Lukaku Makes Dream Return To Inter Milan


MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Romelu Lukaku said he was “very happy” to be back after the Belgian international striker arrived in Milan on Wednesday ahead of his return to Inter Milan on loan from Chelsea.

A beaming Lukaku emerged from Linate airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning and gave his short but delighted response to the handful of reporters awaiting his arrival.

The 29-year-old will undergo a medical later in the day before making his long-awaited Inter comeback official.

Chelsea agreed to a reported deal in which Inter will pay an initial eight million euros ($8.42 million) plus a further potential three million euros in bonuses for the loan.

Lukaku will again lead Inter’s attack as they attempt to regain the Serie A title after taking a pay cut — a reported 8.5 million euros for the coming campaign.

Lukaku leaves London after failing to make an impression for a second time at Chelsea, not meeting high expectations following a £97.5 million move from Inter last summer.

He had made himself a fan favourite over two years at Inter after scoring 64 times in 95 games and driving them to their first Serie A title in over a decade, the 2021 Scudetto ending both an 11-year drought and Juventus’ grip on Italian football.

However, the financial problems of Inter’s owners the Suning Group, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic led to coach Antonio Conte leaving the club almost as soon as the title was won.

He claimed the cost-cutting required by Inter would have prevented him from building the team he wanted to challenge domestically and in Europe.

Lukaku followed Conte out the door after then European champions Chelsea offered a whopping sum which eased some of Inter’s financial issues and started well on his return to Stamford Bridge.

Coach Thomas Tuchel said “he was the type of guy we were missing” after he netted four times in his first four games, but his next goal didn’t come until early December and injury, Covid-19 and poor form kept him out of the team.

He then infuriated Chelsea fans by conducting an interview with Sky Sport Italia in which he expressed his unhappiness and said he had Inter in his heart and wanted to return.

Those comments also led Inter’s hardcore ultras to say they weren’t interested in having him back, considering his move to Chelsea a betrayal of his claim to love the Milanese club.

They told other fans not to arrive en masse to welcome Lukaku back as he is now “just one of many” after previously being “treated like a king” by supporters.

Lukaku will be critical to coach Simone Inzaghi’s bid to snatch back the league crown from AC Milan after they finished two points behind their local rivals the last term.

-AFP

Tantrums And Tactics Turned Lukaku’s Chelsea Dream Into Nightmare

In this file photo, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (R) controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Brentford and Chelsea at Brentford Community Stadium in London on October 16, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Romelu Lukaku arrived at Chelsea heralding his move as a dream come true, but less than a year later the Belgian striker is set to rejoin Inter Milan as one of the most expensive flops in the Premier League history.

Lukaku was hailed as the final piece of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea jigsaw when he was signed from Inter Milan for a club record £97.5 million ($119 million) last August.

But everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the 29-year-old in his disastrous second spell with the Blues.

Lukaku’s stock has fallen so far that Tuchel has cut ties with the former Manchester United and Everton player after only one season.

Inter are expected to confirm his return to the San Siro shortly, having negotiated a reported eight-million-euro ($8.4 million) loan fee for Lukaku.

Lukaku is believed to have taken a pay cut such is his desire to leave Stamford Bridge at all costs.

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He ended the season as Chelsea’s top scorer with 15 goals in 44 appearances, but that statistic does not tell the full story of his wretched time in west London.

Lukaku struck only eight times in the Premier League and Chelsea’s new co-owner Todd Boehly was quick to rubber-stamp his impending exit.

He joins Fernando Torres, Andriy Shevchenko, Alvaro Morata, and Chris Sutton as the latest high-profile forward who failed to justify a hefty price tag at Chelsea.

After firing Inter to the Serie A title in 2021, Lukaku’s combination of power and predatory finishing should have been the key to a dominant period for Chelsea, who won the Champions League just months before his signing.

Lukaku billed the move, on a lucrative five-year contract, as an emotional homecoming after previously playing for the club he supported as a boy from 2011 to 2014.

“I’m happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club. To try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling,” Lukaku said at the time.

