Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi teaming up at Barcelona would have a positive impact on Argentina, according to the national team's assistant coach Roberto Ayala.

Having scored 16 goals in 31 appearances for Inter in 2019-20, Martinez is a target for LaLiga champions Barca and it was last week reported he had agreed a five-year deal at Camp Nou.

Former Napoli, Milan and Valencia centre-back Ayala has been impressed by the 22-year-old's development under Antonio Conte this season and the partnership he has struck up with Romelu Lukaku.

With the coronavirus pandemic meaning the Copa America has been postponed until 2021, Ayala thinks Martinez potentially playing with six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi at club level next term would be of huge benefit to Argentina.

The South American powerhouse have not won a senior international trophy since 1993, with Messi on the losing side in four finals during his career.

"The more matches they play together, the more they can get to know each other, it can be an advantage [for Argentina]," Ayala told Ole.

"But we will have to see if Lautaro plays for Barcelona or not because we can't forget [Luis] Suarez is there. We will see.

"It's an important decision Lautaro will have to make. Whatever he decides you have to respect because he's managing his career.

"The more chances of them playing together, the more they're going to understand each other.

"Lautaro is in a very important club at the moment and scoring goals in Italy is not easy.

"At Inter he's grown a lot and learned to earn his place. Inter trust in him a lot, his coach is empowering him, he found a partnership that complements him very well."

Inter are set to play their first game in over three months with a Coppa Italia semi-final against Napoli on Saturday, having lost the first leg 1-0 before football was suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Hertha Berlin attacker Matheus Cunha would be the "ideal" replacement for Lautaro Martinez at Inter, says the Brazilian's former coach and ex-Nerazzurri defender Paolo Tramezzani.

Argentina international Martinez has flourished alongside Romelu Lukaku for Inter this season and has been heavily linked with a switch to LaLiga champions Barcelona, with reports last week claiming he had agreed a five-year deal at Camp Nou.

Cunha, who was nominated for the 2019 Puskas Award, only joined Hertha from RB Leipzig in January and has scored four goals in his seven appearances for the club.

Tramezzani handed Cunha his breakthrough in European football at Sion in 2017 and the Italian, who has returned for a second spell as the Swiss Super League side's coach, believes he has the attributes to be a success at San Siro.

"I think Barcelona have the financial power to lure Lautaro in and as far as I see big steps in this direction have already been made," Tramezzani told Stats Perform News.

"Among the many names to replace him at Inter I heard that of Matheus Cunha, a guy who made his debut with me at Sion and, especially this season, is doing so well in the Bundesliga.

"He is young, born in 1999, Brazilian. For how Antonio Conte plays with his 3-5-2, Cunha can play in different roles... first or second striker, winger. His skills would be ideal for Inter."

Tramezzani became convinced of Cunha's talents when he arrived for a trial at Sion while they were training in the Swiss Alps.

"Three years ago we went with Sion for altitude training at Crans-Montana," he explained.

"He [Cunha] had been scouted by our sporting director Marco Degennaro, who told me to keep an eye on this chap that just arrived and who had to stay with us a couple of days for some tests along with other foreign players.

"He landed in Geneva during the night, at about three or four in the morning, just a few hours before our training.

"My medical crew suggested to me to make him train aside from the main group for a couple of days. I talked to him and he told me he wanted to train hard, so I made him join the rest of the squad that had been training on power for a week now.

"I was impressed because he was the one topping the others in terms of running, ball exercises, tactics and games. He was the most brilliant.

"I was so impressed that after a couple of days I told the sporting director that for me the trial was over. 'Keep him', I said. And we played him right away in the Europa League. He was not even 18 and was a starter. He played a great season with 10 goals scored.

"Individually he has crazy skills. Left [foot], right, header, attacks the spaces, he loves to have space in front of him. Despite being the traditional Brazilian who is so good one-on-one, in dribbling, he always plays for the team, he tries to set up his team-mates, he defends and sacrifices himself when we don't have the ball.

"[He is] a golden boy. I am so happy because I know what he went through. He chased a dream that's coming true."

Chelsea are reportedly set to make a move for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz.

Havertz, 20, has been linked with numerous European giants after impressing for the Bundesliga club.

The Germany international has attracted plenty of interest, but Chelsea are apparently ready to strengthen even further this close season.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PREPARE HAVERTZ BID

Chelsea are preparing a bid for Bayer Leverkusen star Havertz, according to the Daily Mail.

The Premier League giants are expected to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner and Havertz could follow him to Stamford Bridge.

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the other clubs reportedly interested in Havertz, who is rated at £75million.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have been linked to James Rodriguez previously and the playmaker could yet end up at Old Trafford. The Sun reports United have been asked about a cut-price deal for James, who is out of contract at Real Madrid next year.

- Staying at Manchester United and Sport reports they were prepared to pay £88.8m (€100m) for 17-year-old Barcelona forward Ansu Fati, but the LaLiga giants have no plans to let the teenager leave.

- Out of contract at the end of June, Adam Lallana could extend his Liverpool stay – at least briefly. The Daily Mail says the midfielder is on track to agree a short-term deal with the Premier League leaders to stay until the end of the season, before being expected to join Leicester City.

- Memphis Depay has enjoyed a strong season at Lyon, but the attacker is out of contract next year. CalcioMercato reports talks are moving slowly, leading to interest in the Netherlands international from AC Milan and potentially Everton.

- Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell is linked with a switch. The Evening Standard reports Chelsea have the advantage over Manchester City in the chase for the England international due to the latter's Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing as they challenge their European ban.

- With Alex Sandro contracted until 2023, Juventus seemingly have no plans to sell the left-back. According to CalcioMercato, the 29-year-old is not for sale – but he is also not untouchable.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta hopes Barcelona do not pay Lautaro Martinez's release clause but vowed to replace the forward with a star if he leaves.

Martinez has been linked with a move to the LaLiga giants, with Inter insisting the Argentina international's release clause of €111million will need to be paid.

Marotta again reiterated the Serie A side had no interest in selling Martinez, but said a star would be signed if the 22-year-old leaves.

"It is difficult to pronounce on his future at this moment, but I say to him – stay focused on the present, there is a season that resumes, there are goals to hit," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"There is no desire of the property to sell Lautaro. He is young, has the future of his own and is a functional element for [Antonio] Conte. Then, of course, there is a clause.

"I don't know what Barcelona think, maybe they will also have alternatives. I hope they don't pay the clause. If Lautaro [leaves], a top player will arrive.

"But in this market, at European level the real difficulty will not be having to buy, but being able to sell. I would say one thing in general – Neymar-style operations, in which one team goes and takes one player away from another, will not be seen for many years."

Inter have been linked with a move for Edinson Cavani, whose contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires at the end of the season.

But Marotta said a deal for Cavani, who has scored seven goals in 22 games this season, was still some way off.

"It is one of the opportunities, it is being monitored as an expiring footballer," he said.

"But we did not go into the matter further: at the moment he is quite far from Inter."

Paulo Dybala admitted it would be "very nice" to play for Barcelona as the star attacker said he was still waiting for a contract renewal at Juventus.

Dybala, 26, was enjoying a fine season before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, having been linked with a move from Turin last year.

The Argentina international is reportedly set to extend his stay at Juve, where he is contracted until 2022.

But Dybala said it would be nice to reunite with international team-mate Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

"The truth is that Barcelona is huge team worldwide and with Messi there even bigger," he told CNN.

"It would be very nice, but Juventus is also an incredible club, very big, full of history, where there are currently great players.

"There's enough quality here to make two teams and the chance to play with [Gianluigi] Buffon and Cristiano Ronaldo, who make the club even bigger."

While a move to Barcelona could be of interest, Dybala has been reported to be close to an extension at Juventus.

But Dybala, who has scored 13 goals and provided seven assists in 34 games this season, said he was still waiting.

"For now there is nothing, really. I have a year and a half left on my contract, which is not much, and I understand that with all this that has happened [coronavirus] it isn't easy for the club, but other players have also renewed, so we are here waiting," he said.

"Obviously I am a player of this club and I am happy to be here. People love me very much and I love the people very much. I have great appreciation for the club and the people who are here, I have a good relationship with my president and surely at some point they will come to chat – or maybe not, I don't know.

"At some point maybe there may be some possible renewal, but it depends on Juventus."

The Serie A season could finish without a champion if Italy experiences a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has announced.

At a meeting on Monday, the governing body's proposal to use either a play-off system or an algorithm to calculate final standings in the event of all matches not being completed passed a federal council vote – despite opposition from some clubs.

Serie A will resume on June 20, having been suspended on March 9, with the season now set to conclude on August 2.

If health and safety concerns mean all matches cannot be completed, the preference would be for a yet-to-be determined system of play-offs to decide final league positions.

In the event of play-offs not being possible, an algorithm based on teams' home and away results would be used to calculate an estimated final points total.

While this method would still determine which teams qualify for European competitions and which are relegated, the Scudetto would not be awarded.

There are 12 full rounds of Serie A fixtures still to play, along with four games that were postponed from matchweek 25.

Juventus are aiming to secure a ninth consecutive title and hold a one-point advantage over Lazio at the summit. Inter are eight points shy of Lazio in third but six ahead of Atalanta, who occupy the final Champions League qualification slot.

Lecce, SPAL and Brescia are in the relegation places.

If Serie A does not resume as planned on June 20, the FIGC has established a deadline of July 10 to decide whether a restart is possible.

Any club found to be in violation of COVID-19 health protocols will face sanctions from the league, ranging from a fine to a points deduction or possible expulsion from the championship.

"The seriousness of the violation is assessed on the basis of the risk to the health of the players, staff, referees and all the workers exposed to the contagion by COVID-19, as well as the ascertained will to alter the performance or the result of a game or competition," a statement read.

Serie A and Serie B are the only divisions in Italy that will resume, with a resumption for the women's Serie A campaign ruled out on Monday.

Vicenza, Reggina and Monza – the latter owned by Silvio Berlusconi – will be promoted after Serie C was wrapped up early, with the final promotion spot to be decided via a play-off.

As a result of the rearranged calendar, the FIGC has moved Italy's 2020 transfer window to take place between September 1 and October 5. The mid-season window will be from January 4 to January 31.

Playing alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would be a dream for Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.

Barcelona captain Messi and Juventus superstar Ronaldo have dominated world football for over a decade, respectively winning six and five Ballons d'Or.

The Argentine legend is the Catalan giants' all-time leading goalscorer with 627 in 718 appearances and has won 34 trophies with the club, though he has not got his hands on any silverware at a senior international level.

Ronaldo topped Real Madrid's goalscoring charts after nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu and, despite not winning as many titles as Messi during his illustrious career, led Portugal to success at Euro 2016 and in the inaugural Nations League.

Gundogan rates Messi higher than Ronaldo but would relish the chance to feed them both from midfield.

"Messi is a footballer who will not be born again as a talent. For me, Messi is a little higher," Gundogan told Fanatik.

"Messi and Ronaldo are also very important players. I would like to play with both of them on the same team one day."

The Premier League season will next week resume after its suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, enabling David Silva to play his final games with City before departing at the end of his contract.

"It is very enjoyable to play with Silva," Gundogan said.

"I love to play with David Silva. He's a very smart football player. We get along well on and off the pitch. He is a top player."

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has a long list of admirers.

From Manchester United to Real Madrid, the Lazio midfielder is a player in demand.

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, however, appear on track to sign the Serbia international.

 

TOP STORY –  PSG AND MILINKOVIC-SAVIC IN AGREEMENT

Paris Saint-Germain have reached a salary agreement with Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, according to Paris Fans.

Milinkovic-Savic has been linked to Premier League giants Manchester United and LaLiga powerhouse Real Madrid.

But PSG have an agreement with Milinkovic-Savic for a salary around €7million a year, while the deal could also include Laizo's Adam Marusic.

Firstly, PSG would like to seal the departure of Julian Draxler, who has been linked to Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

 

ROUND-UP

Neymar still wants to join Barcelona at the end of the season. The front page of Monday's Mundo Deportivo says the PSG star remains committed to pushing through a return to Barca at all costs.

- The Telegraph says Manchester City have entered the chase for Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell. The Englishman has been heavily linked to Chelsea.

- Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham prefers Borussia Dortmund over United, reports the Birmingham Mail. The 16-year-old is wanted by both clubs, while he has already toured United's facilities.

Marco Verratti and Alvaro Morata are being linked with returns to Serie A. Tuttosport claims the possible arrival of Italian head coach Massimiliano Allegri at PSG could see Verratti and Juventus' Miralem Pjanic swap clubs. Atletico Madrid forward Morata, meanwhile, has been in contact with Inter as Edinson Cavani prepares to move to the Spanish capital on a free transfer.

- Admirers of Ismael Bennacer will struggle to sign the Milan midfielder. City, Madrid and PSG have been linked to Bennacer. But, Calciomercato says the 22-year-old's €50m release clause is not active until 2021.

Barca's bid to bring Lautaro Martinez to Camp Nou is no closer to completion. Junior Firpo has emerged as the key to unlocking the deadlock between Barca and Inter. Junior Firpo is valued at €41m by Barca, but FCInterNews says the Nerazzurri consider the defender's transfer value closer to €20m.

Napoli have warned they will not allow Kalidou Koulibaly to leave in a cut-price deal, insisting the defender's value has not budged during the coronavirus crisis.

The Senegalese centre-back, who turns 29 later this month, has frequently been linked with a move, including to Premier League duo Manchester United and Liverpool.

Clubs across Europe have been hit by the impact of the pandemic, with the financial toll leading to suggestions it could have a major effect on the transfer market.

Yet Napoli have no intention of allowing players to leave below their full value, and sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli said it will take top dollar to prise away any of the club's stars.

Addressing the future of Koulibaly, Giuntoli told Italian broadcaster Sky Sport 24: "He is a great footballer and the club has the right to ask for the price it wants."

Giuntoli does not buy into the theory that the best players will suddenly be available for lower prices than before COVID-19 hit.

"They say negotiations will change, but in my opinion this is an alibi. I don't think the coronavirus issue can change the price of Koulibaly or other top players," Giuntoli said.

"Certainly, however, we'll come to appreciate the contractual formula such as the loan with an option to buy, which help to postpone the guarantees and ease the balance immediately. Football can adapt quickly."

Paulo Dybala has revealed he is still not 100 per cent fit after overcoming coronavirus - but he is relishing the return of Serie A all the same.

The Juventus forward confirmed in March that he and girlfriend Oriana Sabatini had tested positive for COVID-19, by which time football in Italy had been suspended due to the pandemic.

Dybala had to isolate for over a month before Juve announced he had returned two negative tests on May 6, though he is still not yet in peak condition following his illness.

Having gone up against Tottenham's Dele Alli in FIFA 20 as part of a charity event organised by Gamers Without Borders, the Argentina international declared his delight at the upcoming resumption to the 2019-20 campaign.

"I had coronavirus, but I feel much better now," Dybala said during the Instagram Live transmission.

"I am still not quite at 100 per cent, but I'm pretty good. We've started training again and football is coming back, so soon we will be able to do what we love the most.

"I hope we can have fun and entertain.

"I think it will be useful because we will have many consecutive football matches, and people like us who love this wonderful sport will have the opportunity to watch a different game every day."

