Lukaku x United

Lukaku x United. Forza.

The rumour mill keeps on churning and a prominent product of its work this summer is the rumour of Romelu Lukaku swapping Manchester for Milan and joining Antonio Conte at Inter.

The Belgian, who joined United from Everton in 2017, hasn’t had the best of luck at Old Trafford and fans of the Red Devils are quickly losing patience with the big man. In fact 15 goals in 45 appearances last season makes it one of his worst seasons in recent history. A stark change in fortunes from his first season in the North where he scored a staggering 27 goals in 51 appearances.

Perhaps his form with Belgian shows what big Rom can do when he is given the correct service, he’s scored 48 goals in 81 appearances for his country, more than one goal every two games.

It’s easy to blame Lukaku for his poor form but are his teammates and manager just as much to blame? United are crest-fallen since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson from the dugout and not even the ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho, could bring the Premier League title back to the red side of Manchester. Instead only managing a second place finish during his time in charge, which ended earlier this year.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revived United, at least for a short time, and with that came a confidence boost for Lukaku and his team mates. Rom got nine goals in 16 games under Solskjaer , as oppose to his measly six in 22 under Mourinho. Transforming his minute per goals involvement from a sky high 234, to an impressive 84.

Had Lukaku have kept up the 84 minute stat, he would have scored double what Sadio Mane scored. The Senegalese international had an impressive goal every 150 minutes of football he was involved in, meaning he scored in at least every other game.

If Lukaku is to depart United, then it could be a chance for Rashford to step into the main forward role. Or maybe the overly disappointing Alexis Sanchez could show Manchester United fans even a glimpse of the form that once saw him carry Arsenal on his own back.

Milan x San Siro

Milan x San Siro. Ciao.

The San Siro is set to close its doors for the final time in 2026 with its replacement being built on the car park adjacent to the iconic sporting venue.

Both Inter and AC Milan announced that their new stadium is set for completion come the end of the 2022/23 season, but the Mayor of Milan has said the stadium that dominates the skyline of the Italian fashion capital won’t be demolished until 2026.

The stadium shared by the Italian powerhouses has hosted a plethora of memorable games. In 2010 the 80,000 capacity stadium witnessed Inter put the groundwork’s in places for their treble. A Champions League semi-final victory over Barcelona (3-1) providing a great memory on the canvas of the ground.

Many a derby has been held within the four stands. One in particular to be reminisced upon is the Champions League quarter-final between AC and Inter in the 04/05 season. A game that provided an iconic image of Materazzi and Rui Costa watching as flares being thrown onto the pitch. Said flares hit Milan keeper Dida in the head, injuring him and giving the referee cause to abandon the match, that was already 3-0 to Milan and that’s how it would finish.

Who can forget the real introduction of Gareth Bale. October 20th, 2010. Half-time saw Spurs down 4-0 but what would proceed shocked the world. Bale did what he would do so often in years to come and took the London outfit on his back and carried through the second half. A second half that saw him get a hat trick and keep the deficit to one goal.

At 94 years old and still going, the San Siro has been an icon in football for as long as its foundations have been down. They say everything comes to an end, and its true but for such an overwhelming and historic venue to be lost will ultimately be a very sad day.

Citizens X Money

Citizens x Money. Ballers.

Back to back Premier League champions Manchester City have accumulated a staggering 198 points in two seasons, but we all know that isn’t enough for the perfectionist Pep Guardiola.

From the outside looking in, one must think that you don’t need to improve and add to a squad that won the first ever domestic treble in England, however watching the Blues closely you can see a couple of areas that could easily benefit from improvement.

Here are my suggestions on who Manchester City should sign this summer.

RODRIGO

According to various sources the transfer is just days away from being confirmed, as City look to trigger the Spaniards release clause of £63million.

Rodrigo is a tall central midfielder currently playing for Athletico Madrid and after just one season in the Spanish capital he could be on his way out already.

‘Rodri’ is just 22 years of age and could be the perfect direct replacement for the ageing Fernandinho (34) in that holding midfield role, directly behind the likes of De Bruyne and David Silva.

