Blaise Matuidi has insisted he never considered leaving Juventus during the transfer window, despite others being "convinced" he would move on.

The France international is into the final 12 months of his contract and was strongly linked with an exit during the close season.

But he is reportedly in discussions with the Italian champions over a new deal and has started all four of their matches this term, including Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

"You were convinced that I'd leave in the summer, but I never considered this opportunity," he told Tuttomercatoweb.

"I work every day for the team and I'm only thinking about what happens on the pitch. Juve are a great team and they give me so much confidence."

Matuidi added to Juan Cuadrado's strike to put Juve 2-0 up against Atletico in midweek, only for the Spanish side to snatch a point.

Both Atleti goals came from set-pieces and Matuidi admitted his side have to cope better with dead-ball deliveries.

"We had a good game against Atletico, creating lots of chances," he said.

"We only have a small problem with set-pieces and we're working hard to prevent it from happening again.

"I should've done more to put off [Hector] Herrera for 2-2, so we all still have a lot to learn."

Juventus return to Serie A action on Saturday with a home match against Verona.

Blaise Matuidi has called for meaningful action to be taken after Inter striker Romelu Lukaku became the latest player to be racially abused in a game at Cagliari.

Lukaku appeared to be the subject of monkey chants from the stands at Sardegna Arena on Sunday as he scored from the penalty spot in his side's 2-1 Serie A win.

It was the fourth high-profile incident involving Cagliari fans in just over two years, with Juve midfielder Matuidi previously targeted, along with Moise Kean and Sulley Muntari.

The Italian Football Federation and FIFA were quick to condemn the crowd's conduct, but Matuidi has urged the governing bodies to take firm action against the minority responsible.

"Racism in Italy? I already had this problem," the France international said at a news conference on Thursday. "There was the Lukaku problem. It was also in the same stadium.

"I think there must be some measures [taken]. It has no place in football. And in all sports even - and even in life. We don't like to see that. 

"This is not a good example for the young people, for our children. We will do everything so that it is no longer the case, even if it is difficult because it concerns a minority. 

"But this minority of people has no place in the stadiums. We have bodies that are there to make decisions and I think it's up to them to make the right decisions."

Matuidi was strongly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain during the transfer window but, having started Juve's opening two Serie A matches, he dismissed rumours he was ever close to leaving.

"I always declared that I was comfortable at Juventus, one of the best clubs in the world," he said.

"Paris will always have a place in my heart. I have supported PSG since I was a child and wearing their jersey was a dream. But now I'm proud to be at Juve."

The 32-year-old is part of France's squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.

Aymeric Laporte and Paul Pogba have withdrawn from the initial squad, while Tanguy Ndombele and N'Golo Kante were not considered for selection due to fitness concerns, but Matuidi insisted others can step up for the world champions.

"We are lucky to have a huge pool, with a lot of high-quality players," he said. "There are important players who are absent, but there are others who are there and who have proved for their club that they can bring a lot. 

"We have great confidence in this group and we are able to win despite absences.

"[The absentees] should not be an excuse. We have 23 players and must be successful and win these two games, especially at home. When we wear the jersey of the French team, we always play to win."

Barcelona are officially making a move for Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain are set to reject their offer.

The Neymar saga is seemingly no closer to ending as the Brazil star looks to leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Barca are set to at least make a bid as they aim to get a deal done for their former star, but it will be rejected.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO REJECT BARCELONA'S LOAN BID FOR NEYMAR

PSG have no interest in initially loaning Neymar to Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

It was reported the bid from LaLiga's champions would be for a temporary move, but PSG want an outright transfer so they can find a replacement for the forward, amid reported interest in Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

Barcelona are willing to accept a purchase option if €160million can be paid in instalments, according to Sport.

Meanwhile, the cover of Marca says Neymar is entering "Zone Florentino", referencing Real Madrid president Perez as Barca's rivals maintain hope of signing the 27-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- There could be plenty of movement at Barcelona late in the window. Juventus are discussing a potential swap deal to land Ivan Rakitic and see Emre Can head to Camp Nou, according to Tuttosport, which says the Catalans also put Luis Suarez on the table.

- One midfielder not leaving Turin is Blaise Matuidi. RMC Sport reports the France international will stay at Juventus amid links to PSG and Bayern Munich, with Can seemingly more likely to depart the Serie A champions.

- Mariano Diaz's future is uncertain. AS claims Mariano is not in Real Madrid's plans for this season, but no club has come close to meeting a €20m valuation of the forward.

- Franck Ribery is set to become a Fiorentina player. The former Bayern Munich star has agreed to a deal with the Serie A club, according to Sport Bild and Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Frenchman set to sign on Thursday.

- Amid reported interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, Jadon Sancho is said to be re-signing with Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old England international has sealed a £190,000-per-week long-term deal with Dortmund, according to the Daily Mail.

- Michy Batshuayi is not ready to give up on his Chelsea career. The Belgium striker wants to stay and fight for a place in Frank Lampard's team, according to the Evening Standard.

Manchester United look set to miss out on Paulo Dybala, but they had a chance to sign another playmaker as the Premier League giants rejected a bid for Paul Pogba.

Juventus midfielder Dybala was reportedly set to be part of a swap deal involving Romelu Lukaku, but the Argentina international now seems likely to remain in Turin.

While United appear eager to strengthen before the transfer window closes, they received – and rejected – a bid for Pogba that included James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED REJECT POGBA, JAMES DEAL WITH DYBALA SET TO STAY AT JUVE

Manchester United rejected a bid of €30million (£27.4m) plus James from Real Madrid for Pogba, according to The Times.

The report says the LaLiga giants are unable to work out a deal approaching the €164.1m (£150m) United reportedly want for France star Pogba.

Now, it seems Juventus could bid for Pogba to return to Turin, with Tuttosport reporting they will offer Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Blaise Matuidi for the midfielder.

Meanwhile, and also reported by the BBC, Manchester United have ended talks with Dybala because of the attacker's wage demands and amid uncertainty over whether the 25-year-old wanted a move to Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- Suddenly, Inter are back in the race to sign Lukaku. Sky Sports News report the Serie A side are set to launch a new bid for the Belgium striker in the coming days.

- With United's pursuit of Dybala seemingly off, Corriere dello Sport claim Paris Saint-Germain could be an option for the former Palermo attacker.

- Could Philippe Coutinho be set for a return to the Premier League? Arsenal could make a move for the Barcelona playmaker and former Liverpool star in an audacious loan bid, according to the Mirror.

- Napoli are perhaps ready to give up on signing James. Amid what have been fruitless talks with Madrid, the Serie A side are again expressing an interest in PSV star Hirving Lozano, according to Voetbal International, with the Mexico international's release clause at €40m.

- Andy Carroll's future is unclear, but a return to Newcastle United appears off. The Mirror say the injury riddled striker, who is a free agent after being released by West Ham at the end of 2018-19, will not be heading back to the Premier League club.

Juventus needed two quickfire second-half goals to salvage a 3-3 draw against Team K League in an exhibition match in Seoul on Friday.

Blaise Matuidi's header and a splendid solo effort from midfielder Matheus Pereira three minutes later ensured Juve avoided what would have been a second defeat in three pre-season outings under Maurizio Sarri.

The Serie A champions named a relatively strong starting side, including new signing Matthijs de Ligt, for the clash with a selection of South Korea's best domestic performers.

There was nothing Netherlands defender De Ligt could do about the stunning seventh-minute opener, though, as FC Seoul midfielder Osmar unleashed a 25-yard rocket into the top left corner.

Gonzalo Higuain's cushioned pass enabled striker Simone Muratore to quickly restore parity, only for Daegu forward Cesinha to respond on the stroke of half-time.

Cristiano Ronaldo took no part in the match but Cesinha invoked his spirit by mimicking the Portugal legend's famous goal celebration.

The collection of locally-based stars had more to celebrate when Adam Taggart extended the margin to 3-1 five minutes after the interval, but the introduction of Leonardo Bonucci, Adrien Rabiot and Matuidi on the hour laid the foundation for the Bianconeri's late fightback.

Juve's next scheduled game is against Atletico Madrid in Stockholm on August 10.

The Neymar saga has dominated the narrative at Paris Saint-Germain in recent days, with his future yet to be settled.

But the Ligue 1 champions still have moves to make themselves in the remaining weeks of the transfer market.

And PSG might back themselves to tempt an out-of-favour Juventus star to make the switch to France.

 

TOP STORY – PSG MAKE APPROACH FOR DYBALA

If Neymar does leave Paris, Paulo Dybala would represent a fine replacement. He is an option, according to RMC Sport.

It is reported PSG have approached Dybala's camp, with any deal quite separate from Neymar's future.

A fee of less than €50million could be enough to see Juventus sell, with Dybala no longer a vital cog following Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival last year.

 

ROUND-UP

- Dybala might not be the only Juventus player heading to Ligue 1, though. Le Parisien have reported PSG interest in Blaise Matuidi, who Sky Sport Italia say is also a target for Monaco.

- Further movement in Serie A could see Suso heading off. According to Calcio Mercato, the AC Milan star is a target for Roma. The Rossoneri will ask for close to €40m despite the midfielder appearing to be out of favour.

- Working rather harder to keep a key man are Tottenham. They will offer Christian Eriksen £200,000 a week to keep Real Madrid at bay, according to the Daily Mail.

- With Laurent Koscielny's future at Arsenal uncertain, Unai Emery's captaincy group will look quite different next season. According to the Mail, Rob Holding or Calum Chambers could be in line to be skipper.

- Their London neighbours Chelsea, meanwhile, are set to temporarily part ways with Ethan Ampadu. The teenager is on the brink of joining RB Leipzig on loan, according to the Guardian, and could be joined at the Bundesliga club by Ademola Lookman of Everton.

- But as one young prospect arrives in Germany, another might be on the way out. Bild say Barcelona are keen on Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, who is also said to be in the sights of Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Maybe Juventus are not ready to give up on signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba just yet.

Pogba, 26, has been linked with a return to Turin and a move to Real Madrid as he looks for an Old Trafford exit.

But, just as it looked like Juve were struggling and Madrid was the midfielder's most likely destination, that may have changed.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO OFFER THREE PLAYERS IN MOVE FOR POGBA

Juventus could offer a fee plus three players in their move for Manchester United star Pogba, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Full-back Joao Cancelo, attacker Douglas Costa and midfielder Blaise Matuidi are the players mentioned for potential moves in the report.

Meanwhile, ESPN FC report Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has told coach Zinedine Zidane that it will be very difficult to sign Pogba this close season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are still trying to find a way to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain. According to Sky Germany, Barca are offering €100million plus two players, having given PSG a list of six that includes Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo and Malcom. That is up from the earlier offer of €40m plus two players. According to Sport, Barca have made Coutinho and Rakitic priorities to be sold.

- After being linked to Bayern Munich, Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to re-sign with Chelsea. The Daily Mail report the 18-year-old England international will sign a five-year deal worth more than £100,000 per week to stay at Stamford Bridge.

- Giovani Lo Celso apparently wants to join Tottenham, but Spurs are unwilling to meet Real Betis' £60m (€66.8m) asking price, according to The Sun, who say Erik Lamela could be added into a deal. Danny Rose could also reportedly leave Spurs and Sky Sports say PSG are interested in the left-back.

- Arsenal have beaten their north London rivals to the signing of Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, according to ESPN FC. Arsenal will complete the signing of Saliba for £26.9m (€30m) and loan him back to the Ligue 1 club despite late interest from Spurs, the report says.

- Another reported Arsenal target, Wilfried Zaha, has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave, according to The Sun. Arsenal have reportedly had a £40m bid for the attacker rejected.

- Bayern Munich are ready to meet Celta Vigo midfielder Brais Mendez's €25m release clause, according to Kicker. Mendez, 22, was handed a Spain debut late last year and scored six goals while providing seven assists for Celta in LaLiga in 2018-19.

Paris Saint-Germain were interested in signing Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax but will not be buying the defender, says sporting director Leonardo.

De Ligt's performances in leading Ajax to a domestic double last term, as well as the semi-finals of the Champions League, have made him one of the world's most in-demand players.

But Juventus seem set to win the race for his signature after De Ligt's agent Mino Raiola said personal terms have been agreed with the Serie A champions.

With negotiations over the transfer fee continuing between Ajax and Juve, De Ligt was present at the start of pre-season training with the Dutch giants on Monday.

And Leonardo accepts De Ligt will not be joining PSG while indicating the Ligue 1 champions are operating to a restricted budget.

"De Ligt will not come to PSG," Leonardo said to Le Parisien. "There was a possibility.

"He is a great player but it was not a good time to make a big investment. We must calm down a little.

"We don't have an envelope with €200million to spend."

Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly has been touted as a De Ligt alternative for PSG but Leonardo indicated the Senegal international would also cost too much.

"He is a very expensive player," Leonardo added. "There is no specific project for the moment. But I do not want to talk too much about individual cases."

Leonardo said he made no offer to try and keep Adrien Rabiot at the club, with the midfielder joining Juve as a free agent.

Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey moving to Turin has led to rumours former PSG player Blaise Matuidi may now be surplus to requirements.

"I love Matuidi," said Leonardo. "I have a lot of respect and esteem for him. He has always been fundamental for PSG.

"But at PSG today, there are already players and we will continue to play 11 on the field."

PSG have signed Ander Herrera and Pablo Sarabia ahead of the new campaign, but veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon rejected a new contract to return to Juve.

Blaise Matuidi opted against leaving the pitch in protest when Juventus team-mate Moise Kean allegedly suffered racist abuse at Cagliari because it would have meant those purportedly involved "won".

Kean was said to be the subject of abuse from a section of fans in the Cagliari crowd when he scored Juve's second goal in a 2-0 win on April 2.

Matuidi, who previously said he had suffered similarly at the same stadium in 2018, appeared to indicate to coach Massimiliano Allegri that the Bianconeri should leave the pitch. No action was taken against Cagliari by Serie A on either occasion.

The midfielder is glad the team did not head town the tunnel, believing it was the right response to continue playing after Kean's 85th-minute strike.

"Leaving the field crossed my mind this season in Cagliari," Matuidi told France Football. "But I did not want to give up on my team-mates, we had a game to play.

"And, in hindsight, I was right, it's not the best solution. It's my point of view, we do not all have the same. When I left, I would have proved them right. That would mean they won.

"This fight is for us, the good people, who must win it, not them."

Matuidi expressed that racism is something that needs tacking on a much larger scale than just within football.

"I have never felt hatred for anyone. It's mostly anger," he added. "It has nothing to do with football stadiums and, unfortunately, it happens frequently around the world, in life too.

"At the moment, you feel disgusted. Football is not that. It's going to a stadium and getting positive emotion, with joys and sorrows because you win or you lose a match.

"But it stops there. For the rest, we are all equal. That's why we can experience sadness and disgust at times."

Blaise Matuidi declared himself "really happy" at Juventus and confirmed talks over a new deal are ongoing with the Italian champions.

The France international, used 42 times in all competitions by Juve last season, has entered the final 12 months of his existing contract.

Matuidi has been a key player for the Turin giants since joining from Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 and they are keen to tie him down to new terms.

Agent Mino Raiola has been left in charge of talks with Juventus, despite being handed a three-month ban by FIFA, and Matuidi has suggested he is willing to stay on beyond next season.

"I am really happy at Juve. We never know what can happen in football but in the meantime, I am happy - my family, too," he said at a news conference on Thursday ahead of France's Euro 2020 qualifier with Turkey. 

"Regarding my contract, I let my agent deal with it. So far, he has always done well. I do not know why it would suddenly change. I am not worried.

"I talk to [Raiola] and everything is going well. Regarding the rest he will talk when the time is right. He’s the one who can talk about [his suspension]. It doesn’t prevent us from talking together. We’ll find the best solution."

Matuidi is coming off the back of a largely underwhelming campaign for Juventus, with the Serie A giants retaining their league crown but falling well short in the Coppa Italia and Champions League.

But the 32-year-old, who started four times for France in last year's World Cup-winning campaign, is keen to take the positives out of 2018-19.

"It was a season that was quite positive even if we wanted to go further in the Champions League," he said. "It went quite well for me.

"I played almost every game. I didn’t have any big injuries so I'm quite happy with my season. Obviously there were some ups and down but overall it was a good season."

Cristiano Ronaldo showed again he is the best player in the world, according to Juventus team-mate Blaise Matuidi.

Ronaldo scored a record-equalling eighth Champions League hat-trick to lead Juve to a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid, sending them to the quarter-finals courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate success.

The Portuguese star joined Barcelona's Lionel Messi on the tally of eight, while the duo also share the record for most Ballons d'Or with five.

Matuidi hailed his team-mate after Juve's incredible victory in Turin, where Ronaldo's 86th-minute penalty sealed the win.

"It was an extraordinary night for everyone – a special night from the first minute," he said, via the club's website.

"We are very happy, and now we are moving ahead with our work. We want to continue to grow in order to progress further in the Champions League.

"We have a strong team, and Cristiano is the best player in the world."

Ronaldo has scored 24 goals in 36 games in all competitions in his first season at Juve.

Juventus warmed up for their crunch Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday with a thumping 4-1 Serie A win over Udinese.

Massimiliano Allegri could scarcely have cherry picked a more accommodating opponent as a first-half double from Moise Kean set the Bianconeri on their way to opening up a whopping 19-point lead over Napoli at the league summit.

With one eye on the visit of Diego Simeone's side – who hold a 2-0 advantage from the first leg – Allegri opted to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the substitutes' bench and his replacement, Kean, marked his first league start of the campaign with a well-taken brace.

A 67th-minute Emre Can penalty and Blaise Matuidi header four minutes later added gloss to the scoreline against an insipid Udinese side.

Kevin Lasagna's fabulous late consolation was sharply at odds with the overall display from Davide Nicola's men, who remain seven points above the relegation zone in 15th.

Juve started in typically dominant mood and forged ahead in the 11th minute.

Alex Sandro surged down the left and picked out Kean, who applied an assured finish from six yards for his first league goal of the campaign.

Daniele Rugani flashed a header wide soon afterwards and Kean doubled his side's advantage six minutes before the interval.

The 19-year-old powered into the penalty area and clipped into Juan Musso's bottom-right corner via a deflection off Ben Wilmot.

Federico Bernardeschi fired wide of an open goal after a poor Musso punch shortly after the restart before Kean was tripped by Nicholas Opoku, giving Can the chance to stroke home his fourth league goal of the campaign from 12 yards.

Matuidi got in on the act soon after, meeting Rodrigo Bentancur's precise cross with a downwards header that gave Musso no chance.

Lasagna netted in style six minutes from time, taking Rodrigo de Paul's pass on his chest and lashing a half-volley past Wojciech Szczesny, but it did little to detract from the most routine of victories for Allegri's side.

What does it mean? All eyes on Atleti visit

With an eighth consecutive Scudetto all but wrapped up, Juve's attention now turns squarely to the mouth-watering clash against Atletico.

Given the LaLiga side's two-goal lead and their formidable defence, the odds are stacked firmly against Allegri's men. The prospect of elimination has even prompted speculation over the Juventus coach's future this week, but you would not bet against a fresh Ronaldo writing his name all over European football's premier competition once again.

Kean takes his chance

He has barely tasted first-team action this season, but Kean showed exactly why he is one of Italy's most exciting prospects with an impressive double. Allegri might even consider resting Ronaldo more frequently if Kean continues to prove this able a deputy.

An introduction to forget for Opoku

The Ghanian replaced the injured Bram Nuytinck midway through the first half and endured a miserable game against the effervescent Kean, which reached its nadir with a clumsy challenge for the penalty.

What's next?

After Tuesday's tie against Atlei, Juve return to domestic action with a visit to Genoa. Udinese have little let-up in their schedule as they travel to second-place Napoli.  

Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi believes team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win the Ballon d'Or.

Ronaldo, 33, is a contender to win the individual honour for a record sixth time after leading Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League crown earlier this year.

The superstar forward made the move to Juventus in July and team-mate Matuidi backed Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or on Monday.

"Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win it," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"He always wants to win and that makes the difference."

With Ronaldo leading the way, Juve have made a strong start to the season, sitting eight points clear atop the Serie A and moving into the Champions League knockout round.

Matuidi is pleased with how Massimiliano Allegri's men have performed in Europe, aside from their shock loss to Manchester United earlier this month.

"In Champions League we are doing well," he said.

"We had some good matches and we only stopped against Manchester United because we didn't score as many goals as we should."

Juventus' next outing sees them make the trip to Fiorentina on Saturday.

Kylian Mbappe needs his great personality, just like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to France team-mate Blaise Matuidi.

Juventus will welcome back striker Mario Mandzukic for the Champions League clash with Manchester United, but Blaise Matuidi remains in doubt.

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