Man United's £88million target Andrea Belotti stars for Italy as new signing Victor Lindelof is a rock for Sweden

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After the close of the 2016/17 season, it seems as if we’ve been instantly flung into the world of transfer news and gossip with clubs already scrambling to get their business done early.

Fans are naturally excited by the prospect of some big names joining their clubs and that’s why the international fixtures this weekend was a great opportunity to see some of those targets in action.

Were they pleased with what they saw?

Here, we look at how the subjects of some of the biggest transfer rumours at the moment performed on the pitch for their respective nations.

DIEGO COSTA | SPAIN

The striker’s current situation has been one of the most interesting stories in the transfer market so far this summer. Despite finishing as Chelsea’s top scorer as they cruised to the Premier League title, Antonio Conte has told him that he is not in his plans for next season, via a text message no less.

Costa however delivered on the pitch on Sunday night as he scored the decisive goal in Spain’s 2-1 win over Macedonia to maintain top spot in World Cup qualifying Group G. Isco’s quick feet got him past a defeder before he laid the ball on a plate for Costa to dispatch from three yards in the 27th minute.

VERDICT:

Apart from an easy tap-in, Costa didn’t do much to excite any potential suitors. In fact he cut a frustrated figure for the most part. His petulant side came to the fore as well as he nearly lashed out at Daniel Mosjov for a foul on him and went down theatrically when Vanche Shikov clashed into him as well.

RATING: 6/10

ANDREA BELOTTI | ITALY

Despite reports claiming that Alvaro Morata is set to complete a move to Manchester United, Belotti remains linked to the Premier League outfit as another option for Jose Mourinho.

The Torino man scored Italy’s second in a 5-0 win over Liechtenstein and set up another. He timed his run to perfection before bending his effort past the keeper in the 52nd minute. Belotti then pulled off a great one-two with Eder who scored the third for the Italians.

VERDICT:

The striker became the youngest player with two or more goals and assists in the European World Cup qualifiers. Belotti produced a great all-round performances as he ran the channels, scored a fine goal and linked up with his team-mates brilliantly, even setting up Eder for a second time only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

RATING: 8/10


ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI | POLAND

The Polish hitman recently made some controversial remarks against his Bayern Munich teammates after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang beat him to finish as the Bundesliga’s top scorer this season on the final day of the campaign. Lewandowski has been a subject of interest for Real Madrid for a while and a move is possible given Alvaro Morata’s imminent transfer to United.

The Bayern striker would’ve only peaked Madrid’s interest with his latest performance, bagging a hat-trick as in a 3-1 win over Romania.

VERDICT:

The 28-year-old was in top form as he registered 11 goals in his last six games for Poland. He was absolutely clinical on the night and his second goal, a towering header from a corner kick, was the pick of the bunch.

RATING: 9/10

ROMELU LUKAKU | BELGIUM

Lukaku has been heavily linked to a move back to Chelsea this summer with Everton slapping a £100 million price tag on the Belgian.

However, the 24-year-old didn’t show his best form as Beligium beat Estonia 2-0 away. In fact, the striker had a great chance to score just before the break but hit his effort straight at the keeper after going through one-on-one.

VERDICT:

The Everton star hasn’t put his best foot forward in the last couple of games for Belgium and disappointed this time around as well. He’s renowned for his play with his back to goal but his control was exceptionally poor against Estonia. He certainly didn’t look like a world class striker.

RATING: 4/10


ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN | ENGLAND

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been linked to a move to Liverpool and with good reason. His all-action, high-energy style of play goes perfectly with Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy and would be well within the Merseyside club’s means as they look to bolster their squad ahead of a Champions League season.

While England’s 2-2 draw against Scotland wasn’t the best spectacle, the Arsenal man did score the first goal for his side after coming off the bench to replace Marcus Rashford. He cut inside from the right, burst into the penalty area and found the back of the net with a left-footed effort.

VERDICT:

It was as good a performance off the bench as England could’ve hoped for on the day. His 25-minute display won’t do his chances of a move any harm.

RATING: 7/10

VICTOR LINDELOF | SWEDEN

Manchester United this week announced their agreement with Benfica to sign Victor Lindelof and they would’ve liked what they saw of their new centre-back in Sweden’s 2-1 win over France.

The 22-year-old put in a commanding display and had Olivier Giroud in his pocket all day apart from that incredible strike for which Lindelof wasn’t at fault. His no-nonsense approach kept the French attackers at bay as he regularly won tackles and made interceptions. He was unbeatable in the air as well.

VERDICT:

The defender gave United a great preview of what they will have at their disposal next season. Mourinho has lamented his defence’s soft core at times this season but Lindelof will certainly help rectify that.

