Europa League return leg
As the resurgent ‘Rossoneri’ plan to announce their return to the big stage, Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to face Manchester United in AC Milan’s Europa League clash with the English giants on Thursday.
After announcing his return to international football after nearly five years away on Tuesday, the Swede should be in high spirits, and he appears to be leading the chase to meet his old club in the second leg of their last-16 tie at the San Siro.
The tie is level at 1-1, with Milan holding a narrow advantage thanks to Simon Kjaer’s stoppage-time away goal in the first leg last week at Old Trafford.
The experienced striker practised with the rest of the AC Milan squad on Tuesday, according to Italian reports, and should be finally available since he left his team’s 2-1 win at Roma with a thigh problem at the end of February.
With 14 goals in 14 league matches, the Swede was a key reason for Milan’s long-term dominance in Serie A, and his return to United for the first leg had been eagerly awaited before he sustained his injury.
After a superb performance in Old Trafford last week, coach Stefano Pioli knows he doesn’t need Ibrahimovic to beat United, and his side might still begin playing with their legend on the bench.
Milan, on the other hand, will need to improve on a poor recent record at the San Siro, which has led to them falling nine points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan after being in the first place just over a month ago.
The 1-0 loss to Napoli on Sunday was their fourth straight loss at the San Siro, following draws against Udinese and Red Star Belgrade and a 3-0 derby defeat to Inter.
Second-placed Milan is still looking over their shoulders at a series of competitors for a spot in the Champions League in 2021, a competition in which the seven-time European winners have not competed since 2014.
Rangers fear major exit for ‘key’ player wanted by clubs abroad
Scott Arfield has been a vital part of the Rangers team since joining in 2018, and his current form, especially after van Bronckhorst took charge, is nothing short of exemplary.
The 33-year old Scottish-Canadian’s display is on a high now, and he recently helped his side’s win against Livingston with his “unbelievable” (according to Richard Foster) 75th minute goal.
He is a must-keep, but according to transfermarkt, the reigning Scottish champions risk losing him and other senior team members, including Steven Davis and Allan McGregor, in the summer following contract expiry.
The Mirror’s print edition reported that the Gers fear letting their No. 37 go in exchange for nothing, given that USA clubs have their sights set on the midfielder, and his contract is only months away from expiry.
Money included or not, Scott’s departure could be a big blow come next season since he now practically determines Rangers’ performance (the one time he didn’t play after Gerrard’s exit is the only time Rangers dropped points.)
Hopefully, Rangers will consider holding talks to fight for the former Huddersfield Town’s contract extension, and he (Scott) is willing to stay in Scotland and at Ibrox, otherwise the double loss in terms of money and talent could hugely affect the Gers next season.
Hamilton and Mercedes give outgoing Bottas an exciting ‘little’ parting gift
After replacing retired Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017, Valterri Bottas has had a rather successful five seasons and though he didn’t manage any championship triumph, the Finn has a good number of wins to his name, most of which came in handy for the team.
Before the end of last season though, he was confirmed to race for Alfa Romeo onwards, while 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion, George Russell would leave Williams to form an all-British Mercedes team with seven-time champion, Lewis Hamilton.
Before his departure, his previous family (Mercedes) went all out to give him a parting gift, and their choice isn’t what most of us would have thought.
While they would have thought of anything else, they went for something that perhaps meant more for both sides, his first Mercedes winning car.
“They had a little surprise when I came to the factory on the last day,” said the 33-year old about the not so ‘little’ surprise. “…my first winning car in 2017,” revealed Bottas on his podcast.
The 2021 championships 2nd runners-up takes a step forward as a leader in his current team from his previous supportive role and Alfa Romeo will be counting on his experience with the current constructors’ champions to improve on their last season’s 9th place.
Hopefully, having his first win’s car from his former team will push him towards a better performance.
Liverpool win race for £50m Porto star
Liverpool are preparing a late £45 million bid for Porto striker Luis Diaz, who is also being pursued by Tottenham.
The Colombian winger was Jurgen Klopp’s first option for the summer transfer window, but due to Spurs’ significant interest, Liverpool have hastened their preparations.
Liverpool is thought to be proposing an initial £37 million, plus bonuses, which will only be activated if Diaz is a major success at Anfield.
Tottenham has been in discussions with Porto over Diaz, reportedly willing to spend up to £46 million for the player.
Spurs are reportedly willing to pay £37.6 million upfront for Diaz, with an extra £8.4 million in performance-related add-ons, according to reports in Portugal.
Spurs have already appeared to miss out on Wolves attacker Adama Traore, who appears poised to return to Barca on loan, and missing out on Luiz would be another major blow this month.
It is unclear whether Diaz will move to Anfield this month or wait till the end of the season. In 18 outings for his current club this season, he has managed to score 14 goals.
Sky Sports reporter Vinny O’Connor:
“Obviously, it’s far from done and could easily come to nothing.
“However, Liverpool view this as an excellent deal if it gets completed – very much close to a Diogo Jota-type fee. Also, it is far better value than the original €60m asking price.
“Diaz was Jurgen Klopp’s first choice for the summer, but they have brought those plans forward because it was clear if Liverpool didn’t act this window, the player would move on.
“This isn’t done and could yet collapse – the player is in Argentina with his national team, so it will be far from straightforward to complete the deal.
“However, if it does get done, it’s a big coup for Julian Ward, who is to succeed sporting director Michael Edwards in the summer. It was a deal in which Ward lead for the first time, but it is fair to say he’s been supported strongly by Edwards who put together the strategy to secure the player this month.”
News11 months ago
Rodgers says no timeline on injured Maddison’s return
Everton2 weeks ago
Report: Farhad Moshiri in talks for £9 million attacker despite Benitez’s reluctance
News11 months ago
Brendan Rodgers takes blame for Europa League exit
News11 months ago
Solskjaer promises ‘responsible’ transfer business
News11 months ago
Manchester derby early team news and lineup
Football7 months ago
West Ham make first move of summer window as low £15.5m bid is lodged for the new Vidic
Everton2 months ago
Everton chairman makes feeling clear on Benitez future to Moshiri
News11 months ago
Alisson Becker suffers the death of father in a tragic drowning