Mauro Icardi Handed Number 7 Shirt at Inter as AC Milan & Juventus Plot Bids

?Inter have confirmed that striker Mauro Icardi will wear the number seven shirt next season, amid rumours the Argentine will be sold in the near future.

New manager Antonio Conte is believed to have decided that Icardi has no future at the club, with the likes of Juventus and Napoli thought to be incredibly keen on signing him.


In the latest event in this lengthy saga, ?Inter took to their ?official website to confirm that ?Icardi will wear the number seven shirt, with new signing ?Romelu Lukaku taking the number nine.

Prior to Lukaku’s arrival, Icardi had worn the number nine shirt ever since joining the club back in 2013, but the Belgian now appears set to lead the line for I Nerazzurri following his big-money move from ?Manchester United.

Despite all the speculation around his future, we are no closer to knowing Icardi’s next destination. The player is believed to be keen to remain in Milan, prompting rumours that cross-town rivals ?AC Milan could try sign him.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

Both ?Il Giornale and Radio 24 journalist Paolo Condo (via ?Pianeta Milan) have claimed that Milan could try test their luck with a bid for Icardi, with Condo adding that I Rossoneri might have a great chance of completing a deal because of his desire to stay in the city.

Inter are thought to be eager to sell and, given they have received no satisfactory offers from any other clubs, they might be forced to do business with their rivals.

However, it is believed that ?Juventus are leading the race for his signature. Having missed out on Lukaku, they remain on the lookout for a new striker, and La Gazzetta dello Sport (via ?Sempre Inter) state that the Serie A champions are ready to sell five players to finance a move for Icardi.

Maurizio Sarri

Daniele Rugani, Mario Mandzukic, ?Emre Can, Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi are all for sale, although Juventus’ won’t need to sell all five in order to afford a move for the Inter man.

Should Icardi leave the city of Milan, it is believed that Juventus would be his preferred move, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to submit an acceptable bid.

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The Footballers With the Best Conversion Rate Since the 2012/13 Season

It’s hard to put into words just how important having a good striker is. A prolific marksman can be the difference between success and failure, and we have seen so many top teams fail because they were missing an elite striker.

?The best forwards are those who can score plenty of goals from minimal opportunities – those who can fire their team to glory with just one chance.

Now, ?Opta have compiled a list of the most reliable strikers from Europe’s top five leagues since the 2012/13 season, ranking their goalscoring pedigree in both league and European competition (but ignoring penalties), and new Monaco signing Wissam Ben Yedder sits atop the standings.

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During his time with both Toulouse and Sevilla, Ben Yedder racked up an impressive 106 goals from just 538 shots in that time period, so 19.7% of his efforts managed to find the back of the net.

That ratio sees him finish ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s ?Edinson Cavani, whose record of 169 goals from 884 shots earns him a conversion rate of 19.1%. ?Arsenal’s ?Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang managed to finish on the same percentage, having scored 165 of his 866 shots.

?Inter’s ?Mauro Icardi came in fourth, having scored 109 goals from just 577 shots to finish with a rate of 18.9%. Players of that pedigree don’t hit the market too often, so it’s easy to see why so many sides are pursuing the Argentine this summer.

Mauro Icardi

Next up is ?Diego Costa of ?Atletico Madrid, who scored goals at a rate of 18.7%. The Spaniard finished level with ?Lionel Messi, who actually netted the most goals out of anyone on the list. His 275 goals is well ahead of the rest, but the fact it took him 1473 shots means he falls to sixth on the list.

?Alexandre Lacazette (18.6%), ?Karim Benzema (18.3%), ?Luis Suarez (18.1%) and Robert Lewandowski (17.2%) round out the top ten, meaning there is no place for ?Juventus star ?Cristiano Ronaldo.

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The Portuguese international actually finished 20th on the list. Ronaldo racked up 1880 shots – far more than anyone else – but his return of 254 goals means he finished with a conversion rate of 13.5%.

