Duvan Zapata: Inter Should Prioritise Atalanta Striker – And Forget About Romelu Lukaku

Inter’s attempts to sign Romelu Lukaku are driving us all mad, right? 

They don’t appear to have the money to sign him, nor do Manchester United have much of an interest in parting on the cheap.

As it goes, the Nerazzurri have spent much of their summer barking up the wrong tree as the ideal replacement for Mauro Icardi is only 50km to the north-east of Milan – and comes in the form of Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata.

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Zapata was instrumental for Atalanta last season, hitting 23 goals in Serie A as the Bergamo club shocked everyone by finishing 3rd in Serie A – qualifying for the Champions League in the process.

He followed up his excellent domestic season by performing well for Colombia in the Copa América, where his goal finished off Argentina in the opening match.

With ?Manchester United ?refusing to accept anything less than €80m for ?Lukaku, it seems that this transfer won’t happen, despite Inter’s best efforts to negotiate and try to structure a deal that the Red Devils would be happy with.

Whilst Lukaku is a star name with a big reputation, which is exactly the kind of player that ?Inter are looking for to spear-head their new era under Antonio Conte, he’s not necessarily the best option available to them.

First and foremost there’s the price-tag. It’s easy to forget in today’s market, but 80m is a lot of money. It’s in the same ball park as the money that ?Juventus paid to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Turin last summer and as good as Lukaku is, I’m sure we’d all agree that he would not represent the same value for money.

Atalanta would obviously fight to keep Zapata at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri D’Italia, but with the player’s contract running out at the end of the season, it doesn’t put them in the best negotiating position.

It’s been suggested that Inter would have to part with €50m to make the move happen, however with the risk of losing their star man for free in 12 months time, it’s conceivable that the price could be up for negotiation.

Away from finances, there’s the on-field performances. Both players regularly hit double figures, but Lukaku hasn’t really lived up to his price tag during his two seasons at Old Trafford – scoring 28 goals in 66 Premier League appearances. A respectable return, but you’d want more for your money.

?Serie A isn’t what it once was, but it is still a tricky league for strikers. When Carlos Tevez was playing for Juventus he was quoted saying that it was the toughest league he’s ever played in and with that in mind it’s important that Inter bring in a player who knows the division.
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?Zapata has spent six seasons in Serie A and has hit double figures in each of his last three campaigns, all while playing for provincial teams who aren’t always able to create as many chances as the league’s leading sides.

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Inter are promising big things this season and they’ve added the talented young midfielder Nicolo Barella to their ranks, who alongside fellow recruit Valentino Lazaro and established names Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva, will provide a solid platform for a player like Zapata to shine.

An established striker is a key ingredient to any squad that is serious about challenging for a league title. It’s also important to get value for money and a player who is cheaper and more experienced in the league is the obvious option for Inter to pursue.

Lukaku might sell shirts and gain some social media followers, but Zapata will bring goals and perhaps some silverware – with €30m to spare.

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Radja Nainggolan Included in Inter Squad for Asia Tour But Mauro Icardi Is Frozen Out

?Inter announced their travelling squad as they head to Asia for a pre-season tournament, with Mauro Icardi the biggest omission in Antonio Conte’s contingent. 

Radja Nainggolan is a surprise inclusion after Nerazzurri director Beppe Marotta had previously released a statement claiming the Belgian midfielder and Icardi were no longer in the plans of their new Italian manager. 

However, Nainggolan’s ?Inter career may not be finished quite yet as his name appeared in the list of players heading to Asia on Tuesday afternoon on the ?official Inter website. 

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

?Icardi on the other hand, looks destined to leave San Siro this summer, as his position at the club has become untenable after a fallout during the previous season. 

The Argentine spoke out against the club following contract negotiations, and his wife and agent Wanda Nara publicly criticized the Nerazzurri hierarchy for their treatment of her husband. 

In retaliation, Icardi was stripped of the captaincy and was largely left out in the cold for the remainder of the season. His exclusion comes as no shock to supporters, who have grown tired of their striker’s behaviour. 

Radja Nainggolan

Nainggolan joins new signings Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella on the plane to Asia, as they will compete for a place in Conte’s starting midfield. Sensi was on the score sheet in Inter’s friendly against Lugano, following his move from Sassuolo this summer. 

New centre back Diego Godin will join up with his Inter teammates over the next few days, as he returns from Copa América duty with Uruguay, along with his compatriot Matías Vecino. 

Romania star George Pu?ca? will also be a part of Conte’s summer plans, after his impressive exploits in the under-21 Euro 2019 competition. The striker is on the verge of re-joining Inter, after completing a permanent move to Palermo in 2018. 

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Assessing the 5 Teams Who Could End Juventus’ Serie A Dominance Next Season

?Eight consecutive Scudetti. Over 90 points in each of the last four seasons. Seemingly unstoppable.

Juventus have dominated Italian football in recent years. However, does the club’s limited success in the Champions League highlight their lack of competition in the Serie A? 

With increasingly more money being injected into the division, which of Italy’s chasing pack can finally put an end to The Old Lady’s hold over Italian football?  


SSC Napoli

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?Finishing second in three of the last four seasons, Napoli look the most likely side to snatch the Scudetto away from Turin.

Although Carlo Ancelotti’s side haven’t broke the bank yet this season, the addition of Konstantinos Manolas will hugely benefit their title chances. However, it is the club’s lack of outgoing transfers that gives them their best chance of mounting a title challenge.

With the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, and Kalidou Koulibaly all looking likely to remain at the Stadio San Paolo, Gli Azzurri should have a world class starting lineup that will push Maurizio Sarri’s men all the way.


Inter

Radja Nainggolan

Before Juventus, there was Inter. Jose Mourinho led I Nerazzurri to five consecutive titles between 2006 and 2010. The last of which would be part of an unprecedented treble, winning the Coppa Italia, ?Serie A, and Champions League.

However, they have failed to break into the top three since the 2010/2011 season. The addition of Antonio Conte however, who won the Scudetto three times for Juventus, may turnaround the club’s fortunes, as he will bring valuable title winning experience to the club.

Inter have also made some impressive signings, with Diego Godin among the pick of the bunch who will be aiming to topple this current Juventus side.  


AC Milan

Krzysztof Piatek,Fernandez Suso

Finishing fifth, after being pipped to ?Champions League football by one point, is always tough to take, especially if the side to do it is your most bitter rivals. 

Although ?Milan would have been feeling the strain of Europa League football next season, a failure to comply with financial fair play has dumped them from the competition. Perhaps the lack of mid-week football will help the club bounce back to their glory days.

The sleeping giants spent a huge £170m over the 2018/19 season and it failed to pay off, but the addition of Theo Hernandez from Real Madrid this summer on top of a potentially more settled and gelled squad could give Marco Giampaolo’s side an outside chance. 


AS Roma

Lorenzo Pellegrini,Daniele De Rossi

Roma pushed Massimiliano Allegri’s ?Juventus all the way in 2016/17, finishing just four points off the champions. However, last season proved difficult for I Giallorossi as they stumbled into sixth place.

This summer Roma have already lost Manolas and Luca Pellegrini to Napoli and Juventus respectively, giving their rivals a head start in the race for the title.

However, with young starlets such as Justin Kluivert, Patrik Schick, and Cengiz Under all alongside the constant goal threat of Edin Dzeko (if he stays), there is no ruling out the side from the capital.


Atalanta

Mario Pasalic

Atalanta were unplayable at times last year, scoring 77 times over the course of the season – the most of any side in the division.

They may be put down to a one season wonder, however, the Serie A is not immune to an occasional outsider. Think back to Sampdoria in 1990/91 and Hellas Verona six years previous. 

The club from Lombardy qualified for the ?Champions League for the first time in their history last season. Led by standout performers Duvan Zapata, Josep Ilicic, and Alejandro Gomez, Atalanta also demonstrated cohesive squad performances all season long. 

They may be outsiders for the Scudetto, but stranger things have happened in football.


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Free Agents: 8 Players Who Would Not Cost Your Club a Penny

Pre-season is now in full flow, and clubs are looking to get their transfer business done ahead of their respective leagues resuming. 

Fans love to hear about the rumours of big-money signings. It shows ambition, and brings excitement that your club can attract the best players.?

