José Mourinho will give Romelu Lukaku a chance to prove himself at Chelsea


Just yesterday, it seemed as though Romelu Lukaku was on the verge of signing a permanent deal with Everton. Chelsea manager José Mourinho looked unlikely to ever give him the time needed to establish himself with the club, and Lukaku had made it clear that he did not want to be loaned out yet again. He’d spent last season on loan with Everton, and Roberto Martínez was anxious to make that deal permanent.

Today, however, reports suggest that Mourinho wants to give Lukaku the opportunity to prove himself before deciding on the Belgian’s future. According to reports, the manager wants to see Lukaku in action during the Blues’ preseason friendlies. Chelsea are off to Austria and Slovenia this week, but it is expected that the forward will join them next week, when they face Eredivisie side Vitesse.

Lukaku has made just fifteen appearances for Chelsea since joining from Anderlecht in 2011. He spent the 2011-12 season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, then spent last season with Everton, where he scored 15 goals.

Chelsea’s top goalscorer last season, Eden Hazard, notched 14 goals in the Premier League. The squad’s strikers — Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba — put in 19 total. Now Eto’o is without a club and Ba will play for Beşiktaş.

Mourinho is attempting to supplement his strike force, however, bringing in Diego Costa from Atlético Madrid. The 25-year-old scored 27 goals in 35 La Liga appearances last season, as well as eight in nine Champions League games. That will go some way to addressing Chelsea’s low goal talley — if he remains fit.

Of course, Chelsea can also go it without a true center-forward, turning to fellow new signing Cesc Fàbregas, super-sub André Schürrle or Hazard. But Lukaku would give the Blues a different option, and it’s certainly worth Mourinho evaluating his talent before he elects to sign away the 21-year-old.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia