Ansu Fati has agreed a new contract with Barcelona which includes a release clause that is set to reach 400million euros (£338m).
The 17-year-old academy product has burst into the first team at the Nou Camp this season, scoring two goals in 12 appearances, and became the youngest player to score for the club in LaLiga.
Fati’s contract has been extended until June 30, 2022, with Barcelona confirming his release clause has been increased from 100million euros to 170million euros.
That figure is set to rise even further to 400million euros in the future.
Fati paid tribute to Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.
“For me, La Masia is the best school in the world. They helped me from the first day I arrived and I am extremely grateful to everyone who works there” he told the Barcelona website.
“They are all spectacular. From the first day I have learned things from everyone. And they have also been there to support me through difficult times.
“Working every day with the best is a dream, and also a reward. From now onwards, what I have to do is keep working, even harder than ever, to keep getting chances and carry on enjoying myself. The rest will come after.”
See, Immobile, now 29, was once spoken of as the next superstar back when he was plucked from Sorrento’s academy by Juventus in 2008.
The signs were good. He had scored over 30 goals playing for Sorrento’s under-17s and a move to Juventus appeared an excellent step. After all, it was a sign that his career was going in the right direction; everything in place for him to flourish.
There were very high hopes for him. Juventus had signed him on the recommendation of Ciro Ferrara, the former Napoli and Juventus defender.
There was a grand introduction, too. Immobile made his debut for Juventus in March 2009 when he came on in the 89th minute, replacing Alessandro Del Piero in attack.
What should have been symbolic – the start of something special, replacing old with new – was short lived. Claudio Ranieri had given Immobile a glimpse but the striker wasn’t ready to go any further.
It would take a few more months until he got another chance to showcase his talent in November.
He played in the Champions League against Bordeaux and made two more appearances in Serie A. Now 20, it was time for him to get serious after only four outings for the first team in two seasons.
In 2012, after loan spells at Siena, Grosseto and Pescara, Juventus lost faith in Immobile and he left.
Great hopes and expectations gone. A troubled period followed although goals did start to flow just not at the level he had intended when he moved to Juventus.
It is the same ‘journey’ Immobile speaks of that has led him to this point where he feels his confidence has finally returned.
That it has taken so long for him to get his confidence back gives you an idea of just how low it got for Immobile.
A major problem has been how badly he has settled at clubs. At Borussia Dortmund he complained about not having support ‘for him and his family’.
He craves attention and has to feel loved. The trouble is when you aren’t an elite level player such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar the support only lasts so long.
For Immobile, his stock may well have started high but it crashed once he left Juventus.
He has been trying to build it back up ever since. It is now at the highest level it has ever been at Lazio and it’s rising and rising. Yet while it is high and still rising it’s difficult to put a finger on something special that Immobile has done.
It’s not like Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski or Edinson Cavani. You know them, they are household names, and more than likely have done something that sticks in your mind.
Immobile just hasn’t done that. Incredibly, though, his statistics tell the story of a highly effective striker who is in the form of his career. In fact, he has been in the form of his career for the last three seasons.
His return in Serie A since 2016 is astonishing. 2016/17: 23 goals in 36 games. 2017/18: 29 in 33. 2018/19: 15 in 36. This season: seven in seven – and don’t forget the two assists he’s also provided.
Seventy-four goals in 112 matches or 1.51 every game. It is ratio that betters that of some of the former strikers who have graced Serie A. Think Filippo Inzaghi, Hernan Crespo and Del Piero. Immobile’s return is better.
You don’t even need to look at back in time to make a case for him as he’s also the most potent striker in Italy.
He doesn’t have the profile of Ronaldo or Romelu Lukaku but he is posting better numbers. Ronaldo has scored just three goals in six league games while Lukaku has a return of three in seven.
You wonder whether he doesn’t have the profile of those mentioned because he doesn’t fully believe in himself.
Not backing himself to score or believing he will be the last defender, more how highly he rates himself and where he feels he sits in the pecking order of the world’s best players.
When Ronaldo moved from Real Madrid to Juventus, Immobile was asked about having someone else to challenge for the league’s top scorer after he finished joint-highest with Mauro Icardi on 29 for the 2017/18 season.
Tellingly, he said: ‘When Ronaldo was confirmed at Juventus, I thought: ‘Thank God I had time to win the Silver Boot last year.
‘It will be very difficult to face him, both in the field and in the race for the best scorer. He won the prize many times and will try to repeat in Italy.’
Not the sort of comment you would expect from somebody who firmly believes he should be viewed as one of the best in the game.
But more and more as the years have gone in, it has become clear that Immobile just isn’t arrogant, bullish or in any way egotistical. Yet the numbers are there. Yes, he may not have a long time left in front of him but this is a period in his career in which he has been able to find a sense of stability.