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Inter vs Lecce Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Buy Tickets & Kick Off Time

?The opening round of fixtures for the 2019/20 Serie A season ends on Monday evening as Inter welcome new boys Lecce to San Siro.

Successive promotions saw the visitors make a meteoric rise form the third-tier to the top-flight, taking them from sub-1,000 crowds to nights such as this in Milan in the space of two years. Nevertheless, they will need to be impeccable to avoid their dream swiftly becoming a nightmare against a side competing in the Champions League this campaign.

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The ?Nerazzurri have invested heavily over the summer, with ?Manchester United’s out-of-sorts forward Alexis Sanchez potentially adding to Antonio Conte’s attacking options, though a deal is ?now in doubt.

Their new head coach has a strong reputation in Italy, having collected a hat-trick of Scudetti during his time as ?Juventus boss and he is expected to iron out a number of faults that hindered Inter last term.

Here’s our preview of the encounter.


Where to Watch

?When Is Kick Off? Monday 26 August?
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?19:45 (BST)
?Where Is it Played? ?San Siro
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?Premier Sports 1
?Referee? Daniele Orsato?

Where to Buy Tickets

Tickets for the game are, as ever, available on both team’s official club websites, though membership is required in order to purchase. In terms of resale, both teams provide the option to make season tickets available for others to use, if a supporter is unable to attend the game themselves.


Team News

Diego Godin has been brought in on a free transfer following the end of his contract with ?Atletico Madrid, but the Uruguayan will have to wait to make his debut due to an issue with his left thigh.

However, fellow summer arrival Romelu Lukaku is in line for a first competitive appearance, with the former Red Devils striker joining for a club record £73m in early August.

The Nerazzurri also purchased a couple of wingers in Valentino Lazaro and Matteo Politano. The latter cost the side £18m after recording six goals and eight assists in the league for Sassuolo last year.


Lazaro was similarly productive in the ?Bundesliga as Hertha Berlin secured a mid-table finish, the Austrian switching to Italy for £20m.

Conte has no injuries concerns aside from Godin, whilst counterpart Fabio Liverani is without two members of his first-team squad.

Defensive pairing Biagio Meccariello and Riccardo Fiamozzi are both out for at least a month with a knee problem and herniated disc, respectively.


Potential Lineups

?

Inter? Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi, Dalbert; Esposito, Lukaku.
?Lecce ?Gabriel; Riccardi, Lucioni, Majer, Dell’Orco, Rispoli; Tachtsidis, Tabanelli, Farias; Faclo, Lapadula.

Head to Head Record

This will be the 19th meeting between the two teams and the first since January 2012. Lecce won that encounter, taking them to a total of three victories over the 18-time ?Serie A champions.

Inter had beaten them 4-1 just two months prior, making it an eight-game unbeaten streak versus the minnows. The Milan club have taken all three points on 12 occasions, with two draws completing the record. 

Inter Milan's Argentine forward Milito f

Only once in history have Lecce left the San Siro with a win. That game took place in late 2000, the underdogs protecting a 1-0 lead as they overcame a star-studded lineup including Andrea Pirlo, Laurent Blanc and Robbie Keane.


Recent Form

Should they be involved in any penalty-shootouts later in the campaign, Conte’s recruits will have the edge over their opponents, having taken part in four of them in pre-season.

Pre-season games with Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, ?Tottenham Hotspur and Valencia all finished 1-1 and therefore went to the lottery that is penalties.

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The Bianconeri were the only side to get the better of the Nerazzurri from the spot, though Conte will be hoping Lukaku adds firepower and – more importantly – goals up top after the side struggled to take their chances in their preparatory fixtures.

Lecce spent their entire pre-season in Italy, testing themselves against several Serie B and C sides. They secured a number of encouraging victories, with a 4-1 triumph over Frosinone of particular interest given the latter’s relegation from the top-flight last year.