Damning Indictment 

Chelsea’s Brazilian defender Thiago Silva (3L) celebrates with his team mates and supoorters after scoring the second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London on January 23, 2022.
JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

Lukaku’s early enthusiasm fuelled four goals in his first four appearances, bullying the Arsenal defence in a display of the power that could overwhelm any opponent if he was in the mood.

However, Lukaku’s attitude quickly turned sour as a run of six matches without a goal raised concerns about his ability to adapt to Tuchel’s system.

Hampered by an ankle injury and a bout of the coronavirus, Lukaku lost his place to Kai Havertz.

Lukaku was unhappy with the way Tuchel was using him, a feeling his former Inter boss Antonio Conte gave voice to when he said the German didn’t “understand” how best to utilise the striker.

While Tuchel must take a share of the blame, Lukaku destroyed his hopes of turning the tide with an incendiary interview in December.

“Physically I am fine. But I’m not happy with the situation at Chelsea. Tuchel has chosen to play with another system,” Lukaku told an Italian television channel.

“I really, genuinely from the bottom of my heart hope to come back to Inter.”

Tuchel was understandably furious and dropped Lukaku for Liverpool’s visit to the Bridge just days after the interview was aired.

Lukaku was forced to apologise to Chelsea and the club’s fans.

When he eventually got back in the side, his body language was dreadful as he moped through matches and argued with team-mate Hakim Ziyech during a game against Brighton.

Lukaku’s wretched season reached breaking point at Crystal Palace in February when he broke the record for the lowest number of touches (seven) by an outfield player in a Premier League match.

“It’s not about the system. For him, it changes nothing. The data is out there and the data speaks a certain language,” Tuchel said in a damning indictment.

After four months without a Premier League goal, Lukaku scored three in two games towards the end of the season, earning a place in the FA Cup final team against Liverpool.

Yet Lukaku’s limp display as Chelsea lost on penalties at Wembley was a fitting epitaph to his turbulent year.

AFP

Chelsea’s Lukaku Set For Inter Milan Return On Loan

Chelsea's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge in London on December 29, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge in London on December 29, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku will rejoin Inter Milan on a one-year loan deal after a disappointing spell with the Premier League club, according to reports on Tuesday.

Inter are reported to have negotiated an eight million euro ($8.4 million) loan fee to sign Lukaku, who reportedly agreed a pay cut to leave Stamford Bridge.

The Belgian joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5 million deal before the start of last season, claiming the transfer was an emotional return home after he played for the club from 2011 to 2014.

But, after scoring four goals in his first four appearances, the 29-year-old’s second stint with Chelsea quickly turned sour.

READ ALSO: Mane Poses In Bayern Shirt During Munich Medical Check

Lukaku ended this season as Chelsea’s top scorer with 15 goals, but the former Manchester United and Everton player scored only eight times in the league.

He netted only three times in his final 15 top-flight appearances as he failed to repay his hefty transfer fee.

A controversial interview with Italian TV in December featured Lukaku admitting he was unhappy with the way he was used by Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel and hinting he was already thinking about leaving.

Lukaku, who won the Serie A title with Inter in 2021, was briefly dropped by Tuchel following his outburst and was forced to apologise to Chelsea and the club’s fans in January.

Tuchel’s side finished third in the Premier League and won the Club World Cup, but they were beaten by Liverpool in both the FA Cup and League Cup finals.

Lukaku is thought to have pushed for the move back to Inter and Chelsea’s new co-owner Todd Boehly has put an immediate stamp on his tenure by giving the green light to the star’s exit.

Once Lukaku’s move is officially complete, the Blues will be able to turn attention to seeking a replacement, as well as strengthening in other areas of the squad.

Chelsea are keen on Robert Lewandowski despite the Poland striker’s desire to leave Bayern Munich for Barcelona.

Barcelona’s financial issues could open the door for Chelsea to pounce on Lewandowski’s unsettled situation.

But Lukaku’s impending departure may point Tuchel towards a more fluid approach without a clear focal-point striker.

Chelsea hold strong interest in Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, with the England forward open to leaving the Premier League champions with just one year left on his contract.