If he is to join City he has big shoes to fill with Fernandinho being a first team regular since he arrived in 2013 and judging from his track record so far with club and country Rodrigo Hernandez seems the perfect pick for Pep.

Guardiola is rumoured to have beaten his former side, German champions Bayern Munich to the signing of the central midfielder.

ANGELINO

Manchester City are reportedly just moments away from announcing the signing of one of their old academy players, Angelino, who has a £12 million buy back clause in his contract.

The Spaniard left for Manchester for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven for just £5 million in 2018, and since then has been included in the Eredivisie team of the season two seasons on the showing glimpses of the player City expected him to be when playing on loan at various clubs in Europe.

Left back is clearly a problem area for the Citizens; Benjamin Mendy joined from AS Monaco in 2017, but having only played 17 games for the club many of City’s fans are starting to get tired of his off-field antics and injuries.

Then there is Oleksandr Zinchenko who filled in for Mendy for most of the 18/19 season. A season that saw the once central-midfielder transition to the left-back position and impressed us all massively and some might say he deserves that spot for good. However, the signing of Angelino could provide a much needed headache for Guardiola.

JOAO CANCELO

City seem nailed on to sign Portuguese right-back Joao Cancelo from Italian Champions Juventus for around £50 million.

It is perhaps a surprise to most that City are linked with Cancelo as both Kyle Walker and Danilo. Already occupy that position with enough quality.

But, it seems it will be Danilo who will make way for Cancelo which would make sense given that Kyle Walker has just signed a contract extension and Danilo is reportedly desperate for more playing time.

The issue with this transfer is I don’t believe either Walker or Cancelo will be happy with being on the bench for most of the season, but with City competing in the Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League there are plenty of games for both players to feature in.

City want to include Danilo as part of the deal to lure Cancelo to Manchester but new manager Maurizio Sarri isn’t keen on Danilo, instead he wants the £50million to bolster his squad.

A CENTRE BACK

After club captain Vincent Kompany left this summer to become player-manager of his boyhood club Anderlecht, there is set to be a Belgian shaped hole in the back line of the Blues.

City are now lacking that one player who got them through the hard and times and cropped up with very important tackles and goals, but who could possibly replace their long time captain?

For me it has to be Maththijs De Ligt of Ajax. A young, strong centre back who is hungry for success.

At just 19 years of age he captained Ajax to the Dutch Eridivisie, Dutch Cup and the Champions League semi-final in the 2018/19 season.

De Ligt won’t come cheap though, with Ajax reportedly demanding no less than £60 million, which, considering the amount of years he has to play, his leadership qualities and his undeniable talent are enough to persuade me that it’s a long term investment.

Finley White

Renaissance x Rossoneri

A.C. Milan: A byword for footballing superiority. Everything about the club oozes unrivalled class, from the awe-inspiring stadium, to the iconic black and red striped kit. Throughout its history, Milan have always been a powerhouse of European football, represented by a star-studded eleven and the trophy room to match. 

But in recent years, Italy’s most successful club has been resigned to something which resembles mediocrity. Ever since the squad overhaul in 2012, which saw players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Alexandre Pato leave the club, as well as club legends Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf, the club’s league finishes have plummeted. 

The club turned to youth during a period which saw them finish 8th, 10th, 7th and then 6th successively. The board envisioned re-building the club, in order to establish a young team that would go on to put Milan back amongst the European elite – which has been something of a fruitful approach to date.

The current AC squad features a wealth of young talent, a number of which have progressed through the academy. Gianluigi Donnarumma is the most well-known (and perhaps the most talented) of those players, an immensely skilled goalkeeper who at the age of just 19 years old, has made the best part of 150 appearances for Il Rossoneri. There is also Davide Calabria, a very gifted two-way full back, and 21-year-old Patrick Cutrone, perhaps Italy’s most talented striker of his age group. Combine those homegrown prodigies with the purchases of Alessio Romagnoli, Samu Castillejo and Brazilian U23 sensation Lucas Paqueta, and it is clear to see why AC Milan are finally starting to find their feet in Serie A once again.

