Arsenal and Inter Milan to Battle for Wantaway Star Arturo Vidal

?Arsenal are looking towards another Chilean star to strengthen the mettle of their midfield. 

Arturo Vidal is on Arsenal’s radar as a potential transfer if the reports regarding his future at Bayern Munich rings true.

Vidal’s future at Bayern has been called into question, with Tuttosport (via ?Daily Mirror) suggesting that he maybe in line to leave the German giants.

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Bayern seem to be favouring towards a more younger intake in their squad, with the club signing 23-year-old Corentin Tolisso from Lyon, as well as 27-year-old former TSG Hoffenheim playmaker Sebastian Rudy.

However, Arsenal won’t be the sole suitor for his signature, as Inter Milan have been leading this Vidal race since last summer.

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The Italian side tried bring in the ex-Juventus 30-year-old back to the Serie A last summer, and will look to return to the foray for his signature. 

His signature for Inter could be indicative enough to suggest that the Italian club are ready to return to the forefront of Italian football, after spending many seasons on the outside.

Although, Arsenal’s intention for moving in on Vidal could signal a progressive attempt to keep Alexis Sanchez from walking out the door.

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Inter have not yet managed to convince Bayern to sell Vidal, but are set to push hard to secure a deal, plotting an offer between £45m and £54m in force Bayern’s hand.

The Chilean midfielder has won two successive Bundesliga titles with Bayern.

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Napoli 0-0 Inter Milan: Sarri’s Men See Title Chances Drop after Goalless Draw

Inter Milan put a stop to Napoli’s so far impeccable title race by tieing down the home team to a disappointing 0-0 match. 

The San Paolo fans tasted the bitterness of drawing for the first time this year, as Napoli’s league record of 13 matches won in a row ended due to a tenacious Inter, who fought hard against the Serie A leaders.

The match itself does not mean any big change in the dynamics of the league table, as both teams have only one more point: Napoli still lead with 25 points, followed by the Milan side at 23, who Lazio and Juventus are shortly behind, will be looking to narrow the gap. 

The home team undoubtedly dominated the first half of the game, with the lethal attacking trio made by Insigne, Callejon and Mertens threatening Inter’s goal on several occasions. The Nerazzuri managed to keep their nerves down and built up a few chances of their own by starting out from the back, but barely kept up with Napoli’s pace. 

As the clock marked 20 minutes, Napoli had a double chance that was only saved by the heroics of Handanovic. Inter’s defence was caught off-guard when Callejon took the chance to curl the ball towards the goal, but the historic Nerazzurro goalkeeper was there to stop him. He was equally ready to save the ball once it bounced back on Mertens’ feet.

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On the half-hour mark, Insigne went again dangerously close to breaking the deadlock, as he received a magnificent cross from Hamsik who lifted the ball that dropped on Insigne’s head. However, the striker’s header was not strong enough to break Handavnovic’s goal, who saved it easily. 

Inter had their chance too. Towards the end of the first half, Perisic spotted Borja Valero alone on the right-hand side of the box, and served him a magnificent cross. He promptly thumped the ball straight to Reina’s goal, but Napoli’s stopper saved it and sent it above the bar. 

The second half opened up with a different pace. Inter came back from the break with a more proactive mentality, and got the first chance. Profiting from a defence’s disattention, Vecino danced alone in the box until he placed himself on the right side of the goal. His beautiful lob went inches from the goal line, but Albiol brilliantly headed it out before it was too late. 

Napoli fought back again with the likes of Hamsik and Callejon, who exchanged the ball as they approached the box. The Slovak pounded the ball with strength, however he missed the goal by inches. 

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The rhythms were slightly lower during the ending 20 minutes, until Insigne almost caught Handanovic by surprise and shot from the edge of the box. The ball went past the bar. 

Napoli could not accept not to win, and sieged Inter’s box endlessly in the closing minutes. Newly entered Zielinksi put probably one of the biggest threats to the away team by thumping a stunner from the edge of the box. It would have been an amazing goal, had Handanovic intervened and pushed the ball away with an honourable safe. 

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Inter’s keeper was the absolute best player of his side. He made over five extremely hard saves, securing the result for his boys. As the clock hit the 90-minute mark, he denied Mertens the joy to make his fans proud by bouncing back his marvellous shot.  