Tuchel also hopes to complete the signing of Sevilla’s French defender Jules Kounde.

AFP

Inter Overcome Udinese To Stay On Heels Of Leaders Milan


Inter Milan’s Argentine forward Lautaro Martinez (L) and Inter Milan’s Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic celebrate after winning the Italian Serie A football match between Udinese and Inter Milan at Friuli stadium in Udine on May 1, 2022. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Inter Milan still have a say in this season’s Serie A title race after winning 2-1 at Udinese to stay two points behind league leaders AC Milan.

Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez made sure that the champions bounced back from Wednesday’s traumatic defeat at Bologna and stayed on the heels of their local rivals who earlier were fired to a 1-0 win over Fiorentina by Rafael Leao.

Milan need seven points from their final three games to snatch the Scudetto from their local rivals as they have the better of the two league derbies with Inter, meaning the seven-time European champions would stay ahead of Inter should they end up locked on the same points.

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However, Sunday’s match was the toughest left in Inter’s run-in, while Milan have to play Verona and Atalanta in their bid to secure the crown.

And Simone Inzaghi’s side dealt well with a tricky team who had rattled in 17 goals in their six games in April, taking the lead in the 12th minute through Perisic’s header and doubling their advantage seven minutes before half-time.

After Martinez was denied Edin Dzeko made the most of contact from Pablo Mari’s lunging tackle and earned his team a penalty, which thwacked against the post by Martinez before the Argentine nodded in on the rebound.

Ignacio Pussetto pulled one back for the hosts after Gerard Deulofeu had crashed a free-kick off the woodwork, but Inter held on to claim the points.

– Leao keeps Milan top -Portugal forward Leao struck with eight minutes remaining against Fiorentina to ensure Milan are still favourites for a first Scudetto since 2011 and unleash a wave of relief at a packed San Siro.

“It’s the best moment of my career as a player,” Leao told DAZN after his 10th league goal of the season.

Until Leao scored it had looked to be a frustrating day for the hosts, Olivier Giroud missing the first of a series of good chances with 15 minutes on the clock when he somehow fluffed his dinked finish wide after being slipped perfectly through by Franck Kessie.

Nerves started to get to the home fans after a series of misplaced passes in good positions curtailed promising attacks, and the huge crowd had their heads in their hands two minutes after the break when Leao smashed over from close range after being fed by Giroud.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was introduced in the 65th minute in an attempt to force the winner, and after Mike Maignan saved Arthur Cabral’s 76th-minute header Leao made it party time.

He collected Viola goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano’s awful kick, charged towards goal and slotted home a finish which could be crucial to an enthralling title race.

– Juve eye Champions League -Leonardo Bonucci put Juve on the brink of Champions League football with a double in their 2-1 win over Venezia which also dealt a huge blow to the survival hopes of Serie A’s bottom team.

Italy defender Bonucci struck in each half at the Allianz Stadium to put Juve 10 points clear of fifth-placed Lazio, who occupy the Europa League spot, while Roma are a further point back in sixth ahead of their home match with Bologna later on Sunday.

Anything but a win for Jose Mourinho’s Roma will confirm Juve’s place in Europe’s top club competition.

“We needed the win to make sure that the last three games aren’t too difficult,” said Bonucci to Sky Sport Italia.

Venezia are six points behind Cagliari, who sit just outside the relegation zone, and have a game in hand on Thursday at in-form Salernitana.

AFP

Mourinho Rebuilding Reputation As Revitalised Roma Eye European Glory

In this file photo taken on March 4, 2021, Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho looks on during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage in London. NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP

 

Jose Mourinho returns to England on Thursday on a wave of enthusiasm as upbeat Roma prepare for their third European semi-final in five seasons with fans firmly behind their charismatic manager.

Mourinho’s spell at Tottenham, the first since 2002 where he left a club without winning a trophy, left the man formerly known as The Special One’s stock at an all-time low.

A crop of attack-minded coaches had left Mourinho behind as he crept towards his 60s, but he is rebuilding his reputation in the country where his star has never waned thanks to the historic treble he won for Inter Milan nearly 12 years ago.

