Inter to Target Man City Star Ilkay Gundogan If They Qualify for Next Season’s Champions League

​​Inte​r are reportedly considering a summer move for ​Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan – but only if the Nerazzurri qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The report, which comes from ​Corriere Dello Sport, suggests that a big name midfielder will be Inter’s top priority should they finish in the top four of ​Serie A, with Luciano Spalletti’s side needing a win away at Lazio to qualify for the competition.

Southampton v Manchester City - Premier League

Though Gundogan appears to be Inter’s top target for the coming transfer window, the club have drawn up a shortlist of midfielders who could potentially fill this hole in the side. Other names on the list include ​Bayern Munich man Arturo Vidal, Roma’s Kevin Strootman and ​Real Madrid star Mateo Kovacic, who played for Inter before moving to Madrid in 2015.

Signing any one of these midfielders would require a hefty transfer fee, which is reportedly why Champions League qualification is so pivotal to any transfer deal going ahead.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-LEGANES

Gundogan joined City for £21m in June 2016, making him the club’s first signing under Pep Guardiola. The German has fought through injury problems to make 48 appearances in all competitions for Guardiola’s side this season, playing a big role in their stunning Premier League title win. 

Gundogan has also shown a knack for scoring in important games, with four of his goals this campaign coming against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United. 

In spite of this, Gundogan’s position at the club could still be in doubt, with Guardiola looking to strengthen his squad ahead of City’s title defence next season.

Let’

Lautaro Martinez’s Agent ‘99%’ Sure Argentine Striker Will Join Inter Ahead of Medical

Lautaro Martinez’s agent has all but confirmed that his client will joint ​Inter in July, saying that a deal is “99%” complete.

Rolando Zarate told FCInterNews that he and Martinez would fly to Italy for a medical ahead of the move, with Martinez likely to make the move in July.

“We’re waiting until we can travel so Lautaro can take his medicals,” Zarate said​. “There’s a rough agreement, it’s almost done. There are some details missing but we just have to take a flight to confirm everything. There’s no certain date yet though.

“We’re just waiting for confirmation, the medical could be in a week or 10 days, we just need a phone call before we head out.”

Racing Club are resigned to losing Martinez but they had hoped he would stay at the club until January to help them with their Copa Libertadores campaign.

Racing have qualified for the last 16 of the South American Champions League, which runs until November, but Zarate said that Inter had refused to let Martinez stay until then.

“Racing have qualified for the Copa Libertadores round of 16, and Lautaro has been one of the best players in the competition, which is why they tried to find a solution with Inter to keep the player for the coming months,” he said.

Racing Club v Universidad de Chile - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018

“It’s not possible though, the Nerazzurri said no. That decision was communicated to Racing, so it’s a very difficult hypothesis.”

Zarate seemed very confident that the deal would be completed in due course.

“It’s 99 per cent done, the deal is more than secure,” he added. “I can’t say 100 per cent, but that’s only because we’re waiting for that call to go to Italy and define everything.

Martinez has scored 18 goals in 28 appearances for Racing this season, including five in the Copa Libertadores.

Let’

Tottenham Join Liverpool in Race For Italy Under-21 Star as Mauricio Pochettino Asks for Backing

​Tottenham have joined ​Liverpool in the £45m race for Cagliari starlet Nicolò Barella, although ​Inter remain firm favourites to sign the 21-year-old midfielder

Barella has been a standout performer in his breakthrough season for the 16th-placed Serie A side with six goals and one assist in 33 league starts. His form hasn’t gone unnoticed and a number of clubs have been linked with a move for the Italian youth international, including ​Juventus and Liverpool

SSC Napoli v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A

Calciomercato report that Tottenham are interested in the youngster, but Cagliari’s president, Tommaso Giulini revealed in April that the club value Barella, who recently signed a one-year contract extension, at upwards of €50m. 

“I’ve read everything about his renewal, but we didn’t do it to raise his price,” he told Rai Radio (via TalkSPORT) 

“Nicolo deserved a better salary and an extra year on his contract. We want to grow, improve and do everything to keep Nicolo another season. Of course, if there were offers that we couldn’t refuse, upwards of €50m [£44m], then we could discuss it. We’d take the €50m [£44m] and strengthen the team.”

