Gianluigi Buffon broke Paolo Maldini's record for Serie A appearances in Saturday's Turin derby, playing for the 648th time in Italy's top flight.

Buffon, 41, was an Italy team-mate of former Milan defender Maldini, who retired in 2009 at the age of 40.

The iconic goalkeeper broke in the Parma first team as a teenager before joining Juve in 2001 in a £32.6million deal, making him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at the time.

It proved to be money well invested as he spent 17 years in a first spell with the Turin giants, staying at the club following relegation amid Italian football's Calciopoli scandal and helping Juventus reel off seven successive Scudetti before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2018.

After a year in France, Buffon returned to Juventus last July, competing with Wojciech Szczesny for the starting role in Maurizio Sarri's team since then.

Below, we have used Opta data to highlight the remarkable longevity of Buffon's career.

17 – Buffon made his Serie A debut for Parma on November 19, 1995 at the age of 17 years and 295 days. It was a 0-0 draw against Milan.

648 – Since then, Buffon has gone on to rack up 648 appearances in Italy's top flight, including Saturday's clash with Torino that has seen him break Maldini's record.

42 – Buffon is the third-oldest player to feature in Serie A during the three-points era, behind only Marco Ballotta (44 years, 38 days) and Francesco Antonelli (42 years, 235 days).

23 – This is Buffon's 23rd season in professional football. Having signed a new contract, he will play a 24th campaign in 2020-21.

247 – Giorgio Chiellini signed a new contract at the same time as Buffon. The centre-back is the player Buffon has most regularly played with in Serie A, 247 times.

480 – No one has played more Serie A games for Juventus, with Buffon's 480 two more than Alessandro del Piero's haul.

9 – Buffon has won nine Serie A titles, more than any other player. He could yet add a 10th later this month.

285 – The veteran had kept 285 clean sheets in 647 Serie A matches prior to the Turin derby, which is a record.

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will break Paolo Maldini's Serie A appearance record on Saturday after he was selected to play a 648th top-flight game in the derby against Torino.

The veteran former Italy number one kept his place in the side, with Wojciech Szczesny named on the bench at Allianz Stadium.

Buffon, 41, was an Italy team-mate of former Milan defender Maldini, who retired in 2009 at the age of 40.

Buffon's Serie A debut came for Parma in 1995 when he shut out Milan in a 0-0 draw against the team that would go on to win the title.

He went on to join Juve in 2001 in a £32.6million deal, making him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.

It proved to be money well invested as he spent 17 years in a first spell with the Turin giants, staying at the club following relegation amid Italian football's Calciopoli scandal and helping Juventus reel off seven successive Scudetti before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2018.

After a year in France, Buffon returned to Juventus last July, competing with Szczesny for the starting role in Maurizio Sarri's team since then.

At the end of June, Buffon signed new a contract to keep him at Juve for at least another year.

Roma president Jim Pallotta insisted coach Paulo Fonseca's future "is not in doubt", even though a top-four finish in Serie A now looks beyond the club.

Back-to-back defeats to Milan and Udinese have left the Giallorossi 12 points adrift of in-form Atalanta, who have won nine in a row in all competitions.

Last season was the first time Roma had finished outside the top three since 2012-13, and the prospect of missing out on Champions League football again has led to scrutiny on Fonseca's position.

Luciano Spalletti – who has been tipped to return to the capital as Fonseca's possible successor – told his former employers to stick with their current boss, which Pallotta stressed the club intend to do.

"Paulo Fonseca's future is not in doubt," he wrote on Twitter.

"He has my full support. Forza Roma."

Former Shakhtar Donetsk boss Fonseca was appointed as Roma boss in June 2019 on a two-year contract, with the option to extend his stay by another 12 months.

Jadon Sancho still wants a move to Manchester United, while Inter could be ready to buy Alexis Sanchez.

Sancho, 20, has been linked with numerous European giants after starring for Borussia Dortmund.

While he could be set for Old Trafford, United may opt to get rid of Sanchez permanently.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO STILL WANTS MAN UTD MOVE

Sancho wants a move to Manchester United but the Premier League giants must still find an agreement with Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The England international has been linked to the likes of United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Sancho is contracted at Dortmund, where he arrived in 2017, until 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

- On loan at Inter this season, Sanchez could stay at San Siro even longer. Goal reports the Serie A giants are looking to sign the Chile international permanently from Manchester United, for a cut-price deal of €20million (£18m).

