Ancelotti makes choice between Zinedine Zidane and Jude Bellingham after Real Madrid 4-2 win over Napoli

November 30th, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Carlo Ancelotti compared Jude Bellingham favorably with Zinedine Zidane after the midfielder’s man-of-the-match performance in Real Madrid’s 4-2 Champions League win over Napoli on Wednesday.

Bellingham’s header put Madrid 2-1 up in the Group C game at the Santiago Bernabeu, after Giovanni Simeone put Napoli ahead and Rodrygo levelled for the hosts.

Napoli’s Frank Zambo Anguissa made it 2-2 after half-time and youngster Nico Paz restored Madrid’s lead, before Bellingham provided an assist for Joselu to secure the win in added time.

“It’s difficult to compare two different generations,” Ancelotti said in his post-match news conference when asked about comparisons with Zidane, who was watching the game at the Bernabeu. “What I see is [Bellingham’s] ability to get into the box. Zidane didn’t have that. And the individual quality which Zidane had, Bellingham doesn’t have.

“But that’s modern football. Modern football requires physical players like Bellingham, who can cover a lot of the pitch quickly.”

The England international has now scored 15 goals in 16 games for Real Madrid, finding the net in every Champions League appearance for the club so far.

“It looked like he was very tired in the middle of the second half,” Ancelotti said. “He took 10 minutes to recover and then in the last 15 minutes he made the difference to help us win. It’s surprising. I don’t think anybody could have imagined his adaptation to this style of football, to this club.

“He surprises every day, in every game. Not just us, he’s surprising everybody. [Bellingham] is a gift for football. His coach and his teammates are delighted with him, and the fans are delighted with him, but everybody is delighted to see a player with this potential and this positive image.”

After Joselu scored in the 94th minute having earlier missed several chances Bellingham encouraged his teammate to take the applause of the Bernabeu crowd.

“Bellingham is a young, serious professional,” Ancelotti said. “He’s adapted well to the dressing room. He has to improve his Spanish. As I’ve said many times, nobody is perfect!”

In-form Madrid striker Rodrygo said: “I don’t even have the words,” when asked to describe Bellingham’s impact. “It’s a pleasure to play with him.”

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Chelsea finally make Victor Osimhen decision, set to take advantage of Napoli situation

November 27th, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Reports in England claim Chelsea are set to make Napoli striker Victor Osimhen their primary target for January when they dip into the striker market.

Mauricio Pochettino wants to add a centre-forward to his squad in future windows, with the Nigeria international at the top of his list after his three seasons in Serie A where he has helped Napoli win the Scudetto.

According to the Telegraph, those close to him expect last year’s top scorer in Serie A to be open to a move to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have a link with Osimhen through Kalidou Koulibaly, who left the club in the summer for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia but has friends at the club. He is close to Osimhen, who was a team-mate at Napoli when the striker arrived from Lille in 2020.

Osimhen’s relationship with Napoli has been tested this season, with his representatives threatening legal action over a video posted on an official club TikTok account that mocked their own player. According to Italian sources, Chelsea would be a club the player would consider should he move away from Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

His deal taking him to Napoli three years ago was widely reported to be worth around €70 million to Lille but also saw youth players move in the opposite direction. With one full season left on his contract at Napoli, he would still earn them a huge profit on a player who was also at Wolfsburg in Germany and Belgian club Charleroi before moving to France.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis spoke last month about the relationship between the player and club insisting that it is “entirely out of place” that there is tension between the two parties. They have changed managers this season, with Walter Mazzarri, the former Watford head coach, taking charge after the departure of Rudi Garcia.

Napoli defeated Atalanta 2-1 this weekend with the 24-year-old coming off the bench for his first appearance in six weeks following a hamstring problem.

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Napoli President reveals reason behind reported move for ex-Chelsea boss, says it “irritates me”

October 20th, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis claims that the reports around Antonio Conte were ‘just gossip to demolish’ current coach Rudi Garcia and slammed Juventus director Cristiano Giuntoli.

The patron spoke to reporters at the Castel Volturno training ground today, where he has been spending several days during the break for international duty to show his closeness to the squad and Garcia.

There were reports that De Laurentiis was ready to fire Garcia in order to bring in Conte, who promptly insisted he would prefer to continue spending time with his family.

“I had a vacation with Conte years ago in the Maldives, his family was there too, and we maintained a good rapport since then,” explained De Laurentiis.

“I am still in contact with Walter Mazzarri, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez, Edy Reja… the rest is just gossip to demolish who is currently working with the team and that irritates me.”

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Kalidou Koulibaly tells Napoli what to do over move for ex-Chelsea boss

October 13th, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Former Napoli and Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly urges Aurelio De Laurentiis to stand by Rudi Garcia, although he also admires potential replacement Antonio Conte. ‘I hope the club has patience.’

The Partenopei won the Scudetto last season for the first time in over 30 years, but Luciano Spalletti walked away and Garcia was brought in to take over, struggling so far this season.

They managed only five wins, two draws and three defeats between Serie A and the Champions League.

