Arsenal Reportedly Considering £25m Mesut Ozil Exit With Inter Set for Talks This Week

?Arsenal are apparently open to the idea of offloading star man Mesut Ozil in January, with Inter set to discuss a potential transfer with the German’s agent in Italy this week.

Ozil has been absent from each of Arsenal’s last four Premier League outings, of which the Gunners have won four and drawn one, with the 29-year-old suffering with a back problem. The midfielder is being eased back into training, but there are growing concerns that he no longer has a place in Unai Emery’s setup.

?Arsenal’s Spanish head coach has revamped his system in ?Ozil’s absence in recent weeks, switching to a back three system which the German may struggle to adjust to upon his return to action. With that said, ?The Sun have reported that the Gunners may be prepared to sanction Ozil’s exit from the Emirates.

The report comes as something of a surprise, given that the Gunners handed Ozil a staggering pay rise to £350,000-a-week to commit his future to the north London side – just a year before Arsenal are now said to be considering his departure.

However, Ozil’s new contract was one of the last major deals conducted by the club as Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager drew to a close at the Emirates, and Unai Emery has made significant changes at Arsenal since then.

The Spaniard has implemented a more meticulous and ruthless regime in north London, and that is reportedly set to continue in Ozil’s case.

Arsenal are said to be open to offers of around £25m for the German superstar in January.

It is said that Ozil’s brother will be among his representatives that travel to Italy this week to hold talks over a potential deal with Serie A giants ?Inter.

Though the San Siro outfit are apparently unable to meet the midfielder’s wage demands, Ozil would see little sense in staying put at the Emirates if he is no longer first choice under Emery.

What’s more, it is suggested that Emery could be keen to generate funds from Ozil’s departure to put towards signing a replacement for the injured Danny Welbeck in attack. The England striker is likely to miss the rest of the season.


Luciano Spalletti Slams ‘Naive’ Inter After Juventus Earn 1-0 Win in Derby d’Italia

Inter manager Luciano Spalletti slammed his side’s naivety as despite Inter’s early dominance, Juventus earned a narrow 1-0 victory in the Derby d’Italia.

In a fiercely competitive first half, the Nerazzurri would have felt they had deserved to take a lead into the second half after creating a host of golden opportunities. First, Roberto Gagliardini struck the post after some excellent build-up play around the box, before Ivan Perisic’s drilled effort whistled wide of the far post.


?Inter’s profligacy cost them dearly after the restart as the Bianconeri’s Mario Manduzkic was on hand to convert a Joao Cancelo cross with a diving header and hand ?Juventus all three points. 

Spalletti later revealed his frustrations at his side’s lack of composure in front of goal and criticised his players for struggling to be consistent in their decision-making.

Speaking to ?Sky Sport Italia, he said (as quoted by ?Goal): “If someone takes the lead, of course it makes the difference, but we made too many banal and cheap errors.

“There was one moment where we burst away and got behind their defence, but we failed to get the ball to the forwards. That can make the difference, as we struggle to be consistent for 90 minutes.”


Spalletti added: “There is always someone who is too slow, who talks too much, who is careless and not on the same page as the others.

“Unfortunately, Juve are smart and we are naive. They have a way of wasting five minutes after a foul.”


Juventus 1-0 Inter: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Mandzukic Header Decides Derby d’Italia

In the Derby d’Italia, a diving header from Mario Mandzukic was enough for Serie A frontrunners Juventus to claim victory against rivals Inter at the Allianz Stadium.

In a fiery opening period filled with rugged challenges, Inter would have been disappointed that they failed to take a lead into the second half. Surprise starter Roberto Gagliardini saw his strike come off the inside of the post, before Croatian winger Ivan Perisic saw his drilled effort flash just wide, as the Nerazzurri’s early dynamism unsettled the league leaders.


However, Allegri’s side responded with a far better second period and enjoyed large spells of possession in the Inter half. Their relentless pressure eventually paid off, as Mario Mandzukic’s diving header from a Joao Cancelo cross just past the hour mark gave the Old Lady a deserved lead.

The home side’s defence then stood firm amidst late pressure from Inter and helped Juventus to a crucial victory over their third-placed rivals.

Check out our breakdown of the game below.


Key Talking Point

Heading into the game unbeaten in ?Serie A, Allegri’s side were presented with the task of facing a rejuvenated Inter. After struggling to cope with the Nerazzurri’s tempo in the first half, 

Juventus came out strong in the second half. 

Having pinned Inter into their own half they claimed victory thanks to a header from Mandzukic. It was a performance that rarely had moments of attacking quality, but crucially, Allegri’s side showed the resolve and sheer determination to see themselves over the line.

Juventus v FC Internazionale - Serie A

With Cristiano Ronaldo now amongst their ranks, and an already impervious defensive structure led by Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, it is no wonder that Juventus are considered early favourites to lift the Champions League this season.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Szczesny (7); Cancelo (8), Bonucci (7), Chiellini (8*), De Sciglio (7); Bentancur (7), Pjanic (6), Matuidi (7); Dybala (7), Mandzukic (8), Ronaldo (7).