- Eric Garcia could be getting closer to a Barcelona return. Sport reports the LaLiga giants have started talks with Manchester City regarding the defender, who left Barca for the Premier League side in 2017.

- Amid uncertainty over his future, it seems Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is looking for a new deal at Arsenal, where his contract expires in 2021. ESPN reports the forward wants a minimum three-year contract worth £250,000 per week.

- Tottenham reportedly had a chance to move Tanguy Ndombele on. The Telegraph reports Spurs rejected an offer to send Ndombele to Juventus, with Aaron Ramsey heading in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Goal says Tottenham are trying to sign Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, but are facing competition from Juve.

- Daniele De Rossi only retired earlier this year, but the former Italy international is seemingly already attracting interest to be a coach. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Fiorentina are ready to offer the former midfielder the chance to take the helm.

Milan will be without Samu Castillejo when they take on a Lazio team missing suspended duo Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile on Saturday.

Castillejo suffered a hamstring injury during the 2-2 draw with SPAL on Wednesday and will undergo further evaluation in a week, meaning the Spanish winger will also miss the upcoming home game against Juventus.

His absence is a further blow for Milan coach Stefano Pioli after seeing his team drop two points against a side sitting in the relegation zone in midweek, hardly ideal preparations for a meeting with opponents occupying second spot in the table.

Lazio are hindered themselves by both top-scorer Immobile and fellow forward Caicedo missing the Stadio Olimpico clash. However, Pioli is aware of the dangers posed by Joaquin Correa, as he scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Milan back in November.

"Lazio are strong, they come from two important comebacks," Pioli told the media on Friday. "Immobile and Caicedo will be missed, but they have Correa. It will be a very complex game, especially from a tactical point of view.

"We are a different team [from the last meeting], many things have changed. We will have to be compact, smart and understand the key moments of the game.

"Lazio are a complete team. They are strong, but we also have to have confidence in ourselves."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first appearance since the Italian season resumed during the game with SPAL, coming on as a 65th-minute substitute on his return from injury.

The Swedish striker could be set to play a greater part in proceedings against Lazio, Pioli revealed.

Asked about Ibrahimovic's fitness, he replied: "Maybe he doesn't know how many minutes he has in his legs. His condition will improve playing, on Thursday he did a good workout. I hope I can put more minutes in his legs on Saturday."

Lazio have rallied after falling behind to beat Fiorentina and Torino in their previous two league outings, leaving them four points behind leaders Juve in the title race.

"We are getting used to living with problems during this period," Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi told the media. "I'm convinced the team can play an excellent game regardless of formation and players.

"These guys are having a great season, I'm proud to be their coach. There are seven games left in the championship, we must take one game at a time."

Matthijs de Ligt says he is "feeling much better physically and mentally" after recovering from a slow start to his Juventus career.

The Netherlands international rejected interest from elsewhere to join Juventus in a €75million transfer from Ajax last July and has made 32 appearances for the Serie A giants.

He has come in for heavy criticism at times in his debut campaign in Turin but has started all five of Juve's matches since last month's restart, helping to keep four clean sheets.

"I feel much better physically now and mentally I am in a much, much better place," he told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Saturday's Derby della Mole with Torino.

"In Serie A there are many different strikers. There's [Romelu] Lukaku, for example, who's very strong and quick but also [Ciro] Immobile, who's very good with his back to goal.

"Every team have great forwards, different from one another, and every match is very difficult. The bar is very high.

"I try to study them thoroughly before each game in order to be prepared for any outcome."

De Ligt scored the only goal of the game when Juve last met rivals Torino eight months ago and believes that match-winning strike was a turning point in his Bianconeri career.

"It's a special game - both teams want to win for the city and their fans," he said. "We must do our best, above all in defence, and not give away any chances.

"Obviously the first derby is a beautiful memory for me because I scored my first goal for the Bianconeri. It also gave us a very important victory.

"It wasn't an easy time for me, I received a lot of criticism and I was under pressure. That goal raised my spirits and made me and my team-mates happy.

"Thanks to that goal, I became the footballer I am today."

Juve hold a four-point lead over Lazio with nine games of the resumed campaign to play, while Inter are a further four points behind.

However, De Ligt is refusing to take anything for granted and insists his side cannot afford to take their eye off the ball in pursuit of a ninth successive Scudetto.

