Former Italy defender Alessandro Nesta has been appointed as the new head coach of Frosinone.

Marco Baroni was unable to prevent Frosinone's relegation from Serie A last season and his replacement in the dugout is former Lazio, AC Milan and Italy centre-back Nesta.

Frosinone confirmed Nesta's arrival on Monday, with the 43-year-old signing a two-year deal at Stadio Benito Stirpe.

Nesta started his coaching career in the United States with Miami FC and he led Perugia in Serie B last season, missing out on promotion through the play-offs.

Roma branded the accusations made by Francesco Totti in a parting shot at the club "fanciful and far from reality".

Totti officially stepped down as a director of Roma on Monday, bringing an end to his 30-year stay in the Italian capital.

Speaking at an explosive press conference to explain the reasons behind his exit, the former captain hit out at the Serie A side for not taking his views into consideration during his two-year stint in the position.

"I never had the chance to express myself," Totti told reporters. "They never involved me. The first year that can happen but by the second [year] I understood what they wanted to do.

"They knew of my desire to offer a lot to this squad but they never wanted it. They kept me out of everything. It's a day that I hoped never would have come."

Roma released a statement on their official website to respond to Totti's claims, reiterating the 42-year-old chose to resign instead of taking up a new role as technical director - as revealed by American owner James Pallotta last week.

"The club is extremely disappointed to learn that Francesco Totti has announced that he has decided to leave the club and not take up the position of technical director of Roma," the statement read. "We offered this role to him after Monchi's exit, for which we were awaiting his answer.

"We believed that the role offered to Francesco is one of the most senior positions at the club and obviously requires total dedication and commitment, something that is expected of all senior managers within the club.

"We were prepared to be patient with Francesco and help him achieve the transition from being a great footballer into a great manager. To demonstrate this commitment to Francesco, the role of technical director was offered to him - a role that we believed he could grow into and one in which we offered to support him in while he adapts.

"While we understand how hard it must be for him to take this decision to leave AS Roma after 30 years, we believe that his perception of the facts and decisions made at the club are both fanciful and far from reality."

A month on from Daniele De Rossi announcing his exit, Totti also suggested Romans have been forced out of the Stadio Olimpico since Pallotta took over in 2011.

And the one-club man made clear he would consider a return should there be a change of ownership further down the line.

The club statement continued: "Regarding the repeated references to a possible comeback with a new ownership, combined with information about interested parties collected by him around the world, we hope that this was not meant to be an inappropriate anticipation of a takeover attempt of the club, a scenario that would be very sensitive as Roma is a listed company. 

"The club's investor group have absolutely no intention of putting Roma up for sale, now or in the future. We wish Francesco only good luck with what he decides to do next."

Antonio Conte agreed to become Roma's new coach before instead taking charge of Inter, according to Francesco Totti.

Giallorossi icon Totti announced his departure from the club, ending a 30-year association, at an explosive news conference on Monday.

The former Italy star, regarded among the greatest players in Roma history, fired a broadside at controversial club president James Pallotta.

Totti follows former team-mate and fellow club legend Daniele De Rossi out of the Stadio Olimpico, the midfielder having been released at the end of his contract.

Roma have appointed Paulo Fonseca from Shakhtar Donetsk as their new coach, succeeding Claudio Ranieri, who replaced Eusebio Di Francesco in May.

But Totti revealed Roma had sealed a deal with former Chelsea boss Conte to take over, only for the Italian to then choose Serie A rivals Inter.

"I spoke with Antonio Conte: he had given his 'okay' to become Roma coach," Totti told reporters. 

"Then, he went to Inter."

Maurizio Sarri was also linked with Roma, with the Italian having since taken charge of Juventus after leaving Chelsea.

But Totti denied having held talks with the 60-year-old, whose Napoli side finished second behind Juve in 2017-18.

"I never contacted Maurizio Sarri. I don't know what his objectives or evaluations were, just that Sarri was a favourite of Baldini," Totti added.

