Napoli players showed their support for Gennaro Gattuso by holding a minute's silence on Friday as the grieving head coach returned to training.

Gattuso is mourning after it was announced on Tuesday that his sister Francesca had died at the age of 37 following an illness.

She had worked as a secretary with Serie A club Milan, where Gattuso spent 13 years as a player and was later head coach.

Gattuso, 42, has been in charge of Napoli for almost six months, after succeeding Carlo Ancelotti in December.

The bond between the coach and his players, led by skipper Lorenzo Insigne, was made clear by the players' response to Gattuso at the Castel Volturno training ground on Friday.

"The day began with a very touching moment: the team wanted to express their closeness and make Gennaro Gattuso feel all their affection with a virtual hug," Napoli's website announced.

"Captain Insigne and the whole team observed a minute of recollection in memory of the Azzurro coach's sister before the start of training."

Serie A will allow teams to make five substitutions during games for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign.

It brings Italy's top flight into line with a temporary law amendment announced by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) last month.

World football's pre-eminent rule-making body made the alterations as a means to ease the strain on players returning to action following the extended coronavirus hiatus.

If a team wishes to make all five changes, they must come in no more than three match interruptions, aside from half-time.

Serie A is set to resume on June 20, more than three months after the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Aleksandar Katai has left LA Galaxy by mutual consent following "racial and violent social media posts" made by his wife.

The Galaxy on Wednesday strongly condemned Tea Katai for her posts about Black Lives Matter protestors, who took to the streets in the United States and far beyond following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

Serbia midfielder Katai's wife was asked to remove the Instagram posts immediately by the MLS franchise.

Katai, who only joined the Galaxy at the end of last year, stated that his wife's "unacceptable" posts would not be tolerated by his family.

The 29-year-old added that he took full responsibility for his wife's actions and was sorry for the pain caused to the "Galaxy family and all the allies in the fight against racism."

Katai will be in the market for a new club, though, as the Galaxy confirmed his departure in a brief one-line statement released on Friday.

Eight persons, including a Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) footballer, were murdered and five others were shot and injured in a number of incidents across Jamaica on Wednesday.

The day started off on a sombre note with the murder of two men at Payton Place in Hermitage, St Andrew.

According to the police, at about 7:50 am, the men — Demar Francis, a 36-year-old furniture maker; and 25-year-old labourer Robert Clarke — who are reportedly siblings, were killed when men armed with rifles and handguns entered their premises and opened fire, hitting them all over their bodies.

Both victims were taken to hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

As the day unfolded, there were other murders committed: one in Bethel Town, St Ann; one in Cyril Gully, St James; another murder, that of 28-year-old Clarence Johnson of a Manchester address in Race Track, Clarendon at about 6 pm; then yet another, of 57-year-old Desmond Prince in Diamond district in Buff Bay, Portland at about 8:45 pm.

Then there was another double murder, that of Jaleel McLean of a Kingston 13 address and 22-year-old Shemar Nairne, a Premier League footballer who last represented Dunbeholden FC, of Southborough, Portmore. The crime took place in Greenwich Town, St Andrew.

Both men were reportedly on Eight Street in Greenwich Town when they were pounced upon by unknown assailants who opened fire, killing them. Three other persons were shot in that incident.

There were also two other incidents of shooting, one in Text Lane in Central Kingston, and a shooting in Bamboo River, St Thomas.

Nairne formerly represented Harbour View FC and Vere United in the Red Stripe Premier League and was hailed by Harbour View on the club’s Facebook page.

“RIP to our former player, Shemar ‘Shakey’ Nairne, who tragically died following a Greenwich Town shooting…??,” said Harbour View in a post.

“Shemar played for us in the 2018-19 season in 14 games, scoring three goals. He transferred back to Vere United in August 2019, then to Dunbeholden FC in January 2020.

“Our sincere condolences to his family, friends, teammates and loved ones, as well as to the other victims?Shine on, Shakey,” the East Kingston-based club added.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Champions League aspirations have been dealt a major blow after Freiburg inflicted a 1-0 defeat in the Bundesliga on Friday.

