Romelu Lukaku has hit out at Manchester United for not doing enough to protect him in the media and claims he, Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez were continually made scapegoats.

Belgium international Lukaku joined Inter before the close of the Premier League transfer window for a reported fee of €75million, just two years on from his move to Old Trafford from Everton.

The 26-year-old was criticised at times for his all-round play at the head of the attack under former boss Jose Mourinho and he was supplanted as first-choice striker by Marcus Rashford after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge.

Lukaku feels there was an unjust focus on his performances as well as those of Pogba and Sanchez, who has been tipped to join him at Inter.

"They have to find somebody," Lukaku told the LightHarted Podcast, apparently recorded prior to his Inter move. "It is Pogba, it is me or it is Alexis. It's the three of us all the time.

"They have got to find somebody to blame. I put my hand up, like, this year I don't think I was the only one playing bad. A lot of people were playing bad but they had to find the culprit.

"If they want to put the blame on me, you know what, f*** it, do what you gotta do.

"I think the team has so much potential to do some great stuff. There is a lot of talent. But it is not only talent; you really have to build a team."

Lukaku also took issue with suggestions he did not suit Solskjaer's intended style of play.

"A lot of people don't think I should be part of that system," he said. "That's my feeling from the conversations that I have. I just know.

"For me, the thing that makes me laugh a lot is: how the hell is s*** going bad in my team, but when I play in my national team, it's good? And I'm happy.

"I didn't play the last six weeks of the league, like the last three weeks or something before the end of the season and then I had another three weeks off before I had to play for the national team, and then we go and play with the Belgium team.

"And nobody there complains because I think the perception in my country is changing slightly. A lot of people were saying a lot of stuff. For me, it took years for a lot of people to change their perception. Man U might not get that time. It's s*** that it happens like that.

"When I go and play for my country, we play the style of play that we want to play probably with Man United and I do well over there. So is it me? Four goals in the World Cup, three weeks ago I scored three goals in two games, and before that we played Switzerland and Iceland in September and I scored four goals in two games. I've scored 48 goals for my country.

"We all know that international soccer is different than club football but the playing style we play in the national team is the one we want to play at Man United. So is it me? Or do we need to have a conversation from man to man and tell each other the rules?"

Lukaku added that he felt United did not do enough to defend him when rumours emerged towards the end of last season that he would not be staying at the club.

"I think a lot of stuff has been said where I didn't feel protected," he added. "A lot of rumours, 'Rom is going to go there, they don't want Rom' and nobody came out and shot it down.

"It was for a good three, four weeks. I'm waiting for someone to come out and shut it down. It didn't happen. I had my conversation, told them it was better to go our separate ways. I just wanted you to say, 'Rom is going to fight for his place', but it never happened for four, five months.

"It was all, 'He's got to go, he doesn't deserve to be there'. Well, okay, then I want to go now. There is fighting for your position, but also being somewhere that people want you to be.

"If you're happy, you find a way, it doesn't matter if you're on the bench or starting. But nobody told me that was the situation, so I thought for two, three weeks to analyse, see all this s*** coming out in the media. Who leaks it? Not me. Not my agent. I see it on my phone come out of nowhere.

"I told them, 'It’s not good for me to be at a place where I'm not wanted'."

Davide Zappacosta has joined Roma on loan from Chelsea on an initial six-month loan deal.

Roma have confirmed the move and also hold the option to prolong Zappacosta's temporary stay at Stadio Olimpico until the end of the season, while the Blues have extended the full-back's contract at Stamford Bridge until June 2022.

"I am pleased to join Roma after an experience overseas that helped me progress as both a player and a person," Zappacosta told Roma's official website.

"Being able to play for a great club like this is a huge motivation – I cannot wait to start training alongside my new team-mates."

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte brought Zappacosta to the Premier League from Torino in August 2017 and he made 22 top-flight appearances in his maiden campaign.

However, opportunities last term proved scarce under Maurizio Sarri and he has yet to appear under Frank Lampard, who also has Reece James to compete with Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back when he returns to full fitness following an ankle injury.

Roma's sporting director Gianluca Petrachi, who also worked with Zappacosta at Torino, is sure he will make a big impact in the Italian capital.