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino’s recent comments regarding his and the club’s future have sounded a warning to club bosses – particularly Daniel Levy – that they risk losing him if the north London side continue to lag behind their rivals in the transfer market. 

The capture of Barella could be the statement of intent needed to persuade the Argentine into remaining with the club, but, according to the report, the player would prefer a move to Inter. 

The 21-year-old is said to be at the top of Luciano Spalletti’s summer wish list, and I Nerazzurri are ready to offer Cagliari a player plus cash swap deal in order to remain within FFP regulations. 

Let’

Juventus Full Back Kwadwo Asamoah Set to Undergo Medical as Inter Move Edges Closer

​Juventus defender Kwadwo Asamoah will undergo a medical on Wednesday ahead of his move to ​Inter, according to Goal journalist Romeo Agresti. 

The Ghanian international, who has made 19 Serie A appearances for Juve this season, will be available on a free with his Bianconeri contract set to expire in the next week.

According to previous rep​orts, AC Milan were hoping to convince Asamoah to join Gennaro Gattuso’s side. However, it now appears that I Nerazzurri have won the race for the 29-year-old’s signature, and he is expected to sign a three year deal worth €3.5m a year, after he completes his medical on Wednesday. 

Asamoah joined Juventus from Udinese in 2012 and has made a total of 115 appearances for the club since. He’s struggled to establish himself in Massimiliano Allegri’s side this year, however, and reportedly rejected a new contract offer in January. 

A number of Premier League clubs were linked with a move for the defender, including Chelsea, West Ham and Everton. 

Inter are currently three points behind fourth-placed Lazio in the league table. The two sides are set to meet on Sunday in the final game of the season at the Stadio Olimpico, and I Nerazzurri will need to beat the hosts by at least four goals in order to qualify for the Champions League. 

Even if they do fail to qualify, Luciano Spalletti will want to strengthen the squad with Europa League qualification already guaranteed, and the arrival of Asamoah is expected to be closely followed by the arrival of Lautaro Martinez, who is set to sign from Argentine side Racing de Avellaneda. 

Let’

Italy Appoint Former Man City Boss Roberto Mancini As New National Team Manager

​Italy’s FIGC have announced the appointment of former ​Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini as their head coach.

This comes in the wake of Gian Piero Ventura’s sacking after his failure to lead the nation to this year’s ​World Cup. Gli Azzurri completed a disappointing qualifying round and won’t be heading to Russia this summer, but they will have new blood at the helm.


“Roberto Mancini has signed as the new Italy Coach!” they announced via their official Twitter account. “@FIGC has reached an agreement with Mancini to start in the role and there will be an official presentation tomorrow at 12:00 CEST in Coverciano.”

Mancini, who lead City to their first Premier League title in 44 years in the 2011/12 season, has signed a two-year deal for his latest venture.

Since leaving the Etihad five years ago, the 53-year-old has worked at Galatasaray and Internazionale before heading to Russia to manage Zenit St Petersburg last year.

FBL-EUR-C3-LEIPZIG-ZENIT

Mancini agreed to have his contract terminated by the Russian outfit on Sunday and is now his country’s new boss, having made 36 outings for the Italian national side as a player.

Italy were hoping to bring Antonio Conte back, but the Chelsea boss seems intent on seeing out his contract – although that is unlikely to happen – while Carlo Ancelotti is understood to have turned an offer down as well.

Luigi di Biagio had taken up the job on an interim basis, stepping up from the Under-21 set-up, but he has since stepped back down to accommodate the new man.

​​

Let’

Paulo Dybala & Mauro Icardi Included As Argentina Announce 35-Man Preliminary FIFA World Cup Squad

​Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi have both made it into Argentina’s 35-man preliminary squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, following fears of the pair being overlooked by La Albiceleste head coach Jorge Sampaoli.

The ​Juventus and ​Internazionale strikers joined the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero in the provisional squad, and are now very likely to be part of the 23 who travel to Russia for the prestigious tournament.

The South American nation announced their preliminary contingent via Twitter on Monday ahead of friendlies against Haiti and Iceland. 

West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini is also part of the squad, having impressed towards the end of the Premier League season, while Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi has been included as well.

West Ham United v Everton - Premier League

Ramiro Funes Mori of Everton has also been named in said squad along with Racing Club wonderkid Lautaro Martinez.

Sampaoli will have some tough choices to make as he is to drop 12 players from the group by June 4, with the World Cup set to kick off 10 days later.

