AC Milan prepare another offer for Chelsea star

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

There are reports in Italy that Milan are preparing another offer, hoping to convince Chelsea of selling Hakim Ziyech.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are ready to make another attempt to sign the Morocco international next week.

Milan, who finished second in Serie A last term, are looking for a new attacking midfielder to replace Hakan Calhanoglu, as the Turkey international moved to Inter on a free transfer this summer.

The Chelsea man is one of the players monitored by the Diavolo, but Ziyech has impressed during pre-season with the Blues and might have convinced Thomas Tuchel to give him a chance to impress in 2021-22.

The newspaper claims Milan are now preparing another assault to convince the Londoners to sell the former Ajax star, who has scored six times in 39 competitive appearances with the Blues.

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Rwandan president Paul Kagame blasts Arsenal, says “The fans don’t deserve this”

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Paul Kagame joined in the widespread criticism of Arsenal and raged: “The fans don’t deserve this.”

The Gunners faced a heavy backlash from their shock 2-0 defeat to Brentford on Friday night.

Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard struck either side of half-time to record a famous victory for Thomas Frank’s side.

And the leader of Rwanda – whose tourist board Visit Rwanda sponsor the Gunners’ shirt sleeves – hit out in a spectacular Twitter rant.

The 63-year-old Kagame, who took office in 2000, wrote: “The game itself aside Arsenal and the fans don’t deserve to kind of get used to this… NO!!! (sic).

“It’s been a struggle of about decade(s) -ups and downs – more downs until this point.

“Can’t we have a plan that really works?? One part to look at is how we deal in the market – players we buy to execute the plan. The touch and go mentality does not bring change.

“We just must NOT excuse or Accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with purpose to win win win. So that when we lose… it was not to be expected!

“I am sure we all know on whose shoulders the heaviest burden rests. I hope they know too or even accept it!!!”

Ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville also let rip at Arsenal while his Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher described the contest as ‘men against boys’.

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Inter Milan fans reject Romelu Lukaku’s message, destroy striker’s other mural at San Siro

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Reports in Italy claim Inter fans are treating Romelu Lukaku’s message of farewell to them with disdain amid reports that some Nerazzurri supported have defaced another mural of the Chelsea striker at San Siro.

The Belgium international had promised a statement and it finally arrived this morning on Instagram, hoping the fans “understand” his decision to leave for Chelsea and assuring he will “remain an Interista forever.”

Supporters were unimpressed, particularly as the message came several days after he had left Milan, according to Football Italia.

Some accused him of using a ‘ghost writer’ to pen the statement, others accused him of just chasing money, especially during a time when Inter are struggling so badly for liquidity.

“Thank you for the two years, but you should’ve sent this ‘letter’ at least a second before making your Chelsea move official,” wrote one supporter.

Another pointed out it was like “receiving a message from your ex when you’ve already wiped her number from your phone.”

Considering he found the form of his life in Serie A and had been so badly criticised during his previous Premier League experiences, there was also a dire warning.

“We will always be Inter even without you, but now we’ll see if you will be Lukaku without us.”

Meanwhile, another Lukaku mural has been defaced outside San Siro after the Inter striker’s transfer to Chelsea, calling him a ‘sell-out traitor.’

The mural painted for the Scudetto success was already ruined when Nerazzurri supporters painted over the back of his shirt and all the words except for ‘Milano’ in the original message: ‘Dear Milano, you’re welcome.’

Now another mural has been destroyed, this time the one depicting Lukaku’s head-to-head clash with Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic during a Coppa Italia tie last season.

Lukaku’s face has been scrawled out, with the statement: ‘Sell-out traitor’ painted on.

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Norwich, Bournemouth, Rangers chase former Chelsea captain

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Gary Cahill is reportedly poised to return to football as Norwich, Bournemouth and Rangers are in the hunt for the experienced defender.

The former Chelsea captain was released by Premier League side Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

He spent two seasons at Selhurst Park but was part of the major clearout over the summer as 22 players were released – with defenders Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi among those signed by new boss Patrick Vieira.

However, according to The Sun, Bournemouth boss Scott Parker is making a bold bid to sign Cahill on a free transfer.

The 35-year-old could get the deal he wants from the Cherries although Norwich could offer Premier League football.

The centre-half was also wanted by Rangers.

But their failure to make the Champions League means they have less cash to offer him.

If he signs, it may see Steve Cook, 30, leave the Vitality.

He made 47 appearances for the Eagles, chipping in with one goal.

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Romelu Lukaku tells Inter Milan fans why he left, says “I hope you understand my decision to move to Chelsea”

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has told Inter Milan fans the rationale behind his return to Stamford Bridge, saying: “It’s a chance of a lifetime for me and I think at this moment in my career, it’s the chance I have always dreamed of.”

Lukaku helped the Nerazzurri pick up their first Scudetto in 11 years and the fans were not happy to see their target man leave the club.

The former Manchester United and Everton striker has sent a letter to the fans, thanking them for the support during his time in Milan.

“Dear Inter fans,” he wrote on Instagram. “Thank you…

“Thank you for loving me as one of you. Thank you for making me and my family feel at home.

