After months and months of speculation, Jadon Sancho's future could be resolved.

The 20-year-old attacker has been tipped to return to England, having left Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

And City's neighbours are reportedly set to snap up the in-demand sensation.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED THINK THEY'VE WON SANCHO RACE

Borussia Dortmund's Sancho to Manchester United is a done deal, according to The Sun.

England star Sancho has been heavily linked to United, as well as Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid following his exploits for Dortmund.

However, United believe they have won the race for Sancho after months of secret talks, with just an agreement of a fee with Dortmund remaining.

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- Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain are ready to offer Neymar a salary worth €38million if he stays at the Ligue 1 champions amid links to former club Barcelona.

Sandro Tonali is a real target for Milan, claims Calciomercato. The Brescia star has attracted interest from Serie A champions Juventus, Inter, PSG, Manchester City and others. But Tonali is Milan's big transfer goal as the Rossoneri board tries to rebuild around the 19-year-old.

Mauro Icardi to Napoli and Arkadiusz Milik to Juve? FCInterNews.it says Napoli are back in the hunt to sign Icardi, who is on loan at PSG from Inter. The Argentina forward has been heavily linked to Juve but he could join Napoli if Milik moves to Turin. The front page of Tuttosport also claims Federico Bernardeschi leaving Juve for Napoli could be the key in Milik's future.

Inter are interested in signing RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner if Lautaro Martinez swaps the Nerazzurri for Barca, reports Calciomercato. Liverpool and Bayern Munich have also been linked to Werner.

- AS Diario says Real Madrid are ready to sell Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez. Colombian midfielder James has been linked to United and Juve. Madrid are also prepared to part with Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz, Alvaro Odriozola and Nacho Fernandez.

Arsenal and United have set their sights on Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Sport. Dembele has struggled for form and fitness at Camp Nou and the Frenchman has reportedly asked Anthony Martial about playing for United.

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic flew back to Italy ahead of the possible resumption of Serie A.

Serie A was suspended indefinitely in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has already stated that the campaign will not resume until the health and safety of all concerned can be guaranteed.

Italy's minister for sport Vincenzo Spadafora is hoping to confirm a May 4 date for the return to Serie A training as soon as possible, with the current restrictions on movement and outdoor activities set to end on May 3.

When the season was halted, Bosnia-Herzegovina star Pjanic returned to his homeland, like superstar team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo – who retreated to Portugal, while the likes of Douglas Costa, Alex Sandro and Danilo made their way back to Brazil.

But Pjanic announced via Instagram on Sunday that he was returning to Italy, with the caption: "Back To The Business".

Defending champions Juventus were a point clear of Lazio through 26 games at the time of postponement.

Prior to the season being stopped, Pjanic had scored three goals and supplied two assists in 22 Serie A appearances.

Wayne Rooney believes Lionel Messi is a cut above the "incredible" Cristiano Ronaldo because the Barcelona superstar "will torture you before he kills you."

Rooney and Ronaldo tormented defences during time as team-mates in an outstanding Manchester United side before the Portugal forward joined Real Madrid in 2009.

Ronaldo and Messi have won the Ballon d'Or an astonishing 11 times between them, with Luka Modric the only other player to land the award since 2007.

Former England captain Rooney considers Messi, winner of the Ballon d'Or on six occasions, to be the best on the planet.

The Derby County skipper wrote in his Sunday Times column: "Ronaldo wasn't as focused on goals when we started playing together but you could see that all he wanted was to be the best player in the world.

"He practised and practised and began to produce. Cristiano has become an incredible scorer and he and Messi are arguably the best two players the game has seen.

"But despite my friendship with Cristiano, I'd go for Messi. It's for the same reason I loved watching Xavi and [Paul] Scholes: it's the different things in Messi's game.

"I've talked about composure and I can't remember seeing Messi score when he has hit the ball as hard as he could. He just rolls them in, makes it so easy.

"Ronaldo is ruthless in the box, a killer. But Messi will torture you before he kills you. With Messi you just get the impression he is having more fun.