Defeat on Saturday at Italian champions Inter ended a 12-match unbeaten run in Serie A and fifth-placed Roma’s outside hopes of reaching the Champions League.

They were outclassed at the San Siro by a superior team who are heavily fancied to retain their league title but the 3-1 loss failed to end the positive vibes in Rome ahead of Thursday’s trip to Leicester for the first leg of their European Conference League semi.

Fans have been packing the Stadio Olimpico for recent matches with more than 65,000 attending wins over Salernitana and Bodo/Glimt and 1,600 will be in fine voice at the King Power Stadium hoping that their team end an England hoodoo.

Roma have won just one of their 22 matches played in England, at Anfield way back in 2001 with Fabio Cappello at the helm for a 2-1 aggregate UEFA Cup defeat to Liverpool, and have taken some heavy beatings from Premier League sides down the years.

Last season’s Europa League first-leg 6-2 hammering at Manchester United cost Roma their first continental final since 1984 when they were beaten by Liverpool on penalties at their own ground.

Under Mourinho, Roma look more solid than they did under predecessor Paulo Fonseca and he has managed to create a cohesion between the team and a notoriously volatile fan base which last saw their team win a trophy in 2008.

Winning Mentality

In this file photo, Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho gestures on the touchline as Tottenham Hotspur’s Welsh striker Gareth Bale (L) leaves the game, substituted during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 31, 2021.
ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP

 

“He’s instilled in everyone the idea of never giving up, staying on it, and coming together to get results,” starlet Nicolo Zaniolo said in an interview with UEFA.

“We have a coach who knows what it takes to win, I think we’ve got a chance.”

Roma supporters have continually backed their coach even in the face of some deeply poor performances and at time embarrassing results — not even a 6-1 hammering at the hands of Bodo in the Conference League groups stage led to vociferous training ground protests which have been inflicted on previous coaches.

Considered yesterday’s man in England, Mourinho’s name still carries immense weight in Italy and fans have been prepared to stick by him in the hope that he weaves the same magic which denied them the Serie A crown in 2010.

Back then Mourinho was public enemy number one in the ‘Giallorosso’ half of the Italian capital as his Inter team pipped Roma to the league on the final day of the season, a triumph that came after Lazio fans had hailed him a “true man in a fake football” in a match against Inter they had demanded their own team lose.

Against type, the 59-year-old has even created a team which plays in a more contemporary style, pressing its opposition and at times putting together some sparkling passing manoeuvres.

Stephan El Shaarawy’s recent equaliser at then-title chasers Napoli was the latest example of rapid ball movement and forward-looking play which has helped Tammy Abraham net 24 times in all competitions in his first season in Italy.

The return from injury of Zaniolo, whose hat-trick in the previous round eased Roma’s passage into the last four, will also help Mourinho in his bid to make history.

AFP

Inter Outclass Roma To Return Top Of Serie A

Inter Milan's Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Inter Milan and AS Roma on April 23, 2022 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP
Inter Milan’s Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Inter Milan and AS Roma on April 23, 2022 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Reigning Serie A champions Inter Milan reclaimed top spot on Saturday after beating Roma 3-1 at home to move one point clear of AC Milan.

Denzel Dumfries and Marcelo Brozovic scored first-half goals at San Siro before Lautaro Martinez headed in a third shortly after the break to earn Inter a fourth consecutive win.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan drilled in a late consolation as Inter capped off a successful week that began with a 3-0 victory Tuesday over Milan in the second leg of their Italian Cup semi-final.

“We were really worried about this match a few days after using up a lot of energy in the derby,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi.

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“We played a great match against an opponent in good shape, strong physically and tactically. It’s an important signal.”

Milan could regain first place by winning at Lazio on Sunday, but Inter have a game in hand away to Bologna in midweek.

Third-placed Napoli on Sunday play an Empoli side who are winless in 16 matches since they defeated Luciano Spalletti’s title challengers 1-0 in Naples on December 12.

