Man Utd and Chelsea target Badelj could shun summer transfer for Fiorentina stay

The midfielder, who has also been linked with Milan and Inter, claims he may decide to honour a contract with his current employers

Milan Badelj has suggested that he is prepared to snub interest in his services this summer and remain at Fiorentina.

The Croatia international has been generating transfer talk for several months, with numerous sides reported to have been monitoring his situation ahead of the winter window.

No move was made then, but the 28-year-old is said to still figure prominently on the respective radars of leading sides in Italy and England.

Chelsea behind Milan in Badelj chase

Manchester United, Chelsea, Milan and Inter have all been credited with holding an interest in Badelj, but the holding midfielder insists he may decide to stay put.

He told Corriere dello Sport: “I still have a contract until 2018 with Fiorentina and I have always said that I’m fine here.

“Therefore I won’t exclude the fact that I might stay. We hope that the club and my agent will come together to clarify the situation.”

Badelj admits that he did allow exit gossip to turn his head last summer, but claims that he has ignored the more recent round of rumours as he endeavours to play his way back into peak form.

He added: “I thought the market for a few minutes, last summer.

“I can obviously only answer for myself, not for others. I understand that people think or have thought about certain things or that I want to find excuses to justify a season that has not always been brilliant.

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“I honestly only thought about the transfer market a few times. Anyway, it was only during last summer, for a few moments. Then I stopped.

“Several media outlets have spoken about my situation and when that happens you end up talking about it too much.

“I am not one who often speaks with the press. In August I had this I thought, but after I dismissed it I only thought about always giving my best on the pitch. I’ve never thought about the transfer market again.”

VIDEO: Chaos ensues as Eto'o covered in birthday cake

The experienced frontman got quite a shock when celebrations at current club Antalyaspor took a rather messy turn on the training ground

It may feel as though Samuel Eto’o has been around forever, but the much-travelled striker only just turned 36 on Friday.

Some 20 years have passed since the Cameroonian stepped out of the academy ranks at Real Madrid and took the first steps in a professional career that has carried him to the very top of the game.

Success has never been far away for Eto’o, with a glittering spell at Barcelona delivering three La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns.

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He would go on to conquer Europe again with Inter, as well as enjoying triumphs in Serie A, the Coppa Italia and Club World Cup.

Eto’o has also won the Africa Cup of Nations on two occasions and been named African Player of the Year four times.

Now in the twilight of his career, the experienced frontman is turning out for Turkish side Antalyaspor.

They decided to honour his birthday on Friday, with plenty of celebratory hugs followed by the presentation of a cake that ended up causing quite a scene.

Eto’o has netted six times for Antalyaspor this season in 15 appearances, with his tally of club efforts taken to 3376 – to go with the 56 he also managed in 118 outings for Cameroon.

Pioli 'not worried' by Inter exit rumours

Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte being linked as a replacement for the current Nerazzurri boss when the current campaign ends

Stefano Pioli is not worried about his long-term future as Inter boss despite ongoing rumours that he may be forced out at the end of the season, according to his agent. 

The 51-year-old replaced Frank de Boer in November and has led Inter to sixth in Serie A, six points adrift of the Champions League places.

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Yet speculation persists that the club are seeking to replace him, with Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte linked to the job in recent weeks. 

Despite the gossip, Pioli’s representative Bruno Satin insists his mind is only on the current campaign. 

“Stefano is not thinking about the future, and in this sense he is not worried,” Satin told FCInterNews.

“He is concentrated on the present and on his objective in this current campaign.
“It’s true the rumours keep coming, but the coach is accustomed to this sort of thing. It’s part of the game, he’s been in football for a lifetime and knows what it involves when you are coach of an important club like Inter.

“It’s all perfectly normal. Just look at Juventus; they are winning and dominating in Italy for years, yet they talk about the coach leaving at the end of the season.

“I repeat, Stefano is not worried about next year.”

Cagliari 1-5 Inter Milan: Perisic leads dominant Inter

Ivan Perisic scored twice as Inter saw off the challenge of Cagliari in Serie A on Sunday to keep their European hopes alive.

