EPL

Lukaku can make 'huge difference' to Inter attack, says Zola

By Sports Desk June 21, 2022

Romelu Lukaku could make a "huge difference" to Inter's attack should he return to the club from Chelsea, according to Blues legend Gianfranco Zola.

Lukaku is closing in on a return to San Siro less than a year after joining Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million transfer, with Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta revealing on Monday the club are in talks to sign both the Belgian and Juventus' Paulo Dybala.

The Chelsea striker only scored eight Premier League goals as Chelsea finished third in the English top flight last term, and reportedly wants to return to the club with whom he won Serie A in 2020-21.

Lukaku scored 30 goals and recorded 11 assists in 44 appearances for Inter in his last season with the Nerazzurri, averaging a goal every 118.77 minutes.

Among strikers in the top five European leagues to hit 20 goals or more in all competitions that campaign, only eight averaged fewer minutes between strikes than the Belgian, including the likes of Robert Lewandowski (70.6), Kylian Mbappe (88.62), Cristiano Ronaldo (104.19) and Lionel Messi (110.32).

Chelsea great Zola thinks Lukaku could make the difference for an Inter side that missed out on the Serie A title by just two points last season.

"Lukaku continued to express this desire to return to Inter where he had found himself very well, but honestly I thought it was a difficult operation," he told Sky in Italy.

"If he returned to Inter, he would be a player capable of making a huge difference, also in light of this year's difficulties."

Another high-profile player to be linked with a move to Italy is Angel Di Maria, who is available on a free transfer after announcing his departure from Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentina international is reportedly a target for Juventus, and Zola believes that move would benefit both the Bianconeri and Serie A as a whole.

However, he also called on Italian football to do more to produce young attacking players of Di Maria's quality after Roberto Mancini's Azzurri missed out on qualification for the World Cup and made a poor start to their Nations League campaign.

"He has important experience and quality, players of this calibre raise the level of our football," Zola said of Di Maria.

"But we must think of creating higher quality players in our youth sector, especially in the last 40 metres [before goal], where we lack."

Related items

  • Benedetto misses two penalties as Corinthians, Atletico Mineiro advance in Copa Libertadores Benedetto misses two penalties as Corinthians, Atletico Mineiro advance in Copa Libertadores

    Corinthians progressed to the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday without the injured Willian, going through 6-5 on penalties after two goalless legs.

    After Boca scraped a draw in the first leg in Sao Paulo, they were given a chance to take the early lead from the spot, after a VAR intervention penalised Raul Gustavo's errant elbow.

    Despite sending Cassio the wrong way, Dario Benedetto smacked his effort against the frame of the goal, critically maintaining parity in the tie.

    The 32-year-old had the best chance of the second half for Boca as well, but his chip in transition floated just over when put through by Sebastian Villa.

    In the shoot-out, back-to-back penalty saves from Agustin Rossi were not able to save Benedetto, who skied his second penalty before Gil eventually put the Timao through.

    Hulk sends CAM through

    Atletico Mineiro left it late but secured their progression to the quarter-finals, defeating Emelec 1-0 in Belo Horizonte to go through 2-1 on aggregate.

    Antonio Mohamed's side struggled for significant portions of the first leg but dominated possession and territory in the return, with 21 shots to six on the night 

    Hulk's 79th-minute penalty ultimately proved the difference, calmly slotting past Pedro Ortiz.

    Romulo salvages draw and progression for Athletico-PR

    Athletico Paranaense snatched a late 1-1 draw in Asuncion, advancing to the quarter-finals by winning 3-2 on aggregate.

    The Paraguayan champions forced themselves level on aggregate through veteran Roque Santa Cruz in the fourth minute of first-half injury time, scoring via a wonderful solo dribble and finish.  

    When the tie looked set for penalties, Romulo dramatically secured passage for Luiz Felipe Scolari's side, picking up the rebound from his own header to score in the 90th minute.

  • Women's Euros: Spain's Putellas suffers ACL injury Women's Euros: Spain's Putellas suffers ACL injury

    Spain's Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas will not feature in the Women's Euros after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

    Barcelona captain Putellas finished as the Champions League's top goalscorer with 11 goals last season, ending her domestic campaign with 18 league strikes.

    Putellas, who has scored 27 goals in 100 international appearances and also picked up FIFA's The Best Women's Player award in 2021, was expected to provide creativity from out wide for La Roja, but faces a lengthy spell out of action after suffering the injury in training ahead of Spain's opening game against Finland on Friday.

    An update issued on the side's official website read: "The tests carried out on the Spanish international on the afternoon of this Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at King Edward VII's hospital in London, have confirmed that the captain of the Spanish women's national team suffered a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee."

    Putellas' injury is a huge blow for Spain and the tournament as a whole, with the 28-year-old one of the biggest stars of the women's game.

    Spain, whose group also includes Germany and Denmark, were already without their record goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso due to injury.

  • Wimbledon: 'It's only going to get tougher' says Norrie, but semi-finalist vows to 'take it to' Djokovic Wimbledon: 'It's only going to get tougher' says Norrie, but semi-finalist vows to 'take it to' Djokovic

    Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie has pledged to take the fight to Novak Djokovic in their last-four tie.

    Norrie defeated world number 58 David Goffin 3-6 7-5 2-6 6-3 7-5 on Tuesday to seal his progression to a maiden grand slam semi-final.

    He is the first British man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon after Roger Taylor, Tim Henman and Andy Murray.

    The world number 12's reward is a tie against top seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, who is in the hunt for a 21st grand slam title. Yet that daunting challenge is not dampening Norrie's enthusiasm.

    "It's great to get this now but it's only going to get tougher," said Norrie in his on-court interview.

    "I'm going to take it to Novak and hopefully you guys can get behind me and I'm sure you will."

    Jannik Sinner became the first player to win two sets against Djokovic at Wimbledon since Roger Federer did so in an epic final in 2019, but the Serbian hit back to win 5-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 on Centre Court.

    Djokovic has now won 84 singles matches at Wimbledon in the main draw, a tally that trails only Federer (105).

    Norrie has won two titles on the ATP Tour this year, but acknowledged it was hard to get an immediate grip of what he has achieved so far at Wimbledon.

    "I think just winning a match like this, I'm in shock. I don't know what to say now," the 26-year-old said.

    "I have flashbacks of all the hard work and all the sacrifices I have had to make and it's definitely paid off – and it feels pretty good."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.