Manchester City without Pep Guardiola?

Speculation over Guardiola's future is not going away, with Premier League champions City set to be dethroned by Liverpool this season.

And a move to Paris Saint-Germain could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARE MAMMOTH GUARDIOLA OFFER

French champions Paris Saint-Germain are trying to lure Pep Guardiola from Manchester City, according to the Express.

Amid uncertainty over Guardiola's future, the Ligue 1 holders are ready to make a huge offer to tempt the City manager to Paris.

Guardiola, whose side appear set to finish some distance behind Liverpool in the Premier League, has also been linked with a return to Barcelona, despite their appointment of Quique Setien this week.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Mirror, Premier League leaders Liverpool and rivals Chelsea will battle it out for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

- Juventus midfielder and former Liverpool star Emre Can is wanted by Everton, reports The Mirror. Can is out of favour in Turin and has been previously linked to Manchester United.

- Il Corriere dello Sport claims Sevilla want to sign Inter midfielder Matias Vecino, who appears destined to leave Milan ahead of Christian Eriksen's reported arrival from Tottenham.

- Speculation over Bruno Fernandes' future is set to drag on. Although he has been tipped to join United, Sporting CP and the Red Devils are reportedly miles apart in their valuations of the captain. While United want to bring in Fernandes this month, the Standard says they are threatening to abandon their pursuit over fears it could damage Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's transfer plans at the end of the season. Over-paying for Fernandes has prompted concerns it could impact United's interest in Leicester City star James Maddison and Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho.

Real Madrid are unwilling to loan out James Rodriguez, with Marca reporting the LaLiga giants are only interested in selling the Colombia international.

Barcelona and Juventus are in talks about a possible swap deal involving Ivan Rakitic and Federico Bernardeschi.

Rakitic was linked with an exit from Camp Nou during the close season, but ended up staying at Barca.

But he could be on his way to Turin and Bernardeschi may be heading in the opposite direction.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, JUVE IN RAKITIC-BERNARDESCHI SWAP TALKS

Barcelona and Juventus are discussing a possible swap deal involving Rakitic and Bernardeschi, according to AS.

The report says Rakitic – who has made just six LaLiga starts this season – has already agreed personal terms with the Serie A giants.

However, the clubs are yet to reach an agreement, with Rakitic six years older than Italy international Bernardeschi.

ROUND-UP

- There is still work to be done if Bruno Fernandes is to find his way to Manchester United. The Daily Mail and The Sun report United want to pay Sporting CP £34million (€39.9m) with a further £25.5m (€29.9m) in add-ons, including bonuses for the English club winning the Premier League and Champions League.

- Atletico Madrid are not giving up on trying to land Edinson Cavani in this window. The LaLiga side are still eyeing a move for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, according to Marca, although they are hoping to negotiate a lower price than the €30m the Ligue 1 club are reportedly wanting.

- The wait continues for Inter as they try to sign Christian Eriksen. CalcioMercato reports Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots is scheduled to meet Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy in London next week as the midfielder tries to get his move to the Serie A giants.

- Chelsea are favourites to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to The Sun, but it may take a £68m (€79.8m) deal to land the 23-year-old.

- Arsenal are set for talks with Athletico Paranaense to negotiate a deal for midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to Globo Esporte.

- Staying at Arsenal and France Football reports Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa has agreed to join the Premier League club for free at season's end.

- Javier Hernandez will become one of the highest paid players in MLS. Sports Illustrated reports LA Galaxy will pay Sevilla $9.4m (€8.5m) for the forward, who is set to earn $6m annually, with the potential for that to rise due to bonuses.

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri said it is "really annoying" that someone has won more Ballons d'Or than superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi moved one ahead of Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or record, claiming his sixth individual honour in December.

The result came despite Ronaldo helping Juve to an eighth consecutive Serie A title and Portugal win the inaugural Nations League crown.

Sari is determined for Ronaldo – who sat out Wednesday's 4-0 Coppa Italia last-16 victory over Udinese through illness – to add to his Ballon d'Or collection and match Messi.

"I would like to help Cristiano win the sixth Ballon d'Or first," Sarri told reporters post-game in Turin.

"It's really annoying thinking that someone won more [Ballons d'Or] than him. I think about him and I think helping him it is my goal and the goal of the team. It is right for him.

"[Paulo] Dybala is going to be one of the contenders in the next years. I think so."

While Ronaldo sat out, Juve forward Paulo Dybala dazzled with a brace and an assist against Udinese.

Dybala teed up Gonzalo Higuain for the 16th-minute opener following a stunning piece of combination play before curling a memorable strike past Nicolas approaching the hour mark, having converted a first-half penalty.

It took his season tally to 11 goals across all competitions and Sarri added: "Dybala is a top player. As every top player when they are becoming confident and having the right age, they are playing like a top player.

"I don't think a manager can teach something to a top player. Dybala is going to leave a mark in world and European football in the next years. He has got the right age to leave a mark and he's still got many years of his career. He is really confident in this moment after a few difficulties in the past."

Maurizio Sarri described Gonzalo Higuain's opener that set Juventus on course for a 4-0 win over Udinese as a goal of "rare beauty".

Juventus marched through to the Coppa Italia quarter-finals with their emphatic victory, which was achieved without the unwell Cristiano Ronaldo.

While Ronaldo contended with a bout of sinusitis, his Juventus team-mates ensured there would be no slip-ups at the Allianz Stadium.

And it was a glorious effort that set them on their way, Higuain ending a quickfire five-pass interaction with fellow Argentinian Paulo Dybala by burying the ball past Brazilian keeper Nicolas.

"The knockout fixtures are always an unknown factor, but the feeling in training was that the team was brilliant, so I expected a great performance, and, in fact, we had a good match," Sarri said.

"The first goal is of rare beauty, with trade [of passes] at full speed."

Sarri added, quoted on the Juventus website: "Our team has great potential, sometimes it gives the feeling of being able to do more, but we are growing.

"Ronaldo was not present because for a couple of days he had a bit of sinusitis and today he felt some shivers, so we prefer to keep him rested given the cold evening.

"Is it Sarri's Juve? No, it's Cristiano's, Dybala's, Higuain's Juve... I'm trying to put something of my own in it, but you have to respect the characteristics of the players."

Dybala added two goals, including a penalty, while Douglas Costa also slotted away a spot-kick as Juventus dominated and might have won by a greater margin.

"It was an important game," Higuain said. "We wanted to pass the round because we want to win the Coppa Italia."

Juventus made light of the absence of a sick Cristiano Ronaldo as their Argentinian connection dazzled in a 4-0 Coppa Italia win over Udinese.

The onset of sinusitis on Wednesday afternoon meant Ronaldo sat out this last-16 tie, but Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala put the game beyond Udinese before the hour mark.

And an outstading five-pass exchange between the Juve strike pair set the tone for the one-sided cup tie, with Higuain netting the 16th-minute opener.

Dybala slotted a penalty 10 minutes later, then struck a sublime third goal in the early stages of the second half.

The former Palermo man would have been on for a hat-trick had he taken the second penalty awarded to Juventus just after the hour. Instead, Douglas Costa took responsibility, safely finding the right corner.

If it had come as a blow to coach Maurizio Sarri to lose Ronaldo so close to kick-off, the former Chelsea boss would have been delighted by the response of his healthy players.

Lazio last year ended Juventus' run of four consecutive Coppa Italia triumphs, when a surprising 3-0 thumping by Atalanta in the quarter-finals concluded Juve's quest.

This time Juve will tackle Parma or Roma in the last eight.

Higuain gave Juventus the lead in style, trading a succession of passes with Dybala on the edge of the Udinese penalty area before being played through by his fellow Argentinian to fire into the left corner.

Udinese appealed for offside, but Higuain had timed his run perfectly and the striker's finish was emphatic.

Dybala stayed cool from the spot after Federico Bernardeschi was tripped by goalkeeper Nicolas, and it was looking like a long night for Udinese.

A VAR offside ruling denied Higuain, after he tucked home when Matthijs de Ligt's shot was parried out, but there was no doubt Juventus had a third when the ball next hit the back of the net.

Higuain fed his compatriot on the right corner of the penalty area, and although Nicolas got a touch to Dybala's shot, it arced in such a way that he had little hope of keeping it out.

Juventus were awarded their second penalty when Bram Nuytinck blocked Daniele Rugani's shot with his hands, and they were home and dry when Douglas Costa put the ball beyond Nicolas.

Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out of Juventus' Coppa Italia clash with Udinese on Wednesday after falling ill.

Juventus announced the former Real Madrid forward would miss the last-16 match, dealing a blow to boss Maurizio Sarri ahead of kick-off.

The club issued a statement on Twitter that read: "Cristiano Ronaldo was struck by a bout of sinusitis this afternoon and will not be present at the Allianz Stadium for tonight's match."

The omens were still good for Juventus heading into the tie, with Sarri's men having won their past five matches against Udinese across all competitions.

Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala started in attack in the absence of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Ronaldo began the new year with a hat-trick against Cagliari in Serie A, before his penalty on Sunday in a 2-1 win against Roma helped Juventus replace Inter at the top of the table.

Lionel Messi believes the "special duel" between him and Cristiano Ronaldo when the pair were on opposite sides of the Clasico rivalry will leave a lasting impression.

The Barcelona superstar went head-to-head with Ronaldo for almost a decade in LaLiga, where the two scored at an astonishing rate and practically assumed shared custody of the Ballon d'Or.

Debate rages over who the world's best player is, but a shortlist of two is almost universally accepted – it is either Messi or Ronaldo.

The Portugal forward has since departed for Juventus, but Messi ​– who won a record sixth Ballon d'Or in December – has fond memories of their long-running Spanish saga.

"The matches against Real always mean a lot, but when Cristiano was there they became much more special," said Messi.

"But it's a time that has passed now, that we have experienced. Now, we have to look ahead to the future.

"It was a special duel and it will remain [in people's minds] forever, because it lasted for many years and it is not easy to maintain such levels for a long time. 

"Plus, the teams we played in were also very demanding, both Real Madrid and Barca, the two best teams in the world.

"The sporting duel between us was very nice on a personal level and I think people had fun too, whether they were fans of Madrid or Barca, or even only football fans in general."

Barca this week appointed a new head coach, with Quique Setien replacing Ernesto Valverde, despite the club sitting joint-top of the table with Madrid.

The last Clasico clash ended 0-0 at Camp Nou in December, with Barca set to head to the Santiago Bernabeu in March.

 

Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri reiterated there is no issue between himself and Paulo Dybala after the forward's angry reaction to being substituted during Sunday's 2-1 win at Roma.

Dybala crossed for Merih Demiral's opener and won the 10th-minute penalty converted by Cristiano Ronaldo, but was angered when he made way for Gonzalo Higuain with 20 minutes to play.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Coppa Italia tie against Udinese, Sarri maintained there was no need to clear the air.

"I talk to Dybala every day, also because I like him. There is no need to talk about what happened," he said.

"Among other things, the staff told me that he asked only why he was being replaced, it doesn't seem to me anything in particular.

"We are fortunate to have strong attackers who must be a resource, not a problem or a controversy."

Sarri suggested he could select a strong line-up for the round-of-16 fixture, with Ronaldo under consideration.

"Our three forwards are all in good shape," he said. "Cristiano is fine and in great form and I want to speak to him on Wednesday to find out whether or not to play him."

At the other end of the field, Demiral is facing an extended spell on the sidelines after sustaining anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus damage to his left knee later on in the Roma match.

"I'm very sorry for Merih Demiral," Sarri added, with Juve having confirmed the 21-year-old Turkey international would undergo surgery on Monday.

"It happened in a particular moment in which he was growing a lot, demonstrating that he's a Juventus player and having scored his first goal for the club."

Merih Demiral is expected to miss the rest of Juventus' season and is a major doubt for Euro 2020 after suffering an ACL injury that will require surgery.

The Juve defender had recently displaced Matthijs de Ligt in the starting line-up and scored a third-minute opener during the 2-1 away win over Roma on Sunday.

But Demiral suffered the injury in an awkward landing shortly afterwards and was replaced by De Ligt 19 minutes into the contest.

The Turkey international, 21, joined the Italian champions from Sassuolo in an €18million move in July and looks unlikely to play again until next season after Juve provided an update on his condition.

"During the game last night [Sunday], Merih Demiral sustained a sprain to his left knee," a Juve statement read on Monday.

"The diagnostic tests carried out at J Medical this morning revealed injury to the anterior cruciate ligament along with associated injury to the meniscus.

"Surgical intervention will be required in the coming days."

Juve are two points clear of Inter at the top of Serie A after 19 matches this season.

Barcelona appear ready to turn to their next coaching target as the LaLiga giants eye Mauricio Pochettino.

Ernesto Valverde is under enormous pressure after the Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid, but Xavi has reportedly turned down the job – for now.

Amid contrasting reports over Barca's next decision, they may be lining up a move for Pochettino.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONTACT POCHETTINO OVER COACHING JOB

Barcelona contacted former Tottenham manager Pochettino to be their next boss, according to RAC1.

It comes as widespread reports in Spain say Al Sadd boss and former Barcelona star Xavi turned down the position.

Meanwhile, Catalunya Radio reported Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman also rejected the opportunity.

After a meeting on Sunday, Barca decided to stick with Valverde for now, according to Sport.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reports Manchester United had agreed to terms with Bruno Fernandes, the Mirror says the Premier League club are set to bid £65million (€76.1m) for the Sporting CP midfielder this week.

- Tottenham are set to sign Benfica's Gedson Fernandes as further details about a possible move emerge. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Spurs will sign the Portugal international on loan with an option to buy for between £42.7m (€50m) and £51.2m (€60m) in 2021.

- Jerome Boateng continues to be linked with a Bayern Munich exit. Milan are ready to challenge Arsenal for the defender, according to Sky Germany.

- Coming out of contract at season's end, it appears Layvin Kurzawa's future is away from Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe reports the left-back – who has made just five Ligue 1 starts this campaign – recently rejected Inter but the Serie A club remain hopeful of signing the 27-year-old this month.

- Juventus are looking to the future. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A champions are keeping an eye on teenage Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and AZ forward Calvin Stengs.

Juventus director Fabio Paratici said it is "unlikely" the Serie A champions will add to their squad in January, while ruling out an exit for defender Daniele Rugani.

Tottenham star Christian Eriksen has been linked with a move to Juve, who have already signed midfielder Dejan Kulusevski and loaned the teenager back to Parma until the end of the season.

There seems to be far more rumours regarding departures amid uncertainty over Emre Can, Adrien Rabiot and Rugani, however, Paratici does not expect any incoming transfers during this month's window.

"The Scudetto race is complicated and includes Lazio, who have a very strong squad, as they showed against us, and Inter have already bought many top-level players this summer like Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Nicolo Barella and Stefano Sensi, so it'd be a surprise if they were to make even more big investments," Paratici told Sky Sport Italia prior to Sunday's 2-1 win at Roma.

"We believe that we have a very competitive squad and for a while you in the media told us we had too many players. Therefore, it seems unlikely we'd need to bring in any more in January.

"We are evaluating with Marko Pjaca, as he has been injured and needs playing time. We're also evaluating if he could remain with us, if there aren't options that satisfy all parties."

Rugani continues to attract interest from abroad, with Premier League trio Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City reportedly eyeing the Italian.

The 25-year-old has made only one Serie A appearance this season and three across all competitions under Maurizio Sarri in Turin.

But Paratici said: "I can exclude right now that Daniele Rugani will leave. We need to see what happens with Giorgio Chiellini. People tend to forget he has played quite a few games and won important trophies.

"My concern is that because Rugani is so quiet, well-mannered, doesn't make a big fuss or is a fashionable player, he ends up being underestimated."

Juve are two points clear of rivals Inter after 19 matches.

Maurizio Sarri urged his Juventus side to be more ruthless after they won 2-1 at Roma to go top of the Serie A table.

The Bianconeri were two up inside 10 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, with Merih Demiral and Cristiano Ronaldo on target.

But Roma got a goal back through Diego Perotti's penalty in the second half, setting up a nervy finish as Juve failed to add a third, seeing a Gonzalo Higuain strike ruled out for offside.

Sarri felt they should have put the game to bed long before full-time.

"We did well for an hour, and a little suffering playing against Roma here in Rome is inevitable given their characteristics," he told Sky Sport after seeing his side move two points ahead of Inter.

"But what I did not like was the management of the result.

"We are happy for the three points at a very difficult place, making a good performance for large stretches, but we have to improve our game management when we are ahead.

"We kept the ball in our half when we had to look for the third goal."

Paulo Dybala appeared unhappy when he was substituted for Higuain with just over 20 minutes remaining, having had a hand in both Juventus goals.

But Sarri was delighted with the Argentina international's performance and is not concerned by an "angry" reaction to being brought off if he continues to play well.

"I couldn't care less. He's doing well," Sarri added. "If he gets angry and responds on the pitch, it's fine. These are things that are normal."