Gladbach were generally the livelier of the two sides in attack, but they failed to make the most of their chances and Freiburg snatched a hard-fought win, giving Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig the advantage in the three-way battle for third and fourth.

Alexander Schwolow in the Freiburg goal was a frequent cause of frustration for Marco Rose's men, particularly in the first half, while Florian Neuhaus had a goal wiped out after straying offside.

The second period also looked like being Gladbach's to control initially, but substitute Petersen nodded in the winner with 58 minutes played, and Alassane Plea's dismissal for two bookings effectively ended the away side's chances.

Gladbach were fortunate to avoid an early blow when, with just 10 minutes played, Luca Waldschmidt met Christian Gunter's left-wing delivery and he steered his first-time effort over from 12 yards.

The visitors responded and nearly netted soon after, as Schwolow thwarted Plea and then also blocked Lars Stindl's subsequent effort on the follow-up.

Gladbach did find the net in the 26th minute, though the goal was disallowed as Neuhaus – who then missed from close range a little later – nudged in Patrick Hermann's strike despite being offside.

Yann Sommer had to be alert at the other end just before the break, parrying Lucas Holer's fierce drive after a counter.

Gladbach seemed up ante after the interval, creating a couple of openings within 10 minutes of the restart, but Hermann headed over and then Philipp Lienhart made a crucial intervention to stop Marcus Thuram tapping in Hermann's cross.

Freiburg capitalised on those previous let-offs just before the hour – Petersen nodding in Vincenzo Grifo's free-kick delivery with his first touch just 63 seconds after replacing Roland Sallai.

Life soon got even trickier for Gladbach, as Plea was shown a second yellow card for catching Robin Koch, and sporting director Max Eberl was also given his marching orders for his remonstrations.

A marvellous late Sommer save to deny Holer kept Gladbach in the contest, but they could not grab an equaliser.

 

What does it mean? Advantage Leverkusen

With most expecting Leipzig to take third spot, it is largely thought one of Gladbach or Leverkusen will finish fourth – on the back of this result, Peter Bosz's men appear to have a wonderful chance.

However, Gladbach can console themselves with the fact Leverkusen's game in hand on Saturday is at home to in-form pacesetters Bayern Munich, so a positive result is by no means a given

Schwolow shields impressively

It was a contest in which individuals struggled to stand out, but Freiburg goalkeeper Schwolow enjoyed a very effective match between the posts, proving dependable on several crosses and making three saves.

Thuram struggles to provide the spark

While he did make two key passes, generally Thuram had immense difficulty against the Freiburg defence. He was nowhere near as sharp and decisive as he can be.

What's next?

Gladbach face a trip to Bayern a week on Saturday in a real test of their top-four credentials. Freiburg go to Wolfsburg the same day.

Fresh from an enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jamaica international Leon Bailey will be hoping to have a telling impact against runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, similar to when the teams last met.

In a surprise 2-1 win for Bayer Leverkusen, it was the speedy winger who found the back of the net twice.  Bailey opened the scoring after sprinting onto Kevin Volland’s neat through ball, tore past David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard to unleash a right-footed thunderbolt beyond the outstretched glove of Manuel Neuer. Thomas Muller equalised but another lightning counterattack immediately afterward, saw Volland tee up Bailey again, this time to score a left-footed rocket.

More than two months after the fixture was scheduled to be played, the teams will meet on Saturday at BayArena.  The layoff has been a time of frustration for both players and fans alike, but the Jamaican reveals that he also took the time to reflect.

“From a mental perspective, coping with the lockdown was a bit chill for me because I had my family here,” Bailey told inews.

“It gave me a lot of time to reflect on everything that I needed to concentrate on more and, you know, just reflect on who I am.”

The winger had struggled to get going early season, his progress disrupted by injury, and then two red cards.

“To come back from injury is always a difficult thing to do. I’ve overcome it a lot of times, I’ve come back, I’ve scored goals and been [there] in important moments for the team, giving assists. So I’ve overcome them, it’s just for me to keep that going in a steady way.”

