Juventus are believed to have rejected the chance to re-sign Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal this summer, leaving Inter as his most likely destination.
Barcelona are preparing themselves for a summer clear-out to try to fund a spending spree. Inter’s Lautaro Martínez is at the top of their wishlist and Juventus’ Miralem Pjani? is up there too, but the idea of swapping players has been suggested as the best option as Barcelona aren’t blessed with too much money.
In their pursuit of Pjani?, Barcelona are believed to have offered Vidal in a player-plus-cash deal, but Calciomercato note that Juventus aren’t interested. They do want to rejuvenate their midfield, but they don’t see 33-year-old Vidal as the way to do that.
That’s not a new stance from Juventus, who are said to have informed Barcelona back in December that they weren’t prepared to do business over Vidal.
That reluctance saw Barcelona turn to Inter, who were desperate to sign the Chilean in January. However, when a deal could not be agreed, they turned to Christian Eriksen from Tottenham Hotspur, but they are still ready to land Vidal this summer.
The obvious avenue to explore would be to include Vidal as part of any deal for Martínez, but Calciomercato note that Inter are adamant that any deal for Vidal must be separate from anything else.
Negotiations over Martínez have proven to be so long and complicated, and Inter don’t want to make things worse by throwing Vidal’s name into the mix as well.
The Nerazzuri are prioritising the deal for Martínez as they don’t see a desperate need for Vidal in their squad. Eriksen is already there, Stefano Sensi will soon be signed permanently and the plan is also to sign Brescia’s Sandro Tonali, but Antonio Conte would also like to add Vidal to his squad.
The pair worked together at Juventus and are said to have remained incredibly close, but Conte is not going to force a deal if it’s not possible. Inter do want to sign Vidal, but not as much as they did back in January.
The agent of Inter loanee Stefano Sensi has confirmed that he has been contacted by several Premier League sides over a potential move for the Italian.
Sensi joined Inter on loan with a €20m option to buy from Sassuolo last summer, and even though he has struggled with injuries during his time at San Siro, it is still widely seen as just a matter of time before Inter make the deal permanent.
However, that has not stopped rumours of an immediate exit, with Napoli reported to be considering a deal, but agent Giuseppe Riso told Radio Kiss Kiss (via Football Italia) that the only interest he has heard of came from England.
“The rumours about Napoli didn’t arrive to me,” he said. “Also, because I don’t think Antonio Conte wants to let him go, he is crazy about him. I don’t think it’s a possibility that he will leave Inter.
“A great coach in England told me: ‘Bring me Sensi, even without legs’. And if a coach from such a physical championship said that… it means that Sensi has football in his mind before having it in his legs.”
? Inter take the lead just before half time with a brilliant diving header from Stefano Sensi!
? 10-men Udinese will be up against it in the second half live on Premier Sports 1 pic.twitter.com/OIGDj0h1Q6
— Premier Sports ? (@PremierSportsTV) September 14, 2019
In terms of suitors, Manchester City were linked with a move for Sensi back in November, but Riso’s words suggest that the 24-year-old won’t be leaving Inter this summer regardless of who wants him.
Corriere dello Sport state with confidence that Sensi will officially become an Inter player at the end of the season, despite concerns over the financial landscape of a post-coronavirus world.
The likelihood of a permanent deal came into question earlier in the season after Sensi first began struggling with injury. He started just nine Serie A games before football was postponed, but he did manage three goals and four assists.
Despite his limited appearances, Inter are thought to be happy to strike a deal. The Nerazzuri and Sassuolo are said to have an excellent relationship and have already discussed the details of the deal, so once the transfer window is open, Sensi will finalise a permanent move to Inter.
Barcelona boss Quique Setien has fuelled speculation linking the club with moves for Neymar and Lautaro Martinez by revealing that he would love to work both players in the future.
Neymar has been touted for a return to Camp Nou for several years and the transfer saga shows no sign of subsiding, with the Brazilian keen on pushing through a move at the end of the season.
When asked about the speculation, Setien confirmed that he would relish the opportunity to coach the PSG forward.
“Of course I would like to coach Neymar one day,” he said in an interview with BeIN Sports (via the Daily Mail). “Fortunately I have been able to fulfil one dream of coaching the best player in the world in Leo [Messi]. What is to come next, we will wait and see but I’m sure I would be delighted, how would I not be.”
Martinez has also been tipped to move to Catalunya, with his fine form for Inter seeing him emerge as a possible long-term replacement for 33-year-old Luis Suarez, whose Barcelona contract expires next summer.
When quizzed on the Nerazzurri striker, Setien was similarly complimentary about his talents.