Here’s a look at the duo’s last five results:

Inter? Lecce?
?Manchester United 1-0 Inter (20/7) ?Calcio Padova 2-1 Lecce (01/5)
?Juventus 1-1 Inter *(4-3) (24/7) ?Lecce 2-1 Spezia (11/5)
?Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Inter *(5-6) (27/7) ?Lecce 6-0 Virtus Don Bosco (25/7)
?Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Inter *(3-4) (04/8) ?Lecce 4-1 Frosinone (27/7)
?Valencia 1-1 Inter *(6-7) (10/8) ?Lecce 4-0 Salernitana (18/8)

Prediction

They may have been in free-scoring form over the summer, but Lecce would do well to find a way past a well-drilled Inter backline.

Conte has made them fierce in defence, whilst Lukaku’s arrival should be of enormous benefit at the other end of the pitch.

SOCCER UEFA QUALIF BELGIUM VS SCOTLAND

The Belgian garnered a reputation as a flat-track bully in the ?Premier League, given his record against supposedly lesser teams, so don’t be surprised to see him enjoy his evening versus the newly-promoted southerners. 

The slower pace of football in Serie A plays right into his hands; a goal-scoring debut is a definite possibility.

Prediction: Inter 2-0 Lecce

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Antonio Conte Takes Further Legal Action Against Chelsea Despite £9m Compensation

Inter manager Antonio Conte is taking further legal action against Chelsea, despite receiving £9m in compensation following a Premier League helmed private manager’s tribunal back in April. 

Conte was awarded that sum when it was ruled that he was entitled to the £9m he was set to earn over the remainder of his contract, having failed to agree on a severance package in the aftermath of his dismissal, which occurred on July 13th, 2018.

Antonio Conte

However, according to a report from the Times, the Italian is not done with his litigation yet, and last Friday he began further proceedings against the club, this time in the form of a statutory claim against the club at an Employment Tribunal, with a preliminary hearing held at Central London Employment Tribunal. 

While the details of the claim are as of yet unknown, these cases often revolved around claims of ‘unfair dismissal or discrimination’. 

Thankfully, while Premier League tribunals are kept under wraps, such proceedings as this are made completely public following their completion. One source told the Times that this could shed some light on the reasons behind this effort, positing that the Italian is likely seeking to embarrass the Blues in a public forum. 

Indeed, this line of thinking is bolstered by the fact that, given the settings, the maximum amount of money he stands to gain from any victory sits at around £60,000, a far cry from the £9m he was given earlier this year.

Conte was absent from last Friday’s hearing, choosing instead to concentrate on the task he has in Milan ahead of the start of the 2019/20 Serie A season. For their part, Chelsea have the right to appeal against any verdict reached by the tribunal.

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Swap Deals: Assessing 6 of the Biggest Player Trades in the History of Football

?Don’t ask why, but for some reason Barcelona are willing to do whatever it takes to bring Neymar back to the Nou Camp.

Despite frantic efforts from the Catalans to seal the Brazilian’s return before the European transfer window closes on 31 August, he remains a Paris Saint-Germain player, but there have been no signs of his presence in the French club’s first few matches of the 2019/20 season.

?La Blaugrana and the Parisians have both rejected each other’s proposals for the sale of Neymar, with the latter ?holding out for a swap deal involving Ousmane Dembele and Nelson Semedo, plus €100m.

It seems Ernesto Valverde is unlikely to land his man unless the board agree to a trade that includes some of their finest talent. Should that occur, it would no doubt be the biggest deal of its kind in the history of the sport, though ?Juventus are looking to hijack Barça’s attempts to sign the forward.

Here’s a look at six other high-profile swaps and an assessment of which team came off better in the long run.


Gallas for Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole

Gallas was a good servant for ?Arsenal, but the centre-back was no way near achieving the levels of success enjoyed by Ashley Cole at Stamford Bridge following their switch in 2006.

?Chelsea acquired arguably the world’s greatest left-back for the modest price of £5m and a defender who was threatening to score own-goals; it should be pretty easy to see which club got the worse end of the stick here.