"Those two have completely changed the game in terms of goalscoring numbers and I don't think they'll ever be matched."

Antoine Griezmann is seemingly not ready to accept that his Barcelona career could be over.

The LaLiga giants have been heavily linked with moves for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

It had been reported Griezmann could head to San Siro as part of a deal, but the France international will not move so easily.

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN READY TO FIGHT NEYMAR, MARTINEZ FOR BARCELONA PLACE

Griezmann is prepared to battle for his future at Barcelona despite links to Neymar and Martinez, according to Marca.

The former Atletico Madrid star had scored 14 goals in 37 games this season before the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, the 29-year-old forward is ready to fight for a spot even if Martinez and Neymar arrive in the close season.

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- A player that seems certain to leave Barcelona is Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich this season. Goal reports the LaLiga giants are still aiming to sell the playmaker and are hoping for a suitor in the Premier League.

- Staying at Camp Nou, Arturo Vidal has been linked heavily with a move to Inter. However, Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and Newcastle United are also interested in the midfielder. Apparently, Newcastle would be the frontrunners if the Premier League club manage to appoint Massimiliano Allegri, who coached Vidal at Juventus.

- Could Arsenal and Atletico Madrid be prepared for a swap deal? The Sun reports Arsenal are ready to offer Alexandre Lacazette to the LaLiga club to seal a deal for midfielder Thomas Partey. Also with Arsenal, the Mirror says the Premier League side have asked Valencia about Rodrigo Moreno, with Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang potentially leaving.

- Out of contract in 2022, Marc-Andre ter Stegen appeared set to earn a new deal at Barcelona. However, AS reports the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is set to make a renewal for the goalkeeper – linked with Juventus and Bayern Munich – a lot harder.

- Perhaps Thiago Silva will remain at Paris Saint-Germain. Le 10 Sport reports the Ligue 1 giants are offering the defender – whose deal expires at the end of the season – a one-year contract.

- In the first year of a two-season loan deal at AC Milan, Ante Rebic has netted seven times. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A side are keen to make the Eintracht Frankfurt forward's move permanent soon, before his asking price rises further.

The record-breaking goalscoring exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi tend to lead the discussion when it comes to the Champions League, but there have also been plenty of masterful performances at the other end of the pitch.

One such display came on April 19 three years ago, when Juventus proved nigh on impenetrable at the back and saw off Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid and an Inter team led by Jose Mourinho have also provided some of the most memorable rearguard showings in Europe.

We look back at five of the best defensive displays in Champions League history.

 

1992-93 final: Marseille 1-0 Milan

Marseille were the underdogs at the Olympiastadion in Munich but managed to become the first French champions of Europe in the inaugural Champions League.

Daniele Massaro went close to an early opener for Milan when he nodded narrowly wide, and he was denied from an acute angle by Fabien Barthez after the goalkeeper blocked a low attempt from Marco van Basten.

Basile Boli had been struggling with a muscular injury for much of the first half but he headed home Abedi Pele's corner to put Raymond Goethals' side ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Marseille held firm for the entirety of the second period to claim the trophy, with Boli telling UEFA: "Those last 45 minutes felt like 45 years, and by the time the final whistle blew it felt like 100 years."

However, Marseille were barred from defending their title after a Ligue 1 match-fixing scandal saw them stripped of their domestic crown and relegated.

 

2004-05 semi-finals second leg: Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (1-0 agg)

After a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge that saw Jerzy Dudek worked more than Petr Cech, Liverpool took just four minutes to score against Chelsea – who had been crowned Premier League champions for the first time in 50 years three days prior – in the return match at Anfield.

Luis Garcia cored with what was subsequently branded the 'ghost goal', with replays and a lack of technology unable to definitively clarify whether the ball had crossed the line before William Gallas cleared it.

Rafael Benitez's Liverpool sat back for the rest of the game and comfortably soaked up the limited pressure Chelsea placed upon them, ending their hopes of a treble.

Eidur Gudjohnsen spurned a glorious chance to equalise in stoppage time after a tame punch from Dudek, meaning Liverpool advanced to the final against Milan.