"Of course, he's a great coach who would have done well here, but he was under contract with Chelsea. Anyway, this is irrelevant. We should talk about the present.

"Fonseca has to find an environment that is relaxed, with a clear path ahead of him. 

"From what I've seen, he is a fine coach who can do well and was very impressive at Shakhtar."

Paul Pogba's tempestuous second stint at Manchester United will end this close season if the France midfielder has his way.

Speaking over the weekend, Pogba stated it was time for a "new challenge", having been linked with a big-money move away from Old Trafford for several months.

The 26-year-old was the most expensive player in football history when he re-joined United from Juventus for £89.3million in 2016.

Despite scoring 31 goals in all competitions over the course of three seasons, Pogba's failure to consistently hit top form for a sustained period has invited regular criticism, while the collapse of his relationship with Jose Mourinho was an unseemly factor towards the end of the Portuguese's ill-fated reign as manager.

Nevertheless, United are reportedly in no hurry to sell and a £150m price tag means only a small selection of the game's elite can consider a move for Pogba. We look at where the 2018 World Cup winner might end up next.

Real Madrid

The Santiago Bernabeu has long been mooted as Pogba's next destination and the appeal of him linking up with France great and Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is an obvious one. Following an underwhelming campaign, club president Florentino Perez has bankrolled a considerable overhaul for Zidane, with Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao and Rodrygo all arriving at considerable expense. The coffers are not bottomless and the question is whether Pogba, after his mixed recent seasons, remains the most appealing use of Madrid's remaining funds.

Paris Saint-Germain

Indeed, glances have probably been turned from the Spanish capital and towards the French one by Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi saying star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – along with the rest of the squad – must "work more", adding: "I no longer want to have superstar behaviour," in an interview with France Football. Pogba's detractors would argue such a policy change might rule him out, but PSG are light in central midfield and Al-Khelaifi will be aware of the commercial bounty to be made from bringing one of Les Bleus' 2018 heroes back to his home city. Links between PSG and Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt also suggest the lines of communication between the club and Pogba's agent Mino Raiola are open.

Juventus

Pogba's standing in the eyes of the United faithful has dwindled over recent months and he must long for the esteem in which he was once held in Turin. Four Scudetti in as many seasons preceded his second act in Manchester, although those did come in a talent-stacked midfield alongside the likes of Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio. Juve are approaching a new era under Maurizio Sarri and Pogba would be a statement signing to bolster their Champions League ambitions alongside the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona

Pogba was widely considered to be on Barcelona's radar in the aftermath of Russia 2018, however that ship appears to have sailed. Arthur adapted impressively to life in LaLiga last term and Frenkie de Jong will arrive on the crest of an Ajax wave. On the other hand, recent speculation linking United with an interest in Barca duo Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho means a lucrative game of musical chairs might not be out of the equation entirely.

Francesco Totti has left his post as a director at Roma, ending a 30-year stay at the club.

Totti joined the Roma board after retiring as a player in 2017, but reported differences between the former attacker and the club's board are said to have resulted in him leaving.

Tensions are said to have become particularly strained between Totti and club owner Jim Pallotta since March, when Monchi quit as sporting director and coach Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked.

Speculation went into overdrive after Totti failed to appear at Roma's club meeting in London last week, where new coach Paulo Fonseca was presented, with Pallotta insisting the Azzurri icon was invited.

Pallotta was unsure why Totti decided against attending but insisted he would be given "time", and now the two parties have separated.

He recently claimed Totti was offered the role of technical director. However, in a news conference Totti said: "I never had the chance to express myself. I was never involved in a genuine technical project.

"In the first year, that can happen. In the second, I realised what I wanted to do and we never got together, never helped each other.

"They knew my intentions and what I wanted, to give so much to this club and team, but they never wanted me to, in all honesty. They excluded me from every decision.

"I will now take other paths. At the moment another club owner wants to trust in me, I'll always be ready.

"I am not here to point the blame towards one or the other. We had started a journey, it was not respected, so I am moving on.

