Inter 1-1 Cagliari: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Lautaro Martinez Scores and Sees Red in Stalemate

Inter fell to their third successive Serie A draw on Sunday, with Radja Nainggolan’s late goal consigning the Nerazzurri to a 1-1 stalemate while Lautaro Martinez saw red late on for the hosts.

?Nicolo Barella had the ball in the back of the net 13 minutes in, but the linesman correctly ruled out his effort for offside in a subdued opening. They did find the opener not long after though, as debutant Ashley Young made his mark in Italy just before the half-hour mark by bending a superb cross in for Martinez to direct a header home.


Failing to see the game off in a mediocre second half showing, Radja Nainggolan punished the hosts 12 minutes from time as his long-range effort took a wicket deflection of Alessandro Bastoni and wrong-footed Samir Handanovic in the ?Inter net.

The hosts were unable to find a late winner, but Inter’s problems were made worse as Martinez reacted strongly to a late yellow card, with his protests seeing him sent off via a second booking. It was a result that moved three points behind ?Juventus in Serie A, but the league leaders have the chance to extend their lead later on Sunday.


INTER

Key Talking Point

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Two consecutive draws hampered Inter’s charge towards the ?Serie A summit, and while they saw off Sunday’s opponents with ease in the Coppa Italia recently, their league struggles seemed to have an effect on their start to the match. It was a fairly lethargic opening, with no intensity in their play and some slack defending handing the visitors a couple of early sights of goal.

There was a rally after that first 15 minutes, as Antonio Conte’s side took a stranglehold of proceedings and looked comfortable from thereon in. However, looking in cruise control and on course to extend their lead after the break, another lackadaisical start gifted Cagliari possession in dangerous areas. Inter cannot afford to start games in second gear if they are to claim the Scudetto this season, as better opposition than I Rossoblu will capitalise on those failings more than by just a single goal.

It continued to be a laboured second half, and while there were chances for Inter, Conte’s displeasure on the sidelines could be heard across the city as he got stuck into his side for their inability to kill the game off. His fears became reality with 12 minutes to go, with a poor display after half-time making the equaliser worryingly unsurprising. Do Inter want to win Serie A based on their recent showings? It doesn’t seem like it.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Handanovic (7); Skriniar (N/A), De Vrij (7), Bastoni (6); Young (7*), Barella (7), Valero (6), Sensi (6), Biraghi (5); Lukaku (7), Martinez (7).

Substitutes: Godin (N/A), Sanchez (6), Dimarco (N/A).


Ashley Young

Ashley Young

No word of a lie, the best player on the pitch for Inter on Sunday was indeed their new signing, Ashley Young.

It wasn’t just that he assisted Martinez’s goal, but his all-round display was very impressive. Getting up and down the right flank with purpose, he looked solid covering as a wing-back as well as linking up in attack. 

Heavily criticised by Manchester United fans, the 34-year-old Englishman has already endeared himself to his new supporters with an energetic display and it looks like being a fruitful partnership moving forward.

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CAGLIARI

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cragno (6); Farago (6), Walukiewicz (8), Klavan (7); Nandez (7), Nainggolan (7), Oliva (6), Ionita (7), Pellegrini (6); Simeone (6), Pedro (6)

Substitutes: Castro (7), Mattiello (7), Cigarini (N/A)


Looking Ahead

Inter have a Coppa Italia quarter-final to contend with next up as they host Fiorentina on Wednesday; meanwhile Cagliari are at home to Parma in Serie A on Saturday.

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Royal Rumble: WWE’s Showcase Event Played Out With Footballing Feuds

This Sunday night, WWE’s Royal Rumble will set us up on the road to WrestleMania.

At 90min, we (well, some of us), really like wrestling. So what better way to celebrate January’s finest event than to fantasy book the 30-man, over the top rope bout ourselves, using footballers, football managers, football pundits, and whoever we can think of, to tell a monster of a story.

The rules? One person enters the match every 90 seconds, until 30 participants have entered. 

The last one standing after 29 have been thrown over the top wins. Simple really.


First Entrant: Liverpool FC

FBL-ENG-FACUP-WOLVES-LIVERPOOL

Jurgen Klopp leads his players, backroom staff, tea lady and a small selection of the club’s supporters (YouTube personalities, probably) to the ring as the first entrant. 

There’s around 62 people coming down the aisle to a dirty guitar version of You’ll Never Walk Alone by Saliva, but it’s already been cleared with the top brass that they all count as a collective one entrant. Think of them as the modern day NWO. And think of Virgil van Dijk as ‘Big Sexy’ Kevin Nash. 

I’ll leave you to match the rest to the remaining 61 NWO members.


Second Entrant: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

You couldn’t write this stuff.

?Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer strolls down the aisle with a beaming smile, completely confident in his own abilities to last from number two in the Rumble match and all the way through to the end. Rey Mysterio and Vince McMahon did it, so why can’t he?

He steps into the ring with the other half full with 62 members of ?Liverpool Football Club, and the match begins as the entire collective pick Solskjaer apart. Roy Keane is on commentary and screaming for Solskjaer to be given time.

The Norwegian’s attacks come in feeble, slow and weak flurries which are easily dealt with by Liverpool’s defence. It even seems his famed counter-attack tactic will be useless here. And even before the third entrant comes through the curtain, Solskjaer is picked up and dumped out of the ring. 

Even in poor performance, at least we can consider this a stride forward.


Number 3: Christian Eriksen

Christian Eriksen

Long-serving, talented, but remarkably uninterested.

?Eriksen strolls to the ring with the real-life narrative that his WWE contract is going to expire at 11:59pm on Sunday April 5, 2020 – the night of WrestleMania 36. It’s worked into storyline and the Dane knows he’s still gotta put other guys over because he’s out of contract.

But AEW (in footballing terms, Inter) are out there now, and they offer a much easier schedule and pretty good money. So even though he’s entering a match with 62 members of one team waiting for him, it’s all about participating but not getting injured for Chris. 

The future’s bright – he even looks as though he might be able to leave the company early.


Number 4: Steve Ogrizovic

Steve Ogrizovic

62 years old, but can still go. He’s not fazed by 63 other people in the ring and slides in, broken nose and all, for a good old slugfest with Jurgen Klopp.

James Milner and Jordan Henderson drag the former Coventry ‘keeper to the ground and beat him down a little, before Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson (we did a really good interview with him the other week, ?read that here) pick him up and whip him against the ropes.

Bobby Firmino pops and fly-kicks him over the top. Light work.


Number 5: Fernandinho

Fernandinho

He didn’t get much luck with the draw ?last year, ?Fernandinho, coming in at number four. And unfortunately for him it’s five this time around. Another big job for the Brazilian.

?Mohamed Salah runs up to him, only to get tripped full sprint. Fernie throws a few hooks and establishes himself in the match. 

In the mean time, several of Liverpool’s medical staff are keeping Christian Eriksen quiet. He’s already getting set for a lengthy stint in the ring lying underneath the turnbuckles.


Number 6: Jamaal Lascelles

Jamaal Lascelles

Here he is, look. Jamaal Lascelles and his little unexplained piece of paper.

A first Royal Rumble appearance for the ?Newcastle skipper, who is somehow not injured.


Number 7: Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola

He’s followed up 90 seconds later by Pep Guardiola, who will provide some timely (but let’s be honest, not very suitable – it’s a wrestling match after all) back up for Fernandinho in the Manchester City quest to stop Liverpool dominating everything – like they currently look like doing.

Pep’s entry has picked up the tempo of the match at least. He’s a bit of a high-flier, even if a little lightweight, and catches Dejan Lovren with a head scissors. Even ‘PowerCube’ Xherdan Shaqiri’s having trouble handling him as Pep briefly cleans house – and Fernandinho and his boss stand tall in the centre of the ring.

