Timo Werner Hints at Man Utd Interest as He Reveals Top Clubs ‘Fought’ for His Signature

Timo Werner
Chelsea bound striker Timo Werner | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Chelsea bound Timo Werner has suggested that several top European clubs were chasing his signature before he opted to make the switch to Stamford Bridge.

The German rounded off his four-year spell at RB Leipzig with a match-winning brace at Augsburg on Saturday, taking his Bundesliga goalscoring tally up to 28 for the season as Die Roten Bullen finished 16 points behind champions Bayern Munich in third.

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Werner’s final goal in Leipzig goals was a well-taken match-winner against Augsburg at the weekend | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Werner agreed to join Chelsea at the start month and recently confirmed he won’t take part in Leipzig’s Champions League campaign in August. Instead, he’ll join up with Frank Lampard’s squad on 1 July.

And in a recent interview with German news outlet Sportbuzzer, Werner revealed his decision to join the Blues was a relatively simple one, despite attracting the interest of Europe’s elite.

“I agreed a few weeks ago,” he said. “The whole thing was quite unproblematic because I had a lot of time to think about it before the Corona [virus] period.

“It’s no secret that there were several offers.”

When asked about a potential move to other reported suitors – namely Manchester United, Liverpool and Inter – the 24-year-old replied: “It could have been. There were some top clubs that fought for me. The entire Chelsea London package was the best for me, my game and my career.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Kieran McKennaOle Gunnar Solskjaer, Kieran McKenna
Manchester United were understood to be one of the side’s pursuing a deal for Werner this summer | Pool/Getty Images

“The game is played more often in England than in Germany, so there is not much time left for training. But it’s true: I still have to prove myself and go full throttle.”

Despite his imminent arrival in west London, Werner won’t be legible to represent the Blues until next season.

Nevertheless, the announcement of the deal for the Germany international kickstarted a fantastic month for Chelsea fans.

The Blues have won three out of three since their return to action, including an impressive 2-1 victory against Manchester City and a 1-0 win at Leicester which secured progression into the FA Cup semi-finals, where they’ll take on United next month.

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Achraf Hakimi Posts Farewell Message to Borussia Dortmund as He Prepares for Inter Medical

Achraf Hakimi
Achraf Hakimi is joining Inter after 2-year Dortmund loan | Lars Baron/Getty Images

Achraf Hakimi has bid farewell to Borussia Dortmund, the club where he has spent the last two years on loan from Real Madrid, as he prepares to now join Inter.

Hakimi, who has developed into one of the top full-backs in Europe during his time at Dortmund, is believed to have arrived in Milan ahead of undergoing an Inter medical.

The deal is worth a reported €40m plus add-ons and appears to be a steal for an ambitious Inter.

Hakimi had joined Dortmund in the summer of 2018 when he was still just a teenager and struggling to establish himself in the first-team back at Madrid.

The Spanish-born Morocco international has played 73 times for Dortmund in his two seasons in Germany, scoring 12 goals. Nine of those goals came in 2019/20 alone.

“The time has come to close a beautiful stage in my life. After two wonderful years, I’m ready to this club that has given me so much joy,” Hakimi said in a statement posted on social media.

“From the first moment, the care and attention by the club and the city has been amazing. Now I know that I was right to choose Dortmund as my home two years ago.

“I want to thank all my teammates, the coaching staff and all the club’s staff for the love and trust they have shown me at all times. I also want to thank the wonderful fans who have supported us unconditionally in every game. I’ll never forget the Yellow Wall, which is simply wonderful.

“Finally, I would to thank my friends and family for supporting me at all times. I hope that one day our paths will cross again. See you soon, Borussia Dortmund.”

Achraf HakimiAchraf Hakimi
Hakimi has thrived on loan at Dortmund | TF-Images/Getty Images

90min revealed earlier this month that Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham were among the sides to have enquired about Hakimi, while Dortmund were also desperate to sign the 21-year-old to a permanent deal. But Inter are the club that has won the race.

The player himself had spoken about the possibility of returning to the Bernabeu and trying to establish himself at Real, although he has always been open to moving on.

“If Real Madrid want me to go back, I’ll go back. And if not, I will need to write the next chapter at another great club,” the player said when asked about his future in early June.

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

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Inter vs Brescia Preview: How to Watch on TV, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

Victor Moses, Romelu Lukaku, Danilo D'Ambrosio, Lautaro Martinez, Roberto Gagliardini, Ashley Young, Niccolo Barella
Inter celebrate a win from behind against Parma | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Antonio Conte’s Inter continue their dwindling Serie A title challenge with the visit of relegation-threatened Brescia to San Siro on Wednesday evening.

A late comeback victory against Parma on the weekend failed to reduce the eight point gap between Inter and leaders Juventus, with Lazio nestled between the two.