"Everyone knows they made me stop playing. I had a six-year contract already as a director. I started quietly, realising it's a completely different sphere to being on the field. Many promises were made and they were never kept.

"The main focus of certain people has been to remove Romans from Roma. Over the last eight years, since the Americans came in, they tried in every possible way to shove us to one side.

"As the years went on, they tried everything they could… It's what they wanted and in the end, they succeeded.

"What I can say is that I will never hurt Roma. This is far worse than retiring as a player. Leaving Roma is like dying. I feel like it'd be better if I died."

Totti spent the entirety of his professional career at Roma, making 786 appearances in all competitions, scoring 307 goals and winning one Serie A title in 2000-01.

He is both Roma's all-time leading appearance maker and scorer, with most regarding him as the greatest player in the club's history

Neymar appears to be on thin ice at Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi warned he will not tolerate any "celebrity behaviour" from players.

And the Brazil star could be set to pay the price for his lavish ways in the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – PSG PREPARED TO PART WITH NEYMAR

If you can stump up €222million or more, Neymar could be yours.

According to L'Equipe, Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are willing to sell their world-record signing.

Neymar – who is recovering from an ankle injury that forced him out of Brazil's Copa America campaign – arrived from Barcelona for a world-record fee in 2017.

And the 27-year-old continues to be linked with a return to LaLiga with former club Barcelona or their great rivals Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Standard says Paul Pogba has been told he will not be sold by Manchester United, despite the Frenchman publicly stating his desire to seek a challenge elsewhere. Pogba has been linked to Real Madrid and a return to Juventus.

- Juventus have not given up on signing in-demand Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, according to Tuttosport. PSG are believed to be favourites but Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved is set to meet with agent Mino Raiola.

- Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal reportedly has an offer from the Chinese Super League, according to soccerlink.fr. The arrival of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax could spell the end of the Chilean's career at Camp Nou.

- L'Equipe says Arsenal have moved closer to signing 18-year-old Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba. The Teenager has reportedly agreed a five-year contract in London.

- Ligue 1 side Lyon have opened talks to sign Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid, according to L'Equipe. The Brazil international full-back's contract expires at the end of June and he has been linked to Barcelona.

- With Maurizio Sarri confirmed as Juventus head coach, the Italian champions are set to target Inter outcast Mauro Icardi and Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Paul Pogba finally confirmed his desire to leave Manchester United for a "new challenge" on Sunday, a revelation that will likely split the club's supporters.

While few would doubt Pogba's ability, the last three seasons since his return from Juventus have been anything but smooth.

Pogba has struggled for consistency in a United team that has so often been crying out for his creativity, while the soap opera around his turbulent relationship with Jose Mourinho before the Portuguese manager's December sacking became a distracting sideshow.

Although Pogba's form did initially improve after Mourinho left, the dominant performances soon dried up again – a haul of 13 goals (seven from the spot) and nine assists in the Premier League exaggerating his influence.

Sunday's comments about desiring a move will not have surprised many given the speculation surrounding him, but offloading Pogba might prove a blessing in disguise for a United side in need of a rebuild. We have identified some potential replacements.

 

Sean Longstaff - Newcastle United

Magpies midfielder Longstaff has only made nine Premier League appearances, but he impressed to such a degree he is being linked with a £25million move to United. Poised in possession with a maturity that belies his 21 years, Longstaff looks to have a very bright future but it would be asking a lot of him to replace one of the best midfielders in the world.

Tanguy Ndombele - Lyon

Ndombele is reportedly a target for Tottenham, who he has described as "a great team, a great club", though he could be a good fit at Old Trafford too. The France midfielder impressed in the Champions League last term but Lyon's outspoken president Jean-Michel Aulas is known among the hardest negotiators in the game. The Ligue 1 side are said to be demanding £70m for the 22-year-old.

Bruno Fernandes - Sporting CP

Nations League winner Fernandes is expected to leave Sporting this year, but United would surely face a battle for his signature, as Manchester City, Inter, Tottenham, Liverpool and Juventus are all said to be keen. Fernandes hit 20 league goals for Sporting, who missed out on Champions League qualification and will likely have to cash in on the versatile 24-year-old as a result. He is reportedly valued at £70m. 

