Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira has thanked fans for their support after he underwent treatment on a heart problem.

Khedira withdrew from the squad to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday following the detection of an irregular heartbeat.

He is not expected to return until late March after Juve confirmed he had been treated successfully but the Germany international later tweeted his thanks and wished his team-mates well for their last-16 clash with Atleti at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"I've had a successful interventional therapy today in the morning with an ablation of an arrhythmogenic atrial focus," he posted. 

"Everything went perfectly well and I will be able to get back to work after a short rest. Thank you so much for all your messages and get well wishes!

"A big thank you to Prof. F. Gaita as well. Now I'm wishing my team-mates all the best for tonight's game in Madrid."

Khedira, who joined from Real Madrid in 2015, has made 15 appearances in all competitions for Juve this season.

Krzysztof Piatek insists he is not yet worthy of some of the praise that has come his way since his move to AC Milan in January.

The Poland international has scored six goals in five matches since arriving from Genoa for a reported fee of €35million, sparking optimism that he could be the man to fire the club out of the doldrums.

Milan's only silverware since winning the 2010-11 Serie A title is a pair of Supercoppa Italiana trophies.

But while Piatek hopes to play his part in restoring Milan to the top of Italian and European football, he is a reluctant recipient of the early plaudits.

"If I had all the qualities the newspapers are talking about, I'd be the best player in history," Piatek told Przeglad Sportowy. 

"I hope that Milan will be great again thanks to me and that one day I will be really worthy of those comparisons. 

"In my opinion certain headlines are exaggerated. I take only a part of that praise. 

"I'm satisfied with the goals, not the fact that thanks to them I made headlines."

Inter players will welcome Mauro Icardi back into the team "with open arms" despite his seemingly fractious relationship with the club, according to Antonio Candreva.

There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Icardi, as the Argentina striker and the Nerazzurri hierarchy are at loggerheads due to a series of issues.

Not only are contract negotiations said to have stalled, Inter are reported to be unhappy with Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara publicly commenting on club matters. He was also stripped of the captaincy last week.

Following that decision head coach Luciano Spalletti said Icardi decided not to play in their Europa League last-32 first leg against Rapid Vienna, with the 26-year-old suggesting on social media he is nursing a right knee injury.

Icardi watched the 2-1 victory over Sampdoria on Sunday from the stands and a scan on Wednesday suggested no significant knee issue was detected, but Candreva insists the team are looking forward to his return despite the ongoing saga.

"We have talked a lot about this situation, directors, the president and coach all spoke about it," Candreva told reporters ahead of Thursday's return match against Rapid.

"We know that Mauro is displeased, as we are. He's a super guy. He cares about us and the Inter shirt, and we are waiting for him with open arms."

The situation has opened the door for Lautaro Martinez to lead Inter's line, with the pre-season recruit from Argentina's Racing Club previously used mostly from the bench.

Spalletti is adamant he and Icardi can play together, however.

"I have always said that they are very similar, they are two central strikers," Spalletti said. "But like all similar attackers, they can coexist.

"One is better in the penalty area, the other is relaxed in coming out [of the box]. Lautaro must show that in front of the goal he has the same exceptional skill as Icardi.

"Until recently we have always said that Icardi was an important absence, and it is the same now."

Sami Khedira will be out of action for a month after undergoing treatment on a heart problem, Juventus have confirmed.

The midfielder withdrew from the squad to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League after the detection of an irregular heartbeat.

Khedira is not expected to return until late March after Juve confirmed he had been treated successfully.

"Today in the morning the player Sami Khedira underwent electrophysiological study and successful interventional therapy with ablation of an arrhythmogenic atrial focus, performed by Prof. Fiorenzo Gaita, JM cardiologist consultant for Juventus," the club said in a statement.

"After a short period of convalescence the player will be able to resume his activity approximately within one month."

Khedira, who joined from Real Madrid in 2015, has made 15 appearances in all competitions for Juve this season.

Massimiliano Allegri's side face Atletico in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday.

Lautaro Martinez said he hopes Mauro Icardi returns soon as he lent his support to the former Inter captain.

Icardi's future at Inter is uncertain after he was stripped of the captaincy last week and replaced by goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

The 26-year-old, who has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United and Barcelona, was absent for the Europa League clash against Rapid Vienna and the Serie A victory over Sampdoria.

Icardi is reportedly set to undergo tests to determine the extent of his apparent injuries and fellow Argentinian Martinez said he and his team-mates are supportive of the forward.

"Today [Tuesday] was his birthday, we said goodbye and congratulated him, he was happy to be with us," Martinez told Sky Sport Italia.

"We will continue to support him, as his future will depend exclusively on his decision and who manages it: not by us team-mates.

"For us he is a very important player. We hope to have him back soon."

Icardi has not played since losing the armband but prior to that, he went seven Serie A matches without a goal.

Nice have punished reported AC Milan target Allan Saint-Maximin for missing Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Angers without permission.

Saint-Maximin, 21, joined Nice in a reported €10million deal from Monaco in August 2017 and has developed well since, becoming a key part of the team.

The forward is highly rated in France and is said to have attracted interest from Milan, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, having scored six goals and set up another two in Ligue 1 this term.

But he incurred the wrath of Nice for his absence from the trip to Angers due to an apparent stomach illness, which the club doctor felt should not have prevented him from travelling.

A statement read: "Last weekend, Allan Saint-Maximin missed the trip to Angers.

"In line with the principles of Nice and the board, which place the club above everything else, [coach] Patrick Vieira spoke frankly about the reason for this absence when speaking to the press after the match. 

"The facts being that after returning to full training on Thursday and having been named in the squad, the Nice forward bypassed the protocol in place at the club for illness before a match, by simply sending a message during the night between Friday and Saturday, informing the club of his absence.

"While the team prepared to fly to Angers, he refused to comply with his obligations to be seen by the club's medical staff in order to be judged fit/unfit to travel at the scheduled meeting time.

"Furthermore, his medical issue (stomach pain) did not justify this failure to attend, as the club doctor confirmed with certainty to Patrick Vieira after examining the player at his home address later in the day.

"Called to meet with [chief executive] Gauthier Ganaye and Patrick Vieira [on] Tuesday morning as the players returned to training, Allan Saint-Maximin was reminded of the obligations that apply to all Nice players, then made aware of his punishment. The details of which will remain between the player and the club.

"With the player having accepted this punishment, the Nice board and Patrick Vieira consider this chapter closed. All thoughts and energy will now turn to achieving sporting successes in the final games of the season."

Arsene Wenger has suggested Aaron Ramsey would still be an Arsenal player next season if he was in charge of the Premier League club.

Juventus confirmed earlier this month that they had agreed a deal to sign Wales midfielder Ramsey at the end his contract in June, ending an 11-year association with the Gunners.

Unai Emery replaced Wenger after more than 21-and-a-half years at the helm for the start of this season and Ramsey had often been deployed as a substitute under the ex-Sevilla boss.

The 28-year-old's switch to Juve was long mooted but, speaking at the Laureus World Sport Awards – where he received a lifetime achievement prize – Wenger claimed there had been a change of heart after his own Emirates Stadium departure.

"In the case of Ramsey, it's not a question at all of [running down his] contract, not at all," he said.

"I think it was not a financial situation and not a desire of the player to leave. But, as long as I was there, I was convinced that the player would stay.

"What happened after, I don't know. It was not a financial problem, not a desire to leave problem."

Ramsey will reportedly be handsomely remunerated for his services in wage terms, having joined Juventus on a free transfer.

Wenger feels this factor, along with spiralling transfer prices for elite players, is increasingly influential and gives an incentive for players not to commit to contract extensions ahead of time.