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Alessandro Bastoni scores Inter’s 97th-minute winner against Parma | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Brescia’s concerns, on the other hand, revolve around proceedings at the other end of the table. The Little Swallows are on the cusp of being cut adrift at the foot of Serie A, sitting 19th, eight points from safety.

When Is Kick Off? Wednesday 1 July
What Time Is Kick Off? 18:30 (GMT)
Where is it Played? San Siro
TV Channel/Live Stream? Premier Sports 1 (UK), ESPN+ (US)

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Marcelo Brozovic is yet to make an appearance in Serie A since the restart | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Inter narrowly prevailed against Parma in the absence of first-choice centre-back Milan Skriniar who will also miss the visit of Brescia as he serves the second of a three game suspension following his red card against Sassuolo. The injury woes which have plagued Stefano Sensi’s debut season at Inter continue – with Matías Vecino also ruled out – but the biggest loss comes in the form of his fellow central midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

The 27-year-old Croatia international is pivotal to Conte’s system but has missed all three of their Serie A games since the restart with a calf injury and is limited to individual training at the moment. His inclusion on Wednesday is as yet undecided.

Mario Balotelli continues to be overlooked after falling out with the club’s hierarchy over supposedly unauthorised absences from training. Brescia will also be without the quartet of regulars; Andrea Cistana, Jhon Chancellor, Dmitri Bisoli and Emanuele Ndoj.

Inter: Handanovic; Godín, De Vrij, Bastoni; Moses, Barella, Gagliardini, Biraghi; Eriksen; Lukaku, Martínez.

Brescia: Joronen; Sabelli, Papetti, Sabellini, Semprini; Bjanason, Tonali, Dessena; Zmrhal; Torregrossa, Donnarumma.

Gian Marco Ferrari, Giangiacomo MagnaniGian Marco Ferrari, Giangiacomo Magnani
Inter conspired to lose the lead not once but twice in their 3-3 draw with Sassuolo | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Dropped points in a bizarre encounter with Sassuolo last week saw the Nerazzurri live up to their unwanted moniker of ‘Pazza Inter’ – Crazy Inter, as they eventually drew 3-3. Conte’s side then spent the best part of an hour trailing to Parma on Sunday, snatching all three points with two goals in the final six minutes of the match.

Two draws from their first two games back may not sound like earth shattering form but for a Brescia side which last tasted victory a fortnight before Christmas Eve, going 180 minutes without defeat is significant.

Here’s how both teams have fared in their last five outings.

Inter

Parma 1-2 Inter (28/6)
Inter 3-3 Sassuolo (24/6)
Inter 2-1 Sampdoria (21/6)
Napoli 1-1 Inter (13/6)
Juventus 2-0 Inter (8/3)

Brescia

Brescia 2-2 Genoa (27/6)
Fiorentina 1-1 Brescia (22/6)
Sassuolo 3-0 Brescia (9/3)
Brescia 1-2 Napoli (21/2)
Juventus 2-0 Brescia (16/2)

Christian EriksenChristian Eriksen
Christian Eriksen has improved since Inter’s return post-lockdown | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Since Serie A’s return, Conte has made a slight, but significant, tweak to the tried and tested 3-5-2, shifting January signing Christian Eriksen into a number ten position behind Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez.

The trio combined superbly against Sampdoria in the first league game back but the cohesion has been limited since. Against a Brescia side who tend to sit back and have the third-worst defensive record in the division (and third-worst attacking return) Eriksen should have plenty of time and space to find the team’s prolific duo up front.

Prediction: Inter 3-0 Brescia

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Parma 1-2 Inter: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Nerazzurri Late Show Keeps Them in Scudetto Race

Inter celebrate their late, late win
Inter celebrate their late, late win | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Inter came from behind late on to beat Parma 2-1 on Sunday night, just about keeping their faint Scudetto hopes alive.

A disjointed first-half performance from Inter saw the hosts take full advantage, as former Arsenal man Gervinho gave Parma the lead 15 minutes in after some crafty footwork sat Antonio Candreva down.

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Gervinho scored the opener with an impressive finish | Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Images

Andreas Cornelius – fresh off the back of his hat-trick at Genoa last time out – meanwhile, spurned several glorious opportunities in the opening period, as Inter struggled to deal with Parma’s dynamic but well-balanced front three throughout.

A fast start was required by the visitors after the break and although their performance levels certainly improved, they were kept at bay by a resolute Parma backline while the hosts continued to threaten on the break.

However, just as it appeared the Gialloblu would comfortably hold on to their lead, Inter struck twice in the final ten minutes to snatch victory. The ever-impressive Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni scored either side of Juraj Kucka’s dismissal to hand the Nerazzurri a mightily important three points.

Starting XI: Pepe (6); Laurini (6), Dermaku (8), Alves (7), Gagliolo (6); Kucka (5), Scozzarella (7), Kurtic (7); Kulusevski (8), Cornelius (6), Gervinho (8).

