Giorgio Chiellini's absence through injury and fitness issues has been one of the "great regrets" for Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri this season.

Chiellini, 35, ruptured a knee ligament in August, ruling him out of action until February, when he made a couple of Serie A appearances before the league was suspended due to coronavirus.

The centre-back still has not featured since the resumption last month because of fitness-related issues, though he was given a new one-year contract to keep him at the club until 2021.

Sarri confirmed Chiellini has been in full training over the past week and is still considered an important player.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's trip to Sassuolo, Sarri said: "Chiellini's absence is one of the great regrets of this season.

"He is a player who knows how to be enthralling. He has been training with the team for five days. I see him growing, and, in the future, he will give a great contribution for us."

The centre of defence is causing Sarri regular headaches at the moment, with Merih Demiral still recovering from his cruciate ligament rupture, while Leonardo Bonucci is a doubt for Wednesday's match.

"Merih Demiral is fine, but he needs time to get back into physical form," he said, before adding: "Bonucci has a problem with his foot that we need to evaluate today [Tuesday]."

Despite dropping points in each of their past two league matches, Juve remain in charge at the Serie A summit with an eight-point lead over Inter and Lazio.

But Sarri is not expecting a straightforward contest at Sassuolo, who are making a late push for the European places after going unbeaten in six and winning each of their past four games.

"Sassuolo is a team that is on the same path as Atalanta," Sarri continued. "They are giving continuity to a project, they are organised, and with a smart coach.

"They are in excellent form and are a dangerous team. The team has scored 17 goals in six games, so they don't have a problem when it comes to scoring.

"[Roberto] De Zerbi always manages to make an impression on his teams. He is the most interesting of the young coaches.

"We will be at least equal on the level of enthusiasm and determination, because we are in a moment where we are playing for the Scudetto."

Luis Muriel will miss Atalanta's Serie A clash with Brescia after reportedly falling on the edge of a swimming pool.

The forward is said to have hit his head on the side of the pool at a gathering with team-mates, but reports said hospital tests for head trauma came back negative.

Atalanta confirmed Muriel will be unavailable for Tuesday's game as a result of an accident, but the Colombia international did not suffer any serious injuries and is set to return to training on Wednesday.

"I'm fine, I'm home. Fortunately, nothing serious happened," Muriel posted on Instagram. 

"Tonight I will be at the stadium to cheer @atalantabc, and already tomorrow I will return to train with my team-mates. Thank you for the affection you have shown me in these hours."

A brief Atalanta statement read: "Atalanta BC announces that, following a domestic accident, the player Luis Muriel will not be available for the Atalanta-Brescia match.

"The player will be available for the training session tomorrow, July 15th."

Muriel has scored 17 goals in 29 Serie A appearances for Atalanta, who are fourth in the top flight, nine points behind leaders Juventus with six games to go.

For most of the year, Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter for Barcelona.

Barca are eyeing a long-term replacement for veteran forward Luis Suarez, though, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have impacted their transfer plans.

However, a blockbuster move could still be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA STILL WANT TO SIGN LAUTARO

Barcelona remain keen on signing Inter star Lautaro Martinez at the end of the season, according to the front page of Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo.

Barca's interest in Martinez is well documented but a transfer has been put on hold as the LaLiga giants re-assess their plans after the Argentina forward's €111million release clause expired at the start of the month.

However, Barca head coach Quique Setien is reportedly considering three options in his pursuit to recruit Martinez.

Ousmane Dembele could be sold to raise funds or a swap deal involving Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti could be proposed to Inter, while a player plus cash offer including Junior Firpo is the third alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror says Chelsea are ready to swap goalkeepers. Unhappy with the world's most expensive keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea are ready to use the Spaniard as a makeweight in a deal to sign Atletico Madrid star Jan Oblak.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing in-demand Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai, reports Tuttosport. The Hungary teenager has been heavily linked to Milan and Napoli, as well as Arsenal.

Ajax are hopeful of keeping star goalkeeper Andre Onana for one more season, claims De Telegraaf. Onana has been linked to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Barca.

- Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Napoli are confident of reaching an agreement with Lille forward Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian has been tipped to join the Serie A side, who have prepared a five-year contract worth €3.5m per season amid talk of an €80m transfer.

