch on the main roster, and it’s always a poor decision.

Hakimi will thrive under Antonio Conte at Inter. Serie A is the perfect league for the Moroccan to continue developing with regular game time, and the system Conte plays is ideal for Hakimi’s versatile playbook.

Naturally a full-back, Hakimi is capable of playing on either flank and excels in attacking situations. He has been used mostly as a right-back by Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund, but has been deployed as a winger, both left and right. He’s managed nine goals and 10 assists in all competitions this season by flirting between the two roles.

Achraf HakimiAchraf Hakimi
Hakimi enjoyed a successful two-year loan with Dortmund | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Conte famously plays his football with wing-backs. He won the Premier League during his time at Chelsea doing so, and has got the best out of a number of players by setting up in such a way. To most people’s surprise, Inter signed Ashley Young in January 2020, but if he was going to play his best game anywhere at this stage in his career, it’s in Italy with Conte.

For Hakimi, the script is no different. Despite him and Young being at opposite ends of their football careers, the two will play a similar game for I Nerazzuri next season. Hakimi will likely assume the role as first-choice right wing-back in a 3-4-3 formation, but his versatility means he can swap wings when necessary, or even push on into a more advanced role with tweaks to the shape.

Another quality that Hakimi possesses is his passing. The 21-year-old has averaged 63 passes per game in the 2019/20 Bundesliga season with a success rate of 85%. This output, combined with his shift of pace, will allow him to breeze down the flank in Serie A and become a suitable option in supporting the attack, if he isn’t starting them himself from deep.

So, how does this affect Real Madrid?

Zinedine Zidane’s side have a stacked roster, and Dani Carvajal has consistently been arguably the best right-back in the world for the last several years. However, the Spaniard turns 29 next January and is likely already in the peak of his career. While it might not have been time to axe him from the starting XI just yet, there would’ve been no harm in a little bit of competition for him in the form of Hakimi, as a gradual transition over the course of a season or two.

James RodriguezJames Rodriguez
Dani Carvajal is at his peak with Real Madrid | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Keeping Hakimi around would’ve allowed for better rotation and higher competition for places, which spurs the side on to keep improving. Failing that, he would’ve been a more than suitable option playing ahead of Carvajal on the right flank.

Inter have found themselves a bargain in Hakimi, and will hope to keep a hold of his services for as long as they can. His performances could be the final piece in the jigsaw that sees them enter a new era of domination once more, or they could be the catalyst for Florentino Perez to re-sign him for Real in a couple of years time.

Either way, though, Real Madrid have shot themselves in the foot by cashing in on their academy graduate right back so soon, sticking within their comfort zone.


Clubs Lionel Messi Could Join if He Really Does Leave Barcelona in 2021

Lionel Messi
Celta de Vigo v FC Barcelona – La Liga Santander | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Lionel Messi has been tipped to leave Barcelona in 2021, the result of mounting problems at Camp Nou. The club’s finances are in a mess, there is criticism of the current board and how the club is run, and things only look like they will get worse before they get better.

Messi has often been linked with moves away from Barça at various points in the past, but frustrations at the club’s growing shortcomings lend at least a degree of plausibility to this one.

Does he go down with a sinking ship, wasting the last few precious years of his career? Or does he bite the bullet and move on while he still can?

The clause that would have allowed him to leave for free this summer has now expired, but Messi’s contract is due to expire at the end of next season, potentially making him a free agent in 2021.

He will have just turned 34 by then but there will no shortage of interest.

Some genuinely plausible and others less so, here are seven clubs he could join…

Previews - Lionel Messi and Antonela Rocuzzo's WeddingPreviews - Lionel Messi and Antonela Rocuzzo's Wedding
Messi supported Newell’s Old Boys back in Argentina | Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

It is common for South American players in Europe to be linked with their boyhood club, often because they usually left very early in their career. In Messi’s case, he made the switch to Barcelona from Newell’s Old Boys in his native Rosario at the age of just 13.

