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Inter attacker completes Reading move

Reading have done the signing of George Puscas from Inter.

The Romanian put in very last season on loan at Palermo in Serie B, but just after the Rosanero went bankrupt, he returned to the Nerazzurri when ready for a new club.

That new club is Reading, as the Championship team made the signing official via Twitter.

?? #ReadingFC can ensure the signing of Romanian worldwide George Pu?ca? on a five year deal from @Inter#ByGeorge
— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) August 7, 2019

“Reading Football Club are delighted to announce the signing of 23-year-old Romanian global attacker George Puscas,” read through a statement on the Looking through web page.

“Puscas flew into the nation to go through a healthcare this afternoon and has now set pen to paper on a five-yr contract, completing a transfer from Inter Milan for an undisclosed cost.

“Manager José Gomes reported: ‘George is a youthful, hungry, gifted forward with a pure instinct to score goals.

“Devoid of goals you cannot win games and we now have diverse solutions to select from in the ultimate third of the field. I am looking forward to welcoming him into our squad at Reading’.

Although no transfer price was disclosed, reports out of Italy counsel Inter could receive as substantially as €10 million involving a transfer rate and bonuses.

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Icardi -Wanda Nara follows Real Madrid on Instagram

By no means shy of causing a stir, Wanda Nara has followed Real Madrid on Instagram just after Los Blancos’ Champions League elimination.

Nara is her spouse Mauro Icardi’s representative and the Inter forward is enduring a rough time at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza this season, searching likely to leave in the summer time, with her latest act prompting even far more speculation about his foreseeable future.

Icardi has been connected with a shift to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on a number of events in the past and with prevalent changes anticipated when the window opens, this could last but not least be the yr that sees the go take place.

Due to the fact getting stripped of the skipper’s armband, the No.9 has not played for the Nerazzurri and the club have developed resigned to the fact that he may have performed his previous game for the club.

In accordance to Nacho Labarga in MARCA, Real Madrid will need to have to spend above 100 million euros to get the Argentine.

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Anthony Martial emerges as key target for Inter Milan

Anthony Martial is a target for Inter Milan.
The Mirror declare the Manchester United winger is hot assets.

With Martial’s contract working down, United are less than tension to get him to set pen to paper on a new deal.

Ought to he fall short to do so, it could indicate that the player leaves.

United would have to offer him this summertime at a more cost-effective price, alternatively than possibility him leaving for totally free a season later.

Martial himself looks to be on the fence about a new deal, following hefty rumours linking him with an exit in the summertime.

This season’s fortunes

One particular detail that could go in United’s favour is how very well the player has done this season.

He’s made himself pretty much indispensable to Jose Mourinho.

United have struggled badly at times, but Martial has been one particular of their important performers.

It speaks volumes that fans now hope to see him on the teamsheet.

The player himself has also moved to explain rumours about his romance with Mourinho.

Martial made it apparent the pair do have a first rate romance.

There had been rumours he could depart owing to a falling out with Mourinho.

However, this does not appear to be the scenario anymore.

One particular detail Martial will want is for United to be difficult for the top rated honours.

If they fall short to make the top rated 4 this season, it could affect his conclusion.

We have seen in the earlier that top rated players want to be successful trophies and in the Champions League.

That will be important for Mourinho and United when it comes to retaining their star men.

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Inter Milan Alessandro Antonello fuming after Juventus defeat

Inter Milan Alessandro Antonello has expressed his and his club’s anger at functions in previous weekend’s 3-2 defeat at home to Juventus.

Inter truly feel they were on the mistaken conclusion of many selections by referee Daniele Orsato, influencing the end result of a game which was crucial to both sides.

The Nerazzurri was foremost 2-1 with 3 minutes remaining, but two late goals turned the game all-around and inflicted a significant blow to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season, with rivals Roma and Lazio both finding up wins to transfer 4 points apparent.

Antonello spoke on behalf of the Serie A club on Monday and admitted he continues to experienced not digested what occurred at the San Siro.

“We made the decision to hold out right until these days to remark mainly because we did not want to communicate in the heat of the instant and threat remaining motivated by all the feelings flying about,” Antonello instructed Inter to watch.

“We’ve watched all of the incidents back and we simply cannot describe why two sets of weights and steps were made use of in the same game.

“Tons of matters are changing in football, but it appears to be like some matters constantly keep the same. Acquiring mentioned that, we are happy with the historical past we have at this club.

“Everyone can see what occurred. It was found by 80,000 persons at the stadium and by seven hundred,000 persons across 170 nations around the world all-around the world. It absolutely did not showcase the very best of Italian football. In truth, I might say it is proven our game in a pretty bad gentle.”

Antonello mentioned he could not fault the energy of his team, but additional: “Some unacceptable matters occurred and we are furious — the club justifies respect and so do our fans.”

A red card for Matias Vecino, given soon after Orsato experienced initially proven a yellow card but was contacted by VAR to transform it to red, intended the Nerazzurri were forced to play more than 70 minutes with only 10 men.

Orsato then selected not to display a next yellow card to Juve midfielder Miralem Pjanic when Inter thought he must also have been sent off early in the next half.

Antonello insists his team will get back their target for their remaining 3 games of the season at Udinese, at home to Sassuolo and at Lazio, as they continue to search for a prime 4 finish and Champions League football next season.

“I can assure that we are all united and centred on achieving our season aim of a place in next year’s Champions League,” he mentioned. “There will not be any reduction of the target. The lads showed what they can do on the pitch. They’re all great gurus and we are expecting a rapid response. Our aim has not changed and we’ll display that on Sunday against Udinese.

“We’ve missed the battle and I think you can probably say it was not our fault by yourself. But we want to win the war, for ourselves and for our fans.”

Emre: If I could spool back time, I would stay at Inter

Emre: If I could spool back time, I would stay at Inter

Emre Belozoglu, Inter Milan

Emre Belozoglu

Former Inter Milan midfielder, Emre Belozoglu has stated that if it was possible for him to rewind time, he would have remained in Milan.

The 37-year old Turkish player currently plays for İstanbul Başakşehir but his four-year spell in Italy remain in his memory as one of his unforgettable days as a footballer.

While speaking with Gazzetta Dello Sport; he said: “Italian football isn’t the same as it was, when it was like the NBA in basketball.”

“Now foreign countries have more appeal and more money, Italy is struggling to keep up. That said, Inter will always remain in my heart.

“It was the first time I had left my own country. I have so many memories, they immediately welcomed me as one of them.

“Then there was [President Massimo] Moratti, a gentleman of football and a true champion.

Juventus and Milan? Their growth was constant, we changed too much on the bench and on the pitch, so we had a hard time winning.

“Then there was Calciopoli. We had a similar situation in Turkey in 2010. It was a heavy blow for all of Italian football.

“Psychologically it was tough, we gave 100 percent while outside things were happening…

“Regrets? My goodbye, I’ll never forgive myself for that. I was 25 and had a different mentality, if I could go back I’d stay at Inter.”

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Inter Milan and Napoli have made contact with Amin Younes

Amin Younes’ representative has stated that both Inter Milan and Napoli have made contact with the Ajax Midfielder although he confirmed that there is no agreement yet with anyone.
The 24-year old winger has six months left on his contract with the Eredivisie’s side and could end up joining any club for free at the end of the season but he is keen on furthering his career in a top side.
Agent, Nicola Innocentin while speaking on the team that Amin could end up joining, he said: “Ajax received a €10m offer from Swansea, but they weren’t a club that, from a sporting point of view, Amin wanted to join”.
“I talked to the sporting director at Ajax, Marc Overmars, and we can only talk about a transfer if it suits everyone involved.
“Zenit St. Petersburg, Inter, Watford, Sevilla and Napoli have all contacted me about Amin.
“However, he hasn’t agreed on anything with anyone and Napoli haven’t made any offers to Ajax or the player.”