The above image of Pep, mind you, is his reaction when the music of the next entrant hits.


Number 8: Adama Traore

Adama Traore

Bah gawd, it’s Adama Traore, and lord is he fired up!

Traore races around the ring, slides in and runs the ropes, ducking and weaving every which way to avoid Guardiola’s grasp, before absolutely steamrollering through the emotionally broken City boss and shoulder barging him over the top rope. The crowd go nuts. It was only a few weeks ago Traore ended Pep’s title hopes.

He now locks eyes on Andy Robertson, and threatens to do the exact same thing to the Scot before the multiple members of team Liverpool gang up on him and bring him to the ground. Christian Eriksen looks on pleased that he can continue to rest.


Number 9: Dominic Calvert-Lewin


The ?Everton striker strolls to the ring, and bloody hell is Lascelles pissed. 

This is the first time they’ve seen each other since that ridiculous 2-2 draw between Everton and Newcastle the other day, when DCL mocked the Magpies’ centre half with a reaction that seems to suggest Jamaal needs to brush his teeth.

Calvert-Lewin, wrestling under the name Big Calv, enters the ring and Lascelles gets in his face again. They threaten to fight, Big Calv struggles to breathe, and then out of the blue Liverpool youngster Curtis Jones dumps the striker out of the ring – just like he dumped Everton out of the FA Cup recently.


Number 10: Hard Working British Managers Who Just Need a Chance at a Big Club

FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-EVERTON

Oh no, just what we need. An entire heel stable.

Stuart Pearce, Gordon Strachan and Alan Curbishley emerge first, and all give a glance back to the leader of the pack, Big Sam Allardyce, who is clutching his signature gravy boat in his hand.

Remember when Gangrel used to drink blood on his way to the ring and spit it out? It’s kind of like that. Unfortunately Gangrel’s music was cooler and Sam is swallowing the gravy.

They’ve all made it known they want a piece of Klopp, who is still relatively untroubled in the match, and they’re then joined by their ace in the pack and double-hard bastard Mark Hughes, who arrives as the five-pack make it their mission to eliminate all foreign managers at big clubs. 

With all their experience and knowhow, they take on all comers (except those who aren’t foreign managers).


Number 11: Ashley Young


Appears to have been brainwashed by his new club, as he shouts “I was Young” and “HASHTAG NOT FOR EVERYONE” on the way to the ring. 

Fancies a crack at the Liverpool lot for old time’s sake. 


Number 12: Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez

He’s joined by ?Alexis ‘Piano Player’ Sanchez, his new teammate. The two are ready to work hard for themselves and to proudly represent their current club, ?Inter

The hope is they will be able to establish their love for football (wrestling) again after years of stagnation.


Number 13: Teemu Pukki

Teemu Pukki

Lovely guy and willing to give things a go is Teemu Pukki, despite not being a favourite.

We’ll use this opportunity to clear up who’s in the match: 62 members of Liverpool FC, Fernandinho, Jamaal Lascelles, Adama Traore, Hard Working British Managers Who Just Need a Chance at a Big Club, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young, and now Pukki.

Oh and Christian Eriksen is still in there too.


Number 14: Ed Woodward


FFS, does he have to be involved in everything?


Number 15: Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte

Eriksen is still in there as Conte’s music hits. But as the Dane finally stands up and gets to the centre of the ring, he’s greeted by Woodward – who has been desperate to try and get him to play for Manchester United for months – and Eriksen’s just had enough.

He acknowledges Sanchez and Young, before hopping over the top rope and eliminating himself because, well, it’s just too much now. On his way to Milan, Eriksen gives Conte a nice high five and leaves the arena.

His new manager enters the fray meanwhile, perfectly capable of getting angry.


Number 16: Pontus Kaamark

Pontus Kaamark

Every Rumble gets a nice blast from the past, and here’s another one.

Comes out to muted applause and small cheers, as the largely PG audience don’t really have any actual clue who he is.