Inter returned to winning ways and seized on Atalanta dropping points on Sunday, as a 5-1 victory away to Cagliari fired Stefano Pioli’s side into the European qualification places in Serie A.

Two defeats in the last four league games – against heavyweights Juventus and Roma – had dampened Inter’s spirits after a run of seven consecutive Serie A wins, but an Ivan Perisic-inspired triumph in Sardinia lifted the Nerazzurri to fifth ahead of Lazio playing later in the day.

Milan’s Montella focused on Europe

Cagliari had won at San Siro earlier in the campaign, in the final weeks of Frank de Boer’s ill-fated tenure, but Inter took full control of the return fixture as Ever Banega created the opener for Perisic and fired a superb second himself.

Although the home side hit back through Marco Borriello, Perisic grabbed his second shortly after half-time to give the visitors breathing space once again.

Cagliari rarely looked like mounting a comeback, instead allowing Maurco Icardi to net away from home for the first time since September, his penalty exorcising the demons of a previous miss from 12 yards against Massimo Rastelli’s side.

Inter were then able to comfortably cruise through the remainder of the second half, Roberto Gagliardini netting his first goal for the club to add gloss to the scoreline late on, with a key clash against fourth-placed Atalanta, who were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Fiorentina earlier in the day and are now just one point ahead, to come next week.

90: The ref spares Cagliari and ends this one bang on the 90th minute, 5-1 to the Nerazzurri!!! #FORZAINTER #CagliariInter pic.twitter.com/IDECZ7Ejut
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) March 5, 2017

A magnificent Gary Medel intervention denied Cagliari an early lead as the Chile international recovered to acrobatically clear Joao Pedro’s lobbed effort inches from the goal-line.
 
Perisic swung a low cross in for Icardi to toe wide at the other end, before Geoffrey Kondogbia’s looping header was helped onto the crossbar by Gabriel.
 
After 34 minutes, Perisic then fired Pioli’s men in front.
 
Banega lifted a delightful left-footed pass between two defenders and into the Cagliari area, where Perisic controlled delicately with his left foot and slotted a smart finish under the goalkeeper.
 
And Banega added a second just five minutes later when he curled a fine free-kick inside the left-hand post from 20 yards, with Gabriel scrambling hopelessly across his line.
 
The hosts sought an immediate response and, although Samir Handanovic expertly clawed away Davide Di Gennaro’s free-kick, a goal would soon arrive when Borriello nodded Nicolo Barella’s cross into the net.

Handanovic held another header from Artur Ionita, but, after just two minutes of the second half, Cagliari’s hard work was undone by a third Nerazzurri goal.

Perisic was again the scorer, stepping inside onto his right foot to coolly curl beyond Gabriel’s despairing dive.

The goalkeeper was able to prevent a fourth as he dived at Icardi’s feet from Antonio Candreva’s centre, and then saved spectacularly as Danilo D’Ambrosio let fly from distance.

Miranda headed straight at Gabriel as he met Perisic’s cross unmarked, but the keeper’s brave resistance was breached as he brought Icardi down in the area.

The Inter captain converted the penalty himself, before Gabriel saved again from Kondogbia’s powerful strike and blocked a tame effort from substitute Eder.

Icardi then rattled the crossbar as the visitors kept the pressure on in the closing stages, and Gagliardini added his name to the scoresheet with a low blast two minutes from time, opening his account for Inter and netting for the first time in Serie A.

Icardi: Inter don't need Simeone – we have Pioli

The Atletico Madrid boss has long been linked with taking over as Nerazzurri coach, but the Argentine striker has enough faith in their current leader

Mauro Icardi says Inter have no need to wait for Diego Simeone to take over as coach as they have a sound leader in Stefano Pioli.
Boring, boring Serie A? No chance!
With Suning Holdings Group now the majority stakeholder of the Milan side, big investment in the first team is expected and a high-profile coach is said to be one of their highest priorities.

Atletico Madrid boss Simeone has been seen as one of the favourites and a return to San Siro, where he spent two years as a player, has long been talked about for the Argentine.

Icardi, though, believes Pioli, who has brought Inter up to sixth in Serie A after replacing Frank de Boer at the helm, should be given a fair hearing from those in charge.