There is, however, a nagging issue in the background which could be the reason for Immobile moving on in January. Immobile was understandably not happy when he was substituted in last month’s game against Parma.
He was fined and has apologised but it leaves open the possibility of him moving on when the transfer window reopens despite how close he is with head coach Simone Inzaghi.
In both scenarios Immobile wins. Should he leave then he would be guaranteed a move and no doubt a pay rise and should he stay he continues to do be adored by the Lazio fans.
What is most fascinating now is for the first time he is in full control of his destiny. He can make the choices and push in whatever direction he wants and 10 years ago at Juventus that wasn’t possible.
Antonio Conte has likened Croatian Marcelo Brozovic to Italy legend Andrea Pirlo after Inter Milan’s impressive Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund.
Brozovic has been an ever-present during Conte’s Inter reign to date, scoring twice in eight Serie A appearances.
The Croatia international’s playmaking skills were again to the fore during impressive wins over Sassoulo and Borussia Dortmund over the past week.
It meant Conte fielding a question at his pre-match news conference for Saturday’s meeting with Parma that mentioned the 26-year-old alongside the magisterial Pirlo – a comparison the former Juventus head coach was keen to defuse.
“Brozo can get better. He can get better with his passes to the attack, he can set up more goals,” he said.
“We are working on this. I think he needs to also work on his defensive game. A holding midfielder must be good in defence too. He can become world class.
“As for Pirlo, I do not want to make a comparison with Brozo. Pirlo is someone who is a genius. He made history in this game.
“Brozo has different traits, he is training well and I am pleased with him. I want him to become a world-class player.”
Back-to-back wins on the resumption from the latest international break have seen Inter bounce back impressively from the reverses to Barcelona and Juve at the start of this month.
That narrow loss in an absorbing game to Maurizio Sarri’s reigning champions at San Siro remains the difference in the Serie A table, with Inter a point shy of Juventus thanks to seven wins from eight matches.
“We have started on our journey, we need to focus on ourselves,” Conte replied when asked whether Inter’s unexpectedly close proximity to Juventus was bringing extra pressure.
“Inter cannot worry about the others, we need to look ahead.
“This is a new cycle for us. It is not easy. We are close to the league leaders. That is very satisfying, but let’s stay focused.
“Each game is a test of our ambitions. We need to give our all. That is the only way to get three points.”
Conte added: “We have started a new journey together. These things take time and patience.
“We are on the right track, let us continue this way. Then we will see where we are at the end of the season.
“As I have said, we always need to give 100 per cent. I want us to have no regrets come the final whistle.”
Want to endear yourself to the faithful fans of Inter Milan? Score in the Derby della Madonnina against rival AC Milan. That’s just what Romelu Lukaku did this past weekend as Inter took down Milan, 2-0, to start Serie A play with four wins in four games and remain top of the table. The same striker with a questionable first touch who was pushed out at Manchester United despite a solid goal-scoring record is killing it in Italy after his summer move.
Lukaku hasn’t only been consistent with scoring, his passing has been sharp, he’s put in the effort defensively and, most importantly, he appears to be happy. Lukaku has three goals in four Serie A matches for Inter Milan and was on the score sheet again this weekend with a lovely header to wrap it up in the second half.
His effort has always been there, but maybe his confidence was lacking. That doesn’t appear to be the case in Italy, having the full backing and confidence of manager Antonio Conte, who saw his impact in the Premier League when the Italian was coaching at Chelsea.
Perhaps United should have given him another chance. After all, they didn’t even replace him with anybody. He had 27 goals in his first season for the Red Devils and just 15 last season. You can argue he’s better than what United has right now.
Lukaku’s talent is undeniable. As is his early impact in Northern Italy. For a team with early title aspirations and hopes advancing out of the Champions League group stage, Lukaku could end up being the key to Inter’s success for many years to come.
It took both teams a little time to find their rhythm at the Veltins-Arena, with Mainz carving out the game’s first real chance on 20 minutes – Pierre Kunde whistling an effort just wide of the post after Alexander Nübel had conceded a soft corner. Schalke soon assumed control of proceedings but couldn’t quite make it happen in the final third, with Suat Serdar, Salif Sane and Harit all failing to hit the target. They only needed one moment of magic to take the lead, though, as Harit played a perfect pass to pick out Serdar’s run, and the Mainz youth product poked home against his former club. Guido Burgstaller might have doubled the hosts’ advantage before the break, but his outrageous acrobatic effort sailed inches wide of the post.