- While Osimhen could arrive, Napoli are set to lose Arkadiusz Milik. Calciomercato claims Italian champions Juventus are interested, while the likes of Atletico, Tottenham and Roma are also keen. Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette is an alternative for Juve, as well as Atletico.

- According to Calciomercato, Edinson Cavani has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS. A free agent since leaving PSG, Cavani is reportedly wanted by Roma.

Everton and PSG both want to sign Napoli midfielder Allan, says Calciomercato. Napoli are looking to raise funds.

Manchester City will accelerate their rebuilding plans after having their Champions League ban overturned, claims the Telegraph. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly – also linked to United, Liverpool and Real Madrid previously – is reportedly high on the list of targets, which includes Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish and Atletico star Saul Niguez.

Inter head coach Antonio Conte said he will not "hesitate" to leave if the club are unhappy, though the Italian remains committed to the Nerazzurri project amid question marks over his future.

Conte joined Inter at the start of the season but there have been reports the former Chelsea and Juventus boss could leave at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

Doubts have emerged amid Inter's struggles and Conte's frustrations, with the team failing to fire since the Serie A returned last month after the season was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Inter leapfrogged Lazio into second position in the table, eight points behind leaders Juve with six games remaining, following Monday's rallying 3-1 win at home to Torino and Conte was asked about his future.

"I was called to Inter for a three-year project, to bring them back where they deserve to be," Conte told Sky Sport Italia. "Inevitably, that takes time. I came here with so much enthusiasm. I have faith.

"I started a three-year project and [my contract] lasts three years. After that, if they want to extend my contract... I'm happy, I know there's a long way to go, but I don't want to overstay my welcome.

"If everyone's happy with the job I'm doing, and I think that's the case right now, from what I've been told, then I don't see why we shouldn't go on.

"If they're not happy with the job I'm doing then I won't hesitate to step aside."

Inter have seen their Scudetto bid derailed following a home defeat to Bologna and a draw with Hellas Verona, and they fell behind in the 17th minute on Monday.

Andrea Belotti was gifted the opener after Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic fumbled a corner at the Torino star's feet at San Siro – heaping further misery on Conte and his stuttering side. 

But Inter – without Romelu Lukaku – rallied in the second half thanks to goals from Ashley Young, Diego Godin and Lautaro Martinez, who ended his five-game scoreless drought. 

Conte added: "I honestly think we started the game very well. Then there was this corner kick. It was a period where there was an incident and we conceded a goal.

"I find it sensational that Samir messed up: he hardly makes mistakes. Overall, I think it was a game we dominated.

"The goal could've made us nervous and caused us problems, but we did well to score our goals.

"We're much less predictable than we were before as now we attack with more men. The result must crown the effort we put in and when it doesn't, it disappoints me.

"We've been punished excessively by certain incidents, but we're on the right track: playing attacking football and overloading our opponents' box."

Diego Godin said Inter have not given up on the Scudetto as they look to close the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus following their 3-1 win over Torino. 

Inter overcame a Samir Handanovic howler to leapfrog struggling Lazio into second position in the table with six matches remaining. 

Andrea Belotti was gifted a 17th-minute opener after Inter goalkeeper Handanovic fumbled a corner at the Torino star's feet at San Siro – heaping further misery on Antonio Conte and his stuttering side. 

But Inter – without Romelu Lukaku – rallied in the second half thanks to goals from Ashley Young, Godin and Lautaro Martinez, who ended his five-game scoreless drought. 

Inter are eight points behind defending champions Juve and after scoring his first Nerazzurri goal, veteran defender Godin told Sky Sport Italia: "When we're in a spot of bother, it's important to win any way we can. 

"The game started in a way we didn't expect. We won't look back with any regrets. Instead, we'll learn from it and engage in some healthy self-criticism. 

"We have the opportunity to stay second and we'll do everything to defend this position. Now, we must think about winning every game to also get closer to Juventus. 

"We'll go game by game and see where we are after that."

Godin has struggled as part of Conte's back three since arriving from LaLiga outfit Atletico Madrid on a free transfer at the start of the season. 

The Uruguayan's form has led to suggestions he may leave Inter at the end of the campaign. 

However, Godin said: "I feel good on a positive level. I felt good at Verona and I felt good tonight. I try to help the team whenever the coach asks me to. 