RATING: 8/10

ALEXIS SANCHEZ | CHILE

The Arsenal star’s future has been up in the air for the last few months after he stated his intentions to play for a side where he will win titles. While the Gunners secured the FA Cup, a league title is known to be on the forward’s mind with the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Chelsea all possible destinations.

As such, the Chilean would’ve only raised interest in himself with a fine display off the bench in Chile’s 1-1 draw away to Russia. After a goalless first half, Sanchez made an instant impact in the second, setting up Mauricio Isla with a sublime pass.

VERDICT:

The 28-year-old went close to winning the game for the visitors. He set up Martin Rodriguez inside the box only to see the effort sliced horribly wide. In the closing stages, he also had a shot from range saved. All in all, he was the catalyst off the bench for Chile.

RATING: 7/10

CHRISTIAN PULISIC | USA

Very much the golden boy of USA’s national football team, the Borussia Dortmund winger has been linked with a move to Liverpool.

Pulisic starred for USA again, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. The youngster finished off a great move for the first goal before making a great run in behind the defence and drilling in a low effort from a difficult angle 10 minutes later. He also went close to scoring a couple of times in the first half.

VERDICT:

The Dortmund starlet is only 18 but he’s already carrying the hopes of his nation on his shoulders. He is their talisman and proved so yet again. His devastating pace is one of his greatest assets along with his quick feet but the composure he’s shown when getting into good positions is what sets him apart.

RATING: 9/10

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Diego Costa believes fighting for Chelsea future is pointless

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Diego Costa

Diego Costa admits he sees no point in trying to fight for a future at Chelsea if he is not wanted and has again not ruled out rejoining Atletico Madrid this summer despite their transfer embargo.

Costa claimed last week that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had informed him in a text message that he was not part of the Italian’s plans going forward at Stamford Bridge.

That came at the end of a season when Costa scored 26 goals in 46 games for the Premier League champions, but which also saw persistent speculation about the Spain striker’s future – with a possible switch to China being widely mooted.

The 28-year-old has now ruled out any chance of moving to the Far East as he does not want to jeopardise his World Cup hopes, but he also concedes that trying to stay and fight for a starting place at Chelsea – with whom he has a contract until 2019 – is a waste of time.

He told the Spanish media after scoring in Spain’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Macedonia : “Things don’t work like that. The fight for a place has to be fair.

“When there is a fair fight you stay and fight but if there isn’t then you have to go.”

Chelsea have been linked with a move for former striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton and Costa accepts that Conte might want to move him on in order to bring in a new first-choice centre-forward.

However, he also suggested that things could have been handled differently. Costa said: “You need to ask Conte what has happened, he’s the coach and if he has the option of signing someone else and doesn’t want to have problems with a senior player then that’s normal.

“But there are ways of saying things, ways of doing things. “Thanks to God I’m not lacking teams (to join). If Chelsea don’t want me I will choose the best option for me.”

One of those options appears to be a return to Atletico, who Costa played for before joining Chelsea in 2014 and a club which remains close to the Brazilian-born striker’s heart.

Atletico recently lost an appeal against a FIFA-imposed sanction which means that, while they can still buy players this summer, the Spanish outfit will not be able to register or play them until January.

With next year’s World Cup finals in mind, that may put players off joining the Rojiblancos ahead of the new season, but Costa does not see it as an insurmountable problem for him.

He added: “I have a contract with Chelsea for two years. If they decide to sell me I will search for the best choice of team for me.

“Atletico are among those teams. Signing for Atletico wouldn’t mean not playing, I could go (on loan) to some team in Spain, in Italy, in Brazil…wherever I can continue playing.

“Everyone knows that Atletico is a club that I have a lot of love for. Regardless of if I return or not, I’m always going to continue loving them. “Now we have to wait to see how things turn out.”

A move to the Chinese Super League is not in Costa’s plans, however, with the former Real Valladolid forward adding: “I rule out China, I have to think about my future. I have to think about the World Cup. If I fight and I do things well I’ll have every chance of going to the World Cup. I cannot go to China.”

Provided by Press Association

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"New Cristiano Ronaldo" Andre Silva to sign for AC Milan

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AC Milan are on the verge of capturing Portugal sensation Andre Silva from Porto as the resurgent Serie A giants continue to build for next season.

Television pictures early on Monday showed Silva, often described as the “the new Cristiano Ronaldo”, on his way to undergo a medical in Milan.

The 21-year-old striker was a reported target for a number of top European clubs.

But after Milan failed in bids to land Andrea Belotti from Torino and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, Silva is now expected to sign for the seven-time European champions.

He would become their fourth recruit in as many weeks following the signing of Swiss left-back Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Ivorian Franck Kessie (Atalanta) and Argentinian centre-back Mateo Musaccio.

Milan were recently sold to Chinese investors by long-time club owner Silvio Berlusconi in a bid to inject fresh impetus into their attempt to rejoin the elite of European football.

Provided by AFP

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