Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Juventus' squad for their Serie A clash with Genoa, but Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic miss out through injury.

Portugal superstar Ronaldo was rested for Juve's trip to Lecce on Saturday, a decision that backfired as the Italian champions were held to a 1-1 draw.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri defended his decision to overlook Ronaldo for selection but has recalled the 34-year-old for Wednesday's home match against Genoa.

However, there is no place in the 22-man squad for Higuain, who came off worse in an aerial collision with Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel late in the match.

Pjanic has featured in every competitive game for Juve this campaign, meanwhile, but will miss out against Genoa after pulling up last time out, though the club have confirmed he did not suffer any muscular damage.

Aaron Ramsey is back after missing Juve's last three squads with a muscle injury, while Douglas Costa is also in contention following a seven-week absence.

Sarri's side trail Serie A leaders Inter by two points ahead of Wednesday's game in hand at Allianz Stadium.

Juventus are not resting on their laurels.

Despite their domestic dominance, Juve are craving European glory as they eye a first Champions League crown since 1995.

So much so that they have three Premier League stars on their mind.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE WATCH SALAH, SON & ERIKSEN

Juventus scouts watched Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen during Liverpool's Premier League clash with Tottenham, according to Tuttosport.

Seeking a ninth successive Scudetto, Serie A champions Juve are prepared to spend heavily in pursuit of Champions League glory.

With money no obstacle as they reap the benefits of Cristiano Ronaldo's presence, Liverpool star Salah and Tottenham duo Son and Eriksen are reportedly on Juve's list.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun claims Jose Mourinho wants to become the first manager to win major trophies with three English clubs as the former Manchester United boss is linked to Arsenal. Gunners head coach Unai Emery is under pressure at the Emirates Stadium amid growing fan frustration.

Manchester United are hopeful of completing a deal for Lyon striker Moussa Dembele in January, reports Soccerlink. With Dembele's future uncertain, Lyon are lining up Chelsea's Olivier Giroud.

- Staying at Old Trafford and United's name has again been thrown into the mix for Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The 19-year-old Italy international is fast becoming one of the most sought-after players in Europe, attracting interest from Juventus, Manchester City and Inter. Now, The Suns says United are weigning up a £40million move for Tonali after sending scouts to watch him once more.

- Calciomercato claims Napoli are considering a January move for Benfica full-back Alejandro Grimaldo. The 24-year-old Spaniard has been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham and Barcelona.

Newcastle United are close to agreeing a deal to sign Strasbourg's Ibrahima Sissoko. The 21-year-old French midfielder is poised to make the switch when the transfer window opens in January.

Antonio Conte fears Inter's hectic schedule could eventually catch up with his team despite the Nerazzurri moving top of Serie A on Tuesday.

Inter leapfrogged Juventus by two points atop the summit, albeit having played a game more, after beating Brescia 2-1 thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku at Stadio Rigamonti. 

However, head coach Conte – who is without the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Stefano Sensi due to injury – admitted his concerns about Inter running out of steam amid a busy domestic and European schedule. 

"It becomes difficult to talk about the game, because the same players are out there constantly. They struggled to an extraordinary degree," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"It was our fourth game in nine days, with the same players. Any situation or result is acceptable at that point. All we can do is thank them for the spirit they showed to hang in until the end.

"Now we're only halfway there, as we have another game with Bologna, then Borussia Dortmund and we'll have seven games in 20 days before we get to rest. It's an anomaly and I haven't seen any other side with a fixture list like that, so it seemed very strange to me.

"Some games you need to win just by suffering. They must understand that for many reasons, as for example the hosts are pushing to turn the result around, you have to soak up the pressure, hang in there and I challenge anyone to play four games in nine days while getting a victory at Brescia."

Conte added: "We're top of the table, but pushing the engine to the max and it can't go much longer."

Martinez made it seven club goals for the campaign but conceded it was a tough night for Inter, who were made to sweat following Milan Skriniar's late own goal.

"It was difficult, a very intense game against a team that moves very well," Martinez told Sky Sport Italia.

"We knew that it was going to be tough to take the three points here, but we tried to impose our football, knowing full well Brescia would clam up and defend.

"Some fatigue is natural, as we play with a great deal of intensity every three days, so that needs a lot of physical effort. We are nonetheless happy with the work we're doing for our coach.

"As always, we take it one game at a time, know we are doing very well and it's important to once again return from an away fixture with three points."

Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku were on target as Inter moved top of Serie A with a 2-1 victory at Brescia.

Martinez opened the scoring with a deflected first-half effort before Lukaku got in on the act with a stunning 63rd-minute solo goal in Tuesday's clash at Stadio Mario Rigamonti.

Milan Skriniar's own goal 14 minutes from time gave Brescia hope, yet they were left to rue missed chances by Mario Balotelli on what proved a frustrating outing for the striker against the side where he made his name.

The win sent Antonio Conte's side two points above reigning champions Juventus at the summit, although the Bianconeri can reclaim top spot when they face Genoa on Wednesday.

Inter were deservedly ahead by the 23rd minute, although there was more than a slice of luck about their goal. Martinez's long-range effort took a wicked deflection off Andrea Cistana and looped over Brescia goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso.

Brescia were much improved in the second half, with Balotelli threatening with a low strike before failing to get a decisive touch from close range following a goalmouth scramble.

The home side were made to pay in the 63rd minute when Lukaku cut in superbly from the right and fired a fine left-footed shot from 20 yards inside the far post.

Balotelli had a header kept out by Samir Handanovic and blasted the rebound over, but Brescia pulled one back when the goalkeeper blocked Dimitri Bisoli's cross but saw it rebound in off Skriniar.

However, an equaliser in the closing stages proved beyond them and Inter held on to return to winning ways after a 2-2 draw against Parma on Saturday.

Juventus are dealing with a "mental issue" when it comes to scoring, according to coach Maurizio Sarri, who has been left disappointed by the lack of goals so far this season.

Sarri's unbeaten side sit top of Serie A, though they hold a slender lead over second-place Inter, whose only defeat came against the Bianconeri.

Juve drew 1-1 with Lecce on Saturday as the decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo backfired, Gonzalo Higuain, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi particularly wasteful.

Though they have conceded just eight goals in league action, the reigning champions are the lowest scorers in the the top four as they prepare to host Genoa on Wednesday.

"We are adapting to a new style of football, so it's only natural that it will take a little while to perfect. We can improve a great deal and are on the right track," Sarri told a pre-match news conference.

"The feeling is that we still have some more room for improvement and important potential to express ourselves.

"We have a very low average of shots finding not just the net, but the frame of the goal. In my view, it's more of a mental issue than anything else.

"I expressed my fear with the players about that and we'll try to prepare some training exercises to help, but we also need to be more determined in front of goal.

"We are still the best defence in Serie A. This league has changed, the average goals of all the teams has gone up and in general it is a more prolific competition.

"Besides, lately we conceded pretty much exclusively from penalties, so we need to keep an eye on those situations."

Juve could take on Genoa without Miralem Pjanic and Higuain after they suffered injuries against Lecce, though Douglas Costa may possibly make a return to action in the midweek fixture.

"Pjanic does not have a muscular lesion, but we'll see how he does. Yesterday, he was not in a condition to play," Sarri added. 

"Higuain had a violent knock to the head and was not in good shape yesterday, he had stitches and was shaken up, but again we'll see the situation today. If Higuain can't make it, then it's very unlikely we can make a 4-3-3 work.

"Costa is returning after 45 days out and only had one training session with the squad, but we'll see if he's able to play a few minutes."

Cristiano Ronaldo says he would have been "an imbecile" if he failed to learn from the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs during his early days at Manchester United.

The Portugal international made his name at Old Trafford after joining the Premier League club from Sporting CP in 2003 at the age of 18.

He scored 118 goals in six seasons with United and has since starred for Real Madrid and current side Juventus, recently netting his 700th career goal for club and country.

When asked how he developed into such a prolific forward, Ronaldo told France Football: "By using my brain. If you've got a little intelligence, you look and take example from those who are doing things better than you. 

"That's what I did when I was in Manchester with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rio Ferdinand… if you don't learn from guys like that, you're an imbecile. 

"The goal isn't to imitate but to take aspects from those who are the best and adapt it to your own personality. That's what I did. I had some talent and I watched them.

"Sir Alex Ferguson also taught me a lot, and I realised I had the potential to score, not only dribble and pass. I started to think of being a complete player without any weakness.

"I could score with my right foot, my left foot and my head. I'm strong and I'm quick. If you have this and a real ethic and a good lifestyle, you can still do it at 34-and-a-half."

Ronaldo has won five Ballons d'Or and has been shortlisted for this year's award after an impressive debut campaign in Serie A with Juve.

Now into his 18th campaign at senior level, the Portuguese remains as driven as ever to remain at the top of his game.

Reflecting on Juve's 2-1 comeback win at home to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League last week, Ronaldo said: "They refused to play and parked the bus in front of their goal.

"It was hard to score. I didn't do it and I was frustrated at the end. That's normal. The most important thing is that the team wins.

"But when I went back to the dressing room, I chilled out. After the match, I went to dinner with friends. I got home at four in the morning. I had a glass of iced water before bed. I slept until 10 then I had my breakfast.

"At 11, I went to work in the gym. If you don't have that discipline every day, you can't stay at the top for 15 years."

The Gareth Bale transfer saga continues to roll on as he remains frozen out at Spanish giants Real Madrid with seemingly no way back.

The 30-year-old was linked with a move to China in the summer but the move did not materialise and Bale has since continued to find himself out of favour with Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

All is not lost for Bale though with three Premier League clubs battling for the Welshman's signature in January, as he builds towards a possible Euro 2020 campaign with Wales next June.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE TRIO KEEN TO SIGN BALE IN JANUARY

Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all been linked with a January swoop for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, according to AS.

The three Premier League giants are seeking solutions to solve inconsistent starts to their respective seasons and believe the Welshman could provide a timely boost leading into 2020.

Bale is seen as the perfect fit for a return to Premier League football, having maintained his good reputation from time spent with Southampton and Spurs, but it remains to be seen whether Madrid's asking price or the player's wage demands will be met. 

Marca believe Bale could revisit a potential move to China, however, with the player's agent believed to be in talks with Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter Milan are hopeful of signing Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen on a free transfer this summer, according to The Guardian.

- Sky Italia say Inter are also considering a move for out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, which would see the Serbian reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Staying in Serie A and Corriere dello Sport claim Roma have rejected the opportunity to sign former Sunderland flop Jack Rodwell on a free transfer.

- Corriere dello Sport also believe Napoli have pulled the plug on a potential move for Salzburg star Erling Braut Haaland as they expect the 19-year-old to join Manchester United in January.

- Manchester City will replace Leroy Sane with Real Sociedad playmaker Mikel Oyarzabal should the Germany winger get his move to Bayern Munich, according to Sky Sports.

- Turkish news outlet Takvim claim Besiktas are keen to cancel their two-year loan agreement with Liverpool for goalkeeper Loris Karius.

Juventus have confirmed Miralem Pjanic did not suffer a muscle injury in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Lecce.

Playmaker Pjanic – who has featured in every competitive game for Juve this season – pulled up sharply and left the field gingerly 67 minutes into the clash at Stadio Via del Mare.

Examinations on Monday did not show any muscular damage for the Bosnia-Herzegovina international, with the club confirming the 29-year-old took part in a personalised session in the gym.

Gonzalo Higuain also undertook a gym session after requiring a stretcher at full-time of Saturday's game.

Higuain came off worse in an aerial collision with goalkeeper Gabriel but played on, with Sarri confirming the striker was conscious and lucid despite having to be carried from the pitch after the final whistle.

Douglas Costa – who has not played since the 0-0 draw with Fiorentina on September 14 – took part in full training, while Aaron Ramsey participated in in a section of the session after missing out on the past three matchday squads.

Juventus are back in Serie A action on Wednesday when Genoa travel to the Allianz Stadium.

Franck Ribery has been banned for three games and fined €20,000 for pushing an assistant referee following Fiorentina's Serie A defeat to Lazio on Sunday.

Ribery, who was substituted with 15 minutes remaining in the game, twice shoved the official on the pitch following the Viola's 2-1 defeat.

The league found the Frenchman to have "come forward with a threatening attitude and disrespectful behaviour towards an assistant, in addition to disrespectful words".

Ribery was angry that Ciro Immobile's winner for Lazio was allowed to stand, with Fiorentina adamant a foul had taken place in the build-up.

The ban means he will miss games against Sassuolo, Parma and Cagliari.

Earlier on Monday he took to social media to issue an apology to the official and everyone associated with Fiorentina.

"I'm really sorry for last night," a post on Twitter read. "I apologise to my team-mates, the coach and the fans. I also apologise to Mr [Matteo] Passeri because at the end of the match I was very agitated and sad, and I hope he can understand my mood.

"I always want to stay on the pitch and help my team-mates because I came all the way to Florence for this city and this club, and I think Fiorentina should get more attention, the same attention given to other clubs, for the great work we're doing every day."

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo believes his "healthy rivalry" with Barcelona counterpart Lionel Messi during his time in LaLiga made him a better player.

