Gerrard slipped up, tantrums from Balotelli and tributes for Vilanova – defining moments of the weekend

April 28th, 2014

Check out the best photos from the latest round of matches throughout the footballing world, featuring the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and more

As the season draws to a close it was a weekend of tense matches, title celebrations and tributes to a lost friend.

Goal

takes a look at the most illuminating images from across the globe…

Inter should sign Dzeko, says Kovacic

April 25th, 2014

The Croatian midfielder has encouraged Walter Mazzarri to try to sign the Manchester City striker and has insisted he is not thinking of leaving the club

Mateo Kovacic has backed the Inter hierarchy to make a move for Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko in the summer transfer window.

The Giuseppe Meazza side are keen to add some more firepower to their squad at the end of the season and have been linked with a number of strikers, including Dzeko, Chesea’s Fernando Torres and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international has a contract with City until the summer of 2015, but Kovacic is hopeful the 28-year-old could be the man to take Inter to the next level in 2014-15.

“Inter are missing a top player. I would go for Edin Dzeko,” the Croatia international was quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He is technically strong, scores a lot of goals and is always ready to help out the team defensively.”

The youngster then went on to discuss his future and insisted that he is not thinking about leaving Inter in the near future.

“I am feeling very well here at Inter. I am only thinking about the last four games of the season and the World Cup.”

The 19-year-old’s contract with the Nerazzurriruns until June 2017.

Thohir: One of Dzeko, Torres or Morata would be great for Inter

April 16th, 2014

The Indonesian businessman has revealed that he wants to sigh a high-profile striker at the end of the season as he looks to restore the Nerazzurri to their former glory

Inter president Erick Thohir has admitted that he would like to see Edin Dzeko, Fernando Torres or Alvaro Morata arrive at San Siro this summer.

All three strikers have been repeatedly linked with the Nerazzurri in recent months and the Indonesian businessman is making no secret of the fact that he feels coach Walter Mazzarri could do with another attacking option as he looks to rebuild the club he assumed control of earlier this season.

“We want to make Inter a healthy club inside the next two to three years,” Thohir told reporters.

“That also means in terms of the squad. After having already signed Hernanes [from Lazio during the January transfer window], [Manchester United defender Nemanja] Vidic and others will arrive.

“We will take a forward. I know that names such as Dzeko, Torres and Morata are circling. If one of them arrives, it would be a good thing.

“We will also be able to take some Italians, but for the history of the club it’s not an obligation.

“We want to also return to playing in the Champions League in two to three years.

“We must also balance the average of the squad, which will be 26.2 years old, and the squad, given that we will be playing three times per week.

“For not, Inter is among the top 15 footballing brands in the world. We want to get back among the top 10.”

Dzeko has been told that he can leave Manchester City this summer if the Premier League outfit receive what they deem an acceptable offer for the Bosnian.

Torres, meanwhile, is expected to be a part of an exodus of strikers at Chelsea, while fellow Spaniard Morata is reportedly open to leaving Real Madrid in search of regular first-team football.

Manchester City – Sunderland Preview: Pellegrini's men look to bounce back from Anfield heartache

April 15th, 2014

Manchester City and Sunderland have already met in a cup final this season but there is arguably more at stake when they clash in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men came from a goal down to lift the Capital One Cup trophy with a 3-1 win in March but the result of Wednesday’s league fixture at the Etihad Stadium could have significant implications at both ends of the table.

City’s 3-2 defeat at Anfield on Sunday left them seven points adrift of table-toppers Liverpool and five short of second-placed Chelsea.

The visit of Gus Poyet’s rock-bottom Sunderland marks the first of two games in hand that Pellegrini’s side have over the leading pair and they will be keen to put pressure on Liverpool against a team who have taken just one point from their last eight top-flight matches.

Edin Dzeko was part of the City squad who won the Premier League in 2012 and the Bosnian refuses to concede defeat in the race for this year’s crown.

“It’s too early to say if Sunday’s result will decide where the title ends up because we still have six games to play and Liverpool and Chelsea both have four left,” he told the club’s official website.

“People talk about pressure and suchlike but that doesn’t really matter – just who wins the most games between now and the end of the season.

“We have to get back on track by beating Sunderland and West Brom in the next week.”

Wednesday’s match is just as important for the visitors, with Sunderland seven points adrift of safety, although they hold two games in hand over 17th-placed Norwich City.

Wins for Cardiff City and Fulham over the weekend have not helped the Wearsiders’ cause but midfielder Lee Cattermole has not given up hope of survival, with Sunderland likely to take confidence from their 1-0 triumph over City in November’s reverse fixture.

“It’s getting harder but, while there are points to play for, we can do it,” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Express.

“You can’t write off games like Manchester City and Chelsea coming up next because teams have been there in the past and won but, if we are to stay up, we have to start picking points up now.

“We’ll keep going and that’s the type of performance we will demand from each other.”

City are likely to be without Yaya Toure, who limped off at Liverpool with an apparent groin injury, but Sergio Aguero could be in line for a first start in more than a month after coming off the bench on Merseyside.

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher faces the prospect of being relegated from the top flight with a third club, having already fallen through the trap door with Burnley and Wolves, but is highly doubtful to feature on Wednesday as he continues to suffer with an ankle problem. The visitors are also without the suspended Phil Bardsley.

Dzeko, Ramos & Dortmund's summer shortlist to replace Lewandowski

April 8th, 2014

Jurgen Klopp’s side will be left with a gaping hole in their frontline this summer and have a number of candidates to fill the void left by the Poland striker

SPECIAL REPORT
By Enis Koylu

Last week’s 3-0 Champions League loss to Real Madrid gave Borussia Dortmund a grim glimpse of life after Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker, who has already agreed to join rivals Bayern Munich this summer on a Bosman transfer, was suspended for the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu and was sorely missed as his side crashed to a disheartening defeat.

Marco Reus was shunted up to lead the line for BVB, made to play an unnatural role – and the effects were obvious. As Jurgen Klopp’s side desperately searched for an away goal the coach sent on Julian Schieber, who was utterly unable to fill the void.

It leaves Dortmund at a crossroads ahead of next season. Lewandowski has become irreplaceble over the years as he has blossomed into one of the world’s best strikers.

Club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has in the past hinted that Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be moved up front permanently. “Both played as strikers at their old clubs,” he said in December.

However, last week’s result in Spain highlighted the need to spend big in the summer, so who are the candidates to fill Lewandowski’s sizeable shoes?

The overwhelming favourite to become the next BVB striker is Hertha Berlin forward Adrian Ramos. The Colombian has been a revelation since the capital club returned to the Bundesliga, scoring 19 goals in his 26 games, including one as they came from behind to beat Dortmund back in December.

The 28-year-old’s agent has already confirmed that his client is likely to move to Signal Iduna Park, saying: “There is a big chance that Adrian will join Dortmund.” However, despite his heroics in front of goal this term, there is a sense that the Champions League quarter-finalists need more.

Even with Lewandowski, they have been unable to compete with Bayern in the long term and Ramos would be a significant downgrade, given he has no Champions League experience.

One name long linked with BVB is Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian has been told that he can leave the Etihad Stadium in the summer and Dortmund are one of the clubs monitoring his situation. They will, however, have to see off competition from Inter, who are vocal admirers of the player.

He may lack Lewandowski’s tireless running but is a seasoned performer, having won both the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg and the Premier League with City. He would be an expensive option both in terms of transfer fee and salary but is a proven goalscorer.

However, former Dortmund defender Christoph Metzelder has his doubts over whether Dzeko is the right man for Dortmund. “The name of Edin Dzeko gets mentioned often and he knows the Bundesliga perfectly,” the ex-Germany international told Goal. “But he would surely be an expensive signing and there is the slight question mark over whether he is ready for Jurgen Klopp’s intensive running style.

“Adrian Ramos is the central player at Hertha and he also is their first defender. He gets the ball in every situation and he is able to control it. He is quick and a great finisher. For me, he fits the requirements.

“But he is not on Lewandowski’s level. Nevertheless, I think they will buy another centre forward. They need somebody else up front.”

Another player who has reportedly caught Klopp’s eye is Ciro Immobile of Torino, a striker who is co-owned by Juventus. The 24-year-old has scored 18 goals in 28 games for Giampiero Ventura’s men and his agent has confirmed that BVB have been following the forward’s form closely.

“Their interest shows how big my player is becoming,” Marco Sommella said in February. “Dortmund are Champions League runners-up and they’re now looking for someone who can replace a top player like Lewandowski.”

Switching Sides | Lewandowski will join Bayern for free in the summer

Then, of course, there is the wildcard option. Dortmund plucked Lewandowski from Lech Poznan and moulded him into one of the best strikers in Europe and Klopp has spoken of his confidence of doing the same again, saying: “Robert has developed so much, but others can and will do that at this club.”

To that end, they have been scouring the Belgian leagues to keep an eye on Michy Batshuayi, who is enjoying a breakthrough season with Standard Liege, and Anderlecht’s 19-year-old Aleksandar Mitrovic, whose agent has claimed interest from Signal Iduna Park.

Though there would be convenient parallels with Lewandowski, who himself arrived at the club as an unknown, Dortmund are in a different place these days as Champions League regulars and Bundesliga contenders.

To pluck a youngster, however talented, and expect him to fill in for the Pole single-handedly would be putting a lot of pressure on a young player’s shoulders.

Whichever route Dortmund choose to go down when it comes to rebuilding this summer, they will have to think long and hard before making an investment. But, if they play their cards well, they may just be able to replace Lewandowski.

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