Hansi Flick says Bayern Munich are "hungry for goals" as he targets another attacking masterclass against Bayer Leverkusen this weekend.

Bayern thrashed Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 last weekend to make it 86 league goals this term - the most of any German top-flight side ever after 29 rounds of matches.

The reigning champions have scored five goals in a game on eight occasions in all competitions, which is more than any other side across Europe's top five leagues.

And Flick, who has won 22 of his first 25 games in charge of Bayern, does not intend to ease up as his side close in on an eighth successive title.

"The way we play is good. We are hungry for goals," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"We want to tackle the game against Leverkusen in the same way. Leverkusen have very, very fast players and are a dangerous team. We have to prevent these things.

"We are active and want to have a certain dynamic to our game, both with and without the ball. When we have the ball, the first thought is offensive. Then everyone is involved."

Bayern have won 14 of their last 15 matches, including four in a row since returning to Bundesliga action last month.

They now have three games in a week to prepare for, with league matches against Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach either side of a DFB-Pokal semi-final with Eintracht Frankfurt.

"The team is very focused," Flick said. "They also did well in today's final training. We always speak of a power season. 

"Now we have the fifth game after the break and want to be successful. There is no excuse for us. We have the power to play three games in one week."

Thiago Alcantara is closing in on a return after recovering from an adductor injury, which could mean Leon Goretzka is given a breather this weekend.

"Thiago is an option. The qualities he has are good for every team. Let's wait and see," Flick added. 

"Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich have done very well at 'six'. I am happy that it went so well, but also that Thiago is back. 

"Leon has had time to work on his body. Overall, the team have been working very well and are in a very good physical condition."

Liverpool "have slipped up" by reportedly missing out to Chelsea on RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, according to Reds great Steve Nicol.

Chelsea are reported to have triggered Werner's release clause, believed to be in the region of £54million (€60m), to win the race for his signature.

Liverpool had long been considered the favourites to sign the Germany international, who has scored 31 goals this season, but they are said to have delayed an approach and their Premier League rivals have swooped.

Nicol, who won nine major honours during his time at Anfield, feels that his former club could pay the price as they are in need of competition for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

"I think it is [a mistake], yes. Regardless of how good you are, you have to make sure you stay where you are at the very least," he told ESPN.

"That means you need competition for places. No question, Werner would have kept the front three - as great as they are and have been - on their toes.

"The front three of Liverpool can now breathe a little easier. I think Liverpool have slipped up here."

Werner described Jurgen Klopp as "the best coach in the world" in February and admitted his style of play would be well suited to Liverpool, but looks to be on his way to Stamford Bridge when the transfer window opens.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Werner had something to do with this," Nicol added.

"At the end of the day, if you want to go somewhere you can make it happen. It looks to me like Werner has changed his mind."

Liverpool "have slipped up" by reportedly missing out to Chelsea on RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, according to Reds great Steve Nicol.

Chelsea are reported to have triggered Werner's release clause, believed to be in the region of £54million (€60m), to win the race for his signature.

Liverpool had long been considered the favourites to sign the Germany international, who has scored 31 goals this season, but they are said to have delayed an approach and their Premier League rivals have swooped.

Nicol, who won nine major honours during his time at Anfield, feels that his former club could pay the price as they are in need of competition for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

"I think it is [a mistake], yes. Regardless of how good you are, you have to make sure you stay where you are at the very least," he told ESPN.

"That means you need competition for places. No question, Werner would have kept the front three - as great as they are and have been - on their toes.

"The front three of Liverpool can now breathe a little easier. I think Liverpool have slipped up here."

Werner described Jurgen Klopp as "the best coach in the world" in February and admitted his style of play would be well suited to Liverpool, but looks to be on his way to Stamford Bridge when the transfer window opens.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Werner had something to do with this," Nicol added.

"At the end of the day, if you want to go somewhere you can make it happen. It looks to me like Werner has changed his mind."

Lille forward Victor Osimhen has hit out at "sickening" false reports that he has agreed to join Napoli at the end of the season.

