Antonio Conte

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Reports: Antonio Conte will be next Inter manager

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According to a number of reports across Europe, including The Guardian and The Mirror, Antonio Conte has agreed to terms to become the next manager at Inter Milan and will take over this summer, with Luciano Spalletti departing.

Conte has signed a four-year deal at Inter that will earn him around $11 million per season, with the Italian excited to return home and face the challenge of finishing the task at Inter. The Italian giants have slumped in recent years, but this year showed promise that the project may finally be coming to an end. Spalletti appears to have turned the team into a Champions League contender again, but there are reports that he is struggling to maintain the support of the locker room and the front office.

Inter’s qualification to next year’s Champions League is no guarantee either, with the club sitting just a point ahead of rivals AC Milan for the final Serie A spot heading into the final week of the season. They have just three wins in their final nine matches, leaving them vulnerable.

Conte most recently managed Chelsea for two seasons, winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup in his first season but missing out on Champions League qualification last campaign before departing. He recently won a lawsuit against Chelsea that will see the Blues pay him an additional $11 million as part of his severance package. Other than his Premier League stint at Stamford Bridge, Conte has spent his entire career in Italy, managing Juventus, Atalanta, and the Italian national team among others. He has eight Serie A titles to his name between playing and managing.

Rumors say that Conte is zeroing Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku as his first transfer target of the summer.

Sarri’s job status reportedly in jeopardy

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Reports out of Italy say Maurizio Sarri could be fired even if Chelsea wins the Europa League.

Yep, really.

Sarri, 60, is wrapping up his first season at Chelsea. The Blues lost the League Cup Final in penalty kicks, finished third in the Premier League, and meet rivals Arsenal for the UEL crown.

[ MORE: Jovic to Real Madrid ]

Why would he be fired? Because the fans don’t love him. The manager would then potentially be wanted by AC Milan, Roma, and Juventus, says Football Italia.

The same outlet goes as far as to say that AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, formerly of Arsenal, is headed to London to chat with Sarri. The same report says Roma would look to Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini.

Will Chelsea move on from Sarri, even with silverware in tow? It’s possible, and some salacious reports claim Frank Lampard could be targeted by Roman Abramovich.

It seems ludicrous, given how much work went into prying Sarri from his Napoli deal while Antonio Conte marinated in London.

With a transfer ban looming, Chelsea is going to need every bit of its reserves as well as consistency to continue to qualify for the UCL. Four of their five chief rivals are returning their managers for another season.

Cutting ties with Sarri would seem a mistake, especially if he took City to kicks and went on to beat Arsenal in a final.

Costa could miss the rest of the season after red card v. Barcelona

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Diego Costa has had a rough 2018/2019 season back at Atletico Madrid, and his frustrations appeared to boiled over on Saturday against Barcelona.

After failing to receive a free kick, Costa ran over to the match official Jesús Gil Manzano and began to shout at him. Per AS in Spain, there’s disagreement over what Costa actually said, but Manzano said in his match report that Costa used some pretty harsh language – to put it nicely – at him, necessitating the red card.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

According to the AS report, if La Liga follows the letter of its laws, if someone uses “insulting or offensive language” at any of the referees, they could be handed a four to 12 match ban. With just seven games remaining, it could see Costa’s season end prematurely. In addition, Costa grabbed the arm of Manzano on multiple occasions to try and pursuade Manzano to not give his teammates yellow cards. Grabbing an official could also lead to a four to 12 game ban.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s an ignominious end of the season for Costa. He’s scored just two goals in 16 games (14 starts) in La Liga this season, and he’s being overtaken by new signing Alvaro Morata up top for both club and country.

Costa hasn’t been the same since his spat with former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was revealed, which led Costa to miss six months of soccer while waiting for a transfer away from Chelsea in 2017. He received the move he wanted to Atletico Madrid, but it hasn’t come off as well as he played at Chelsea or Atletico Madrid before that. The 30-year-old may be wondering if he’ll still be able to get one last big contract before he retires.

Report: Mourinho in contact with Inter and Roma

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According to a report by Sky Sports Italia, former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has been in contact with Italian clubs Roma and Inter Milan about managing next season.

Mourinho most notably spent time at Inter between 2008 and 2010 where he won the treble in his second season before leaving to join Real Madrid.

Both clubs have managers currently in place, but neither is terribly secure in their position. Inter manager Luciano Spalletti has come under fire for his handling of the Mauro Icardi situation, and while the player has taken much of the public blame, Spalletti left Icardi out of the matchday squad this past weekend, seen as a mishandling of the former captain’s return. Meanwhile, Roma boss Claudio Ranier, hired just a few weeks ago to replace the fired Eusebio Di Francesco, has been thus far unable to engineer a return to form to help the club challenge for a Champions League place.

According to another report in the Italian tabloids, Mourinho would be especially willing to return to Inter, where he would take a sort of “hometown discount” lowering his wage demands from $11 million to $9 million per year. However, Inter CEO Beppe Marotta is reportedly leaning towards Antonio Conte as another possibility.

The Sky Sports Italia report claims that while Roma has spoken to Mourinho over the phone, not much else in the way of negotiations has progressed.

Since his dismissal at Manchester United, Mourinho has worked as an analyst on television, employed mostly in Russia. There has been some speculation that Mourinho could also be a candidate for Bayern Munich in the event the German club decides to part ways with Niko Kovac.

Chelsea rejects Real’s $78m Hazard offer; Anderson back-up plan

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Chelsea wants more than $150 million for Eden Hazard which could lead Real Madrid to look to a different part of London for its next playmaker, according to Sky Sports.

A Thursday report says Chelsea has shot down a $78 million bid for Hazard and is expecting at least twice that amount as desperate Real Madrid looks to revolutionize its team after a European trophy-free 2018-19 season.

[ MORE: Man Utd stars set for exit? ]

The Blues may not sell at all because of its impending transfer ban, despite Hazard being able to walk away for free after the 2019-20 season.

And Hazard isn’t exactly shying away from his long-held interest in a move to Real in this sly exchange with Belgian outlet HLN:

Interviewer: “Look, I have a friend who has been playing in the Premier League for seven years. At a club that plays in blue. He has won everything there and he is ready for a new challenge. He is now in the interest of another club, one in a white outfit. What would you recommend to that boy?”

Smiling, Hazard replied: “Well, buy that friend a white shirt.”

So Real is training its eyes on West Ham United’s Felipe Anderson to the tune of an $85 million bid, a figure which would see the Irons profit in a big way following a $48 million purchase just last summer.

Anderson, who turns 26 in April, has been very good as the Irons bid for seventh place and a possible Europa League spot next season. The Brazilian has nine goals and five assists across all competitions for Manuel Pellegrini.

Hazard is two years older than Anderson, and has produced at a world class level dating back to his 20-goal, 18-assist Ligue 1 season at Lille in 2011-12.

Although, even with the transfer ban, maybe Chelsea will take the money and its medicine without Hazard, who is one of the only players who have been a part of the Blues teams to quit on Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte (and possibly tried to do the same to Maurizio Sarri).

Do you want the bitter Belgian playing out the string? West Ham fans probably hope the answer is, “Nope.”

Get ready for a summer of speculating that Real might buy any player on Earth outside of Lionel Messi, given chairman Florentino Perez’s penchant for hunting Galacticos; In the past week alone, Real has been linked with Neymar, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Hazard, and Anderson. Wow.