Often underrated and always scores goals Olivier Giroud is facing a decision over his future. After all, It is imperative that the French World Cup winner plays regular football in order to secure his place in his national side for next year’s Euros.
The 34 year old has appeared just six times this season for Chelsea and this week France manager Didier Deschamps spoke out about the striker who has been an integral part of his plans in recent times despite being on the fringe at Stamford Bridge.
Giroud scored twice in midweek for France against Sweden to move him to within seven goals of the nations record goal scorer Thierry Henry – a mark of the forwards credentials.
However, with the plethora of striking options available to Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, Giroud has been on the periphery of matters in West London this term, leading to plenty of speculation around a move in the upcoming January transfer window.
Fellow Premier League club West Ham are believed to be interested, whilst a host of Serie A sides have also been credited with interest, including a reunion with former manager Antonio Conte at Inter Milan.
The cultured French striker who’s attributes stretch to beyond his prowess in front of goal with his ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play will be desperate for one final hoorah on the internationals stage in the rearranged Euros next summer – therefore may need to move on to pastures new.
France boast a host of high-quality forwards who will all be hoping to oust the tall striker from Deschamps’ plans. The likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezzmann, Anthony Martial, Moussa Dembele, Ousmane Dembele and Marcus Thuram are all in with a shout of leading the line.
With competition for places at the attacking end of the France squad as such, it is inconceivable Giroud could expect to be picked without regular football behind him.
At 34 years old and with Timo Werner and Abraham clearly above him in the pecking order, a mid-season move seems the most viable option in order for the cultured frontman to get the football he needs for the rest of the season.
Italian giants Inter Milan have secured the signature of highly rated 21-year old defender Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid.
Hakimi, who made 17 appearances for Los Blancos after rising through their youth ranks, has penned a five year deal with Antonio Conte’s side, who currently sit third in Serie A.
Dani Carvajal currently occupies the right-back spot at Los Blancos so Hakimi was unwilling to take a back seat after an impressive loan spell in the Bundesliga. This caused the Real Madrid youth product to request a move away from the Bernabeu.
Subsequently, Inter paid €40 million (£36 million) with €5 million add ons for the CAF Young Player of the Year winner. He was pictured in Milan for his medical on Tuesday, and confirmed the move on his official Instagram account this evening.
Real Madrid also released a statement on the departure of Hakimi saying:
“The club want to thank Achraf for all these years of dedication, professionalism and exemplary behaviour since he arrived at our academy in 2006 and wish him luck in this new stage of his career.”
Hakimi has spent the past two seasons on loan in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, where he played 70 games, scoring 12 goals and striking up a potent partnership with Jadon Sancho on the right flank.
He put in some particularly impressive performances in the Champions League, providing a hat-trick of assists against Atletico Madrid last season, before scoring braces against both Slavia Prague and his new employers Inter in this year’s group stages.
Lucian Favre tended to use Hakimi as a right wing-back in a 3-4-2-1 formation, given his ability to attack at pace and deliver pin-point crosses. He is also defensively, very sound, adept at playing long balls which open up opposition defences.
It is likely Conte will utilising the Moroccan in a similar role, given his reputation for setting teams up to play with a three at the back and having creative wing-backs as attacking outlets.
Hakimi is equally capable of playing as a winger, having featured there during his days in Real Madrid’s academy, whilst he can also slot in at left back.
At just 21 years of age and with over 100 senior appearances to his name, Hakimi is certainly a very exciting signing for Inter as they look to challenge Juventus.
The Nerazzurri have not won the league title since 2010 and acquiring a new superstar in Hakimi will certainly make them a formidable opponent in Serie A next season.
Dries Mertens became Napoli’s all-time top scorer to ensure his side progressed to the Copa Italia Final at the expense of Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan.
They fell behind inside two minutes when Christian Eriksen’s corner evaded everyone and went in. Napoli’s Belgian international, however, made it 1-1 just before half-time.
That goal means Gennaro Gattuso’s team will be the ones to face Juventus in the final in Rome next Wednesday.
Inter made a blistering start to the game taking the lead in the first two minutes, which levelled the tie. An Eriksen corner went all the way through a disjointed looking Napoli defence and nestled in the bottom corner.
Antonio Candreva then had a brilliant chance to put Inter ahead in the tie. He bared down on the right side of goal and had three options in the box to pull the ball back to, however, he chose to shoot instead. Candreva’s shot was saved and it subsequently went out for a corner, which was eventually gathered by Napoli’s goalkeeper David Ospina.
Ospina then unleashed a remarkable throw to Insigne inside the Inter half, who drove into the box and pulled the ball back to Mertens who calmly slotted home. That goal makes Mertens Napoli’s all-time top scorer with 122 goals, overtaking former club captain, Marek Hamsik’s tally.
Conte’s Inter knew that one goal would see them progress on the away goals rule but in a second half that lacked many clear cut openings, their best chance fell to Eriksen. The former Spurs midfielder latched onto a cross from the left but could only fire his low shot at Ospina.
A series of good crosses came in from the left-hand side, but the lacklustre Romelu Lukaku failed to steer any of his headers past Ospina. Fellow former Manchester United man Alexis Sanchez came on and looked lively, flashing a shot wide late in the game.
Ultimately, the seven times winners of the Coppa Italia ran out of steam and Napoli were able to see the game out with relative ease.