Substitutes: Douglas Costa (6), Can (6).

STAR MAN – Up against one of the Serie A’s most prolific strikers in Mauro Icardi, Italian centre-back Chiellini essentially bullied his Argentine counterpart into submission. The veteran defender was aggressive and strong in the tackle and barely gave Icardi a look-in for the entire game.

WORST PLAYER – One of the finest talents in world football, ?Paulo Dybala’s well-renowned technical ability let him down on crucial occasions in the game. His usually imperious control deserted him when presented with a clear volley mid-way through the second half, and was also guilty of firing over in the opening minutes of the game.

Juventus v FC Internazionale - Serie A

With ?Cristiano Ronaldo the new star of the team and Allegri preferring Mandzukic’s work-rate defensively, Dybala was the forward sacrificed by Allegri when Juventus took the lead. 

The Argentine’s look at being substituted said it all.


Key Talking Point

After following up a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in the Champions League with a stalemate against Roma (in which they led twice), all eyes were on how ?Inter would respond in yet another crunch fixture.

Spalletti’s side started brightly in the first half but were left to rue missing a couple of very clear opportunities when Mandzukic scored the winner. With the sides below them breathing down their neck in the race for a Champions League place, Inter’s defeat here has opened up an opportunity for city rivals Milan and surprise package Torino to close the gap.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Handanovic (7); Vrsaljko (6), Skriniar (7), Miranda (6), Asamoah (5); Gagliardini (6), Brozovic (8), Mario (7); Politano (7), Perisic (6), Icardi (6).

Substitutes: Valero (6), Keita (6), Martinez (5).

STAR MAN – Part of the Croatia team that reached the World Cup final last summer, Marcelo Brozovic’s reputation pales into comparison with fellow international compatriots Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. However, against Juventus, the former Dinamo Zagreb man ran the show just like his more illustrious Croatian teammates.

Brozovic was a box-to-box presence, putting in last-ditch blocks on the edge of his own area before driving into the heart of the Juventus midfield with excellent dribbling. In a game against one of the Serie A’s leading playmakers in the Bianconeri’s Miralem Pjanic, there was no doubt Brozovic came out on top.

WORST PLAYER – Barring his involvement in Gagliardini’s effort in the first half, Inter captain ?Mauro Icardi was marshalled out of the game by veteran defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. The wily Italian centre-backs kept the Nerazzurri talisman in check and cut off all the supply line to the striker. 

The Argentine forward became virtually anonymous in the second half and the lack of a focal point meant Inter were forced to retreat well into their own half. This was a night to forget for last season’s joint top-scorer.

Looking Ahead

Having already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, Juventus will look to secure top spot ahead of Manchester United when they travel to Switzerland to face Young Boys.

Following that, Juventus will return to Serie A action when they face tricky ties against high-flying Torino and rivals AS Roma. 


Unlike their Turin counterparts, the Nerazzurri’s path into the last 16 of the Champions League is far less straightforward. After their defeat to Spurs at Wembley last month, the north London side now have the upper-hand heading into the final round of fixtures. 

However, Luciano Spalletti’s side know that with the Italians facing bottom of the group PSV, and Spurs facing a daunting trip to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona, qualification from the group stage remains a very realistic dream.


Inter & Fulham Linked With Move for Out of Favour Man Utd Defender Matteo Darmian

?Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian is being closely monitored by a number of clubs around Europe, with Inter and Fulham said to be leading the race for the Italian.

Darmian, who arrived at the club in 2015, has fallen out of favour at United in recent years and would appear to be surplus to Jose Mourinho’s requirements. He was forced to settle for just eight Premier League appearances last season and has just three outings to his name this year.

Bayern Muenchen v Manchester United - Friendly Match

According to ?Gazzetta dello Sport, ?Inter are seriously considering bringing Darmian to the club at the end of the season, as they are currently unconvinced by on-loan defender Sime Vrsaljko.

The Croatian right-back has struggled with various injuries since joining from ?Atletico Madrid during the summer, and now Inter are reluctant to part with a fee of around £16m to make the move permanent. The Italian side have already spent around £6m to bring Vrsaljko to the club, and they fear that his injury troubles could prove to be problematic in the future.

Italian outlet ?TuttoMercatoWeb claim that both Inter and Lazio have been offered the chance to sign Darmian, who will be out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of the season. However, with the two teams currently uncertain as to whether they want to pursue the transfer, ?Premier League side ?Fulham have reportedly entered the race for Darmian’s signature.

The Cottagers are hoping to negotiate a loan deal for Darmian in January, and then try convince him to stay at the club beyond next summer. ?La Liga side Valencia are also said to be considering a similar strategy, but Darmian is believed to be keen on a return to Italy after several challenging years in England.