"I'm pleased to be able to have Davide on my team once again," Petrachi said.

"Compared with the player that I knew at Torino, now Roma are getting a player who has matured both as a player and a person after a valuable spell in another league.

"I am certain that Davide will be able to make an important contribution during the course of the season."

Zappacosta earned winners' medals in the FA Cup and Europa League with Chelsea.

Franck Ribery is to take on a new challenge in Serie A at the age of 36, having agreed a deal to join Fiorentina.

The winger has signed for La Viola on a free transfer after leaving Bayern Munich at the end of last season.

Ribery enjoyed 12 hugely successful years in Munich but is excited by the prospect of playing for "a big team" in "a beautiful city", while others of a similar age elect to wind down their careers on less high-profile shores.

The former Marseille man says he spoke with ex-team-mate Luca Toni before accepting Fiorentina's offer - a wise decision, given Toni is one of only four people to have represented both clubs as player or head coach.

Below, we look at how the others got on...

Stefan Effenberg
Bayern: 1990-92
Fiorentina:1992-94
Bayern (again): 1998-02

Although best known for his success at the heart of the midfield of Bayern - where he won three Bundesligas and the 2001 Champions League among nine trophies in total - Effenberg did spend two years in Tuscany.

Joining at the age of 24 after Lothar Matthaus had returned to Bayern to take his place, Effenberg endured a miserable first season as Fiorentina were relegated from Serie A. He helped them bounce straight back to the top flight as Serie B champions, though, before returning to Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach.

 

Mario Gomez
Bayern: 2009-13
Fiorentina: 2013-16

Gomez won the treble in 2012-13 in his final season with Bayern before heading to Florence, having scored 113 goals in 174 appearances in all competitions and lifted seven trophies.

The striker's time in Italy was unlucky, though, with knee ligament damage restricting him to only 21 starts in Serie A before he was loaned to Besiktas for the 2015-16 campaign. He helped them win the Turkish Super Lig.

 

Franck Ribery
Bayern: 2007-19
Fiorentina: 2019-?

Winning 23 trophies in 12 seasons is remarkable by anyone's standards, and it highlights just how important Ribery has been to Bayern's restoration as the pre-eminent force in German football over the past decade.

The treble of 2012-13 was his crowning achievement and should, arguably, have seen him win the Ballon d'Or. Since then, injuries have begun to take their toll, and it is unclear just how effective the Frenchman will prove to be in Italy.
 

Luca Toni
Fiorentina: 2005-07
Bayern: 2007-10
Fiorentina (again): 2012-13

Toni won the World Cup with Italy midway through an impressive first spell with Fiorentina, prompting Bayern to spend a reported €11.6million to take the striker to Germany.

Three domestic trophies in his first season were followed by a more fallow spell, however, while an Achilles injury and disagreements with coach Louis van Gaal led to his departure in 2010. A return to Fiorentina would come three years later, where he enjoyed a single productive season before heading for Hellas Verona.

 

Giovanni Trapattoni
Bayern: 1994-95
Bayern (again): 1996-98
Fiorentina: 1998-00

For a man who turned out for just two clubs as a player, Trapattoni has certainly enjoyed a nomadic coaching career.

He was twice Bayern boss, winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and DFB-Ligapokal in his second spell, before he returned to Italy with Fiorentina. Those two years in Florence ended trophyless, but they were enough to land him the job with the national team.

Patrick Cutrone is grateful to AC Milan but claims he was sold by his former club because there is a preference for Italian teams to field foreign players.

The one-cap Italy international ended his 12-year association with boyhood club Milan in July after taking up Wolves' offer of a four-year deal.

He came through the Rossoneri's youth ranks and scored 18 goals in all competitions in an impressive breakthrough campaign in 2017-18, but the 21-year-old was less prolific last term and was moved on for a reported €22million during the close season.

Portuguese forward Rafael Leao, 20, was brought in as a replacement and Cutrone believes that move - as well as Moise Kean's switch from Juventus to Everton - is indicative of the way teams operate in Serie A.

"Me and Kean in the Premier League? It's always the same story - foreigners are preferred to us," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"For us twenty-somethings, it's hard, but in any case I'd like to emphasise something - I’ll always be grateful to Milan for what they gave me."

Cutrone will be back in Italy this week as part of Wolves' squad for their Europa League play-off first leg against Torino.

The Milan youth product has made four appearances for his new side and is expecting a difficult test in Turin on Thursday.

"My first impressions of Wolves have been excellent," he said. "I was received very well and I've already settled in. 

"I didn't like living in a hotel, so I've found a house where my best friend has been keeping me company.

"It'll be tough against Torino. They're a good team and there are several similarities between us and them - passionate fans, character, pride, a sense of belonging."

Davide Zappacosta arrived at Roma to undergo a medical ahead of finalising a move from Chelsea.

The 27-year-old checked in for medical tests on Wednesday and has been tipped to sign a season-long loan deal at Stadio Olimpico.

Zappacosta joined Chelsea from Torino in August 2017 for a reported £23million but has failed to hold down a spot in the side.

He appeared 26 times in the Premier League during his first two campaigns at Stamford Bridge and has not been used by head coach Frank Lampard this season.

Lampard revealed last Friday he had not made a decision over Zappacosta's future, with fellow right-back understudy Reece James currently sidelined by injury.

But the Italy international's loan switch is seemingly close to going through and he is ready to make an impact at Roma.

"I'm very excited," he told Tuttomercatoweb. "I've missed Italy so much and I'm happy about coming back, even more to Rome, which is near my home.

"I know the club and the fans and I know how much passion they put in. The team are very young and I think we can do well."

Franck Ribery has completed a move to Serie A side Fiorentina following his departure from Bayern Munich.

Ribery, 36, became a free agent when his Bayern contact expired at the end of June.

The French winger spent 12 years in Bavaria, winning nine Bundesliga titles, and was given a warm welcome by Fiorentina fans when he flew into Florence on Wednesday.

The length of the deal has not been confirmed, but reports in Italy indicate it will run for two years.

"I am here with my family. We're doing something together," Ribery told reporters when he arrived in Florence.

"I have already spoken to Fiorentina and Luca Toni, who told me this was a great club and a beautiful city."

Vincenzo Montella could potentially include Ribery in his squad for Saturday's season opener at home to Napoli, who are coached by former Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Premier League club Sheffield United, A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers and teams in Saudi Arabia and Qatar had all been linked to the former Marseille star.

Ribery made 25 appearances and 10 starts in his final Bundesliga campaign, scoring six goals.

Franck Ribery has completed a move to Serie A side Fiorentina following his departure from Bayern Munich.

Ribery, 36, became a free agent when his Bayern contact expired at the end of June.

The French winger spent 12 years in Bavaria, winning nine Bundesliga titles, and was given a warm welcome by Fiorentina fans when he flew into Florence on Wednesday.

Franck Ribery was given a warm welcome by excited Fiorentina fans as he prepares to finalise a move to the Serie A side.

The 36-year-old flew into Florence on Wednesday and is expected to undergo a medical before putting pen to paper on what will reportedly be a two-year contract.

Fiorentina shared to social media a photo of Ribery on the tarmac wearing a club scarf and polo with the caption: "#WelcomeLegend".

Addressing reporters outside the airport, the former Bayern Munich star was quoted as saying: "I am here with my family. We're doing something together.

"I have already spoken to Fiorentina and Luca Toni, who told me this was a great club and a beautiful city."

Ribery became a free agent when his Bayern contract expired at the end of June.

He spent 12 years in Bavaria, winning 23 trophies including nine Bundesliga titles and the Champions League.

The ex-Marseille star had been linked to Sheffield United, A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers and teams in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Cristiano Ronaldo says he discovered he belonged to a "world of stars" upon comparing himself to the rest of Manchester United's strong squad in 2003.

The future Real Madrid and Juventus forward rose to a prominence after moving to Old Trafford from Sporting CP as a skinny teenager.

Then a flashy winger, Ronaldo scored four goals from 29 appearances in his debut Premier League campaign.

Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy were among United's most prominent players at the time and Ronaldo quickly gained belief he too was destined to reach the top of the game.

"When I started playing for Manchester United at 18, 19, because I was as good as the players who were there I realised 'I'm close to achieving great things'," Ronaldo told Portuguese broadcaster TVI.