The superstar himself has acknowledged it is a dream of his to play for Newell’s, although just last year he dampened the possibility because it might not be practical for his family.

“I have the dream of being able to play for Newell’s in Argentina, but I don’t know if it’s really going to happen because I have a family that is ahead of my desire,” he told TyC Sports.

“It’s a dream I’ve had since I was little, but I have a family, I have three children, I live in a place that has given me everything and where I am calm and can give my children a spectacular future. We think much more about that than my desire of playing football in Argentina.”

Zinedine ZidaneZinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane has said Messi should stay in La Liga | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Imagine the controversy and fall out of Luis Figo moving from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 and multiply it by 1,000. Then you probably still won’t even be close to what would happen if Messi made the transition from Camp Nou to the Bernabeu.

Real president Florentino Perez was described by Mundo Deportivo back in 2014 as being ‘in love’ with Messi and willing to offer a net annual wage of €25m, plus additional bonuses from adidas.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane has already responded to the exit rumours by saying he doesn’t want to see Messi leave La Liga…but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t stay in Spain and join Los Blancos ?

“I don’t know what will happen but we hope not because he is in this league and we want the best in this league,” Zidane said this week.

Would or could Messi actually do that to Barcelona? It depends how much they p*** him off over the course of the next year. Let’s never forget that Johan Cruyff once joined Ajax’s arch rivals Feyenoord for the sake of proving a point back in the early 1980s.

Neymar Jr, Kylian MbappeNeymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe
Messi joining PSG would mean reuniting with Neymar | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain’s desperation to win the Champions League would surely make Messi an attractive proposition for the French giants.

PSG infamously snatched Neymar from Barcelona in a world record transfer in 2017, the money from which Barça fairly quickly p***ed up the wall, but have still fallen short on the European stage.

Their ambition has previously known little in the way of limits and a two-year contract, say, with all the cost that would entail, might be worth the gamble for them.

It could also have the effect of reuniting Messi with Neymar. And if Kylian Mbappe also commits his long-term future to PSG, can you imagine having those three in one team?

Ashley YoungAshley Young
Inter first tried to sign Messi in 2008 | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

It was a completely different time, but Inter made a serious attempt to sign Messi from Barcelona back in 2008 when he was on the cusp of becoming the best in the world. That was revealed by former Inter director Marco Branca earlier this year in an interview with Libero.

“Yes, we moved for him but Leo did not want to leave Barcelona,” Branca said of the approach.

Inter have remained linked with Messi in the years since and the possibility surface again in 2019 when Pirelli chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera namedropped the six-time Ballon d’Or winner as a ‘why not?’ option. Earlier this year, former Inter president Massimo Moratti also said that signing Messi is ‘no forbidden dream’ for the Nerazzurri.

Inter are keen to cement their place back among Europe’s elite after close to a decade in the relative wilderness and are owned by the extraordinarily wealthy Suning group.

Pep GuardiolaPep Guardiola
Man City have modelled themselves on Barcelona | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

If Messi simply wants to be at a better run version of Barcelona, he might not need to look much further than Manchester City, who have distinctly modelled themselves on the Catalans.

It is no coincidence that three former Barça employees run the day-to-day business and football operations at the Etihad Campus in chief executive Ferran Soriano, director of football Txiki Begiristain and head coach Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola made the decision to build his Barça team around Messi in the late 2000s and it propelled them to become arguably best side of all time. City were linked with a move for the Argentine even before Pep arrived in Manchester, but that could strengthen any chance they have.

Anthony Martial, Marcus RashfordAnthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Messi and Man Utd share adidas as a common partner | Michael Regan/Getty Images

The commercial potential for any club signing Messi is enormous and that screams ‘Manchester United’. When Nike supplied United kits it was rumoured the company would help fund a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo and the same suggestions have been made about adidas and Messi.

The Old Trafford club were most recently linked with Messi earlier this year when his public disagreement with Barça official Eric Abidal hit the headlines.

United have been burned a few times in recent years when signings big names players who aren’t a good fit – Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Alexis Sanchez – and have worked hard to build a new squad. But how often does the chance to sign one of the greatest players of all time come up?

Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo
Imagine Messi on the same team as Cristiano Ronaldo | Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

It has been built into one of the biggest rivalries in sporting history and they spent the best part of a decade diametrically opposed on either side of the Clásico divide in Spain. But maybe, just maybe, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might one day could play together.

It would be an enormous expense for Juventus, who are rumoured to want to cap salaries for new signings to control costs amid the coronavirus crisis. But clubs will hope that the landscape will be more normal in a year’s time, while there could an adidas element here as well.

Although Ronaldo is still very much attached to Nike, for adidas to have both of the world’s era defining superstars housed at one of their partner clubs would be excellent for business.

Could they actually play together, though, or would it be an overbalanced disaster?

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!


Inter Keen to Make Alexis Sanchez Loan Permanent for Fee Around €20m

Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez celebrates scoring against Brescia | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Inter are closing in on a permanent deal for Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez, and are prepared to put €20m on the table for the Chilean.

Sanchez joined Inter on loan in the summer, following Romelu Lukaku to San Siro, but while his former United teammate hit the ground running immediately, injury problems threatened to derail Sanchez’s stay altogether.

A foot issue limited him to just five competitive appearances before the turn of the year, but even after returning in January, Antonio Conte opted to start him just once before lockdown, as the strike force of Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez continued to thrive.

The break seems to have served him well, however, as he has looked a renewed player in his four appearances since. He has scored twice and assisted another two, playing a particularly starring role in the 6-0 thrashing of Brescia, and is fast becoming a valuable player for Conte’s side.

According to Goal, that value is to be recognised in the form of a good offer from the faltering Serie A title challengers. In a bid to keep him at the club beyond the summer, they will reportedly go as high as €20m – around £18m.

That’s an offer United would surely jump at due to the staggering financial turnaround it would ultimately create. As well as the short-term windfall, a permanent deal would clear his £391,000 per week wages from the bill, saving the club a further £20m+ per year.

His current terms at Old Trafford run until 2022, and his salary means that a permanent move to any club other than Inter this summer looks highly unlikely.

Having joined from Arsenal in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January 2018, his transfer will likely go down as one of the worst in the club’s recent history, and there will be plenty at United relieved that an end is now in sight.

For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!


Mauro Icardi Claims He Left Inter for Paris Saint-Germain ‘to Win Titles’

Mauro Icardi
Mauro Icardi has enjoyed a successful first season in Ligue 1 | Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Mauro Icradi has taken a swipe at his former employers Inter, claiming he moved to French champions Paris Saint-Germain ‘to win titles’.

The former Inter captain has spent the past year on loan in the French capital having spent six seasons with the Nerazzurri. A deal has now been agreed between the two sides for Icardi to move to PSG on a permanent basis, with Inter receiving a fee believed to be €58m including add-ons,

Despite notching 111 Serie A goals in his time with Inter, the Argentina international didn’t win a single piece of silverware in his time at the club, while his single season in Ligue 1 has already gleaned a league title.

Mauro IcardiMauro Icardi
Icardi spent six seasons at Inter, eventually being named captain | Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Now, Icardi has claimed he felt he had to leave Inter in order to further develop his career. He told PSG TV: “It was important for me to take a big step in my career.

“I am 27 years old, I spent a lot of time in Italy. I wanted to come to a club like Paris Saint-Germain to win titles and to get to a higher level. It is for these reasons that I wanted to change clubs and evolve in my career.”

The Argentinian played a key role in PSG’s triumphant 2019/20 league campaign, scoring 12 goals and contributing four assists in his 20 league appearances. Icardi’s five goals in six Champions League games have also helped the club progress to the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Mauro IcardiMauro Icardi
Icardi will be back in action for PSG when the Champions League resumes in August | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The 27-year-old will no doubt have a huge part to play in any future success PSG enjoy, with veteran striker Edinson Cavani leaving the club in the near future. The Uruguayan took the decision not to sign a short-term deal which would have seen him eligible to compete in the Champions League in August.

