Former AC Milan chief executive Marco Fassone claimed Cristiano Ronaldo was open to moving to San Siro before eventually joining Serie A champions Juventus last season.

Ronaldo swapped LaLiga giants Real Madrid for Juve in a blockbuster €112million deal prior to the 2018-19 season, however, there was apparent interest from Milan prior to the transfer.

Ex-sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli claimed Ronaldo was on the brink of signing for Milan before the former ownership – led by Li Yonghong – blocked the deal prior to hedge fund Elliott Management assuming control of the Italian team.

And Fassone, who followed Mirabelli out of Milan following the takeover in July last year, backed up those claims.

"The president wanted Cristiano Ronaldo, but the figures told us this was inadvisable," Fassone told Sportitalia.

"Ronaldo was open to evaluating the opportunity, as Milan are a famous club and there was enthusiasm around us.

"However, we never went beyond some internal calculations and seeing if he was potentially open to it."

The former ownership group oversaw a period of big spending, with Leonardo Bonucci's shock €42m arrival from Juve headlining a 2017-18 window which also included the signings of Andre Silva, Hakan Calhanoglu, Andrea Conti, Mateo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Lucas Biglia, Franck Kessie, Nikola Kalinic and Fabio Borini.

Bonucci only spent one season in Milan before the Italy defender returned to Turin and Fassone added: "Bonucci was a mistake.

"When we signed Bonucci from Juventus, we'd already made eight or nine buys. The strategy was to create a squad suited to 4-3-3, so we already had the defenders and really didn't need another. What we were missing was a centre-forward, for whom we had €70m set aside.

"The choice we made in the end was to reduce the budget for the striker and sign a leader for the dressing room. With hindsight, if we had just invested in a top forward as was the plan, it would've gone differently."

Milan signed Portuguese forward Silva from Porto that window, and they were also linked with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before he left Borussia Dortmund for Arsenal.

"Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a target, as Mirabelli was always a fan," Fassone said. "However, it's complicated to deal with German clubs. The demands were higher than his real value on the market."

Milan are preparing for the 2019-20 season under new head coach Marco Giampaolo after Gennaro Gattuso stepped down following the club's fifth-place finish last term.

Fiorentina have completed the initial loan signing of Pol Lirola, following Kevin-Prince Boateng in leaving Sassuolo for the same club.

A double swoop saw Boateng sign for Fiorentina on Wednesday, with Lirola's arrival confirmed the following day.

Boateng reportedly cost the Viola €1million, while there is an option reportedly worth €12m to sign Lirola on a permanent deal at the end of the coming season.

Former AC Milan star Boateng spent the second part of 2018-19 on loan at Barcelona, announcing his return to Sassuolo at the start of July.

AC Milan have finalised the signing of forward Rafael Leao from Lille in a deal reportedly worth €30million.

Leao, 20, has agreed a five-year contract to become Marco Giampaolo's third signing for the Rossoneri.

An announcement of Flamengo defender Leo Duarte as the fourth new addition at San Siro is expected soon.

Serie A giants Milan finalised the capture of Portugal Under-21 international Leao following Patrick Cutrone's move to Wolves on Tuesday.

Leao scored eight Ligue 1 goals for Lille last season after progressing through the youth system at Sporting CP.

A starting XI place appears up for grabs in Giampaolo's preferred 4-3-1-2 system, with Krzysztof Piatek and the seemingly unwanted Andre Silva the only other recognised strikers in the squad.

His departure from Lille comes as the French club brace for Nicolas Pepe's impending exit to Arsenal, although they added Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen from Sporting Charleroi on Thursday.

Brazilian centre-back Duarte, meanwhile, is said to be on the cusp of completing an €11m transfer to Milan.

Reports in Italy indicate the 23-year-old will join Leao in signing a five-year deal.

Paulo Dybala has returned to Turin and is expected to speak with Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri amid reports linking him with Manchester United.

The Argentina forward, who has been on holiday since the Copa America in Brazil last month, was seen leaving Turin-Caselle Airport on Thursday.

It is expected the 25-year-old will discuss his future with Sarri and Juve directors as speculation builds over a possible deal involving United striker Romelu Lukaku.

Juve are said to be interested in Lukaku and the prospect of Dybala moving the other way to Old Trafford could facilitate the Belgium forward's switch to the Serie A champions.

However, Inter - who had made Lukaku one of their priority signings for Antonio Conte but have not matched United's asking price - could attempt to hijack the proposed deal by offering Mauro Icardi to Juve in exchange for Dybala, according to reports in Italy.

Dybala had a difficult season in 2018-19 following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, with Massimiliano Allegri building his attack around the Portugal star at the expense of the former Palermo player.

Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved confirmed this week that offers had been made for Dybala, with Tottenham also having been linked.

Dybala, who has scored 78 goals for the club in all competitions since joining in 2015, is rumoured to be uncertain about moving to United despite the prospect of a significant increase in wages.

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku to Juventus in a straight swap for Paulo Dybala? It appears simple, however, it is not.

United and Juventus are reportedly ready to exchange players, but Dybala is not entirely convinced about leaving Turin.

Now Inter could be set to pounce as the transfer window takes another turn…

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA HAS UNITED DOUBTS AS INTER CIRCLE

According to multiple reports in Italy, Juventus attacker Dybala has no intention of joining Manchester United in a swap deal involving Lukaku.

Inter had been favourites to sign Lukaku, however, Serie A champions Juve have emerged as frontrunners to prise the Belgium striker at the expense of Dybala.

United and Juve have reportedly agreed on an exchange but Calciomercato, Rai Sport and Tuttomercatoweb claim Dybala is not convinced about a move to Old Trafford due to a lack of Champions League and his style of football in the Premier League.

