Inter Hakimi payment mystery explained

La Repubblica claim Inter have agreed with Real Madrid to delay the first payment for Achraf Hakimi by three months.

The Nerazzurri signed the wing-back for €40m to be paid in a series of €10m instalments.

The first was expected in December, but reports in Spain pointed out the money had not been handed over on time.

However, La Repubblica newspaper published a copy of an agreement Real Madrid signed with Inter a few weeks ago, which allows them to delay the €10m payment from December 2020 to the end of March 2021.

Inter are having serious financial problems at the moment following the effects of the pandemic and Chinese blocks on their companies investing in foreign football clubs.

They are also negotiating with players to delay the payment of their salaries in order to find liquidity.

Suning are currently in talks with investment fund BC Partners to sell up to 40 per cent of the club’s shares.

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Probable line-ups: Inter v Juventus

Federico Chiesa, Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected to start for Juventus against Inter’s Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and Arturo Vidal.

It kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 GMT, click here for a match preview.

The Nerazzurri have almost a full squad to choose from, save for Danilo D’Ambrosio, Andrea Pinamonti and Matias Vecino.

Matteo Darmian is available again, but probably only from the bench, as Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young take the wings.

Lukaku and Lautaro will be the front pairing, with Vidal preferred to Roberto Gagliardini in the usual midfield with Nicolò Barella and Marcelo Brozovic.

Juventus are still missing Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado due to COVID-19, with Paulo Dybala injured for at least another two weeks with a knee ligament problem.

A choice needs to be made in defence between Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral, while Weston McKennie probably won’t be risked from the start, giving Adrien Rabiot the nod.

Chiesa and Ramsey have shaken off knocks and should be in the starting XI with Rodrigo Bentancur and Gianluca Frabotta.

There are no other alternatives upfront, it’s got to be Morata and Ronaldo, sending Dejan Kulusevski to the bench after his impressive display in the Coppa Italia against Genoa midweek.

Probable line-ups

Inter (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Vidal, Young; Lautaro Martinez, R Lukaku

Juventus (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Frabotta; Chiesa, Bentancur, Rabiot, Ramsey; Morata, Ronaldo

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Pirlo inspired by Conte at Juve

Andrea Pirlo reveals Antonio Conte ‘made me want to become a coach’ during their time at Juventus and they’ll ‘battle to the end’ with Inter for the Scudetto.

It kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“I expect to see an aggressive Inter that wants to set the tempo for the game, but we are Juventus, so we want to go to San Siro with our style of football, free from pressure,” said Pirlo in his press conference.

“There must be no fear, no timidity, even in such an important match. We must free our minds. We are Juventus and must be accustomed to people putting pressure on us.

“The victory would give us a real boost that goes beyond the three points. We might have different philosophies at this moment, but both teams will fight to the end for the title.”

Conte was the coach who started the nine-year Scudetto winning streak, with Pirlo in his midfield, but they now face off as opposing tacticians.

“Conte and I have two very different personalities, which is probably why we have always got along really well. We did speak before the season began, there remains great respect and affection between us.

“He made Juventus history and I learned a lot from him, so will always be grateful. Conte is the first man who made me want to become a coach. He is a great person as well as a great coach, but tomorrow we will be opponents on the touchline.”

Pirlo was asked if he was planning any particular tactical alternatives to counter the threat of Ahcraf Hakimi’s pace.

“We have Aaron Ramsey, Weston McKennie and other options too. We’ve studied a few different alternatives and tomorrow we’ll see.

“McKennie is not at 100 per cent, but it’s good to have him at our disposal. Ramsey trained all week, so he has no issues. Giorgio Chiellini is also doing well and an added bonus for this squad.”

Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado are still out with COVID-19.

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Inter redirect Esposito to Venezia

Inter are on the verge of loaning striker Sebastiano Esposito to Serie B side Venezia, interrupting his time at SPAL.

According to Sportitalia, Sky Sport Italia and more, a meeting was held this morning and negotiations are progressing rapidly.

He is expected to seal the deal tomorrow, joining Venezia on loan until the end of the season.

The 18-year-old had joined SPAL on loan on September 25 and was meant to stay there until June.

However, after just one goal in 13 games between Serie B and the Coppa Italia, Esposito will interrupt the loan and go to Venezia instead.

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More companies look at Inter investment

It’s not just BC Partners who are in negotiations to purchase shares in Inter, according to the Financial Times, but also BQT and Arctos Sports Partners.

The Nerazzurri’s owners Suning effectively confirmed this week they are in talks to sell part of the club, and haven’t ruled out the possibility of selling a majority share.

British private equity firm BC Partners are already said to be doing due diligence on the club’s accounts, but they might not be the only candidates.

News agency Reuters also stated today that “BC Partners is in talks to buy into Italian soccer team Inter Milan, four sources familiar with the matter said, as top investor Suning looks for resources to inject into the loss-making Serie A club.”

According to the Financial Times newspaper, other companies looking at potential investment in Inter include BQT and Arctos Sports Partners.

The latter would be involved via a Swedish equity firm, EQT.

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Martinez Quarta shows Lukaku ‘scars’

Fiorentina defender Lucas Martinez Quarta showed off scratches to his neck after complaining Romelu Lukaku fouled him for the Coppa Italia winning goal.