Youri Tielemans - Monaco

Tielemans impressed on loan at Leicester City last term and, although the Foxes may wish to do a deal with Monaco to sign him permanently, they could be blown out of the water by offers from richer sides. Tielemans, said to be valued at £40m by the Ligue 1 club, has been linked with United, but speculation has also suggested they have moved on to other targets.

Adrien Rabiot - PSG

A risk-reward signing if ever there was one, Rabiot is available on a free transfer as his contract is expiring this year at Paris Saint-Germain. But the 24-year-old has a reputation as a difficult character, having been shunted aside at PSG over a contract dispute, while he rejected the invitation to be on the standby list for Didier Deschamps' France squad at the 2018 World Cup. The undoubtedly talented Rabiot is said to be in huge demand, with Juventus rumoured to be interested in a player Gianluigi Buffon has described as a combination of Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio.

Giovani Lo Celso - Real Betis 

Versatility makes Giovani Lo Celso an appealing option, with the Argentina midfielder able to operate in front of defence or in a more attacking role. He scored nine LaLiga goals for Real Betis last season and the club can expect to make a significant profit on a player they signed from PSG for €25m only two months ago. Should Lo Celso impress at the Copa America, demand in a player linked with Tottenham could increase.

Maurizio Sarri has left Chelsea for Juventus after just one year in the Premier League and it is fair to say it was a turbulent spell.

With the fiery Italian in charge, things were never likely to be dull at Chelsea in the 2018-19 season.

Sarri will undoubtedly consider himself to have been a success given what he achieved and the constraints he was under in the transfer market, but there are plenty of fans who will not be upset to see the back of him.

As Sarri prepares to return to Italy, we look at the triumphant highs and disappointing lows of his solitary season in English football.

HIGHS

Europa League success

Given the infamy of the Europa League final in Baku from a logistical perspective, Chelsea's performance and emphatic 4-1 win over Arsenal were effectively a sideshow. But, if one ignores the ticketing farce, location and security concerns preventing Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing, Sarri came out of it very well by masterminding a fine display to win his first major trophy as a coach.

Top-three Premier League finish

Sarri inherited a squad with plenty of issues. Several players were approaching 30 or already there, the midfield options were lacking and his main striker was enduring a difficult run. Chelsea's recruitment in the last couple of years has left a lot of be desired, yet Sarri still managed to ensure the Blues secured a respectable third-place finish and Champions League qualification.

Ending City's unbeaten start

Manchester City did not lose any of their first 15 Premier League games in 2018-19, form that sparked talk of Pep Guardiola's team going the entire season unbeaten. Chelsea ended such suggestions in December, beating City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz, evidence that Sarri had the Blues mixing it with the best of them at times.

 

LOWS

Crushed by City

Things started to get ugly for Chelsea and Sarri after the turn of the year. He looked to be heading for the exit at the start of February when Chelsea were demolished 6-0 away to City. Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and a Sergio Aguero brace had the hosts 4-0 up after 25 minutes and a recovery never arrived. It was third successive away league defeat, following a similarly embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth and a 2-0 loss at Arsenal.

"F*** Sarri-ball"

With the Blues having suffered those heavy defeats not long before, they lost 2-0 at home to Manchester United in the FA Cup on February 18. The much-lauded style of play brought to the club by Sarri became the target, as fans chanted "F*** Sarri-ball" during the match. It was surely a sign that the 60-year-old's days were numbered.

Kepa challenges authority

Chelsea's run to the EFL Cup final arguably helped keep Sarri in the job and their performance against City was certainly more spirited than the drubbing they received from them just two weeks earlier. However, the match was marred by Kepa Arrizabalaga refusing to be substituted in extra time after appearing to sustain an injury. Sarri played it down after losing on penalties, stating it all came from his misunderstanding of the situation. However, it became the focus at Chelsea for several weeks, particularly given the coach's initial explosive reaction on the touchline.

Maurizio Sarri has landed the biggest job of his career having swapped Chelsea for Juventus and his planning for the new season starts immediately.

After taking the long road to the top of the game, instant success will be demanded of the 60-year-old former banker as Juve seek their ninth straight Serie A table.

Sarri's Napoli posed the strongest challenge to Juve in recent years and he will come up against fellow former Chelsea bosses Antonio Conte and Carlo Ancelotti next term, with the Italians in charge of Inter and the Partenopei respectively.

Winning the league will be the least expected of Sarri at the Allianz Stadium, but what does he need to do to improve on the work done by predecessor Massimiliano Allegri?


Keep Ronaldo happy

Cristiano Ronaldo's first season at Juve was relatively successful - he scored 28 goals in all competitions including a Champions League hat-trick to down Atletico Madrid - but Sarri will hope there is more to come.

The 34-year-old was outscored by Duvan Zapata, Krzysztof Piatek and Fabio Quagliarella in Serie A, but, under Sarri at Napoli, Gonzalo Higuain plundered 36 league goals in the 2015-16 season and the new Juve coach will hope Ronaldo can achieve a similar return next term.

Of course, Higuain could well be back at Juve next season as, with Sarri gone after a single campaign at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea are highly unlikely to trigger their option to either buy the striker or extend his loan for another season despite their transfer ban.

Juggling Ronaldo, Higuain, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala promises to be one of the major challenges facing Sarri.


Win - and with attacking football

Barring outliers such as a 6-0 mauling by Manchester City, results for Sarri at Chelsea were broadly good, but it was his style of football many fans did not like.

Although he brought midfield conductor Jorginho with him from Napoli, Chelsea supporters felt Sarri's side played too slowly in possession, dominating the ball but without incision.

It was strange, though, as Sarri built one of the most exciting teams in world football at Napoli, where Jorginho played the same role. Perhaps at Juve he will have players who are suited to a more entertaining style.


Decide Dybala's future

Should Sarri decide to keep Higuain at Juve, the player to lose out could be Dybala. Last season was difficult for the Argentina forward as he only started 24 league games, the lowest total of his four seasons at the club.

Dybala's relationship with Allegri was frosty and reports have suggested Sarri would be willing to swap the 25-year-old for Mauro Icardi, whose relationship with Inter broke down last term after he was stripped of the captaincy.


Establish new long-term defence

Juve have an aging squad and freshening it up will be on Sarri's shoulders as he signed a three-year deal. 

Andrea Barzagli has retired and, with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci having a combined age of 66, Sarri cannot rely on the duo long term.

Daniele Rugani will likely enjoy more minutes in 2019-20 after starting 15 Serie A games last term, with the 24-year-old an obvious successor to Barzagli, but Sarri has big calls to make at full-back as well as in the middle of his defence.

Joao Cancelo is reportedly a target for Manchester City while Alex Sandro has also been linked with leaving. Reports have claimed the Brazil left-back could be offered to Manchester United as a makeweight, along with Dybala, in a deal to bring Paul Pogba back to Turin.


End wait for European glory

Allegri's Juve dominated domestically but they continually fell short in Europe, so there is no doubt where the improvements need to be made by Sarri.

Juve have not won the Champions League since 1996, losing five times in the final since then, while Sarri led Chelsea to the Europa League title last term.

Ultimately, it would not matter much if Ronaldo was unhappy, Dybala remains unsettled and the football was uninspiring were Juve to lift the trophy in Istanbul next year.

Chelsea are seeking yet another manager in the Roman Abramovich era following Maurizio Sarri's switch to Serie A champions Juventus.

Frank Lampard is widely reported to be first choice to take charge at Stamford Bridge, with the former Chelsea midfielder set to return after a single season gathering managerial experience in the Championship with Derby County.

Sarri was far from universally popular with Chelsea fans despite winning the Europa League, reaching the EFL Cup final and finishing third in the Premier League.

But how does he compare with Chelsea's many other managers under Russian billionaire Abramovich? Omnisport crunches the Opta numbers to find out.


CLAUDIO RANIERI

When Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, Ranieri was the man in the Stamford Bridge dugout - but he left the following year. The genial Italian won 61 per cent of his matches in charge under Abramovich as Chelsea - who bought players including Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Claude Makelele, Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo in a spending spree - finished second in the Premier League behind Arsenal's Invincibles. Chelsea also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League that year but Ranieri's decisions in a defeat to Monaco were questioned.


JOSE MOURINHO

Announcing himself as a "special one" on his arrival, Mourinho justified his own lofty billing by leading the club to the Premier League title, as well as the EFL Cup. They got to the last four of the Champions League again only to be beaten by Liverpool thanks to a controversial Luis Garcia goal. The Blues defended their Premier League title the next season but were unseated by Manchester United in 2006-07, although Mourinho led them to triumphs in both domestic cups. A poor start to 2007-08, including a Champions League draw at home to Rosenborg, saw Mourinho leave the club.

He returned in 2013 and Chelsea won the Premier League again in his second season in charge, as well as collecting another EFL Cup. But he left once more in December 2015, with his win ratio across both spells at the club, in all competitions, standing at an excellent 63.6 per cent.


AVRAM GRANT

In Mourinho's first spell at Stamford Bridge, Abramovich's appointment of Grant in a technical role reportedly led to tensions and the Israeli was then installed in the dugout. Despite being unpopular with fans, Grant steered Chelsea to the final of the EFL Cup, when they were beaten by Tottenham, and they finished second in the Premier League. Somewhat improbably, Grant's Chelsea also reached the Champions League final but they lost to Manchester United on penalties after John Terry's slip.


LUIZ FELIPE SCOLARI

Former Brazil boss Scolari, who led them to World Cup glory, failed to complete a single season at Chelsea as they sacked him in February 2009 citing "deteriorating" results. Scolari won just 55.6 per cent of his games in charge of Chelsea.


GUUS HIDDINK

Then-Russia coach Hiddink arrived as a temporary successor to Scolari and took Chelsea to the semi-finals of the Champions League, where they lost to Barcelona. They won the FA Cup final in his last game in charge but despite being popular with fans and players, he did not stay on.

Hiddink was a natural choice to return when Mourinho left a second time and a 12-game unbeaten run helped the Blues finish in the top half of the Premier League. Despite this, his win ratio across his two periods at Chelsea stands at just 53.1 per cent.


CARLO ANCELOTTI

Ancelotti arrived in 2009 and Chelsea pipped United to the Premier League title in his first season, adding the FA Cup to seal a domestic double. But United beat Chelsea in Europe and the Premier League in the following campaign and Ancelotti was dismissed even though his 61.5 per cent win ratio in all competitions was admirable.


ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS

Like Mourinho, Villas-Boas joined from Porto but he could not match his compatriot's success. With Chelsea outside the top four in the Premier League, he was sacked in March 2012 with a win ratio of 47.5 per cent - the lowest of any Blues boss in the Abramovich era.


ROBERTO DI MATTEO

Another temporary manager, Di Matteo moved up from being assistant to Villas-Boas and the Italian oversaw victory in the FA Cup final against Liverpool. Di Matteo also managed Chelsea to a remarkable defeat of Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League, then Didier Drogba's penalty in the shoot-out saw them beat Bayern Munich at their Allianz Arena home and claim the club's first European Cup.

Di Matteo was rewarded with a permanent contract but was dismissed after a Champions League group-stage loss to Juventus. His eight months in charge, while delivering two major trophies, yielded a win ratio of 57.1 per cent.


RAFAEL BENITEZ

Former Liverpool manager Benitez, whose win ratio was 58.3 per cent at Stamford Bridge, was another appointment that was unpopular with fans. But he secured Champions League qualification and more European silverware, with the Blues beating Benfica 2-1 in the Europa League final. 