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Gabigol’s Agent Claims He Needs More Chances to Play at Benfica

Gabigol has recently joined Portuguese club Benfica on a loan from Inter Milan with an option to buy for €25m, but has since failed to earn a place in the starting XI. 

In the first part of the season, the Brazilian striker, who did not manage to spark in Serie A last year either, has only scored once in four appearances and is struggling to improve. 

His agent Wagner Ribeiro has spoken about the subject to UOL Esporte in Brazil: “Lisbon is good for him, he’s happy and that’s all that matters.

“He has a lot of potentials to prove yet, but needs consistency. He can’t play one game and then be on the bench for the next two or three.”

He continued, “A football player is like an aeroplane, he needs to build momentum and stay in the air. When Gabigol left Brazil, he had won the Olympics, was a first choice for Santos and had been called up by Tite for the senior Brazil squad.”

His time at Inter proved to underwhelming, as Gabigol contended his role with the likes of Mauro Icardi and Eder. “He went to Italy, but did not have a chance to play,” Riberio said, “How was he supposed to prove his talent if he wasn’t playing? This is why we agreed with the Inter directors that it was best to send him out on loan for regular playing time.

“There were several clubs who were interested in Spain, Portugal and France. We chose Benfica, one of the three main clubs in Portugal, who are in the Champions League.Whether or not he remains at Benfica depends on what happens from now onwards.”

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Picking a Combined XI of Inter & Napoli Players Ahead of Saturday’s Crunch Serie A Clash

Saturday sees a clash of the top two over in Italy, as league leaders Napoli host Internazionale in what is set up to be a brilliant game.

Both sides have flown out of the traps this season, and have some excellent players in their ranks.

The form of star men Mauro Icardi and Dries Mertens makes it simply impossible to choose between the two and therefore dictates that a combined XI needs a formation of 4-4-2, but who are the supporting cast.

12. GK: Samir Handanovic – Inter

There hasn’t been much to separate Samir Handanovic and Pepe Reina so far this season – both keepers have been ever-presents and conceded just five goals apiece.

Handanovic sneaks in on the basis of being the slightly better keeper overall. The Slovenian is a reliable shot stopper, and has largely been underrated during his time at Inter. 

11. RB: Elseid Hysaj – Napoli

Elseid Hysaj is an integral part of Napoli’s attack-minded side. He is always keen to take the game to the opposition by bombing forward, and can often be the danger man teams forget about as they focus on the likes of Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne.

The Albanian makes it on over Danilo D’Ambrosio, who has performed reasonably for Inter this season.

10. CB: Miranda – Inter

Inter Milan’s Brazilian defender is strong as an ox, and reads the game impressively, despite his lack of pace and technique.

The star, formerly of Atletico Madrid, can be a formidable opponent when on his game and would make up a frightening partnership with the next man on the list if they ever played for the same team.

9. CB – Kalidou Koulibaly – Napoli

Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly is highly-sought after and for good reason – he is definitely one of the best defenders in Serie A.

The man-mountain is probably even stronger than Miranda and unlike his hypothetical teammate is pretty quick for his size, making him a pain to get past.

He is also particularly threatening from set pieces, so it’s little wonder the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea have been linked with his name in the past.

8. LB: Faouzi Ghoulam – Napoli

Faouzi Ghoulam is arguably the best left-back in Serie A at the moment, and he could be leaving soon if Napoli don’t pull something out of the bag.

The Algerian is out of contract next summer, meaning he could be poached in January in a cut-price deal, or for free on expiry of his current deal.

If he does leave, then whoever gets him is snagging an utter bargain – Ghoulam is a superb crosser of the ball and is particularly attack-minded, as demonstrated most recently against Manchester City in the Champions League. He has four goals in Serie A already this season.

7. RM: Lorenzo Insigne – Napoli

Lorenzo Insigne has become one of Napoli’s most important players under Maurizio Sarri – the diminutive forward has that low centre of gravity and rapid dribbling that makes defending against him a complete nightmare.

He suits their brand of football perfectly and is fantastic to watch when in full flow.

6. CM: Matias Vecino – Inter Milan

Matias Vecino has been quietly impressive for Inter since his summer move from Fiorentina.

The Uruguayan is smooth operator in midfield – tidy in possession, recycling it well, and recently helped the Nerazzurri beat Roma at the Stade Olimpico for the first time in nine years.

5. CM: Marek Hamsik – Napoli

Marek Hamsik has been one of the apex attacking midfielders for several years and still has quality in abundance. He is arguably still Napoli’s main man and is one of their most creative sparks.

