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Today, 01:29 AM

Manchester United signed Lukaku at the perfect time – Van Nistelrooy



Manchester United's signing of Romelu Lukaku has come at "the perfect time", according to the club's former striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Belgium international completed a move to United this month for a reported fee of £75 million and has already netted twice in three pre-season outings, including in the 2-0 win over Manchester City in Houston this week.

Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in just 219 games for the Red Devils and became a favourite of the Old Trafford faithful before leaving for Real Madrid in 2006.And the former Netherlands star expects Lukaku to achieve a similar status among the supporters if he makes the most of his move from Everton.

"I actually remember playing against Romelu Lukaku. I was at Hamburg, he was at Anderlecht, and it was in the Europa League," Van Nistelrooy told United's official website.

"I was so impressed with his fitness and physical ability, as well as his touch. His will to succeed was incredible, he never gave in and always kept fighting. Even from a young age, I was impressed by him.

"He's unbelievably strong and, with the pace he has, he often puts away the chances he gets. I think he's one of the true number nines, like Harry Kane at Tottenham – they're strong centre-forwards who are also a reference point during the build-up play. Romelu is strong on the ball but also when making runs and finishing chances.

"He's proven himself at Everton. His challenge now is to make another step up and to prove himself at his new club as well. It's different playing at United to playing at Everton, so it will be a mental step, too.

"The pressure is different, so if he's capable of dealing with that, I can't see any problems. I also think having better players around him will help and I think he'll fit in really well. I expect he'll start hitting his peak now.

"From the club's point of view, it's the perfect time to sign him. Over the next six, seven or eight years, United will hopefully have a great centre-forward in Romelu Lukaku."

Lukaku was sold to Everton by Jose Mourinho when he was Chelsea manager in 2014, but the 24-year-old said that working with the Portuguese again was one of the reasons behind his decision to join United.

Van Nistelrooy believes Lukaku will thrive under the ex-Inter and Real Madrid boss, adding: "I don't think he could be playing for a better manager than Jose Mourinho.

"He will help and guide Lukaku through this stage in his career and, if he has any difficulty, Jose has the experience and advice to get players back on track. I think that combination will prove a very successful one."
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Today, 01:31 AM

Bayern Munich 0 AC Milan 4: Ancelotti's side battered as Bonucci makes debut



AC Milan stunned Bayern Munich with a commanding 4-0 victory in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

First goals for the club from Franck Kessie and Hakan Calhanoglu, either side of a double from young striker Patrick Cutrone, gave Vincenzo Montella's side the win in Shenzhen against a disjointed Bayern side.

Rossoneri fans were also treated to debuts for Leonardo Bonucci, who came on in the second half for his first appearance since completing a shock transfer from Juventus, as well as fellow star signing Andre Silva.

Milan's 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund led to supporters calling for further reinforcements to the squad during an already hectic transfer window, but Saturday's clash started in far more encouraging fashion.

Kessie opened the scoring with 14 minutes played, the midfielder reacting quickest to prod in Ricardo Rodriguez's deflected cross after good interplay between the full-back and M'Baye Niang.

Eleven minutes later, Milan doubled their lead. Bayern's dreadful defending from a Rodriguez free-kick allowed Cutrone to ghost in unmarked and head beyond Christian Fruchtl from 12 yards.

Matters got worse for Bayern before the break as Juan Bernat hobbled off after falling awkwardly, before Robert Lewandowski sent a volley narrowly wide and then failed to connect from point-blank range after a dazzling run from Franck Ribery.Moments later, Milan made it 3-0 in style. Niang started a counter-attack from his own half, exchanged passes with Cutrone and released Giacomo Bonaventura into the area down the left, the midfielder crossing for Cutrone to tap home his second.

Bayern brought on James Rodriguez and reported Milan target Renato Sanches at the break and began to build some sustained pressure, Thomas Muller stinging the palms of Gianluigi Donnarumma with a strike from 25 yards out.

Bonucci came on to a rapturous reception with just under half an hour to play, but Bayern's possession led to little more than a chance for Corentin Tolisso that ended up in the side-netting.