Let’

Chelsea & Man Utd On High Alert After Inter Striker Mauro Icardi Admits He Could Leave Nerazzurri

Mauro Icardi has refused to commit his future to ​Inter and admitted he could leave at the end of the season, putting ​Chelsea and ​Manchester United on red alert.

Inter’s Champions League hopes hang in the balance ahead of the final day of the season. They are currently fifth and only a win at fourth place Lazio would be enough to leapfrog the Biancocelesti.

The Argentine has been valued at £50m but Inter may be forced to sell if they do not get into the Champions League. The Nerazzurri will have to cut their cloth accordingly to avoid falling foul of FIFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.

Icardi seemed aware that his future could lie away from the San Siro after Saturday’s shock defeat to Sassuolo.

“I repeat every year, I will speak to the club,” Icardi told Sky Sports Italia, quoted by ​the Sun“If it’s good for the team that I stay, then I’ll stay, otherwise I will leave.

“I always do what is best for the club and the team. When the season ends, we’ll talk to the club and see what is best for them.”

Udinese Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A

The final match will hold added significance for Icardi, as he is competing with Lazio striker Ciro Immobile for the Serie A Capocannoniere. Icardi currently has 28 for the season, with Immobile one ahead on 29.

United would surely have the upper hand in the race to sign Icardi as they can offer Champions League football, whereas Chelsea missed out and will have to settle for the Europa League. The Blues do need a striker after Alvaro Morata’s disappointing debut campaign.

Four of the top eight scorers in Serie A this season are Argentinian, with Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Giovanni Simeone joining Icardi on the list.

This will stand the Albiceleste in good stead ahead of this summer’s World Cup, where they face Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D.

Let’

World Cup Countdown: 6 Weeks to Go – Roberto Baggio & the Elusive Daemon of Genius

“I failed. Period.”

Why did Italy lose the 1994 FIFA World Cup final?

It’s a question with – on the surface – a fairly simple answer:

Italy lost the 1994 FIFA World Cup final because Roberto Baggio ballooned his spot kick over the crossbar during the penalty shoot out.

When Baggio missed, Brazil won, and Italy lost. 


Culpability for Gli Azzurri’s heartbreaking World Cup final defeat, therefore, lies with Il Divin Codino…right?

Well, maybe not.

Maybe culpability for this singular and wholly uncharacteristic – Baggio converted 71 of 79 career penalties – failing lies not with the player himself, but with something intangible; for everything tangible that was needed for the ball to hit the back of the net was in place.

The ball didn’t fly over the crossbar because Roberto Baggio lacked the physical talents needed to score the penalty. In fact, in 1994, the Italian trequartista was undoubtedly the best footballer in the world, and had – up to the final – been the star of the tournament. 


Baggio was the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, and had single handedly dragged Gli Azzurri to the World Cup final. The number 10 scored an astonishing five of Italy’s six goals during the knockout rounds (including a penalty kick) against Nigeria, Spain and a heavily fancied Bulgarian side. To put this feat into perspective: Lionel Messi hasn’t scored a single knockout round goal in any of his three World Cup finals appearances – Il Divin Codino scored five in one tournament.

The ball also didn’t fly over the crossbar because the surface at the Rose Bowl was disastrously boggy, bumpy, or dry. Granted the Rose Bowl wasn’t a football (soccer) stadium, but the pitch posed no threat to the likelihood of Baggio’s penalty nestling in the back of the net; as the fact that the Italian number 10 didn’t slip before hitting the penalty, nor did the ball roll off the spot as he was about to take the penalty, attests. 


Despite these aforementioned tangibles being in place, Roberto Baggio still missed his spot kick. His nation still lost the World Cup final. And Brazil’s captain Dunga still lifted the World Cup trophy.

So, what happened?

Why did the greatest Italian footballer of all time miss when it mattered the most?

It’s a question that Roberto Baggio himself has struggled to find an answer for: “I don’t know how, the ball went up three metres and flew over the crossbar.”

And it’s a question that still haunts him to this day: “It affected me for years. It was the worst moment of my career. I still dream about it. If I could erase a moment from my career, it would be that one.”

[embedded content]

The video above seems a bit random, as it has nothing to do with football. Literally nothing. But it may hold the answer to the question that Baggio cannot answer himself.