Both men have won the coveted Ballon d'Or five times and are considered to be two of the greatest players of all time.

Ronaldo spent nine years with Real Madrid prior to joining Juventus in 2018 and Messi recently acknowledged the pair spurred each other on in their quest for individual honours.

The former Manchester United star has echoed those views, telling France Football: "A lot of people said that we fed each other, that being together in Spain made us better.

"That's certainly true. I felt his presence more in Madrid than in Manchester. It was a healthy rivalry. We were the symbols of our clubs.

"It's always nice to be spoken of in a flattering way. It's nice if they say I've been the best, a fantastic player.

"Today, I hear everything they say about me, but when it's all over, at the end of my career, I won't mind because I'll disconnect from everything."

Ronaldo is well known for his dedication to training and insists hard work off the field has helped him to become one of the all-time greats.

"First of all, you need talent, otherwise you won't amount to much," he said. "However, talent is useless without hard work.

"I would never have got to where I am today without the culture of hard work."

Ronaldo recently netted the 700th goal of his career in Portugal's 2-1 defeat to Ukraine, 450 of those being scored during his illustrious spell at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Asked to pick his favourite ever goal, the 34-year-old went with his overhead kick in Madrid's Champions League quarter-final win against current employers Juventus in 2017-18.

"Reaching 700 goals make me proud - it's an impressive total that few players have reached," he said.

"If I had to choose a favourite, I would say the one against Juventus because it was a goal I'd been trying to score for years."

Franck Ribery has apologised for pushing an assistant referee following Fiorentina's Serie A defeat to Lazio on Sunday.

Ribery, who joined the club after leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, twice shoved the official on the pitch after the Viola's 2-1 defeat to Simone Inzaghi's side.

The former France international – who was substituted with 14 minutes of the game remaining – could now face a potentially lengthy ban.

He took to social media on Monday to issue an apology to the official and everyone associated with Fiorentina.

"I'm really sorry for last night," a post on Twitter read. "I apologise to my team-mates, the coach and the fans. I also apologise to Mr [Matteo] Passeri because at the end of the match I was very agitated and sad, and I hope he can understand my mood.

"I always want to stay on the pitch and help my team-mates because I came all the way to Florence for this city and this club, and I think Fiorentina should get more attention. The same attention given to other clubs, for the great work we're doing every day."

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso had earlier said the failure of VAR to intervene and disallow Ciro Immobile's winner led to the ugly scenes.

"It's a little bit scandalous what happened to us because it will penalise us for a long time," he said. "Ribery was a bit nervous and he was wrong, even though he had a reason. We'll see how we move forward."

Gianluigi Buffon says it could take another two months before Maurizio Sarri's masterplan for Juventus is fully implemented.

The former Chelsea and Napoli boss is attempting to instil a more attacking approach in the Serie A champions following the departure of Massimiliano Allegri and his more pragmatic style at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Despite sitting atop Serie A after nine games, four teams have scored more goals than them this season – something Buffon expects to change by the start of 2020.

"You are starting to see something different; a constant pursuit of attacking football that we did not have in the last few years," he told TV show Tiki Taka.

"We will see his full system in two months because we could not rely on some important players in the initial part of the season."

Inter are just a point behind Juve at the Serie A summit and look well placed to threaten the Bianconeri's chances of securing a ninth consecutive league title.

Buffon is looking forward to an almighty battle with the Nerazzurri and says he has been particularly impressed with striker Lautaro Martinez, who has six goals in all competitions this season.

"I have great respect for them; they are a great competitor this year," he added. "If Champions League was out of the picture, we would go toe-to-toe up until the end. The continental competition could make you lose some points.

"[Inter coach] Antonio Conte is extraordinary and can pull off some miracles. Lautaro Martinez is in great form. He is very confident and has something more than their other attackers."

After a 1-1 draw with Lecce on Saturday, Juventus will hope to return to winning ways when they host Genoa on Wednesday.

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso thinks the proper use of VAR in Sunday's loss to Lazio would have prevented ugly scenes after the final whistle, when Franck Ribery shoved an assistant referee.

Ribery, who was named Serie A MVP in September, twice pushed the official in a heated exchange on the pitch after the Viola's controversial 2-1 defeat to Simone Inzaghi's side.

The veteran winger had earlier become frustrated at being substituted 14 minutes before Ciro Immobile's goal sealed a victory for the visitors at the Artemio Franchi.

