Inter boss Antonio Conte is keen on bringing in Manchester United’s Chris Smalling after his impressive season with Roma, and the Nerazzurri will now ‘try’ to meet the Red Devils’ asking price for the defender.
With Smalling not in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans, he was sent out on loan to Roma last summer with the hope he could rediscover his best form. This is exactly what has happened, with the English defender receiving much praise over the course of the 2019/20 campaign as a result of his impressive displays.
Roma are keen to make Smalling’s loan move permanent, but have struggled to agree a fee with Man Utd. I Giallorossi have looked to make another loan offer with an obligation to buy next summer, but the Red Devils are looking for around £23m for his services now.
While a move back to Roma can’t be ruled out, they will face stiff competition from Inter for his signature. Sport Mediaset report that Conte is a big fan of Smalling and has ‘identified’ him as a defensive target.
Inter were keen on Nikola Milenkovic, but Fiorentina’s €40m asking price has put the Italian giants off. Smalling, however, is a more cost-effective option for the club, while he also meets all the criteria needed for Conte.
The report notes that one or both of Diego Godin and Milan Skriniar will depart San Siro this summer and, as a result, defensive reinforcements are required. Most notably, Skriniar has been linked with a number of top European clubs, with Inter said to be ready to cash in on him.
Smalling proved himself in Serie A in 2019/20, while the report further claims that Conte has also been impressed by the Englishman’s desire and hunger to win. Inter will have to part ways with around €25m in total, but this still represents a very good deal for the club considering the figure they were quoted for Milenkovic.
I Nerazzurri are aware of this and will push ahead in their efforts to land the 30-year-old; the report adding they will now ‘try to file the amount’ that United have asked for.
Of course, should Smalling complete a switch to San Siro this summer, he would team up with a number of old teammates. The likes of Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young have switched Manchester for Milan already, while Alexis Sanchez also completed his permanent move recently.
There aren’t many players in the football league who are also grime artists but there is at least one, Dagenham & Redbridge’s very own Matthew James Robinson aka, Kamakaze. For their newest collaboration Umbro have teamed up with the pro-baller and grime artist to create a fresh retro inspired limited edition jersey.
Following on from Umbro’s sell-out collaboration with Loyle Carner, this new partnership signals the start of a succession of special-edition shirts with a roster of 2020’s brightest home-grown talents as Umbro look to come out of lockdown swinging.
Designed by Kamakaze and Umbro, the shirt is inspired by Umbro’s iconic national home strip from 1987-89. The original contrast crew-neck collar, complete with stud fastening, is updated in burgundy with red accents. Archive-inspired white/grey diamond print contrasts are also revived alongside colour-pop tabs on sleeves.
The Kamakaze x Umbro shirt features a ‘Kamakaze FC’ badge illustrated with a Yokosuka MXY- 7 Ohka aircraft alongside references to the grime artist’s previous music group ‘BLG’ and his upcoming drop ‘Memories Over Money’.
On the back of the shirt is a bold red number 7, not only the number worn by football’s most legendary players, but also Kamakaze’s personal professional goal total.
The limited-edition drip will be available at Umbro for £50 from 11th August.
Bayern Munich have launched their 2020/21 third kit by adidas, which is a direct tribute to the club’s Allianz Arena home and will immediately be worn in the Champions League.
Bayern have opted for simple and classic designs for their new home and away kits next season in red and pale grey respectively. But the third features a bold red diamond print.
Buy Bayern’s New Home, Away & Third Kits Here!
The pattern draws inspiration from the outer shell of the famous outer shell of the Allianz Arena and will serve to remind Bayern of home when they are challenging for the Champions League title in the unique one-off mini tournament in Lisbon this month.
The red diamond Rauten design is intrinsically linked to Bayern, found in both the club’s crest and Bavarian flag. It means that players will always have a piece of Bayern with them while wearing it.
The club slogan ‘Mia San Mia’ features on the back of the neck, as is traditionally the case with all Bayern jerseys, while it is loaded with adidas technology and innovation. ‘HEAT.RDY – KEEP COOL’ will keep players cool and dry, while even the fan replica version enjoys similar benefits thanks to the inclusion of ‘AEROREADY – FEEL READY’ technology.
Bayern are among the favourites to win the Champions League, which would be a sixth title for the Bundesliga giants. They completed the 7-1 aggregate thrashing of Chelsea in the last 16 on Saturday and will now face Barcelona in a one-off quarter final this week.
The new third jersey launches on 10 August, ahead of the UEFA Champions League Tournament in Lisbon. The jersey will be available to purchase at the adidas online shop, the FC Bayern Munich club and online store, as well as selected adidas stores, retailers and fashion stores from 17 August.
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For many football fans, Benjamin Pavard made himself a household name with his wonder goal against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup.
When Lucas Hernandez’s overhit cross sent the ball bouncing towards him, no one knew what to expect when the Frenchman pulled back his right leg. Most expected him to pass it to the nearby Kylian Mbappé, or sky it into Row Z, like nine out of ten defenders tend to do in a similar position.
Instead, the right-back made the sweetest connection with his right boot, causing the ball to swerve beautifully into the top left corner of the net, past the outstretched dive of Franco Armani. It was a strike that caused jaws to drop all around the world, with Pavard joyously knee-sliding towards his teammates in celebration.
