Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini have signed one-year contract extensions with Juventus, the Serie A leaders have confirmed.

The experienced pair were both on contracts that would have expired this year, but they will play on for at least another campaign. 

Chiellini has been with the club since 2005 and amassed over 500 appearances for the Bianconeri, while Buffon first arrived in Turin 19 years ago, his spell only interrupted by a season with Paris Saint-Germain. 

Despite their advanced years – Chiellini and Buffon are 35 and 42 respectively, Juve still see value in the Italy icons and will be able to count on them again in 2020-21. 

"These are players who need no introduction," a Juve statement read. "Champions whose story speaks for itself, and whose connection with the shirt they wear is indissoluble.

"Examples on the pitch and in the locker room, leaders, driving forces, bearers of the Bianconeri DNA, who wear it as a second skin.

"Gianluigi Buffon. Giorgio Chiellini. Captains, legends."

Chiellini has been limited to just three Serie A appearances in 2019-20, having suffered a serious knee ligament injury in August. 

The defender made his return after a lengthy lay-off in February, though the centre-back has not been able to feature since the campaign resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break due to fitness issues. 

Goalkeeper Buffon, meanwhile, has also been limited in terms of first-team football since rejoining the club last year, though he has still featured 13 times across all competitions as reserve behind Wojciech Szczesny.

 

Juventus have sold midfielder Simone Muratore to Atalanta for €7million, the Serie A leaders confirmed on Monday. 

Muratore, 22, came through Juve's academy and has been a regular for their second team in Serie C over the past two seasons. 

He made his first-team debut as a late substitute in Friday's 4-0 Serie A win over Lecce, replacing Federico Bernardeschi. 

While the former Italy youth international has been denied a future in the Juve senior squad, Muratore looks set to have a proper crack at Serie A with Atalanta. 

The club have not confirmed the length of his contract, but Juve revealed they will receive the fee over four years.

The Football Association (FA) says it will make 82 people redundant as the governing body braces for approximate losses of £300million caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

While COVID-19 brought mass disruption to sport across the world, it also caused many other industries to come to a standstill, and the FA has been impacted by more than just the three-month suspension of football.

All events due to be held at Wembley Stadium since March have been unable to go ahead, while all future bookings for the year – which include concerts and NFL matches – had to be scrapped.

Hospitality revenue for Wembley Stadium brings in an estimated £35m to the FA every year, but the not-for-profit organisation considers that figure to have "completely fallen away and will probably take years to recover".

The financial implications of the pandemic have forced the FA to analyse all areas of the business for cost-saving purposes, but CEO Mark Bullingham revealed the situation worsened to an extent where staff need to be cut.

In a statement published to the FA's website, Bullingham wrote: "The high level of uncertainty in our landscape means that we have had to plan for a whole range of potential scenarios. As previously communicated, we are currently planning for potential losses of approximately £300million. As a not-for-profit organisation, this will hit us hard.

"Therefore, over recent months, we have forensically analysed the budget of every division within The FA in order to identify the most suitable areas to make costs savings; and the situation has worsened to a point where we now need to reduce the size of The FA in order to deal with the financial impact of the crisis.

"We are proposing to make 124 positions redundant. Because we halted recruitment the day we left the offices in March, we are able to take 42 vacant positions out of the structure, which means that we are proposing to remove 82 roles from the organisation.

"Proposing redundancies is the toughest cost-saving measure that any organisation can consider implementing, but we believe that we must now adapt and future-proof the organisation to ensure our cost base reflects a future with significantly lower revenues.

"We have a responsibility to preserve our core functions that regulate and serve English football. We also have a duty to support our men's and women's senior teams in their efforts to win major tournaments.

"That means we have set out in our proposals some difficult choices because we do not think we can afford to do all the things that we did before. We believe the impact of this crisis is to force us to focus more than ever on our key priorities."

A new scheme has been launched by the Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and Professional Footballers' Association to increase the amount of black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) coaches.

The scheme will start from next season and has been introduced to try and help BAME players move into full-time coaching positions within the professional game.

It will see up to six coaches per season undertake an intensive 23-month work placement at EFL clubs.