Cole was an integral part of a side that won four FA Cups, the 2013 Europa League, one League Cup and a ?Champions League title, whilst also ending ?Manchester United’s run of three successive top-flight triumphs. 

In comparison, Gallas’ finest achievement in north London was finishing third…

Winner: Chelsea


Fabian Carini for Fabio Cannavaro

Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro (C) cel

Fabian Carini spent his time at Juventus as understudy to Gianluigi Buffon, the Uruguayan failing to make an appearance for the Bianconeri in ?Serie A before being shipped out on loan to Standard Liege for two years.

Nevertheless, Inter viewed him as equal in value to Fabio Cannavaro, the Nerazzurri nonchalantly agreeing to a trade. The latter went on to play in all bar two of Juve’s league fixtures in the two seasons that followed, with the club collecting the Scudetto in both.

The Calciopoli scandal saw the Old Lady stripped of both titles and relegated to Serie B – Cannavaro deciding to leave as a result – but that wouldn’t stop Cannavaro captaining Italy to victory at the 2006 World Cup.

Winner: Juventus


Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Samuel Eto’o

Inter Milan's Cameroonian forward Samuel

There can be zero doubts that Inter were the main beneficiaries of this controversial transfer in 2009 after they sent Barcelona tumbling out of the Champions League in Samuel Eto’o’s first campaign at the San Siro.

The Cameroonian didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet in either leg of their semi final encounter, but that is also true of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Fortunately for Eto’o, he ended the season as ruler of Europe, while the Swede ended it in a fit of rage.

Zlatan was unable to cope with the Lionel Messi love-in at the Nou Camp – as well as Pep Guardiola’s infamous intensity – and left Catalonia after just 13 months. It’s ludicrous that Barcelona let go of a first-rate finisher and £59m for a year of tantrums and poor form from Ibrahimovic.

Winner: Inter


David Luiz for Nemanja Matic

David Luiz,Nemanja Matic

On the face of it, this was terrible business from Roman Abramovich. He forked out £20m to bring in David Luiz during the winter of 2011, with Nemanja Matic also joining Benfica to sweeten the deal.

Then again, Luiz was in the starting lineup for what remains the Blues’ finest hour: their penalty-shootout victory over ?Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final. The defender was likewise selected to play against – of all teams – Benfica as they won the Europa League the following season.

So, it seems the Portuguese outfit fared better in terms of financial rewards, whilst Chelsea enjoyed on-field glory. They both have reasons to be cheerful!

Winner: Everyone


Ricardo Quaresma for Deco

Deco

Ricardo Quaresma is the king of flattering to deceive. A virtuoso talent who never fulfilled his potential, the forward will likely look back on his career and wonder what could have been.

Eager to be rid of him after a number of altercations, Barça coach Frank Rijkaard must have been counting his lucky starts when Porto bid €15m and the highly-rated Deco to bring him to the Estádio do Dragão in 2004.

During Quaresma’s troublesome time in Spain, his counterpart was busy earning himself a continental crown with Jose Mourinho. Deco would earn another Champions League medal with La Blaugrana, amongst numerous other honours. 

The less said about his countryman’s career back in Portugal, the better.

Winner: Barcelona


Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Alexis Sanchez

Henrikh Mkhitaryan,Alexis Sanchez

In the words of President Donald J. Trump: this has been the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever.

Alexis Sanchez rakes in at least £350,000-a-week at Old Trafford, though that figure is normally bolstered by a further £150,000 in add-ons. What does he do to command such an astronomical wage? I…um…I don’t actually know.

The Chilean has an absolutely dire strike-rate of one goal every nine matches for United, a ratio that is eclipsed by make-weight Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who scores once in every six. More to the point, the Armenian actually tries, something which cannot really be said of Sanchez.

It’s a tragedy and a comedy wrapped into one big tale of decline, disgrace and dumb dealings. The Red Devils tried so desperately to get one up on neighbours ?Manchester City and they’ve only succeeded in making themselves a laughing stock.

Loser: Manchester United


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