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Lopez, Rafinha impresses former goalkeeper, Cesar

Former Inter Milan goalkeeper, Julio Cesar has stated that bringing Lisandro Lopez and compatriot, Rafinha to San Siro would be a brilliant business for Inter Milan.

The Nerazzurri are likely to complete Lopez signing in only a matter of days as it has been reported that the Benfica defender has agreed to personal terms and might be having his medicals on Monday.

And the Brazilian goalkeeper who played with the 28-year old Argentine at their time at Lisbon believes he will make an instant impact in Inter.

“Other than on the pitch, he will make his presence felt in the dressing room,” the former Inter stopper commented.

“He is a good man for the dressing room. He is a great boy, he likes to laugh and knows how to get on with everyone.

“I am sure he will integrate very quickly. I will call him soon in order to wish him good luck.”

Cesar while questioned what he thinks about Lopez minimal appearance for Benfica so far this season, he said: “That’s how football goes. Every Coach makes his decisions.

“But even if Lisandro didn’t play much, we knew Lisandro was there. He made himself heard.”

Although bringing Rafinha to Italy from Barcelona is still far from reality, Brazilian Cesar thinks the signing of his countryman would also represent a brilliant business for the Italian club.

“We have never been in a team together, so I hardly know him.

“But it’s not difficult to imagine that someone with his talent wouldn’t want to play a bit-part role anymore.

“Inter are doing well. We shouldn’t forget that they are a new team with a new Coach.”

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Inter, Juventus suffers heartbreak as target extends Cagliari contract to 2022

Inter and Juventus target, Nicolo Barella has penned a new agreement with Cagliari which will see him remain at the club till 2022.

It has been reported that several top teams are interested in the young Italian midfielder’s signature after he broke into the team two years ago.

The 20-year old, who made his full debut two seasons ago has already featured for the Italian national team and has made 57 Serie A appearances for Cagliari.

He was with the Italian team that finished third in the 2017 FIFA under-20 World cup which held in South Korea.

Barella’s pace, composure and ability to dictate play from the middle of the pack is his major strength and Inter Milan are reported to have offered €25 million for the phenomenal midfielder although it is yet to be seen if Cagliari president, Giulini will be interested in any deal to see his youngster leave.

With this new contract, Inter and Juventus may have to wait some more to get any chance of signing this young prospect who has scored twice in the Serie A this season and has also made an assist.

Inter Milan Want Arsenals Alexis Sanchez

Spalleti targets Alexis Sanchez

Inter Milan Manager, Luciano Spalleti has always been interested in Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez for a long time as a result of his intense admiration for the Chilean and that is known to almost everyone.

Inter persisted in snatching Sanchez from Arsenal last summer as they repeatedly made contacts with him trying to persuade him to ditch the gunners for the San Siro side but reports had it that they couldn’t pay his demands of 12 million euros net per season as they were only offering 6 million euros which could rise to 9 million euros including bonuses. The current highest earners at Inter is Icardi who earns 5 million euros net and Perisic who earns 4 million euros net.

However, it’s certain that more top clubs will come for the former Barcelona attacker by January when the transfer window opens as he has only 6 months left on his Arsenal Contract.

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Mauro Icardi, Antonio Candreva get 8/10 as Inter remain unbeaten


Luciano Spalletti dismisses Real Madrid‘s reported interest in Mauro Icardi, suggesting every team wants the Inter star.

Inter have now gone 14 games unbeaten (and are top of Serie A, but only provisionally) after defeating Cagliari at the Sant’Elia on Saturday night, courtesy of another Mauro Icardi double.

They had a difficult start, with the home side chasing the Nerazzurri down so mercilessly that Inter’s first shot on goal didn’t come until around the half-hour mark. Though, being an Icardi finish, it promptly ended up in the back of net.

Cagliari’s attempts at ramping up the tempo in the second half only resulted in Marcelo Brozovic scoring as a result of a nice cutback from the on-form Antonio Candreva, himself fed by Milan Skriniar.

Though Leonardo Pavoletti pulled one back for the home side with a splendid effort on 71 minutes, it wasn’t enough to turn the game on its head, with Inter pressing ahead and finding the third with seven minutes to go thanks to Cagliari’s collective failings at the back.

Positives

It’s a positive sign that teams are now trying to attack Inter early on, especially at home. It’s the kind of measure one would use with Juventus, or any elite opponent. Sampdoria recently blitzed the Old Lady before sitting on their lead, and won 3-2.

Luciano Spalletti’s men can win despite many of them not shining on the pitch, too. Cagliari weren’t much of a threat after the break and once the initial onslaught had been outlasted, the Nerazzurri were in complete control.

Inter controlled the game like a side that considers matches like these to be its bread and butter. Having someone like Candreva running up and down the right is amazing, and Ivan Perisic’s defensive effort is evidence that this side fights as a unit.

Negatives

Some players, such as Roberto Gagliardini and Danilo D’Ambrosio, are poor under pressure. Skriniar and Joao Miranda still haven’t hit their highest notes together; they’re good enough but have plenty of room for improvement.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Spalletti didn’t let his team panic; there’s nothing wrong with soaking up the pressure early and striking when space opens up. Sending on Brozovic was instantly successful. This is a Spalletti wonderland. Would Conte or Simeone have done this well? 

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Samir Handanovic, 8 — The save off Leonardo Pavoletti was sensational. Missed an early pass, but we’ll forgive him for that.

DF Danilo D’Ambrosio, 5 — His 100th Serie A game as a Nerazzurro was one to forget. Gave the ball away too often and looked half a yard off the pace, at least.

DF Milan Skriniar, 5 — Ever the clever distributor, his defensive contributions were more questionable. Should have had Pavoletti sewn up for the opener and it was not the only time he lost the former Napoli man, either. But he did make some big tackles in the second half.

DF Joao Miranda, 6 –.Struggled a lot with Pavoletti, but did better in a freer role. Who knew that this would be the case alongside the 22-year-old Skriniar?

Mauro Icardi had a double for the second game in a row.

DF Davide Santon, 6 — Could be better at the back, but is clearly a lot more technical than Yuto Nagatomo: Borja Valero actually trusts him with the ball, too. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Santon and, yes, Marco Andreolli (now at Cagliari) should have been starting every week last season.

MF Matias Vecino, 5 — Didn’t really leave his mark on the game, and came off in the second half injured.

MF Roberto Gagliardini, 5 — Looked in big trouble more than once, and a few nice tackles in the second half weren’t enough to make up for it.

MF Borja Valero, 6 — Didn’t buckle under the pressure, and his passing started to make a difference in the second half. Cagliari can’t keep up with his geometrie (an Italian footballing term for ball distribution, literally ‘geometries’) once they lost their initial impetus.

MF Antonio Candreva, 8 — Oh my. If only every player could conjure up such a drastic volte-face. A roving troublemaker with an eye for the cross. Practically made two assists, and was involved in the third. Did a lot of grunt work in defence too.

MF Ivan Perisic, 5 — One too many games where he hasn’t brought much to the action; Eder may have been preferable.

FW, Mauro Icardi, 8 — This is the sixth game this season in which the Rosario native has scored more than once. The Argentine is now the league’s joint-top scorer with Dries Mertens, and even went on a solo run at some stage.

Substitutes:

MF Marcelo Brozovic, 7 — Is he more suited that Valero for games like this, running at defences on the road in a freer role? He scored a brace against Benevento, remember, but doesn’t have the discipline to defend.