Lead by the magisterial Gennaro Gattuso, Milan currently sit 3rd in Serie A, three spots above where they ended the last campaign. A sixth placed finish to 2017/18 sealed another disappointing season at the San Siro, but at least it was easily explained – AC simply didn’t score enough goals. They found the net just 56 times last term, which was 33 less than Lazio, who finished just one place above them, and identical to Sampdoria, who ended up 10th. 

However, this season, goals haven’t been an issue for AC Milan, nor have they been for Serie A’s latest striking sensation, Krzysztof Piatek. The Polish number nine arrived on Italy’s premiere stage at Genoa, after his move from Cracovia last Summer, for just €4M. To tell the truth, not many were even aware of who he was at first, but he soon made sure they found out.

It took just 18 minutes of debut Italian football for Piatek to score his first hat-trick, which came in a cup tie against Leece. On his first league bout, he found the net after just six minutes. A week later, he scored two more. After becoming the first player to score five goals in his first four Serie A matches since the great Andriy Shevchenko, he went on to further that feat, by netting in every one of his first seven appearances – something only matched by Gabriel ‘Batigol’ Batistuta.

13 goals in 19 appearances later, and Krzysztof found himself becoming Genoa’s all-time record sale after just half a season at the club, when he completed a very profitable €35M move. But to whom did he grant his services?

Yep, you’ve guessed it. AC Milan.

His red-hot form didn’t end there, either. In his home debut, a Coppa Italia quarter-final against Napoli, he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory. Just four days later, he found the net at the Stadio Olimpico, in a league clash against Roma. After scoring three goals in the following two games, Piatek became the fastest player to score six goals for the club, which when you consider the legendary forwards to have played for Milan, is quite the achievement.

That then brings us to the modern day. AC Milan, once again, are a real threat. Lead by their new Polish predator (and his now-iconic goal celebration), it looks like it could only be a short while before Il Rossoneri rightfully resume their assault on the knockout stages of the Champions League. As a sleeping giant, they spent years in the doldrums of top-tier Italian football, but the beast is now well and truly awake. And he is hungry.

A strong transfer window is needed before that can happen however, but AC are only 2-3 world-class talents away from becoming one of, if not the, best clubs that Italy has to offer. Gattuso has installed the tenacity and desire in his squad that previous sides have lacked in humiliating quantities, which has brought about pride and confidence. And it’s working.

It seems it is only a matter of time before, at long last, one of the greatest clubs in football history begin their hunt for domestic and continental success once again.

AC Milan are back, and with all guns blazing.

United&Spurs x UCL

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United travel to Paris after they lost 0-2 to the French champions at Old Trafford three weeks ago.

It’s a mountain which even the club renowned for it’s comebacks won’t be expected to climb. United have 10 first team squad members missing with enigmatic Frenchman Paul Pogba, who was sent off in the loss in the first leg of the last 16 tie, among them.

Goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe were enough to stun United, who themselves expected to beat the Parisians due the absence of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier and Adrien Rabiot, but the impressive defence and silky attackers did the job for the French champions.

United have been doing superbly under Solskjaer, no one can deny that and impressive wins against Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea prove that the man known for United’s most famous comeback in the Champions League final of 1999 is no stranger to a big win and could possibly pull off the unlikely in Paris. But it will take a lot of effort from his very thin squad.

Dawson Football predicts: PSG 2-1 Manchester United.

Borussia Dortmund however have an even bigger mountain to climb, with Spurs leading the German side by three goals with no reply after an impressive display at Wembley.

A flurry of second half goals from Tottenham stunned BVB, and Spurs with their desire to win and hunger to get further in this competition out-played a Dortmund side that lack the attacking prowess to expose the back line of the English team.

Borussia’s star man Marco Reus is back on a more positive note for BVB, but the Bundesliga leaders did lose away to Augsburg on Saturday, and will need to improve massively in just a few days if they are to overturn a three goal deficit in the space of 90 minutes at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night.

Dawson Football predicts: Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur.