Crystal Palace Linked With Shock Move for €30m Inter Ace as Search for Striker Continues

Premier League high-flyers Crystal Palace are eying a shock move for Internazionale’s €30m rated striker Gabriel Barbosa as the Eagles scour the Italian market for reinforcements in January.

Roy Hodgson’s Palace currently sit sixth in the table with 14 points, the same amount as fourth placed ?Leicester City

However, the 72-year-old manager is keen to bolster his attack with Christian Benteke misfiring, while the future of talisman Wilfried Zaha remains in doubt after a failed summer transfer to fellow Premier League side ?Arsenal.

Wilfried Zaha

According to Gazzetta dello Sport as relayed by ?Calcio Mercato, the former Inter boss is eager to add reinforcements in January to continue his side’s strong start to the 2019/20 campaign, with top goalscorer Jordan Ayew finding the net three times thus far.

Gabigol is currently on loan at Brazilian Série A side Flamengo from Inter and is in scintillating form, finding the net 23 times and providing five assists in 28 appearances.

His stellar performances have seen him reintegrated into the Brazil national team, the striker coming on as a substitute in Brazil’s recent draw against Nigeria. 

I Nerazzurri are believed to be demanding a fee in the region of €30m for the 23-year-old, although this would not deter Palace from making a bid for the former Santos man, despite his underwhelming European cameos with Inter and Benfica.

Gabigol is still undecided on his next move and a meeting has been scheduled to take place between his entourage and representatives from Inter to outline the young striker’s next move. La Beneamata boss Antonio Conte could recall Gabigol to his January training camp before making a final decision on his future.

Gabriel Barbosa

As reported by Corriere dello Sport – relayed by ?Teamtalk, Inter and Flamengo have an agreement in principle for the purchase of Gabigol in the region of €15m, with the Italian side also implementing a 20% sell on clause. 

Whilst Gabigol remains an option for Crystal Palace, other strikers are being scouted by the London club. Francesco Caputo is another option who is currently plying his trade at Italian Serie A outfit Sassuolo, scoring three goals in five appearances so far this campaign. 

Crystal Palace host champions ?Manchester City at Selhurst Park on 19 November before heading to the Emirates Stadium to take on third placed ?Arsenal eight days later.

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Roberto Mancini’s New-Look Italy are Ready to Win Euro 2020

?In November 2017, Gian Piero Ventura’s Italy hosted Sweden in the second leg of their World Cup playoff with a 1-0 deficit to make up.

‘They’ll be fine, it’s the Italians, you can’t have a World Cup without Italy!’ 

Well, it’s true, Italy have been apart of every World Cup finals since 1962 – winning four of them since 1930 – it’d be just plain wrong to not have them competing in a World Cup.

However, in Milan that night – just over 11 years on from one of Gli Azzurri’s finest hours in Berlin – Italy reached one of the lowest points in their footballing history. 

FBL-WC-2018-ITA-SWE

Italy failed to create anything of any substance against a resolute Swedish defence, slumping to a 0-0 draw and more significantly, failing to reach the World Cup finals for only the second time ever. 

Inevitably, Ventura was sacked after 16 months in charge, and in his place Italy needed a manager who could reinvigorate a broken side and restore them as one of Europe’s powerhouses once again.

The man they went for was Roberto Mancini – who was appointed in May 2018 –  and since then, the Italian renaissance has well and truly been underway.

Roberto Mancini

Since Mancini’s arrival, Gli Azzurri have lost just twice in 16 games and have maintained their 100% record in Euro 2020 qualifying through seven games. 

In last year’s Nations League, we saw some very typical Italian performances, with Mancini’s men conceding just two goals in four games. During qualification however, we’ve seen the Italians at their free-flowing best, playing some of their best football they’ve played in years.

Although it’s by no means miraculous, the job Mancini’s done with an Italian side void of any identity just two years ago has been superb and there’s no doubt he’s turned them into contenders for next year’s Euros. 

So how’s he done it? 

And why are the Italians suddenly contenders? 


Well, first of all, their defence is outstanding and has been…for seemingly, well, ever. 

With Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini at the back – arguably the best centre-back pairing of the 21st century – Italy will have a chance in most games they play, we saw what happened at Euro 2016, where Italy reached the quarter-finals with Graziano Pelle and Eder leading the line. At Euro 2020, Chiellini and Bonucci will have a much stronger supporting cast ahead of them.

Let’s not forget that these two are the closest pair you’ll see to ‘born winners’, by the way.

Right, so let’s talk about that supporting cast.

Mancini has generally used a dynamic 4-3-3 with his Italian side and we’ve seen the emergence of Inter duo Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella under the ex-Man City boss. Sensi, in particular, will be pivotal for Italy over the next decade. At just 5’5, he possesses the dribbling ability of an elite winger and the passing ability of a deep-lying playmaker – he’s quickly developed into one of the finest midfielders in Europe.


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With Sensi teaming-up with PSG’s Marco Verratti and Chelsea’s Jorginho, you have a midfield that has a great balance of tenacity, technique and attacking threat. 