"Of course, I was a kid and I had a lot to learn – and I learned a lot from them – but I was in that world of stars.

"I saw that they were not doing anything that I couldn't do.

"There were better players than me: Giggs had more experience and was a better player than me at the time, Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer... but I felt that if I worked, with the talent I had, I could be the best player in the Premier League, for example."

Ronaldo spent six seasons at United, winning a first Ballon d'Or the before a €94million (£80m) transfer to Madrid in 2009.

The Portugal captain has since scooped European football's foremost individual honour a further four times.

Barcelona superstar and long-time rival Lionel Messi is the only other player to have claimed the Ballon d'Or on five occasions.

"I know that I am one of the best in my work and that I am in the history of football," Ronaldo said.

"It is no coincidence that only Messi and I have five. It is no accident. And I still feel motivated to try to win collective and individual prizes."

Ronaldo and Juventus commence their Serie A campaign away to Parma on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo believes a 25-year-old version of himself would be worth up to €300million in today's transfer market.

Juventus splashed out €112m including add-ons when they signed the Portugal captain from Real Madrid in 2018.

Only five players – Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Joao Felix, Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho – have commanded larger fees.

Two members of the quintet made their mega-money moves as teenagers and Ronaldo, now 34, has reservations about the increasing prices for youngsters who are yet to prove themselves at the top level.

"Today there is a lot of focus on potential and the football industry is different," the superstar forward told Portuguese broadcaster TVI.

"I'll put the case of Joao Felix aside. Nowadays any player is worth €100m, even without proof. There is more money in football.

"Central defenders and goalkeepers are worth €70million, €80million.

"I do not agree with it, but this is the world we live in. The market is like that, we have to respect it."

Ronaldo formerly held the all-time transfer fee record after Madrid forked out €94m to prise him away from Manchester United in 2009.

Asked how much he would be worth aged 25 in modern terms, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner replied: "It is hard to calculate.

"If a goalkeeper is worth €75m, a player who has done what I had must be worth three to four times more. Easy.

"But I have no such illusion."

Barcelona are officially making a move for Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain are set to reject their offer.

The Neymar saga is seemingly no closer to ending as the Brazil star looks to leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Barca are set to at least make a bid as they aim to get a deal done for their former star, but it will be rejected.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO REJECT BARCELONA'S LOAN BID FOR NEYMAR

PSG have no interest in initially loaning Neymar to Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

It was reported the bid from LaLiga's champions would be for a temporary move, but PSG want an outright transfer so they can find a replacement for the forward, amid reported interest in Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

Barcelona are willing to accept a purchase option if €160million can be paid in instalments, according to Sport.

Meanwhile, the cover of Marca says Neymar is entering "Zone Florentino", referencing Real Madrid president Perez as Barca's rivals maintain hope of signing the 27-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- There could be plenty of movement at Barcelona late in the window. Juventus are discussing a potential swap deal to land Ivan Rakitic and see Emre Can head to Camp Nou, according to Tuttosport, which says the Catalans also put Luis Suarez on the table.

- One midfielder not leaving Turin is Blaise Matuidi. RMC Sport reports the France international will stay at Juventus amid links to PSG and Bayern Munich, with Can seemingly more likely to depart the Serie A champions.

- Mariano Diaz's future is uncertain. AS claims Mariano is not in Real Madrid's plans for this season, but no club has come close to meeting a €20m valuation of the forward.

- Franck Ribery is set to become a Fiorentina player. The former Bayern Munich star has agreed to a deal with the Serie A club, according to Sport Bild and Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Frenchman set to sign on Thursday.

- Amid reported interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, Jadon Sancho is said to be re-signing with Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old England international has sealed a £190,000-per-week long-term deal with Dortmund, according to the Daily Mail.

- Michy Batshuayi is not ready to give up on his Chelsea career. The Belgium striker wants to stay and fight for a place in Frank Lampard's team, according to the Evening Standard.

Juventus and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo remains unsure when he will retire, saying it could be as soon as next year or he could play into his 40s.

Ronaldo, 34, has continued to star after joining Juve last year, scoring 28 goals in 43 games in all competitions and helping the Italian giants win another Serie A title in 2018-19.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is uncertain when he will stop playing, although the star forward said it may not be far away.