In the ring, Sanchez and Young are buzzing as Conte sets up a nice little pack with them. The three efficiently manage to dump out Pukki and Lascelles, while Woodward is in there trying to negotiate with Adama Traore. Manchester United’s extensive scouting network fed back to Woodward that he’d been playing well for a few weeks.


Number 17: Mikel Arteta

FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-SHEFFIELD UTD

This is it. This is the moment for the Hard Working British Managers Who Just Need a Chance at a Big Club to finally create themselves an opportunity. Klopp is too protected by his avid supporters and difficult to get to, and Mikel Arteta is all on his own, ready to be fed to the hungry wolves.

Arteta’s not fazed mind. It’s his way or the highway and he’s going to bring the energy – energy that it appears the likes of a few older heads can’t really deal with. And as are the rules in this match, everyone from any one group has to be eliminated in order for everyone to be out. No problem for Mikel.

Curbishley and Strachan are first to go with a double clothesline over the top, leaving three of the five for Mikel to deal with down the line.


Number 18: VAR

Manchester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

It took a while, but it’s here. It has to be here. 

The match grinds to a halt. Everybody stops. And now, Video Assistant Referee is going to review every single elimination in the match so far to check whether both feet of each person thrown out has touched the floor. It’s not received well by the crowd, who want to see action.

And it’s also pretty difficult for VAR to enter the ring, as an entire room at Stockley Park has to fit through the ropes, but it manages to do so.


?Number 19: Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder

Walks in. Kicks VAR high into the crowd. Leaves.


Number 20: Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

Joins up with his former Man Utd teammates in the ring and helps make Conte’s Inter stronger. They’re preparing themselves to try and down the seemingly unbreakable Liverpool, who are spoiling everyone else’s offence.


Number 21: Peter Odemwingie

Winner of more Premier League Player of the Month awards than several very good footballers, with three. And has a habit of turning up in places he’s not expected to turn up in.

Doesn’t last very long unfortunately.


Number 22: English Media w/ Weird Need to Place Blame on Paul Pogba


It’s ridiculous. Please stop it


Number 23: Tanguy Ndombele

Tanguy NDombele

Just happy to finally be involved!


Number 24: Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho,Ralph Hasenhuttl

Enters the arena pretty annoyed with the entrant before him for participating in the match after he’s not been fit enough to play for Spurs. Throws him out as a result.

Mourinho then spots Southampton coach Andrew Sparkes in the front row holding a sign which says just one word on it in capital letters – ‘IDIOT’ – and Jose doesn’t like the taste of his own medicine. 

He rips up the sign and rolls back into the ring, just hoping he can hang with whoever’s left in there.


Number 25: Phil Stamp

West Ham v M''brough

Comes down to the ring repeatedly shouting ‘STAMP IT!’ and threatens to stamp all over Alexis Sanchez, who he’s locked his eyes on, because his name his Phil Stamp and his ingenious gimmick involves stamping and/or stamping on things.

Hey don’t blame me for lacking creativity here – Phil made his name in the 90s, when a fella named Sparky Plugg (a NASCAR dude gimmick) and The Goon (an Ice Hockey player) were living it up on the WWE roster with Bastion Booger.


Number 26: Nuno Espirito Santo

Nuno Espirito Santo

Arteta’s joined by Nuno in the ring, and the two decide to join forces to finally eradicate the Hard Working British Managers Who Just Need a Chance at a Big Club.

Wolves are pretty good nowadays y’know, and the two move to take out the Really Quite Hard tag-team of Stuart Pearce and Mark Hughes, and it really gets the crowd going. Sam Allardyce sees what’s going on and panics, picks up his boat and chugs down some gravy before attempting to spit it out in the pair’s eyes.

They’re too quick, and Allardyce is in a world of trouble. Nuno military presses the guy above his head, but all of a sudden Arteta throws a drop-kick into Nuno’s back – sending both he and Allardyce over the top to the outside. The remainder of the gravy spills everywhere.