Cavani leaves the club after seven years in Paris. The former Napoli man became PSG’s all-time leading goalscorer in that time, with 200 goals in just 301 appearances.


All Confirmed & Leaked 2020/21 Kits From the Premier League and Around Europe

N'Golo Kante
West Ham United v Chelsea FC – Premier League | Michael Regan/Getty Images

By this time of year, we’d normally be in the full flow of summer. But everything in 2020 has been pushed back several months by the coronavirus crisis, which means it is only now, as the 2019/20 campaign finally nears its end, that fans are beginning to cast their eye to new kits for next season.

Here’s a rundown of every confirmed and leaked Premier League kit for 2020/21 so far, as well as a handful of others from Europe’s biggest clubs.

Home (leaked): The 2020/21 Arsenal home kit looks as though it will use a darker shade of red than the Gunners are typically used to. There is a graphic pattern, which is currently a common theme in shirt design, while the sleeve cuffs appear unusually large.

Away (leaked): The 2020/21 Arsenal away kit is said to be inspired by the iconic marble halls at the club’s former home at Highbury. The shorts are expected to be maroon, paired with white socks, making it a similar look overall to the 2007/08 away strip.

Third (leaked): Peach/light orange trim is a nice complement to the dark blue base colour of Arsenal’s expected third shirt. The graphic is subtle yet serves to give it a definite wow factor.

Home: They may not even be a Premier League team by next season, but Bournemouth are already wearing their 2020/21 home kit following its launch last month – and it’ll be available to buy on the club’s store.

Home: Chelsea say the herringbone-knit pattern featured on their 2020/21 shirt is inspired by fine London tailoring. It features dark blue trim rather than typical white trim, and is the first Chelsea jersey to feature mobile network Three as the primary sponsor. It’s available from 9 July on Nike’s website.

Away (leaked): Not a great deal is known about Chelsea’s 2020/21 away kit other than its expected colour scheme. It is thought that the main colour will be a light shade of blue, matched with darker blue trim, and likely some sort of design graphic.

Third (leaked): The third kit Chelsea will wear next season incorporates a striped design that no matter how hard you try looks distinctly like something Crystal Palace would wear. The stripes fade out halfway through the jersey, which is arguably more bizarre.

Home (concept): We know that Everton have entered into a new kit deal with cult brand Hummel and we know that car seller Cazoo will be the primary sponsor – and we’ll find out more when it’s released on Friday.

Home (leaked): The new Liverpool home shirt, the first made by Nike following the switch from New Balance, takes things back to the 1990s. The green trim on the V-neck and sleeve cuffs is similar to that which featured on a home kit worn from 1993 to 1995.

Away (leaked): The away kit Liverpool will be wearing for 2020/21 is ‘hyper turquoise’. The striking graphic design is said to have been inspired by the iconic Shankly Gates at Anfield and a release date is expected some time in August.

Goalkeeper (leaked): Jerseys will come in black and yellow for Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker next season, but there is more to the design than simply plain colours. You may not that the overall design is the same as the earlier Chelsea goalkeeper shirt.

Home (leaked): A mosaic design will make up the new 2020/21 Manchester City, with mosaics a distinct part of the modern Manchester art scene. City have had blue home shorts in the past, but they are expected to stay white next season.

Away (leaked):

Third (leaked):

Home (leaked): Manchester United’s expected new home shirt is not a dissimilar look to the club’s 2016/17 blue away strip. The patterning breaks up the base colour for a much more bold and interesting design than simply plain red.

Away (leaked): Although it might look black at first glance, United’s rumoured 2020/21 away kit is actually ‘legacy green’. Of the three, shirts the club will use next season, it is expected to be the first to drop because it was originally scheduled for a May release.

Third (leaked): The ‘dazzle camo’ pattern of United’s expected third shirt for next season has had plenty of people talking and will be a new and unique direction. The print actually finds its roots in 20th century naval warfare when ships were painted a similar way as a defence tactic.