AC Milan v Manchester United - International Champions Cup 2018

Darmian’s start to life in the Premier League was reasonably fruitful. In his debut season, he made 39 appearances in all competitions, including 28 in the league. However, with his contract expiring, he has found regular game time hard to come by at the club, and is currently set to become a free agent at the end of the season.


Picking a Combined XI of Juventus & Inter Players Ahead of Friday Night’s Serie A Clash

It promises to be a momentous occasion on Friday night, when Serie A leaders Juventus will take on one of the last remaining anti-Juve candidates in Inter in the Derby d’Italia. 

With a whopping eight point gap at the top already, and an 11 point buffer between them and their opponents, as well as a, unbeaten record, there’s no doubting who the favourites are. 

THere is a form-based combined XI (4-2-3-1) of these two titanic sides. 

1. GK: Samir Handanovic

The first of many big calls, but for me, it’s the Slovenian custodian who edges out his Polish counterpart. That’s not to belittle Wojciech Szczesny’s form at Juve, which has certainly not been as spotty as some of the English press will make out, but Samir Handanovic remains the safer pair of hands.

He will certainly have to be at his impregnable best to keep out I Bianconeri under the lights at the Allianz Stadium.

2. RB: Sime Vrsaljko

For such prestigious teams, the right-back position seems the only place of slight weakness. That is, on form at least, because on his day Sime Vrasljko is one of the most well-rounded, imposing right sided defenders there are. 

He has certainly had an action-packed year, and hopefully the rest he’s received in recent times will allow him to return to those lofty heights once again.

3. CB: Milan Skriniar

This is big. The ceremonious passing of the torch between two wonderful defenders. Look, Leonardo Bonucci is great. Everyone knows that. But he’s never been quite the same since his unceremonious exit from Turin last summer. 

He remains an incredible passer of the ball, but his defensive solidity has been questioned at times. Plus, who doesn’t love watching Milan Skriniar play? He’s passionate, hot-headed but above all supremely talented – all at the age of 23.

4. CB: Giorgio Chiellini

Look, we wouldn’t rock the boat that much. While Bonucci is showing sings of wear and tear, Giorgio Chiellini remains unfathomably pristine. He’s 34 now, and what he has lost in pace and fitness (though very little, it must be said) he makes up for in heart and leadership.

Still probably the best defender Italy, you can rest easy knowing he’s still where he deserves to be in this XI. 

5. LB: Joao Cancelo

With Alex Sandro likely absent with injury, and Kwadwo Asamoah… not very good, it’s going to have to be Joao Cancelo. Not that the call comes with any reluctance, because as the Nerazzuri will know all too well, the Portuguese international is a magnificent talent. 

Why Inter’s board turned their noses up at that fee whilst maintaining they could break the bank for Luka Modric I’ll never know. Don’t be surprised if it comes back to haunt them on Friday.

6. CM: Rodrigo Bentancur

The away side will definitely not be happy that their prized summer signing Radja Nainggolan has been upstaged by a £9m Uruguayan, but it’s inarguable as to who has had the better season and besides, the Belgian can’t stay fit for long enough to prove us wrong. 

I bet Bentancur doesn’t smoke, Radja. 

7. CM: Miralem Pjanic

If I was a TV pundit struggling for superlatives to describe Miralem Pjanic, I’d probably just call him a ‘class act’. But he is, honest. They say they don’t make ’em like they used to, but Pjanic is proof that sometimes today’s fast-paced tempo can be bypassed by an archetypal orchestrator.

The Bosnia & Herzegovina international is one of those few, and is certainly the kind of player that Inter so desperately crave right now. 

8. RW: Douglas Costa

It’s controversial for sure, and he certainly hasn’t had the most dignified of seasons, but in a straight shoot-out between him and Juan Cuadrado, I’d take Douglas Costa all day long, and in accordance with the balance of the rest of the team, I’d put him on his favoured right.

With all due respect, I’m not sure Matteo Politano or Antonio Candreva are even in the conversation. 

9. CAM: Paulo Dybala

Again, Inter seem to have so many players that could occupy this playmaker role, but none of them are half as good as Paulo Dybala. 

After a few teething problems in adjusting to his relatively newfound stardom last season, and some initial weariness as to how he would cope with a certain high-profile recruit, Dybala has been wonderful this term. Without the pressure that was prematurely piled on him last campaign, he looks reborn.

10. LW: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has contributed to 18 goals in 18 appearances for Juventus, seven of them scores. So much for that ‘slow’ start, eh? 

Far more impressive than the goals has been his newly tapped ability to provide for teammates. It seems so alien, but it also suits the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Of course, he still lives for big goals in big games, so expect nothing less than that in the Derby d’Italia.

11. ST: Mauro Icardi

After some Old Lady domination up top, of course it’s Mauro Icardi who breaks Inter’s rut in this lineup. Who else would it be?

He is, quite simply, the best number nine in the world right now, and unquestionably the most clinical. He also has a quite fantastic record against Italy’s all-conquering leaders. There’s no doubt about it – Inter’s hopes on Friday night rest almost solely on this man’s shoulders. Can he handle it? Stupid question.