World Cup winner and legendary forward Ronaldo backed his namesake Cristiano Ronaldo to play until he is 40, and also questioned Real Madrid’s decision to sell Achraf Hakimi to Inter, during a recent interview.
Since joining Juventus back in 2018, CR7 has showed no signs of slowing down, netting an impressive 31 Serie A goals last season. He has continued these impressive scoring feats this campaign, scoring 15 times in his opening 13 league games.
He turns 36 in February and his Brazilian namesake has predicted that he will not be retiring any time soon.
When asked whether Ronaldo might play into his forties during an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport (via Goal), he said: “I don’t know, for sure he will try.
“He is different from the player I saw at Real Madrid, he knows how to manage himself now. Did you see him against Sassuolo? Even if he stays in the shadows for the whole game, he can hurt in the space of one minute.”
During the interview Ronaldo also discussed Inter’s title chances. Since Antonio Conte took over the Nerazzurri in 2019, there has been significant investment in the squad and the club finished just one point shy of Juventus last season.
The also find themselves in a title race this campaign with Ronaldo saying: “They have a great coach and a team with a precise identity. In addition to that they don’t play European competitions.
“That’s never a good thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Inter earn more points than their opponents in March, when European competitions will resume. They signed an extraordinary player in Hakimi. It was a mistake for Real Madrid to let him go, sometimes I think: ‘Ronnie, imagine you and him. We would go at a decent speed.”
Hakimi has indeed made a quick start to his Inter career, registering 10 Serie A, direct goal involvements after 17 games this season, despite operating as a right wing-back.
Bayern Munich held out to take all three points in a 2-1 victory at home to Freiburg, opening a four-point gap at the top of the Bundesliga ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig.
The game was marred from the first whistle with a false start, an injury and a VAR check in the opening five minutes, but it didn’t harm Die Roten who found the back of the net through Robert Lewandowski after just seven minutes.
Freiburg weren’t without their chances and came close through Roland Sallai in the first half, but Bayern always looked comfortable and dominated possession, despite lacking any extra bite with Serge Gnabry forced off through injury.
Bayern continued to dominate possession into the second half but again lacked any real urgency and were punished as a result, when substitute Nils Petersen popped up from a corner and headed past Manuel Neuer after 62 minutes with his first touch of the game.
Freiburg’s equaliser was exactly what a complacent Bayern needed, however. Hansi Flick’s side upped the ante and regained the lead through Thomas Muller after 74 minutes. Lewandowski did well to win a loose ball shortly after and forced a smart save out of Florian Muller in the Freiburg goal, but couldn’t double his tally.
The visitors didn’t let up as Petersen smashed the crossbar in the 90th minute, but Bayern held on to claim all three points.
Here’s how the players rated from a snowy afternoon at the Allianz Arena.
Manuel Neuer (GK) – 5/10 – Neuer had little to do and could do little to stop a diving header from Petersen, who was left completely free at the back post.
Benjamin Pavard (RB) – 5/10 – Pavard struggled when given the ball in advanced areas of the pitch, but was comfortable in stopping attacks from blossoming down the right flank.
Jerome Boateng (CB) – 6/10 – Little to do defensively beyond a flurry in the first half and played one or two sharp vertical passes as the game went on.
David Alaba (CB) – 6/10 – Alaba was similarly quiet to his centre back colleague, but did well to cover for Davies when needed.
Alphonso Davies (LB) – 5/10 – The Canadian wasn’t at the level fans have come to expect from him. A little too cautious venturing forward and was caught sleeping at the back post which allowed an unexpected equaliser to creep in.
Joshua Kimmich (CM) – 5/10 – Unusually poor performance from Kimmich who was too casual in possession. Fired one or two wayward passes and held the ball for too long in spells, which slowed his side down. Leon Goretzka (CM) – 5/10 – When Kimmich isn’t ticking, neither is Leon Goretzka. Bayern’s engine barely made it out of first gear, which was an issue for most of the XI.
Serge Gnabry (RM) – 7/10 – Gnabry looked electric with every touch of the ball and was causing problems both wide and centrally, but suffered an injury and limped off just shy of the half hour mark. A real shame.
Thomas Muller (AM) – 8/10 – Muller looked sharp as ever from the first whistle. Be it pulling away defenders with smart movement or arriving late and threading play together himself, a well taken goal and an assist was testament to just how crucial he is to Die Roten.
Kingsley Coman (LM) – 6/10 – Coman ran tirelessly and got back to help Davies defensively when needed, but admittedly lacked a convincing end product to beat his man.
Robert Lewandowski (ST) – 7/10 – Despite scoring the opener and his side wielding most of the possession in the first half, Lewandowski was often left waiting to receive the final ball. Unlucky to rattle the crossbar in the second half.
Leroy Sane – 6/10 – The German put in another modest performance, but gradually grew into the game. Forced another fine save out of Florian Muller towards the end following an impressive, mazy run at goal.
On 9 November, 2019, Tanguy Ndombele started for Tottenham against Sheffield United, but he managed just 45 minutes of humiliation before being hauled off at half-time.
He was carrying an injury and looked well off the pace, and it was a performance which sparked questions about his future. Was the club’s record signing genuinely good enough to play for Tottenham?
On January 17, 2021, he started for Tottenham against Sheffield United, and he put in an utterly outstanding 90-minute display.
Ndombele looked nothing like the player who struggled to adjust to life in London, shining at both ends of the field and looking every bit like the £60m player Spurs expected him to be when he was brought over from Lyon.