In Istanbul it was attack rather than defence that underpinned the Reds' success as they came from 3-0 down to defeat the Rossoneri on penalties and be crowned champions of Europe for the fifth time.

 

2009-10 semi-final second leg: Barcelona 1-0 Inter (2-3 agg)

Mourinho's Inter may have been defeated at Camp Nou, but a 3-1 advantage from the first leg meant it was they who advanced to the final.

Their resilience was put to the ultimate test when former Barca midfielder Thiago Motta was shown a red card in the 28th minute for putting his hand in the face of Sergio Busquets, who certainly made the most of the contact.

Even with a numerical disadvantage Inter nullified an attack that boasted Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pedro with a compact showing, while their continued gamesmanship caused frustration in the Barca ranks throughout a fiery encounter.

Gerard Pique gave Pep Guardiola's men a glimmer of hope when he finally broke the deadlock in the 84th minute, but they were unable to deny Mourinho cause to sprint across the pitch in celebration at the final whistle.

Inter made the final for the first time since 1972 and defeated Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu to complete a historic treble.

 

2015-16 quarter-finals second leg: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Barcelona (3-2 agg)

Barcelona's quest to become the first team to retain the Champions League trophy was ended by Atletico at the Vicente Calderon.

A trademark defensive masterclass from Simeone saw Atletico blunt one of modern football's greatest attacking units – the MSN of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

The hosts had just 28 per cent of possession and completed a fifth of the passes Barca put together (122 to 616), but the imperious combination of Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez kept Luis Enrique's team at bay.

Antoine Griezmann converted a delivery from Saul Niguez in the first half and slotted home a late penalty after Andres Iniesta was penalised for handball, sending Barca crashing out.

A similarly brilliant performance at the back saw Atleti beat Bayern to a place in the final but they were defeated by local rivals Real Madrid in the showpiece for the second time in three years.

 

2016-17 quarter-finals second leg: Barcelona 0-0 Juventus (0-3 agg)

They may have been defeated in the first leg courtesy of an inspired Paulo Dybala display, but having overturned a 4-0 aggregate deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 Barca will still have had high hopes of getting past Juve.

Unsurprisingly they peppered the visitors' goal with shots but they were only able to hit the target with one of them, Messi warming Gianluigi Buffon's gloves from 25 yards in the first half.

Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci – who were joined by third centre-back Andrea Barzagli for the final 15 minutes – showed tremendous composure and discipline to provide Buffon with outstanding protection throughout.

Massimiliano Allegri's side consequently joined Manchester United (2007-08) and Bayern (2012-13) as the only teams to stop Barca scoring in both legs of a Champions League tie.

Juve went on to reach the final but were unable to end a 21-year wait to get their hands on the trophy, with Madrid making it two in a row in Cardiff.

While George Foreman may not look back on April 19 too fondly, all fans of the Rams should consider it a momentous day in their history.

Foreman attempted to overcome both Father Time and Evander Holyfield 29 years ago, the two legendary boxing names going toe to toe in Atlantic City.

As for the Rams, they picked a future NFL Hall of Famer who became a cornerstone of their roster for over a decade.

Take a look back at what unfolded on this date in history, including a defensive masterclass in the Champions League.

 

1991 – The Real Deal? Holyfield proves his status

Billed as 'The Battle of the Ages', Holyfield and Foreman faced each other in a clash between two heavyweights at contrasting stages of their careers.

Holyfield was the undisputed champion, holding the IBF, WBA and WBC titles and boasting a 25-fight unbeaten record, while Foreman was in his early 40s having made a comeback.

Big George had won 24 straight since returning to the ring after a decade-long absence but the 42-year-old saw his streak come to an end, Holyfield triumphing by unanimous decision on the scorecards.

Foreman may have missed out on the chance to become the oldest heavyweight champion on that occasion, but he would go on to write himself into the history books in 1994.

 

1997 – Rams set the early Pace

Quarterbacks may be the prized assets in the NFL Draft these days, but in 1997 the St Louis Rams decided to go a different route with the first overall pick.

