Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge?

Lukaku's first taste of English football was with Chelsea between 2011-14.

He could be set for a Chelsea return amid doubts over his Inter future.

 

TOP STORY – TUCHEL WANTS LUKAKU

Chelsea are planning a move for Inter star Romelu Lukaku, according to The Guardian.

Lukaku, who joined the Blues in 2011 before leaving in 2014, is reportedly considering his future after Antonio Conte quit Inter amid the Serie A champions' troubled financial situation.

Inter quartet Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Achraf Hakimi – linked with Paris Saint-Germain – and Alessandro Bastoni could be sold by the Nerazzurri.

Chelsea are now eyeing a reunion with Real Madrid and Barcelona target Lukaku after winning the Champions League, while Tottenham's Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland are also on their radar.

 

ROUND-UP

Gianluigi Donnarumma is prepared to join Juventus on a worse contract than he rejected at Milan, reports Corriere dello Sport. Donnarumma is available on a free transfer and the Italy international has been linked with Barca, Manchester United and PSG. Mundo Deportivo says Barca consider Donnarumma a good market opportunity.

- Bild reports Florian Neuhaus will remain at Borussia Monchengladbach, despite interest from Bayern Munich.

Olivier Giroud will join Milan as a free agent from Chelsea, claims Calciomercato. Giroud is available after his contract was not renewed at Stamford Bridge.

- Lille's Christophe Galtier is the latest candidate to replace head coach Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, joining Maurizio Sarri, Andre Villas-Boas and Sinisa Mihajlovic, according to Tuttomercato. Inzaghi is poised to succeed Conte at Inter.

Jorge Sampaoli has been appointed as head coach of Marseille on a deal until June 2023.

The 60-year-old has enjoyed a nomadic coaching career, most notably leading Chile to Copa America glory in 2015 before departing to take charge at LaLiga side Sevilla in June 2016.

Less than a year later, Sampaoli left to take over his native Argentina but an uninspiring qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup preceded a last-16 defeat to eventual winners France in the tournament proper.

Spells at Santos and Atletico Mineiro followed, Sampaoli winning the Campeonato Mineiro with the latter, and he will now have another crack at European football in Ligue 1 with Marseille, who are eighth in the table.

"I have been told all my life that Marseille is a special place for passion. That the Velodrome lights up when the team plays in the stadium," said Sampaoli. 

"Marseille is a club for the people. We're not here to hide: we're going to play hard. When I received this proposal, I dreamed of being able to party in the city. 

"In the world, there are places for calm and there are intense places. It is the latter that I want and I accepted without hesitation. This club has a soul and that is why we are here. We are ready."

Andre Villas-Boas' reign at the Stade Velodrome ended in tempestuous circumstances with the former Chelsea boss suspended by the club earlier this month.

The Portuguese had offered to resign amid frustrations over the running of the club, which came to a head with Marseille's signing of Olivier Ntcham from Celtic, a player he did not ask to be brought in.

Andre Villas-Boas has been suspended by Marseille after the club accused the head coach of remarks that "seriously harmed" their reputation.

On Tuesday, the former Chelsea and Tottenham boss claimed he had offered to resign due to his frustrations with the running of the club, which came to a head with the signing of Olivier Ntcham, a player he did not ask to be brought in.

"I submitted my resignation saying that I did not agree with the sporting policy. I don't want anything from OM. I don't want money," he told a news conference.

"I'm waiting for an answer, it could be no and then we would continue. I don't want any money, I just want to leave."

Villas-Boas said he learned of the deal to sign midfielder Ntcham from Celtic "this morning from the press", adding: "He is a player that I had said no to. He was not on our list."

Those comments appear to have incensed Marseille bosses, who are now pursuing disciplinary action, which is likely to lead to Villas-Boas' dismissal. The Portuguese had previously stated he would not extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

"Olympique de Marseille announces the pending disciplinary proceedings of Andre Villas-Boas," the club said in a statement. "This decision has become unavoidable given the recent and repetitive actions and attitudes that have seriously harmed Olympique de Marseille and its employees who devote themselves to it on a daily basis.

"The remarks made today during a press conference in regard to Pablo Longoria, general manager in charge of football, are unacceptable.

"His exceptional achievements should not be questioned and, on the contrary, were welcomed by all during this winter transfer window which was affected by an unprecedented crisis. Possible sanctions may be taken against Andre Villas-Boas following disciplinary proceedings."

Marseille, who are ninth in Ligue 1, have won just one of their past eight top-flight matches and lost each of their previous three, a run that prompted angry fans to stage an attack on the training ground last weekend in protest against the club's running.

They were also knocked out of the Champions League group stage with just three points from their six games.

Villas-Boas had previously stated he would prepare the team for Wednesday's trip to Lens.

Andre Villas-Boas has offered his resignation at Marseille after the Ligue 1 club went against his wishes by signing Olivier Ntcham. 

Ntcham joined on loan until the end of the season from Celtic on deadline day despite Villas-Boas saying he did not want the player. 

The former Tottenham and Chelsea boss consequently felt his position was no longer tenable and offered to leave, citing a disagreement with Marseille’s sporting policy. 

Villas-Boas said the training ground being attacked by angry fans at the weekend "had nothing to do with it" and that he was awaiting a response from the club. 

"I submitted my resignation saying that I did not agree with the sporting policy. I don't want anything from OM. I don't want money," he told a news conference on Tuesday. 

"I'm waiting for an answer, it could be no and then we would continue. I don't want any money, I just want to leave. 

"[Signing Ntcham was] a decision that was not taken by me, I learned of it this morning from the press. He is a player that I had said no to. He was not on our list. 