A statement from the Premier League said the first intake will work as a pilot scheme either in the club's academy or first-team set-up.

"It is vital that there are no barriers to entry to the pipelines for employment in coaching," Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said. 

"We need more BAME coaches entering the system to create greater opportunities throughout the professional game.

"This new programme has been developed through collaboration and consultation with our colleagues across football.

"We have taken what we have learned from running the Premier League Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme and applied that experience to develop this framework.

"We welcome the support from our Black Participants' Advisory Group and the PFA Coaching team, their experience and knowledge will undoubtedly provide meaningful mentorship to those involved in the programme.

"We hope this scheme will create clear pathways and substantially improve future employment prospects for BAME coaches."

Mentoring will be provided by the PFA's coaching team, while members of the Premier League's Black Participants' Advisory Group - including its chair Darren Moore - have offered to support players and clubs involved in the programme.

"This is a critical time for black, Asian and minority ethnic coaches," said Doncaster Rovers manager Moore.

"We all know and agree that the diversity of coaches and managers must increase and this placement scheme represents a positive step.

"There are lots of roles in the academy system, all the way through to first team, and young coaches can slot in at different points to begin that journey.

"We need to have the right structures and people in place to develop their careers. I know from my own experiences the value of strong support throughout the coaching journey."

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien insists there are no problems between Lionel Messi and his coaching staff amid reports of behind-the-scenes unrest at Camp Nou. 

Barca have struggled for their best form since LaLiga's resumption and draws at Sevilla and Celta Vigo – either side of a laboured 1-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao – have handed Real Madrid the initiative in the title race. 

Zinedine Zidane's men are two points ahead with six matches remaining, while also holding a superior head-to-head record from this season's Clasico meetings. 

Having twice surrendered a lead in their 2-2 draw against Celta last time out, Barca face a tough assignment at home to in-form Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. 

Messi was seen apparently ignoring instructions from Setien's number two Eder Sarabia during the drinks break at Balaidos, where heated words were allegedly exchanged in the dressing room after the game. 

Speaking at a pre-match news conference for Atleti's visit, Setien insisted Messi and the squad are united in the battle to retain their title. 

"In reality it is true that there are always controversies, as in life, and it is normal that there are differences," he said of the Messi-Sarabia incident. 

"But this has always happened. I was not an easy player either. What we have to try to do is to convince everyone of the common idea.  

"I understand it as something natural. There is good communication. I don't give it any importance." 

Setien believes issues being raised within the camp should not be considered a surprise after dropping points in a high-pressure title race.

"When there are no wins and you don't win, everyone gets a point across," he said. "The relationship we have with the staff is good. It is true that at specific moments we do not agree.

"Yesterday we talked about many topics but we focused on the topic of football. We have to improve and do things better. 

"The situation we are experiencing, in which we are superior but do not generate goals, frustrates us. But the situations are normal. It is something we can change."

Atletico are on a run of four consecutive victories, having drawn their initial game back after the resumption to the season.

"They are a great team, very easily identified with their way of doing things," Setien added.

"They are going to make things very complicated for us. Winning is a tremendously decisive question because anything can happen but every time the matches are reduced and the margin [in the title race] is less. 

"We give due importance to this game as to others."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expects Marcus Rashford to soon be back among the goals for Manchester United.

England forward Rashford has 22 goals for club and country this season, although he is yet to find the net since top-flight football resumed from its coronavirus hiatus.

United's return to Premier League action at Tottenham was Rashford's first appearance since suffering a double stress fracture of his back.

Although the 22-year-old supplied a pair of assists for Anthony Martial in last week's 3-0 victory against Sheffield United, he also spurned a pair of glorious chances to get on the scoresheet.

After that match, Solskjaer urged his team to be more clinical as a collective, but he has no concerns over Rashford individually.

"Of course Marcus has been out for a while but I think he's looked sharp, he came on and looked sharp against Norwich," the United boss said ahead of Tuesday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

"Against Sheffield United he missed one or two chances but the goals he created is what we're focusing on and he's on his way to his best season ever.

"I'm looking forward to him getting more minutes and he'll definitely score a goal soon."