Jose Mourinho’s Roma arrived in Milan unbeaten in 12 games, a run which had given them an outside shot of qualifying for the Champions League.

They dampened Napoli’s Scudetto hopes at the start of the week by snatching a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw, but Inter ensured there was no such slip-up against the man who led them to the treble in 2010.

Moments after Roma defender Gianluca Mancini powered a header narrowly wide, Hakan Calhanoglu played Dumfries through and the Dutchman finished past Rui Patricio to put Inter in front.

Croatia international Brozovic then slammed into the top corner after skipping past several defenders inside the Roma box.

Martinez rose unmarked at a corner to nod in his team-leading 16th goal this term seven minutes into the second half.

Mkhitaryan rifled in from Eldor Shomurodov’s cutback five minutes from time but Roma remain five points back of Juventus in the race for fourth place.

Mourinho backs Inter for title

“They’re the strongest team in the league,” said Mourinho, whose team have lost all three meetings with Inter this season.

“Now that we no longer play against Inter, AC Milan, Juventus or Napoli, I can say that I would like Inter to win the Scudetto. But before the match I wanted to win.”

Atalanta ended a run of three consecutive losses earlier in the day by beating Venezia 3-1 as Colombia striker Duvan Zapata scored his first goal in four months.

Mario Pasalic broke the deadlock for Atalanta just before half-time in Venice and Zapata doubled the lead moments after the interval after being set up by compatriot Luis Muriel.

Zapata had not scored in the league since late November and missed the first three months of the year because of injury, coinciding with Atalanta’s downward spiral out of the top four.

“I was waiting for this goal since my return, but especially this win which we needed,” Zapata told DAZN after notching his 10th Serie A goal this term.

Muriel headed in a third for Atalanta shortly past the hour before Domen Crnigoj grabbed a consolation for Venezia, who dropped to the foot of the table after an eighth straight loss.

Atalanta stayed eighth but pulled to within two points of the European places. Venezia are level with Salernitana and Genoa, all of whom are six points from safety.

Klopp Says Inter Milan Not Coming To Liverpool As ‘Tourists’

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp takes a training session at the Axa training centre in Kirkby, north of Liverpool in north-west England on November 23, 2021, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League, Group B football match against Porto. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp said Inter Milan were not coming to Liverpool as tourists this week even though they are trailing 2-0 after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Liverpool are well-placed to qualify for the quarter-finals ahead of Tuesday’s second leg at Anfield after Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scored in Italy last month.

But Klopp is taking nothing for granted as his side seek to stay on track for an unprecedented quadruple of trophies after beating Chelsea on penalties to win the League Cup last week.

“The danger everybody knows about — it’s 2-0,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference on Monday. “I think it’s the lead which got turned over most often in the history of football.

“If you get to half-time 2-0 up and you have a team who thinks we are halfway through then you are already on the wrong path.

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“It’s a much better result than I would have expected before we played there. The game didn’t look like we would win it 2-0 for most of the time. It was a really tough tie and a really difficult game to play.”

Klopp said Inter, second in Serie A, had real quality, shown in their 5-0 victory over bottom side Salernitana last week.

“It’s a really good, really experienced team and they don’t come here as tourists,” said the German.

“I know that they want to chase the game and that’s what we want to do because we are not a team who defends results or tries to get through somehow. We want to attack the game again.”

Klopp said Firmino, Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip had returned to full training after injury and illness issues.

The trio will be assessed ahead of the Inter match but Klopp said because Firmino had been out for longer — he has not played since the Inter game — he might not be risked.

Denmark’s Eriksen Part Ways With Inter Milan ‘By Mutual Consent’

File photo: Inter Milan’s Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen looks on during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) round of 8 football match Inter Milan vs Fiorentina on January 29, 2020, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Christian Eriksen has terminated his contract with Inter Milan by mutual consent six months after suffering a heart incident playing for Denmark at the European Championships.

The 29-year-old has been fitted with a pacemaker. That means he is not allowed to play in Italian football, but other championships do not have the same rules.

“Internazionale Milano can confirm that an agreement has been reached to terminate Christian Eriksen’s contract by mutual consent,” the Italian club said.