MF Joao Cancelo, N/R — Came on with four minutes to go, didn’t do much.

FW Eder, N/R — Made an appearance on 90 minutes.

Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.



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Slowly but surely Inter Milans Mauro Icardi starting to get global recognition he deserves


Check out all the best moments from Serie A’s top sides, as Inter Milan surpassed Juventus to take second place.
Luciano Spalletti dismisses Real Madrid‘s reported interest in Mauro Icardi, suggesting every team wants the Inter star.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story but they do give a sense of just how lethal Mauro Icardi is as a striker.  

Still only 24, two years ago he became the youngest Capocannoniere since Paolo Rossi in 1978. The Argentine has already scored more than 100 goals in Italy. This is his fourth season in a row in double figures and we’re only in November. He’s the first player to achieve that with Inter since Christian Vieri. And if Icardi completes another hat trick to go with the one he netted in the Derby della Madonnina in October — the first in this storied rivalry since the days of Diego Milito — he will move into the top 10 Nerazzurri goalscorers of all-time in Serie A. 

He is one of the best strikers in the world and yet his profile in the game doesn’t reflect that, at least outside of Italy. It actually lags behind his talent. Icardi is often an afterthought in discussions about the world’s most devastating No. 9s. He’s better known for a love triangle and publishing a book that set Inter’s ultras against him. 

In the opinion of Inter coach Luciano Spalletti, a lot of people have got the wrong idea about Icardi. He’s a centre-forward misrepresented and misunderstood.  “In the box, Mauro’s the best,” Spalletti says. “Off the pitch, he’s a grandissimo professional.” True, the book, in particular, showed poor judgement. But when it comes to how Icardi lives, trains and prepares for games, his manager hit the nail on the head. 

Take this summer for example. Icardi missed nearly all of the preseason after sustaining an injury at his first Argentina training camp in four years. And yet he returned on the eve of the campaign looking sharper than ever, scoring a brace in each of his first two games. Big ones too in wins against Fiorentina and away to Roma. Think about that for a moment. Icardi had barely trained with the team all summer, working out on his own. To get into the condition he found himself required great discipline. 

Despite all the goals, Mauro Icardi is just now starting to get the global recognition he deserves.

He now speaks and acts like a captain too. There was a time when Icardi would put an anonymous performance down to the shortcomings of his teammates and the inadequate service he received. Throwing them under the bus. If we return to the book one last time, calls to strip Icardi of the armband were very loud indeed amid all the furore it caused. Make no mistake, it has been quite the learning curve. But Icardi has matured in how he conducts himself and in terms of putting side before self. 

The assist stats were already an indication of that in the first half of last season. This year you can point to the goal-line clearance he made in the 1-0 win against Genoa, which Spalletti considered “worth a goal” in its value to the team. Actions like that, together with the experience he has accumulated over the last year, seem to have helped Icardi assume more presence and authority as a leader. He doesn’t care who scores as long as the team wins, a lesson learned from last season. “I scored 24 times,” he embittered, “but we didn’t get into Europe.” 

A little ticked off after Inter nearly threw away a 3-0 lead in a 3-2 win against Sampdoria, Icardi was self-critical after the game despite scoring another brace. He was angry with himself for hitting the post in the first half and misplacing a few too many passes. “I’ve got to improve in these things,” he said. The disappointment writ large on his face and those of his other teammates after the draw with Torino before the international break spoke volumes about the mentality ingrained by Spalletti in such a short period.

For some reason, it feels more significant to highlight these aspects of Icardi’s season than the 13 goals he has scored in 13 games. They show character development. We all know how clever and dangerous a finisher he is for Inter. What a great header of the ball he’s become. His innate appreciation of time and space. How he senses a centre-back or goalkeeper’s weakness in a split second, calculating the right angle and best shot to select in the blink of an eye. A lightning-quick thinker, the former Inter centre-back Daniele Adani says “Icardi steals time” from defenders. Often all he needs is a sniff. His first goal in the derby came with his first touch in the penalty area. We’re talking acute concentration, elite predatory instincts. Icardi is like the shark that finds the one drop of blood in the ocean. 

In some respects, it was entirely predictable he would go to another level this season. Spalletti turned Francesco Totti into a goal machine and transformed Edin Dzeko from flop to Capocannoniere last year. The brief with Icardi was different though. He has always been prolific. Not every other year. Always. Spalletti has worked on making him more complete. The seven assists he laid on last year should be enough to silence those who insist he is a goalscorer and that’s it. 

But Spalletti has got Icardi coming short and pulling wide to destabilise defences, drag centre-backs with him and open up space for midfield runners. He has him just outside his own penalty area instead of on the halfway line when Inter is defending a corner. Spalletti wants Icardi involved at all times. Watch his second goal against Milan. Icardi nicks the ball from Lucas Biglia in his own half, starting a move that he finishes with a frankly incredible mix of contortion and coordination. 

Mauro Icardi saved the day for Inter Milan on Sunday.
Mauro Icardi has put his immature past behind him and become a strong captain and leader for Inter.

Hidden a little because of Inter’s inability to qualify for the Champions League during his time at the club, not to mention Argentina’s unwillingness to give him more than seven minutes of game time until Jorge Sampaoli’s appointment, it hasn’t stopped Europe’s elite from registering their interest in Icardi. He has a €110 million buy-out clause in his contract for clubs outside of Serie A. When Undici put it to Icardi that the figure looks cheap, he laughed: “After the last transfer window maybe you’re right.  But this is what we discussed with the club and decided to do. Everyone at the club knows how I think, though, and what I want. We’re all very cool about it.” 

Spalletti naturally thinks Inter need to make the clause inaccessible. “Mauro should get the highest clause possible, like Isco’s [€700m] and all the other top players.” However, Spalletti shouldn’t worry. True, loyalty probably isn’t the first word that springs to mind when people think of Icardi but his loyalty to Inter has never been in question. If he didn’t love the club he would have moved on by now. Serie A’s decadence, the absence of Champions League football, and his fallout with the ultras were reasons enough to go. But he elected to stay and unlike some of his peers, Icardi, while realistic that things could change, never answers a question about his future with “you never know.” He commits to Inter. “I see myself here. I hope to go on a long journey with Inter. I want to win something with this shirt.”

Of course, the influence of Javier Zanetti, now vice-president, is strong.  Icardi not only respects Inter’s former captain for his place in the club’s history and the fact he’s a fellow Argentine but because “he showed an attachment for Inter and stayed until the end of his career.” How depressing and simultaneously refreshing is it that saying something along those lines should make Icardi seem different. 

It’s about as odd as the football world not fully waking up to the size of Icardi’s talent. Winning something, playing at the World Cup and the Champions League will surely change that. It’s about greater exposure. It’s only a matter of time.  

James covers the Italian Serie A and European football for ESPN FC Follow him on Twitter @JamesHorncastle.



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Mauro Icardi: Inter Milan’s strong start ‘nothing to do with luck’


With Inter and Napoli leading the charge in Serie A, Gab Marcotti assesses which team has the best chance of winning the title.
Mauro Icardi’s brace helped Inter see off Sampdoria and move one point ahead of Napoli at the top of Serie A.

Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi says it is no coincidence that the Nerazzurri are doing so well this season, saying that the atmosphere at the club has changed.

Inter spent Tuesday night at the top of the table, before Napoli’s win over Genoa saw them return there on Wednesday, but with just two points separating them from the league leaders, Inter are being considered as serious title challengers again this season.

One of the reasons, according to Icardi, is the arrival of Luciano Spalletti and the return of a positive atmosphere which he says has been missing in recent years, particularly in the second half of last season.