The Slovakian can thread passes through the eye of a needle and possesses a wicked shot from distance in his arsenal.

4. LM: Ivan Perisic – Inter Milan

Ivan Perisic is a seriously underrated winger. The Croatian was maligned over the summer for his links to Manchester United, but he is perhaps showing what they are missing.

He has hit four goals and three assists and has played every minute of every game so far, signalling his importance to Inter’s cause.

He is skilful, unpredictable and industrious, and has a strong weak foot which sets him apart from your average winger.

3. ST: Mauro Icardi – Inter Milan

Inter’s talisman gained plaudits recently for his fabulous hat-trick against rivals AC Milan, but in truth, Mauro Icardi has been going under the radar for a while now.

The Nerazurri captain is super clinical, whether that be with his right foot, left foot, head or instinctively, and his goal record absolutely speaks for itself. A top 10 striker.

2. ST: Dries Mertens – Napoli

Napoli’s answer to Icardi comes in the form of Dries Mertens, who has emerged as  Partenopei’s main danger man over the past year.

The 30-year-old has made a seamless transition into the role of central striker as a result of Arkadiusz Milik’s injury troubles and Gonzalo Higuain’s departure. Last season he scored an incredible 28 league goals and he is off to a flying start this campaign after notching seven in eight.

1. Manager: Maurizio Sarri – Napoli

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli really do play some scintillating football, which is highlighted by their 31 goals in all competitions already this season.

The studious coach ran Juventus close to the league title last season, and many are tipping him to go all the way this time around.

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Napoli vs Inter Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

?Saturday brings a very tasty clash in Serie A between the teams in first and second place.

League leaders Napoli have got everybody talking this season with their attacking brand of football under Maurizio Sarri, which is a continuation from their 2016/17 campaign.

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They have surged to the top of the table with eight wins out of eight, scoring 26 goals and conceding just five, and the feeling is that they could genuinely end Juventus’ domestic dominance come May.

Inter are going pretty well themselves and are just two points behind their opponents, and they will feel confident of becoming the first team to take points off Napoli in Serie A this season.

Luciano Spalletti has done a terrific job so far since his summer arrival from Roma, and there have been whispers that Inter too could challenge for glory under his guidance this season.

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It’s been a strong start for both teams and it promises to be a fantastic game, one that the wounded Juventus will no doubt be keen to see end in a draw.


Classic Encounter

Napoli 4-2 Inter (December 2013)

Napoli recorded a great result over their opponents a few seasons ago at Stadio San Paolo,  winning 4-2.

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Goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens, Blerim Dzemaili and Jose Callejon handed them the three points and condemned 10-man Inter to their second defeat of the season. 

It could have been and even sweeter margin of victory but Goran Pandev failed to convert from the penalty spot.


Key Battles

Dries Mertens vs Miranda

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The Belgian is hot right now, and will give Miranda a lot to think about on Saturday night. 

Mertens’ movement is so tricky to deal with, and the Brazilian will need to be on his game to stop him from scoring.

Mauro Icardi vs Kalidou Koulibaly

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Essentially, this is the same battle as the previous one – Icardi is to Mertens what Koulibaly is to Miranda. The Argentine isn’t as nippy as Mertens but certainly knows just where to be in order to score goals. He will be a tough opponent for Koulibaly, who has been impressive thus far.


Team News

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Sarri will have the majority of his players to choose from for the game, but he is currently sweating on the fitness of Lorenzo Insigne, who hobbled off against Manchester City in midweek. 

Arkadiusz Milik remains a long-term absentee, as does Lorenzo Tonelli.

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Marcelo Brozovic isn’t ready to come back from his calf injury, but Davide Santon and Joao Cancelo could both be available.

Predicted Napoli XI: Reina, Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Ghoulam, Hamsik, Allan, Diawara, Callejon, Mertens, Insigne.

Predicted Inter XI: Handanovic, D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Skriniar, Nagatomo, Vecino, Gagliardini, Candreva, Valero, Perisic, Icardi.


Prediction

Inter will try to neutralise the attacking threat of Napoli and catch them on the break. Their possession game has been sublime so far this season and Inter will be aiming to disrupt that. 

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Sarri will implore his side to fly out of the traps, something they were prevented from doing in midweek by Manchester City. Whatever happens, it should be a fascinating game.

Prediction: Napoli 2-2 Inter

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