"It's very simple: the transfer market is so big now that they think 'if I run out my contract, I will not get the whole [outlay of the] transfer [but] I get the big part of it'," he explained, having seen star names Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil enter the closing stages of their Arsenal deals on his watch.

"Adding that to inflation means that the financial incentive for a player is to run out his contract. You'll see that more and more, because a good player today [costs] between 50 and 100 million.

"So, the player will not be bought for that price. His interest is to run the contract down and say to the club who wants to buy him 'okay, I don't want 50 [million], but I want a part of it'."

Paulo Dybala says he is learning a lot from Massimiliano Allegri after the Juventus head coach denied a rift with the forward.

Dybala left the Juve bench before the end of the 3-3 draw with Parma at the start of the month, the substitute reacting to Allegri's decision not to use him.

He later apologised and Allegri described the Argentina international as a "clever boy" for saying sorry over the incident, before rejecting claims the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo had restricted Dybala's opportunities.

And ahead of Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first leg away to Atletico Madrid, Dybala piled praise on Allegri.

"I have learned a great deal from him, particularly in terms of the way we work, how to be a model professional and being fully focused during training so that you know what to expect during games," Dybala told UEFA's website.

"The coach has helped me an awful lot. Right from the first day that I arrived here, although I've played in a number of positions, he's always given me the freedom to go out, perform and play where I wanted to.

"I think that trust is very important and it's a really good feeling when a player feels they're part of what such a big club is trying to achieve."

Former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo has hit 22 goals against Atleti, including three hat-tricks, but Dybala would not be drawn on whether he rates the Portugal captain above his international team-mate Lionel Messi.

"[Ronaldo is] a laid-back and normal guy, like the rest of us. Despite all he's achieved throughout his career, he's always been very gracious in the dressing room," Dybala added. 

"That helps to make you feel comfortable when you're in the presence of such a player. I compare him to Leo Messi, because everyone else does, and I think that they're two exceptional players; as I said, you learn a great deal from players and people like them, both on and off the field.

"We already know all about their playing style, how Diego Simeone sets his sides up and just how tough it'll be. To reach the final and win this competition, you have to beat whoever is in front of you and you're never going to have any easy games.

"Atlético are very strong defensively and are very good on the counter. If you're not alert defensively, they've got players who can wreak real havoc. The same goes for us; we know where our strengths lie and they'll likely be working hard to try and make sure we don't do them any damage."

Juventus lost to Ronaldo's Madrid in the 2017 final and Dybala says they have high motivation to collect a first European crown since 1995-96.

"Given what happened, we have a score to settle. When you lose games like that, you always want another chance to put it right," he continued. "Football is a sport that always offers you the chance to make amends and I think we'll have that opportunity.

"It's obviously not easy to get that far and the team really wants to, which can ultimately go against you, but we're in a relaxed frame of mind and always try to convey to people and those within the club that we're doing well and want to try and reach the final.

"But we have to take things slowly, particularly considering the strong desire within the squad. Things can turn sour and you can end up being on the receiving end of a real setback and that sometimes proves to be even more painful.

"We have to take things step by step. We know that it'll be far from easy, but as a team we're really up for it."

Leonardo Bonucci says he turned down the chance to sign for Real Madrid in order to return to Juventus.

Bonucci left Juve for fellow Serie A side AC Milan in 2017 but re-signed for the Italian champions after a single season with the Rossoneri.

Having previously claimed to have been a target for Manchester City, Bonucci earlier confirmed he was pursued by their Premier League rivals Manchester United before rejoining Juve.

And ahead of his side's Champions League last-16 first leg away to Atletico Madrid, Bonucci revealed the tournament's holders Real Madrid tried to sign him too.

"It is the truth: Madrid looked for me," Bonucci told AS. "It has been a pride and a pleasure to be in their sights, it means that I have worked well in these years.

"But the call of Juventus and the desire to return to feel at home took my heart to decide that the white and black colours suit me better."

