Lukaku takes Icardi's number nine shirt at Inter

By Sports Desk August 09, 2019

Romelu Lukaku has been handed the number nine shirt by Inter in a move that further suggests Mauro Icardi is on his way out of San Siro.

The Belgium striker completed a protracted club-record transfer to Inter from Manchester United on Thursday for a fee understood to be €80million (£73m).

He is considered a direct replacement for Icardi, who mutually agreed to withdraw from Inter's recent pre-season tour of Asia as he continues to seek a new club.

Icardi, linked with Juventus and Napoli, had played with the number nine on his back since arriving at the Serie A side in 2013.

Diego Forlan, Samuel Eto'o, Julio Cruz, Hernan Crespo, Ronaldo and Ivan Zamorano have also had the same shirt number over the past two decades.

Lukaku could make his Inter debut in Saturday's pre-season friendly against Valencia.

Related items

  • Waterhouse takes crack at reigning champs Herediano Waterhouse takes crack at reigning champs Herediano

    Waterhouse of Jamaica will be the first team to take a crack at reigning Scotiabank Concacaf League champion CS Herediano of Costa Rica when the two sides meet in the first leg of their 2019 SCL Round of 16 series on Thursday night at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

    The Caribbean club is making its maiden voyage in the SCL and will be relying on Andre Fletcher and Keithy Simpson to handle the goalscoring duties.

    Both Fletcher and Simpson tallied two goals in Waterhouse’s second place finish at the 2019 Flow Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship.

    The SCL is familiar territory for Herediano, who took home the crown in the 2018 edition by showcasing a dazzling brand of attacking football, combined with solid defensive play.

    The hot boot at present for the Ticos belongs to Francisco Rodriguez, who has three goals in his last two Costa Rican Apertura 2019 matches. Another threat is Jose Guillermo Ortiz, who has two goals this season and scored in last year’s SCL.

  • Ribery hopes to play to 40 but won't be Ronaldo rival Ribery hopes to play to 40 but won't be Ronaldo rival

    Franck Ribery hopes to play on beyond the age of 40 after joining Fiorentina but says he does not intend to be a rival to Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Ribery's 12-year stay at Bayern Munich concluded when his contract expired at the end of the 2018-19 season, in which he won a ninth Bundesliga title.

    Following prolonged speculation about his next move, the former France winger agreed a two-year deal with La Viola.

    And Ribery, who plans to follow in the footsteps of Serie A veterans such as Francesco Totti, is aiming to lead Fiorentina back into the Champions League.

    "We have had a very long negotiation, but I am very happy to be here in Florence," said the 36-year-old.

    "I saw great motivation and great confidence in me from the management, and that is why I am here. Naturally, my wife also helped in the choice, because my family is very important.

    "I am very motivated, I always want to play. I have a two-year contract and I want to be decisive and help the young players. I want to give something new to this club, I want to bring Fiorentina into the top three of the table.

    "I came here to help my team, which is Fiorentina. I am not here to be a rival to Ronaldo. Serie A is a great tournament with many excellent players. Inter bought well on the market, as did Juventus.

    "The thing I appreciate the most is that people here love and live for football. It's a wonderful experience and I want to enjoy myself on the field.

    "Football is my life. It's the reason I wanted to remain in Europe and I was fortunate to find Fiorentina. I hope to continue playing until the age of 40, just like Francesco Totti."

    Fiorentina open the new Serie A season at home to Napoli on Saturday but Ribery is not expecting to be involved.

    "I am not ready to start, but I am happy that I got to train with the squad today, which is very different to training by yourself," he added. 

    "I need a week or two to be ready to play, but if the coach [Vincenzo Montella] tells me that I'm needed, I will step up."

  • Serie A 2019-20: Why Inter and Conte can capitalise on Juve's Ronaldo problem Serie A 2019-20: Why Inter and Conte can capitalise on Juve's Ronaldo problem

    Maurizio Sarri's start to life as Juventus boss was hardly going swimmingly before he was left tackling a bout of pneumonia this week.

    After a frankly disorientating year at Chelsea, which amounted to speculation over his future and criticism of his fabled playing style being stitched together by the momentary distraction of bi-weekly football matches, Sarri won the Europa League, finished third in the Premier League and landed the Juve job. It felt like the football equivalent of getting out of jail and building a house on Park Lane in the same Monopoly move.

    Board room and dressing room at Stamford Bridge never felt in harmony, but it no longer mattered. The former Napoli boss would now helm the slick and formidable football empire he came closer than many to toppling.

    Or so he might have thought. Cutting into a reporter's question after Juve lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in the International Champions Cup, Sarri launched something approaching a tirade on Paulo Dybala's mooted exit and the need to trim Juve's Champions League squad. He called their transfer policy "embarrassing".

    Some moves this close season – namely the capture of quality free agents in the form of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot – are identifiable from the old Juventus playbook. But part-exchange deals that lessen the quality of the squad and generally appearing reactive rather than proactive should be a cause for concern.

    Out with the new, in with the old

    Moise Kean is one of the most exciting striking talents in Europe but was allowed to move to Everton. Centre-forward cover now comes from Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic – one back after two shocking loan spells and another 14 years older than Kean and apparently being hawked around Europe himself.

    A chunk of cash accompanied Danilo from Manchester City for a reason, as the inconsistent but lavishly gifted (and, once again, younger) Joao Cancelo moved in the other direction. A swap deal featuring Dybala and Romelu Lukaku, now shipped from Manchester United to Inter, would have been far stranger.

    Indeed, Dybala only remains a Juve player for now due to the tangled web of his image rights arrangements. Leonardo Spinazzola joining Roma to bring Luca Pellegrini the other way, only to loan the latter back to Cagliari, also suggested muddled thinking.

    The steady improvement throughout Massimiliano Allegri's tenure brought two Champions League final defeats. In between losing to Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2015 and 2017, Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Alvaro Morata were among the players to leave, yet Juventus improved on account of shrewd coaching and a transfer policy that was a step ahead.

    Then, last year, the Turin giants bet the farm on Cristiano Ronaldo. The Champions League did not follow and Allegri left.

    Matthijs de Ligt is one of the most eye-catching signings of the window but Juve hardly needed centre-backs and now appear to be scrabbling to recoup the cash. Like Sarri, there are understandable doubts over whether sporting director Fabio Paratici is cut out for a leading role at the Allianz Stadium.

    Paratici's influence increased after Beppe Marotta's departure last year. Marotta is now leading operations at Inter for the man who launched this Juventus dynasty.

    Conte's Inter ready for lift-off

    "I never set limits – I don't want to create excuses," Antonio Conte said at his first news conference as Inter boss, his new club having come fourth - 21 points shy of Juve - last time around

    The former Italy coach is something of a specialist in these situations. The year before he began Juventus' title streak in 2011-12, they finished seventh. At Chelsea, he took them from 10th to Premier League glory in a season.

    Some of Conte's subsequent discontent in west London related to a failure to sign Lukaku. Now he has his man – the "point of reference" centre-forward crucial to all his best sides.

    Manchester United fans will undoubtedly guffaw at the prospect of Alexis Sanchez joining a fellow Old Trafford flop at San Siro, but harnessing two players with a point to prove to Jose Mourinho in a bid to topple Sarri – the man who took his previous job – feels deliciously up Conte's street.

    Valentino Lazaro, Matteo Politano, Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi look like shrewd buys alongside the formidable Diego Godin and Inter can be expected to hit the ground running when they host Lecce on Monday.

    Napoli have finished as runners-up in the past two seasons and Hirving Lozano would be an exciting acquisition in attack, while there is unlikely to be a centre-back pairing anywhere as formidable as Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas.

    Carlo Ancelotti's men should certainly not be discounted, but the winds of change ahead of an intriguing Serie A season appear to be blowing in Inter and Conte's direction.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.