Arteta stands there in the ring, completely careless about his heel turn. He’s only there to take care of business. But there’s one team in the match who take care of business better than anybody else – and Arteta is bundled out of town by six members of Team Liverpool.


?Number 27: Roy Keane

Roy Keane

Jumps out from the commentary table and into the ring. Knows how to scrap and therefore starts to do so.

Elsewhere, Klopp is directing Liverpool and ordering his troops to throw out the deadwood, which Keane manages to avoid for now.

Kaamark (what a shift, fair play mate), Stamp, Pearson and Pukki are all smashed to bits and thrown out of the game, one by one. But wanting to prove a point – Inter’s Conte, Sanchez, Lukaku and Young fancy their chances against the entrant many now feel to be the favourite.

It gets ugly, but you know who wins the battle. There’s 62 of them.


?Number 28: Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

Last year’s Royal Rumble match winner has very different goals this time around.

He makes a beeline for the media who’ve been blaming him for every single bloody thing that’s wrong with Manchester United even though he’s been injured over the last few months, and the crowd goes wild as Pogba dumps them out of the match. Finally, they’re silenced.

And clearly not forgetting their past either, Pogba unceremoniously dumps out Mourinho before throwing out a nice PogDance right in front of his old boss. The chapter isn’t over for these two, not yet by a long shot


?Number 29: Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes

Is it? Could it be?

Despite the doubt he actually exists, Bruno Fernandes’ music hits. He’s masked, for some reason – possibly to still not give away whether he’s a real person or not – and he slips into the ring before seeing Ed Woodward. 

The two lock eyes, and the person we think is Bruno knows what’s coming. 

Negotiation. 

He just cannot be bothered with it. He hops back over the top rope, eliminating himself, while Woodward does the same with his chequebook in hand. Woodward follows Bruno as he shuttles underneath the ring, and the pair are never to be seen again.

It’s not that Bruno wasn’t tempted by Ed’s money or Manchester United, it’s just that…well…he’s absolutely sick of hearing about anything in relation to “Bruno Fernandes Transfer”.


The Final Entrant: The Match Official w/ Peter Walton


Oh no.

He’s grabbed a bloody microphone. He’s speaking for the referee, who will remain unnamed.

Per the referee’s rule, entry number 18, VAR, was not correctly eliminated after being kicked out by Chris Wilder earlier in the match. It is a room, it has no feet to hit the floor, and thus cannot be eliminated, only destroyed. It’s the ruling of the unnamed official and Peter Walton is validating it, even though the rule is stupid. 

VAR re-enters the match, again struggling to get through the ropes, and Liverpool FC are really, really miffed that this might spoil their moment. 


The Go-Home Moments

UEFA Champions League"Tottenham Hotspur FC v Liverpool FC"

VAR, Match Official w/Peter Walton, Paul Pogba, Roy Keane and Liverpool FC are the final five entrants, and i’ll be honest with you – this is going to be the least dramatic finish to a Royal Rumble match in the history of Royal Rumble matches.

Salah, Mane and Firmino combine to put an end to Keane and Pogba’s hopes of winning, and it’s now just down to Liverpool and the officials – since they are probably the only ones even remotely capable of getting in the way of Liverpool’s charge to winning every competition there is to win in 2020.

And just like that, vanquished. Liverpool stand there, all 62 of them, victorious. Not a glove laid on them, only their fans somehow surprised that they’ve managed to actually win an opportunity at the title at WrestleMania.

It’s going to be a long, inevitable few months until they finally get their hands on the title…


For more from Scott Saunders, follow him on ?Twitter!

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

?Antonio Conte’s Inter host Cagliari in Serie A this Sunday as they look to close the gap on leaders Juventus.

The San Siro side are second in the league, four points of Juventus having drawn their last two league games. They’ve lost only once all season and have the best defence in the league conceding only 17 goals in 20 games. 

Joao Pedro

Meanwhile, Cagliari has also had an impressive league season so far. They’re seventh in Serie A but haven’t won in their last six games which has seen them drop away from the top four. Their 2-2 away draw with Brescia last time out stopped a run of four consecutive losses.