Nicolo Zaniolo is set to miss Italy's Euro 2020 campaign after Roma confirmed he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament during Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Juventus.

Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini was looking on from the stands at the Stadio Olimpico when Zaniolo was withdrawn in the 36th minute in obvious pain after a challenge from Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt.

The attacking midfielder beat four Juve players during a brilliant run that started near his own penalty area, but De Ligt - himself on for the injured Merih Demiral - stepped out and brought him down with a body check that earned a booking.

After the Serie A match, Roma tweeted to confirm Zaniolo would require surgery.

"Following the injury suffered during tonight’s game, Nicolo Zaniolo underwent medical assessments that confirmed the rupture of the ACL in his right knee, along with some damage to the meniscus," the statement read.

"Zaniolo will undergo surgery on Monday."

The 20-year-old made his debut for Italy last March and opened his international account with a brace in the 9-1 rout of Armenia two months ago.

Zaniolo scored four times in 18 Serie A outings this season, along with two further strikes during the group stage of the Europa League.

 

Nicolo Zaniolo is set to miss Italy's Euro 2020 campaign after Roma confirmed he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament during Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Juventus.

Two goals inside the opening 10 minutes helped Juventus leapfrog Inter at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 victory at Roma.

Defender Merih Demiral scored his first goal for the Bianconeri by turning home the influential Paulo Dybala's deep free-kick.

The Argentina international then won a penalty having dispossessed Jordan Veretout, with Cristiano Ronaldo converting to take his tally to nine goals in his past six Serie A games.

A second-half spot-kick from Diego Perotti proved to be a mere consolation for Roma, who also lost Italy international Nicolo Zaniolo to a serious-looking leg injury, as Juve capitalised on Inter's Saturday draw against Atalanta.

The Bianconeri had not scored on their previous two trips to face Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, but they were ahead after three minutes through an unlikely source.

Dybala swung a free-kick in from the left and Chris Smalling was unable to clear, with Demiral sticking out his right leg to see the ball go in via his shin.

It went from bad to worse for Roma, who only had themselves to blame for Juventus' second as Dybala robbed Veretout on the edge of the box and won a penalty from the same man that Ronaldo dispatched.

The hosts thought they should have had a spot-kick themselves when Lorenzo Pellegrini's goal-bound effort appeared to hit Adrien Rabiot on the arm, which was tucked into his body.

An injured Demiral was replaced shortly after by Matthijs de Ligt, who cynically impeded Zaniolo's progress after a brilliant run to also end the Roma midfielder's evening prematurely.

A VAR review helped Roma find a route back into the match with 22 minutes remaining, though.

Edin Dzeko was unfortunate not to score when his effort struck the post, and the former Manchester City striker kept the attack alive by crossing for substitute Cengiz Under, whose header was blocked on the line by Alex Sandro before hitting the left-back's left arm.

Referee Marco Guida initially saw nothing wrong with the intervention but pointed to the spot after checking a pitchside monitor, with Perotti making no mistake from 12 yards.

Roma were unable to conjure up a leveller, though, and only a narrow offside decision prevented substitute Gonzalo Higuain from adding a third for the visitors.
 

What does it mean? Juve back on top

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri had spoken positively of Paulo Fonseca and called Roma a "dangerous" opponent, but the visitors' start meant they were able to go back to the top of the table. 

A two-point cushion at the summit may not be that significant at this stage, but Sarri will be pleased that his team are once again above Inter after four straight Serie A wins.

Dybala dazzles

He might not be credited with either assist but Dybala's early brilliance put the reigning champions firmly in charge.

The Argentina striker provided an enticing ball for Demiral to open the scoring and it was his harrying that led to the penalty. It is hard to believe there were discussions about him leaving not so long ago - and that Sarri took him off 21 minutes from time.

Veretout very bad

Midfielder Veretout actually completed all 44 of his passes but it was his dawdling that allowed Dybala to seize possession, and the Roma man's subsequent foul that gave Juventus a penalty.

Veretout was fortunate another gaffe was not punished by Ronaldo later on, too, and it was no surprise he was withdrawn in the 66th minute.

What's next?

Sarri's team entertain Udinese in the Coppa Italia last 16 on Wednesday before Parma, who are Roma's cup opponents, visit in the league. The Giallorossi's next game in Serie A is at Genoa on Sunday.

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