When asked about the chances of his compatriot taking over, the striker told reporters: “It’s a rumour that has been going around, but we are not waiting for another coach. Pioli is a talented tactician and his arrival turned our season around. I think the club will take that into account.”

The 24-year-old is pleased with the progress the Nerazzurri have made so far and, as captain and top scorer, he hopes he can help them go even further.

“We want to play in the Champions League and we’ll try to the very end,” he added.

“I started the season very well, scoring a lot of goals, and I hope to end it in the best possible way too. I can’t explain why Inter are in sixth place and out of Europe. Suning, who bought Inter and intend to take them back to the top in Europe, are working on it.”

Icardi has been linked with a move away from Inter over recent transfer windows, but he opted to renew his contract which keeps him tied to the club until 2021, and he maintains he has no plans to leave any time soon.
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“I renewed the deal because it was something I had arranged with Inter a year ago. I had offers from other leagues, but I always said I am an Inter fan, it’s important to continue with this shirt and get to win something with this club.

“Obviously, I am a forward, and when you get goals, you get transfer rumours and offers. But, as I said, I am an Inter fan and representing this side makes me very proud.

“I think Italian football suits me the most. I always said that, for me, my future is at Inter. If other clubs want me, they have to talk to the president, but my belief is that my future will be at Inter.”

Conte denies receiving Inter offer and targets Chelsea legacy

The Italian media suggested the Blues boss is tempted to return to his homeland with the Nerazzurri, but he is focused only on Chelsea’s future

Antonio Conte has explicitly denied having received an offer to become coach at Inter next season and is aiming instead to build a legacy at Chelsea.

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It has been a memorable first season at Stamford Bridge for Conte thus far with Chelsea opening up a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures.

However, reports in the Italian media suggested Conte is unsettled in London with his family remaining in Italy.
The former Juventus boss was consequently linked with a move to San Siro, but the 47-year-old insists that his future remains in London and that he is planning for the long term at Chelsea.

Conte was asked at a press conference ahead of Chelsea’s encounter with West Ham on Monday if Inter had made an offer, to which he replied: “Me personally? No, no.

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“I think my situation is very clear. I have a contract with Chelsea. [I am] trying to build something important with the club, for the present, for the future and I think the situation is very clear.”

Bonjour, bonjour! Training is underway at Cobham… pic.twitter.com/ynAoYxf0YC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 3, 2017

Conte told the Evening Standard this week of his hope to move his wife and daughter to London and he once again spoke of the importance of having his family around him.

“I am happy for sure, the only problem for me this season is the family is missing me for sure,” he added on Friday. 

“My family stayed in Italy and, yeah, I am working for the future, to bring them here and to stay together because for sure the family is missing me, this is true.”

Icardi: Inter not giving up on Champions League qualification

Qualifying for the Champions League is still a realistic ambition for the San Siro club, according to Argentine striker

Mauro Icardi is adamant Inter can still secure third place in the Serie A table as they target Champions League qualification.

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Stefano Pioli’s men had climbed to fourth spot after an impressive run of form, but they dropped back to sixth following a 3-1 defeat at home to Roma on Sunday.

They are trailing third-placed Napoli by six points with 12 games to go, but Icardi is not ready to give up on their dream of returning to Europe’s top competition.
“We have to move on from the defeat versus Roma and look at the future,” Icardi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We were on par with Roma throughout.

The Nerazzurri continue their preparations for #CagliariInter : the team trained earlier this morning https://t.co/06bBaw3Kx5 #FCIM pic.twitter.com/QZhJbKSN1v
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) March 2, 2017

“We are not out of the race for third place just yet. We will not give up until we can no longer mathematically qualify.

“I strongly believe that we can make third place, everyone believes we can make it. Our goal remains the same. We have a duty to keep trying and I am confident we can achieve our objectives.”

Arsenal forward Alexis would be perfect for Inter, says club legend Mazzola

The Chilean continues to be linked with a summer exit at the Emirates, with no extension agreed by the Gunners to a contract due to expire in 2018

Inter legend Sandro Mazzola admits to being “crazy about Alexis Sanchez” and believes the Arsenal forward would be “perfect” for his former club.

