Inter starlet Kovacic: I knew nothing of Barcelona bid

The Blaugrana reportedly made a move for the Croatia international on transfer deadline day but the 20-year-old midfielder claims that nobody spoke to him about a potential deal


Inter starlet Mateo Kovacic insists that he knows nothing of Barcelona’s alleged last-gasp bid to sign him before the close of the summer transfer window.

According to Sky Sport Italia, the Catalan club made an offer for the Croatia international on deadline day but it was rejected by the Nerazzurri.

“I have just heard of that,” Kovacic told reporters on Tuesday. “I don’t have a clue so there is no point in me saying anything.”

Kovacic did add, though, that he now feels far more settled in Italy, particularly after having opened his Inter account in sensational style last week by hitting a hat-trick in the Europa League win over Stjarnan at San Siro.

“It took me some time to adapt on new league,” the midfielder confessed. “But I am happy for my first goals, I have to keep going.”

However, the 20-year-old has now turned his attention to his country’s Euro 2016 qualification campaign. Croatia will kick off their campaign against Malta on September 9 but Kovacic is already excited by the prospect of facing Group H heavyweights Italy at San Siro on November 16.

“It will be nice to play at the stadium I play my league matches,” he confessed. 

“Italy are the favourites; the best team in our group but we are still aiming for first place. I expected more from our World Cup performance, both from myself and the whole team.”

Croatia were eliminated at the group stage of Brazil 2014. 

Balotelli overlooked again as Quagliarella replaces Osvaldo in Italy squad

The Torino striker has received his first Azzurri call-up since November 2010 following the withdrawal of the Inter attacker, who has been sidelined with a hamstring problem


Mario Balotelli has once again been overlooked by Antonio Conte, with the new Italy coach having turned to Fabio Quagliarella to replace the injured Pablo Daniel Osvaldo in his squad for Thursday’s friendly against Netherlands and next week’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway.

Balotelli was surprisingly left out of the original 27-man panel when it was announced on Sunday but was in contention for a recall after it emerged that Osvaldo was struggling with a hamstring problem.

However, Conte has instead decided to turn to Torino striker Quagliarella, who was last called up by his country in November 2010.

Conte, of course, knows the 31-year-old well, having worked with the attacker for the duration of his three-year stint in charge of Juventus.

Quagliarella’s call-up represents the second injury-enforced change to the original squad, with versatile Juventus defender Angelo Ogbonna having replaced Parma centre-half Gabriel Paletta, who pulled out with a back problem.

Italy host Netherlands in Bari on Thursday evening before travelling to Oslo to take on Euro 2016 qualification rivals Norway next Tuesday.

Valencia closing in on Guarin

The Colombia international appears to be on his way out of Inter and could continue his career in La Liga


Valencia are closing in on the signing of Inter midfielder Fredy Guarin on a one-year loan deal with a commitment to buy the Colombia international for a transfer fee between €15 million and €20m.

The Primera Division outfit are keen to add some fresh blood to their midfield before the transfer window closes on Monday and they see the 28-year-old Guarin as a valuable addition to their squad.

Guarin was close to leaving Inter for Juventus last season, but the deal eventually fell through as both sides failed to reach an agreement.

The former Porto man then signed a new contract with Inter until June 2017, but the Giuseppe Meazza outfit remained keen to sell Guarin for the right price.

Guarin now seems destined to continue his career at Valencia after the Spaniards eventually agreed to the inclusion of an obligatory buy clause in the loan deal.

The only remaining talking point is the transfer fee, with Valencia initially hoping to lure Guarin away from his current club for €15m, whereas Inter had set a €20m asking price.

Both clubs are ready to move toward a fee somewhere in the middle, however, and it appears to be only a matter of hours before the deal is done.

Messi out of Argentina's World Cup final rematch

The Barcelona star picked up a muscular injury this weekend and is one of a number of withdrawals from Wednesday’s friendly with Germany


Lionel Messi will not feature in Argentina’s World Cup 2014 final friendly rematch with Germany, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) has confirmed.

The forward, who starred for the Albiceleste this summer in Brazil, featured throughout Barcelona’s 1-0 win at Villarreal on Sunday but the club confirmed afterwards that he had picked up a knock at El Madrigal.

Barca’s report to the AFA claimed: “The player suffered a muscle strain in his right hamstring and needs rest as a precaution.”

Messi is not the only late withdrawal from Gerardo Martino’s first match as Argentina boss for the clash with newly crowned world champions Germany on Wednesday in Dusseldorf.

Albiceleste veteran Maxi Rodriguez suffered tightness in his hamstring, Inter striker Rodrigo Palacio’s left ankle is bruised and Zenit defender Ezequiel Garay’s left leg has been causing him muscular pain ahead of the international break, and all three players will miss out on the match.

Paris Saint-Germain attacker Ezequiel Lavezzi is still to be evaluated by Argentina’s medical team after complaining of backache following his club’s 5-0 victory over Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

BREAKING: Messi out of Argentina's World Cup final rematch

The Barcelona star picked up a muscular injury this weekend and is one of a number of withdrawals from Wednesday’s friendly with Joachim Low’s men


Argentina’s football association (AFA) has confirmed that Lionel Messi will not feature in the nation’s World Cup 2014 final friendly rematch with Germany.

The forward, who starred for the Albiceleste this summer in Brazil, featured throughout Barcelona’s 1-0 win at Villarreal on Sunday but the club confirmed afterwards that he had picked up a knock at El Madrigal.

Barca’s report to the AFA claimed: “The player suffered a muscle strain in his right hamstring and needs rest as a precaution.”

Messi is not the only late withdrawal from Gerardo Martino’s first match as Argentina boss, after being named as Alejandro Sabella’s successor last month, in their clash with newly crowned world champions Germany on Wednesday in Dusseldorf.

Albiceleste veteran Maxi Rodriguez suffered tightness in his hamstring, Inter striker Rodrigo Palacio’s left ankle is bruised and Zenit defender Ezequiel Garay’s left leg has been causing him muscular pain ahead of the international break.

Paris Saint-Germain attacker Ezequiel Lavezzi is still to be evaluated by Argentina’s medical team after complaining of backache following his club’s 5-0 victory over Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

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