Ribery could now face a potentially lengthy ban, something Commisso is prepared to accept.

However, the American insists the incident only took place because of Fiorentina's frustrations around Immobile's goal, with an apparent foul by Jordan Lukaku on Riccardo Sottil in the build-up going unpunished and unchecked by VAR.

"We've had replays in the US for years and we have no controversy. Last night, I saw why it's so controversial in Italy," Commisso said to Radio Anch'io Sport.

"It's a little bit scandalous what happened to us because it will penalise us for a long time.

"Ribery was a bit nervous and he was wrong, even though he had a reason. We'll see how we move forward.

"But it all comes from a foul that wasn't given. Why is VAR there if it isn't used? It was the same against Napoli.

"This is an international rule and it seems right to me that he was sent off. But I don't understand why, at international level, it wasn't signalled to go to VAR."

The result saw Lazio climb to sixth in the table after nine games, three points above Fiorentina in ninth.

Rumours linking Paul Pogba to Real Madrid are refusing to go away.

Pogba – nursing an ankle injury which is set to keep him sidelined until December – wanted to leave Manchester United in the previous transfer window but a move did not materialise.

With the January window approaching, Madrid are eyeing the French star again.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID PLOTTING POGBA PURCHASE

Real Madrid are preparing to make a January bid for Manchester United star Paul Pogba, according to OK Diario.

Pogba was wanted by Madrid and former club Juventus in the previous window as he eyed an Old Trafford exit, yet United were unwilling to part with their prized asset.

But with Pogba reportedly set to make it clear he will not renew his United contract beyond 2021, Madrid are lining up a €150million (£129.5m) offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Another Frenchman is also reportedly high on Madrid's radar. AS reports the Spanish powerhouse are hoping to take advantage of a tense relationship between Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and head coach Thomas Tuchel. Madrid are determined to lure Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season.

- Linked with Madrid and LaLiga champions Barcelona, in-demand Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is also wanted by Premier League holders Manchester City. Gazzetta dello Sport claims City are set to make an approach for the Spain international.

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are interested in Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. The Argentina international has been linked with Barca after his agent previously revealed the club's interest in Martinez. Now, Ernesto Valverde's side are eyeing the in-form marksman – who has also reportedly attracted the attention of Manchester United – as Inter pursue Barca pair Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal.

United are prepared to meet Borussia Dortmund's demands for England sensation Jadon Sancho, reports the Mirror. Sancho has also been linked to Liverpool and Madrid.

Stefano Sensi's exploits at Inter have not gone unnoticed. On loan from Sassuolo with the option to buy, Sport says there is already contact between Barca, Inter and the player's agent.

Stefano Pioli acknowledged he expected more from AC Milan after taking just one point from his opening two Serie A matches in charge of the Rossoneri.

Having drawn 2-2 against Lecce in Pioli's first match, Milan went down 2-1 to Roma on Sunday as Davide Calabria's error gifted Nicolo Zaniolo a winner.

Calabria's introduction in place of the struggling Andrea Conti had looked a masterstroke by former Inter boss Pioli three minutes earlier, when the full-back crossed for Theo Hernandez to cancel out Edin Dzeko's opener.

Although Pioli already seems to have imprinted an improved attacking philosophy on the Rossoneri since replacing Marco Giampaolo, the results are yet to follow, and Milan's coach did not hide his frustration.

"I expected more, yes. Over the two games, we frankly gave our contribution to the failed victories," Pioli told Sky Sports Italia.

"We made mistakes that were too obvious for a club of our status. We had done well enough in the first half and ran few risks, but the game would've been more in our favour had we not given away that goal.

"There's no point denying it, the situation is negative right now and we keep making clear errors. The most evident errors were on the two goals, but they weren't the only ones.

"I saw the performance as a step backwards compared to the Lecce game last week. If the ball moves slowly from the back, it becomes difficult to create any spaces.

"With a little more focus and concentration, we could've kept the match in the balance for longer. We were imprecise and paid the price for that."

Despite being annoyed by Milan's sloppiness, Pioli added he has no questions over the squad's attitude.

"I don't think we lacked determination, but we made too many wrong decisions and that is costly against a side on the same level as you," he said.

"We needed to play better on a technical level, with more precise passing, and we just didn't do that.

"I believe we have the quality to be more dangerous in attack than we were and to be more solid than we were. At this level, the games are in the balance and the slightest detail can make the difference.

"I don't believe we were negative or lacking in courage, but we conceded goals in avoidable situations."

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