ANTONIO CONTE

Another Italian, Conte took charge after successful periods at Juventus and Italy. They won the Premier League title in style in his first season but Conte left despite beating United in the FA Cup final in the following campaign. Conte's win ratio of 65.1 per cent at the club is second only to Grant and he will be a Serie A rival for Sarri next term as he has been appointed by Inter.


MAURIZIO SARRI

Sarri's style never won fans over but third place in the Premier League, coupled with an appearance in the EFL Cup final - overshadowed by Kepa Arrizabalaga refusing to be substituted - and Europa League glory marked a successful single season. Sarri's 61.9 per cent win ratio at the club narrowly pips fellow Italian Ancelotti, who replaced him at Napoli last year.

Maurizio Sarri has left Chelsea to take over Juventus on a three-year contract, it has been confirmed.

Sarri had only completed one of the three seasons Chelsea contracted him for, but an agreement was reached to allow him to return to Serie A, where he led Napoli to a second-place finish in 2017-18.

The Italian coach's position had been in doubt for several months due to a number of issues at Chelsea, and Frank Lampard has been tipped to replace him at the helm.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: "In talks we had following the Europa League final, Maurizio made it clear how strongly he desired to return to his native country, explaining that his reasons for wanting to return to work in Italy were significant.

"He also believed it important to be nearer his family, and for the wellbeing of his elderly parents he felt he needed to live closer to them at this point.

"Maurizio leaves Chelsea with thanks from us all for the work he and his assistants did during the season he spent as our head coach, and for winning the Europa League, guiding us to another cup final and a third-place finish in the Premier League.

"We would also like to congratulate him on securing the role as big as any in Serie A and to wish him the best of luck for the future."

Although he departs after a commendable third-place finish in the Premier League and winning the Europa League, Sarri's time in England was anything but smooth.

After an encouraging start domestically, Sarri's style of play began to be criticised and there were suggestions it was not quick enough to thrive in England.

The signing of Jorginho, who followed the coach from Napoli, received particularly negative attention.

A poor run of form towards the end of 2018 stretched into the New Year and saw Chelsea ship 10 goals without reply in successive away matches to Bournemouth and Manchester City.

That left Sarri's job in doubt, while Kepa Arrizabalaga's decision to defy the coach's attempt to substitute him in the EFL Cup final defeat to City led to suggestions the Italian had lost the dressing room.

Sarri held on and managed to guide Chelsea to a third-place finish and Europa League glory, with reports prior to the game in Baku suggesting defeat would result in his sacking.

However, he has been allowed to leave in a move that could pave the way for fan favourite Lampard to return to Stamford Bridge following his first season in management.

Lampard's strong links to Chelsea will not be his only advantage – he thrived under a tight budget at Derby County, using loans and young players, and that will likely stand him in good stead if the Blues' transfer embargo stands.

Maurizio Sarri has left Chelsea to take over Juventus on a three-year contract, it has been confirmed.

Gianluigi Buffon has lavished praise on the "incredible" Adrien Rabiot, claiming the midfielder is a combination of Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio.

Goalkeeper Buffon saw at close quarters what Rabiot is capable of during their time together at Paris Saint-Germain, though the latter was frozen out since mid-December after failing to agree a new contract.

With his deal set to expire, the France international confirmed earlier this month that he has held talks with Juventus over a move to Italy.

Buffon believes the Serie A champions would be getting a player who offers similar traits to some famous former Juve midfielders, including Rabiot's compatriot Pogba.

"He is a fantastic mix, he has the physical strength of Pogba, who is like a wardrobe, has the personality of Vidal and potentially the dynamism of Marchisio," Buffon said in an in-depth interview with Corriere dello Sport.

"He is incredible, extremely strong, he needs to improve his timing when approaching the opponent's penalty area but he can become a player with 10 goals per season.

"He's also a good boy and a great team-mate."

If Rabiot joins Juve, he could be working under the guidance of Maurizio Sarri, who is expected to be named as the club's new boss.

The former Napoli coach spent the 2018-19 season in the Premier League with Chelsea but is set to return to work in Italy, taking over from the departed Massimiliano Allegri at the Bianconeri.