Goalkeeper (leaked): United have a few bold and ‘out there’ goalkeeper shirts over the last 10 years, but this rumoured design for 2020/21 might be the most garish of the lot. The graphic pattern under the arms and on the side panels are a bit love/hate.

Home (leaked): This image of the 2020/21 Spurs kit that has been widely circulated online appears to be a counterfeit version of the real expected design. Like most clubs, Spurs will have a graphic design incorporated into the shirt, while yellow returns as a trim colour.

Away (leaked): The expected Spurs away kit for next season is predominantly dark green, featuring pale yellow logos. The rest of the trim will be black, but there is also going to be an element of pink trim to it as well.

Third (leaked): Yellow has been a Spurs colour in the past and will return as the 2020/21 third strip, featuring both yellow shorts and yellow socks in addition to the shirt. The club crest and Nike will be positioned centrally.

Home: West Ham launched their 2020/21 shirt on the club’s 125th anniversary, with a special badge marking the landmark. The actual design, meanwhile, pays tribute to the golden era of the 1960s when Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were wearing claret and blue – and is available on the club’s store immediately.

Home (leaked): Wolves are expected to adopt a black sleeves look in 2020/21, which would only be the second time they have ever done so. Black sleeves previously appeared on Wolves jersey in 2014/15 and from 1996 to 1998.

Home (leaked): Yellow will return as a prominent trim colour to Barcelona’s 2020/21 home shirt. The thick neckline in particular brings back memories of the 2010/11 season when Barça could lay genuine claim to being the greatest team of all time.

Third (leaked): A pink shirt with black and green trim will be part of Barcelona’s wardrobe in 2020/21. The shirt is expected to be worn with black short, and matched with green socks that feature the pink trim. It’s not a combination that seems to obviously go together.

Home (leaked): Pink trim looks set to adorn the new Real Madrid 2020/21 home kit. The V-neck design looks like a throwback from adidas to the early 1990s, while the sleeve cuffs, not visible in this image, are expected, to have a pink and black pattern.

Away (leaked): Real had a vivid pink change strip in 2014/15 and a coral third kit last season. On both occasions the trim colour was white, but 2020/21’s pink kit will feature navy blue trim instead. The design itself is actually very plain and simple, leaving the colour to do the work.

Third (leaked): Real will stick with the pink theme for the third kit as well, serving as trim for an otherwise black design. Intrigue comes from quite a distinctive graphic.

Home (leaked): Atletico Madrid’s trademark stripes look like they will be given a very traditional makeover for 2020/21. The collar and button are a distinct throwback to the past and it is noticeably a darker shade of blue trim and recent times.

Home (leaked): Gold is expected to be the trim colour of choice for Juventus in 2020/21. The home shirt also moves away from having very bold and defined black and white to more of an abstract look that makes seem a bit more raw and artistic.

Away (leaked): The away kit Juventus are expected to wear in 2020/21 appears much plainer and simpler, although there is a little bit of flair in the sleeve cuffs to add something else to it.

Third (leaked): ‘Artistic’ doesn’t quite cut it to describe Juve’s expected third jersey. The striking combination of orange and black is a complementing contrast that may even have the effect of players appearing as a blur as they run.

Home: The new 2020/21 shirt swaps Inter’s traditional stripes for wavy zigzags to bring a fresh perspective to a classic look. It is inspired by the city of Milan and design movement that developed and thrived there in the 1980s – and is available on Nike’s website now.

Away (leaked): Inter seems to be really going for it in 2020/21 and will definitely get noticed every time they walk onto the pitch. There is no obvious symmetry to the colour of the lines on the white background, although on closer inspection you can tell they alternate.

Third (leaked): Is this the ultimate throwback? The hooped Inter jersey from the Ronaldo years could be about to make a comeback more than 20 years on. Pictures of the Brazilian superstar wearing a kit like this are iconic.

Home: Bayern have brought back a classic and simple design for 2020/21. Fans have fought a campaign for home colours to be red and white only and the club listened, which means navy blue may never be seen on a Bayern home shirt again. Catch it now on adidas’ website.

