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‘Real Madrid need to sign Icardi immediately’ – Capello urges swoop for Inter striker

Real Madrid should be looking to sign Inter striker Mauro Icardi “immediately”, claims former Blancos boss Fabio Capello.

The Liga giants have found goals hard to come by this season, with a four-game winless run seeing them fail to trouble the scorers.

It is now being suggested that a new frontman could be sought during the January transfer window, with proven cover still required for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo.

Capello believes that search should lead Real to Italy, with Icardi – who finished as the joint-top scorer in Serie A last season – the perfect choice for a misfiring Madrid side.

“I am a fan of his,” Capello told Radio Rai.

“He is a specialist in the penalty area, as was Cristiano Ronaldo, and if you put three balls in the area he hits all three.

“If I were Real Madrid, I would sign him immediately.”

Icardi, who Inter are hoping to tie to fresh terms in the near future, has managed 112 goals in 190 appearances for Inter.

The Argentina international will be hoping to add to that tally when he returns to domestic action in a derby date with AC Milan on Sunday.

That contest will see a potential Madrid striker of the future pitched into direct competition with a proven striker of their past.

Higuain Milan Chievo

Icardi’s countryman, Gonzalo Higuain, is currently starring for the Rossoneri after completing a summer loan switch from Juventus.

Capello worked with him at Real in 2007 and is a big fan of the qualities that the 30-year-old offers.

“He had the great quality of always finding the goal,” added the ex-Juve and England coach.

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“That means he had coordination, mentality and technical abilities.

“Now he’s improved even more because he participates in the action, and playing in Europe has helped him.

“He’s a very interesting person on a human level and he’s always been a good guy.”


Higuain hailed as a ‘true champion’ by AC Milan legend Maldini

Gonzalo Higuain is a “true champion” who has elevated the play of everyone around him at AC Milan, former defender Paolo Maldini has said.

Argentina striker Higuain moved to Milan from Juventus on an initial season-long loan deal prior to this campaign beginning and having not netted in his first two games against Napoli and Roma, the 30-year-old has since scored six times in five games, including a brace against Chievo before the international break.

Milan fans will be hoping he extends his purple patch when they face Inter in the derby next weekend, and Maldini has lauded his impact, insisting he would rather have Higuain than their rivals’ star striker Mauro Icardi.

Speaking at the Festival dello Sport event in Trento, Maldini, who recently returned to Milan as a director, said: “You ask me about Higuain and Icardi. Well, I say Higuain because he is a champion, a true champion.

“He raised the level of this team, not just with his performances, but also with his goals, with his way of training.”

Inter finished eight points ahead of Milan last season and are four clear already, although Gennaro Gattuso’s side do have a game in hand.

Maldini admits that the Rossoneri still have some way to go if they are to bridge the gap on their cross-city rivals, who are competing in the Champions League this season.

Asked if he thought there was still a distance between the two clubs, Maldini added: “Maybe at the moment, yes, I do, but hopefully not at the end of the season.”

Maldini spent his entire playing career with Milan and made 902 appearances across 24 years with the club.

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He is hoping that 20-year-old striker Patrick Cutrone can also have a long and successful career with Milan having become a first-team regular last term.

“That’s the hope, always – to create players from the youth sector that can then have a long career with the main team,” he said.

“In today’s football this is becoming harder and harder, that’s for sure.”


‘Angry’ Higuain seeking Juventus revenge after being nudged towards Milan by Ronaldo – Del Piero

Gonzalo Higuain looks “angry” after being forced out of Juventus by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, says Alessandro del Piero, with the Argentine seeking “revenge” on the Serie A champions.

Despite netting 55 times in 105 appearances for the Bianconeri, a proven frontman was deemed surplus to requirements in Turin over the summer.

A €100 million (£88m/$115m) deal for Ronaldo saw him nudged down the pecking order and eventually out of the door to San Siro.

Higuain has responded positively in new surroundings, netting six times in seven appearances for Milan.

Juve icon Del Piero feels the 30-year-old frontman has the look of a player trying to prove a point, telling Sky Sport Italia: “AC Milan need him so badly, both for his goals and for his leadership.

“Everybody runs to hug him whenever he scores, this proves how happy he is in Milan and proves he’s settled in well.

“Before his move to Juventus, he used to complain much more, at Juve he has improved and he has learned to play for the team as well.

“However, I think he is angry with Juventus. He wanted to take his revenge after being kicked out of Juve.

“He had positive seasons at Juve but he was sold, I think that’s the reason for Higuain’s anger.

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“Did you notice his celebrations? He opens his arms like he wants to be hugged. He is at AC Milan to solve their problems, he knows that and he loves it. He feels great in the group.”

