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NEWS

Chelsea turn to Conte

 

Chelsea have made Italy head coach Antonio Conte their top managerial target, as they look to secure a long-term replacement for Jose Mourinho, when Guus Hiddink ends his spell as interim boss. 

Robben & Lewandowski to lead Bayern departures

 

Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben will lead the departures from Bayern Munich's squad this season, with Mehdi Benatia also set to leave. Gonzalo Higuain and Marco Reus are being lined up as replacements.

Liverpool Make Former United Star Their Main Transfer Target

 

Jurgen Klopp's search for a striker may not be settled until the Summer, but the Liverpool manager's top target may be worth the wait, for both the goals he will bring and the anger he will cause among Manchester United fans.

The former Borussia Dortmund manager has little faith in the ability of £32.5m man Christian Benteke and with Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge both being sidelined due to serious injury, Klopp has had to scour the globe for a suitable striker to fill the void up front. Now, according to The Times, he may have found his man.

 

That man is Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, who departed Old Trafford last Summer for Bayer Leverkusen and has been in scintillating form ever since, netting 19 goals in all competitions.

Arsenal and Spurs have also been linked with the Mexican poacher, but it is now believed Anfield could be his most likely Summer destination.

AC Milan Wonderkid M'baye Niang Subject Of €16 Million Bid From Premier League Side

 

Another day, another piece of transfer gossip but this rumour in particular has left us pretty impressed with surprise package Leicester City, who have certainly exceeded expectations in this years Premier League title race.

M'baye Niang, who is highly rated by many in the Serie A, has been subject of a 16 million bid from Leicester City as the club look to strengthen after the departure of Andrej Kramarić, who recently joined German side Hoffenheim on loan.

According to Fridays LEquipe, Leicester posted the bid to AC Milan for their 21-year-old forward this week but it seems the offer was not good enough, as The Guardian report that the Italian side have rejected the proposed offer.

Despite having Jamie Vardy, Leonardo Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki on their books, Claudio Ranieri clearly wants to bring some younger talent to top of the league Leicester.

Niang, who has bagged five goals in 14 appearances this season, scored twice for Milan in November as the French attacker converted from the penalty spot, adding another just four minutes later.

We are yet to hear if Leicester will make another bid for the 21-year-old but he would become a crucial part of Ranieri's side if he makes the switch.

COACH MIHAJLOVIC LOOKS AHEAD

 

This is what was said by the coach Sinisa Mihajlovic after the Rossoneri's 1-0 victory over Alessandria on Tuesday night in the first-leg of the TIM Cup semi-finals:

"I am only partially satisfied. We won the match, but we could have killed off the contest and scored more goals tonight. We created clear-cut chances which we didn’t take. However, the positive to come from tonight is the fact that the players who have played less this season have got some much needed playing time. Alessandria gave a good account of themselves, but we should have wrapped up the result sooner. It’s a similar story in Serie A TIM too whereby we create a lot chances but don’t score enough. We should have done better and we allowed Alessandria to try and get back in the game by not being clinical enough and leaving the result hanging in the balance. We must improve on this aspect".

"Diego Lopez? He isn’t yet fully fit. He is still having a few problems with his knee and the other day he went to Belgium for a check-up. Diego still needs a bit longer and he isn’t as yet training with the rest of the squad. There is still a while to go before the return leg so for now our focus will turn to Serie A TIM. Come March however we will switch our sights again to Alessandria. As I have said, had we capitalised on our chances we would have put the game to bed sooner. They grew in confidence because we didn’t add a second. I expected Balotelli to still be lacking in match-fitness. Boateng has done well on the occasions that he has come off the bench recently but he is also behind in match-fitness. We wanted to give them game time to build up their fitness levels. I need them available and so have to give them a run-out".

"The commitment was there from the team, but the fitness levels can’t be at their peak for those players in the squad that don’t play as often and it is not easy for them. The opinion changes based on the result and the second half performance, but even in the first half we carved out a number of great chances where it was easier to score than miss. We are one of the teams that has the most shots on target and creates the most opportunities, but clearly we like to make life hard for ourselves and that is something that needs to be addressed and improved upon. We’re all aware that this match should have been put to bed earlier but we weren’t able to do that tonight. However, we will get our heads down and stay calm and focused."

ALLEGRI: "WORK STILL TO DO"

 

Reflecting on Wednesday’s events at Juventus Stadium, Massimiliano Allegri began:

“Every aspect of our game is in great shape at the moment. We played very well against what is a very good Inter side. We were solid defensively and perhaps we could have been better at keeping the ball and building our attacks from deep. The boys have put smiles on the faces of everyone at the club but we are not in the final yet. We must not rest on our laurels and think too much about the first half of the season. While we won nine in a row before Christmas, we earned too few points before that run. It will take real quality to win what is now effectively a 17-game championship. When you are in the midst of a winning streak you need to stay focused, keep yourself grounded, put in the same hard work in training and ensure you don’t lose the solidity that got you in that position in the first place”.