“It’s nothing to do with luck,” Icardi said in an interview with Undici magazine. “We worked really well in preseason and everything changed. The coach is very attentive and we all have the same objective in our minds, which is what everybody is asking for, from the club to the president, right down to the very last person: we need to get back into the Champions League.

“Last year, in March — after the international break — we all came back a bit lost. I was angry at the time and would come back home in a bad mood.”

Mauro Icardi has already scored 11 goals in Serie A this season.

Now, Icardi is looking to the future with renewed optimism and with a degree of pride at being captain of a club challenging for trophies once again.

“Being captain of this team is not difficult for me,” said the 24-year-old. “I’ve got the personality to be able to do it. This is my mission and I am proud of it. I see myself here for a long time. I want to win something with this shirt.

“I’m not going to be in football when I am 40, though — not like [Francesco] Totti. I’m not going to be a coach or a director — they are not roles that I would like. I think I’ll just become a full-time dad, at home, with my family.”

Icardi joined Inter four years ago, saying that it was the club’s former president Massimo Moratti “who wanted me the most,” adding that he “signed me from [Sampdoria] and was the one who insisted on getting me the most.”

The Argentine forward scored his 100th goal in Serie A — his 11th of the current season — in Inter’s 3-2 win over Sampdoria at the weekend.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.



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Mauro Icardi’s brace sees off Samp as Inter hold on for 3-2 victory


With Inter and Napoli leading the charge in Serie A, Gab Marcotti assesses which team has the best chance of winning the title.

Inter played a superb first half against Sampdoria, but nearly let their 3-0 lead slide by allowing Marco Giampaolo’s side score twice in the second. After a strong start from the visitors, Milan Skriniar was the quickest on an 18th-minute corner, and that was followed by a stunning Mauro Icardi volley a quarter of an hour later. The second half began in much the same way, only for the Beneamata to pull off a simply outstanding passing move to make it three on 53 minutes. They started to get a sloppy, however, allowing Samp to net twice, making the last minutes rather difficult watching.

Positives

The football from about the 15th minute onward was simply exceptional. Inter are smooth, collected and play like a team. Barring their defensive distractions, Sampdoria was a great test, in a league where the average quality isn’t the same. They kept the Nerazzurri on their toes and forced them to learn, especially by trying to press high early, compelling Inter to pass out of their defence.

Since when does Yuto Nagatomo keep trying through balls and chips to the midfield, where Icardi was there to chest it down and quickly change the play? The Nerazzurri are counting on a great atmosphere, on Italy’s best home attendance record. The midfield looks more in sync, too.

Negatives

The final half hour wasn’t a lot of fun, and the Inter support’s emotions were captured by one veteran fan rolling his eyes in the stands. This is a clear indication that the team still needs to grow. Sampdoria’s first came in a three-on-five situation. The scoreline was close because Inter couldn’t bury their chances. Icardi needs to keep improving his overall play. The midfield needs to give it away less, though one can understand why this risk-taking worked. Joao Mario looks less and less like he belongs. Keeping the defence so deep — a ploy which worked as the Nerazzurri learned the system — may now be too much, as Sampdoria could exploit those spaces, and the rearguard hesitated in coming off their line.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Luciano Spalletti’s work culminated in the third goal, which was a complete and utter masterpiece, and testament to his patience in asking this team to play the ball on the deck; a dozen or so passes out of defence combining with Borja Valero’s eye for the pass, Matias Vecino’s great run into space, Ivan Perisic’s hard work and Icardi’s finishing. The dip at the end was a little puzzling, but chances are that it still owes to the rebuilding phase. Changes could have been made sooner.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Samir Handanovic, 6 — Made a sensational save in the first half — preventing Fabio Quagliarella from bagging a sure goal — but was then lazy on Sampdoria’s first.

DF Danilo D’Ambrosio, 7 — Proactive throughout the game. Ran his socks off on the pitch and was a monster in defence, even managing an excellent anticipation to launch the counter.

DF Milan Skriniar, 6 — An eight for the first half — in which he scored against his former team — and a four for the second, in which he was arguably guilty on both of their goals.

DF Joao Miranda, 7 — Had a more stable game than Skriniar. Showed initiative in coming off his line. Lost a key ball early on, however. Getting back to his levels.

DF Yuto Nagatomo, 8 — Great creativity. Deserved the standing ovation. Kept looking for Icardi and Perisic deep and was very solid in defence.

Mauro Icardi scored both of his goals vs. Sampdoria in sensational fashion.

MF Matias Vecino, 7 — Went on another one of his mazy runs. Are we sure that he was paid too much? Do we realize just how different Inter’s midfield is compared to last season? All Geoffrey Kondogbia could do is kick people.

MF Roberto Gagliardini, 7 — Personality on the up. Spent all game tackling and keeping Inter ticking over. Volleyed a beauty to launch Perisic on the counter. Was a little slack at the end of the game.

MF Borja Valero, 7 — His range of passes was exceptional. Ran for longer than usual, but was lazy on a late Samp chance.

MF Antonio Candreva, 8 — His penchant for the shot from outside nearly resulted in a goal. Far better delivery from corners, finding Icardi twice and assisting the opener. Hard worker, dipped a little in the final stretch.

MF Ivan Perisic, 8 — May as well have scored, as he was denied twice by the woodwork, once on a spectacular lob after a missed Sampdoria clearance. Ran like he was possessed, and was simply excellent in defence and doubling up.

FW, Mauro Icardi, 8 — Sensational on his two goals, especially the first, a beautiful half-volley across the goal. Denied by the post and was wasteful with counters at the end.

Substitutes:

MF Joao Mario, 5 — Just like Icardi, he needed to be more incisive when he came on. Doesn’t press or mark well, either.

DF Davide Santon, 5 — Lost Quagliarella for Samp’s second.

MF Eder, N/R — Came on too late to make a difference. Would have been useful instead of Joao Mario. Actually contributed more to the defensive phase.

Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.



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Inter win Milan derby thanks to Mauro Icardi Antonio Candreva


Inter boss Luciano Spalletti sings the praises of Mauro Icardi after the Argentine’s hat trick in the Milan derby.
Mauro Icardi completed a hat trick with a late penalty kick to lead Inter past rivals Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.
Mauro Icardi completed a hat trick with a late penalty kick to lead Inter past rivals Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.

Another spectacular Milan Derby — are there any boring ones these days? — was decided by a late Mauro Icardi penalty, the Argentine slamming home a legendary hat-trick to down the Rossoneri 3-2.

The Nerazzurri had started better and went ahead after a sensational Antonio Candreva cross found Icardi unmarked on 28 minutes. The Lazio man had also hit the bar, something Inter would rue after the break when Milan’s domination saw them equalise through a Suso curler. A brilliant Icardi lunge sent Inter ahead again only seven minutes later but Milan looked like they could pull off a coup when Jack Bonaventura levelled in the 80th, only for Ricardo Rodriguez to wrap his arms around Icardi in the box soon after.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Positives

A major bookmaker published live odds on the advertising boards during the game and had the Rossoneri as marginal favourites after Suso’s goal. Yet their strikes were answered within seven and 10 minutes respectively, which speaks to Inter’s character and composure.

Inter really needed Icardi to answer. He may not be complete but is working harder in the build-up, where he has evident limits. The midfield three may finally be settled, too, and both Vecino and Skriniar are monsters.