Bonucci explained an illness suffered by one of his children, Matteo, was among his motivations to go back to Serie A champions Juve.

"I knew this decision would cause controversy but I know myself," he added. "I know how to respond in the field.

"How did my son Lorenzo react? He's happy because dad came home. Last year I was almost always in Milan and he could not see me. It was one of the reasons why I came back.

"It was a very tough five months, and I understood what my priorities were. Before, the desire to go far, to be a great player, led me to put football and family in the same place.

"I learned, thanks to Matteo, that I can live without football, but not without my family, my children. It is the ugliest thing that can happen to you, but luckily now everything is fine."

Juventus are on track to win an eighth consecutive Serie A title, with Massimiliano Allegri's side 13 points clear of Napoli, but Bonucci denies they are cruising.

"It is not as easy as it looks. The level of Italian football has improved," he said. "I'll be honest: there was a time when Juve were far above the others.

"You played against Napoli, Inter and Milan and felt that you were going to win without problems, now it is not like that. In the last two or three years especially Napoli were very close."

Cristiano Ronaldo will get reacquainted with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday for the first time since leaving their bitter rivals Real Madrid for Juventus, having boasted a fine record in derby clashes.

Atletico host Juve in the first leg of the Champions League's round of 16 and they are braced to face a familiar foe in the Portugal great.

Ronaldo was a regular rival of Atletico's after moving to LaLiga from Manchester United in 2009, and he went on to consistently be a nuisance.

He was on the winning side in his first eight Madrid derbies, before Atletico began to enjoy something of a resurgence and assert themselves in both LaLiga and the Champions League.

However, Madrid still generally got the better of them when it mattered and Ronaldo often played a significant role.

His form has shown no sign of letting up since moving to Serie A, scoring 19 goals in 24 appearances, and he will no doubt be expecting to continue his fine record against Atletico in their upcoming clashes.

Using Opta data, Omnisport takes a closer look at the five-time Ballon d'Or-winner's history against these opponents.

 

22  Ronaldo's overall haul of 22 goals against Atletico during his time in Spain makes him the Madrid derby's all-time top scorer. Only against Sevilla (27) and Getafe (23) has he scored more often.

10 –  Ten of those 22 goals were scored away from home. Only on trips to Sevilla and Barcelona (12) has Ronaldo been more prolific in front of goal.

8 – Ronaldo has taken more penalties against Atletico than any other side, and he has scored every single one of them.

3 – The 34-year-old has three hat-tricks against Atletico, with his most recent coming in May 2017's Champions League semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu.

18  – No player has netted more often against Atleti during Diego Simeone's celebrated tenure than Ronaldo, whose 18 goals have come across 25 derbies.

5 –  Ronaldo has also chipped in with five assists to further punish Atletico from 10 clear chances created. He had better assist hauls against only Malaga, Espnayol (nine apiece), Levante (eight) and Athletic Bilbao (seven) in Spanish football.

19 – Only three of Ronaldo's 22 goals against Atletico were not with his right foot. All of the remaining trio were headers.

6 – Ronaldo has faced Atletico six times in the Champions League. His solitary defeat in those games (2-1 on May 10, 2017) had no bearing on the end result, as Madrid had won the first leg 3-0 thanks to his hat-trick.

Lionel Messi is the "only genius in world football" according to former Real Madrid head coach Fabio Capello, who also praised Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at Juventus.

Barcelona superstar Messi and Ronaldo have won five Ballon d'Or awards apiece, with ongoing debate as to who is the greatest player of all time.

Asked about Messi at the Laureus Awards in Monaco, Capello – who won two LaLiga titles in two spells with Madrid – told reporters: "Leo Messi is not a footballer, he is a genius and the only genius in world football.

"He has not won much silverware with Argentina but that is because he cannot do it all alone."

Capello did laud Ronaldo following his move to Juventus, where the former Madrid star has flourished this season.