Having completed a trade with the New York Jets to get into the top spot, the franchise opted to build up front by taking Orlando Pace, an offensive tackle out of Ohio State. It was a wise choice, too.

Pace spent 12 seasons with the Rams, helped them win Super Bowl XXXIV and made the Pro Bowl on seven occasions. Considering his stellar CV, it was no surprise when he was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.

 

2017 – Nou way through for Barca

After a resounding 3-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie in Turin, Juventus headed to Spain for the return wary of a Barcelona side clearly capable of a European comeback.

Lionel Messi and company had stunned Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 that season, recording a stunning 6-1 triumph as Sergi Roberto scored deep into added time to send his team through after losing the opening encounter 4-0.

'La Remontada' suggested no lead was safe at Camp Nou, yet Juve shut out their hosts, with a 0-0 draw seeing them ease into the last four.

The Serie A side went on to reach the final but were unable to keep Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid quiet in Cardiff, going down 4-1.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini hopes football in the country can return as soon as possible.

Like all major competitions across the world, Serie A is on hiatus as part of efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, with northern Italy particularly badly affected by the virus.

Mancini was due to lead the Azzurri at Euro 2020 in June, but the tournament has been put back 12 months.

The former Inter and Manchester City boss believes sport can act as a social boost for a population hit hard by the events of recent weeks.

"It is a terrible thing for many families who have lost loved ones," Mancini told SportMediaset.

"I hope everything returns as before. I heard some guys [players], they are all well and I hope we can go back to playing as soon as possible.

"I hope it starts because football is also a very important social thing, then we'll see what will happen.

"And I hope this terrible thing will end soon. It will take a little more attention, but we deserve to go back to living as before. Everything that happened was unjust."

Serie A paused in the midst of a gripping title race, with long-reigning champions Juventus one point ahead of surprise package Lazio with 12 games remaining.

Mancini believes the unscheduled and lengthy break will lead to unpredictability if the action resumes, meaning he refuses to rule former employers Inter in third and free-scoring Atalanta in fourth out of contention.

"I think anything can happen because there has never been such an upheaval," he said.

"It's difficult to make predictions. Juventus are in the lead and remain the strongest, but anything can happen.

"Inter could also be back in the race and Atalanta. When you stop for so long it can change everything. Nothing is excluded."

Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly a great goalscorer - no player has managed more in the history of the Champions League.

However, it is also impossible to deny that the Portugal forward is a scorer of great goals, with some of his best saved for Europe's leading club competition.

He is one of only two players to reach a century - the other being Lionel Messi, of course - and is a five-time winner, lifting the trophy with Manchester United and Real Madrid.

His 100th goal arrived in Madrid's quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich on April 18, 2017. To mark the achievement, here are six of the best from Ronaldo through the years.

 

Roma v Manchester United: April 2008

Ronaldo defied gravity to find the net with a header in a 2-0 first-leg win at the Stadio Olimpico. Sprinting from far back to join the attack, he began his jump from the edge of the area and somehow maintained his height all the way to the penalty spot, allowing him to meet Paul Scholes' flighted cross.

Long-time United team-mate Gary Neville once described it as “the most miraculous goal" he had seen and Ronaldo netted another fine header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, where Alex Ferguson's side prevailed on penalties.

Porto v Manchester United: April 2009

He had absolutely no right to score this one. Back in his homeland for a Champions League quarter-final against Porto, Ronaldo picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition's half, got it out of his feet and sent a searing strike flying past goalkeeper Helton.

His stunner sealed a 1-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao and a 3-2 aggregate triumph for the Premier League club, who went on to lose to Barcelona in the final.

Marseille v Real Madrid: December 2009

Every free-kick is seemingly within range for Ronaldo, who boasts a fine collection of European set-piece goals

He was certainly not put off by the prospect of being a long way out against Marseille in 2009. Starting out from his trademark stance, Madrid's new number nine - this was his debut season at the club - unleashed an attempt that arched high over the wall but dipped in time, sending the ball beyond keeper Steve Mandanda's desperate dive.

Galatasaray v Real Madrid: September 2013

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a resounding 6-1 triumph in Istanbul, Madrid's first Champions League outing in a campaign that ended with them holding the trophy in Lisbon.

His treble was completed with an eye-catching run and finish in stoppage time, some nimble footwork – including a stepover – allowing him to wriggle clear from the attentions of two Gala players in close proximity before he thumped home with his left foot.  

Juventus v Real Madrid: April 2018

Arguably Ronaldo's finest goal. Moving away from goal as Dani Carvajal dug a cross towards the penalty spot from the right, he leapt into the air and connected with a marvellous overhead kick.

His leg was at a right angle to his body as he struck with the sweetest of volleys that flew past an idle Gianluigi Buffon. Of course, no-one knew at the time he would go on to join the Serie A club later that same year.

Juventus v Manchester United: November 2018

Another decorated Portuguese was celebrating at full-time when Jose Mourinho watched his Manchester United team complete an unlikely 2-1 comeback win in Turin.

But Ronaldo struck first with a sumptuous and technically brilliant strike, watching Leonardo Bonucci's raking pass over his shoulder to send a volley flashing beyond the rooted David de Gea. The best way to celebrate such a wonderful moment? Show off your six pack, of course! 

Cristiano Ronaldo stands alone as the most prolific Champions League goalscorer of all time.

For Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Juventus, the Portugal superstar has brought his gifts to bear against the continent's finest.

A five-time winner in Europe's top competition, Ronaldo scored his 100th Champions League goal against Bayern Munich on April 18 three years ago - part of a thrilling hat-trick that wrapped up an extra-time triumph in the quarter-finals.

Here, with some help from Opta, we trawl through his incredible record in numbers.

128 – Ronaldo's overall Champions League haul, amassed over the course of 169 games. Lionel Messi is next on the list with 114, while Real Madrid great Raul is a relatively distant third on 71.

15 – His first 15 goals in the competition came at United, including a superb header in the 2008 final against Chelsea.

105 – The bulk of Ronaldo's prolific tally came at Madrid in just 101 appearances.

86 – His minutes-per-goal figure at Madrid clocks in at under 90.

8 – Since joining Juventus at the start of last season, Ronaldo has eight goals in 16 Champions League outings.

8 – No player has more than Ronaldo's eight Champions League hat-tricks, a feat matched by Messi.

33 – The number of different Champions League opponents Ronaldo has scored against. Messi pips him here with 34.

17 – His 17 goals in Madrid's triumphant 2013-14 campaign are the most scored by a player in a single Champions League campaign. With 16 in 2015-16 and 15 in 2017-18, Ronaldo boasts the three most prolific single season returns.

10 – Perhaps Juve were motivated to sign Ronaldo as a means of stopping him scoring against them! The 10 goals he netted versus the Turin giants is the most for any player against a single Champions League opponent. He has nine apiece at the expense of Bayern and Ajax.

Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter at the end of the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-20 season.

His exploits in Italy have reportedly alerted Barcelona, who are determined to sign a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

And Martinez is apparently ready to swap the San Siro for Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – MARTINEZ WANTS BARCA MOVE

Inter star Lautaro Martinez has chosen to join Barcelona and will press for a move if necessary, according to Marca.

While Barcelona remain interested in re-signing Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar, Martinez is the club's primary transfer objective.

Real Madrid and Manchester City have also been linked to Martinez, but the former have turned their attention to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, while the latter are reportedly happy with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could another star leave Inter? Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool want to sign Marcelo Brozovic, claims Calciomercato. The Nerazzurri could be tempted by a €60million (£52m) offer.

- Calciomercarto reports Juventus and PSG are in discussions over Mauro Icardi. The Argentina forward is on loan at PSG from Inter, with the Ligue 1 champions having the option to sign Icardi permanently. Icardi has been tipped to return to Serie A and the story claims PSG could sign the Argentinian from Inter before selling him straight to Juve. A possible deal could involve the likes of Mattia De Sciglio, Miralem Pjanic, Douglas Costa and Alex Sandro.