Negatives

Inter let their rivals score twice and take control in the second half. They are incapable of digging in and avoiding silly goals.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Luciano Spalletti’s Nerazzurri team is coming together, alright. There are problems (Inter dipped late on, which almost cost them two points) but one can see that his schemes are working. Using Borja Valero was a huge boon; he protected Candreva (whom he shielded from the critics) and his attack looks a lot more clinical. His side wasn’t lucky to win. It sabotaged itself perhaps but kept coming back for more.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Samir Handanovic, 6 — Really should have saved Suso’s goal. Made a miraculous save to deny Fabio Borini and can’t be blamed if his Shaolin-like save off Bonaventura then bounced into the goal off his knees.

DF Danilo D’Ambrosio, 6 — A decent game by any standards, a very good one by his. Sharp in the tackle, he helped Candreva set up the opener with a run downfield though his crossing was questionable.

DF Milan Skriniar, 7 — Made a number of wonderful steps out of defence to make key tackles. Neither Patrick Cutrone nor Andre Silva was that noticeable, which said a lot.

DF Joao Miranda, 6 — Booked for a completely unnecessary barge into Andre Silva early on. Needed to be bailed out by his centre-back partner on a few occasions. How long can this go on?

DF Yuto Nagatomo, 5 — Generally didn’t look bad but lost a massive 25 balls. A couple were good (in theory) long ones to Icardi, many others were not so inspired. Struggled to contain Borini and Suso as well.

MF Matias Vecino, 7 — Tireless worker. Should have scored when he fired an effort just wide, but completely unmarked. Later made an incredible run to set up the corner from which the Beneamata earned the winning penalty.

Mauro Icardi’s sublime hat-trick tipped the Milan derby in Inter’s favour.

MF Roberto Gagliardini, 5 — Completely fell for Suso’s dummy. Perisic can be excused for trying to dart outwards but Gaglia shouldn’t have done the same. Fought hard in defence but needs to stamp his authority on the midfield.

MF Borja Valero, 6 — Faded in the second half but showed that he can play as a trequartista in the first, with a series of beautiful touches which allowed Candreva to advance (and dip inside) and kept the team moving.

MF Antonio Candreva, 9 — Who are you, and what have you done with Candreva? As a sarcastic critic put it, he would win the Ballon d’Or if he only ever played Milan. Deserved a goal for hitting the bar. Clipped those early crosses Spalletti has asked for beautifully and should have had a second assist when he found Vecino.

MF Ivan Perisic, 7 — Not as dangerous or as involved as Candreva, but worked hard in defence and was far more effective with his crosses, finding a dangerous Miranda header early on. Was fooled by Suso’s turn, a pity for someone who set up a counter with a sliding tackle.

FW Mauro Icardi, 10 — Has the right to wear Bonucci as a coat until the next Derby. He has nine goals from eight games, yet there were those who would have sold him to Napoli for only €60 million two years ago. Still looks better at the San Siro where he doesn’t have to work as hard in the build-up play. His second goal was a work of art, his third a gutsy call mere hours after Paulo Dybala’s epic choke against Lazio.

Substitutes

MF Joao Cancelo, 5 — Responsible for Milan’s second, completely losing Bonaventura.

MF Eder, 6 — I guess this is what he does now: come on and galvanize the Nerazzurri. In all honesty, that’s probably enough for now.

DF Davide Santon, NR — Brought on to waste time, give Icardi a standing ovation and offer the security of an extra defender. Wasn’t tested.

Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.



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Mauro Icardi hat trick lifts Inter over AC Milan Sampdoria recover to beat Atalanta as Genoa secure first win of the season


Mauro Icardi’s hat-trick fired Inter Milan past AC Milan and into second place.

Mauro Icardi plundered a hat-trick to pile the pressure on AC Milan boss Vincenzo Montella as Inter Milan came out on top 3-2 in a thrilling Derby della Madonnina.

The Argentina international striker converted a controversial 90th-minute penalty after Ricardo Rodriguez was adjudged to have pulled back Danilo D’Ambrosio to snatch a 3-2 victory at the San Siro.

Icardi put the home side ahead with a deft 28th-minute finish and then after Suso had levelled with an equally adept finish, dispatched an improvised 63rd-minute volley.

Montella’s men thought they had claimed a point when keeper Samir Handanovic could only carry Giacomo Bonaventura’s 81st-minute shot into his own net, but Icardi’s late heroics condemned them to a fourth Serie A defeat of the new campaign which leaves them 10 points adrift of their city rivals.

The win lifts Luciano Spalletti’s side to second in the Serie A standings with 22 points, two behind Napoli, who have yet to drop a point this season.

Milan slumped to 10th, with just 12 points from eight matches.

Sampdoria players celebrate after winning at Atalanta.

Sampdoria came from behind to secure a 3-1 victory over Atalanta at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday.

The visitors led at the interval after Bryan Cristante opened the scoring midway through the first half.

But Sampdoria responded in emphatic fashion after the break, scoring three times inside 12 minutes to secure the victory.

Duvan Zapata hauled them level after 56 minutes before Gianluca Caprari doubled their tally moments later and Karol Linetty completed the win with 68 minutes gone.

Genoa also scored three times as they secured their first victory of the season, 3-2 at Cagliari.

After a run of five defeats from their last six matches, they struck first when Andrey Galabinov scored after just eight minutes.

Adel Taarabt then got a second with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, and although Leonardo Pavoletti hit back for Cagliari after the break, Luca Rigoni was on the mark with 75 minutes gone.

Cagliari’s Joao Pedro scored from the penalty spot four minutes later to ensure a nervy finish, but the visitors clung on.

Earlier, Cyril Thereau came back to haunt his former team as Fiorentina secured a much-needed 2-1 victory over Udinese.

Thereau, who spent three years at Udinese before moving to Fiorentina in the summer, opened the scoring after 27 minutes when he converted from close range.

The forward then doubled his tally shortly before the hour mark. Samir pulled one back for the visitors with just under 20 minutes remaining, but Fiorentina saw out the remainder of the match to end a three-game winless streak.

Bologna struck twice to win 2-1 against SPAL and register a third victory in as many matches.

Andrea Poli netted for the home team after 30 minutes before an own goal by Bartosz Salamon shortly after half-time increased their advantage.

Mirco Antenucci’s 88th-minute strike reduced the deficit, but Bologna saw out the remaining time to secure the points.

Lorenzo De Silvestri scored a late equaliser as Torino rescued a point in a 2-2 draw at Crotone.

The hosts led at half-time after Marcus Rohden’s 25th-minute opener, only for Iago Falque to haul the visiting side level after the interval.

Bruno Martella restored Crotone’s advantage shortly after the hour mark before De Silvestri struck in the second minute of injury time.

Elsewhere, Sassuolo and Chievo played out a goalless draw at the Mapei Stadium.



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Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi ‘impossible to stop’ but can still improve – Luciano Spalletti


From Jordan Veretout’s stunning free kick to Ivan Perisic’s volley, relive the best goals from Serie A’s third round.
Steve Nicol believes the manner in which Inter Milan have kept suitors away from Ivan Perisic is a model for other clubs to follow.
Gab Marcotti previews the upcoming Serie A season with his predictions for the top four and the Scudetto winner.

Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti has called star striker Mauro Icardi “impossible to stop,” but has cautioned that the Argentine can still improve.

The Inter captain is off to a hot start under the former Roma boss, scoring five goals in his first four games on the young season after netting 24 times last campaign.

And Spalletti urged the 24-year-old to keep pushing on.

“I’ve praised him for his displays, but he can get even better,” Spalletti said on Monday.

Mauro Icardi has scored five times in his first four games this season.

“Icardi inside the penalty area is impossible to stop, he is lethal. I would like him to join in more with the team play, but that takes nothing away from his finishing.

“There is room for improvement. He has received a lot of praise but the team have also played their part too.