The incident occurred at the 118th minute at the Stadio Franchi, just before Lukaku was allowed a free header on Nicolò Barella’s cross.

Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli and several players urged the referee to view the challenge again on VAR, but he refused.

After the game, Martinez Quarta showed off some scratches on his neck via Firenzeviola.it, which it’s claimed were caused by the Lukaku interaction.

Image via firenzeviola.it

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Prandelli saw foul on Inter winner

Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli feels the referee and VAR should’ve re-evaluated the winning Inter goal in the Coppa Italia Round of 16.

The Viola had cancelled out the Arturo Vidal penalty with a Christian Kouame effort, but Romelu Lukaku’s free header sealed it in the final minute of extra time.

“There is great disappointment and regret, but we are also proud of the performance, as we were a minute away from pushing Inter to penalties,” said the coach in his press conference.

There were complaints about the Lukaku goal, as Lucas Martinez Quarta said he was fouled by the Belgian, showing some scratches on his neck via social media after the game.

“I do believe the winning goal should’ve been reviewed by the VAR, because 30 seconds from the end, the referee needed to show a little more tact,” continued Prandelli.

“Recent performances have been good, and clearly we still need to break away from the danger zone in Serie A, but we hope these games can help our self-belief to grow. We need more confidence when facing certain moments of the match.”

Franck Ribery was again out injured, so Kouame got a rare start and found the back of the net too.

“I had no doubts he would play well. Without anyone in the trequartista role, we can have two strikers, but when there’s a player between the lines, that becomes complicated. I liked the experience with Dusan Vlahovic and Kouame, but that’s only because we had three midfielders.

“Gaetano Castrovilli was a bit too deep in the first half, but he showed his potential going forward.”

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Conte: ‘Inter deserved qualification’

Antonio Conte insists Inter fully deserved their place in the Coppa Italia quarter-final and ‘certainly had the chances’ to beat Fiorentina in normal time.

The Nerazzurri needed a Romelu Lukaku header at the 118th minute to finally get the better of Fiorentina in extra time, after Arturo Vidal’s penalty and a Christian Kouame strike.

“The qualification was deserved and it could’ve come in the opening 90 minutes, because we certainly had the chances to win it,” Conte told Inter TV.

“The lads did well, playing 120 minutes with a good tempo, intensity and organisation. I am satisfied. I’m also happy for those players who haven’t featured for a while, like Aleksandar Kolarov and Andrea Ranocchia, as they proved how much they care for Inter.

“This was the best Inter side based on the choices I could make. Achraf Hakimi was running a fever yesterday, for example. I put together a strong line-up to win the game and got a strong response from everyone.”

Inter could’ve done without playing extra time just days before their Serie A showdown with Juventus this weekend.

“There is a positive aspect too, as the fact we won in a difficult arena like Florence will boost confidence and recharge the batteries. These lads have won eight of their last 11 games, drawing with Roma and losing to Samp, yet it never seems to be enough.

“It was important to qualify and that is an injection of pure energy into the squad.”

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Prandelli’s Fiorentina will ‘attack’ Inter

Cesare Prandelli wants Fiorentina to play ‘open and attacking football’ against Inter in the Coppa Italia and hails Dusan Vlahovic.

The Round of 16 tie kicks off on Wednesday at 14.00 GMT.

“We must not see the Coppa Italia as an inconvenience. Those who step onto the field must trouble an excellent Inter squad and we want to play open and attacking football,” said Prandelli in his press conference.

The Viola are fresh from a much-needed Serie A victory over Cagliari.

“Many people kept saying we were not a relegation-level team, and yet we were always down there. We finally got down to the dirty work with Cagliari, showing determination and hunger.

“There’s a long way to go yet, but the foundations are there. We have to always approach games with the mentality that this is the last match of the season and we’re fighting for safety.”

Pietro Terracciano will start in goal and Gaetano Castrovilli returns after he was suspended against Cagliari, but Franck Ribery is still out injured.

“In order to combat the physicality of Inter, we must be faster and more concentrated on our marking. They are a squad well-equipped to win every tournament they are in, but there are some teams who are weaker than us and caused them problems with great performances, so why can’t we?”

Prandelli reserved praise for striker Dusan Vlahovic, who can’t seem to stop scoring at the moment.

“When you have young players, they are like sponges, eager to soak up information and learn constantly. I have seen very few players, perhaps only Adriano, who was this good at the age of 20. Having said that, we have to approach this with balance, because until a few weeks ago there were doubts about Vlahovic.

“The club is negotiating with his agent to decide his future.”

Fiorentina squad for Inter: Dragowski, Terracciano; Barreca, Biraghi, Caceres, Dalle Mura, Igor, Martinez Quarta, Milenkovic, Pezzella, Venuti; Amrabat, Bonaventura, Castrovilli, Duncan, Eysseric, Borja Valero, Krastev; Callejon, Kouame, Montiel, Vlahovic

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Report: No injury for Pezzella

Fiorentina defender German Pezzella has reportedly avoided a serious injury against Cagliari.

Pezzella was forced to leave the pitch in the first half of the 1-0 win over Cagliari due to a problem in the hamstring.

FirenzeViola reports the centre-back underwent tests that has revealed the defender avoided injuries to the left thigh and he has already started the appropriate therapies to return to the pitch.

He will be assessed for the Coppa Italia match against Inter on Wednesday.

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