- The Telegraph says Ajax have placed a €40m (£35m) price tag on goalkeeper Andre Onana, who has been linked to Chelsea, PSG and Barca.

Jadon Sancho will only move to Old Trafford if Manchester United secure Champions League football, says the Athletic. The Dortmund sensation has also been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, former club City and Madrid.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter have a list of potential replacements for Barca target Martinez. RB Leipzig's Timo Werner is the first name on the list, which also includes Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, United forward Anthony Martial, Madrid striker Luka Jovic and Victor Osimhen of Lille.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto said Gonzalo Higuain would represent "a dream" signing for La Galaxy, who are also interested in Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira.

Higuain has appeared in all but three of Juventus' 26 Serie A games this season, starting 16 times for the league leaders, though the 32-year-old's long-term future remains unclear.

The Argentinian is under contract until the end of next season and while accepting a move to MLS is unlikely for Higuain, Schelotto would dearly love to bring his compatriot to the Galaxy.

"It would be a dream, we are talking about one of the best centre-forwards in the world," Schelotto told Tuttosport.

"But honestly, I find it difficult to bring him here immediately.

"I saw an interview with Gonzalo where he said he wanted to stay at Juventus and in Europe. Maybe it's too early for Higuain, but never say never in football.

"I personally know the whole family, his father Jorge and brother Federico. We have already brought in Ibra's [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] replacement in Chicharito [Javier] Hernandez and we are happy with him.

"In Higuain's case, it would be a separate matter. It's a dream for the future, but it won't be easy."

Higuain is not the only Juve player on Schelotto's radar, with midfielders Matuidi and Khedira potential targets too.

"Top players like Khedira and Matuidi could be interesting for us, even if it's impossible to make predictions," he added.

"Given the health emergency we are experiencing, we can't know what will happen in the summer and what kind of transfer market it will be."

Pep Guardiola is tactically the greatest but his man-management skills leave a lot to be desired and Cristiano Ronaldo is the undoubted best player in the world, according to Medhi Benatia.

Benatia spent two years playing under the tutelage of now Manchester City boss Guardiola at Bayern Munich between 2014 and 2016.

The experienced centre-back's time in Munich was stop-start due to issues with form and injury but he still won two Bundesliga titles and a DFB-Pokal.

Reflecting on working with Guardiola, Benatia told Goal there were positive and negative aspects playing for a coach regarded by many as the best in the game.

"Tactically he's the best coach in the world, I don't see one better than him," he said. 

"But I didn't like him very much in the relationship with the players, from this point of view he didn't drive me crazy.

"At the beginning I started well, I was the highest paid defender in the history of the Bundesliga and I was elected the best defender of the Serie A. A great club, the top. 

"The reason for the satisfaction linked to that adventure was that they chose me, Guardiola and [Karl-Heinz] Rummenigge. 

"Unfortunately the injuries affected me and, honestly, I missed Italy very much. I did not adapt well and, after a complicated second year, I did everything to return to Italy."

Benatia cut short his time in Germany to return to Serie A, where he had previously represented Udinese and Roma, by agreeing to join Juventus on loan, which would later become a permanent move.

Guardiola has himself been heavily linked with taking over at Juve, but Benatia believes they already had a top-class boss in Maurizio Sarri.

"He is certainly the right profile, but in my opinion Sarri also has an excellent idea of football," he said. 

"This year, perhaps, has been a bit more complicated for Juve, but change always requires patience. And we must not forget that we are talking about a team still in the running to win everything.

"I don't think it is right to talk about other coaches at the moment, the Bianconeri have a good one."

Benatia departed the Bianconeri in January 2019 to join Qatari side Al-Duhail, just six months after Portugal superstar Ronaldo arrived from Real Madrid.

In that short time, Ronaldo made a big impression on Benatia, who added: "He is the absolute number one, as a footballer and as a person. 

"He is very intelligent, even outside the game rectangle. His brain is always faster than that of the others. I am happy to be his friend. I always wish him the best."

