Inter will wait to make a decision on the future of head coach Antonio Conte until the conclusion of their Europa League campaign.
The former Chelsea and Juventus coach plunged his future with the Italian giants into doubt at the weekend after launching into an unexpected rant aimed at the club’s board and owners.
Conte guided Inter to a second place finish in his first season in charge at San Siro, ending up just one point behind Maurizio Sarri’s Old Lady – but was unhappy with the perceived lack of support he and his players received when results weren’t going their way.
Prominent Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano has now revealed that a phone call between club president Steven Zhang and Conte has taken place, and it was agreed that a decision over the 51-year-old’s future going forward would be halted until their European endeavours draw to a conclusion.
Conte has also denied rumours that he enquired about the future of Juventus boss Sarri, going as far to say that he’ll seek legal advice against the responsible publication.
“Seeing the article in Repubblica today I want to clearly deny having talked to Juventus players and directors asking if Sarri will be sacked,” Conte told Italian news agency ANSA.
“I will sue the person who wrote the article and the responsible publishing director of the newspaper. I started a three-year project at Inter. As I’ve always done in my life, I’ll work hard and give all I’ve got to make this project a winning one.”
It was after the final game of the season, when Inter pulled off an impressive 2-0 win over high-flying Atalanta, that the former Italian national team coach took aim at the upper echelons of the club.
“It has been a tough year on a personal level, very tough.I don’t think the players saw their work recognised and I don’t think I saw my work recognised,” Conte remarked, quoted by Sky Sport Italia.
“We all received very little protection from the club. We have to grow and improve in all areas, including off the field, and a big club should protect its players more.”
Rio Ferdinand has added fuel to the fire in the ongoing transfer saga involving Jadon Sancho and Manchester United, quoting an old tweet from the young Englishman who was praising the ex-United defender.
Ferdinand, who won a Champions League and six Premier League titles with United, pulled up the tweet from 2015 as speculation linking Sancho to the Red Devils continues to run wild.
In the tweet from 2015, Sancho – who was then at Manchester City – describes Ferdinand as an inspiration due to the fact that the pair both grew up in Camberwell, South London.
As reports suggest that Sancho’s move to the red side of Manchester edges closer, Ferdinand has decided to tease fans by quoting the old tweet with nothing more than the eyes emoji. Make of that what you will.
United’s interest in Sancho has been the worst kept secret in football over the past year, with the latest reports suggesting that the 20-year-old has agreed terms on a five-year contract. United remain in negotiations with Borussia Dortmund over a fee, which is close to being agreed.
The news aligns with 90min’s exclusive report in May which revealed that Sancho had already agreed preliminary personal terms with the Red Devils. Dortmund, however, remain insistent that his future is dealt with by 10 August, to avoid disrupting preparations for the upcoming season.
Ferdinand – whose move to United in 2002 broke the transfer record for a defender at the time – is a regular user of social media, and has been fond of sharing his opinions on United in the past. In 2015, he made a musical plea towards David de Gea, begging him to stay with the club amid a potential move to Real Madrid.
While De Gea ultimately stayed at United that summer, how much of that was down to Rio’s plea is up for debate. It’s also unknown how much knowledge he has on the current Jadon Sancho situation.
Regardless, United fans will struggle to contain their excitement as their pursuit of the winger seems to be heading towards completion.
The Championship play-off final… on a Tuesday night!?
That’s right, the 2019/20 iteration of the contest dubbed the ‘richest game in football’ is set to be done a little differently as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic completely altering scheduling.
Sure, having no fans will be weird, but a midweek Championship play-off final is just outright ludicrous!
Nevertheless, west London rivals Fulham and Brentford are set to do battle on the Wembley turf with a place in the Premier League and a sh*tload of wonga on the line. Thus, that poses the question here at 90min; what would a combined XI between the Cottagers and Bees look like in the Bizarro World?
Something like this, maybe?
After enjoying loan spells at Farnborough, Welling United, Accrington Stanley and Rotherham, Rodák finally earned his chance to impress for his parent club this term.
It was six years in the making and the former Slovenian youth international ensured he didn’t disappoint. 23-year-old Rodák was one of the standout shot-stoppers in the second tier and the early signs suggest he’s destined for a bright career.
The versatile Dane’s been fully converted into a steady and reliable right-back since his arrival from Zulte Waregem in 2017.
Dalsgaard’s been a fixture in Thomas Frank’s side this term, taking up greater leadership responsibilities and certainly enjoying the finest campaign of his career to date.
Sure, he may have only joined the club in January, but the impact Hector’s had on this Fulham defence has been profound.
Although Tim Ream has enjoyed a fine campaign under Scott Parker, there’s little doubting Fulham look much more assured of themselves with Hector partnering the ageing American.
The 28-year-old’s been the epitome of a journeyman, spending his 11-year senior career thus far at 19 (!) different clubs but he looks to have settled at Craven Cottage. Now, he’s just 90 minutes away from realising his dream of playing in the Premier League.
Pontus Jansson has also had himself a fine debut campaign in west London, but Pinnock’s certainly been superior to his Swedish skipper after breaking into Frank’s defence last November.
The 27-year-old’s been that immense since the restart that he was nominated for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award for both June and July.
The battle between the pair of Brentford centre-halves and Aleksandar Mitrovic at Wembley is set to be an enthralling one.
If Mitrovic wasn’t so bloody good at scoring goals, a seriously strong case could be made for Joe Bryan being Fulham’s Player of the Season. He’s been majestic, building off a respectable Premier League campaign.
Bryan’s seven assists lead all of the Cottagers squad alongside Ivan Cavaleiro, and he’s proven to be half decent at the old defending lark as well.
Shout out to Brentford’s Nico Henry, though, who’s also enjoyed a stellar season down the left flank.
16 goals. 7 assists. 20 years old. Brentford appear to have stumbled upon across an absolute star.
Just another example of the Bees’ ‘moneyball’ approach to recruitment paying dividends.
Sure, he’s not a headline-maker, but Nørgaard’s importance to Brentford just can’t be understated.
Deployed in the single-pivot of a midfield three, the Dane is given the responsibility of creating angles and opening up passing lanes to ensure his side progress through the first phase. While not necessarily a metronome, Nørgaard’s the man who ensures Frank’s possession-based ideals translate onto the field.
Following a dismal individual Premier League campaign in 2018/19, Cairney’s once again impressed at a level in which he appears much more comfortable.
While his eight goals and six assists weren’t quite enough to top his stellar 2016/17 season which saw him notch 23 goal contributions from midfield, Cairney’s nonetheless emerged as a key spoke in Scotty P’s wheel at Craven Cottage.
He’ll be out with a point to prove if his side earn promotion to the top flight for the second time in three years.
Despite possessing a skill set not too dissimilar from an archetypal attacking midfielder, the mightily gifted Algerian has been utilised on the left-wing as part of Frank’s 4-3-3 this season – often drifting infield to take up spaces in inside left positions and combine with Ollie Watkins.
Benrahma’s emerged as one of the Championship’s finest with his supreme technique and impressive production – he’s scored 17 league goals this term – and it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 24-year-old depart this summer even if the Bees were to earn promotion on Tuesday night.
A whole host of Premier League clubs are already chasing his signature.
The third piece in Brentford’s deadly attacking triumvirate, Watkins’ 25 strikes in the Championship placed him second in the goalscoring charts.
The 24-year-old’s transition to an out-and-out centre forward has been incredibly smooth, maintaining the attributes he established as a winger to evolve into a versatile, instinctive and intelligent forward.
He’s another who’s earned plenty of admirers from the top flight.
Mitrovic may have missed the semi-final triumph over Cardiff, but you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll shake off his hamstring issue in time for Tuesday night’s grand finale.
The brutish Serb continued his prolific record in the second-tier, as he led the Championship with 26 strikes in 40 appearances. Mitrovic’s ability to serve as the focal point in Parker’s 4-2-3-1 has been crucial for the Cottagers.
In case you haven’t seen, West Ham have been linked with a move for Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite.
Now, before we go any further, let me share you with my expression when I opened a couple of mocking WhatsApp messages this morning.
The first one I received read, “Toby, why are West Ham, SO West Ham”. That message was swiftly followed by one that simply said, “Martin Braithwaite lol”.
Now, if that doesn’t tell you that what we’re about to touch on is so overwhelmingly typical of the club I’ve supported for the past 30 years, I don’t know what will.
What it also serves is a very untimely reminder that West Ham have little to no concept of understanding what a good Premier League striker looks like, nor do they know what to do with a player who could possibly be one.
Just last year, it came to light how bad the club’s recruitment has been in this particular department over the last decade. At that time, 38 strikers had been brought to the club under the ownership of David’s Gold and Sullivan – and you don’t need a degree from Oxford University to work out how many of those turned out to be successful.
Then came the club-record signing of Sebastien Haller. A fee of £45m – so rumour has it – was paid to Eintracht Frankfurt off the back of a very successful season in the Bundesliga. The numbers behind that success? 15 goals in the league and five on the continent, guiding the Germans to a surprise Europa League semi-final spot.
The thing that made Haller a success there was that he played in a two-man strike partnership alongside Luka Jovic. The pair linked up superbly – knocking balls down for each other while making a general nuisance of themselves – and it allowed the Serbian to also score a truck load of goals.
Jovic’s individual form was so good in fact that Real Madrid weighed into the market and took him to arguably the biggest club in the world. As for Haller, an international for France at every youth level going, he settled for a huge pay day in London – amid rumours that he didn’t really want to join – hoping West Ham would give him the platform to continue scoring goals and ultimately, secure a bigger and better move.
What he didn’t realise is that the club are renowned for taking a player’s best attributes, disregarding them completely and making said player operate in a system that does nothing for them. In this case, it was isolating Haller up front of his own – an idea that Manuel Pellegrini seemed to think was a really good one because he scored a few early season goals against Watford and Norwich.
Soon enough, West Ham had been found wanting defensively and Haller has turned out to be fairly ineffectual when operating away from his teammates by a good 10 to 15 yards. Things took a turn for the better after David Moyes was reappointed as manager, and a switch to a conventional 4-4-2 – pairing Haller up with Michail Antonio – looked promising.
Together, the pair put in a couple of promising performances, and ran Southampton and Arsenal, to a lesser degree, ragged before lockdown. Since then, Haller’s been injured and the need for further reinforcements has been apparent despite Antonio’s superb end of season form.
Cutting a very waffly story short, that brings us to Martin Braithwaite.
A player who has never played in the Premier League, was mildly okay for Middlesbrough at Championship level and could barely muster a goal for Leganes before Barcelona sensationally found a transfer window loophole to take him to Camp Nou – because they fancied a bit of additional cover after Luis Suarez picked up an injury.
Needless to say, less than six months down that road and Braithwaite isn’t in any kind of Barça plans going forward. Shocked? No, we’re not either. Apart from he does appear to be in West Ham’s, amid talk of a potential move to east London.
Now, let me just remind you of Moyes’ comments in late January before we go any further. “We didn’t have much to spend at Everton and my idea was always to bring players in with resale value that I could sell back into the market,” he said, quotes courtesy of The Guardian.
“I want to stop the idea that always what we’re doing is just buying someone to fill the gap. I want it to be the vision for the club that we are looking to bring in young, attractive and hungry players who are saying: ‘We are going to make West Ham better.’ Whatever is said in the accounts, I am telling you what my vision is. I think if I get given the opportunity to do that, I will turn it around.”
Forgive me if I’m getting the wrong end of the stick here, but a willingness to pay €20m for a 29-year-old who will never be sold for that kind of fee again in a million years? That doesn’t sound like investing in ‘young, attractive and hungry players’, nor does it smack of pursuing a player who is going to ‘make West Ham better’.
This was something the club are meant to be moving away from.
This is something that the manager said would not happen under his watch.
This is a manager who said in the last couple of weeks that he has the final say on all transfer dealings, or he wouldn’t be in the job.
This is something that is ‘SO West Ham’.
This is something that goes against the grain of any kind of common sense, and absolutely can’t happen if the club – and manager – is serious about changing things for the better.
Leicester City have ‘offered’ to take Francisco Trincao on loan for two seasons from Barcelona, with an obligation to sign him for £45m.
Trincao – who can play anywhere across the front line, but operates primarily as a winger – signed for Barcelona back in January, with the Catalan giants agreeing to pay €31m for his services.
As part of the deal, the 20-year-old would make the switch on 1 July, but due to the break caused by the coronavirus, the two clubs reached an agreement to allow Trincao to stay with Braga until the Portuguese season was complete.
With the 2019/20 campaign now complete for Braga, it means Trincao can join up with his new teammates. However, the Guardian now report that he is already attracting interest from a number of clubs, mot notably Leicester. The Foxes are ‘trying’ to sign the player, who has a contract with La Blaugrana until 2025 and a buyout clause of €500m, and have made a two-year loan offer with an obligation to buy for £45m (€50m).
Of course, Barça’s financial difficulties have been well documented in recent times due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic and numerous others all being linked with moves away as a result. Even Martin Braithwaite could be on his way out of the club, with it being said talks over a move to West Ham are at an advanced stage.
However, the Guardian note that should it prove too challenging to offload some of these players, they will ‘consider’ a deal to allow Trincao to leave. But at this moment in time, there is no agreement. While Leicester have made the most effort to sign the Portuguese forward, they could face ‘significant competition’ from elsewhere.
Considering the number of players who are said to be free to leave Camp Nou this summer, it would be very surprising if Barça allowed Trincao – who is considered one of Portugal’s most exciting young talents – to depart as well before he has even made an appearance for the club.
However, the 20-year-old has continued to show in 2019/20 why he is so highly regarded, making Leicester’s attempts to land him less surprising. Trincao netted eight times and provided eight assists in 27 league appearances for Braga in 2019/20 – including an assist in his final league game against Porto.