“The most important thing is to stay level-headed and keep in mind that we haven’t achieved anything yet. We have a tough run of fixtures ahead and I know I can swap a few players in and out and still be sure that the quality of our performances won’t drop off. We’ve made ourselves firm favourites to reach the final but there are still another 90 minutes to be played at the San Siro. It isn’t over yet.”

“Alvaro’s goals are always important and he has been doing well recently even if he hasn’t been finding the net. He showed great technique and composure to break the deadlock tonight, particularly for his second strike, which was superb. Forwards’ heads can drop when they are not scoring regularly but they don’t stop being good players in the space of a month or so. Asamoah was brilliant tonight in all aspects of his play. When the team are in great form, every team selection can be difficult and it’s never easy leaving the other guys out of the side. The further we go in the cups though, the more playing time there will be for everyone.”

"Bayern Munich? We’ve got a good chance of qualifying, we’ll need a touch of luck, as you do in any competition, but we’ll ensure we will have prepared for the match in the best possible way. It will be a yardstick to judge how far we have come together. Juve must always play to win.”

LEWANDOWSKI, MÜLLER AND THE BUNDESLIGA'S BEST ATTACKING DUOS

 

With 31 goals, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller are the most prolific forward duo after 18 Matchdays of any Bundesliga season ever.

"We've played many games together and get on very well," said Lewandowski prior to Bayern's 2-1 win at Hamburger SV on Matchday 18. "We don't need to talk a lot, we both know how the other plays and where he's running."

Louis van Gaal: Man Utd boss says Derby defeat may get him sacked 'again'

 

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says an FA Cup defeat at Derby on Friday could get him sacked - for the fourth time this season.

The Dutchman, 64, said speculation he offered to resign after the 1-0 loss to Southampton was "awful and horrible".

In a swipe at the media, he claimed journalists had "sacked" him three times already this season, and would do so again if United lose on Friday.

"Maybe then you have written the truth because sometimes it happens," he said.

United are 10 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester, five points adrift of Tottenham in fourth place and out of the Champions League.

Speaking before Friday's fourth-round match with the side fifth in the Championship, Van Gaal said questions about his future were being asked in a "disrespectful way".

"You make your stories and people believe it," he said at a news conference. "I am concerned they are believing it. You can write what you do.

"It is the third time I am sacked and I am still sitting here. Now I cannot lose any more - then for the fourth time I have been sacked."

Van Gaal praised the "fantastic" support of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and said an FA Cup win could be his saviour - as it proved for former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in January 1990.

 

It was believed that a defeat would see Ferguson sacked. They won 1-0 and Ferguson went on to become English football's most successful manager.

Asked whether the FA Cup could become his saviour, Van Gaal said: "Of course."

Kevin de Bruyne: Man City midfielder set for six weeks out

 

Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is likely to be out for around six weeks after injuring his right knee in Wednesday's League Cup semi-final win over Everton.

The Belgian international, 24, changed the game from the bench but fell awkwardly in injury time.

There were fears he could be out for the rest of the season.

"Kevin told me the only thing he can do is work hard and come back," his agent Patrick De Koster told Sky.

"Kevin is sad. His dream is to always be playing football. He will miss games like the League Cup final and in the Champions League, which are important."

Games Kevin de Bruyne is likely to miss
30 Jan: A v Aston Villa (FA Cup fourth round)
2 Feb: A v Sunderland
6 Feb: H v Leicester City
14 Feb: H v Tottenham Hotspur
20-21 Feb: FA Cup fifth round
24 Feb: A v Dynamo Kiev (Champions Lg last 16 1st leg)
28 Feb: v Liverpool (League Cup final, Wembley)
2 Mar: A v Liverpool
5 Mar: H v Aston Villa

City boss Pellegrini said on Wednesday he was "optimistic" that De Bruyne, the club's £55m club record signing, would not be out for the remainder of the campaign.

However, he is still expected to miss up to nine league and cup games, including the League Cup final with Liverpool at Wembley on 28 February.

"We'll see how important the damage is. It's not the cruciate ligament," said Pellegrini. "The doctor thinks, but he cannot be sure, that it's a problem in his medial ligament."

De Bruyne scored one goal and set up another to help City to a 4-3 aggregate victory over the Toffees.

Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles repeatedly tried to lift up De Bruyne as he lay injured and later apologised on social media.

"In the heat of the moment I didn't realise he was badly hurt. I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery."

Daniel Sturridge: Liverpool striker's injury record since 2013

 

As Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge nears his latest return to fitness, it is hard to escape the feeling that we have been here before.

The England forward, 26, moved to Anfield three years ago but has been unavailable for 54.8% of his time at the club - that's 614 days missed out of 1,121 spent on Merseyside.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said after taking over that Sturridge needs to "learn what is serious pain and what is only pain".

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