The International Champions Cup (ICC) has become a mainstay in the Singapore football calendar since 2017, and this year’s edition will see four European giants; Manchester United, Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus, entertaining Singaporean football fans with their football.
It may only be a pre-season friendly, but excitement is high, and tickets for the opening clash between United and Inter sold out within hours. Come Saturday evening, fans will pack the 55000-seater Singapore Sports Hub, but what can they expect from this titanic encounter?
No Icardi for Inter
Inter Milan’s star striker Mauro Icardi has been left out of his team’s pre-season tour, in what came as no surprise to many supporters. Stripped of his captaincy midway through last season, it has been quite the fall from grace for Icardi, once the darling of his club.
His poor attitude has led to his alienation from both fans and teammates, and Inter’s Ultras released a statement in May criticizing Icardi’s relationship with the club. The striker has done himself no favours since being stripped of his captaincy, having scored just two league goals since.
He also refused to travel for a Europa League game against Rapid Vienna, and Inter have made it clear that Icardi will not play a part in the future of the club. This will mean that his maverick talents will not be on display in Singapore, much to the dismay of many Singaporean football fans.
Audition for Lukaku in front of potential new coach and teammates
Romelu Lukaku endured a difficult season for United last season, scoring just 12 league goals as United missed out on a Champions League spot. He was the subject of constant criticism from United fans, who often felt that his technique and physique were not good enough for the high standards of a club so used to success.
With Icardi on the way out of Inter, the rumour mills suggest that Inter have made a £60 million bid for Lukaku. However, United are said to be holding out for £75 million, although it does seem to be simply a matter of time before the transfer is complete.
As such, Lukaku will be looking to impress against Inter in what will be an audition for him in front of his future coach, Antonio Conte, and future teammates. A good performance from the towering Belgian could go some way into convincing the Nerazzurri to shell out the £75 million that United are demanding for their number nine.
Its always difficult to call a pre-season friendly, where teams are still finding their rhythm, and run outs are given to youth players on the fringes of the first team squad. Keep your eyes peeled on Lukaku, in what could be his final game in the red of United, before his switch to the blue and black stripes of Inter.