"I came here to help the team on and off the pitch. I've always brought a winning mentality wherever I've gone, the ability to work every day, with positivity. 

"I have a three-year contract: I want to stay here and do great things with Inter." 

Inter scored three goals in 13 second-half minutes to recover from Samir Handanovic's howler and beat Torino 3-1 in Serie A.

Antonio Conte's men have seen their title bid derailed following a home defeat to Bologna and a draw with Hellas Verona and they were behind in the 17th minute of Monday's clash after Handanovic fumbled a corner at Andrea Belotti's feet.

However, Inter took command after the second-half restart, Ashley Young restoring parity before Diego Godin gave them the lead.

Lautaro Martinez effectively made sure of the points in the 61st minute, moving them above Atalanta and Lazio and into second place, eight points behind a Juventus side looking destined for a ninth consecutive title.

Handanovic's remarkable error gave Belotti the simple task of prodding the ball home from two yards.

Strong pressing from Roberto Gagliardini presented Martinez with the chance to level matters but Salvatore Sirigu thwarted the Argentine, with Handanovic then forced into a near-post save at the other end by Cristian Ansaldi.

Torino's lasted just three minutes into the second half, Young rifling home on the volley after Martinez headed Marcelo Brozovic's ball back into his path.

Young was to the fore again three minutes later as Inter completed the turnaround, his delivery following a short corner headed back by Alexis Sanchez and steered beyond Sirigu by Godin.

Sanchez played an instrumental role in making it 3-1 just after the hour as he won possession on the left flank and drove forward before laying the ball off to Martinez, whose deflected drive wrongfooted Sirigu and looped into the net.

Belotti then struck the crossbar with a header before Sirigu had to punch away a curling effort from Sanchez.

Antonio Candreva slid an effort wide with Inter players queueing up in the box and Sirigu was almost left red-faced as he had to scramble to stop the ball rolling over the line after Martinez blocked his clearance.

What does the future hold for PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

 

TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

- The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the LaLiga giants have held talks with Inter over Lautaro Martinez but a move for the star forward is on hold.

Martinez – who arrived in Milan from Racing Club in 2018 – has been tipped to swap Serie A side Inter for Barca at the end of the 2019-20 coronavirus-hit season.

The Argentina forward had scored 16 goals prior to the campaign being halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but he has only netted once in seven games since the restart amid the speculation.

Bartomeu provided an update on Martinez and Barca's transfer plans, with the club set to be dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga.

"The coming market will be very different. The big clubs will be limited by economic problems, but Barca are always a market-mover," Bartomeu told TV3. 

"In Lautaro's case the negotiation is halted right now. We spoke to Inter a few weeks ago. We are in an assessment phase.

"We have spoken with Inter about Lautaro, but not recently. We will wait to finish the season and re-assess everything."

Barca are second in LaLiga through 36 matches, a point behind Madrid – who can restore their four-point advantage with victory over Getafe on Monday.

Quique Setien's Barca are back in action for their penultimate league clash against Osasuna on Thursday.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli reiterated that he is not thinking about his future as Ralf Rangnick reportedly prepares to take over at San Siro.

Pioli's 10-man Milan extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions with a 2-2 draw away to Napoli in Serie A action on Sunday amid mounting speculation regarding Rangnick.

Former RB Leipzig boss Rangnick has agreed to replace Pioli – who was only appointed in October – in 2020-21, according to widespread reports.

Pioli, however, is not paying attention to the growing rumours over his future in Milan following the stalemate at Napoli.

"Everyone asks me that, but I am not thinking about the future," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "I am at a big club, I am training players who are doing so much and the decisions will be made in August.

"It's too important to focus now on ending the season on a high note. It's tough for coaches too with a game every three days, so I cannot be wasting energy on something that is frankly out of my control.

"I prefer to focus on what I can control, so training these lads and preparing for the games."

Franck Kessie's 73rd-minute penalty secured a point for Milan, who had opened the scoring through Theo Hernandez's fine strike after 20 minutes in Naples.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo restored parity 14 minutes later and Dries Mertens put Napoli ahead on the hour-mark before Kessie converted a spot-kick.