Barella, for now, maybe on the outside looking in, but we’ve already seen Mancini trust the 22-year-old many times since his appointment and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him part of Italy’s starting midfield three next summer.

While the defence is solid and the midfield is dynamic, the main issue for the national team in recent years has been their front-line, and it was an issue in the first few months of Mancini’s tenure.

In 2018, Mancini would often field three wingers as the trio up top – deploying Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne as the ‘false nine’. He was influenced by Maurizio Sarri and his use of winger Dries Mertens as a withdrawn forward in his fluent Napoli sides between 2015-18.

However, the Insigne experiment didn’t work and Italy still struggled to score goals. The solution: trust one of your number nines.

Andrea Belotti,Ciro Immobile

Despite being so prolific for Lazio in Serie A, Ciro Immobile has often disappointed when he’s put on the Italy shirt – scoring just eight times in 38 appearances.

Immobile has by no means set Group J alight with loads of goals – he only has one – but he’s proved that he’s more than a mere target-man. 

He often rotates the role with Andrea Belotti, also a prolific Serie A goalscorer, and whilst both have proven to fit tactically, there’s still a feeling that both should be scoring more for the national team.

Nevertheless, gone are the days of Manolo Gabbiadini leading the Italian line, Gli Azzurri now have three world-class performers in their front-line – a trio that will cause most international defences problems.

Federico Chiesa,Lorenzo Insigne

Pairing Insigne on the wing is Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa,  who has been a prominent figure in Italy’s qualifying campaign. 

Chiesa, 21, shone for Italy at the Under-21 Euros in the summer and, like Kai Havertz is destined for a future move to Bayern, Chiesa is seemingly set for a big-money move to Italy’s footballing giant, Juve.

Although not necessarily a goalscorer – scoring just six times last season – Chiesa has proven himself as a creator, a playmaker almost from out wide. Blessed with tremendous speed, he’s capable of running in behind or beating a player 1v1, however, Chiesa’s vision and ability on the ball mean he can also come short or central to try and create.

Let’s not forget that the mightily talented Federico Bernardeschi is also waiting in the rafters, highlighting the depth that this Italian side now has.

Italy v Greece - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier

Italy’s breeze through qualification under Roberto Mancini has shown they’re way beyond the side that was humiliated on that night in Milan back in 2017. 

The emergence of young talent has boosted a demoralised national side, adding dynamism and excitement to what has typically been a dull and ultimately unsuccessful Italy team over the past decade.

With two elite centre-backs still going, supported by the best supporting cast they’ve, arguably, ever had and a manager that has helped find a new identity within Gli Azzurri – don’t be surprised if Italy go all the way in 2020.


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Inter Provide Injury Update on Alexis Sanchez Following International Break

?Inter have confirmed that winger Alexis Sánchez has suffered dislocated tendons in his ankle while on international duty with Chile.

Sánchez picked up the injury in the dying embers of Chile’s 0-0 draw with Colombia, and manager Reinaldo Rueda admitted the winger may need surgery which could ?sideline him for three months.

Alexis Sanchez

He returned to ?Inter for further tests on his ankle, and I Nerazzurri have confirmed on their ?official website that ?Sánchez dislocated tendons in his left ankle, although whether he will need surgery is currently unclear.

They wrote: “Alexis Sánchez underwent clinical tests on Tuesday morning at the Humanitas Hospital in Rozzano. The tests showed the dislocation of the long peroneal tendon of the left ankle.

“On Wednesday, the player will have a further consultation in Barcelona with Professor Ramon Cugat, to decide whether to intervene surgically.”

Should Sánchez require surgery, he would be likely to miss two or three months of action, but that period on the sidelines could be reduced drastically if the consultation reveals that Sánchez does not need the procedure.

However, what is certain is that the winger is set to miss a substantial number of games while he recovers. 

That means he is likely to miss both meetings with ?Borussia Dortmund in the ?Champions League, and it’s even possible he could remain sidelined for the final group-stage game against his former side ?Barcelona on 10th December.

Alexis Sanchez

With Sánchez sidelined, manager Antonio Conte may have to get creative with his options in attack. ?Romelu Lukaku has also been nursing a few minor injuries and was reluctantly released on international duty with Belgium, but Conte will need him to be at his best to help cope with the loss of Sánchez.

Argentina international Lautaro Martínez will certainly be relied upon, while youngster Sebastiano Esposito could earn himself a few opportunities to impress in Sánchez’s absence.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Alexis Sánchez Facing 3 Months Out as Chile Boss Confirms He May Require Ankle Surgery

Chile manager Reinaldo Rueda has revealed that ?Inter winger Alexis Sánchez could miss up to three months of action if he requires surgery on the ankle injury which he picked up on international duty.

Sánchez suffered “?dislocated ankle tendons” and potential ligament damage during Chile’s 0-0 draw with Colombia, and the initial fear was that he could miss a few months to recover.

Alexis Sanchez,Davinson Sanchez

Speaking at a press conference (via Football Italia), Rueda confessed that surgery could keep ?Sánchez out for even longer, but he will undergo tests when he returns to ?Inter to see whether it will be necessary.