“Although Inter and Christian are now parting ways, the bond shall never be broken. The good times, the goals, the victories, those Scudetto celebrations with fans outside San Siro – all this will remain forever in Nerazzurri history.”

Eriksen will now be free to consider his options with other potential clubs, and has recently been in training with his boyhood club Odense.

According to the Danish daily B.T, Eriksen mainly focused on physical exercises, but also trained with a ball, although this is not currently with a view to playing for them.

“Christian Eriksen is using the pitch for his rehabilitation” but “he is not training with our team”, Odense’s communications officer Rasmus Nejstgaardhad told AFP.

RELATED: Eriksen Visits Inter Training Ground Nearly Two Months After Euro Collapse

Resuscitated

File photo:  Finland’s midfielder Robin Lod (R) gestures at paramedics as Denmark’s defender Simon Kjaer (L) runs towards Denmark’s midfielder Christian Eriksen after he collapsed on the pitch during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match between Denmark and Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12, 2021. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP)

 

The former Tottenham man suffered a cardiac arrest in Denmark’s opening game at Euro 2020 against Finland in Copenhagen on June 12 and had to be resuscitated on the pitch.

Denmark then rode a wave of emotion at the tournament, reaching the semi-finals.

The playmaker spent several days in hospital and had a pacemaker implanted to regulate his heartbeat, which would rule him out of even going to a gym in Italy.

Eriksen’s departure from Inter comes just days after Argentina striker Sergio Aguero announced the end of his professional career at the age of 33 following heart problems.

The former Manchester City striker signed a two-year deal with Barcelona but had made just five appearances, scoring one goal against Real Madrid, before being taken to hospital with “chest pains” after a match at home to Alaves in October.

Financially, Inter Milan, who are deep in the red, will make some savings by parting company with their biggest earner, although Eriksen’s salary, estimated at 7.5 million euros by the Italian press, was covered for a year under a FIFA insurance system.

Eriksen was a key member of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side that were runners-up in the Premier League in 2016/17 and then reached the Champions League final in 2019.

The Dane joined Inter in January 2020 and after initial problems settling into Antonio Conte’s system, was a driving force in their charge to a 19th Scudetto earlier this year.

Eriksen was unveiled at the Scala opera house in Milan when he joined Inter. Italian media reported on Friday that the club planned a tribute at their San Siro stadium before a game in early 2022.

The club posted a letter to Eriksen on their website praising his role in bringing the Scudetto back to the club last season.

“Christian was a key figure in our march to the Scudetto -– a team effort to which Eriksen contributed with his vision, intuition, passing, assists and goals, including some big ones. Against Napoli. Against Crotone, in what ultimately clinched the title. Then another delightful free-kick to celebrate the title at San Siro on the last day of the season,” the note said.

“That is our final, happy, wistful memory of Christian.”

AFP

Napoli Slump To Inter, Lose First League Game Of The Season

Inter Milan’s players celebrate during the Italian Serie A football match between Inter and Napoli, at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, on November 21, 2021. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Inter Milan strengthened their Serie A title defence on Sunday with an enthralling 3-2 win over Napoli which moved them to within four points of the league leaders.

Simone Inzaghi’s side came back from Piotr Zielinski’s powerful early strike to close the gap on both Napoli and AC Milan, who lost 4-3 at Fiorentina on Saturday, in a breathless encounter at the San Siro.

Hakan Calhanoglu levelled the scores from the penalty spot midway through the first half. Ivan Perisic’s header just before the break and Lautaro Martinez’s smart finish after a heart-pounding upfield surge from Joaquin Correa made sure of the points and a three-way title race even more interesting.

“It was a very important game for us looking at the league table,” said Martinez to DAZN.

“We have been playing well but every now and again the result isn’t the right one for us, but today the team played with intensity and character.”

Napoli, who also scored through Dries Mertens with 11 minutes left, lost their unbeaten league record just as Milan did in Florence after Samir Handanovic pulled off a miracle save to deny Mario Rui’s header in stoppage time.