Milan substitute Alexis Saelemaekers was sent off with three minutes remaining following two bookings in as many minutes but the Rossoneri held on for a point.

Pioli, whose Milan had beaten leaders Juventus and challengers Lazio heading into the contest, said: "It was tough, really tough, as after Lazio and Juventus, we've had a really difficult run of games against the best teams in the league, but we showed that we were up to the task.

"When you get results and put in strong performances against this kind of opponent, it really boosts your confidence. We scored a great goal to take the lead, we fought back to equalise and a point is a good result."

Coppa Italia champions Napoli remain sixth in Serie A with six matches remaining, two behind Roma and two clear of Milan.

Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso faced former club Milan for the first time as a coach and he lamented his team's wastefulness in the final third.

"What I do get angry with is my players for needing six or seven chances to score," Gattuso said. "It's not just the strikers, but also the wide men, the midfielders. We create so many opportunities and don't finish enough of them off. That is where we must improve.

"If we analyse the post-COVID period of the season, we have the chances, but aren't scoring as regularly as we should. That is obvious. It's called a hot zone in the statistics, you can see Milan had very few scoring opportunities and yet they converted both of them.

"Considering what we create, we score too few goals and concede too many. That is happening fairly regularly. If the first press doesn't work after seven or eight seconds, we have to track back and make it solid, which we don't do enough.

"We're trying to do something a little different and we're not perfect yet, as we tend to risk waves of counter-attacks, so we end up four against four, or five against five."

Franck Kessie's penalty earned Milan a 2-2 Serie A draw against Napoli, but they had to ride out a tense finale with 10 men at the San Paolo on Sunday. 

Milan claimed a stunning victory over Juventus last time out and took the lead through Theo Hernandez in the first half, but goals either side of the interval from Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Dries Mertens put Napoli in control. 

After Gianluigi Donnarumma let the second goal slip through his legs, Kessie spared his blushes by converting from the spot in the 73rd minute after Nikola Maksimovic felled substitute Giacomo Bonaventura. 

Napoli pushed for a winner after Alexis Saelemaekers picked up two bookings in as many minutes, but Milan avoided a blow to their hopes of European qualification and the difference between the sides remains at two points. 

Stefano Pioli's side owed a debt to Donnarumma for stopping them from falling behind in the early exchanges, as he thwarted Mertens before diving on Jose Callejon's scuffed effort from six yards in the 19th minute. 

Milan took full advantage by going straight up the other end and taking the lead, Hernandez volleying home at the back post after Ante Rebic showed great awareness to pick him out. 

However, Napoli got back on level terms when Donnarumma failed to deal with a whipped free-kick from Lorenzo Insigne and Di Lorenzo stuck the loose ball into the open goal. 

Milan started the second half positively but fell behind when Callejon cut the ball back to Mertens, his low drive finding a way through Donnarumma as it squirmed over the line. 

Pioli responded by sending on Bonaventura and he won the spot-kick that Kessie coolly converted into the bottom-left corner. 

Substitute Saelemaekers chopped down Di Lorenzo and Eljif Elmas in quick succession to leave Milan a man light for the final three minutes of normal time, though the visitors stood firm. 

Juventus and Inter are reportedly ready to do battle for Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo.

Zaniolo, 21, made his return from a serious knee injury this month and has repeatedly been linked with a move away from Roma.

A pair of Serie A giants may be ready to fight for the midfielder's services.

 

TOP STORY – INTER, JUVE TO BATTLE FOR ZANIOLO

Inter are ready to challenge Juventus to sign Roma star Zaniolo, according to CalcioMercato.

Zaniolo is considered one of Europe's best young talents, and left Inter for Roma in 2018.

Roma reportedly want at least €50million for the five-time Italy international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Contracted at Manchester City until 2021, Sergio Aguero may yet stay at the Etihad Stadium a little longer. The Mirror reports City have not ruled out giving the star forward, 32, a one-year extension.

- With Neymar repeatedly linked with a return to Barcelona, it seems the LaLiga giants are wanting to distance themselves from the Paris Saint-Germain star. Marca says Barca are keen to see the rumours of a potential return for Neymar stop.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barcelona apparently have interest in two players from Tottenham. The Daily Star says Barca want Ryan Sessegnon and Tanguy Ndombele. However, it reports Spurs will reject all offers for Sessegnon this close season.

- Philippe Coutinho's future remains unclear. Mundo Deportivo reports the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona until the end of the season, will not decide his future until after the Champions League next month.

- Plenty of talk continues to surround Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is coming out of contract at the Premier League club next year. The Daily Star reports the forward will sign a contract extension with Arsenal – if no other club makes an official approach.

- After just two goals in 25 games for Real Madrid, Luka Jovic seems set for an exit. According to Mundo Deportivo, Juventus, Inter, Chelsea, Leicester City, Milan and Napoli are all considering moves for the forward.

Gian Piero Gasperini was proud of Atalanta after a 2-2 draw with Juventus, but felt his side deserved to win.

Atalanta led twice through Duvan Zapata and Ruslan Malinovskiy, but Cristiano Ronaldo scored penalties to cancel out both goals, including a 90th-minute equaliser in Turin on Saturday.

While Gasperini was proud of his third-placed team, the Atalanta coach believes they deserved all three points.

"I'm definitely more proud. We played great in the first half and in the second half there was a comeback by Juve," he told a news conference.

"But with our play, we managed to take the lead and play a great game anyway. Of course, we are also upset because we deserved to win.

"But, in football, your performance is not always enough."

With six games left to play in Serie A, Atalanta are third in the table, nine points adrift of Juventus.

Maurizio Sarri praised the "incredible" Cristiano Ronaldo after the star's pair of penalties helped Juventus draw 2-2 with Atalanta.

Ronaldo converted two spot-kicks in Turin on Saturday as Juve took another step towards the Serie A title.

The Portugal international cancelled out Duvan Zapata's opener before securing a point in the 90th minute after Ruslan Malinovskiy had restored Atalanta's lead.

Sarri, whose side are eight points clear at the top with six games to play, hailed Ronaldo's ability to handle the pressure.

"He is a champion with his feet but also with his head," Sarri told a news conference.

"He manages to handle the pressures he has on him in an incredible way."

Juventus were coming off a 4-2 loss to Milan on Tuesday, and maintained a nine-point lead over third-placed Atalanta.

Sarri felt Juventus deserved their point, with their busy run of fixtures continuing against Sassuolo on Wednesday.

"Tonight's point was sweaty and deserved. We drew against one of the best teams in Europe, and it's a very important result," he said.

"Merit goes to a second half of quality, in which we attacked Atalanta higher, while focusing on their physical decline, and we scored goals in our best moment.

"The game in Milan, in which we played well for a long time, could have left us with waste. In the first half we suffered, but in the second half we came out well.

"The Scudetto race is by no means closed, there are still 18 points available. It is a very difficult phase of the season, the games are very expensive, and it is difficult to find continuity."

Cristiano Ronaldo twice scored from the penalty spot as Juventus put an end to Atalanta's winning streak, the Serie A leaders rallying late to secure a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Substitute Ruslan Malinovskiy fired in an 80th-minute goal that had Gian Piero Gasperini's in-form side on course to move into second place in the table courtesy of a 10th straight league win.

Duvan Zapata had put the visitors into the lead as they dominated in the first half, though they were pegged back soon after the break when a handball call against Marten de Roon allowed Ronaldo to level.

Having surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at Milan in midweek, Maurizio Sarri's side appeared on course to suffer a second successive loss, in the process cutting their lead at the summit to six points.

However, referee Piero Giacomelli pointed to the spot for a second time when the ball struck Luis Muriel's arm in the 90th minute, allowing Ronaldo to deny Atalanta and leave Juve eight clear of Lazio.

 

 

Duvan Zapata's opener for Atalanta against Juventus on Saturday saw Gian Piero Gasperini's side achieve a feat not witnessed in Serie A for 68 years.

Colombia international Zapata drilled home a clever pass from Alejandro Gomez to score his 15th league goal of the season in the 16th minute at the Allianz Stadium.

It meant Atalanta became the first team with three players to score at least 15 goals in the same Serie A campaign since Ermes Muccinelli, Giampiero Boniperti and John Hansen for Juventus in 1951-52.

Josip Ilicic was already on 15 when Zapata struck, while Luis Muriel was on 17.

Atalanta have now scored in 20 successive Serie A matches – their best run in the competition since netting in 23 consecutively in 1955-56.

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