Subs: Pezzella (6), Hernani (5), Regini (6), Darmian (N/A), Brugman (N/A).

Key Talking Point

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Antonio Conte was forced to watch his side’s victory from the stands due to suspension | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

No Marcelo Brozovic. No Milan Skriniar. Antonio Conte suspended. Inter’s trip to Parma was always going to be a difficult one – a ground they’ve won at just five times in their last 25 visits no less – and that’s exactly how it proved on Sunday night.

The Nerazzurri were nothing short of woeful for much of the contest; they were exposed in defensive transition once more without Brozovic, while their two outside centre backs struggled mightily against Gervinho and Dejan Kulusevski.

Going forward, meanwhile, Lautaro Martinez looked woefully out of sorts, Christian Eriksen was marked out the contest by Matteo Scozarella, and the wing-backs continued to be ineffective. Overall, they regularly failed to combine and penetrate a sturdy Parma backline.

But hey, it’s that Conte grinta – even if he was only watching from the stands – and their late show on Sunday night out of nowhere means they’re still in this title race with ten games to go. Just about.

Starting XI: Handanovic (6); D’Ambrosio (5), De Vrij (8*), Godin (4); Candreva (5), Barella (5), Gagliardini (5), Biraghi (5); Eriksen (5); Lautaro (4), Lukaku (5).

Subs: Alexis (7), Moses (6), Young (5), Bastoni (7), Valero (N/A).

A confident Cornelius ensured the Dutchman didn’t have the easiest of outings, but the typically superb Inter defender was by far the Nerazzurri’s best player on the night.

Stefan De VrijStefan De Vrij
Stefan de Vrij equalised for Inter | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

It was an intriguing duel with Cornelius throughout, but De Vrij’s aggression often saw him come out on top. With Inter’s back three failing to receive any sort of protection from its unathletic wing-backs and a midfield that’s easily bypassed without Brozo, De Vrij did well at times to thwart dangerous three-on-three situations with astute positioning and smart anticipation.

It didn’t help that his two centre back partners were often overwhelmed throughout either.

Nevertheless, a sound defensive display by Serie A’s finest defender was rewarded with a goal, as he headed home from Lautaro’s nod across goal. It was his strike which served as the catalyst for Bastoni’s winner soon after.

Next up for Inter is a home clash against Serie B bound Brescia on Wednesday night before they take on Bologna at San Siro on Sunday afternoon.

Parma, meanwhile, will travel to surprise package Hellas Verona on Wednesday before hosting Fiorentina at the weekend.

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An XI of the Best Players Sold by José Mourinho

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has let a few gems slip through his fingers over the years | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

José Mourinho’s famously ruthless approach to management has earned him no shortage of trophies over his career, guiding him to league titles with four different clubs, and European titles with three.

The downside, however, is that it has also seen him drop a few clangers on the transfer front.

Has he dropped so many clangers that you can pick an entire Mourinho clanger starting XI? Well…

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Cech is the most high-profile goalkeeper let go by Mourinho | OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

OK so actually they’re not all clangers. By the time Mourinho was starting what would be his final season with Chelsea, Cech was 33, out of favour to Thibaut Courtois, and clearly wanted out to play first-team football.

Regardless, the decision to allow him to leave and eventually join bitter rivals Arsenal on a free transfer was not a popular one.

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Johnson takes the gloves from Carlo Cudicini | Stu Forster/Getty Images

Famously (or not so much) the first signing of the Roman Abramovich era, Johnson treaded the well-beaten path from West Ham to Chelsea, but struggled to win Mourinho’s favour.

His finest hour came when he went in goal for an FA Cup tie with Newcastle after Carlo Cudicini was sent off late on, and before long he was sold to Portsmouth.

William Gallas, Jose MourinhoWilliam Gallas, Jose Mourinho
Gallas and Mourinho at Chelsea training | Ben Radford/Getty Images

After being moved on to Arsenal in exchange for Ashley Cole in 2006, Chelsea bizarrely alleged that Gallas threatened to score own goals if he wasn’t sold.

Gallas denied that, and former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri and PFA chief Gordon Taylor expressed doubt.

Mourinho never directly commented, but never made a secret of the fact he was not Gallas’ biggest fan.

Bonucci was never fancied by Mourinho at San Siro, and within a year of the Portuguese’s arrival, he was moved onto Genoa as a sweetener in a deal for Diego Milito and Thiago Motta – not a bad double signing.

Bonucci, though, went on to become one of the best Italian defenders ever.

Cole was signed during Mourinho’s first tenure – controversially from Arsenal – and stayed at the club until 2014, by which point Mourinho was in the midst of his second spell.

He didn’t last long, however, losing his spot in the team to Cesar Azpilcueta, before being released at the end of his contract.

Contrary to popular belief, Mohamed Salah was never actually sold by Mourinho – Mourinho was sacked before his loan to Roma could be made permanent.