After joining in a €112million deal ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, Ronaldo has scored a Serie A-high 19 goals and 22 in all competitions for the Italian champions.

"Cristiano has woken up a lot of Juventus players," ex-Juve player and coach Capello said. "Bringing him to the club has been a wake-up call for many players and he has made them improve.

"He is very important for Juventus because having someone as good as him at training every day and someone who takes care of himself in the way Ronaldo does, is hugely significant for a team that was coasting.

"It is obvious that he is desperate to win the Champions League with Juventus."

Inter president Steven Zhang insisted there is "no chance" Mauro Icardi will join Serie A champions Juventus.

Juve chief football officer Fabio Paratici revealed the league leaders made an enquiry for Icardi amid uncertainty over the Inter star's future.

Icardi was stripped of the captaincy last week, while he missed the Europa League clash against Rapid Vienna and Serie A victory over Sampdoria.

The 26-year-old's agent and wife Wanda Nara said Icardi has no plans to leave Inter.

Asked about the possibility of Icardi swapping Inter for Juve, Zhang said: "In football you can never say never to business with Juventus.

"However, in this specific case there's no chance that Icardi will go to Juventus. We talked a lot last week, we want to say enough about this story.

"We're negotiating a renewal with Inter, but our philosophy is that the group is always greater than the individual.

"Our market campaign next summer will be better than the last one."

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta, who left Juve in September, described Paratici's comments as "inappropriate".

"We're not going to sell Icardi," Marotta told Rai Sport. "We believe he's a great player who's done well for Inter and who will do well in the future.

"As for what Paratici said, I think the same answer applies to [Juve star Paulo] Dybala: we'll see what he does in June. What Paratici said was inappropriate."

Juventus have made an enquiry to Inter to learn whether Mauro Icardi would be interested in a move, chief football officer Fabio Paratici has confirmed.

Icardi's future has been thrown into doubt after he was stripped of the Inter captaincy last week.

Wanda Nara, his wife and agent, insisted on Sunday that the Argentina striker does not want to leave but there are suggestions the club could look to sell before next season.

Paratici says Juve have informed Inter of their possible interest but has stressed this is relatively normal practice for the club.

"We asked for information," he told Radio Rai. "We wanted to know what Icardi thinks about playing for Juve.

"What we did was to inform them [Inter] that, if Icardi were to change club, Juve could be interested. These are things all clubs do with a lot of players.

"There has been no contact lately with Mrs Icardi. He's an Inter player and we have an important few months ahead."

Paratici also appeared to confirm Juve's interest in rising Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo, although he says the 19-year-old is one of many promising players they are monitoring.

"Very good young players, we are following them," he said when asked about Zaniolo, as well as Federico Chiesa, Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Barella.

"The list I wrote down was of players who it's pretty easy to tell are talented. It could have been put together by me or anyone who is even a little interested in football."

It has also been reported that Juve would consider allowing Paulo Dybala to leave as part of a deal to bring in either Mohamed Salah from Liverpool or Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Paratici has dismissed the speculation, saying the Serie A leaders have already done good business by agreeing pre-contract terms with Aaron Ramsey, who will join from Arsenal on July 1.

"At this moment, it's all fantasy football," he said. "It's only February, so nobody knows what could happen in June. We are proud to have brought Aaron Ramsey to Juve, as he is a great signing."

Will Mauro Icardi sign a new Inter contract or not?

That remains to be seen after star striker Icardi was stripped of the Inter captaincy.

Icardi's relationship with Inter and their fans has been far from rosy since arriving from Sampdoria in 2013.

With Icardi facing an uncertain future, Omnisport looks at the timeline of the events that have transpired in Milan.

 

October 7, 2016 - Icardi signs a new deal following interest from rivals Napoli.