And Mertens then wasted a gilt-edged chance to snatch an unlikely point with second remaining when he skied Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s perfect cross, completely unmarked and at point-blank range.

To make matters worse for Napoli, Luciano Spalletti also had to watch two of his players come off worse in clashes of heads.

Star striker Victor Osimhen had to leave the field just after the break after he and Milan Skriniar thumped into each other, with Spalletti saying after the match that he hoped it to be a facial injury and nothing more.

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 ‘No Fear’ 

And goalkeeper David Ospina collapsed to the ground in worrying fashion after his head whacked into Inter substitute Edin Dzeko’s, but both players carried on with their heads bandaged.

“I said to my players at half-time that if we play with fear we won’t make courageous choices,” said Spalletti of his team’s underwhelming first-half display.

“In the second half we did everything much better… We need to face our objectives with no fear, like we did in the second half.”

David Okereke struck the only goal to earn Venezia a surprise 1-0 win at Bologna on Sunday, their second impressive victory in as many Serie A games.

Nigerian attacker Okereke, on loan at promoted Venezia from Belgian outfit Club Brugge, poked home the winner in the 61st minute to move Venezia up to 13th and six points from the relegation zone.

The 24-year-old’s fourth league goal of the season gave Paolo Zanetti’s side a second straight shock win after also beating Jose Mourinho’s Roma before the international break.

Sampdoria jumped out of the drop zone with a 2-0 win at bottom side Salernitana which came through a Francesco Di Tacchio own goal and a nicely taken finish from Antonio Candreva.

Roberto D’Aversa’s Samp are 16th and sent local rivals Genoa into the bottom three ahead of Andriy Shevchenko’s first match in charge of the club against Roma in Sunday’s late match.

In the early game, Sassuolo drew 2-2 with lowly Cagliari, who snatched a point in part thanks to an acrobatic scissor kick from Keita Balde five minutes before half-time.

AFP

Chelsea Sign Lukaku From Inter Milan

Lukaku was with Chelsea seven years ago. Photo: Chelsea FC.

 

Chelsea have re-signed Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan.

The London club confirmed the return of the 28-year-old strike for a reported club record fee of £97 million ($135 million) in a statement on Thursday.

“One of the most prolific strikers in European football, Lukaku has returned to the club he supported as a young boy and where he has unfinished business, having been on our books between 2011 and 2014,” the club said.

“The Belgian has signed a five-year contract and will add attacking firepower to Thomas Tuchel’s squad of European champions.”

Lukaku scored 64 goals in two seasons in Italy to quickly become a hero at the San Siro.

But the Belgian also has a proven record in the Premier League, scoring 113 goals during spells with Manchester United, Everton and West Brom.

The only blot on Lukaku’s career so far was his first spell at Chelsea as he failed to score in 15 appearances.

Signed as an 18-year-old as the apparent heir to Didier Drogba, Lukaku quickly grew frustrated at his lack of opportunities in the first team.

Drogba was the hero as Lukaku’s first season as a Chelsea player ended with them winning the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

But he later stated he felt he played “no part” in that success due to his limited game time.

“I’m happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club,” said Lukaku, who has signed a five-year contract. “It’s been a long journey for me: I came here as a kid who had a lot to learn, now I’m coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.

“The way the club is going fits my ambitions perfectly at 28 and just coming off winning Serie A. I think this opportunity comes at the right time and hopefully we can have a lot of success together.”

Prolific loan spells with West Brom and then Everton proved Lukaku’s ability to score goals in the Premier League before he made a permanent move to the Toffees in 2014.

After scoring 87 goals in three seasons with Everton, Chelsea came calling again but Lukaku instead joined Manchester United in an inital £75 million move.


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‘Ups and downs’ 

 

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Seven goals in his first seven Premier League games briefly gave United hope of challenging Manchester City for the title in 2017/18, but the wheels quickly came off Jose Mourinho’s time at Old Trafford.

Lukaku scored twice in United’s famous comeback to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League in the early months of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign in charge, but he also fell out of favour under the Norwegian with questions over his fitness.

