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Romelu Lukaku: Inter Milan forward flying to London to complete club-record Chelsea move

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Romelu Lukaku left Chelsea in 2014 and earlier in the week instructed Inter Milan to allow him to leave if a suitable offer came in; Inter fans protested against the club’s Chinese owners in 2-0 friendly win at Parma on Sunday

Romelu Lukaku is flying to London to complete his £97.5m (€115m) transfer to Chelsea from Inter Milan.

The 28-year-old underwent the first part of his medical in Milan after the Italian champions agreed in principle a club-record deal to re-sign the striker.

The paperwork is now with club lawyers, and once that is formalised, Lukaku is expected to sign a five-year contract, worth £200,000 a week.

Inter have previously rejected two offers from Chelsea for the Belgium international, the second of which was worth £85m (€100m) plus left-back Marcos Alonso.

Meanwhile, Roma have agreed a £34m deal to sign Tammy Abraham from Chelsea, according to Sky in Italy.

The 23-year-old striker must now decide if he wants to join the Italian club, who are managed by former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

Fellow Serie A side Atalanta and Arsenal are also interested in Abraham, but Chelsea’s preference is to sell him to a foreign club, making a move to their London rivals less likely.

Lukaku left Chelsea in 2014 after making just 15 appearances there following his arrival at Stamford Bridge from Anderlecht in 2011.

One of the most prolific strikers in Europe, Lukaku scored 87 goals in 166 games for Everton between 2014 and 2017 and found the net 42 times in 96 appearances during his two years at Manchester United before signing for Inter in 2019.

He scored 24 goals in Serie A last season, helping Inter to their first Scudetto in 11 years as the club put an end to Juventus’ nine-year reign as Italian top-flight champions.

Chelsea will be keen to conclude the deal before 11pm on Tuesday so the player can be registered by UEFA to be considered for the Super Cup against Villarreal on Wednesday.

When the deal is completed, it will make Lukaku the most expensive player in history in terms of combined transfer fees, standing at a staggering £308.5m – over £30m more than Neymar in second (£271.7m).

Tuchel: Lukaku the profile we’re looking for

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel was reluctant to admit a deal for Lukaku was close, but did stress the No 9 role is an area the club are looking to strengthen after Olivier Giroud left the club to join AC Milan.

“We lost Olivier Giroud who played a crucial role in the club,” Tuchel told Sky Sports. “He was the kind of profile who likes to play with his back to goal, who likes to hold up balls, who creates space for Werner, Havertz, Pulisic; who is ready to fight physically with defenders.

Olivier Giroud was an unused substitute as Chelsea won the Champions League under Thomas Tuchel in May
Image:Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea are looking for a No. 9 after Olivier Giroud left the club

“This is the kind of profile that we don’t have in our squad right now and that we are looking for. It’s still not the moment to talk about names because we have nobody signed yet and we will show all the respect to other clubs.

“Romelu is one of the guys like Haaland at Dortmund, Lewandowski at Bayern, Harry Kane at Tottenham, who is a real No 9 who loves to score and who has a presence in the box. That is not a secret. The sentence [Tuchel describing Lukaku as a ‘fantastic player’] is easy to repeat for any coach in the world.

“But [his] is the kind of profile we’re looking for and if it is possible to convince agents and clubs, we will do our best.”

Tuchel also stressed the need to improve after “big signings” elsewhere in the form of Jack Grealish to Manchester City and Jadon Sancho to Manchester United.

“They are big signings and we are also trying to improve the squad; at the same time we give all our energy to the guys that we have – it’s our goal to improve the group we have,” Tuchel added.

The evolution of Lukaku explained

Thomas Tuchel has a new striker as Chelsea bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge
Image:Tuchel has a new striker as Chelsea bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge

His Belgium national team coach Roberto Martinez was among those to suggest there has been an evolution in Romelu Lukaku’s game and one statistic highlights it best. Nobody in Italy provided more assists from open play than Lukaku did for Inter last season.