Home: Dortmund’s electrifying new home shirt has caused a stir on social media since its launch. It is also the first to feature new sponsor 1&1 on the front – and is available now from the club’s online store.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!


Achraf Hakimi Completes Move to Inter From Real Madrid

Inter’s new signing Achraf Hakimi | GUIDO KIRCHNER/Getty Images

Real Madrid have confirmed the sale of Achraf Hakimi to Inter, in a move that is expected to be worth up to €45m.

Hakimi’s majestic form during his two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund saw him emerge as a potential transfer target for a whole host of European clubs this summer, with Real Madrid willing to let the Moroccan depart on a permanent basis this time around.

However, it’s Inter who have won the race after the Nerazzurri agreed on an initial €40m fee – including €5m in add ons – with Los Blancos and moved swiftly to convince Hakimi that the blue and black side of Milan was the right place to further his career.

Full details have not yet been released but it’s understood he’s penned a five-year deal in Milan.

Inter fans can look forward to welcoming one of the most exciting full-back prospects on the planet, one who won’t take long to displace Victor Moses on the right-hand side of Antonio Conte’s back five – a role in which he’s made it clear he’s suited to.

Speaking to the BBC last month, the Moroccan said: “I think I like the right-back role – but I like to go on the attack all the time. I like to play as a winger too, and sometimes I feel as if I want to play as a striker. But I think right-back is good.”

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Hakimi will be a key figure in Inter’s system for the foreseeable future | Lars Baron/Getty Images

He was vague in that interview about his future, saying at the time: “I think next I need to relax a little bit. For my head and my body. Then after I need to think about everything – what I have and what is better for me. I want to continue to play, like I have done since I was 17 years old.

“I want to play all the time like I have done over these last two years with Dortmund. If I play regularly, I think I can be a good player – you learn more and become better.I don’t care where, you know. I think only that wherever I go, I go to play.”


Alexis Sanchez Can Thrive if Handed Second Chance at Inter

Alexis Sanchez
FC Internazionale v US Sassuolo – Serie A | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

I know it feels like a lifetime ago, but close your eyes and try to remember just how good Alexis Sanchez used to be. The Chilean star was a ball of energy, industry and determination, with a spark and talent that could simply win matches on its own.

The winger grew into his Arsenal career, posting the best numbers in his final full season with the club. That was 24 league goals and five assists, if you were wondering. Those statistics deserve extra credit when you consider just how average Arsenal were in his last years at the club, and how much of their success was down to his individual brilliance.

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West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal – Premier League | Michael Steele/Getty Images

But that’s where the Alexis Sanchez story takes a turn. From action hero to Greek tragedy, the 31-year-old has suffered a monumental fall from grace ever since the January of 2018. The decline began with a move to Manchester United, and with all the talk surrounding whether he’d justify the astronomical wages he was receiving, the forward seemed set up for failure from the off.

A poor first half-season with the Red Devils left many questioning his motives for the switch, and just how up for the fight he was. And suspicions that he had become too comfortable collecting his pay packet every week intensified during the 2018/19 campaign, when he managed only one goal in 20 appearances, and generally looked miles off the pace.

And that was that. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man Utd revolution had no space for the flagging Chilean, and in desperate need of shifting a chunk of his salary off the books, the Premier League side sent Sanchez packing to Italy.

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Huddersfield Town v Manchester United – Premier League | Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Inter were the gamblers on this occasion, eyeing an opportunity to help one of this generation’s greatest talents to recapture his stellar form of yesteryear. I Nerazzurri went all in on the winger, but they hadn’t accounted for a joker in the pack.

Rotten luck. Inter coach Antonio Conte took his time bedding Sanchez into the fold, and it was in his third appearance that we began to see flashes of the electric star of old. Scoring an instinctive maiden goal and running Sampdoria ragged, the winger was playing some of his best football in 18 months, before receiving his marching orders for two bookable offences.

It was a hammer blow having delivered such a dominant display, but it was a possible sign of things to come.