The Bundesliga champions were looking resigned to their loss and Calhanoglu took full advantage with five minutes left to play, the Turkey international collecting Gustavo Gomez's pass, drifting infield from the left and blasting low past Fruchtl before a single Bayern challenge had been attempted.


Ancelotti will be looking for much more when they meet Chelsea in Singapore in three days' time, while Milan will take renewed confidence into next Thursday's Europa League qualifying first leg against CS U Craiova.
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Today, 01:33 AM

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 3: Batshuayi brilliance downs Gunners



Chelsea earned some consolation for May's FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal with a 3-0 friendly win over the Gunners in Beijing on Saturday.A terrific double from Michy Batshuayi followed a goal from Willian to secure the victory for Antonio Conte's side in their second pre-season outing.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted beforehand that a game against their London rivals "is never a friendly" but his side were punished for some slack defensive work by a ruthless Chelsea.

Willian and Batshuayi scored in quick succession in the first half, and the Belgian striker – undoubtedly with a point to prove following the club-record signing of Alvaro Morata – made it 3-0 with a sublime second-half strike, while Arsenal's attack too often appeared laboured.

The result and performance will be welcomed by Conte ahead of Chelsea's clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, while Wenger will have plenty to ponder as he prepares his side for the Emirates Cup tournament next weekend.

Chelsea spurned two clear chances in a lively start to the match, Victor Moses shooting straight at David Ospina from close range before Willian dragged a shot narrowly wide after racing clear into the penalty area.

Pedro was replaced by Jeremie Boga after a collision with Ospina on the edge of the Arsenal box and the game rather lost its pace in the aftermath, although Aaron Ramsey came close to connecting with a superb Mesut Ozil pass.

Willian and Moses brought more good saves out of Ospina and Batshuayi had the ball in the net from the resulting corner, but Arsenal were spared by the offside flag.

Ospina, though, was powerless to stop Willian from breaking the deadlock with his next effort. The Brazilian was allowed to drive towards the centre of the box and cut back onto his right foot before bending a fine low shot in off the right-hand post.

Just over a minute later, Conte's side doubled their lead. Arsenal's defence was again in disarray and Batshuayi took full advantage, bending a superb left-foot shot beyond Ospina and into the left-hand corner from 18 yards out.

Olivier Giroud was one of six changes made by Wenger at half-time – although his introduction was almost prevented by the match officials as he had not been included as a substitute on the team sheet – and the France striker almost reached a teasing Ramsey cross with the Gunners' first attack of the half.

But Chelsea soon put the game out of sight with a quite brilliant third goal. Marcos Alonso skipped easily beyond Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and cut the ball back to Batshuayi, who blasted an unstoppable first-time shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.

Arsenal had plenty of the ball without threatening a comeback in the closing stages and only Ospina's save from youngster Fikayo Tomori on the break prevented a more one-sided scoreline.
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Today, 01:34 AM

Liverpool 2 Leicester City 1: Coutinho shines as Klopp's men prosper



Philippe Coutinho treated Liverpool fans in Hong Kong to a performance full of promise for the new season as the Reds beat Leicester City 2-1 in the Premier League Asia Trophy final.

Having overcome Crystal Palace 2-0 in their previous game of the pre-season tournament, Jurgen Klopp's side looked sharp and cohesive as they scored two first-half goals following Islam Slimani's 12th-minute opener for Leicester.Mohamed Salah combined with Coutinho to equalise and the Brazilian playmaker scored a superb solo effort to put Liverpool ahead before half-time.

With three weeks to go until the start of the season, Klopp will have been pleased to see his forwards linking up intuitively, with winger Salah gelling well with his new team-mates after joining from Roma in June.

Leicester's new signing Harry Maguire endured a tough test in defence and manager Craig Shakespeare will be looking for more from his players in their forthcoming friendlies, which include a meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Coutinho in particular excited the crowd at Hong Kong Stadium and he rifled a low shot into the body of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel from 25 yards after three minutes.

Leicester attacked incisively in the early stages and, after good work down the left flank by Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez – linked with a possible move away from the club during the close-season – crossed for Slimani to powerfully head home at the far post.