“Garcia is a great coach and he needs time to adapt, just like other coaches did in the past,” Koulibaly said in an Instagram live interview with Marialuisa Jacobelli.

“The players are with him, I spoke to two or three of them and they confirmed that to me. They just need to keep working and everything will go well. I hope for him that the club has patience to let him get on with the job.”

Multiple sources have suggested that if President De Laurentiis were to pull the plug on Garcia, then the favourite to replace him would be Conte.

Speaking about these rumours, Koulibaly revealed that he is no stranger to Conte, despite not working with him.

“Conte is a great coach, I know him well and he always sought me out at the clubs where he worked. I respect him a great deal and he knows that, just like I respect Garcia,” said the Senegal international.

“Changing coach often is not the solution, I hope that Napoli give time to Garcia.”

Koulibaly is now playing in the Saudi Pro League for Al-Hilal after a brief period at Chelsea in the Premier League.

“Neymar is one of the best players I ever worked with. There is an unfair image of him, I see a very different person to the one you might see on social media. I see a real professional, a good guy who likes to joke around. He is anything but arrogant, he always stops to take pictures with fans.”

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Antonio Conte reacts to reported stunning offer to return to management

October 12th, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Former Chelsea and Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has remained coy over reports he is set to coach Napoli.

The Italian gaffer is considered Napoli’s No. 1 target should the club decide to replace Rudi Garcia.

Garcia is under pressure at Napoli with the team in fifth place after eight league games, but when questioned about the link, Conte said: “For now I’m enjoying my family. I made a clear choice when I left England. Then you know that many things can happen along the way. Napoli? We must always have great respect and education.”

Conte, 56, has been without a job since leaving Tottenham in March by mutual consent after 16 months in charge. The Italian has won league titles with former clubs Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan.

Garcia took over from Luciano Spalletti in the summer, but Sunday’s 3-1 home defeat against Fiorentina left Napoli seven points behind leaders AC Milan having won just four out of their opening eight league matches.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis said he would not make a hasty decision regarding Garcia’s position.

“I’m an entrepreneur,” De Laurentiis said.

“I have a duty to take an interest in my business. I will make the most appropriate decisions when the time comes to make them. You must always take a reflective pause. Every hasty decision is wrong… Head down, pedal and work.”

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(Watch Video) Valverde scores! 78’… Napoli 2-3 Real Madrid

October 3rd, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

A remarkable Valverde strike forces an unfortunate Meret concession and Ancelotti’s visitors are piling on in the corner in celebration.

Modric’s corner is cleared as far as Valverde, who powers an absolute rocket towards the roof of the goal from around 25 yards out.

Meret punches the swerving shot onto the crossbar before the rebound ricochets off the Napoli goalkeeper’s head and into the back of the net!

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(Watch Video) Bellingham gives Real Madrid lead! 34′ …. Napoli 1-2 Real Madrid

October 3rd, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Bellingham does it all on his own to score a superb solo goal.

The Los Blancos midfielder strides forward from near the halfway line, taking four Napoli players with him into the box before turning onto his right foot and picking out the bottom-right corner.

Somehow, Garcia’s defence could not cope with the one-man scoring machine there.

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(Watch Video) Vinicius Jr hits back for Real Madrid! 27′ …. Napoli 1-1 Real Madrid

October 3rd, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

The Napoli home crowd are silenced as Los Blancos hit back to make it 1-1. The hosts give away possession on their right, allowing Bellingham into the area before he offloads to his left for Vinicius.

The Brazil international takes a touch inside before coolly slotting a right-footed finish into the bottom-right corner.

Real Madrid fell behind inside the opening 20 minutes in their blockbuster Champions League encounter with Napoli, but fortunately for the 14-time winners, they hit back quickly after.

Leo Ostigard opened the scoring after Kepa Arrizabalaga failed to collect a corner from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, in what was a poor moment from the 28-year-old. However, he has been bailed out by Vinicius Junior, who has got Real Madrid’s equaliser in Naples.

Jude Bellingham intercepted a poor pass from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, before releasing Vinicius inside the penalty area. From an angle, he made no mistake, firing past Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret.

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(Watch Video) Leo Ostigard scores as Kepa falters! 18′ …Napoli 1-0 Real Madrid

October 3rd, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Kepa Arrizabalaga failed to collect a corner, which allowed Juan Jesus to head towards goal. His effort struck the crossbar, but fellow centre-back Leo Ostigard was able to knock the ball into the empty net.

It is not a moment that Kepa will look back on with much pleasure. However, Real Madrid have plenty of him to turn things around in Naples, and they certainly will not be panicking despite the early setback.

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(Watch Goal on Video) Victor Osimhen doubles Napoli lead, refuses to celebrate

September 27th, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Victor Osimhen scored Napoli’s second goal against Udinese on Wednesday evening after being chosen to start the Serie A encounter despite the player’s relationship with the club souring in the past 24 hours.

The Nigerian ended his four-game wait for a goal as he struck in the 39th-minute to double Napoli’s lead after Polish midfielder Piotr Zielinski initially put the hosts in-front.

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