Rashford appeared as a substitute after the hour as Norwich City took United to extra-time in Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final at Carrow Road, with captain Harry Maguire proving a more unlikely matchwinner in the 118th minute.

A semi-final encounter against Chelsea awaits with United the form team in England – their unbeaten run stretching back 14 games to a mid-January reverse against Burnley at Old Trafford.

"The players are working really hard and want to do as well as they can and, for me, as a team we're trying to implement our ideas," Solskjaer said.

"Talk about 14 games, we can talk about the next one - go into the next game knowing you've won the previous game. It's a good place to be in."

United are firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish and victory at Brighton would move them level on points with Wolves in fifth and two shy of four-placed Chelsea – albeit having played a game more than Frank Lampard's Blues.

"I think every year you're in the Champions League is a great experience, for the players it's a step forward," Solskjaer added.

"For us it's what we're striving to do, winning trophies, and we need to focus on one game at a time and there are so many teams that want that place.

"We can't get distracted about looking too far ahead and onto the next one."

Bayern Munich could be set to match their 2012-13 treble this season, according to former club president Uli Hoeness.

Hansi Flick's side rounded off their Bundesliga campaign with a 4-0 win at Wolfsburg at the weekend, leaving them with a final 13-point margin over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table. 

This season was Bayern's eighth consecutive success in Germany's top flight – a run that began under Jupp Heynckes in 2012-13, when the club swept the board by also picking up the DFB-Pokal and Champions League. 

They face Bayer Leverkusen in this season's Pokal final on Saturday, while a 3-0 advantage over Chelsea leaves them handily placed for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. 

"If our team can preserve this form, we have a good chance of winning everything," Hoeness told Blickpunkt Sport. 

"I hope that the team can keep the rhythm. 

"It is something very special to score 100 goals in a Bundesliga season. It is a sensational achievement." 

Hoeness balked at the suggestion Bayern's dominance was an unhealthy state of affairs for German football and called on their rivals to do more.

"The others have to put in even more effort," he added.

"You can't expect Bayern to work only half a day to make the Bundesliga more exciting."

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

Timo Werner said he had to "hurt one side" after opting out of RB Leipzig's Champions League campaign to join new club Chelsea.

Werner is set to link up with Premier League giants Chelsea on Wednesday following his reported €53million (£47.5m) transfer from German outfit Leipzig.

The Germany international forward played his last match for Leipzig on Saturday – netting a brace in a 2-1 Bundesliga victory over Augsburg to become the club's all-time leading scorer.

And Werner explained his decision to abandon Leipzig's 2019-20 coronavirus-hit Champions League campaign, with Julian Nagelsmann's men already through to the quarter-finals prior to the COVID-19 crisis after easing past Tottenham.

"Of course it hurts me that I can't help out [RB Leipzig] to play in the Champions League. But I'm a Chelsea FC player from July 1st and I'm being paid by Chelsea from then on," Werner told Sportbuzzer.

"It was clear that all parties - Chelsea, RB and my side - should and must settle this. Of course I tried to keep out of the Champions League issue as much as I could because it was clear that I would have to hurt one side.

"That's why my agent finally agreed it with the clubs."

Werner scored four goals in eight matches to help Leipzig progress to the last eight of the Champions League, which is set to be based in Lisbon for one-match knockout fixtures.

The 24-year-old finished the Bundesliga campaign with 28 goals in 34 appearances this term.

"I am forever connected to Leipzig and RB, will sit in front of the TV during the quarter-finals and keep my fingers crossed - maybe I can even be on site in Lisbon," Werner said.

Paolo Maldini believes Gianluigi Donnarumma is the best goalkeeper in the world as Milan try to keep the Italy star.

Donnarumma has established himself as the undisputed number one keeper at boyhood club Milan since debuting as a 16-year-old in 2015, however, his future is often a topic of discussion.

The likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea have been linked to Italy international Donnarumma, who is out of contract in 2021 as Milan look to discuss a new deal.

And Milan technical director Maldini heaped praise on Donnarumma prior to Sunday's 2-0 Serie A victory over Roma at San Siro.