He said: “He could end up under the knife. Inter, his club, will decide. We could lose him for two or three months. It’s a shame because he had started playing again with Inter and scored two goals, while also playing in the ?Champions League.

“He was happy and super motivated. Now we have to wait for these decisive hours.”

Regardless of the severity of the injury, this will come as a huge blow to Sánchez, who was keen to use his loan away from ?Manchester United to try and rebuild both his confidence and his reputation.

After struggling to break into the Inter side initially, Sánchez netted a goal on his first start for I Nerazzuri in the 3-1 win over Sampdoria, but was also shown a red card to bring the occasion to an abrupt end.

He returned to action in the Champions League, grabbing an assist against former employers ?Barcelona in the recent 2-1 defeat, but now that momentum looks to have come to a halt.

Alexis Sanchez

The 30-year-old is scheduled to spend the rest of the season away from United, who declined the opportunity to put an option to buy in the loan contract in the hope that Sánchez would prove himself away on loan.

However, this injury will certainly be concerning for the Red Devils who, like Inter, will be eager to learn the outcome of the tests on his ankle.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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8 of the Best Stadium Concept Designs That Were Never Built

So AC Milan and Inter have announced intentions to leave behind one of world football’s most iconic venues in San Siro in order to build a brand new stadium.

It’s undoubtedly a real shame, but needs must if these two are to move forward as clubs.?

The club’s presented two concept designs for the new build recently, with one of the lead architects promising the finished arena will be ‘better than Tottenham’s’, as quoted by ?Football Italia.

One design – as seen above – features concentric rings around the stadium, while the other has designs elements based on the city of Milan’s famous Duomo cathedral and Galleria.

Still, as intriguing as they are, Inter and AC fans would be wise not to get too carried away just yet as concept designs are often rejigged, rehashed and altogether abandoned later on in the process.

And so, we present to you, the eight greatest football stadiums that were never built…


Portsmouth – Dockland Stadium

Back when Pompey were the big boys of Hampshire, winning FA Cups and playing in Europe and all sorts, they decided Fratton Park was too small for a club of their size.

Their solution? ?Build a stadium next to a naval base right on the coastline where unexploded World War II bombs are still found. Guess why this dream was never realised?


Chelsea – Battersea Power Station

Phwoar, now ?this was beautiful. History, tradition, class, as your dad likes to say about his generic football team. Roman Abramovich certainly had ambitious hopes.


Unfortunately for ?Chelsea, they lost the race to take over development at Battersea Power Station remain at Stamford Bridge and their plans to redevelop their current home have also gone down the pan.

Sorry to hear that, Chels fans.


Liverpool – Stanley Park

Liverpool's US co-owner Tom Hicks Jr (L)

Probably for the best that ?this stadium was never built; Anfield is just far too iconic to bulldoze.

Plans to move to Stanley Park came and went fairly quickly during the infamous Hicks and Gillett era, in hindsight probably to the delight of Reds fans everywhere, despite the ground’s obvious beauty.

It also would’ve moved ?Liverpool closer to ?Everton, and there were even tentative plans at the end of the 2000s to build conjoined stadiums for the Merseyside rivals!


Tottenham – Olympic Park Rebuild

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Remember the Stratford Hotspur meme? Good times.

Back before their wonderful new ground was given the green light, ?Spurs were in a battle with West Ham to move into the ?Olympic Stadium, proposing to completely demolish the arena and build their own specifically designed for football.

Rumour says it was just to pressure Haringey council into granting eventual planning permission back in north London, but the plans did exist.


Milan – Piazza Gino Valle

?Milan have priors to trying to leave their spiritual home of San Siro.

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Back in 2014, Barbara Berlusconi unveiled plans for a 42,000-seater stadium next to their new headquarters in the CityLife district of ?Milan, hoping to maximise their own club revenue streams.

The plans – which involved gardens built atop the block-like structures – were canned a year later, pathing the way for the designs we have now.?


Valencia – Nou Mestalla

Nou Mestalla stadium - Valencia

Okay, technically this stadium has been built. Kinda.

Valencia began building their new stadium all the way back in 2007, with plans for the capacity to reach 80,000 as they aimed to close the gap on ?Real Madrid and ?Barcelona.

However, financial difficulties over the years have downsized the project, which is standing in the city right now – it’s just not finished and might not be for several more years.


Forest Green Rovers – All-Wooden Stadium

Famous for their pioneering eco-innovation, League Two Forest Green Rovers, owned by green energy magnate Dale Vince, made the headlines back in 2016 when they announced plans for a 5,000-seater stadium in the Cotswolds to be made entirely out of wood.


The stadium was set to be the main feature of a £100m sports and green technology complex near Stroud. 

However, in 2019 the local council rejected the planning permission putting the project on ice indefinitely.


Dinamo Zagreb – Stadion Kajzerica?

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Ah, ?the pièce de résistance. The ‘blue volcano’ was planned way back in 2008 when an architect won a competition to design a new ground.


The concept is made blue-coloured polycarbonate, with a structure resembling a cloud suspended above the stadium.

Safe to say it’s the most unique design on this list…


Further Reading – Meanwhile, see ?here for 20 football stadiums around the world that are scheduled to be built…

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