With rumors swirling around since last season about wanting to move from Tottenham, Christian Eriksen has finally departed by signing with Inter Milan.
The Danish attacking midfielder has played a pivotal part for the Spurs since he began his career with the club in 2013. His accolades with the North London side include winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2014 and 2017, was part of the PTFA Team of the Year in 2018 and was a member of the squad that finished as runners-up in last year’s edition of the UEFA Champions League.
Eriksen has had a successful senior career thus far with Ajax and the Spurs. For the Dutch side, where he had been since his youth career in 2008, he scored 25 goals in 113 appearances before leaving for the Premier League side in 2013. Meanwhile, for the English-side, he scored 51 goals in 226 appearances, but has only scored two goals in 20 appearances this season.
For the Denmark National Team, Eriksen has scored 31 goals in 95 appearances. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he helped the squad advance to the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. After finishing second in Group C to eventual champions France, they ended up losing in the Round of 16 to runner-up Croatia.
With this move to Inter, the Italian giants have been creating their own Premier League squad with the addition of Eriksen. Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s squad this year has also acquired Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Alexis Sánchez (loan from Manchester United), Ashley Young (Manchester United), and Victor Moses (loan from Chelsea).
As Inter sit three points (48) behind Juventus (51) for the top spot in Serie A with 17 games left, their fans are hoping they are team to finally dethrone the Turin squad, who have held the possession since 2012.
The Champions league continued to entertain on Tuesday night with an eight goal thriller, a comeback and some smaller clubs proving hard nuts to crack.
There is only one place to start, and that is Stamford Bridge where Chelsea hosted last year’s semi-finalists, Ajax. Chelsea won the corresponding fixture two weeks ago in Amsterdam meaning the two teams were level at the top of the group and a win for either side would mean they were in control of their own destiny with regards to qualification.
The match started as it would carry on with 2 goals in the opening 4 minutes. Ajax got the first when they won a free-kick and Quincy Promes’ quality delivery caught Tammy Abraham napping as he diverted the cross into his own net. Chelsea’s response was immediate with Christian Pulisic bursting into the box and drawing a late challenge from Veltman which allowed Jorginho the chance to score from the spot, and he didn’t pass up the opportunity.
The game continued to flow entertainingly with Hakim Ziyech providing the quality to take the game away from the hosts. It was his magnificent cross from the right that caught out Azpilicueta and allowed Promes to dart in and finish from close range to make it 2-1.
Ziyech’s left boot did further damage just before the break as Ajax extended their advantage, although there was a touch of luck about the goal. His delivery from near the corner flag caught out Chelsea keeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, and the ball bounced back off the post and into the net via the unfortunate goalkeeper’s face.
Things got worse for the Blues when Ziyech found Van de Beek in the area and the classy midfielder found the bottom corner with a clever finish to make it 4-1 and seemingly put the game beyond Chelsea.
Tammy Abraham made up for his error by getting one back before the match entered a crazy period which swung it towards Chelsea.
Daley Blind was shown a second yellow card for fouling Abraham, the referee had played advantage before showing the red card, in the pursuing advantage Veltman was judged to have handballed a Callum Hudson-Odoi’s shot and a penalty was awarded.
To make matters worse for Ajax, Veltman had already been booked and was shown a red. Jorginho rolled in his second penalty of the night and suddenly Chelsea went from being 4-1 down to 8 minutes later being just one goal behind and playing against 9 men for the last 20 minutes.
It was not long before they levelled the match as Reece James hammered home from a corner and Chelsea would have backed themselves to win the match
Azpilicueta thought he had done just that but VAR dampened the celebrations by spotting a handball from Abraham in the build-up.
A crazy night at Stamford Bridge, that had everything ends as a 4-4 draw and the other result in the group, a 4-1 win for Valencia over Lille, means 3 teams are tied on 7 points.
Another dramatic match was played out in Dortmund as Borussia Dortmund played Inter Milan.
Barcelona had dropped points earlier in the day by only drawing at home to Slavia Prague meaning the winner of this one would close the gap on Barca to a single point.
Inter Milan controlled the first half and were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Lautaro Martínez and Matías Vecino.
This however was to be a story of two halfs, Dortmund came out like a completely different team after the break and 6 minutes into it had got one back through Achraf Hakimi, who incredibly had scored all of Dortmund’s goals in the campaign.
Paco Alcácer came on after 64 minutes and with his first touch set up Julian Brandt whose right footed shot from the left side of the box equalised for Dortmund.
They continued to push and Jadon Sancho played a delightful through ball to that man again, Achraf Hakim and the right-back scored yet again to complete the turnaround.
Qualification from this group is still wide open with 2 matchdays remaining with 4 points separating Barca in 1st and Inter in 3rd with Barca still to play both Dortmund and Inter.
Elsewhere, Liverpool were given a scare at home to Genk but overcame it to go top of Group E after Napoli were held by Red Bull Salzburg.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in a second consecutive Champions League game as Liverpool won 2-1 but they were made to work for their victory.
Oxlade-Chamberlain scored another superb goal in the Champions League to ultimately seal a vital three points for the holders.
However, it was far from a walk in Stanley Park, with a thunderous Mbwana Samatta header leveling things up in the first half after an instinctive finish from Georginio Wijnaldum for Liverpool’s 14th-minute opener.
Genk could well have left Anfield with a point, but Liverpool had Alisson Becker to thank for some wonderful late saves.