Within seconds, Pavard had announced himself to the world with a stunning strike that would be replayed again and again throughout the competition. Indeed, it ended up being voted the goal of the tournament, and one of the major highlights of France’s glorious summer.
It was only afterwards that I realised: that goal, that strike, will stay with me for life.
– Benjamin Pavard, 2018
But while that goal came to be his most widely known highlight, the defender impressed many with his consistent displays at the back. Assured in his ball distribution, he also always seemed to be in the right place to make vital interceptions, and regularly timed his tackles to perfection against the world’s best left-wingers.
Going forward, he was a constant threat for Didier Deschamps on the right, providing some terrific crosses for the likes of Olivier Giroud and Mbappé. And as his goal demonstrated, he was capable of getting himself on the scoresheet – in spectacular fashion too.
Not bad for someone who had only played six games for his country before the World Cup, in a position that wasn’t considered his strongest at the time. After all, the Frenchman had played exclusively as a centre-back throughout the second half of the 2017/18 season for Stuttgart.
Two years on, the 24-year-old has developed considerably to be one of the best right-backs in the world. A model of consistency, he’s become one of Bayern Munich’s most reliable players, who is trusted to deliver on both ends.
The footballing journey for Pavard began in his native France, when he joined LOSC Lille at the tender age of nine years old. Yet growing up near the Belgian border meant his parents would make a 60-mile round trip four times a week, in order to get their son to training and back – highlighting just how dedicated his family were for him to succeed in football.
I ended up going a long way from home and it wasn’t easy for my parents. It wasn’t easy for me either and this is the reward for all the sacrifices they made for me.
– Benjamin Pavard
In 2015, he made his Ligue 1 debut and made 24 more appearances before Die Schwaben came calling a year later. By chance, his signing came off the back of the advice of former Aston Villa and West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who had spotted Pavard’s potential and quickly recommended him to club officials.
The Frenchman could not have made a better debut for his new club, assisting winger Carlos Mané’s opening goal just two minutes into their 2.Bundesliga clash with Greuther Fürth. 22 minutes later, he powered home a header from Alexander Maxim’s corner, helping his side keep a clean sheet in a resounding 4-0 Stuttgart win.
A year later, he found himself starting against Germany’s best forwards, with the Baden-Württemberg-based outfit achieving promotion to the Bundesliga in his first season. His versatile skillset meant that he was deployed in a number of positions, before excelling at the heart of their defence throughout the 2017/18 campaign.
His performances turned many heads in his native country, with Deschamps subsequently handing him his international debut in November 2017. While he was still a major unknown by the time he was announced to be a part of the travelling party to Russia, it’s fair to say many knew his name by the tournament’s end.
Benjamin has become a star and he deserves it.
– Didier Deschamps, France’s manager
Interest in his services skyrocketed afterwards, and after returning to Stuttgart, it was confirmed that Pavard was headed for Bayern at the end of the following season. Since arriving, he’s been a mainstay of their defence, moving over to make the right-back position his own and playing the third-most minutes during their title-winning 2019/20 season.
Going forward, the 24-year-old will continue to improve under Hansi Flick, whose emphasis on ball movement suits the player perfectly. His 89% pass completion rate has shown he’s a safe pair of hands in possession, while only three other players have made more passes into the final third, demonstrating his comfort pushing forward.
Defensively, he has shown to be a consistent performer, and has never appeared flustered against even the fastest of wingers. Having won 74% of his tackles, his timing is regularly spot-on, and he always seems to make the right decision under pressure.
It’s remarkable to think that Pavard, already a World Cup winner, is one of the world’s very best after just a couple of years exposure at the highest level. While he may never top that wonder goal from 2018, he’s got at least another decade to come at the very top.
Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey is ‘not wanted’ at the club by new manager Andrea Pirlo, and will be allowed to leave alongside four other players.
Following the Bianconeri’s disappointing exit in the Champions League to Lyon at the last 16 stage recently, the club opted to part ways with Maurizio Sarri – even despite his efforts in the league. The likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane were linked with the role for the brief time it was available, but the Turin-based outfit decided to place their trust in club legend Pirlo.
The Mirror now report that while Pirlo hasn’t been in charge for long, he is already looking to make changes as he looks to build a side capable of challenging for the Champions League next term. As part of the rebuilding process, Pirlo is keen to offload a number of players this summer – with Ramsey among those who are free to leave.
The Italian isn’t keen to keep hold of the midfielder, despite the fact he has already allowed Blaise Matuidi to leave; the Frenchman is on the verge of signing for Inter Miami.
Of course, Ramsey only joined Juventus last summer on a free transfer, but he has struggled to hold down a regular starting spot. In fact, the 29-year-old started just 14 games in all competitions during the 2019/20 campaign.
The long-time Arsenal midfielder has been linked with a move away a number of times already, with it even being suggested Juventus could look to include Ramsey as part of a deal to re-sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United. However, talk of such a move has since cooled as the Frenchman now appears to be happy at Old Trafford again and is close to penning a new long-term deal.
Elsewhere, Pirlo is also keen to move Gonzalo Higuain, Sami Khedira, Daniele Rugani and Mattia De Sciglio on this summer. The Mirror note that Pirlo does plan to be active in the transfer market as he looks to strengthen his squad, and will aim to replace any players who do leave.