October 16, 2016 - Curva Nord want Icardi stripped of the captaincy following comments made in his autobiography 'Sempre Avanti'. Icardi claimed that he became "a hero" to his team-mates after confronting an ultra leader following a 3-1 defeat to Sassuolo the season prior. Inter's most prominent ultras faction insist Icardi is "finished" at the club.

October 17, 2016 - Inter sanction Icardi but he retains the armband, much to the frustration of the Curva Nord - who denounce the Argentinian as their skipper.

October 21, 2016 - Paolo Fontanesi, author of the book, says the biography "will be reprinted" following the controversy.

January 16, 2017 - Wanda Nara claims Icardi has offers from China.

March 30, 2017 - Icardi says he "loves" playing for Inter and wants to "stay here forever".

December 16, 2017 - Nara refuses to dismiss the possibility of a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid. "I do not know anything, I do not say yes or no. Mauro would stay at Inter all his life, but it depends on other things."

April 4, 2018 - Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio says there is no rush on Icardi's contract renewal.

May 13, 2018 - Icardi admits he could leave Inter but only if it is in the best interests of the club.

September 3, 2018 - Nara claims Juventus and Napoli were both interested in signing Icardi during the transfer window, revealing she met with the latter's president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

October 18, 2018 - Icardi says he is happy to stay at Inter. "We will try to find a renewal, but I don't know if it will arrive before Christmas."

December 18, 2018 - Nara says Inter and Icardi are still "very far" apart in contract negotiations amid links with Madrid.

January 9, 2019 - Nara reiterates that a renewal is a "long way off" after Ausilio suggests a new offer is on the table for Icardi, adding a number of European clubs are monitoring the forward.

January 21, 2019 - After Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta says Icardi will re-sign, Nara reveals a new contract is virtually a "100 per cent" certainty.

February 13, 2019 - Icardi is stripped of the captaincy and replaced by goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, before being left out of the Europa League squad to face Rapid Vienna.

February 17, 2019 - Icardi watches from the stands as Inter beat former club Sampdoria 2-1 in Serie A.

February 17, 2019 - Nara later claims Icardi has no intention to leave Inter after losing the armband.

Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti said Arsenal loanee and goalkeeper David Ospina will stay at the Serie A club next season.

Ospina is on loan from Premier League side Arsenal but the Colombia international revealed a move to South America could be a "possibility" after the return of Alex Meret, though he was in the XI for Sunday's goalless draw against Torino.

The 30-year-old Ospina has made 11 Serie A appearances this term since arriving on a season-long loan deal, which includes a clause for a permanent transfer depending on the number of games played.

Discussing Ospina post-match, Ancelotti told reporters: "Ospina was meant to play on Thursday in the Europa League, but wasn't feeling up to it, so I switched things around and used him [against Torino] instead.

"Ospina will remain at Napoli next season, regardless of how many games he plays."

Napoli signed Ospina on loan at the start of the season after Meret broke his arm just six days following his €22million arrival from Udinese.

Ospina is third in the pecking order at Arsenal, where Bernd Leno has established himself as the Gunners' first choice ahead of Petr Cech, who will retire at the end of the campaign.

It was a frustrating outing for Ancelotti's Napoli against Torino, who managed to hold on for a share of the spoils.

Napoli attempted 26 shots without finding the back of the net as they slipped 13 points behind Serie A leaders and reigning champions Juventus.

"From what we see on the pitch, from a mental point of view, the team looks very motivated, very focused," Ancelotti said. "We play very well, but we are not able to score the goals that we should score. In a match like this you are supposed to win for the way you performed. But if we didn't win, we can't put the blame on anyone else but ourselves, because in two matches [against Fiorentina and Torino] we had 18 chances and we didn't score a single goal."

Ancelotti added: "It is a bit funny the fact that we find ourselves here complaining about a draw when the team performed very well. The team performed well in Florence, they did very well tonight. We should have had six points [from these two matches], we only have two instead. We can't say that we were unlucky. No, it's our fault and our fault only. And that's it."

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