"Lazio and Inter are both still in the running," he said. "Inter are a great team and are not far behind.

"We have to be very careful with these teams, there are still nine games to play and each one will be a final from here until week 38. We must not slow down now."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ability only has a positive impact on team-mates, according to former Paris Saint-Germain attacker Jeremy Menez.

Ex-France international Menez spent three years at the Parc des Princes, two of those alongside Ibrahimovic, before joining Milan in 2014.

The 33-year-old built up a good connection with Ibrahimovic on the field in his early days at PSG but a change in system saw him lose his place in the side.

And Menez, now plying his trade in Serie B after joining Reggina last week, is grateful for the advice given to him by the striker during their time in the French capital

"I always got along well with him and his words motivate you to give your all, train at your best," he told Stats Perform News 

"I never had any problem with him. Such a player pushes you to improve all the time. He always wants to win. He goes out every day to train well and win it all. 

"I thank him because playing with players like him makes you grow as a professional and as a man."

Ibrahimovic scored 156 goals in 180 appearances for PSG and referred to himself as "God" in the dressing room.

Menez says the Milan striker has more than justified the hype on the field by scoring goals wherever he has played.

"It is a joke because he is like that. I smile at that because this is Ibra. It represents his career," Menez said. 

"He is like that. Despite all the words he can say, he then proves it on the pitch. What can you say against him? He always made his clubs win, wherever he went. 

"What can you say against him? I leave him be and say all he wants."

Menez has spent time in France, Turkey and Mexico since leaving Milan, but insists he is fully motivated after joining Reggina.

"I am the same Jeremy as six years ago, though this Jeremy has slept for two or three years and felt a bit out of phase. But now I am super motivated and the quality is still here," Menez said. 

"But I know I am not an easy guy to deal with myself, it's not easy to be with me every day, but we grow up, mature and get better day by day."

Achraf Hakimi has joined Inter in a permanent move from Real Madrid, the Italian club confirmed.

Hakimi, 21, has reportedly cost Antonio Conte's side an initial €40million and he joins on a five-year contract.

A statement issued by Madrid read: "The club wants to thank Achraf for all these years of dedication, professionalism and exemplary behaviour since he came to our academy in 2006 and wishes him good luck in his new phase."

The Spain-born Morocco international has spent the past two seasons on loan at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, particularly impressing this term when deployed as a right-sided wing-back ahead of a three-man defence.

On top of an impressive haul of five goals, Hakimi also had 10 assists in the Bundesliga this term – the best of any defender.

Dortmund were not shy about their desire to see Hakimi remain at Signal Iduna Park, but the writing appeared to be on the wall when BVB confirmed the capture of Thomas Meunier on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain following reports of Inter closing in on their target.

Hakimi had been at Madrid since 2006 and broke into the first-team squad in 2017-18, playing back-up to Dani Carvajal.

He was sent out on a two-year loan to Dortmund and, although he enjoyed a wonderful 2019-20 in Germany, there are those who are unconvinced by his defensive qualities, particularly in a back four.

Similarly, Hakimi's contract with Madrid was due to expire in 2021, and a potential unease at being behind Carvajal in the pecking order again could have given rise to the possibility of losing him for free next year.

Their loss is Inter's gain, however, as Conte finally gets his hands on a world-class wing-back, having had Ashley Young, Victor Moses, Antonio Candreva, Cristiano Biraghi and Kwadwo Asamoah as his options in 2019-20.

Everton have completed the signing of France Under-19 left-back Niels Nkounkou on a free transfer from Marseille, fending off reported interest from Juventus.

Nkounkou has agreed a three-year deal with Everton following the expiration of his contract at Marseille.

The 19-year-old played 14 times for Marseille's B team in the National 2 in 2018-19, France's fourth tier, while also being named on the bench for the first team twice.

He was a rumoured target for Serie A champions Juve but will now be working under Carlo Ancelotti at Goodison Park, though Nkounkou will first bolster David Unsworth's U23 side.

Everton, who are unbeaten since the resumption of the Premier League, have Lucas Digne and Leighton Baines as their options at left-back.

Baines, however, is yet to agree to a contract extension, with the 35-year-old's current deal set to run out at the end of the season.

Eintracht Frankfurt sports director Fredi Bobic admitted star winger Filip Kostic could leave the Bundesliga side.

Kostic has previously been linked to Antonio Conte's Inter, while there is reported interest in the Serbia international from the Premier League.