The Nigeria international has scored 18 goals in all competitions for the Ligue 1 club after joining from Sporting Charleroi ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

Lille owner Gerard Lopez confirmed last week that a number of suitors from three different leagues are interested in signing Osimhen, with Napoli among them.

Reports in Osimhen's homeland suggested an agreement is already in place with Napoli, but the 21-year-old rubbished the speculation.

"The fake news about me agreeing a deal with Napoli is sickening for real," he told Nigerian website Omasports. 

"I'm surprised at the journalists, that say they are professionals. I find it amazing. Please disregard any fake news. When it’s time for my transfer, you'll hear from me directly."

Osimhen was crowned Lille's player of the season after finishing as their top scorer in Ligue 1, which ended 10 games early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bayern Munich star Javi Martinez has sounded a warning that players risk injury more than ever because of the coronavirus interruption to the season.

Leagues across much of Europe have resumed or are on the point of doing so after a long suspension caused by the pandemic.

Players have for the large part been hunkered down at home since March, unable to take part in full training sessions until recent weeks and missing the routine of matches.

That concerns Spanish midfielder Martinez, who believes footballers have become increasingly vulnerable to getting hurt.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi and Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic are among the big-name players who have suffered recent injury setbacks.

"I am a player who needs match rhythm. The dynamics of playing every few days is not ideal. We don't have a run of training sessions to reach peak form," Martinez told Marca.

"It's easier now to get injuries because we've stopped for longer than ever before and we haven't had a normal pre-season.

"I'm doing quite well and if the coach wants me I believe I'll be ready.

"And the hot weather's coming. Tell me how you can play in Seville on July 6 or 7."

That aspect will not directly affect Martinez but shows his sympathy for the LaLiga stars who could face difficult playing conditions during the Spanish summer.

Martinez is poised to win another Bundesliga title with Bayern, with his arrival in 2012 from Athletic Bilbao having coincided with the start of a period of startling dominance.

An eighth straight title is almost within Bayern's grasp, given their seven-point lead over Borussia Dortmund with five games to go, but Martinez is struggling to enjoy putting the finishing touches to a successful campaign behind closed doors.

And when Bayern went to Dortmund for a crucial game in the Bundesliga last week, Martinez was taken aback by the near-total absence of anyone in and around the stadium.

That is the necessity given concerns about the spread of COVID-19, but Martinez said: "I don't like it. I am very passionate. I need to be yelled at, even if it's to tell me everything. To go to the pitches of Betis or the Bernabeu and have a thousand people telling you about everything. That motivates me.

"My soul fell to my feet when I arrived at Dortmund and saw five people there with their bikes. But I understand that it was necessary to continue."

Lionel Messi faces a race to be fit for Barcelona's first match since the coronavirus lockdown after it was confirmed he has a thigh muscle injury.

The Argentinian talisman, who is Barcelona's captain and LaLiga's all-time record goalscorer, trained away from the rest of the squad on Friday.

Barcelona described the problem as a "minor quadriceps injury", specifying the particular muscle region in Messi's thigh, and said he was "doing specific exercises to avoid unnecessary risks".

The LaLiga leaders are due to resume their interrupted campaign at Mallorca on Saturday, June 13.

Barcelona said Messi "should be able to re-join his team-mates in a few days' time".

That may give the 32-year-old time to prove his fitness to head coach Quique Setien in time for the trip to tackle the islanders on the first weekend back in action.

Barcelona said young forward Ansu Fati also trained individually on Friday.

Meanwhile, the first team will leave the training ground behind on Saturday for a rare session on the Camp Nou pitch.

Barcelona said on their website that the players would head to the stadium with the purpose of getting used to playing in front of empty stands, given games will be played behind closed doors when competitive football returns to Spain.

Erling Haaland has described Mats Hummels as a "warrior" and says he hopes to adopt the same winning mentality as his Borussia Dortmund team-mate.

Hummels has won five Bundesliga titles - two during his first spell with Dortmund and three in a row with Bayern Munich - as well as lifting the World Cup with Germany in 2014.

The 31-year-old returned to Signal Iduna Park last year and has impressed January signing Haaland with his leadership qualities.