“Icardi and Perisic can do a lot for the team and they are doing well but like we need them, they need the team, so together we all need to work hard so we can unleash our full potential. We need to work as a group.

“Individuals are important. All of the great teams know how valuable individual players are but if they can’t make the difference, only collective play allows you to win matches.”

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.



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Inter scrape victory vs SPAL thanks to brilliance of Milan Skriniar Mauro Icardi


Milan Skriniar was superb on both sides of the ball as Inter fought to victory win over SPAL.

Inter won a sketchy game against SPAL, going ahead early thanks to a Mauro Icardi penalty. The Nerazzurri tired quickly after the hour mark, making it look like the Ferrara side could earn a typical, frustrating 1-1 draw. Instead, Ivan Perisic gave Manchester United more reason to regret their transfer strategy by lashing in a beauty of a half-volley three minutes from time.

Positives

VAR was a triumph, again. Joao Mario was initially adjudged to have been fouled outside the box only for referee Claudio Gavillucci to use the video assistant and correctly change the call, allowing Icardi to break the deadlock from the spot. Milan Skriniar is an absolute beast. Inter managed a number of rare feats: winning after the international break, not choking against a bread-and-butter opponent and, more importantly, keeping up the good work after beating the strong opposition.

Negatives

This had the makings of a maddening game. Inter never really got into any rhythm, courtesy of SPAL’s clever passing game. The Nerazzurri is still very wasteful and look a little soft at defending set pieces.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — Should Marcelo Brozovic have come on? Beyond that, Luciano Spalletti is still trying to impose his system. Teething problems are to be expected. Throwing on Matias Vecino was the right call, eventually.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Samir Handanovic, 6 — Deflected a dangerous-looking header that may have been going out anyway. Was a spectator otherwise.

DF Danilo D’Ambrosio, 7 — Plenty of overlapping energy on the right. Actually found Antonio Candreva with some decent balls hugging the touchline, but wasn’t paid back despite his good positioning. This is a common theme, which has been underestimated in the past. A rock in defence, something we haven’t seen as much as we would have wanted and made the assist for Perisic’s screamer.

DF Milan Skriniar, 8 — An absolute monster. Was there to make a crunching tackle when Miranda napped (though he could have been quicker), hit the crossbar with a rocket and even headed away what would have been a juicy chance, earning a kick in the abdomen from D’Ambrosio for his efforts. Who on earth expected him to be this good?

DF Joao Miranda, 6 — Was caught out on two occasions when he tried the early press and left gaping holes behind him. Was otherwise solid. Strange that Skriniar has completely outshone him so far.

DF Dalbert, 6 — Initially had a hard time containing Manuel Lazzari but it developed into a fascinating battle. Made mistakes going forward, but actually backed Perisic up, something we haven’t seen in a while. A far from strong performance but remember, Yuto Nagatomo plays it safe because he hasn’t got the skill to make a difference, or to justify his many weaknesses. Dalbert at least has upside and has the right to a trial-and-error period.

MF Roberto Gagliardini, 7 — Doubting Gagliardini makes sense, at least on the surface as most of what he does is behind the scenes. Yet how many have noticed that he made seven (!) tackles, or 125 passes? Beyond his early forays, the Italy midfielder dictated the tempo. Faded in the second half, where Inter’s midfield struggles to maintain a hold on opponents.

A Mauro Icardi penalty and stunning Ivan Perisic volley guided Inter to their third straight win to start the Serie A season.
A Mauro Icardi penalty and stunning Ivan Perisic volley guided Inter to their third straight win to start the Serie A season.

MF Borja Valero, 6 — Some nice flourishes, but a quiet game by his standards, Taking him off made a lot of sense as the Nerazzurri needed muscle in the middle. Still a pleasure to see what a good passing midfield looks like. Found Perisic with a wonderful pass.

MF Joao Mario, 6 — Actually proved that he can run against packed defences, which was the key development. Earned the go-ahead penalty and was very active, if not always tactically diligent. Also slowed down after the break. Progress.

MF Antonio Candreva, 7 — His cross selection can be maddening, but kept thundering down his wing throughout the game. Looked good in that central position, something he is allowed to do by D’Ambrosio.

MF Ivan Perisic, 7 — Icardi’s penalty technically counts as the winner, but it was Perisic who actually guaranteed the three points. Made the highlight play, but we still want to see Icardi served better.

FW, Mauro Icardi, 6 — Worked reasonably well with Joao Mario, but was otherwise quiet, and never seemed to get into good positions. Even started shanking one-two passes later on, too.

Substitutes

MF Marcelo Brozovic, 5 — What on earth did he contribute? Inter needed to beef up the middle, not see this guy go walkabout.

MF Matias Vecino, 6 — Put the game to sleep, as one Twitter user so cleverly put it. That release clause is suddenly looking like a bargain, as Inter seem to miss something whenever he is off the pitch. Could he be the gem and not Borja Valero?

FW Eder, NR — Not to sound cruel, but he used to come on earlier in similar situations last year, and not contribute much.

Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.



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Serie A – Paulo Dybala stars as Juventus rally to beat Genoa while Mauro Icardi lifts Inter at Roma


Paulo Dybala was instrumental in Juventus beating Genoa.

Paulo Dybala scored a hat trick as Juventus fought back from two goals down to beat Genoa 4-2.

Genoa had gone ahead at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in the opening minute when Miralem Pjanic scored an own goal.

And they quickly doubled their advantage when Andrej Galabinov scored from the spot in the seventh minute after Daniele Rugani had given away a penalty.

The comeback began in the 14th minute when Pjanic set up Dybala to score from close range.

The Argentina international pulled the Italian champions back to level terms from the penalty spot in the third minute of added time after Darko Lazovic handled in the area.

Juan Cuadrado put Juventus ahead on 62 minutes with an effort from inside the box.

And Dybala wrapped up the victory in the second minute of added time after being set up by Gonzalo Higuain.

Mauro Icardi guided Inter to victory away to Roma.

Mauro Icardi scored twice as Inter Milan came from behind to win 3-1 at Roma.

Edin Dzeko gave Roma a half-time lead at the Stadio Olimpico and the hosts had hit the woodwork three times before Inter equalised.

Antonio Candreva fed Icardi, who turned and drilled in from inside the box to level the score after 67 minutes. And Inter ahead 10 minutes later through Icardi’s close-range finish from Ivan Perisic’s pass.

The visitors added a third with Perisic the provider again as Matias Vecino tucked in from close range.

Antonio Mirante scored an own goal in the ninth minute of added time as Benevento rescued an unlikely 1-1 draw against Bologna.

Bologna had taken the lead through Godfred Donsah in the 55th minute but Mirante’s 99th minute strike ensured honours ended even.



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Mauro Icardi affirms his desire to remain at Inter Milan


Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says he would rather focus on the moment than discuss the rumours linking him to the Inter job.

Mauro Icardi has affirmed his allegiance to Inter Milan amid reports of a revolution at the Serie A club this summer, which could mean that not even his future is safe.

The club captain is the latest name to be linked with a move away from the Nerazzurri, with their Chinese owners considering all of their options to ensure next season will not be another flop.

Inter have ambitious plans to lure Antonio Conte from Chelsea to become their next coach and reports claim that nobody — not even Icardi — is assured of a place at the club next term.

The Argentinian striker is arguably their most valuable asset, but he stressed in a message on his Instagram account that a transfer does not come into the question.

“The Champions League?? Yes, I am going to play in it with these colours because this is the club who made me grow and it is the club where I have reached the places I had always dreamed of reaching, and because it is the club who have given me the responsibility to be their captain and to represent them with pride and honour, ALWAYS, in the good times and particularly in the bad times,” he wrote.

“These are just some of the reasons [why I want to stay]… but above all, because this is the club that I LOVE!! #ForzaInter.”

Icardi will not have the opportunity to experience Champions League football next season, and it is not likely he will be playing in Europe at all. Inter need to make up a four-point deficit on their city rivals AC Milan in the final two games of the season if they are to have a chance of snatching sixth place.

On Wednesday, the club announced that Icardi has a left thigh injury and underwent an MRI to determine his condition. The club said he is “day today.”

The club’s preseason aim was a top-three finish with qualification for the Europa League set as the minimum objective by their new owners, the Suning Group. Failure on both fronts is likely to lead to a squad overhaul in the summer and, to finance that, the sale of key players is likely.

Ivan Perisic is another of the candidates to be sold and it is being reported by both La Gazzetta dello Sport and Il Corriere della Sera that Inter’s sporting director Piero Ausilio is on a mission to Paris and London to gauge interest in the Croatian. Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are all listed as potential suitors.

The main piece in the puzzle, however, is the position of head coach. Inter went through three managers this season, with Roberto Mancini dismissed just prior to the start of the season, Frank De Boer lasting just three months and Stefano Pioli sacked just over a week ago.

Conte has been earmarked as their No. 1 target, but the likelihood of him being lured away from Chelsea after leading them to the Premier League title and a place in the Champions League next season appear slim.

According to Le Parisien, Inter have therefore turned their attention to Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim. He could guide the club from the Principality to their eighth Ligue 1 title on Wednesday night, having already taken them to the semifinals of the Champions League this season.

The French newspaper reported that their sources say Inter have already made contact with his entourage and offered him a contract worth €5 million per annum.

The names of Mauricio Pochettino and Luciano Spalletti are also reportedly on Inter’s list of targets.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.



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Mauro Icardi scores consolation hat trick as Inter Milan capitulate at Fiorentina


Mauro Icardi scored a hat-trick but it was too little, too late as Inter’s recent struggles continued at Fiorentina.

Inter contrived to relegate their recent failures to a mere footnote by allowing Fiorentina to mount a stunning comeback. Up 2-1 after a topsy-turvy first half, one could have been forgiven to think that Stefano Pioli’s men had been gifted a reprieve. Ever intent on constantly bamboozling their long-suffering fan, the Nerazzurri allowed a Kalinic-less Viola to somehow net four goals in seventeen horrific minutes.

Matias Vecino — who hadn’t netted all season — and Khouma Babacar ended up with two each, the ailing Davide Astori also heading one in.

It’s a good job Steven Zhang hugged Pioli after this disaster because many would have been justified in thinking that the manager would be fired in the morning.

Positives

Never has scoring four goals felt this pointless, to be honest. At least Mauro Icardi filled his boots, and on the road, too.

Negatives

The defence looked tetchy in the first half when things were (theoretically) going well. You know how Juventus have an autopilot and can kill games once they’re in a good position? Yeah, Inter have the opposite of that, a sort of supermarket free-for-all where just about anyone can fill their trolleys to bursting.

It’s horrifying how Inter could resurrect a dead and dying team — whose fans have been in open revolt since last season, never mind 2017 — they were leading 2-1.

The back line is composed of a veteran (Miranda) whose body is falling apart, one “defender” (Gary Medel) learning his trade and two guys who should know how to get the basics right by now. Why on earth were Danilo D’Ambrosio and Yuto Nagatomo given extensions exactly?

Manager rating out of 10

3 — Who knew that defending a one-goal lead for 45 minutes with a poor defence was a bad idea? Why change a system that was working? Why stop pressing against a pass-happy opponent? Why can’t Inter’s standard defensive shape stop anyone? What is the point of moaning about set pieces when the team is obviously set up badly for them? The mind boggles.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Samir Handanovic, 7 — Saved Federico Bernardeschi’s awful Panenka penalty, not to mention several other glaring chances, including diving onto a ball Borja Valero was close to stabbing home. Admittedly could have got a hand on the third.

DF Danilo D’Ambrosio, 4 — Good in his harassment role, but was naive to give away the (generous) penalty. Repeatedly struggled to deal with Fiorentina’s pace and physicality.

DF Gary Medel, 3 — Poor at distribution, and even worse at staying goalside of Babacar as the former Modena star curled in the fourth. Also has a share in the blame on the third and fifth. It’s good that a Serie A side is lining up someone who needs to learn Defending 101.

DF Miranda, 4 — Guilty of giving it away in possession, and what is really worrying is that he’s looked overwhelmed like this before. Nearly scored an own goal as well. One would assume the Brazilian would be better if he didn’t have so many fires to put out, but he should have blocked Vecino better as the Viola delivered their lethal one-two.

DF Yuto Nagatomo, 5 — The worst in that he was “only” guilty of clearing it like a Sunday League player on the attack that led to the pen. Completely invisible beyond that.

MF Roberto Gagliardini, 4 — The first two goals are his fault, failing to track Vecino and letting Astori tower over him without looking like he was anywhere near heading it.

Matias Vecino of Fiorentina celebrates after scoring a goal in his team's win against Inter Milan.
Inter started well but he wasn’t much celebrating in the second half as they conceded four goals in 17 minutes.

MF Geoffrey Kondogbia, 4 — His lack of pace and composure were brutally exposed. If he can’t use his physique or his read of the game, he’s useless, letting opponents dance past him at will.

MF Antonio Candreva, 6 — Created Ivan Perisic’s goal with a nice pass, but then fumbled over the ball on what should have been a third goal.

MF Joao Mario, 5 — Faded catastrophically in the second half. Was arguably played too far forwards, but his passing was very haphazard. Was supposed to relieve pressure, not increase it.

MF Ivan Perisic, 7 — A constant force on the wings, a defensive dynamo and the scorer of a sweet effort. Too good for this team.  

FW Mauro Icardi, 8 — Took the chances he was given. Pity the latter two came when it was too late, lending an almost desultory note to what was a strong performance.

Substitutes

FW Eder, NR — Came on with 17 minutes to go, apparently.

MF Marcelo Brozovic, NR — Contributed to one of Inter’s futile goals.

Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.



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Mauro Icardi: Inter Milan have ‘faith’ in Stefano Pioli despite poor form


Inter Milan were bumped from their Europa League qualification spot after losing a nine-goal thriller at Fiorentina.
FC’s Gab Marcotti dives into the rumours of Stefano Pioli’s demise at Inter Milan following their 2-2 draw with AC Milan.

Mauro Icardi has called on Inter Milan coach Stefano Pioli to keep his job, even if the club don’t qualify for European football next season.

Pioli led Inter on a long unbeaten run through December and January sparking hope of a challenge for Champions League football, but their form has tailed off in recent weeks, culminating in a 5-4 defeat against Fiorentina on Saturday, and the Nerazzurri now sit seventh following three defeats and no wins in the last five games.

Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has been linked with the job, while reports in Italy link Diego Simeone and Luciano Spalletti with the position,  but club captain Icardi wants Pioli to be given more time.

“I think the club has faith in him, because he has proved his qualities and the coach has given us a great deal,” he told Mediaset Premium. “At the moment everything is going wrong, now he will talk to the club and we’ll see what happens.”

Mauro Icardi has scored regularly for Inter Milan despite their poor form.

Icardi, speaking after the loss to Fiorentina in which he scored a hat trick, added that he is at a loss to explain Inter’s poor form.

“We can’t explain it,” he said. “We just have to look at the errors we made and fix them. Above all, we need to be more determined and aware we are representing a great side.

“In my view, our team deserves to get into the Europa League. There are five games to go, we have to give it our all until May 28.