Buffon, who is a free agent after leaving PSG, is confident the impending appointment is not a gamble, with the club opting to go down a different route as they aim to reign in Europe.

"I have experienced how competent president Andrea Agnelli, directors Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved are," he said.

"Those who follow the same path will always achieve the same results, so Juve are seeking the Champions League and wanted to try breaking away towards pastures new.

"It's because the squad is frankly difficult to improve any more. Sarri is not a revolution, nor a gamble. He simply represents an untested path, a whole other story."

From Madrid to Munich? Gareth Bale could be set for a new challenge.

Out of favour at Real Madrid, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are reportedly eyeing the Wales star.

With Madrid looking to trim their wage bill and raise some funds, Bale appears headed for the exit door…

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN WANT BALE

According to The Sun, Bayern Munich are ready to offer Gareth Bale an escape from Real Madrid.

Having already signed Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao and Rodrygo Goes, Madrid are looking to sell as Zinedine Zidane continues his overhaul in the Spanish capital.

And with Niko Kovac's Bayern keen to bolster their attacking options on the flank following the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, the German giants are reportedly prepared to take Bale on loan.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- Radio CRC in Italy reports that Napoli have moved closer to signing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, which would reunite the Colombia star with Carlo Ancelotti after he was lured to Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal in 2017.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will submit a transfer request in an attempt to force through a move to Real Madrid, according to ABC. Meanwhile, the Mirror claims the French World Cup winner is prepared to go on strike.

- The Mirror also says Mohamed Salah will weigh up his Liverpool future at the end of the 2019-20 season, despite reported interest from Juventus and Real Madrid.

- According to Sky Sports News, Manchester United are interested in West Ham defender Issa Diop. The Red Devils are reportedly willing to pay £45million plus a player. It comes as United struggle in their pursuit of a centre-back as they continue to be linked to Leicester City's Harry Maguire and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also reportedly persevering in his efforts to prise Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace.

- Premier League champions Manchester City have moved ahead of rivals Manchester United and Atletico Madrid in the race to sign Benfica sensation Joao Felix. That is according to the Daily Mail, which claims City's willingness to loan the 19-year-old – who has a £105million release clause – back to the Portuguese champions has tilted the transfer battle in their favour.

- The Daily Star reports Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann will reject Manchester United's advances to team up with Lionel Messi at LaLiga champions Barcelona.

- According to Sky Germany, Mats Hummels is close to re-joining Borussia Dortmund from Bayern Munich. The 30-year-old defender left Dortmund in 2016.

Rumoured Inter transfer targets Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku would make for a "devastating" strike partnership, according to Nerazzurri great Christian Vieri.

Inter are believed to be interested in signing both forwards as new boss Antonio Conte reshapes a squad that only narrowly secured a top-four finish in Serie A.

Reports state target man Dzeko is close to completing a switch from Roma, while Lukaku's mixed spell at Manchester United will come to an end if the clubs can reach an agreement.

At 33 and with a year left to run on his contract, Dzeko could make the move for a cut-price fee and former Italy star Vieri wants to see the Bosnia-Herzegovina international at San Siro.

"He is the most complete striker in Italy," Vieri told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He is very strong physically, he has technique, heading ability, he shoots very well with both feet.

"He scores and helps his team-mates score. With him and Lukaku, Inter would become devastating."

Inter's city rivals, AC Milan, have their own decisions to make in attack.

Marco Giampaolo is reportedly set to be appointed head coach and one of his first tasks will be to resolve the future of Gonzalo Higuain, who is coming to the end of an uninspiring loan spell at Chelsea.

Vieri spent time at the Rossoneri in the twilight of his career and counselled the club against selling the experienced Higuain, despite the presence of Krzysztof Piatek as the established first-choice striker.

"There's no question. He's scored a mountain of goals," Vieri said of Higuain.

"He wasn't happy at Milan for many reasons, and it was impossible to adapt to English football with Chelsea in a few months.

"If I were a sports director I would bet with my eyes closed on Higuain."

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