Gattuso: Koulibaly a doubt for Barcelona

By Sports Desk February 20, 2020

Gennaro Gattuso has confirmed Napoli could be without key defender Kalidou Koulibaly for next week's Champions League game against Barcelona.

Injuries have hampered the Senegal international this season and he has only played one Serie A match since the turn of the year.

Napoli head to Brescia on Friday before hosting Barca four days later in the first leg of their last-16 tie with the LaLiga champions.

And Gattuso, whose side have won five of their past six games in all competitions, is unsure whether Koulibaly will be available.

"We'll need to objectively see what he has," Gattuso told reporters on Thursday. "He has swelling, so we need to listen to how he feels. 

"Right now I have opted, together with the medical staff, to keep him sidelined for seven to 10 days.

"We will evaluate after that how he feels physically. He will tell us how he feels."

Napoli's improved form has lifted them to ninth in Serie A but they are 12 points behind fourth-placed Atalanta in the race for Champions League qualification.

Gattuso is staying focused on the trip to second-bottom Brescia - with Koulibaly not included in the Napoli squad - rather than allowing the looming Barca game to act as a distraction.

"I haven't heard anyone talk about Barcelona," Gattuso added. "We haven't prepared for Barcelona yet. We have prepared for the match against Brescia. We will think about Barcelona on Saturday after the analysis of the match against Brescia."

Napoli striker Fernando Llorente will miss the Brescia game due to flu.

Related items

  • Messi to Inter? Of course Nerazzurri can sign Barca star – Cauet Messi to Inter? Of course Nerazzurri can sign Barca star – Cauet

    Former Inter midfielder Benoit Cauet insisted the Nerazzurri can sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

    Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

    Barca captain Messi is contracted to the LaLiga champions until 2021 but his future is far from certain at Camp Nou, where he has clashed with board members this season.

    "Of course Inter can sign Lionel Messi, there are no doubts that they could," Cauet, who won the UEFA Super Cup with Inter in 1997-98, said in an Instagram Live interview.

    "President Steven Zhang has the financial capabilities and the potential ambition. He is a president who thinks big."

    Messi – who moved to Barca from boyhood club Newell's Old Boys in 2001 – had scored 24 goals across all competitions before the 2019-20 season was postponed due to coronavirus.

    The 32-year-old attacker tops the LaLiga scoring charts with 19 goals through 27 rounds.

  • Coronavirus: Sampdoria president says Serie A season 'must end here' Coronavirus: Sampdoria president says Serie A season 'must end here'

    Sampdoria president Massimo Ferrero said the Serie A season "must end here" as it would be pointless to restart the league without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Serie A was suspended indefinitely last month due to the spread of COVID-19, and authorities have insisted they will not even consider resuming action until it is safe to do so.

    It remains to be seen if and when the 2019-20 campaign returns but matches behind closed doors are almost a certainty in Italy, where more than 17,600 people have died from coronavirus.

    "Let's organise ourselves to say that this championship must end here and now," Ferrero told Telenord.

    "I say it with a heavy heart, because I do want to resume, but only when I can see our beautiful stadium with fans beating their drums.

    "I saw Sampdoria-Verona behind closed doors and it hurt my soul to see it played in silence. How can you celebrate a result in that desolate landscape?

    "Why bother playing a game without fans, the colours all around, the noise and cheering, this is football, this is entertainment and 90 minutes of pure adrenaline. A game without fans, what even is it?"

    The last Serie A game before the league's postponement was on March 9 – Sassuolo defeated Brescia 3-0.

    Sampdoria were 16th and only a point above the relegation zone after 25 games when the Serie A came to a halt last month.

  • Coronavirus: Hancock welcomes 'big-hearted decision' as PL players announce charity fund Coronavirus: Hancock welcomes 'big-hearted decision' as PL players announce charity fund

    Matt Hancock, the United Kingdom's health secretary, has praised Premier League players for their "big-hearted decision" to set up the #PlayersTogether fund amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Stars from England's top flight have announced the creation of a charity fund to help health services in the UK fight against COVID-19.

    Players including Liverpool and Manchester United captains Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire confirmed the plans in a social media statement.

    Hancock last week urged elite footballers in England to play their part and doubled down on his comments in an interview at the weekend.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker have been among the high-profile figures stating it is unfair for footballers to be singled out during the debate over salary reductions amid the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

    And Hancock was swift to acknowledge the gesture after it was confirmed on Wednesday.

    He wrote on social media: "Warmly welcome this big-hearted decision from so many Premier League footballers to create #PlayersTogether to support NHS Charities. You are playing your part."

    Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford explained the players were eager to make sure money made its way to the frontline as the world struggles against the proliferation of the virus.

    "For us, we want to help in the best way possible and getting money to the right places is a massive thing," he said to BT Sport.

    "It took a lot of time, a lot of conversations between the players and we came to a decision that this was the best way to do it. The club have supported that, so everyone is happy.

    "You can get some backlash if you try to help but don't do it in the best way possible, so we wanted to take our time with the decision, and we did that."

    Lineker had previously questioned why other successful members of society were not coming under the same scrutiny as footballers.

    And he wrote on Twitter: "Footballers are doing their bit as I was confident they would.

    "Let's hope that others that are in a position to help, those that weren't unfairly targeted, do likewise. Proud of our players."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.