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AC Milan are reportedly ready to go toe-to-toe with Manchester United in pursuit of Sporting Lisbon tyro Gelson Martins.
According to Calciomercato.com, while the youngster is unlikely to make a move during the midseason window, both of the aforementioned big names are positioning themselves for a summer pursuit, with Inter Milan also said to be keeping a close eye on the winger.
Martins has enjoyed a wonderful start to the 2016-17 season, impressing both domestically and in the UEFA Champions League for Sporting. As the report noted, he’s said to have a release clause of €60 million (£53.3 million) in his current contract.
Young players excelling at the highest level always create buzz, but in the case of the Sporting man, there seems to be a special swagger in the way he operates. Here’s why he’s been tipped to accomplish great things in the future:
Whenever a young winger bursts into the first team at Sporting—which honed the skills of players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Simao and Ricardo Quaresma—there’s plenty of excitement.
Martins is a player who warrants that hype. The 21-year-old has been a menace on the right flank this season, using his searing pace and remarkable dribbling skills to leave opponents floundering. Additionally, what has set the Portugal international apart from other prodigious wingers is his final ball.
WhoScored.com took a look at how Martins compares to one of European football’s other bright young talents, Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele, in the UEFA Champions League:
GRAPHIC: Ousmane Dembélé vs Gelson Martins #bvbscp pic.twitter.com/AqCOthxEle
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 2, 2016
With seven assists and two goals in all competitions so far this season, it’s little surprise Martins has caught United’s eye. According to A Bola (h/t Lucas Sposito of Sport Witness), the Red Devils have already compiled 10 reports on the youngster.
The Milan giants may no longer carry the same clout as United or have the same kind of lucrative pulling power. But it’s competition the Premier League side could do without if they want to lure Martins to Old Trafford.
Antonio Rudiger Addresses Rumours
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Reported United target Antonio Rudiger has shrugged off speculation linking him with a departure from Roma.
“There’s a lot of talk about changes in the squad, but I’m really happy to play for Roma. I’m not bothered about transfer rumours,” the defender said, per Joe Wright of Goal. “In the end, I’m happy to be healthy again.”
As Wright noted, Rudiger has been linked with a possible move to both the Red Devils and Chelsea in the past.
The Germany international only officially became a Roma player in the summer, having spent the previous season on loan at the Stadio Olimpico from Stuttgart. Here’s a look at why there are such high hopes for the 23-year-old:
Rudiger has endured a tough start to the current campaign, having made his first appearance of the season against Sassuolo just last week following a cruciate ligament injury. Given he picked up the problem in June, Sam Tighe was surprised to see him back so soon:
Antonio Rudiger came on as a sub for Roma vs. Sassuolo. That’s a quick return. What’s the story there?
— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) October 27, 2016
The youngster possesses a determination and desire that would have served him well in his recuperation, though. They’re traits that are evident in his defending too, as Rudiger is physical, dynamic and adaptable in his duties; in his only start of the campaign, he was deployed in an unfamiliar left-back role.
United could definitely do with more cover at the back, and there would be a lot of long-term potential in a partnership between Rudiger and Eric Bailly. However, the Roma man is only just back at full tilt following some time on the sidelines and shouldn’t let his focus deviate from getting regular minutes on the field again.