Mainz also had the first chance of the second half, with Danny Latza looking to make the most of some hesitant Schalke defending but heading wide of the mark. Bastian Oczipka then fired well over at the other end, before Serdar squandered a five-on-three counter-attack for the hosts with a poorly weighted pass. Visiting coach Sandro Schwarz opted to twist, making all three of his changes by the 71st minute, and it paid off as substitute Karim Onisiwo arrowed an unstoppable drive into the top corner just after entering the fray. Not wanting to be outdone, Schalke sub Mark Uth unleashed his own ripping effort from distance, but Robin Zentner was equal to it. Mainz looked to have done enough to rescue a point until Harit popped up a minute from time, curling a superb winner into the bottom corner with the outside of his right boot and handing Schalke a third consecutive win.
Victor Osimhen will make his Champions League debut tonight against Dutch side, Ajax Amsterdam, but he has admitted that they will be a difficult opponent for Lille although he is optimistic they can grab maximum points on the road.
The Ligue 1 outfit will commence their 2019-20 Uefa Champions League campaign against the Dutch champions on Tuesday and the Nigeria international is aiming to make his debut in the competition as well.
Osimhen has enjoyed a fine start to life in the French top-flight since his permanent switch from Sporting Charleroi in July and has scored five goals in his first five outings for Christophe Galtier’s side.
Ahead of Tuesday’s trip to the Johan Cruyff Arena, the 20-year-old forward said Lille have the qualities to overcome Erik ten Hag’s side, who reached the semi-final of the competition last season.
“We feel good. We have some strong individuals, but above all, we have a team,” Osimhen told Ligue 1 Website.
“We’re going to play a big club, they’ll be difficult to play, but we have what it takes to win it. We’re going there to win.”
Osimhen was brought to Lille as a direct replacement for Nicolas Pepe, who joined Arsenal for €80 million, and he has justified the move with his goalscoring exploits this term.
The Super Eagles described his present form as a reward for his hard work in the past years and he singled out two players who have helped him settled in well at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
“I’ve been working hard for the last three years, I’ve had setbacks in my career, in my life, but this proves work pays,” he added.
“I’ve always had in mind to repay the club’s confidence, and the coach’s. Even before coming here, I had my mindset on that. I have come to a big league, a big team.
“The other players, like the established players such as Jose Fonte and Benjamin André, do all they can to make me feel good, to help me settle in. I’d be nothing without them.”
The French striker currently has two goals and an assist in three games for Manchester United this season as he leads an exciting, young front line flanked by Marcus Rashford and Daniel James.
Martial became the 53rd player to score 50 goals for the club after his goal in the 1-1 draw against Wolves. Martial took 176 appearances to reach the half century landmark, and no United player has scored more goals since he joined the club.
There is no denying his composure in front of goal, he loves opening his body up and passing the ball into the bottom corner. Almost Henry-like.
This was apparent when United beat Everton in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final, Martial was calmness personified as he stroked the ball into the back of the net in the final minutes.
What will be pleasing for Solskjaer is that neither of Martial’s goals this season have been his trademark one-on-one finish or his long-range curlers. After penalty misses by Rashford and Pogba this season, Martial could be called upon to take a penalty, if the opportunity arose.
Martial showed great desire and movement to get in front of César Azpilicueta in the 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea and his goal at Molineux was a clinical left foot rocket, which came from a willingness to run in behind and a burgeoning partnership with Rashford.
If Martial can maintain a hunger to not only score great goals but the tap in poacher efforts that his manager made a living from, the Frenchman could become United’s undisputed number nine for many years ahead.
Now returning from injury, he needs to stay healthy and keep the trust of Solskjaer, and reach the level United fans believe he is capable of. A good run of goals could reward him with a place in France’s Euro 2020 squad.
Man United are in the hunt for Benfica’s exciting young defensive midfielder Florentino Luis as they look for the perfect partner for Paul Pogba in midfield. The 20 year old has had interest from PSG in the summer, but an agreement was not struck between the two clubs. The Parisians also faced stiff competition from Man City for the Portuguese youngster, but it appears in recent days that Man United have become his most likely destination.
The Lisbon- born player has been at Benfica since 2010, and it is reported that he has a release clause of £91m.
Benfica kick off their Champions League campaign on 17/09/19 against German side RB Liepzig.
The Spanish transfer window has closed and Rodrigo’s proposed £60m move to Athletico Madrid has broken down. This has created mixed emotions between Valencia fans as it was clear that the player was intent on leaving the club, with many suggesting a press conference from the player stating his commitment to the club being his number one priority.
The striker is currently away on international duty with his adopted country, Spain, where he expected to start versus Romania and Faroe Islands. The recent injury to Athletico forward Alvaro Morata has opened the door to Rodrigo to play in the ‘number 9’ position for La Roja in their two Euro 2020 qualifiers this week.