"I don't think about that," Ronaldo told TVI on Tuesday.

"Maybe I can leave my career next year … but I can also play up to 40 or 41.

"I don't know. What I always say is to enjoy the moment. The gift is excellent and I have to continue to enjoy it."

Along with numerous individual honours, Ronaldo has won a record five Champions League titles (four with Real Madrid and one with Manchester United), three Premier League crowns and two LaLiga trophies.

Ronaldo wants to make history and is seemingly motivated by setting records.

"Are there any soccer players who have more records than me?" he asked.

"I don't think there are any footballers who have more records than me."

Ronaldo's Juventus begin their Serie A campaign with a trip to Parma on Saturday.

Mexico international Hirving Lozano arrived in Italy on Tuesday ahead of his expected move to Napoli from PSV.

The 24-year-old winger has been linked with the Naples club for much of the transfer window and completion of the deal appears close.

Lozano was mobbed by a group of Napoli supporters shortly after arriving at an airport in Rome, posing for photographs with fans displaying club merchandise.

A direct, goalscoring winger, Lozano has enjoyed two excellent seasons with PSV in the Eredivisie.

Having joined from Pachuca in 2017 after building a fine reputation for himself at home in Mexico, Lozano seamlessly settled into Dutch football.

He scored 17 league goals and added eight assists in his first campaign, resulting in speculation linking him with more illustrious European clubs, such as Manchester United.

Although Lozano was not able to inspire PSV to the title again last term, he proved his debut season was no fluke by accumulating the same number of goals and assists.

Also known for his blistering pace, Lozano has been capped 35 times by Mexico and is generally regarded as one of the country's most talented exports since Real Madrid icon Hugo Sanchez.

Lozano will reportedly undergo a medical on Wednesday.

Merih Demiral wants to live up to the example of his idol Giorgio Chiellini during the early stages of his Juventus career.

Turkey international Demiral joined Juve from Sassuolo in an €18million deal last month – the centre-back having impressed following his move to Serie A from Alanyaspor midway through the 2018-19 season.

The 21-year-old's style has been compared to former Juventus and Uruguay favourite Paolo Montero.

However, despite arguably posing a threat to the club's much-vaunted old-guard at the back along with standout close-season recruit Matthijs de Ligt, Demiral insists he need only look to the likes of Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci for inspiration.

"To be compared to Montero is an honour for me," he said on Tuesday.

"I hope to be able to show the fans that I'm a strong defender and live up to that expectation. My real idols are the players that I'm playing with now, like Chiellini.

"Chiellini and Bonucci have been helping me a lot to settle in here as well as the other players, I hope to learn a lot from them.

"[Head coach Maurizio] Sarri looks over the defensive side of play personally and this allows me to train in the best possible way and work on my weaknesses."

Demiral is the first Turkish player to sign for Juve, something he described as an "absolute honour", although he is grateful for the presence of Emre Can in Turin – the Germany midfielder of Turkish descent having helped him adjust to new surroundings.

"Emre Can is helping me a lot to settle in both on and off the pitch and I'd like to thank him publicly for that," he added.

Federico Fazio has signed a two-year contract extension with Roma, the Serie A club have confirmed.

The centre-back's fresh terms at the Stadio Olimpico run until June 30, 2021.

"It's my second renewal with the club and I am incredibly pleased," said the 32-year-old Argentina international, who moved to the Italian capital on an initial loan deal from Tottenham in 2016.

"From the very first day here I have felt that the club has confidence in me, something that is important to every player. 

"I've sensed that belief from everyone who works at Trigoria [Roma's training ground] – a place I want to stay at for the long-term."

In three seasons with the Giallorossi, Fazio has made 135 appearances and scored 11 goals.

"Federico is a key player within our squad, and because of that we are delighted to be able to extend his contract," said Roma's sporting director Gianluca Petrachi.

"We will be relying on his ability and his experience, qualities which will also be hugely important in the growth and development of our younger players.

"Federico will be a mentor for our defence and for our lads."

Roma open their Serie A campaign at home to Genoa on Sunday following a busy close season under new head coach Paulo Fonseca.

Pau Lopez, Bryan Cristante and Amadou Diawara are among those in line to make their competitive debuts.

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