Yet it is not all about the most expensive players as there are some absolute bargains to be had elsewhere. And when we say bargains, we mean freebies….players who don’t actually have contracts or any cost attached to them!

Here’s eight such players who could be rather handy and cost you diddly squat..


Mario Balotelli

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The Italian forward seems to have been around forever, but he is still only 28. Having moved from club to club across a variety of countries, he is now looking for a new club after his contract with Marseille ended last month.

It would be a gamble to sign Balotelli given his widely-publicised off-field indiscretions. ?Yet he does offer quality on the pitch, scoring eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances for Marseille last season to show that he is far from a spent force. Perhaps a gamble worth taking.


Fernando Llorente

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Llorente only netted two league goals in as many seasons for Tottenham, hardly eye-catching numbers. He also missed from three yards in the Champions League semi-final against Ajax last season, before Lucas Moura spared his blushes. He is probably still thanking Moura to this day for that.

He does possess positive attributes though. The way he unsettled Matthijs de Ligt in the Champions League was impressive, ?whilst he also held the ball up well when he got his chance due to Harry Kane picking up an ankle problem. Four league assists last season highlight his ability to bring others in to the game. 

He is 34, but pace has never been his strength, so his age should not be a concern. Llorente may still have a couple of good years left in the game.


Dani Alves

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Alarm bells might start ringing with Alves when you hear about his age. He is 36. However, he does not appear to be done just yet.

The full back, who has won the Champions League on three occasions, recently captained Brazil to the Copa America title, as they beat Peru 3-1 in the final. This shows that he has plenty still to offer.

The experience that he brings with him after winning trophies in Spain, Italy and France would be invaluable for any side. Expect him to get another big move in the coming weeks.


Hatem Ben Arfa

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Ben Arfa has had his fair share of issues throughout his career. ?Falling out with managers has become common place, whilst he has struggled with weight problems at times as well.

However, one thing is for certain: he is supremely talented. Fans of the Premier League will remember him dazzling for Newcastle in their superb 2011-12 season, and he has been producing moments of magic in France since then.

Last season he scored seven goals and provided two assists in Ligue 1 for Rennes. Now he is seeking a new challenge and he will surely receive an offer before the window shuts.


Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge

It had all looked so good for Sturridge. He scored 22 Premier League goals in the 2013/14 campaign, nearly taking Liverpool to the title, and continued that form in to that year’s World Cup, netting in the opening game against Italy. Sadly, that tournament went downhill quickly for England, and the same can be said for Sturridge’s career. 

In the six seasons since, Sturridge has scored just 19 league goals, and has been plagued with injuries. It was no great shock to see him released by Liverpool this summer. 

His next career move is crucial. The forward is 29 and needs to hit the ground running when he finds a club. He has proved that he can do it before and will hope that he can produce at the top level again.


Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill

Cahill endured a nightmare season last year, as Maurizio Sarri cast him aside when he walked through the door at Chelsea. 

The England international is a proven winner though, having claimed two Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy in his career. Having hardly featured last season, he will have to get back up to speed quickly.

Will his level have dropped that much in one season? That remains to be seen, but Cahill has experience on his side, and will believe that he can get back to his best. He may get the chance to prove it next season.


Yacine Brahimi

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Brahimi impressed at Porto last season, enjoying his highest scoring league campaign with the club, netting ten goals. He also made his mark in the Champions League, as the side reached the quarter-finals before exiting to the eventual winners, Liverpool.

After five seasons in Portugal, he is looking for his next move. At the age of 29, it is fair to assume that he is currently at his peak. As he is available on a free, expect someone to snap him up before too long.


Filipe Luis

Filipe Luis

Chelsea fans may remember Luis, though perhaps not too fondly. The Brazilian left back did not make too much of an impact in his one season at Stamford Bridge, before returning to Atletico Madrid ?in 2015.

That does not make Luis a poor player. He has shown his class for Diego Simeone’s side over the years, helping the team to a La Liga title and two Europa League triumphs.

Now approaching his 34th birthday, Luis is coming towards the end of his career, yet his reading of the game could entice clubs to make a move to acquire his services.


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