It is a statistic still viewed with scepticism by some and it is true that Lukaku’s tally of 11 included a number of straightforward square passes and lay-offs. But other goals highlight the awareness, intelligence, vision and touch that carried Inter to the title.

It is a level of performance that has persuaded Chelsea to bring him back to Stamford Bridge one decade on from signing his first contract at the club. Lukaku, 28, returns at the peak of his powers, never better prepared to make a big impact on the Premier League.

‘Lukaku deal almost done’

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol on The Transfer Show:

“We are very close, this is almost done. Lukaku is having his medical in Milan today, the first part of that is already over… As soon as the medical is done, he will be coming to London. It could be today, tomorrow, or the day after, but in reality, he is a Chelsea player.

“It is a fantastic move for him, 10 years after he signed for Chelsea. Last time around, it didn’t work out. He was supposed to be the new Didier Drogba, he struggled and he was sold to Everton. But he’s coming back a much better player, a more complete player.

“He is exactly what Chelsea need – a No 9. Thomas Tuchel said to the Chelsea board ‘get me a No 9, I want Lukaku, Haaland, or Kane’, and they’ve got Lukaku. They’ve had to pay a premium to get him and he is 28 – how much resale value is he going to have? I think he will still have some resale value if he was to leave Chelsea.

“But if he reproduces the form he has shown in Italy in the last two seasons, then Chelsea have got the answer to their problems because Lukaku will score 20 or 30 goals every season.

“This is the textbook example of how to make a transfer happen. You have to take your hats off to his advisors, his agents, because everything has been done properly. It has been done privately and behind the scenes, there has been no strikes and Lukaku has been very professional – he’s always said the right things and it’s going to be a good deal for Inter Milan.”

Inter fans protest against owners – “Zhang, the time is over”

Romelu Lukaku celebrates his side's 3-0 win (AP)
Image:Lukaku is on his way back to Stamford Bridge – 10 years after first signing for Chelsea

Inter must decrease their wage bill this summer and title-winning manager Antonio Conte left the club in May amid concerns about plans to reduce his budget.

Lukaku was not involved as Inter won 2-0 in a friendly away at Parma on Sunday evening – a match that witnessed prolonged protests against the club’s Chinese owners over the planned sale and general cost-cutting strategy.

President Steven Zhang was the target of most of the anger with banners at the game saying “Zhang, the time is over” and “Zhang, if you want to save Inter you have to leave”.

Chelsea are eager to sign a world-class centre-forward during the transfer window and Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund is another target the Blues have been interested in.

Meanwhile, with Lukaku set to depart the San Siro, Inter Milan are in talks to sign Roma forward Edin Dzeko and are offering the Bosnia and Herzegovina international a two-year deal.

Inter want to sign two forwards to replace Lukaku and one of their other targets is Atalanta’s Colombia international Duvan Zapata.

If Atalanta sell Zapata, they will try to sign Tammy Abraham from Chelsea.

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How AC Milan missed out on Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan

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Afena Gyan scores brace for AS Roma against Genoa

Afena-Gyan makes Serie A record

Afena-Gyan valued at €20m

Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan may be excelling for AS Roma but he could have ended up at rivals AC Milan.

The youngster has risen from the youth side of the Italian giants and taking a spot on the first team where he is in the process of establishing himself as a key cog in Jose Mourinho’s side.

His two goals in AS Roma’s victory over Genoa made him the first player born in 2003 to score in the Italian top flight league.

It has however emerged that Afena-Gyan was once on the books AC Milan and could have had his development in Milan instead of Rome.

Oliver Arthur, the Ghanaian football agent credited with the discovery of the 18-year-old has revealed that Afena-Gyan had trials with AC Milan who were interested in signing him.

Oliver Arthur says the choice of AS Roma as the club for Afena-Gyan was informed by his quest to get a place where the youngster’s development was not going to be impeded.

“He initially had trials at AS Roma, then Sassuolo before going to AC Milan. Milan, just like the other clubs, was very much interested in him. But, we needed to make a decision and look at the best for the player and we settled on AS Roma,” he said Kumasi-based Pure FM.