“It’s clear that there are four or five players who play in that position that are extraordinary and that any of them could be at Barcelona. He is a player who would be very good in this team, like other players of his level.”
Of late, Barça have been reported to be interested in a swap deal that would see Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic join the club. Again, Setien was in no mood to quell these again, putting on record that he is a big fan of the Bosnian.
“I’ve always said I like all top players and as they are top players then it follows that they could end up at Barcelona. He is a great player like dozens of others.”
Was he the best striker in the world in 2010? Honestly, it’s tough to argue a case for anyone else.
The fact that his name was nowhere near the Ballon d’Or rankings is one of the great mysteries of the past decade. Or crimes, whichever way you look at it. Me personally, I’m going with crimes.
During the 2009/10 campaign, Didier Drogba was the only player (other than the obvious two) to score more goals than Diego Milito – but to even try and suggest that the Ivorian was a better striker at the time is an argument nobody can win.
Upon moving to Inter at the beginning of that season, Milito had already bagged 158 goals in his 367 career outings, but had just two top flight titles in Argentina to show for his troubles.
Granted the chance to prove his worth at the biggest club he’d ever played for, and under the watchful eye of Jose Mourinho, the season he would go on to produce would be both iconic and, in many ways, perfect.
The Portuguese’s system of counterattacking football with Esteban Cambiasso and Wesley Sneijder feeding Milito was so well drilled it rarely ever faltered. Signing a striker who was both quick in transition and a lethal finisher to fit into this side was key to Mourinho’s plans. And in Milito, he had that man.
Still, the level of performances he would produce on a weekly basis were still far above the capabilities many expected of him. But more crucially, was his timing. Drogba was always praised for his ability in big games, but Milito rewrote the definition of ‘big game player’.
You will struggle to find anyone, in any season, to have such a massive say on all the matches that mattered most. Inter were arguably the best Italian side since Arrigo Sacchi’s late 80s AC Milan team, but they were indebted to the Argentine for so much of that success.
Let’s start with Serie A. Firstly, Milito’s 22 goals and four assists in 35 matches is worth praising, but once again, it’s the timing of his goals and the occasions he scored them that define both his mentality on the pitch, as well as his superiority above all the other strikers in the world at the time.
He netted in both Milan derbies, of course, and it was his touch that secured Inter the league title when he netted the winner against Siena on the final day of the season – claiming the Scudetto ahead of Claudio Ranieri’s AS Roma.
What about the Coppa Italia then? Expecting anything other than a Milito show here would be wholly wrong of you. Naturally, he scored the only goal in the final win over Roma, as well as bagging another in the semi-final. Big game player? We’re not even close yet.
After all, this Inter side won the treble that season. Would they have even come close without their star man up front? The most complete centre forward in world football? Not a chance. Yes, Samuel Eto’o was in the side, but his role in a wider berth was crucial to allowing Milito to flourish as well as get support when needed – which he rarely did.
During the group stages of the Champions League, Inter were on the brink of an early exit. Away at Dynamo Kyiv and trailing with just five minutes left, Milito….yeah, you know what happens next.
The forward bagged the equaliser then set up Sneijder for the winner in the dying seconds. Just another day at the office. Not content with his European goals at this point, he scored in every knockout round following, against CSKA Moscow, Chelsea and Barcelona.
He was untouchable. But simply stating his goals is no just admiration for his ability. In terms of a complete striker, Milito had no chinks in his armour. His hold up play was technically astute and remarkably elegant, his movement both on and off the ball was second to none, and his range of goals knew no bounds. Whether it was volleys, header, left or right, he was a player at the very peak of his powers.
So when the Champions League final at the Santiago Bernabéu came round, even if the Nerazzurri were to lose at the final hurdle, not one person could have begrudged Milito for his involvement building up to that point.
But Milito was to have his ultimate clutch moment. Scoring in cup finals and scoring the goals to clinch league titles wasn’t enough. Against formidable opponents in Bayern Munich, Milito was, once again, a class above.
His two goals were the only two goals of the game, but each were fabulous in their own way. Firstly his cushioned header for Sneijder in the build up to his first goal was flawless, and then his second individual effort demonstrated the kind of footwork rarely ever seen from a centre forward. He tormented the backline all game, and was the worthy winner of the man-of-the-match award.
Barring the obvious pair, there was no better player in the world than Diego Milito that season.
His goals, work rate, tactical sharpness and outstanding knack of turning up for the biggest matches was unmatched. It’s no point even discussing his career after that. He’d completed football. Just a shame Argentina and France Football didn’t see likewise. But, at least he won a shedload of the individual wards.
