Can Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku emulate “father figure” Drogba?

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Chelsea youngster Romelu Lukaku and legendary striker Didier Drogba are closer than many people would think.

Ye,s they often draw comparisons due to their playing style. But Lukaku has revealed that Drogba has helped mold his career on a daily basis for quite some time.

The Belgian forward spent the whole of last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion in the EPL, scoring 17 goals in 35 games and showing why he’s one of the most promising forwards in European soccer.

But can he translate that onto the biggest stage of all with his parent club Chelsea this season? With more than a little help from Drogba, it seems as though Lukaku is on the right path.

“Didier’s a legend. Now it’s up to me to do the same as he did,” said Lukaku. “And I want to achieve that as fast as possible.”

The 20-year-old, who Chelsea bought for $25 million when he was just 18, has big plans for this season and having a role model like Drogba will only aid his development with the Blues.

“He’s [Drogba] one of my best friends. He had the role of father figure to me when I was at Chelsea with him. After training we would talk for an hour or so. We have a good relationship and still talk every day. These days I tell him what I’m doing in training and he tells me if it is wrong or right.”

(MORE: Report, Mourinho reaches out to Drogba about potential Chelsea return)

So this season is massive for Lukaku. He proved himself in the English Premier League as the teenager’s goals and strong hold up play helped West Brom to their best-ever EPL finish of eighth. But now he’s returned to Chelsea, is the shadow of Drogba looming large and proving too much to handle?

Let’s not forget, Drogba was voted as Chelsea’s greatest player by the clubs fans and scored the winning penalty that sealed their first UEFA Champions League title.

Recently it was mooted that Drogba could return to Stamford Bridge. But it seems as though Lukaku will fill his void and the Belgian star went onto say that 35-year-old has been even harder on him recently and has given him even more advice to absorb as the new season approaches.

source: Reuters
Will Lukaku get his chance at Chelsea under Mourinho?

It has been a relatively quite summer at Chelsea since new manager José Mourinho arrived. The huge influx of attacking talents expected hasn’t really materialized. Yet.

But does it have to with Lukaku back on board?

Maybe this is why Chelsea aren’t pushing too hard to sign the likes Luis Suarez or Edinson Cavani? Why pay ridiculous amounts of money when you have a top young talent who’s already capable of hitting double figures in EPL goals. He is strong, quick and can finish from everywhere and should fight with Fernando Torres for the starting role. The comparisons with Drogba are well-founded and uncanny.

However, though Lukaku idolizes Drogba, the young striker is keen to carve his own legacy at Chelsea. “My dad called me Romelu Lukaku so I’m Romelu Lukaku. Yes, we have a similar style of play but I still see there are a few differences. I don’t think people will see me as another Didier Drogba but as Romelu Lukaku.”

Lukaku or the ‘new Drogba?’ Either way, Romelu is on the brink of achieving big things at Chelsea. But will Mourinho give him the chance to emulate his hero at Stamford Bridge?

He should.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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