Eight minutes later, Salah set off on a probing run down the Liverpool right and he cut inside before squaring to Coutinho, who played a delightful chipped pass into the box where the Egyptian timed his run perfectly and nodded the ball past Schmeichel into the bottom-left corner.

Liverpool took control thereafter and Coutinho delighted the crowd in the 44th minute when he broke down the left before cutting inside, sending a thunderbolt of a shot into the far corner from the edge of the box.

Klopp made four changes at half-time, sending on Ragnar Klavan, Marko Grujic, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, and Grujic hit a spectacular volley over the crossbar in the 49th minute as Liverpool picked up where they left off in the second period.

Having recovered from their lapse early in the first half, Liverpool's defence coped well with the threat posed by Leicester's two-pronged attack and Loris Karius did well to deny Vardy, rushing out to claim the ball from the England striker's feet.

Vardy sent a shot just wide moments later but as the second half wore on both teams began to suffer the effects of the warm temperatures and there were few chances at either end as Liverpool ran out comfortable winners.
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Today, 01:35 AM

VfL Bochum 2 Borussia Dortmund 2: Castro and Pulisic spare Bosz's blushes



Peter Bosz avoided his second defeat since taking over as Borussia Dortmund coach as two goals in as many minutes earned a 2-2 draw with VfL Bochum.

Dortmund had been second best for long periods of Saturday's friendly and fell behind in the 39th minute as Stefano Celozzi gave the 2.Bundesliga side the lead.That advantage was doubled in spectacular fashion after the restart through Anthony Losilla's wondrous volley.

A fightback had appeared unlikely, but Gonzalo Castro fuelled hope in the 85th minute before Christian Pulisic diverted a near-post cross home a minute later, with Bochum left clinging on for a draw.

Teenager Dan-Axel Zagadou went closest to opening the scoring for Dortmund in the first half when he headed wide from close range, but it was Bochum who broke the deadlock.A pull back from the left worked its way to Celozzi on the edge of the area and the winger duly fired into the bottom-right corner.

Mario Gotze played the entire first half as he continues his comeback from the metabolic disorders that derailed his 2016-17 season.Six minutes after the interval Bochum's lead was doubled brilliantly by Losilla.

Kevin Stoger's lofted left-wing cross was only cleared as far as Losilla, who controlled the ball twice with his head before letting fly with volley that flew in off the crossbar.

Dortmund had hit the woodwork in their push to get back into it, but looked to be running out of ideas as the game approached its conclusion.

Castro, though, arrowed a strike in off the post five minutes from time and moments later Dortmund were level when Pulisic chested in Andre Schurrle's delivery from the left.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who Dortmund recently denied could move to the Chinese Super League in January, almost won the game off the bench, but his curling effort went wide of the post.
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Today, 01:37 AM

Man City set to confirm £78.5m double swoop for Danilo & Mendy



Manchester City are set to confirm the signings of Real Madrid's Danilo and Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy, Goal understands.

City have had a £52 million (€57m) bid accepted for Mendy following weeks of negotiations, a deal which will make him the most expensive defender in history.

That comes after Madrid agreed to sell Danilo for £26.5m (€30m) earlier this week.City had been wary of competing interest from Chelsea in both players, but now believe they will get their men.

Danilo will join up with his new team-mates in Los Angeles in the coming days, and could even make his debut against his former club on Wednesday.

Madrid have been training in LA ahead of the International Champions Cup match, while City flew into California on Friday.Goal reported in June that the Blues made an enquiry over the Brazilian towards the end of last season, but were informed he did not want to leave Madrid.

But while City pursued and subsequently missed out on Dani Alves, who left Juventus, the Italian club convinced Danilo to replace his compatriot in Turin.
The Bianconeri eventually cancelled the deal, however, leaving Danilo looking for a new club while City hunted for a new right-back.

Mendy, however, has been one of their priority targets for many months.The Premier League side agreed terms with the France international several weeks ago, as reported by Goal in the aftermath of Bernardo Silva's signing.

Monaco let Silva leave for £43m but dug in their heels for Mendy. City knew the initial asking price was £40m at the end of May but attempted to negotiate that figure down.

But following the collapse of the Alves deal and the subsequent decision to spend an initial £45m, rising to £50m, on Kyle Walker, Monaco upped their asking price and asked for at least what Spurs received for Walker.

With pre-season now well under way and following Aleksandar Kolarov's unexpected request to join Roma, City agreed to meet the French club's demands on Friday evening.

If both deals are completed as expected, City's summer spending will top £200m, having already signed Silva, Walker and Ederson.
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Today, 01:38 AM

Pedro taken to hospital after Ospina collision



Chelsea winger Pedro was taken to hospital following a collision with David Ospina in Saturday's friendly win over Arsenal, manager Antonio Conte has confirmed.

The Spain international clashed with the Arsenal goalkeeper as he chased a loose ball in the first half of the match in Beijing and required lengthy treatment from the Chelsea medical staff.

Pedro walked off the pitch nursing a bloodied nose and Conte opted against taking any risks, replacing the former Barcelona man with Jeremie Boga.

Conte says the 29-year-old will stay in hospital for observation, but hopes he will link up with the rest of the squad on Sunday in Singapore for the International Champions Cup clash with Bayern Munich next week."He should be okay," Conte said. "He stays here and if the situation is okay he will come tomorrow to Singapore."

Chelsea were the dominant side on Saturday despite having only played a single pre-season friendly against Fulham so far, with Willian and a double from Michy Batshuayi securing the win.

Conte was delighted with the performance, but warned that the Premier League champions still have plenty of room for improvement before the Community Shield meeting with the Gunners at Wembley on August 6."It is good to have this start but we have to work a lot to improve on the physical and tactical. Pre-season is very important," he said.

"These games are important because you understand your level. We must be happy for the commitment of players and with our football."To play this kind of derby in China is great and fantastic and I want to thank all the Chinese people for this welcome. To play in this atmosphere is great for me and the players. I hope in the future to come again to experience this."
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Today, 01:39 AM

West Ham confirm Arnautovic signing



Marko Arnautovic has joined West Ham from Stoke City in a club-record deal.

The Hammers have paid a fee of £20 million for the Austria international, who scored six goals in the Premier League last season.

Pictures of Arnautovic holding the West Ham shirt were leaked on Saturday prior to the official confirmation, with the 28-year-old signing a five-year, £100,000-per-week contract at the London Stadium.“It feels special to me to be a West Ham player,” Arnautovic told West Ham's official website.

“Everyone knows that West Ham is a big club, with big history and I’m happy to be a part of it now. I can’t wait to get started.

West Ham have been busy in the transfer market this summer, and have also confirmed that the signing of Javier Hernandez is imminent, after securing the signatures of Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta.

“Alongside Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart we have brought in three players with vast Premier League experience this summer, and that was one of our key targets as we look ahead to the new season," club chairman David Sulllivan said.


The club began the summer with the intention of signing a goalkeeper, a right-back, a striker and a winger, and Arnautovic appears to be the final piece in Slaven Bilic's jigsaw.
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Today, 01:40 AM

'Neymar joining PSG will change everything' - Klopp



Jurgen Klopp claims that confirmation of Neymar's transfer to PSG would “change everything” in modern football.

PSG are ready to pay the Barcelona superstar’s €222 million release clause, and offer him a jaw-dropping €30m salary, which includes a number of bonuses, including a private jet to whisk him back to Brazil whenever he wishes.

Klopp has been fending off interest in one of his own Brazilian stars this week, with Liverpool rejecting a £72m bid from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho.

The German, though, believes that Neymar’s move to PSG could have massive consequences for football as a whole, if it does indeed go through.

"There are so many rumours around. Only one of them is the Coutinho rumour," the Liverpool Echo, prior to Liverpool’s Asia Trophy game against Leicester City, quotes Klopp as saying."If Neymar is not a rumour then pffff it's more than the next level, it's really not from this planet anymore.

"Really? Two hundred and twenty two million Euros? I can't believe that something like this would happen. But if it does happen then it changes everything actually."
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