But that’s OK, because we’ve got another player who specialises in drifting in from the right onto his left foot.

Robben never quite got on with Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, and was sold to Real Madrid for a then-stratospheric £30m in 2007.

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De Bruyne wasn’t fancied by Mourinho at Chelsea | NICOLAS ASFOURI/Getty Images

This one isn’t covering him in glory, is it?

Kevin de Bruyne: signed for Manchester City for £70m, top of the Premier League assist charts for two years running, and one of the best midfielders in the world.

Also Kevin de Bruyne: sold by Chelsea for less than £20m in 2014.

Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho (C) spInter Milan manager Jose Mourinho (C) sp
Mourinho and Vieira together at Inter | AFP/Getty Images

It takes some cojones to look Patrick Vieira in the eye after a bad performance and tell him he’s played his last game for the club.

That’s what Mourinho did, however. Within 48 hours of an underwhelming performance against Chievo in 2010, Vieira was shipped out to Manchester City, joining former Arsenal Invincibles Kolo Touré and Sylvinho.

It’s quite incredible the extent to which Depay wasn’t fancied by Mourinho at Manchester United. He played a grand total of 20 Premier League minutes spread over four appearances, and was removed from their squad for the Europa League knockout stages – despite being otherwise fit and eligible.

He was later sold for less than half of the £30m United paid for him two years earlier, but has revived his career in some style at Lyon.

Jose Mourinho, Romelu LukakuJose Mourinho, Romelu Lukaku
Mourinho and Lukaku at Manchester United | Michael Regan/Getty Images

A couple of successful loans with West Brom and Everton had Lukaku’s stock at an all-time high by 2014, and with Diego Costa having just arrived from Atlético Madrid, the decision was taken to cash in rather than give him a chance to impress.

Mourinho and Lukaku would go on to work together again down the line, when the Portuguese brought him on board at United.

With Mourinho in the dugout and Zlatan leading the line, Inter were never going to be short of self-esteem, were they?

The big Swede left after just one season under the Special One, but not before scoring 25 goals, winning the Serie A player of the year award, and claiming a league title for the sixth successive time in his career.

Like Lukaku, he would later reunite with Mourinho in Manchester…but that was substantially less successful.

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

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane
Liverpool won their first Premier League title this past week | Pool/Getty Images

Following a week in which:

– Liverpool WON their first league title in three decades.

– Bayern Munich WON their first league title in 12 months.

– Arsenal WON their first game of football in a lifetime.

We, with a martini glass in one hand and an edible in the other, rank the current 15 best teams in Europe using quotes from Netflix OG classic ‘Grace and Frankie’.

Now Im Ready Lily Tomlin GIF by Grace and Frankie - Find & Share on GIPHY
Borussia Dortmund v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - BundesligaBorussia Dortmund v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Bundesliga
BVB were thumped in their final game of the season | Martin Rose/Getty Images

“I played by all the rules! Why didn’t you tell me there weren’t any rules, it’s not fair!”

Life isn’t fair if you’re a Borussia Dortmund fan.

Your club has done everything by the book. It’s developed wonderkids, it’s made clever signings within a tight budget, it’s released cool hipster kits, and it’s even played expansive, attacking football.

And yet, BVB still are a million miles away from challenging Bayern Munich atop of the Bundesliga.

It’s not fair!

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Man City suffered a costly defeat at Stamford Bridge | PAUL CHILDS/Getty Images

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

Poor little Manchester City.

On Wednesday night, the plucky little Citizens heartbreakingly slipped to a defeat a Stamford Bridge which saw them relinquish Premier League crown.

Wee critters.

So how will they bounce back from such a cruel fate? Well probably by signing £500m worth of new players.

Gerard MorenoGerard Moreno
Moreno scored a wonderful goal on Sunday | Quality Sport Images/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.”

Santi Cazorla only knows one speed at this point of his career: breakankle.

Of course he doesn’t call it that, because that is a very real fear, but the little Spanish midfielder’s sheer willingness to say ‘f–k it’ (two Grace and Frankie quotes in one entry, what a time to be alive) and try whatever idea – no matter how audacious – that pops into his head, is commendable.

This past weekend he did exactly that, by catching the whole Valencia defence off guard with a wonderfully weighted first-time volleyed pass to Gerard Moreno – who thankfully then smashed the ball into the top corner.

Saul NiguezSaul Niguez
Atleti have been in good form since the restart | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

“We are both formidable people who detest children.”

Atletico Madrid have been pretty formidable opponents since La Liga’s restart. Diego Simeone’s side made it four wins out of the last five in the league at the weekend with a 2-1 win over Alaves.

Yes, they scored more than one goal in a game; the second time they achieved that feat since the restart. Scary stuff.

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
It’s been a stressful week for Conte | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

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

Inter, this the not the energy your fans wanted to start your hunt for the Scudetto with.