This is a massive game in terms of Inter’s title challenge and will need the three points to keep the pressure on Juventus. Here’s 90min’s preview of the game.


Where to Watch

?When Is Kick Off? ?Sunday 26 January
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?11:30 (GMT)
Where Is It Being Played?? ?San Siro
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?Premier Sports 1
Referee?? ?Gianluca Manganiello

Team News

Conte has a couple of injury concerns ahead of the visit of Cagliari. Danilo D’Ambrosio is sidelined due to a leg injury while Kwadwo Asamoah is out long term with knee? problems.

There are also doubts over Marcelo Brozovic and Roberto Gagliardini who picked up injuries last weekend. Antonio Candreva is suspended so will definitely miss out but there is good news with the return of on-loan Manchester United man ?Alexis Sánchez. There could be start for new signings Victor Moses and Ashley Young.

Alexis Sanchez

Cagliari have an abundance of injuries to deal with which have recently hampered their league form. All of Alberto Cerri, Leonardo Pavoletti, Luca Ceppitelli and Marko Rog are key players that won’t feature for the visitors.

Add to that the suspension of centre back Fabio Pisacane and the Cagliari squad is looking very thin. Radja Nainggolan is allowed to play against his parent club and is likely to start in the centre of midfield.


Potential Lineups

?Inter Milan ?Handanovic; Bastoni, De Vrij, Skriniar; Young, Barella, Valero, Sensi, Biraghi; Martinez, Lukaku
?Cagliari ?Olsen; Farago, Pellegrini, Klavan, Walukiewicz; Nandez, Nainggolan, Cigarini; Pedro, Castro; Simeone

Head-to-Head Record

These two Italian sides have met each other a total of 45 times with ?Inter unsurprisingly having the edge over their opponents. Inter have won 24 games with Cagliari only securing seven wins and another 14 ending all square.

Recently, I Nerazzurri have got the best of this fixture having won six of the last seven meetings, while winning 15 of the 23 clashes at San Siro.

Romelu Lukaku

The last meeting between the two sides was only eleven days ago with Inter getting the best of the Sardinians winning 4-1 in the Coppa Italia thanks to a brace from ?Romelu Lukaku.


Recent Form

Inter’s form has been a bit hit and miss following the winter break having dropped points at home to Atalanta and away at Brescia. They beat Napoli 3-1 away in their first game after the winter break.

Add to that a 4-1 win over Cagliari in the Coppa Italia already this month and Conte’s side do remain unbeaten in 2020 but would’ve been hoping to keep pace with leaders ?Juventus. A win here would see them move just one point behind Juve ahead of their game against Napoli.

Udinese Calcio v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A

Cagliari’s recent form has not been good after a great opening to the season. They’ve won just one of their last eight in all competitions which was a 2-1 defeat of Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia. In fact, they haven’t won a ?Serie A game since early December.

Since then, they have gone on a run of six league games without a win which included a stretch of four consecutive defeats. They stopped that rot with a 2-2 draw at 19th placed Brescia last time out.

Here are both sides last five results.

 ?

?Inter Cagliari?
Lecce 1-1 ?Inter (19/1) Brescia 2-2 ?Cagliari (19/1)
?Inter 4-1 Cagliari (14/1) Inter 4-1 ?Cagliari (14/1)
?Inter 1-1 Atalanta (11/1) ?Cagliari 0-2 AC Milan (11/1)
?Napoli 1-3 Inter (8/1) ?Juventus 4-0 Cagliari (6/1)
?Inter 4-0 Genoa (21/12) ?Udinese 2-1 Cagliari (21/12)

Prediction

Inter need the win to make sure they keep in touch with leaders Juventus – and they should be able to do so.

Lautaro Martínez,Romelu Lukaku

Cagliari are woefully out of form and they are suffering from a slew of injuries especially in defensive areas whereas Inter have strengthened their squad during the window.