“Thanks for the unconditional support and daily love. Thanks for motivating me even more after the first season.

“When I arrived at Inter, I immediately felt that I would do well for this club. The love and the welcome I received at Malpensa airport was the beginning of a beautiful story.

“I decided to never disappoint you every time I wore the Inter shirt. I gave 100 per cent of myself every day, in every training, but especially in the games, to make you happy.

“The first season ended as hard as possible, but you guys gave me the strength to keep pushing and we did it as a team, that’s why we became champions.

“I hope you understand my decision to move to Chelsea. It’s a chance of a lifetime for me and I think at this moment in my career, it’s the chance I have always dreamed of.

“One thing is certain, that I will remain an Interista forever, because without you I wouldn’t be the man and the player I am today.

“So, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you. Thank you so much. Always, Forza Inter!”

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(Watch Video Clips of his arrival) Tammy Abraham arrives in Rome for medical ahead of AS Roma move

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham has arrived at Ciampino airport, ready to complete his move from the Blues to Roma.

According to Football Italia, the Englishman will carry out his medical today, as the Giallorossi have managed to convince the 23-year-old of moving to Serie A this summer.

Roma have reached an agreement to pay €40m plus €5m in bonuses for the striker, who arrives to replace Edin Dzeko at Trigoria.

Dzeko, who scored in his first game with Inter on Saturday, was officially announced by the Nerazzurri yesterday and Roma are now ready to complete the move for his successor at the Olimpico.

Sky Sport Italia reports Chelsea will have a €80m buy-back clause in the deal with Roma, which will be active from June 2023.

Abraham will carry out the required protocol in regards to the anti-COVID measures in Italy before having his medical at Villa Stuart.

The new striker has arrived in town and is only formalities away from completing a move to Roma.

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Chelsea Player Ratings Vs Crystal Palace: Chalobah, Jorginho, Mason Mount, others shine in win over Crystal Palace

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Edouard Mendy

The Senegal international will be hoping to claim this season’s golden glove award having narrowly lost out to Manchester City stopper Ederson last term. And Mendy is off to the perfect.

Palace offered very little threat and Chelsea’s number one didn’t have too much to do across the 90 minutes. Yet when called into action, he did what was required. 7

Trevoh Chalobah

The academy graduate followed up his Chelsea debut in midweek with a first Premier League appearance this afternoon. Chalobah looked right at home.

He defended solidly and was never caught out of position. What really stood out, however, was his ability on the ball. Long or short, Chalobah’s passing found its mark and he was never flustered when pressed by Palace’s forwards.

Then, of course, there was his goal: a shot driven into the far corner from 20 yards. It was a dream moment for Chalobah and capped another fine display. 8

Andreas Christensen

Brought back into the middle of the back three, the position in which he starred during the second half of last season, Christensen was composed and coped well against the physical presence of Jean-Philippe Mateta and then in the second period Christian Benteke. 7

Antonio Rudiger

The German is one of Tuchel’s true undroppables. Those around him may change, other centre-backs rotated out, but Rudiger is always in the starting XI.

He was again used on the left of the back three and there were several nice passes from the German. His most important moment came in the second period when he did excellently to block a low attempt at goal from Wilfried Zaha. 7

Cesar Azpilicueta

Given 65 minutes at right wing-back, Tuchel got exactly what he would’ve expected from Azpilicueta.

The Chelsea captain had very little in the way of defending to do and spent most of the first period in the Crystal Palace half.

He was involved in the build-up to Christian Pulisic’s goal and linked well with Mason Mount throughout. A solid display. 7

Mateo Kovacic

With N’Golo Kante not fit, Kovacic was pressed into action despite playing 120 minutes in midweek in the Super Cup against Villarreal. He started strongly with a few trademark weaving runs that were unceremoniously halted by Palace defenders.

Kovacic became more withdrawn as the game progressed, happy to sit in alongside Jorginho and give Chelsea midfield stability. 7

Jorginho

Given the Italian returned late for pre-season, it was intriguing to see how much he had in the tank, especially given he played almost an hour on Wednesday night. There was no need for concern.

Jorginho patrolled the midfield expertly; he won several interceptions and was key in helping Chelsea stay on top of Palace in the opening period. There was also one lovely flighted pass with his left foot, a sign of Jorginho’s confidence at the moment. 8

Marcos Alonso

With Ben Chilwell not fit, the Spaniard was given a second consecutive runout at left wing-back. Alonso made a bright start and was always an outlet when Chelsea were building attacks. Then came his goal: a fine free-kick over the Palace wall that gave Vicente Guaita no chance.

Alonso’s Achilles heel – his defensive work – was exposed once in the second half as he failed to cover off a run from Zaha, but this was largely a strong showing from the 30-year-old. 7

Christian Pulisic

The 2021/22 campaign needs to be a big one for Pulisic. It’s started with a patchy display. The American showed his instincts in the penalty area to bundle the ball home after Guaita pushed a Mount cross into his path, but too often he was hesitant when in possession.