Not at all.

Instead of kickstarting their post-COVID title challenge with three wins over three teams that they really should be beating, Inter could only muster two very very hard fought wins and a draw. And that draw, bah gawd, that 3-3 draw at home to Sassuolo – a team coming off the back of a thumping at the hands of Atalanta – would’ve felt like a defeat.

Harry KaneHarry Kane
Kane scored a goal for Spurs | Julian Finney/Getty Images

“When you left, I thought my life was over. I can’t sleep in that big f—ing bed without him. But I did it. And now I love having that bed to myself, it’s fantastic, I sleep in a giant X! You know what this means? Im okay, and I’m going to be okay. Ta-da, congratulate me.”

When Mauricio Pochettino left, we thought Tottenham’s time as a top side was over. They couldn’t win a game without him. But then they did. And now, with Harry Kane and co. back fully fit, things are going rather well. They snatched and entertaining draw with Man Utd and then a comfortable win over West Ham! You know what that means? They’re okay, and they’re going to be okay.

Ta-da, congratulate them.

Adama TraoreAdama Traore
Traore has been on form in recent weeks | Sam Bagnall – AMA/Getty Images

“Sweet, muscular Jesus!”

Sweet, muscular Adama Traore!

The guy is unbelievable. As athletically gifted as anyone in the sport, and as talented on the ball as anyone in the Premier League, Traore has been the literal driving force behind Wolves’ exceptional recent form.

If they can keep hold of him they may, someday, be as good as my FM20 Wolves team – which recently won the league and cup double.

Jonas HofmannJonas Hofmann
Gladbach will be in the Champions League next season | Lars Baron/Getty Images

“I love spinning your bonkers ideas into gold.”

Marco Rose’s tactical setup is a bit bonkers, but it’s been turned into gold at Borussia Monchengladbach this season.

Against all odds, Gladbach have counter-attacked their way to Champions League qualification.

Gonzalo HiguainGonzalo Higuain
Higuain was back in the Juve team | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

“I struggle to believe you.”

On paper, the 4-0 win over Lecce is quite an impressive one. You may say it’s a return to form.

On paper.

But (big, fat, stinking football cliche incoming) football isn’t played on paper.

If you watched Juve’s win over Lecce, you probably still have reservations over Maurizio Sarri’s side and know full well that, while they’re four points clear at the top of the table, it’s still all to play for in Serie A.

Odion IghaloOdion Ighalo
Ighalo was on target for Man Utd at the weekend | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“Everybody needs to toughen up and get me resurrected before I really lose my s–t!”

Are Man Utd back?

Nearrrrlllllyyyyyy.

If they win the FA Cup and sneak into the top four, they will definitely will be, if they don’t then their fans will definitely lose their s–t.

Ross Barkley, Tammy AbrahamRoss Barkley, Tammy Abraham
Chelsea beat Man City and Leicester in the space of a week | Pool/Getty Images

“I am young. My joints are supple.”

Ok, this Chelsea team is a lot better than we thought.

It’s so good in fact, that it’s already won a Premier League title…not for themselves…but still…it counts.

Benzema has been outstanding in recent weeksBenzema has been outstanding in recent weeks
Benzema has been outstanding in recent weeks | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

 “I don’t need anybody but me to tell me that I’m an artist.”

Karim Benzema doesn’t need anybody to tell him that he’s currently the best player in the world, but we at DEPR are going to tell him he is anyways.

Benzema, mate, you’re the best player in the world at the moment. Keep up the good work buddy.

Luis MurielLuis Muriel
Luis Muriel was the star of the show for Atalanta at the weekend | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

“I’m just like you but with a better personality.”

Here’s some stats to sink your teeth into:

– Atalanta have scored 10 goals in their three games since the restart.
– They’ve scored 24 more goals than Juventus in Serie A this season.
– They’ve scored 3+ goals in 17 different games this season.
– They’ve won five games by a five-goal margin in 2019/20.

Atalanta are a lot like your favourite football but with a much, much, much better frontline.

Manuel NeuerManuel Neuer
Bayern won the league…again | Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

“I mean, there’s something to be said for being part of a tradition that’s been going on for thousands of years.”

Bayern Munich lifting the Meisterschale at the end of the Bundesliga season is basically tradition at this point.

They’ve won it in each of the last eight seasons, and it’ll take some semblance of a miracle for them not to do it again next year.

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Liverpool thumped Palace in midweek | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

“Can we wrap this up? I want to go clubbing.”

Winning your first league title in 30 years AND moving to the top of 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings in the space of a week?! Surely it doesn’t get any better than that.

Liverpool fans, it’s time to celebrate – IT’S TIME TO GO CLUBBING.

But in a responsible, socially distanced way.