"It is certainly Milan's duty to try and keep hold of an important player like Gigio, for what he represents as a symbol, a player who came up through our youth academy and, in my humble opinion, because he is the best goalkeeper in the world," Maldini told DAZN.

The future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also making headlines after joining Milan on a free transfer from LA Galaxy in January.

Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in 10 games across all competitions since returning to Milan for a second spell.

The 38-year-old's contract expires at the end of the current campaign and Maldini added: "As for Ibrahimovic, these are two different situations. Gigio's contract is not running down, whereas Ibra's is."

Zinedine Zidane believes Karim Benzema's incredible assist in Real Madrid's win over Espanyol may be one of the plays of the season.

Benzema produced a moment of magic to set up Casemiro in Madrid's 1-0 victory that sent them two points clear atop LaLiga on Sunday.

The forward's outrageous backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa gave Casemiro a simple finish.

Madrid head coach Zidane was unsurprised and believes Benzema's skill could go down as one of the best moments of the campaign.

"It doesn't surprise me. He is a player who invents things," he said, via AS.

"And then Casemiro is there. It can be one of the plays of the championship."

The goal lifted Madrid two points clear of rivals Barcelona with six games remaining in the LaLiga season.

Zidane said he expected the title race to go down to the final day of the campaign.

"Six games are missing and this will be decided on the last day. You have to fight in every game," he said.

"Today the second played against the last. You never know in this league."

Madrid are next in action against Getafe on Thursday.

Cristian Stellini acknowledged Inter cannot hope to gain plaudits for performances until they start to take their chances after overcoming a scare against Parma in Serie A.

Inter trailed until the 84th minute following Gervinho's opener, but quick-fire goals from defenders Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni secured a dramatic 2-1 away win on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri had 24 shots in all, including seven from reported Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez – who has scored just once in his past five Serie A appearances.

Assistant coach Stellini – taking on media duties as Antonio Conte served a touchline ban – recognised the need for third-placed Inter to improve in front of goal, with Martinez's strike partner Lukaku also wasteful.

"We've created a lot of chances in these games since the restart," Stellini explained. "But we need to start converting them, because that's what changes opinions on performances and matches.

"We still need to grow into the new aspects of our way of playing, but right now we're having a lot of opportunities to cause issues in the opposition penalty area.

"It wasn't easy tonight, but we reacted and controlled the game and the victory is deserved. These kinds of matches are won by knowing to wait for the right moment.

"We were hardly in a lot of trouble against Napoli [in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg], created a lot, and still didn't win."

The coach was encouraged by Inter's fighting spirit, however, adding: "I think it's a deserved win, because other than the space we allowed Parma, who are a very dangerous side on the break, we managed the game well, creating plenty of chances to score ourselves.

"It's not easy to have all our players at 100 per cent right now. Two of our three defenders tonight hadn't played for months.

"We showed an important response. We expected it from the lads and they didn't disappoint."

"It wasn't easy tonight, but we reacted and controlled the game and the victory is deserved. These kinds of matches are won by knowing to wait for the right moment.

"We were hardly in a lot of trouble against Napoli [in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg], created a lot, and still didn't win."

The coach was encouraged by Inter's fighting spirit, however, adding: "I think it's a deserved win, because other than the space we allowed Parma, who are a very dangerous side on the break, we managed the game well, creating plenty of chances to score ourselves.

"It's not easy to have all our players at 100 per cent right now. Two of our three defenders tonight hadn't played for months.

"We showed an important response. We expected it from the lads and they didn't disappoint."

Inter – eight points adrift of Serie A leaders Juventus and four ahead of fourth-placed Atalanta – host lowly Brescia in Milan on Wednesday.

Casemiro was unsurprised by Karim Benzema's incredible assist in Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Espanyol in LaLiga on Sunday.

Benzema produced a moment of magic to set up Casemiro as Madrid moved two points clear at the top of LaLiga.

The forward's 117th assist of his Madrid career came via an outrageous backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa to give Casemiro a simple finish.

Casemiro said he knew Benzema was capable of such brilliance, paying tribute to the 32-year-old.