"When I got here I saw Mats Hummels, who has won many different titles, including the World Cup, and then you know you want to achieve that," he told the Borussia Dortmund podcast. 

"You also want this winning mentality that Mats has. He's a warrior, if you can put it that way, and he teaches me a lot. But we have many types of winners with us, you just have to show it in the games."

Haaland has hit the ground running for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg five months ago, scoring 13 goals in his first 14 games in all competitions, either side of the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

However, reflecting on a whirlwind 12 months, the Norway international insists there is still more to come.

"Sometimes I sit down, also with my father, and think about what's going on," he said. 

"For me, the most important thing is always to leave your own comfort zone, to learn about yourself, not to be too comfortable, so that I can continue to improve."

Mino Raiola helped broker Haaland's move to Dortmund and the prolific striker is grateful to have the controversial agent in his corner.

"I like honest people very much. If you tell me the truth, that's the best thing for me, and I want to have people like that around me," he said. 

"Raiola is honest with me, a fantastic guy and has helped me a lot in the past two years. He is a good advisor and I am happy to have him."

Kai Havertz needs regular Champions League football and Bayer Leverkusen must secure a top-four finish to keep the reported Manchester United and Bayern Munich target, says Michael Ballack.

Attacking midfielder Havertz is one of the most sought-after players in world football and has been tipped for a big-money move in the next transfer window.

Premier League giants United and Bundesliga champions Bayern are said to be favourites for his signature, though Leverkusen director of sport Rudi Voller said this week the club hope to keep him for one more season.

Germany legend and former Leverkusen midfielder Ballack believes it is imperative the BayArena side finish in the Champions League places to do so.

"I think he's a great talent. He has outstanding technical skills and plays very freely," Ballack told Sport 1.

"It will be important for him to always play in the Champions League in order to be able to compete with the best. Therefore it will be important for Leverkusen to reach fourth place."

Havertz has stood out in the Bundesliga this season, contributing 11 goals and five assists to Leverkusen's cause.

However, Ballack warned the 20-year-old still has plenty of room for improvement.

He added: "One thing is clear - Havertz is not yet a finished player.

"That is not meant negatively, but I still see potential for improvement in his personality development and body language.

"But that is completely normal at his age. As a captain, he first has to learn to deal with this responsibility.

"His style of play has always been very carefree. If he ever lost the ball, he was allowed to stop. With a top club, everything will be more difficult and will no longer be accepted.

"He must and will be aware that he has an exceptional position in Leverkusen. He should ask himself now, 'How long do I want to have this? How long do I enjoy it? Or will I take on the next challenge with even greater demands on my game this summer?'.

"It comes with games and experience, especially with your own aspirations. It is crucial what Havertz demands from himself and his team and where his own path should lead.

"In any case, he has to be mentally ready for a change."

Javi Martinez labelled Robert Lewandowski an "animal", but insisted he never feared the Bayern Munich star would leave for Real Madrid.

Lewandowski is enjoying another prolific season with the Bundesliga giants, scoring 43 goals – equalling his best in a single campaign – in 37 games.

The 31-year-old has been linked with a move to Madrid previously, but is instead in his sixth term with Bayern.

Martinez hailed Lewandowski's form, saying the Poland international was enjoying his best season yet.

"He is in the best year of his career," the midfielder told Marca.

"He is an animal, the best nine in the world. Keep it that way until August."

Asked if he ever worried Lewandowski would join Madrid, Martinez said: "Not fear, because great players have left Bayern and they have always replaced them well.

"It is clear that it would have been a great loss, but it didn't happen."

Martinez arrived at Bayern from Athletic Bilbao in 2012 and has won seven top-flight titles and a Champions League among numerous trophies with the German giants.

The 18-cap Spain international is out of contract next year and said he was ready for whatever was next in his career.

"I have to sit down and talk to Bayern. It expires in 2021. I'm ready for anything. What I have experienced here has been great," Martinez said.

"We have to wait because there is a lot of uncertainty. We don't know if there will be a market, if the Champions League will be played."

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