Forming a terrifyingly impressive pivot with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ndombele was the one given more license to play forward. He was given permission to try some audacious passes to unlock Sheffield United’s defence, and importantly, he had the quality needed to pull most of them off.
He passed the ball with pin-point accuracy and always wanted to make things happen, but it was Ndombele himself who stole the headlines with an utterly outstanding lob to bag Spurs’ third goal.
While he was the forward-thinker in midfield, Ndombele didn’t shirk his defensive duties. He was dominant in the tackle and constantly hoovered up possession, forming a two-man wrecking crew alongside Hojbjerg.
The duo make up a complete pairing who are capable of excelling at both ends of the field. They’ve barely even played together, and yet appear to have built up a perfect understanding with one another.
Jose Mourinho appears to have finally gotten through to Ndombele, and the results have been outstanding.
The Frenchman now has to be seen as one of the Premier League’s finest midfielders. He can do everything at an incredibly high level, and if he can maintain this level of form, the sky really is the limit.
We all know Timo Werner is in a bit of a rough patch right now, but it felt like his time at Chelsea hit a new low in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Fulham.
The German, who set Chelsea back a cool £47.5m in the summer, stretched his run to ten Premier League games without a goal as he fired a blank against the struggling Cottagers, with one miss stealing the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Late on in the game, Werner latched on to a ball over the top and had the entire Fulham half to run at Alphonse Areola. It was the exact situation from which Werner had made his name. This was destined to be the moment he turned things around.
But he missed.
Werner sliced his effort well wide of the goal and looked visibly distraught at doing so, but it’s something he’s had to get used to in recent weeks. The shooting boots simply aren’t there right now.
His struggles have provided joy to a lot of rival fans on Twitter, with Chelsea’s wretched history with strikers being mentioned time and time again. Werner has already been billed as a new Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata or Falcao – big-name strikers who forgot how to play football in London.
His form is obviously something to be concerned about – to not score in ten league games when he bagged 28 in 34 last season is hardly ideal – but to compare Werner to some of the club’s most historically poor strikers is ludicrous.
For starters, it seems as though Werner’s struggles have been massively blown out of context. This is a man who has nine goals and six assists in 26 appearances in all competitions. They’re by no means elite numbers, but they’re solid. To suggest he’s flopped already doesn’t make sense.
However, there’s no denying he’s not playing like a £47.5m striker who just went toe-to-toe with Robert Lewandowski for 12 months. Chelsea expected the goals to flood in, and simply put, they haven’t.
The blame needs to be shared around for this one. Werner obviously hasn’t been playing well enough, and he’ll know that he has to do more to justify his price tag, but Frank Lampard hasn’t always given him the tools he needs to impress.
On this ten-game dry streak, Werner spent the first seven games as a left winger, a position he is comfortable in but would never argue is his strongest. He’s only been a striker in the last three, two of which came as a post-70th minute substitute.
Of his 26 appearances this year, just nine have been as a striker, so his return of nine goals suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
The talent is obviously in there, but it’s up to Werner, Lampard and everyone else at Chelsea to find a way to maximise it.
He’s still finding himself in the right positions to score, and crucially, that means he’s good enough. Werner has been showing the positioning and movement needed to be a deadly striker, but he’s yet to piece that together with the finishing skills he left in the Bundesliga.
It’s a confidence thing. We saw this with Torres and we definitely saw this with Morata, who looked like he was carrying the weight of Stamford Bridge on his shoulders every waking minute of his existence. It’s up to Werner to do what the others could not and show he’s strong enough to get out of this slump.
What Werner does have on his side is recent pedigree. While Torres was declining by the time he joined and Morata had very little experience as the undisputed starting striker for a team, we know for a fact that Werner is just getting going.
He’s up for the challenge, but he could do with rising to it soon.
Fikayo Tomori is set to join Serie A leaders Milan on loan until the end of the season with an option to make the transfer permanent, as he looks to gain more playing time away from Chelsea.
The 23-year-old made 15 league appearances for the Blues last season, but the arrival of Thiago Silva and the return of Kurt Zouma from a loan spell at Everton has restricted the youth academy product to featuring only once in the league this year.
Tomori’s exclusion from Frank Lampard’s plans has left him in search of minutes elsewhere, and Fabrizio Romano reports that he is set to join Milan on loan for the rest of the season, with an option to buy included in the deal.
The England international will help the Serie A outfit in their bid to topple Juventus as Italian champions, and he may be relied upon in the thick of a hectic end of season schedule.
I Rossoneri have suffered with injury troubles at the heart of their defence this year, with talisman Simon Kjaer succumbing to fitness issues in December.
The possibility of further injuries to either Kjaer or captain Alessio Romagnoli has left Stefano Pioli scrambling to finding a viable alternative, having been forced to rely on starlet Pierre Kalulu at times during this campaign.
The Milan boss will also be wary of a potential coronavirus outbreak decimating his squad, and with the Italian giants in the midst of an unexpected title charge, he’ll be hoping to reinforce his team in as many positions as possible.
Tomori will receive the minutes he craves in Italy, having fallen out of favour under Lampard at Stamford Bridge. He gained some vital experience at Derby County in the 2018/19 campaign, when the Chelsea boss was also cutting his teeth with the Championship side.
Milan are also closing in on the signing of Mario Mandzukic, according to the same reporter, with the Croatian striker set to sign a contract that will run until the end of the season once the medical examinations are complete.
Mandzukic last played for Qatari side Al-Duhail but made his name in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich before a successful spell with Serie A giants Juventus.