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Achraf Hakimi, Antonio Conte & Inter Are a Match Made in Heaven

Achraf Hakimi
Achraf Hakimi is set to join Inter this summer | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

​Like Arrigo Sacchi and the offside trap, Jurgen Klopp and gegenpressing and Pep Guardiola overthinking Champions League knockout ties, Antonio Conte’s fetish for wing-backs is a love story that dates back to the start of the fiery Italian’s coaching tenure at Juventus in 2011.

And along the way, Conte’s never been blessed with the most naturally gifted of flankers; from workhorses Stephan Liechtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah at the Bianconeri to misfits Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses at Chelsea.

Marcos Alonso, Antonio ConteMarcos Alonso, Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte converted Marcos Alonso into a world class wing-back during his spell at Chelsea | Ian Walton/Getty Images

He has, however, had the knack of turning them into world-beaters – most notably Alonso during the Blues’ title-winning campaign in 2016/17.

During his first year at Inter, meanwhile, it’s been no different. Antonio Candreva has enjoyed a resurgent campaign as a right wing-back under Conte’s tutelage while Ashley Young has settled in nicely down the left since his January move – recent Sassuolo horror show aside.

But finally, after coaching masterclass after masterclass to squeeze every ounce out of sub-par wing-back talent, it appears Conte’s been rewarded with a top-level prospect this summer.

That’s right, Achraf Hakimi’s on his way.

With a whole host of clubs chasing the Moroccan’s signature this summer and a permanent return to Real Madrid also on the table, Hakimi’s future was set to be a major talking point throughout the upcoming makeshift transfer window.

But just like that, Conte and Inter swooped. Fabrizio Romano confirmed on Saturday a ‘total agreement’ has been reached between the Nerazzurri and Los Blancos in what’s believed to be a €45m deal. An official announcement is expected following medicals next week.

The imminent signing of Hakimi is a serious coup for Inter, who endured another setback in their current Scudetto charge following their 3-3 draw against Sassuolo last week. The Moroccan has emerged as a bonafide superstar during his two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, contributing to 29 goals in 72 BVB appearances in all competitions.

For his first season and a half in Dortmund, he continued to show off his versatility as Lucien Favre utilised him in several roles. But after the Swiss coach switched to a 3-4-2-1 following a 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League last November, Hakimi has been a mainstay down the Dortmund right flank.

Achraf HakimiAchraf Hakimi
Hakimi scored four times in the Champions League this term, including a brace against Inter | TF-Images/Getty Images

The 21-year-old started 25 games on the spin – during which he scored three times and assisted a further ten – before he missed his side’s 2-0 victory at RB Leipzig last weekend.

Nevertheless, his deployment as a wing-back got the very best out of him; his capacity to combine, smart but destructive exploitation of space and astute final-third decision-making all came to the fore, while any defensive shortcomings were minimised.

And it’s for that reason as to why Inter is the perfect destination for Hakimi. As opposed to being utilised in a back four which other potential suitors favour, namely Real, Manchester City, Bayern and Chelsea, Hakimi will slide in perfectly as a wing-back in Conte’s 3-5-2.

Wing-backs play such an imperative role in ‘The Godfather’s’ system at San Siro. Not only are they expected to add another attacking outlet in the final third and create a five-man backline in their settled defensive shape, but they’re also tasked with using their opposite foot to combine infield and search for the likes of Lautaro Martinez with lofted passes into the channels.

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Conte has got the very best out of Antonio Candreva this season | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

And since calcio returned from a three-month hiatus earlier this month, we’ve seen some fresh tactical nuances included into Conte’s automatisms involving the right wing-back – most notably a rotation between Nicolo Barella, Milan Skriniar and Candreva which sees the latter drift into the half-space to aid ball progression down that flank.

Overall, there’s little doubting Hakimi’s function under Conte will certainly be more demanding and complex compared to Favre’s, but the Moroccan certainly has the engine, nous and technique to cope. If Candreva can, I’m sure he’ll be okay too.

Nevertheless, the move is a clear sign of intent from the Inter hierarchy who are desperate to make the Antonio Conte era a memorable one.

With three superb centre-halves, a dynamic but tremendously balanced midfield which could further be bolstered by the arrival of Sandro Tonali and the ‘Lula’ partnership wreaking havoc up top, it’s obvious wing-back was a priority area to strengthen this summer.

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Inter are poised to have a squad capable of competing for multiple Scudetti with Conte at the helm | BSR Agency/Getty Images

While Candreva and Young – the favoured left wing-back since his January move – have been sound and useful against inferior opposition, they’ve also been a source of Inter’s problems this term.

Their lack of dynamism means the Nerazzurri typically struggle to exploit the space down the flanks against better sides who press Inter higher up the pitch. Thus, they can’t capitalise on the often tremendous work by the back three to bypass pressure in the first phase.

Their lack of athleticism, meanwhile, means they can’t contribute effectively in all phases and in some of Inter’s ‘bigger’ games, Conte has opted to rein in the offensive responsibilities of his wing-backs in order to bolster Inter’s defensive coverage. This, however, has created new problems, with the Nerazzurri occasionally looking pretty toothless in attack due to Lukaku and Lautaro becoming isolated without a constant source of width.

Nevertheless, the incredibly dynamic and athletic Hakimi solves both these issues, and overall, it seems like they’ve absolutely nailed the first-half of their wing-back overhaul.

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Inter should make Atalanta’s Robin Gosens their priority target for the left wing-back spot this summer | MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

If they’re able to secure a player akin to Atalanta’s Robin Gosens down the left – if not Gosens himself – then we’re talking about one of the most complete outfits in Europe.

Adding Hakimi alone, however, arguably already thrusts the Nerazzurri as Scudetto favourites for next term. The match between club, player and manager, is one sent from the heavens. Majestic success is inevitable.

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Achraf Hakimi Poised to Join Inter Next Week After ‘Total Agreement’ Reached

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Achraf Hakimi is poised to join Inter | GUIDO KIRCHNER/Getty Images

Real Madrid defender Achraf Hakimi is set to join Inter next week after a ‘total agreement’ was reached between all parties.

The Moroccan played his final minutes for Borussia Dortmund on Saturday afternoon, as BVB ended their Bundesliga campaign on a sour note – slumping to a shock 4-0 home defeat to Hoffenheim.

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Hakimi notched five goals and ten assists in the Bundesliga this term | Martin Rose/Getty Images

Saturday’s defeat wraps up an incredibly successful two-year loan spell for Hakimi at Signal Iduna Park. The electric 21-year-old contributed to 29 goals in 73 appearances and particularly excelled after Lucien Favre switched to a 3-4-2-1 in November, allowing Hakimi to maraud forward from a wing-back role.

Real Madrid’s willingness to sell this summer saw a glut of Europe’s biggest clubs enter the Hakimi sweepstakes, including Manchester City, Bayern and Chelsea. But it appears that Inter – managed by Antonio Conte – have won the race.

Previous reports of Real and Inter agreeing a fee – as well as Hakimi agreeing personal terms – have now escalated to a ‘total agreement’, according to renowned journalist Fabrizio Romano. He claims a move will be finalised next week, with a medical also set to take place.

The agreement between Real and Inter is thought to be worth an initial €40m, fee plus €5m add ons, and does not include a buy-back clause – which is great news for I Nerazzurri.

Dortmund, meanwhile, were interested in acquiring Hakimi on a permanent basis, but they’ve now found their replacement in the form of free agent Thomas Meunier – who joined the club on Friday.

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Antonio Conte is in need of serious reinforcements down the flanks this summer | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Nevertheless, the move for Hakimi thrusts Antonio Conte’s side into serious Scudetto contention for next season. Inter currently lack quality down the flanks – despite Conte working his magic with Antonio Candreva this term – and it’s seen them come unstuck against Serie A’s better sides.

The addition of Hakimi represents a monumental upgrade on the Italian’s current options and, on the surface, he seems like the ideal fit for Conte’s famed 3-5-2 formation.

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How Inter’s Achraf Hakimi Pursuit Could Hurt Barcelona’s Plans to Sign Lautaro Martinez

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Lautaro Martinez is a priority target of Barcelona’s this summer | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Inter’s pursuit of Achraf Hakimi may thwart Barcelona’s attempt to sign Lautaro Martinez this summer, with a potential swap deal involving Nelson Semedo now seemingly off the table.

A whole host of top European clubs were interested in signing Hakimi – whose impressive two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund is drawing to a close – this summer, and it appears the Nerazzurri are have won the race for a talent who’s set to thrive as a wing-back in Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2.

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Achraf Hakimi is set to move to Inter this summer after shining during his two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund | LARS BARON/Getty Images

The player is said to have ‘agreed terms’ with Inter after they agreed a £36m fee with Real Madrid.

However, Catalonian-based news outlet Mundo Deportivo has reported this move is a major setback in Barcelona’s chase of Lautaro this summer.

Incapable of affording the Argentine’s €110m release clause, La Blaugrana started to explore various alternatives to bring the Inter striker to Camp Nou, including swap deals.

And one player who the Catalans were willing to offload to significantly reduce the €110m fee was Semedo, but Inter’s pursuit of Hakimi has all but ruled that move out.

Nevertheless, the Catalans still have a couple of cards to play. Junior Firpo is understood to be keen on a switch to San Siro after struggling to displace Jordi Alba following his arrival last summer, while Inter boss Conte is a huge admirer of Arturo Vidal, with the Chilean close to a move to the Nerazzurri in January.

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Antonio Conte is a huge fan of Arturo Vidal after working with him at Juventus | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta, however, is keen on bringing back Radja Nainggolan from his current Cagliari loan as opposed to signing Vidal.