During her TedTalk seminar, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ author Elizabeth Gilbert alludes to the Greek and Roman mythological concept of the ‘daemon’: an elusive attendant spirit that would “come to humans from some distant, unknowable source” and inspire creative genius. In other words, a seemingly divine intervention in an artist’s work which would determine its outcome.

The elusiveness of this attendant spirit may be the answer that Roberto Baggio and his sympathisers have been looking for since that penalty kick was so uncharacteristically missed.

To understand the blaming of a divine attendant spirit, rather than Baggio, for the penalty miss, however, one must look at the number 10 as not just a regular footballer, but as someone who made his sport an art form; a fantasia of sorts.

“When you watch Baggio play, you hear children. Baggio is the impossible made possible, a snowfall from an open door in the sky.” Lucio Dalla


Although explicitly the best in the world at the time, Roberto Baggio was by no means the tallest, strongest or fastest footballer of his generation.

Baggio wasn’t George Weah.

Baggio was Raphael, “the master painter” (Gianni Agnelli).

He was more than just a mere physical talent, the Caldogno native was calcio’s last and greatest artist. A footballer who could conjure the impossible.

Il Divin Codino – which translates to ‘the divine ponytail’ – was a player who possessed such creative ingenuity and affected people in such a profound manner, that describing him using footballing terms like: ‘he was great in the air’, ‘he had a good touch for a big lad’, or ‘he had great left foot on him’, would’ve been erroneous.

Rather, it was – and still is – more fitting to describe Baggio through biblical and artistic allusions.

“The angels sing in his legs.” Aldo Agroppi


For this reason, the allusiveness of the ‘daemon’ which Elizabeth Gilbert speaks of can be used to understand why Roberto Baggio was able to score two goals brilliant goals in the semi final against Bulgaria, and then miss from a penalty kick in the final.

Baggio’s dichotomic semi final and final performances, in fact, explicitly mirror Gilbert’s story of divinely inspired moonlight dances:

“Centuries ago in the deserts of North Africa, people used to gather for these moonlight dances of sacred dance and music that would go on for hours and hours, until dawn. And they were always magnificent, because the dancers were professionals and they were terrific, right?

“But every once in a while, very rarely, something would happen, and one of these performers would actually become transcendent. And I know you know what I’m talking about, because I know you’ve all seen, at some point in your life, a performance like this. It was like time would stop, and the dancer would sort of step through some kind of portal and he wasn’t doing anything different than he had ever done, 1,000 nights before, but everything would align.

“And all of a sudden, he would no longer appear to be merely human. He would be lit from within, and lit from below and all lit up on fire with divinity.

“A glimpse of God.

“But, the tricky bit comes the next morning, for the dancer himself, when he wakes up and discovers that it’s Tuesday at 11 a.m., and he’s no longer a glimpse of God. He’s just an ageing mortal with really bad knees, and maybe he’s never going to ascend to that height again.”


During Italy’s semi final meeting with Bulgaria, Baggio provided calcio with a ‘glimpse of God’. For Il Divin Codino, everything aligned on 13th July 1994, as he scored a brace and gifted the peninsula her fifth FIFA World Cup final.

However, four days later, Roberto Baggio was no longer ‘a glimpse of God’; he was the aforementioned ‘mere mortal with really bad knees’. The daemon was not on hand to mask the Italian’s physical ailments – the 220 internal stitches that bound together his right knee.

Baggio was – by his on concession – tired.

“My muscles were OK and so were my legs, regardless of the injuries. But the Italy team had had a six-hour flight to California while Brazil were already there and that was to their advantage. And they had an easier path to the final.

“Maybe at the beginning of the game I couldn’t let go, subconsciously I was worried about hurting myself, but after a while I got over that. However I didn’t have a great game, and neither did the team.

“We were knackered.”

Like a painter, writer or dancer, Baggio could be a vessel for genius. At times, the number 10 did unimaginably brilliant things with a ball at his feet. However, the 17th July 1994, wasn’t one of those times. As he stepped up to take his penalty kick in Pasadena, the daemon of genius had – unfortunately – alluded him, and his spot kick ballooned over Claudio Taffarel’s crossbar.

Let’

Inter Set to Announce Two Further Star Signings Following Stefan de Vrij Confirmation

​Int​er are set to announce the signings of Kwadwo Asamoah and Luataro Martinez in the coming days, according to reports in Italy. 

