Antonello says Brozovic is a 'strategic piece' for Inter

By Sports Desk November 11, 2021

Alessandro Antonello says Marcelo Brozovic is a "fundamental player" and a "strategic piece" for Inter as the Serie A champions strive to keep the midfielder.

Brozovic's contract expires at the end of the season and the 28-year-old has been linked with the likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez have recently signed new deals with the Nerazzurri following intense speculation over their futures.

Inter chief executive Antonello hopes Croatia international Brozovic will follow suit but says the club will not be held to ransom.

He said on Radio 24's 'Tutti Convocati' broadcast: "The relationship with the players is excellent. Let's also remember the results achieved by the team with the Europa League final [in which they lost to Sevilla last year] and the Scudetto [triumph last season].

"We must recognise this and the sporting performances that must be adequately paid.

"But it is normal that the pandemic has led to reflections, then there are contracts to be respected and it is right to sit at the table with the parties involved to find an agreement.

"Brozovic is a fundamental player for the team, he is a strategic piece for us "

Brozovic has started all 16 of Inter's matches in all competitions this season.

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    Vlahovic has scored 17 times in 21 Serie A appearances, netting once every 109.5 minutes on average and comfortably outperforming his expected goals tally of 12.2, and his stock continues to rise.

    The 21-year-old ended 2021 on a high as well, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's 21st-century record for most goals in the Italian top flight in a calendar year (33), set in 2020.

    In fact, only Gunnar Nordahl in 1950 (36) has ever scored more times in a calendar year than Ronaldo and Vlahovic.

    But Barone revealed Vlahovic's time in Tuscany will likely come to an end soon with the Serbia international unwilling to sign a new contract, with his current deal expiring at the end of the next season.

    "Some English clubs have made contact, but there is no agreement yet. We are open [to selling]," Barone told Italian outlet La Nazione on Friday.

    Barone previously asked Vlahovic to publicly state whether he wants to leave the club or not, while suggesting no bids had been made for the forward in the last week.

    But the Fiorentina chief claimed he is still yet to hear from Vlahovic's entourage as the Viola reportedly hold out for €75million for their prized asset.

    "I haven't heard anything from them, I had asked Vlahovic's agent to be clear, but I haven't heard anything, no contacts at all," he added.

    Fiorentina sit sixth in Serie A on 35 points ahead of their next clash with Cagliari on Sunday.

  • Theo Hernandez has found perfect fit as left-back leader for modern Milan Theo Hernandez has found perfect fit as left-back leader for modern Milan

    January has so far been a quiet month for Milan – not that the Rossoneri will necessarily complain.

    While technical director Paolo Maldini has failed to this point in his pursuit of a new centre-back – Lille's Sven Botman was a target – he has crucially kept together a Milan team who are again contending for the Serie A title.

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    Murmurs of a Chelsea bid were inevitable this month with Ben Chilwell out for the season, while Manchester City – playing right-back Joao Cancelo at left-back – and Paris Saint-Germain – never afraid to splash out at any position – have been credited with an interest in the past.

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    Hernandez happy at San Siro

    Hernandez, whose existing contract expires in 2024, is widely expected to agree an extension, snubbing the prospect of a big move. Of course, the player, who came through Atletico Madrid's academy, has already had one such transfer.

    Having impressed on loan at Alaves, Hernandez headed to Real Madrid in 2017 for an unsuccessful stay at the Santiago Bernabeu. In a single season in the Madrid first team, the defender was restricted to 13 league appearances (10 starts) and failed to contribute either a goal or an assist, creating a meagre eight chances.

    A return to some sort of form with Real Sociedad was followed by a permanent switch to Milan and at last certainty and a clearly specified role, leading the attack from left-back.

    Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (42), Ante Rebic (32) and Hakan Calhanoglu (31) have since registered more Milan goal involvements in Serie A; Calhanoglu (168), now at Inter, alone has created more chances (107).

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    While these attacking contributions are no doubt what has caught the attention of Chelsea and Co., Hernandez is unlikely to enjoy that same freedom in another side.

    At Milan, the 24-year-old's initial task is often simply to get the team up the pitch and into the final third – something he does exceptionally well; no team-mate since 2019 has carried the ball further (231.7 metres) or progressed further up the field (161.7m) per 90. With the license then to orchestrate the play as he sees fit, Hernandez does not always hug the touchline like other players in his position, preferring instead to come inside and use his close control to beat defenders, taking on opponents with 9.7 per cent of his carries.

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    Hernandez has similarities with Gosens (1.9 shots, 1.2 chances created per 90) in this sense, with both posting higher figures for expected goals (Hernandez – 0.17, Gosens – 0.25) than for expected assists (Hernandez – 0.15, Gosens – 0.12). However, unlike Gosens, very much a wing-back at Atalanta, Hernandez is typically playing in a back four.

    The signing of a strong left-sided centre-back like Botman – or Diego Carlos of Sevilla, another mooted option – would therefore appear to represent a commitment to Hernandez and his carefree approach.

    Hernandez's nine errors leading to shots in the past three seasons have resulted in three goals, as many as from errors by Alexander-Arnold (two), Guerreiro (one), Gosens, Hakimi and Clauss (all zero) combined. Such mistakes would surely be less costly with a reliable colleague providing back-up, allowing the full-back to continue attacking effectively.

    The leader from left-back

    Although "a complete defender" in the middle – as Pioli describes the blueprint for Milan's ideal signing – would help, Hernandez is determined to play his part in defensive improvement.

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    Hernandez could still have teed up a winner at the end of that 1-1 draw when a drive through the middle of the pitch found him in position to slide in Pierre Kalulu for a chance the 21-year-old would like to have back.

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    How he and Milan, stunned by Spezia in midweek, when Hernandez missed a penalty, would love to be celebrating again this weekend. With a contract extension on the horizon, Rossoneri fans soon will be regardless.

  • Rumour Has It: Chelsea to make January move for Barcelona's Dembele Rumour Has It: Chelsea to make January move for Barcelona's Dembele

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    ROUND-UP

    - Roma are prepared to offer Jordan Veretout in exchange for Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Goal and The Athletic claim that Paris Saint-Germain  are in talks with Spurs and Ndombele over a loan move.

    - The Telegraph claims Tottenham are ready to make a January swoop for Milan's Franck Kessie, whose contract expires at the end of this season.

    - Sevilla are still keen to sign Manchester United forward Anthony Martial on loan, according to Marca. The Spanish club had an initial offer rejected and could move for Lyon's Moussa Dembele as an alternative.

    - Real Betis want to sign Manchester City full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko this month, with the lure of regular football, claims The Sun.

    - Crystal Palace have pulled out of the race to sign Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey, reports the Daily Mail. Ramsey has had interest from Newcastle United, Wolves and Burnley.

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