It was reported Benatia's exit was in part due to a falling out with former boss Massimiliano Allegri.

Benatia explained the situation from his side.

"Allegri is a great coach and he is a great person. I had no problems with him or anyone else. But he made me promises he didn't keep," he said.

"He told me that I would start with [Giorgio] Chiellini and that [Leonardo] Bonucci should have earned his place. Leo is a champion, but it was expected that I would start and, perhaps, at the first mistake he could have played another one in my place. 

"Things at that moment, they were doing pretty well. I had a brace in the Coppa Italia final and we were talking about contract renewal. After that, I found myself making four benches without playing even a minute.

"Then, apparently, Allegri had made fun of me; I started to lose my mind and I told him that I would never play for Juve again while he was the coach. 

"But I have an extraordinary relationship with the club we still feel [good] and I'm happy to have been able to work with these people."

Brescia president Massimo Cellino would like to see Sandro Tonali join Roma or Napoli but will be happy as long as he stays in Serie A.

Described by Andrea Pirlo as the best midfielder in Serie A, 19-year-old Tonali has been linked with a host of major clubs since breaking into the Brescia team in Serie B.

Juventus and Inter have been linked with moves for the player, who already has three senior caps for Italy despite playing just 23 times in the top-flight.

Cellino insists he will not stand in Tonali's way if he says he wants to leave and even suggested a transfer could have been arranged were it not for the chaos brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, before which Brescia looked destined to be relegated.

He told Tuttosport: "In January, a very important team came to me telling me they wanted Tonali. I didn't get into numbers, but just one question: 'Would you let him play straight away in the Champions League?'

"[They said] 'We'd leave him in Brescia until the end of the season'. I said to them, 'Thanks, but I'll keep him and we'll talk about it in July'.

"In February, I received another very important request and I didn't tell Tonali anything, with the intention of giving him a nice surprise in June. I can't say the name of the team. Unfortunately, coronavirus has changed everything."

He continued: "My dream would be to keep Tonali. I'd jump through hoops, but I have a deal with Sandro, who's a great boy. He knows that, when he asks me to leave, I'll let him go.

"I won't make it about the price – it's important he chooses from the heart. And it's only he who decides.

"Tonali is a cold, northern boy, but inside he's sentimental. That's why, as I'm a romantic, I'd like to see him at Roma or Napoli. But it'll be difficult for that to happen.

"I'd prefer him to stay in Italy, anyway."

When pressed on whether he could go to either Juventus or Inter, Cellino added: "It will depend on Tonali. He'll choose.

"But I hope he stays in Italy and gets to play. He should become an [Andres] Iniesta."

Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso is open to selling Federico Chiesa amid reports Juventus and Inter are interested in the star forward.

The Italy international has regularly been linked with a move, having starred for boyhood club Fiorentina.

While Commisso wants to keep the 22-year-old, he said Chiesa – who is contracted until 2022 – could be allowed to leave for the right offer.

"I promised that if the right offer arrives and he wants to leave we will agree," he told Top Calcio 24 on Wednesday.

"However, I think that the situation in Florence has changed in the eyes of Federico and beyond and I hope that they can all play together to make a better championship."

Chiesa had scored six goals and provided three assists in 23 Serie A games before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fiorentina were struggling in 13th in the table when the campaign was stopped.

Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi have each recovered from coronavirus and returned negative tests, Juventus have confirmed.

Rugani was among the first wave of high-profile confirmed cases in Serie A when he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Matuidi followed as Juve's second case, although neither player developed symptoms.

A month on, the duo have each returned two negative tests.

The Bianconeri's statement read: "The players have, therefore, recovered and are no longer subjected to the home isolation regime."

The duo have not missed any action as Serie A has been suspended amid the pandemic.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) is looking to resume the season in the coming months, however.

FIGC president Gabriele Gravina has praised Juve for their apparent stance against being awarded the Scudetto as they top the table at the time of the pause in play.

Maurizio Sarri's men are a point clear of second-placed Lazio with 12 matches remaining.

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