Argentinian Dybala defeated Alli while playing as Liverpool, even singing the Anfield club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' midway through the online game with the England midfielder.

As for the real action, leaders Juve - who sit one point clear of nearest rivals Lazio - restart their Serie A campaign with a trip to Bologna on June 22.

Before then, Juventus have the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan, which takes place in Turin on June 12. The first meeting between the teams finished in a 1-1 draw.

Napoli expect Dries Mertens to sign a new contract but Jose Callejon could leave the club, according to sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli.

Mertens has been linked with Chelsea and Inter as he approaches the final weeks of his deal, but it appears the 33-year-old is set to stay at the San Paolo.

Callejon, also 33, has not yet decided his future and may choose to leave when his contract runs out this year.

The forward is said to be of interest to Everton and Valencia, but Giuntoli at least expects him to stay for the rest of the season.

"Things are moving forward with Mertens. There's a will on both sides to continue together," he told Sky Sport. "We hope to formalise the renewal shortly.

"With Callejon, we're waiting. He hasn't decided what he wants to do with his future.

"Both of them have given a lot to Napoli. We're talking, and the climate is calm.

"The Spaniard is an exemplary professional. If he leaves, he'll finish the season with us, anyway."

Giuntoli also hopes to see Gennaro Gattuso commit to a longer-term deal, although he says talks are somewhat on hold after the head coach lost his sister at the age of just 37.

"Rino has brought a lot. The will of the club is to carry on with him," said Giuntoli.

"Unfortunately, he was hit by a very serious loss, and we're all shaken. It's a delicate moment. We'll go on together – I think that's obvious."

Another Napoli player to be linked with a move away is Fabian Ruiz, who has been persistently tipped as a target for Real Madrid, but Giuntoli likewise hopes to see the midfielder commit his long-term future to the club.

"He has a three-year contract and we'll talk next year about a renewal. I think he'll stay with Napoli," he added.

Sandro Tonali is reportedly on Juventus' and Inter's radar and Brescia coach Diego Lopez believes the in-demand midfielder has "no limits".

Tonali, who played a key role in Brescia's promotion from Serie B last season, has again starred for the club despite their position at the bottom of Serie A.

Nine points adrift of safety when the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a halt back in March, Brescia look doomed to an immediate return to the second tier.

However, Tonali appears likely to remain in the top flight with one of the league's elite and is said to prefer Inter over Juve.

Asked about the 20-year by Corriere della Sera, Lopez said: "There's a lot of talk about him, and rightly so, but he's just a young lad who is in love with the ball.

"I can't give him advice on what to do off the pitch. As a player, I'd say he can still improve.

"He has it all, but he can get even better. He has no limits.

"I really like him in front of the defence. I see him versatile like [Radja] Nainggolan in the middle of the field."

Tonali has drawn comparisons to legendary Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who also began his career at Brescia.

Pirlo recently described Tonali as a "more complete player" than he was, much to the astonishment of the Azzurri international, who has already won three caps for his country.

"Let's say that Pirlo gave the right answer," Tonali told Sportweek. "We don't play like each other. But to say that I'm a more complete player than he was…

"When two of my friends sent me the Instagram live in which he said that, I stayed still. And I'm still speechless now. All I can say to him is, thank you.

"I'd rather say what I'd like to learn from him. The long pass from deep, accurate to within a millimetre. I'm better at short passes today. Which, to tell you the truth, comes even more natural to me than the long pass.

"I know that with the right sacrifices, I can reach the top of the world. I haven't achieved half of what I have in mind, but I feel good enough to make it."

Leonardo Bonucci admits he "made a poor decision" when he joined Milan in 2017, though he would have liked to have played alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The experienced defender left Juventus for San Siro following a falling out with then-coach Massimiliano Allegri.

He concedes opting to leave the Serie A champions was an error and he was ultimately glad to return to Juve the following year.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport about the final campaign of his first spell with Juve, which ended with a 4-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, Bonucci said: "It was a difficult season for me, both personally and professionally.