“I cannot explain what has happened over the last month. Everything is going wrong, we seem unable to turn this situation around. It is us players and the staff who must find a way out of this negative period.

“It is not worthy of Inter to play the way we have been doing lately.”

Inter had led Fiorentina 2-1 at half-time before going 5-2 down, but eventually rallied and only lost by a single goal.

“There’s not much we can say, the second half was inexplicable,” Icardi said. “We should have finished the game off after the break, but instead conceded four goals in 15 minutes and we simply cannot afford to do that.”

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.



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Joao Mario and Mauro Icardi impress but Inter Milan collapse late in the Milan derby


Stefano Piolo laments Inter’s inability to see off Milan in their thrilling 2-2 draw.
Stefano Piolo laments Inter’s inability to see off Milan in their thrilling 2-2 draw.
Stefano Piolo laments Inter’s inability to see off Milan in their thrilling 2-2 draw.

The first Chinese Derby della Madonnina was a scorcher — for the neutral, anyway.

Inter blew a two-goal lead to their bitter rivals in a catastrophic second half. Milan had started better, but the recovering Roberto Gagliardini broke the deadlock by finding Antonio Candreva with a peach of a long ball on 36 minutes.

The game looked to be over when Mauro Icardi played a sumptuous give-and-go with Ivan Perisic to bury a second on the stroke of half-time.

Though the Rossoneri pushed more in the second half, their good intentions looked to have come to nought, at least until Alessio Romagnoli volleyed home on 83 minutes. An excessively defensive Inter proceeded to mess up an easy counter through Jonathan Biabiany.

Fifty seconds later, the team imploded on a corner, allowing Cristian Zapata to equalise on 97 minutes, mirroring Perisic’s late spoiler in the reverse fixture. 

Positives

The goals were beautifully taken. The defence showed patience (up to a point), typified in a moment where Gary Medel let Gerard Deulofeu twist and turn repeatedly before calmly dispossessing him. Inter’s tackling was on point today, and Joao Mario was a heck of an addition.

Negatives

This feels like a defeat. This team collapses easily and makes too many mental errors. The ball retention is dreadful, nullifying all the good tackling. Why was Inter letting Gerard Deulofeu in so often if they were packing the redoubt? The full-backs can only do one thing each (Danilo D’Ambrosio helps Candreva, Yuto Nagatomo defends), at least until push comes to shove, when they’re completely useless.

Manager rating out of 10

5 — The good: Stefano Pioli was right to play to defend in the first half, and Milan’s penetrating runs were proof of this. The bad: he threw the game away by playing so passively from the 53rd minute onwards. Inter’s transition was error-prone, and subbing Perisic over Candreva made little sense. The other substitutions all backfired, terribly. Mental weakness only explains things in part: if the players are making errors, it’s because they don’t feel comfortable. That’s down to tactics and alignment, too. 

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Samir Handanovic, 6 — Gifted Milan the equaliser, but had been a rock beforehand, throwing himself onto two curlers and coming off his line brilliantly to deny Gerard Deulofeu.

DF Danilo D’Ambrosio, 5 — Had a very strong first half on the front foot but doesn’t have the all-around skills to play the whole wing. Deulofeu was a nightmare on the left. Booted a clearance when Handanovic was down on the ground.

DF Gary Medel, 6 — Was admittedly beaten for pace by Deulofeu on numerous occasions down the wing but handled things well in the middle. Let his opponents try to dribble him instead of tackling rashly, and anticipated intelligently, too. 

DF Miranda, 5 — The stats are good, managing five interceptions and three tackles. The details, not so much. Twice got caught clearing sluggishly, and was beaten by miles by Romagnoli for Milan’s first, and lost Zapata for the second. 

DF Yuto Nagatomo, 6 — Actually kept Suso quiet for most of the game and survived an assassination attempt from Manuel Locatelli. Let the Spaniard beat him for Milan’s first.

MF Roberto Gagliardini, 6 — Inter are a different beast with him on the pitch. He’s a beautiful register, and two glaring errors (losing Romagnoli and giving it away early on) can’t negate what he brings this team. The deep balls were all him, and they carved Milan up in the first half.

MF Geoffrey Kondogbia, 7 — Four tackles and a dominant defensive performance. All he has to do now is learn to pass. Wish he was faster.

Mauro Icardi’s nifty finish gives him 21 goals for the season, fourth most in Serie A.

MF Antonio Candreva, 6 — Scored his second derby goal of the season and combined well with D’Ambrosio in the first half. His long-rangers are still the stuff of Fredy Guarin legend. Useless in the second half.

MF Joao Mario, 7 — Arguably earned the job tonight: unlike Banega, he touched it more than most and was always an outlet. Constantly set up dangerous chances, and ran alongside Icardi on deep balls. Feels like he’s the man to take the midfield forwards — literally and metaphorically.

MF Ivan Perisic, 6 — Supported Nagatomo more than Nagatomo supported him, and that says a lot. Had the running of Davide Calabria, helped set up the second, but also blew a great chance. Hooked too early, but wasn’t on fire.

FW Mauro Icardi, 7 — Would you like a back-heel with that? Remarkably crisp in the build-up. The second goal was hardly a tap-in, owing everything to his corralling a difficult ball. Faded towards the end.

Substitutes

FW Eder, 4 — You know when fans say that they could play better than a disappointing professional? This is what that would look like. Threw away two counters like a drunk Sunday League player on his third wind and fifth can of Heineken.

DF Jeison Murillo, 5 — Was thrown on to bolster the defence. It didn’t quite go as planned.

MF Jonathan Biabiany, 4 — Fired his one effort over when running to the flag was a far, far better idea.

Edoardo Dalmonte covers Inter Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @EdoDalmonte.



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Mauro Icardi I’m really happy in Milan so I hope to stay at Inter forever


Mauro Icardi has scored 20 goals in 27 appearances for Inter Milan in Serie A so far this season.

Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi has reiterated his desire to remain with the Serie A club for his entire career in a Facebook Q&A session.

Icardi, who joined from Sampdoria in 2013, signed a contract extension until 2021 last October and he says he fully expects not only to fulfil that, but to sign another deal with the club.

“I’ve answered many times already: I’m a huge fan of this club and I’m really happy in Milan so I hope to stay at Inter forever,” Icardi said. “I get on really well with the other Argentinians off the field and we’re all very united within the dressing room, where we all speak Italian.”

Icardi not only wants to enjoy a long career at Inter, he also wants to win things with the Nerazzurri, and he remains confident that the club’s new owners — the Suning Group — will succeed in bringing some silverware to the club.

“The club is working really hard and they want Inter to be back where they were in previous years, above all winning things again,” Icardi said. “We’re working month by month, also looking to bring in players who can be useful to the team.

“Our team manager’s been to China and he was impressed. We’ll go there in the summer and will get a good overall look at the Inter project.

“I want to play at the highest level with this team. I’m a forward and I need to score goals but I want to play at a higher level. I can’t wait to play in the Champions League with this club. Let’s try to qualify for it and when we do, we’ll be ready.”

Icardi has been training in Milan over the international break after failing to make the Argentina squad, but he says he does not have any ill feeling overseeing them lose to Bolivia on Tuesday night.

“I always watch the national team games and am a big fan,” he said. “I love Argentina because I was born there and there are some gorgeous places to visit there.”

Icardi grew up from a footballing perspective in Spain, joining Barcelona‘s youth setup in 2010, but he says it was not until he worked for Roberto Mancini that he felt he really made the breakthrough.

“Each coach you have gives a little something to every player, but the one who changed my game the most was Mancini,” he said. “He taught me to play more outside the area, dropping me back a bit.

“Right from the first day he arrived, he had me working on that.”

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.



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