“Since I left Chelsea, it’s been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs, but these experiences made me strong and the challenge is to try to help the team win some more trophies,” added Lukaku. “I can’t wait to get started and to help the club achieve more success.”

A move to Inter offered a fresh start under Antonio Conte, who had been a long-time admirer of Belgium’s all-time leading scorer.

Together they ended Juventus’ grip on Italian football, romping to Serie A last season by 12 points.

However, the financial problems of Inter’s owners the Suning Group, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, have seen their rise quickly unravel.

Conte left the club in May, claiming the cost cutting required would have prevented him building the team he wanted to challenge domestically and in Europe.

After lifting the Champions League last season, Chelsea are hoping Lukaku is the final piece required to make Thomas Tuchel’s side Premier League title challengers.

“Lukaku is quite simply one of the world’s best strikers and goalscorers,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia. “We are absolutely delighted to be bringing him back to the club he loves, and are excited to be adding his talent to our Champions League-winning squad.

“We are of course looking to build on last season’s success, and Lukaku will play a big role in achieving our targets.”

 

Eriksen Visits Inter Training Ground Nearly Two Months After Euro Collapse

Inter Milan’s Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen looks on during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) round of 8 football match Inter Milan vs Fiorentina on January 29, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Christian Eriksen on Wednesday met his Inter Milan teammates for the first time since suffering cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, in a visit to the Italian champions’ training ground.

In a statement, Inter said that Eriksen, 29, paid a visit to the training centre at Appiano Gentile outside Milan on Wednesday morning.

“The Danish midfielder met the club directors, the coach, teammates and all of the staff present. Eriksen is doing well and is in excellent physical and mental shape,” Inter said.

“He will now follow the recovery programme put forward by Danish doctors in Copenhagen, who will also co-ordinate the clinical follow-up. The Inter medical staff will naturally be kept informed and up to date throughout the process.”

Eriksen collapsed towards the end of the first half of Denmark’s opening match at the European Championship against Finland, his life saved by the quick thinking of his teammates and the Danish medical staff.

His future at Inter is in the balance due to his pacemaker, as footballers with one fitted cannot play in Italy, unlike in some other countries.

The tests he is undergoing will eventually determine whether or not he can have it removed, allowing him to stay at Inter.

He is in any case not expected to be back in action for another six months, whether he stays in Italy or finds a new club elsewhere.

He arrived in Milan on Tuesday and reportedly had a conversation with Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta before travelling to the training ground on Wednesday to see his teammates and new coach Simone Inzaghi.

-AFP

Inter Milan Pull Out Of US Trip After Arsenal Over COVID-19 Concerns

Inter Milan’s Italian defender Alessandro Bastoni (C) and teammates celebrate after Inter opened the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Cagliari on April 11, 2021 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
Alberto PIZZOLI / AFPPIZZOLI / AFP

 

 

Italian champions Inter Milan announced Wednesday that they will not be travelling to the United States for the Florida Cup after Premier League side Arsenal earlier withdrew after coronavirus cases.

The Serie A club said in a statement the decision was “due to the current risks involved in international travel as a result of the spread of the pandemic, risks that have already caused Arsenal F.C. to withdraw”.

Earlier Arsenal also cancelled their pre-season trip after a “small number” of their touring party tested positive for coronavirus.

The two teams were scheduled to play each other this weekend in the opening round of the Florida Cup, which also includes Everton and Colombia’s Millonarios.

Arsenal did not specify how many members of their touring group had tested positive, or if any players were among those with a Covid-19 diagnosis.

“Following a small number of positive Covid tests among the planned party to travel to America tomorrow, we have sadly been forced to withdraw from the Florida Cup,” the statement read.

“This difficult decision is based on ensuring the health and wellbeing of our players and staff.”

The Premier League season starts on August 13, with Arsenal travelling to promoted Brentford.

Serie A kicks off on the weekend of August 21 with Inter opening their title defence at home against Genoa.

Meanwhile, Italian side Spezia have confirmed four more positive cases, a player and three staff members, bringing the Covid outbreak at the Serie A club to 14 in the last week.