"There were some disagreements and, especially after the defeat in the Champions League, I ultimately made a poor decision, but I have to say that the decision, which certainly influenced my career, improved me as a man.

"Those months at Milan let me do some soul-searching and made me realise that my calling was at Juventus, who are like my family.

"I met some beautiful people at Milan, first of all Rino [Gennaro] Gattuso. It was a difficult year, but that's not to say it was useless. At the end of it, I was very happy to go back home."

Ibrahimovic, who was at Juve from 2004 to 2006, has since made the switch back to Milan and he is someone Bonucci would have relished having as a team-mate.

"I'd have loved to play with Ibrahimovic," the 33-year-old said. "He's a leader, he has character and he's strong. It would've been nice to face him in training.

"He comes across as a tough guy, but he's a good person. On the field, the players who have character, who are always motivated by the desire to win give you unique stimuli.

"And that's what I'm always looking for, stimuli to improve."

Leonardo Bonucci believes the Serie A title should not be awarded if the season has to be halted again due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Football in Italy is due to return this month after being suspended since March following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Juventus were a point ahead of Lazio when the campaign was stopped as they pursued a ninth Scudetto in a row, with Inter a further eight points back with a game in hand.

A serious second wave of infections would likely see Serie A brought to a standstill again and Bonucci thinks it would be better for all concerned in that instance if 2019-20 was simply scrapped.

"I hope we get to the normal end of the championship," the Juve defender told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "If that didn't happen, a lot of stories, controversies, appeals would come out.

"I'm not in favour of other hypotheses. If it stops, it's better to finish things there and not assign anything.

"Hopefully, we'll get to August 2 and declare a winner. Hopefully, it's Juve."

Juve will resume the season with the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan on June 12, with the aggregate score 1-1.

The Bianconeri are pursuing a possible treble in Maurizio Sarri's first season in charge since he took over from Massimiliano Allegri.

Comparing the two coaches, Bonucci admits to being "pleasantly surprised" by Sarri's way of working.

When asked to name the differences between Allegri and Sarri, he said: "They're obvious. Allegri is really good at managing the dressing room, the most difficult moments of the season, to make the team understand how to manage the tempo of a match. In his five years, he was a master at this.

"Sarri is meticulous, passionate about tactics, someone who likes to make the team play well. He's also learned in these months with Juve what it means to be Bianconero.

"I've seen us grow significantly. He has a wealth of football knowledge, but he has been able to question himself. He had the humility to understand the dynamics of the collective. I was pleasantly surprised, really."

Jack Grealish or Jadon Sancho at Old Trafford?

Manchester United have been linked to both players.

But Aston Villa's Grealish has reportedly surged ahead of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon as United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eyes reinforcements.

 

TOP STORY – GREALISH LEAPFROGS SANCHO AS UTD TARGET

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has moved ahead of Jadon Sancho on Manchester United's wishlist, according to the Mirror.

United have been tipped to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho at the end of the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 season.

But Grealish now reportedly tops United's list of transfer targets due to Dortmund's demands.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca reports Barcelona risk losing out on signing Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. The LaLiga champions are favourites to prise Martinez to Camp Nou but they are yet to agree a deal. Now, United and Real Madrid are waiting in the wings.

Inter remain hopeful of signing Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal, says Calciomercato. It comes as the Nerazzurri also target Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali.

- The Mirror claims Liverpool have turned their attention to signing Wolves star Adama Traore as RB Leipzig's Timo Werner looks set to join Premier League rivals Chelsea.

Madrid have made an €80million offer for Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, according to Bild. The deal would also see Havertz stay at Leverkusen on loan next season. The in-demand Germany international is also reportedly wanted by Bayern Munich, United and Liverpool.

- The Daily Mail reports United are looking to hijack Madrid's pursuit of Ajax star Donny van de Beek.

- Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani has turned down Inter as he heads to Atletico Madrid on a free transfer, says Tuttosport.

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