Lautaro Martinez and Luk?aku remain one of the most feared attacking duos in the world and they will lead Inter to an important league win.

Prediction: Inter 3-0 Cagliari


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Romelu Lukaku Recalls Being Humiliated by Inter Boss Antonio Conte

Inter forward Romelu Lukaku has revealed Antonio Conte labelled him ‘rubbish’ in front of all his team mates in the aftermath of a Champions League fixture earlier in the season. 

The former Manchester United striker, who joined Inter in the summer for a fee rising to €75m, has found himself in scintillating form since leaving England.

However, after Inter’s disappointing 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague in September – a game in which Lukaku failed to find the back of the net – the 26-year-old admitted Conte did not hold back in telling him exactly what he thought of his goalless performance. 

FBL-EUR-C1-INTER-SLAVIA PRAGUE

“I played very badly, and in front of the whole team in the dressing room, Conte told me that I was rubbish,” Lukaku explained to ?Sky Sports in a recent interview.

“He is honest, says things directly on the load, whether good or bad. He said that if I had that attitude again, I would be replaced after five minutes.”

It seemed Conte’s scathing review of his striker’s performance provoked a powerful response – ?Lukaku went onto net in the return leg against Prague, and added a further strike against ?Barcelona. 

Romelu Lukaku

Yet, Inter’s dropped points proved too costly to overturn, and were failed to progress to the knockout rounds of the Champions League. 

With the club’s attention turned towards maintaining their Serie A title push, Lukaku has spearheaded the charge. He has struck 14 times in his 19 league starts thus far; an impressive return considering he’s been in Italy for just several months. 

His manager, Conte, recently spoke his long-standing interest in the Belgian international, and his desire to improve him as a player. 

SSC Napoli v FC Internazionale - Serie A

“I wanted Romelu very strongly when I was at Chelsea, even back at ?Juventus. I wanted him, now I can get to work on polishing the diamond,” Conte said, as quoted by the.

Lukaku is flourishing under the Italian’s guidance, and has expressed his gratitude working under his current head coach. “I am really happy with the way we are doing at the moment.”, before adding, “It’s important to have a great leader like Antonio Conte on the bench.”

Inter are currently four points behind Serie A leaders Juventus, but can keep up their title challenge at the San Siro on Sunday, where they take on Cagliari. 

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Christian Eriksen Nearing Inter Move After ‘Total Agreement’ Reached With Tottenham

?Christian Eriksen looks to have taken a significant step towards becoming an Inter player in January, as reports claim the Italian side have reached ‘total agreement’ with Tottenham over a deal.

The Denmark midfielder is out of contract in the summer, and is widely reported to have been in talks with Inter over a move throughout January, the general feeling being that a deal would be concluded eventually – either immediately or on a pre-contract agreement. 

Christian Eriksen

Reporting over the story had slowed in recent days with the move seeming to drag on, but new life was breathed into the situation on Thursday evening when it became apparent Spurs had ?accepted a bid for his services. .  

Barcelona were then reported to have made a ?last-gasp effort to recruit him, but it seems the Catalan giants have left it too late, as the reliable Fabrizio Romano reports that a deal is now a near-certainty. 

The Italian journalist reports that an agreement has been reached between the two clubs over his sale, and that the player will arrive in Italy ‘in the next days’ to put pen to paper on a deal with the Serie A side.

Spurs head coach José Mourinho has stuck by Eriksen in the face of the continuing speculation over his future, but recent games have seen him scale back the 27-year-old’s involvement – perhaps in the knowledge that he will be departing sooner rather than later. 

His last league start came in the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool earlier this month, and though he started the subsequent FA Cup replay with Middlesbrough, he has been used as a fleeting substitute in the two games since. 

Max Aarons,Christian Eriksen

For ?Inter, the deal will be their third signing from the Premier League of the window, with Manchester United’s Ashley Young and Chelsea’s Victor Moses arriving to boost Antonio Conte’s ranks. 


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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