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It’s May, in case you’d forgotten. We should be gearing up for the Champions League final and Euro 2020 right now, but thanks to COVID-19 all of that has been put on ice.
So, what is a football fan to do in these frustrating times? Simple. Take a trip down memory lane of course. Nostalgia is the perfect tonic to your sporting withdrawal symptoms.
With that in mind, here are some football things for you to enjoy – which all happened on this day throughout history.
1946 – George Best is Born
On this day in 1946, George Best was born. One third of the United Trinity – who helped Manchester United become the first English club to lift the European Cup in 1968 – Best is one of the most fondly remembered players in the club’s history.
The Northern Irishman was an unstoppable dribbler. Equipped with an extensive arsenal of tricks, he feinted and flicked his way around defenders with ease.
Alcoholism would dim his genius during the latter part of his career and life but the memories he created for a generation of United supporters – and football fans in general – will last forever.
1987 – Arturo Vidal is Born
Arturo Vidal has had some career. Very few players can boast about having a Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga’s winners medal and even fewer can say they’ve also experienced similar success with their country as Vidal did at the 2015 Copa América.
Often misrepresented as solely an industrious midfield shuttler, the Chilean is one of the most complete players of his generation, complimenting his incredible work rate with a deceptive eye for goal and ample creativity.
Though his story is now approaching its final act, Vidal will be remembered fondly when he eventually retires. Happy birthday Arturo.
1996 – Juventus Actually Win a Champions League Final
No team in history has a worse record in European finals than Juventus. The Old Lady have been runners up no less than seven times, making their victory in 1996 even sweeter.
It was not the most comfortable win by any means with Marcello Lippi’s side needing penalties to dispatch of Louis van Gaal’s excellent Ajax side.
Juventus – lined up in a 4-3-3 formation including three out and out strikers – took the lead through Fabrizio Ravanelli, before Jari Litmanen scored his ninth Champions League goal of the season to level things up before the break.
The scores remained level for the rest of regulation and extra time with misses by Edgar Davids and Sonny Silooy in the resultant shootout gifting Juventus their second European Cup.
2010 – Inter End 45 Year Wait for European Glory
Today marks a decade since Inter won their first Champions League since 1965, beating fellow finalists Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After miraculously defeating Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the semi final, I Nerazzurri dispatched of the Bundesliga champions courtesy of a brace from Diego Milito.
Milito’s first strike was route one at its absolute best with the Argentine nodding down Julio Cesar’s long ball to Goran Pandev who then slipped in his strike partner to fire home. His second on the other hand was a fine solo effort which capped off a man of the match performance.
2011 – A Dramatic Premier League Final Day
Going into the final day of the 2010/2011 Premier League season, two relegation spots still had to be filled with no less than five teams still in danger of the drop.
Wigan and Blackpool were 19th and 18th respectively with Birmingham, Wolves and Blackburn all within touching distance of the dreaded drop zone. It was a ridiculously dramatic culmination to an entertaining season
Ian Holloway’s entertaining Blackpool side had the hardest game of the bunch against champions Manchester United but they very nearly overcame the odds. The Tangerines took a 2-1 lead courtesy of Gary Taylor-Fletcher before a United onslaught condemned them to relegation.
Elsewhere Blackburn squeezed a 3-2 victory against Wolves while Birmingham’s defeat to Tottenham saw them take the final relegation spot. Of course, highlights from the games where screened alongside each other later that evening on Match of the Day for maximum tension.
2016 – Barcelona Win Copa del Rey
Back in 2016, Barcelona needed extra time to defeat Unai Emery’s Sevilla in a fiery Copa del Rey final.
The game witnessed no less than three red cards with Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega and Daniel Carrico all being given their marching orders for various indiscretions.
It would take until the seventh minute of additional for the game’s first goal with Jordi Alba latching onto Lionel Messi’s lofted pass and sneaking the ball past Sergio Rico. Neymar then put the game beyond in second half stoppage time, with Messi again providing the assist.
2016 – England Step Up Euro 2016 Preparations
Four years ago, England took on Turkey in a warm up match for Euro 2016. With captain Wayne Rooney suffering with injury, Harry Kane and man of the moment Jamie Vardy played up front together – with both getting on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win in Manchester.
Kane got the Three Lions off to a perfect start by slotting away Delle Ali’s cute pass with just three minutes played – even though the Spurs man was about a yeard offside.
Hakan Calhanoglu then scored a scrappy equaliser before Vardy scored an either scrappier winner ten minutes from time. What a great result, we’re sure that Euro 2016 went just as well, right? Right?!