The Nerazzurri are expected to use the upcoming transfer window to strengthen their squad with the hope of featuring in the Champions League next season; with the Serie A giants two points from Lazio in fourth ahead of their season-defining contest against Biancocelesti to round off the campaign next weekend.

And according to ​Gazzetta dello Sport, the San Siro outfit are close to announcing both Juventus’ Asamoah and 20-year-old striker Martinez as new recruits heading into the summer. 

The Argentine frontman is set to arrive for his medical in Milan around May 23 and will be joined on his travels by former Inter forward Diego Milito. 

It is thought that despite the agreement already said to be in place, Racing Club chiefs are hoping to retain the youngster’s services until the final stages of their Copa Libertadores campaign – which concludes at the end of 2018. 

However, the Nerazzurri hierarchy are expected to reject their request and force through the move this summer. 

The duo of reported additions come just days following claims that Inter are also preparing to announce the signing of Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij. 

According to reports, the 26-year-old penned a four-year deal with the Champions League chasers earlier in the week. 

However, despite speculation being rife regarding the centre back’s future, Lazio sporting director Igli Tare insisted to the press the player will play against Nerazzurri when the two sides meet next weekend. 

“De Vrij will play until the last match, we trust him,” he said. 

Let’

Inter vs Sassuolo Match Preview: Team News, Form, Prediction & More

Inter Milan host Sassuolo on Saturday evening, with the former looking to make a late break into the top four. Inter currently sit fifth in Serie A, and are two points behind fourth-placed Lazio.

The away side haven’t got anything to play for apart from pride in their last two games of the season, as they have guaranteed top-flight football for next season.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the encounter.

Recent Form

Inter have won three of their last four games, with their only loss coming against table-toppers Juventus –  who won 3-2 in late dramatic fashion.

Udinese Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A

This was their first defeat at home since the turn of the year, and they will be keen to maintain their good home form. They ran out 4-0 winners against Udinese last week.

Sassuolo ran out 1-0 victors against Sampdoria last week which sealed their Serie A status for another season.

Previous Encounter

These two faced off back in December where Sassuolo ran out 1-0 winners against Inter. Despite having the better of the chances, a Diego Facinelli header made sure the visitors would go home empty-handed.

Team News

The hosts will still be without Roberto Gagliardini who suffered a hamstring injury back in April, and Miranda may not feature after he suffered problems in the warm-up against Udinese. Matias Vecino will be serving the second of his three-game ban after he was sent off against Juventus in the 3-2 loss.

FBL-ITA-SERIE-A-INTER-JUVENTUS

While Giuseppe Iachini will be without Federico Peluso who is out due to picking up five yellow cards. Sassuolo may see the return of Edoardo Goldaniga who was out with a hamstring injury which dates back to early April. 

Key Battles

Mauro Icardi v Andrea Consigli 

Icardi has been on fire this season, and the Argentinian has managed to notch an impressive 28 goals in Serie A so far this season which places him one goal away from the league’s top goalscorer Ciro Immobile.

Udinese Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Icardi scored in Inter’s 4-0 win against Udinese last week and will be looking to add to his tally against Sassuolo.

Goalkeeper Andrea Consigli will be dealt with the task of keeping Icardi at bay, and this will definitely be a challenge for the 31-year-old.

However, the ‘keeper has been impressive himself, keeping three clean sheets in his last four outings between the sticks.

Andrea Ranocchia vs Matteo Politano

Matteo Politano has been a key player for Sassuolo this season, bagging ten goals in all competitions. He netted his sides only goal against Sampdoria last week, and he has notched four goals in as many games. 

US Sassuolo v UC Sampdoria - Serie A

Andrea Ranocchia will be the defender trying to stop Politano’s recent goalscoring run should Miranda be out. Ranocchia netted in last weeks win against Udinese and will be looking to solidify a place in the first-team. Helping to keep Sassuolo and Politano at bay will go a long way in doing this.

Prediction

Udinese Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A

The hosts will be desperate to pick up all three points going into the final day where they play Lazio in a game to decide fourth place. 

However, the visitors will be looking to make it back-to-back wins in the league, and end Inter’s Champions League hopes.

Inter’s quality accompanied with their good home form, should see them pick up the win against Sassuolo.

Inter Milan 3-0 Sassuolo

Let’