The 27-year-old enjoyed another fine campaign, scoring four goals and tallying 11 assists, having contributed 10 goals and 13 assists across all competitions last season.

Bobic was asked about the future of Kostic and he said: "Filip is happy here. He feels very comfortable with us, but it may also be that we are ready to release him.

"That depends not only on us, but also on the player. But I can imagine that he will play here next season: fans happy, players happy, me happy."

Bobic, who sanctioned the big-money departures of Luka Jovic (Real Madrid) and Sebastien Haller (West Ham) at the start of the season as Eintracht made significant profits, is anticipating a difficult transfer period due to the COVID-19 crisis.

"The goal was clearly to break the €300million mark in the 2019-20 season," he said. "But suddenly there was a stop sign at €280m."

"There are an incredible number of players on offer right now, including interesting ones. But we have to look at the books to see what is possible. Because we do not know how long the situation will last.

"We have to be patient, it will be tough and long. It won't be an easy time. We already have a few players we would like to sign but if the money is not there, you cannot buy."

Bobic – who is also planning to offer head coach Adi Hutter a new contract – was also asked about Ante Rebic and loanee Andre Silva.

Rebic joined Milan on a two-year loan deal at the start of the season as Silva moved to Eintracht on the same terms.

Milan are reportedly keen on signing Rebic permanently, while Silva scored 16 goals for Eintracht.

"We have agreed with the owner of Milan that we will get together soon and talk about the topic," Bobic said. "I don't think Ante wants to get back to our salary level.

"Andre knows that we are happy with him. He is also happy to be here in Frankfurt and can imagine staying longer."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli said he does not feel like a "sacrificial victim" amid mounting speculation he is set to be replaced by Ralf Rangnick.

A heartbreaking stoppage-time own goal from Francesco Vicari gifted Milan a dramatic equaliser in Wednesday's 2-2 Serie A draw at lowly 10-man SPAL.

Mattia Valoti's goal and stunning long-range strike from 38-year-old striker Sergio Floccari had SPAL ahead 2-0 by the half-hour mark before Milan completed a comeback in the second 45 – the Rossoneri aided by Marco D'Alessandro's 43rd-minute red card.

After Rafael Leao and an own goal salvaged a point for Milan, attention turned to Pioli and ongoing talk regarding Rangnick.

Rangnick, who is now head of sport and development for Red Bull – the group which owns RB Leipzig, is tipped to combine the jobs of head coach and sporting director at Milan in 2020-21.

Asked about his future and the Rangnick rumours post-game, Pioli – who was only appointed in October after Marco Giampaolo's sacking – told Sky Italia: "I am working with passion and professionalism, I love these players, they are giving me a lot.

"I do not have the thought and the shadow of another coach, it will be what it will be.

"There are still many games, at Milanello I am happy, we are working well. The choices will be made in the end.

"I am not anxious and I do not feel like a sacrificial victim, I am proud to train these players."

Milan are seventh in Serie A after 29 matches, two points adrift of sixth-placed Napoli.

Pioli's men are next in action against scudetto hopefuls Lazio in Rome on Saturday.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli has backed his players to recover their spark against Lazio on Saturday after a sluggish 2-2 draw against Serie A strugglers SPAL.

Pioli blamed fatigue as Milan needed an injury-time own goal to secure a point at the Stadio Paolo Mazza on Wednesday with lowly SPAL having played the majority of the contest with 10 men.

Mattia Valoti's close-range finish and stunning long-range effort from Sergio Floccari gave SPAL a 2-0 lead before Marco D'Alessandro was sent off for a reckless challenge on Theo Hernandez.

Milan pulled a goal back with 11 minutes remaining when Rafael Leao stroked the ball home before Francesco Vicari diverted the ball into his own net in added time.

"It is not easy to recover mental and physical energies by playing every three days," Pioli told a news conference.

"But we must do it and do better. It takes all our focus and determination.

"The players are tired but they will recover energy to make a good performance against Lazio, who rested one day more than us."

Milan were much improved after veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off the bench just after the hour to make his first appearance since March.

Although Pioli felt his tactics throughout were unfortunate not to deliver victory as the draw left Milan two points behind sixth-placed Napoli in the battle for a Europa League group-stage spot.

He continued: "Our approach was not wrong, but the game was tough after we made two careless mistakes.

"We had controlled the game and created several goalscoring chances. There was even time for us to score a winning third goal, but we just failed."

Milan striker Ante Rebic had an off night but Pioli refused to criticise the Croatia international.

"He had his chances," he added. "Maybe today he was less brilliant. Fatigue can be felt."

SPAL coach Luigi Di Biagio acknowledged the dismissal of D'Alessandro on the stroke of half-time "affected" his side.

But despite suffering a crushing late blow, he would not give up on his side's survival chances even though they are seven points adrift of safety.

"As long as we are alive, I will believe it until the end," Di Biagio said. 

"Three games await us that will give us a clearer idea of things. We hope to close the gap in the table."

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said the Nerazzurri have not discussed signing star midfielder Sandro Tonali with Brescia.

Tonali is highly coveted following his exploits for Brescia – the Italian attracting interest from the likes of Serie A champions Juventus, Inter, Manchester United, Manchester City and Barcelona.

Inter are tipped to prise Tonali from Brescia amid reports a five-year contract has already been agreed with the 20-year-old, who has been compared to Italian great Andrea Pirlo.

Asked about an advertisement televised in China, showing head coach Antonio Conte painting an Inter jersey on Tonali, CEO Marotta – speaking prior to Wednesday's 6-0 Serie A rout of Brescia – told DAZN: "I think he painted the youngest player in the game, so it might be an auspice of youth that Inter would like in future.

"Tonali is admired not just by me, but by all fans of Italian football.

"He is still a Brescia player and we have not discussed it with them, despite having a good rapport."

Tonali, who played a key role in Brescia's promotion from Serie B in 2018-19, has scored one goal and supplied five assists this season.

The Italy international is reportedly set to follow Achraf Hakimi to Inter, who are poised to announce the signing of the Real Madrid full-back following a two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund.

Lautaro Martinez was not one of Inter's six goalscorers on Wednesday, but Antonio Conte is remaining relaxed about the striker's struggles.

The Nerazzurri enjoyed a comfortable evening as they thrashed bottom side Brescia 6-0 to move back to within eight points of Serie A leaders Juventus.

Ashley Young, Alexis Sanchez and Danilo D'Ambrosio all scored in the first half, with Roberto Gagliardini, Christian Eriksen and Antonio Candreva also on target after the break.

Conte left top scorer Romelu Lukaku on the bench for the first 68 minutes, and though Martinez was given a chance from the off, his failure to get on the scoresheet means he has just one goal across his past 10 appearances in all competitions.

Martinez, who has scored 12 times in Serie A this season, missed the target with two good chances and kicked the post in a clear sign of frustration when thwarted by goalkeeper Jesse Joronen on another occasion.

"We can't hold anything against him, especially in terms of his commitment," Conte told DAZN of a player rumoured to be of interest to Barcelona.

"He deserved a goal and the personal satisfaction that comes with it. I'm very calm, I've got a great group of guys, professionals who want the best for Inter.

"Because of that, we can have flaws or get things wrong during games, but I'm still able to remain calm because of the professionalism and generosity of this group.

"My only regret this year is that we paid a big price for our naivety."

With Martinez having another off-night, and Lukaku only appearing for the closing stages, it was Young and Sanchez who shone at San Siro.

The two combined for the opening goal, one of two assists for Sanchez, who also scored his first Inter goal since September from the penalty spot.

The 31-year-old Chilean still looks a long way from the player who impressed at Arsenal prior to joining Manchester United in 2018, but Conte is pleased with the path the Inter loanee is now on.

"We brought him here for his qualities," Conte added.

"Unfortunately, we lost him as an option for a long time. He's now starting to find his feet, even if he's still not the Sanchez I was such a big fan of in England.

"What I can say, however, is that he's on the right track, he put in a great performance today. Having all my forwards available makes me feel more relaxed."

An injury-time own goal from Francesco Vicari spared Milan's blushes as an action-packed Serie A encounter ended in a 2-2 draw at 10-man SPAL on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return.

A close-range finish from Mattia Valoti and a stunning strike from Sergio Floccari gave SPAL a 2-0 lead before the break at the Paolo Mazza.

SPAL were down a man shortly before the break, though, as Marco D'Alessandro was sent off late in the first half, but a sluggish Milan lacked a cutting edge in attack until Ibrahimovic came on as a substitute.

A composed finish from Rafael Leao pulled one back for Milan with 11 minutes to go before Vicari turned an Alexis Saelemaekers cross into his own net in added time.

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