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Icardi treated correctly, insists Inter’s Conte



Antonio Conte insisted Saturday aggrieved Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi has been treated correctly by the Serie A giants with new Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez set to make his debut against Cagliari.

Icardi has started legal action against Inter, demanding to return to full training and 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in compensation.

“Icardi? Everything was done as correctly as possible,” said Conte, who replaced Luciano Spalletti as boss ahead of the new season.

“There are no disturbances in the changing room, we’ve been talking about this affair for eight months and I don’t want to get into it.

“We have to be focused on this season, but instead I see that others remain the protagonists rather than those who are playing.”

The Argentinian — who was stripped of the captaincy last season amid a long contract dispute — has been told he is no longer part of the club’s plans under new coach Conte.

The 26-year-old has continued to train with the first team but is not allowed to take part in full tactical sessions.

Icardi was the joint top-scorer in the 2017-18 Serie A campaign with 29 goals, but managed just 11 last term having spent 53 days on the sidelines after being replaced as skipper by goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

Inter Milan endured a topsy-turvy Serie A campaign last season, only securing fourth place and Champions League qualification on the final day.

Spalletti left his role in May, with former Juventus, Italy and Chelsea boss Conte taking over and remodelling the team.

Inter beat Lecce 4-0 in their season opener and head to Cagliari on Sunday, with new Manchester United signing Alexis Sanchez set to make his first appearance.

Conte said Sanchez was determined to impress after two difficult seasons in the Premier League side.

“He’s a really good forward, both in terms of his finishing and the assists he provides,” said Conte.

“He’s an important player, I’m sure he’ll integrate well into the team and his numbers speak for themselves.

“He is really enthusiastic and wants to do well here.”


EPL: Guardiola reveals Tottenham manager that made title hard to win



Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola has claimed it is now harder to win the Premier League.

Guardiola was speaking to the media on Friday, ahead of the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

According to him, Spurs have “always been up there” since Mauricio Pochettino became their manager.

“It [the Premier League] is a more difficult competition to win and I have said many times that every season it is getting better. So more teams involved and every single game is so difficult.

“Ever since Mauricio Pochettino has arrived, I would say Spurs have always been up there, so yes, they are a fantastic team.

“Of course, they have a lot of absences now, but I saw the first 15-20 minutes against Aston Villa and they created a lot of chances, especially in their approach.

“So it is definitely really good for football,” Guardiola said.

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Rivers United’s Odeh makes CAF Confederation Cup Goal of the Week



Rivers United’s Paul Odeh’s goal against Academica Petroleos club do Lobito has been selected among the best of matchday one fixtures in the CAF Confederation Cup.

Odeh scored a fantastic long-range strike in Rivers United’s 3-0 victory at the Godswill Akpabio International, Uyo.

Other goals selected are USM Algiers’ Islam Merili screamer against Al-Hilal SC, Mordern Future’s Ghanam Mohammed’s goal versus Supersports, Sagrada Esperanca’s Simone Lepau’s close-range strike against CO Coyah SC and Zamalek’ Yusuf Obama’s header against Abu Salam completes the list.

The former Nigeria Premier Football League champions will battle Dream SC of Ghana in their matchday two fixture on Sunday.

The match is billed for the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, Kumasi.

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He reminds me of Berbatov – Michael Owen lavishes praise on Arsenal star



Former Real Madrid and Manchester United striker, Michael Owen has heaped praises on Arsenal’s Kai Havertz, comparing him to former Tottenham Hotspur attacker Dimitar Berbatov.

Owen likened Havertz’s touch and ability on the ball to that of Berbatov, who also played for Manchester United during his football career.

This is coming after Arsenal’s recent 6-0 thrashing of RC Lens in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“It is a bit of a conundrum with him, I don’t think he scores enough goals to be a centre-forward, has he got the pace to be a wide man? Maybe ghosts in and plays inside a little bit, there is no doubt about his talent,” Owen said on TNT Sports about Havertz.

“He’s got a lovely touch, a lovely way about him. He reminds me a bit of Berbatov, the way he takes the ball and his lovely touch. There is definitely a brilliant player there.”

Havertz joined Arsenal from Chelsea in the summer transfer window for a reported fee of £65 million.

The German endured a difficult start to life at the Gunners, scoring just one goal in his first 19 appearances for the club.

However, Havertz has seen an upturn in form recently, scoring the match-winner in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Brentford last weekend.

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