On one occasion in the opening period, Pulisic opted to check back instead of drive forward, much to the irritation of Tuchel on the touchline. The 22-year-old will have to be more positive in the weeks to come if he’s to hold down a role. 7

Timo Werner

With Romelu Lukaku set to join Chelsea’s squad from Monday, Werner needed to produce a big display against Palace. It didn’t happen. The German’s touch was erratic and his confidence in front of goal is still not there, as evidenced by the chance he snatched at in the second period.

Werner’s pace will always be a threat and when up against opponents who play a high line, he’ll almost certainly start. Yet his playing time may be limited this term. 6

Mason Mount

Last season’s Player of the Year has barely undertaken pre-season. You wouldn’t know it from his performance this afternoon. Mount was one of the sharpest players on the pitch in the opening 45 minutes; he constantly reclaimed the ball in midfield and won several free-kicks on dangerous areas, one of which was dispatched by Alonso.

Unsurprisingly, Mount slowed down a little after the half-time interval but he proved why he’ll be an almost guaranteed starter for Chelsea again this season. 8

Substitutes

Reece James (for Cesar Azpilicueta, 65)

An exercise to get minutes in the legs of the academy graduate. There were a couple of nice bursts forward from James but this runout was mainly to help him back to match fitness. 6

Kai Havertz (for Christian Pulisic, 81)

Was influential in his short cameo with several nice touches. Will be a big player for Chelsea this season. N/A

Emerson (for Marcos Alonso, 85)

Given the final five minutes. Had no time to impact things. N/A

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How Manchester United outcast rejected new signing Raphael Varane’s request for No 4 shirt

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Manchester United defender Phil Jones reportedly rejected Raphael Varane’s request for his No 4 shirt, as the Old Trafford outcast was pushed further down the pecking order by the star’s move from Real Madrid.

Varane was unveiled to his expectant new Red Devils fans ahead of kick-off on Saturday, as Bruno Fernandes and Co got the old ground rocking with a 5-1 thrashing of Leeds.

The £42m Frenchman enjoyed the perfect introduction to Manchester and aims to replace Victor Lindelof alongside Harry Maguire in the coming games – and will wear the No 19 shirt when he does.

Varane asked United for No 4 – which he also wears for France – as their negotiations reached the late stages but Jones flat-out refused, according to MEN.

Jones has held the No 4, formerly worn by Steve Bruce, since arriving from Blackburn in 2011, but the 29-year-old hasn’t played for United in more than 18 months.

The centre-back endured a horrific 2018-19 season and was frozen-out by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The club still haven’t managed to drum-up interest in the player for a sale this summer, with his contract expiring in 2023.

Varane will likely inherit Jones’ shirt when United eventually managed to shift the fallen star Sir Alex Ferguson once said ‘could be our greatest player ever.’

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Crystal Palace boss delivers Chelsea Premier League title verdict after comprehensive win at Stamford Bridge

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Patrick Vieira believes Chelsea are firmly in contention to win the Premier League after watching them ease past his Crystal Palace side.

The Blues got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start with goals from Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Trevor Chalobah sealing a 3-0 win over their London rivals at Stamford Bridge.

With Romelu Lukaku still to join up with the squad following his club record move from Inter Milan, Thomas Tuchel’s side have been backed to challenge Manchester City for their Premier League crown this season.

And having seen his Palace side comprehensively beaten, Arsenal legend Vieira believes Chelsea must be considered one of the favourites.

‘It was a very tough start but obviously we have to play them,’ Vieira said in his post-match press conference.

‘Obviously Chelsea, with the squad that they have, the money they have spent, they will be there fighting for the title. I think Chelsea will be in the top 3 teams who can win the Premier League.’

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Patrice Vieira reveals why he changed from 4-4-2 to 3-4-3 during clash against Chelsea

August 15th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Patrick Vieira has detailed why he chose to deploy a 4-4-2 formation in Crystal Palace’s 3-0 loss against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.

The Eagles, in their very first game under the Frenchman, fell to a convincing defeat at the hands of the European champions at Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Trevoh Chalobah saw the Eagles brushed aside on Saturday afternoon.

The South Londoners, who played a 4-3-3 under the thee-time Premier League winner during pre-season, began the game in a 4-4-2 formation, with Wilfried Zaha playing up front alongside Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew as the wide support men.

Speaking on why he changed the formation ahead of today’s game, Vieira said: “Because I wanted to be really compact and to stop their holding midfielder getting on the ball – to find the players in between the lines.

“When you look at the way in which we defended before we conceded the free-kick, I was really pleased – we were really compact. I think the free-kick changed our plan.

“It wasn’t a late decision, this is how we prepared all week, and we have to take into consideration the quality of players that we are playing against. We knew that Chelsea would have the possession.”

The Eagles began to unlock some of their promising attacking verve after Vieira switched to a 3-4-3. With Joachim Andersen and Christian Benteke coming on, Palace went close through Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew but failed to find the back of the net.

“We have been working on different systems so players can adapt themselves,” said Vieira on the tweak in formation he made midway through the second half.

He added: “When Joachim and Christian came on, that gave us more experience on the field. We saw the difference when those two were on the field.”

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