"What Karim did, for me is normal. We all know that the qualities he has aren't of a number nine, but of a number 10," the midfielder said.

"I know him, I know how he plays and the quality he possesses. I asked for the ball in space, and his backheel pass was incredible.

"It's Karim's goal. It's the backheel pass of a number 10 and you have to congratulate him."

With six games remaining, Madrid are on track to win LaLiga, holding a two-point lead over rivals Barcelona.

Casemiro is eager to help deliver Madrid a first LaLiga title since 2016-17.

"There is still a lot left, but we know that each match is a final," he said. "We want this league."

Madrid are next in action with a clash against Getafe on Thursday.

Real Madrid star Karim Benzema said he knew Casemiro was waiting on his ingenious match-winning assist against Espanyol, explaining: "I see football like that!"

Benzema stole the show as LaLiga leaders Madrid moved two points clear of bitter rivals Barcelona atop the table with a 1-0 win over bottom side Espanyol on Sunday.

At the end of a first half in which Madrid had hammered on the door without finding a way past former goalkeeper Diego Lopez, Benzema came up with a moment of sublime skill.

Benzema played a backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa to grant Casemiro a simple finish for the decisive goal on the stroke of half-time.

"It was a good play, but the most important thing is the goal afterwards," Benzema said afterwards. "Casemiro gets it right. We are very happy."

Pressed on the piece of skill, the French forward added: "I see football like that! I knew Casemiro was coming from behind."

The goal was as important as it was arresting, as Madrid capitalised on Barca's failure to beat lowly Celta Vigo on Saturday.

"Of course we look at what Barca do, even though we are very focused on us," Benzema said. "I am not going to talk about Barca, but we are fine.

"We go from match to match and each game is a final for the LaLiga title.

"We are happy and we wanted to win. We left very psyched to get three points to take home."

Madrid have won all five of their matches since LaLiga resumed in June following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Zinedine Zidane's in-form Madrid play host to Getafe in the Spanish capital on Thursday.

Kevin De Bruyne has been backed to solve Manchester City's penalties problem after his spot-kick helped Pep Guardiola's team sink Newcastle United.

The Belgian drove home a first-half penalty, with Raheem Sterling wrapping up a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup quarter-finals when he fired home from outside the box in the second half.

City saw their reign as Premier League champions ended by Liverpool, and a poor spot-kick record did not help their cause, with Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan all failing from 12 yards this season.

De Bruyne showed precision with the penalty that gave City a memorable 2-1 at Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie back in February.

He was again entrusted with the job at St James' Park, sweeping the ball beyond Karl Darlow.

When asked about De Bruyne's penalty prowess, Guardiola said: "Hopefully he can maintain his level because we struggled without him this season. I think we've missed five or six penalties. Much too much.

"With different takers, we've struggled a lot. I remember many games where we dropped points and now Kevin takes the responsibility.

"We've scored three or four since we came back. It's important for us to have his confident personality and to try and continue to score those."

De Bruyne converted a penalty against Arsenal in City's first game back after the coronavirus stoppage, with Riyad Mahrez netting a spot-kick in the 5-0 win over Burnley.

Mahrez took responsibility that time as De Bruyne was a substitute, but when the former Wolfsburg player is involved, which will be in most if not all of City's crunch fixtures, the duty will be his.

Guardiola wants City to be faultless across all departments over the closing weeks of the season; despite Liverpool being confirmed as Premier League champions they still have a potential treble on the cards, having already won the EFL Cup.

An FA Cup semi-final against former Mikel Arteta's Arsenal awaits, while City will hope to go further in the Champions League. The second leg of the Madrid tie will be played on August 7 or 8, UEFA recently announced.

"We have spoken [with the players] after what happened in the Premier League," Guardiola said.

"We need two more victories to qualify for the [2020-21] Champions League mathematically and after lockdown, we said that two competitions are still on course.

"Now we make the first step, a semi-final and it will be good. It will be good to arrive for Madrid in the best physical condition to play these kinds of games. To reach the [FA Cup] final will be the best preparation, to win the title and to prepare [for the game] against Madrid."

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