Even if these two were included as part of a swap deal, it’s likely they wouldn’t take much off the initial fee.

Vidal, now 33 years old, doesn’t hold much too value despite continuing to impress, while Barca will struggle to acquire more than the €18m they spent on Firpo following his indifferent debut season in Catalonia.

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90min’s Definitive European Player Power Rankings: Week 26 – Seinfeld Special

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Robert Lewandowski bagged another 2 goals against Freiburg | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Well hi there. Long time no see.

Football around Europe has finally made its long-awaited return, and that means 90mins Definitive European Player Power Rankings is back! Hold your applause, hold your applause.

We’ve got to come back with a bang, and there’s only one way to do that.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Seinfeld time.

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Werner is on his way to Chelsea | Maja Hitij/Getty Images

“People don’t turn down money. This is what separates us from animals.”

Werner might not have been at his best since football’s return, but he still earned himself an enormous move to Chelsea. Fair play.

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Salah fired Liverpool to a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

“What is this obsession people have with books? They put them in their houses—like they’re trophies. What do you need it for after you read it?”

A goal? Check.

An assist? Check.

A Premier League trophy? Check.

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Vinícius got back to scoring ways against Santa Clara | TF-Images/Getty Images

“I love a good nap. Sometimes it’s the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning.”

After a stellar few months, Vinícius had a pretty hefty sleep as he went three months (also known as five games) without a goal.

Two on Tuesday was a good way to get back on track, mind.

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Immobile couldn’t lead Lazio to victory over Atalanta | Marco Rosi – SS Lazio/Getty Images

“Yeah, I’m a great quitter. It’s one of the few things I do well. I come from a long line of quitters. My father was a quitter, my grandfather was a quitter. I was raised to give up.”

Immobile drew a blank as Lazio gave up a two-goal lead against Atalanta, falling to a 3-2 defeat and dropping four points behind Juventus.

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Dzeko had his scoring boots on against Sampdoria | ANP Sport/Getty Images

“You know I always wanted to pretend I was an architect.”

Roma has seen more than its fair share of famous architects in the past, and the man responsible for building success these days is Džeko.

The Bosnian bagged two goals in his side’s return to action – a 2-1 win over Sampdoria which keeps Roma in the race for Champions League qualification.

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Havertz has been linked with an expensive transfer to Chelsea or Real Madrid | Pool/Getty Images

“SERENITY NOW!”

It’s been a hectic few weeks for Havertz, but things have started to calm down. A 2-0 loss to Hertha BSC saw Bayer Leverkusen drop out of the top four. Not ideal.

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Sorloth looks nothing like the man who flopped in England | FREDRIK HAGEN/Getty Images

“Yada, yada, yada.”

27 goals and nine assists for Sörloth this season. He managed one and one with Crystal Palace. What’s going on?

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Pulisic was outstanding against Manchester City | PAUL CHILDS/Getty Images

“No soup for you!”

Not only did Pulisic seal the Premier League title for Liverpool, but he may also have put the final nail in Benjamin Mendy’s coffin at Manchester City.

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Martial scored the first Manchester United hat-trick since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement | Michael Steele/Getty Images

“I’m busting, Jerry! I’m busting!”

With Bruno Fernandes behind him, Martial is just oozing goals.

He bagged the first post-Fergie hat-trick for Manchester United and looks ready to force his team back into Europe.

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Sancho is wanted by Manchester United | Lars Baron/Getty Images

“You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.”

Has Sancho given up on Dortmund? Well, that’s what some reports would have you believe…

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Lukaku is doing his best to get Inter back into the title race | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

“Hey believe me, baldness will catch on. When the aliens come, who do you think they’re gonna relate to? Who do you think is going to be the first ones getting a tour of the ship?”

Lukaku is really bald these days. There’s your link to that reference.

Alongside regularly shaving his head, he’s also banged two goals in his last two games.

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Haaland helped Dortmund secure 2nd in the Bundesliga | Pool/Getty Images

“The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.”

It’s not only old men who get angry. 19-year-old Haaland looked like a man possessed when he fired two goals past RB Leipzig, cementing Dortmund’s spot in second.

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Ronaldo got back on the score sheet against Bologna | Marco Rosi/Getty Images

“That’s the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me.”

Ronaldo did nothing to help Juventus during their first few games back, but finally contributed something in the 2-0 win over Bologna. Nothing like a good penalty.

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Messi has helped keep Barcelona in the title race | Eric Alonso/Getty Images

“When you control the mail, you control…information.”

Messi controls everything on the pitch. ‘Nuff said.

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Lewandowski is on top of the world these days | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

“I gotta focus. I’m shifting into soup mode.”

Lewandowski has been in soup mode all year. The Bayern man is on one this year.

Four consecutive games with a goal. Six goals and two assists. Nobody on the planet is doing what Lewandowski is doing this year.

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

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