Or not.

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FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli – Coppa Italia: Semi Final | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Sanchez picked up a nasty injury on international duty, and was subsequently kept out of action until mid-January. Since then, he has been trying to get back up to speed, but he’s taking his time. A costly risk from Inter, then?

Well, a mistake they’re considering making twice, by the sounds of things. Despite another 12 months of frustration for Sanchez, I Nerazzurri are being linked with another season-long loan for the Man Utd man, given that his future appears to be far from Old Trafford.

And although many will be left scratching their heads at the possibility of Sanchez securing a second stint in Serie A, there is some method to the madness.

Managers love rescuing the careers of underachieving performers, and Conte is no exception. During his time at Chelsea, he managed to turn Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses into world beaters, while generally building a side greater than the sum of its parts.

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Chelsea v Leicester City – Premier League | Ian Walton/Getty Images

And the Italian will be confident that given an entire summer of working with Sanchez, and following the first year of learning his trade in Italy, he’ll be better placed to hit the ground running this time round.

Not to mention, on the rare occasion that he has taken to the field fully fit, he’s threatened to remember how to play football – including a match-winning display against Brescia on Wednesday evening. And for anyone who is still daring to question Sanchez’s hunger, he’s playing for the one manager who can light a fire under just about anyone. Desire won’t be an issue.

With Inter spending big on wing-backs (shock) in Achraf Hakimi this summer, and looking to secure the jewel of Italian football in Sandro Tonali, there may not be a lot of money left in the pot to improve their attacking options.

So extending Sanchez’s loan would give Conte one less headache in the market, while simultaneously allowing them to pour cash into other more valuable areas in the team. And having a player of the Chilean’s positional flexibility is a manager’s dream.

The ex-Barcelona star can play out wide, through the middle or as a second striker, providing his coach with a plethora of opportunities to introduce him into proceedings from the substitute’s bench. And as far as impact subs go, he would be one of the best.

But Sanchez still has the ability and quality to nail down a starting spot in this Inter side, and help turn them into the title contenders they should have been this season. More importantly though, should Conte decide to take a chance on him again, it’ll show that he has the drive and the heart to get back to the top of European football.

And that’s something we can all get behind.


Man Utd Confirm Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling Loan Extensions to End of 2019/20 Serie A Season

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez & Chris Smalling will remain on loan at Inter & Roma respectively | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Manchester United have confirmed that Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling will spend the remainder of the 2019/20 season on loan at Inter and Roma respectively.

Both loan deals were due to expire at the end of June, which would ordinarily have been after the end of the season. But temporary extensions until the first week of August will allow each player to remain on loan until the end of the Serie A season.

UEFA Europa League"KAA Gent v AS Roma"UEFA Europa League"KAA Gent v AS Roma"
Smalling has impressed since joining Roma on loan | ANP Sport/Getty Images

With both Inter and Roma still in the Europa League, which won’t resume until later in August, it remains to be seen if further extensions will be granted that allow Sanchez and Smalling to compete.

Sanchez played only 45 times for United in 18 months following a marquee transfer from Arsenal in January 2018. It was hoped that a strong spell at Inter might boost his transfer value, only for the Chilean’s season at San Siro to be limited by injury.

Sanchez missed the whole of October, November and December and has only been a bit-part player for Inter on his return to fitness. The financial impact of the coronavirus crisis and his enormous wages will also make it difficult for United to move him ahead of next season.

Sanchez was an expensive mistake for United | OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Smalling has enjoyed a much more successful stint in Italy and has been hailed for his resurgent form while in action for Roma. Despite once looking like potential captain material at Old Trafford, the final nail in Smalling’s United coffin came with the £80m summer signing of Harry Maguire.

The centre-back has been linked with a handful of clubs as a result of his performances, with Roma also thought to be interested in sealing a permanent deal of their own.

Already this week, United have agreed to temporarily extend the loan deal until the end of the Premier League season for emerging goalkeeping star Dean Henderson at Sheffield United.

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