The deal which took Higuain to Milan is an initial loan agreement.

The Rossoneri do, however, have the option to turn that move into a €36m (£32m/$41m) permanent deal at the end of the season.


Gattuso adamant AC Milan were never in crisis

Gennaro Gattuso has bemoaned AC Milan’s struggles to put games to bed this season but was satisfied with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Chievo, with his side never considered to have been “in crisis”.

Milan had won only two of their six Serie A matches heading into Sunday’s clash at San Siro but they cruised into a 3-0 lead against the league’s bottom club, thanks to a Gonzalo Higuain brace and a second-half strike from Giacomo Bonaventura.

A sloppy pass out of defence by Cristian Zapata set up a consolation goal for Sergio Pellissier and Gattuso says there is still plenty of room for improvement, despite now sitting only three points adrift of second-placed Napoli.

“The performances were always there, we were just missing the three points,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“The worst performance was on Thursday against Olympiacos [a 3-1 win in the Europa League].

“We made mistakes again today, gifting their goal, but we always want to play the ball. This wasn’t a team in crisis before, we just struggled to kill games off after good performances.

“At times we run a few too many risks at the back, but we do want to play the ball and keep it moving.”

Gattuso called on his players to create more chances for Higuain, who has now scored three goals in two matches since returning from injury.

“Higuain is a champion, a great finisher, a player who is working very hard for the group, is demanding and also well-loved,” he added.

“The team creates a lot but we could do with more quality from Hakan Calhanoglu, who can create many more chances for Higuain, but isn’t very sharp at the moment.

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“We have to improve on the left, as we were far stronger there last season. Franck Kessie played below par in the first half and wasn’t very dynamic today, but I like to give more width to the team.”

Gattuso’s men face a Milan derby against Inter after the international break.

“The derby is a game everyone cares about a great deal, there are 80,000 fans in the stands and we’ll be ready to focus when we come back from international duty on beating a very strong Inter,” said Gattuso.


AC Milan 3 Chievo 1: Higuain nets brace in comfortable win

Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as AC Milan cruised to a 3-1 Serie A victory over bottom club Chievo on Sunday.

The former Napoli forward netted his brace as part of a comfortable first-half showing, setting Gennaro Gattuso’s side on the path to just their third league win of the season.

Giacomo Bonaventura added a third for Milan after the break, before Sergio Pellissier pulled one back for the visitors in the 63rd minute.

Pellisier’s consolation extended a run of Milan having scored and conceded in each of their last 11 Serie A matches, which have now featured 41 goals in total.

Milan enjoyed the better of the early play but almost fell behind in embarrassing circumstances, as captain Ignazio Abate misjudged a header back to Gianluigi Donnarumma, forcing the goalkeeper into a diving save low to his right.

Chievo lived dangerously in the 19th minute when Stefano Sorrentino pushed a Bonaventura strike into the path of Hakan Calhanoglu, whose own effort was intercepted by a crucial block from Fabio Depaoli.

Bonaventura then lifted over from close range after being played in by Suso, but Higuain made no mistake a minute later.

Suso was again the architect, squaring a pass for the Argentina striker to turn in between the legs of Sorrentino, and the same pair combined for Milan’s second – a through ball splitting the visitors’ disjointed back line and Higuain slotting home the finish.

Abate tested Sorrentino early in the second half, before a deflected Bonaventura strike from the edge of the box after 56 minutes put the result beyond doubt.

A momentary lapse cost the hosts their clean sheet as a Cristian Zapata pass out from the back was pounced on by Pellisier, who fired in a low drive from just outside the area, but it was all Chievo muster in their comeback bid.

What it means: Milan in touch

Milan are now only three points adrift of second-placed Napoli and have a game in hand over Lazio, Sampdoria and Roma.

Chievo, meanwhile, remain rooted to the foot of the table without a victory from their opening eight matches.

Higuain fit and firing

Higuain returned from injury to score in a 3-1 Europa League victory over Olympiacos in midweek and appears to be hitting his stride with two composed finishes against Chievo.

An honourable mention must also go to Suso who, after setting up Higuain’s two goals, also provided the assist for Bonaventura, although he had to be replaced in the 90th minute after appearing to pick up an ankle problem. Milan will hope he recovers quickly.

Chievo’s crumbling defence costly

It was not difficult to see why Chievo have not yet amassed enough points to wipe out their three-point deduction for false accounting yet.

Milan persistently found holes in the visiting defence, most notably for Higuain’s second, while their goal came from their only shot on target.

What’s next?

A Milan derby with Inter awaits Gattuso’s men after the international break, while Chievo host Atalanta.