The Chile international continues to be heavily linked with a big-money summer switch, as uncertainty shrouds his future at Emirates Stadium.

Despite having seen the issue discussed at length for several months, Arsenal are yet to tie the 28-year-old to an extended contract.

‘Inter should sign Verratti from PSG’

His current deal is due to expire in 2018, with the Gunners needing to make a decision one way or another before his value starts to decline.

Inter are among those said to be closely monitoring the situation, with the Serie A side expected to splash the cash when the transfer re-opens.

Mazzola told Corriere dello Sport on the mounting speculation: “I am crazy about Alexis Sanchez.

“For me he is perfect for this team because over time he has evolved and now scores several goals a season. Inter need someone like him.”

Sanchez has netted 20 times for Arsenal in all competitions this season.

A player of his undoubted ability, and a man who has already impressed in Serie A with Udinese, would be expected to complement Inter’s attacking unit well, with Mazzola seeing plenty of promise in those already at the San Siro.

Handanovic vows to remain at Inter

He added: “Yes, [I like Inter’s attack] because it has technical strikers with pace and quality.

“I expected more from Gabigol, but the first season in Serie A for foreigners is complicated. We have to have patience.

“[Antonio] Candreva and [Ivan] Perisic have quality, even if they can do more.”

'Inter should sign Verratti' – Berti wants PSG midfielder in place of Kondogbia

The Italy international midfielder has been with Paris Saint-Germain for five years, but he is wanted at San Siro

Inter legend Nicola Berti believes that Marco Verratti would be his former club’s dream signing.

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The Italy international is currently playing with Paris Saint-Germain, having moved to France from Pescara in 2012, and has established himself as one of the game’s outstanding midfielders while with the Ligue 1 champions.

Berti, however, would like to see the 24-year-old back in his homeland.

“Who would I sign? I’d take Verratti in place of Geoffrey Kondogbia, as I’m not really a fan,” he told Gazzamercato.
“If [Inter owners] Suning have the money, I’d sign Verratti.”

The midfielder has long been linked with a move to Juventus and last summer was said to be discontent in Paris, but he has played 28 times for PSG this season and was a key figure as they established a 4-0 last-16 Champions League lead over Barcelona in a tie that will be concluded next week.

'We're fed up' – Spalletti hits back amid penalty controversy

After his side won 3-1 at Inter, the Roma boss was determined to focus on the team’s performance rather than refereeing decisions

Luciano Spalletti says his Roma side are not receiving the credit they deserve, accusing the media of focusing on “little incidents” following Sunday’s 3-1 win over Inter. 

Roma were largely dominant at San Siro with Radja Nainggolan scoring twice and Diego Perotti sealing the win with a penalty after Mauro Icardi had pulled a goal back.

Nainggolan inspires Roma to win

The capital club have been awarded more spot-kicks that any side in Serie A this season, while there was a suggestion of a foul in the build-up to Nainggolan’s second goal, with both points raised to Spaletti after the match.

But the Roma coach was scathing of the attention those incidents received and insists his team were worthy winners in Milan.

“I don’t know what people are looking for,” he told Mediaset Premium. “Roma won deservedly. People seek all these little incidents and I do not see any foul that Nainggolan made on [Roberto] Gagliardini – he jumped at the wrong time.
 
“What interests me is the performance and that shows Roma deserved to win, there is absolutely no doubt about it. All week people have been dragging out pundits and ex-Inter players to talk about penalties. We’re fed up.

“Last year, I had one penalty in 19 games, but I never compared with the records of the other teams. We won anyway.

“Inter tried to create all this controversy throughout the week and lay the groundwork. Penalties are not automatically points.

“Inter are a great team, you just have to look at their players. They play good football and showed strong mentality. That’s all fine. They can lose.

“Roma played well and did not rob anyone of anything.”

VIDEO: Nainggolan hits two screamers

Match-winner Nainggolan, meanwhile, was keen to credit his team-mates for his own fine form that has seen him score in four consecutive league matches.

“We are proving that we deserve to be where we are,” he added. “We won against a great team and it was fully deserved.

“I do what the coach asks of me. I do well because I have a team working with me. Without the team, I am nobody.”