"The results – it's my fault. I'm very upset. But if there's something you cannot touch, it's my professionalism. I cannot accept this. This club has already been through a couple of messy years in terms of transfers."

Marseille have won just one of their past eight Ligue 1 matches, with a 3-1 loss at Monaco last time out their third straight defeat. 

Their meeting with Rennes on Saturday was called off after fans stormed the training ground in protest. 

Villas-Boas accepted the club's request for time before making a decision on his resignation and he was still preparing the team for Wednesday's trip to Lens. 

"I'm focused on Lens. We continue until the board lets me go," he added. 

Marseille's Ligue 1 match with Rennes has been postponed after violent protests from supporters at the club's training ground.

A mob of Marseille fans breached the club's facilities on Saturday, seemingly in protest over the club's poor form and the leadership of president Jacques-Henri Eyraud.

Andre Villas-Boas admitted on Friday that he expects to leave at the end of the season, with Marseille sitting way off the pace in Ligue 1.

Marseille have lost their last four matches in all competitions, and are without a win in as many league games.

Videos and images shared on social media of fans storming the club's training ground - where the players had gathered before they were due to face Rennes - also showed fires had been started, while L'Equipe also claimed that defender Alvaro Gonzalez was hit by a projectile.

Fans also left graffiti around the entrance, stating: "Eyraud out... Eyraud leave."

Marseille subsequently requested the postponement of their match with Rennes, which was scheduled to kick-off at 21:00 local time (20:00 GMT).

The LFP, with the agreement of Rennes, approved the request, and it remains to be seen when the match will be played.

A statement on Ligue 1's official website read: "The match of the 22nd day of Ligue 1 Uber Eats between Olympique de Marseille and Stade Rennais FC has been postponed.

"Given the incidents that occurred this afternoon at the Olympique de Marseille training center, the OM – Stade Rennais FC match has been postponed to a later date."

Andre Villas-Boas expects to leave Marseille at the end of the season after the former Chelsea and Tottenham boss admitted to an "abysmal" failure.

The 43-year-old, who was appointed by OM in May 2019, will see his two-year contract expire at the end of this campaign.

Marseille sit 13 points behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain heading into the latest round of fixtures, occupying sixth place having lost their last three games in the competition.

Their Champions League performance was also far short of expectations, with Marseille finishing at the foot of their group with just three points.

Asked whether it looked as though he would leave in June, Villas-Boas said on Friday: "Yes, I think so. I don't have other information.

"But I'm not asking for anything, with the position we have, it's rather normal.

"With our performances this year, it's normal. It's true that it goes a bit against what the management said, but yes, I think it'll be the end.

"I think we all agree this is the path it's taking. Before, there was some noise, there were some talks between my agents and the club, now there's nothing."

Villas-Boas had hoped his team would be challenging PSG for the title, but instead they are outside the Europa League qualifying places.

Marseille sold midfielder Morgan Sanson to Aston Villa this week, while young winger Marley Ake left for Juventus and Kevin Strootman was loaned to Genoa.

Such exits may weaken Marseille for the remainder of the season, although they have signed Arkadiusz Milik on loan from Napoli and Franco Tongya arrived from Juventus.

"Guys, look, we're 15 points behind, which is an abysmal gap behind our season goal," Villas-Boas said.

"I'm not going to argue that. I told you that next season is Year Zero for the club, after all has been done, it's going to be deep cleaning.

"And it's good to create a strong base for the future."

Portuguese coach Villas-Boas had his big break when he served on Jose Mourinho's staff at Porto, Chelsea and Inter before striking out on his own.

After spells in Portugal with Academica and Porto, he had stints with Chelsea and Tottenham before moving on to Zenit and Shanghai SIPG, spending 18 months without a club prior to accepting the Marseille job.

Mauricio Pochettino acknowledged the role Thomas Tuchel played in his first managerial trophy as Paris Saint-Germain beat Marseille 2-1 in the Trophee des Champions on Wednesday.

Mauro Icardi and Neymar – the Brazil international's 18th successful penalty from the 19 he has taken for PSG – scored for the Ligue 1 champions, while Dimitri Payet set up a tense finale with an 89th-minute strike for Andre Villas-Boas' side. 

PSG held on, though, to claim a record eighth consecutive Trophee des Champions crown and their 10th overall midweek.

It was only Pochettino's third game in charge of PSG and the former Tottenham boss made sure he recognised the work of Tuchel, who was dismissed as head coach on December 29. 

"I want to thank the players, Leonardo [sporting director] and Nasser Al-Khelaifi [president]," Pochettino – a Champions League and EFL Cup runner-up with Spurs – said. "I also have a thought for Thomas Tuchel and his staff, who allowed us to play this match."

"We are making progress in all areas where we want to implement our ideas. We have a very intelligent group of players, with great adaptability. We are very happy.

"I hope to win other titles, but the first one will always be special.

"The group has shown a lot of maturity, it has learned from its mistakes. It's a huge emotion to win with this staff, it's difficult to describe in words, especially since it's a club that made me become a better person, a better player."

Marseille finished the game having had four shots on target to PSG's three, although the Parisians enjoyed a whopping 63.6 per cent possession and completed 268 more passes than their opponents. 

Despite that, Villas-Boas believes his side did not deserve to lose. 

"It was a balanced game, with few chances for both teams," he said. "We were the best team. I think we didn't deserve to lose this game. PSG going 2-0 up went against the run of play

"Congratulations to PSG. The best honour they gave us was the party that followed, because we offered them a difficult match."

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