Oliver Arthur also spoken about how the youngster’s stock has risen since he broke into the first team of AS Roma.

He disclosed that Afena-Gyan is now valued at €20million following his good display for AS Roma.

“It will really be difficult. Very difficult. Range? May be between €15m-€20m. For what he’s done and the abilities he possesses, I think, yes, €20m” he told Angel TV

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Africa to use VAR in World Cup play-offs after Ghana vs South Africa incident

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Ghana defeats South Africa 1-0

South Africa petitions FIFA over penalty in Ghana game

Senegalese referee to be punished by FIFA, says South Africa coach

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used in the final phase of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Gianni Infantino, the President of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has said.

Infantino has disclosed that FIFA and CAF will use the technology in the play-off to improve officiating in those matches.

Speaking at the extraordinary general assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo, Egypt Infantino said FIFA is making efforts to enhance the quality of matches and introduction of VAR is one of the measures.

“The final stage of the African World Cup qualifiers will see an improvement in refereeing performance due to the use of VAR,” said Infantino.

The President of CAF, Patrice Motsepe who is a South African refused to comment on the specific case of Ghana versus South Africa but promised an investment in officiating.

“We are going to invest in the competitions because our competitions are everything,” said Motsepe.

“That’s why the announcement that we are making today regarding referees is critically important. Africa have got good referees, and we have got world-class referees. We’ve also got referees who are not so good.

“Then we’ve also got referees who are even further from not so good, but they all try. We want to train them, and also pay them good money and look after them. So that they can make a career out of being referees.”

Ghana defeated South Africa 1-0 at the Cape Coast Stadium on November 14, 2021 via a controversial penalty.

Defender Daniel Amartey earned Ghana the penalty which was converted by skipper Andre Ayew on the 33rd minute.

South Africa took issues with the decision by referee Ndiaye and petitioned FIFA to probe what they perceive to be match manipulation.

According to SAFA, the referee was compromised and thus ruled the game in favour of the host team.

The Ghana Football Association has meanwhile disputed the claims and emphasized the Black Stars deserved victory.

It is expected FIFA will issue a verdict on the game in the coming days.

The draw for the play-off will be held in January next year after the Africa Cup of Nations.

The ten countries that have qualified include Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.

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Forget about replay FIFA, will only ban referee Ndiaye Maguette – Hugo Broos

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It appears that head coach of South Africa, Hugo Broos has given up hope of forcing a replay of the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana from FIFA.

The Black Stars defeated the Bafana Bafana of South Africa by a lone goal to secure the only slot in group G for the play offs of the 2022 World Cup.

South Africa after the game accused the match official of match fixing, match manipulation among others before lodging an official complaint with FIFA.

Ghana had a penalty after Daniel Amartey went to ground in the penalty box following a challenge from Rushine De Reuck although it appeared soft there was a nudge in the back of the Leicester City defender.

The Senegalese referee Ndiaye Maguette who was standing just a few meters outside the penalty box swiftly awarded the penalty without any second thought.

FIFA urged the two Associations that is Ghana and South Africa to present any comments or evidence it deems appropriate latest by 20th November 2021 as they referred the protest to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee who began their work on 23rd November,2021.

FIFA is now due to issue a verdict on that appeal which has created friction between Ghana and South Africa in football circles.

Ahead of the verdict, South Africa’s Belgian tactician doesn’t seem confident.

“Fifa met on Tuesday,” Broos told HLN Sportcast. “We expect a decision in the course of this week. It’s not just about the penalty kick, it’s about the whole game. The referee made 71 decisions, 47 of which were foul. The analysis has shown that. And 90 percent of those 47 wrong decisions were against us.”

“You have to be able to prove something like that in black and white. Was he bribed? Wasn’t he pressured? Or was he just having a really bad day? The numbers are there, but is that enough for FIFA? I personally think that it will remain with a suspension for the referee and that we should not count on a replay.” he said.

The draw for the play offs will come off in January while the matches will be played in March 2022.

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