Dybala – who is apparently demanding a higher salary than Paul Pogba and is set to meet Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri – could end up at Inter, with Corriere dello Sport's front page dominated by a shock move.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Bild+, Bayern Munich have made their first offer for Manchester City winger Leroy Sane. The report comes after Niko Kovac apologised for saying he was confident of signing Sane before the transfer window shuts.

- Paris Saint-Germain have named their price for wantaway star Neymar. L'Equipe says the Ligue 1 champions are demanding €300million for the Brazilian, who is wanted by former club Barcelona.

- Calciomercato says Manchester City are close to signing Juventus full-back Joao Cancelo. The Premier League champions have been linked with Cancelo throughout the window and they are now poised to complete a deal for the Portugal international, who could cost £45.6-50.1m (€50-55m).

Napoli want to sign Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha, according to Sky Sports News. Napoli, who have been linked to James Rodriguez, Hirving Lozano and Nicolas Pepe, are willing to pay Palace €59.9m (£54.6m) for the Ivory Coast international.

- According to Sky Sports News, Manchester United are prepared to pay up to £80m for Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire. The Red Devils have been pursuing Maguire throughout the window, but a deal is yet to be reached. However, United are willing to eclipse the world-record fee for a defender.

- Tuttosport claims Edinson Cavani has taken another step towards signing for Inter. Amid Inter's ongoing and so far fruitless pursuit of Lukaku, Paris Saint-Germain forward Cavani has emerged as a target, with a financial proposal agreed by the Uruguay international.

This time last year Romelu Lukaku was reflecting on the most prolific season of his career and a fine performance at the World Cup, but he now appears to be on his way out at Manchester United.

Juventus and Inter are reportedly battling it out to take the Red Devils striker to Serie A and bring an end to his eight-year spell in the Premier League.

Should a deal transpire and take Lukaku to pastures new, English football will lose one of its deadliest marksmen in the modern era.

A glance at the Opta statistics begs the question: are United making a mistake in allowing him to leave?

 

113 - A tally of 113 Premier League goals puts Lukaku above Wayne Rooney (89), Eden Hazard (85), Jamie Vardy (80) and Sadio Mane (66) in the list of the competition's top scorers since his debut on August 27, 2011.

42 - Lukaku is by far and away the most potent goal threat in United's squad, having scored 42 times in all competitions since his arrival two years ago - 16 more than their next most-prolific player Marcus Rashford.

27 - The 2017-18 season was the 26-year-old's best in English football as he netted 27 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils, who he joined from Everton in July 2017.

25 - The most fruitful Premier League campaign of Lukaku's career came in 2016-17, when he scored 25 for Everton - the most in a single season by a Toffees player since Gary Lineker hit 30 in 1985-86.

10 - In the last seven top-flight seasons, Lukaku and Sergio Aguero are the only players to have succeeded in scoring at least 10 goals per campaign.

4 - Ruud van Nistelrooy (36), Robin van Persie (30), Dwight Yorke (29) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (28) are the only United players to have scored more in all competitions in their debut seasons than the Belgian's 27.

3 - Aguero (162) and Harry Kane (125) are the only other players to have scored more than 100 Premier League goals since Lukaku made his first appearance in the competition.

1 - Lukaku scored 68 Premier League goals in four seasons at Everton to become the club's top scorer in the competition, ahead of Duncan Ferguson (60), Tim Cahill (56), Kevin Campbell (45) and Leon Osman (44).

Antoine Griezmann and Neymar are not on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player award, with Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard for this year's prize.

Griezmann completed his long-awaited €120million transfer to the Spanish champions in July but his 15-goal contribution to Atletico Madrid's second-place finish in the 2018-19 LaLiga table was not enough to impress FIFA's panel.

Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk are in contention after helping the Reds to glory in last season's Champions League, while Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong have been recognised for their part in helping Ajax to the semi-finals and to a domestic title.

There is no place for 2018 winner and Ballon d'Or holder Luka Modric, nor his Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale, and Neymar misses out while Paris Saint-Germain colleague Kylian Mbappe is among the nominees.

 

 

The Best FIFA Men's Player nominees:

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona)
Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Mohmed Salah (Liverpool)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

The huge swap deal involving Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku is seemingly getting closer.

In what shapes as being one of the biggest moves of the close season, Dybala could be heading to Manchester United and Lukaku to Juventus.

And unlike Inter's move for the striker, Juventus appear to be making progress with the Premier League giants.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED, JUVENTUS AGREE DYBALA-LUKAKU SWAP DEAL

Manchester United and Juventus have agreed a swap deal involving Dybala and Lukaku in principle, according to Sky Italia.

All that is left is for the Premier League club to agree terms with the Argentina international and the blockbuster move would be complete.

Lukaku has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter, while Dybala's Juve future has been uncertain after four seasons in Turin.

ROUND-UP

- Amid uncertainty at Valencia, former Real Madrid and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is being lined up as a potential replacement for coach Marcelino, according to Libertad.

- Neymar's potential return to Barcelona appears no closer to a resolution. Marca report Paris Saint-Germain have little desire to negotiate with the LaLiga champions, unwilling to even listen to offers from Barca. The saga rolls on.

- Nicolas Pepe is set to become an Arsenal player. The Mirror and The Sun report the striker's move from Lille for £72million (€78.5m) is done amid apparently leaked photos of the Ivory Coast international modelling the Premier League club's kit.

- With their move for Lukaku seemingly off, Inter are again turning to Roma striker Edin Dzeko. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, there was fresh contact between the Serie A clubs for a deal that would send Dzeko to Inter and Mauro Icardi, unwanted in Milan, to Roma. Meanwhile, he also reports Inter are continuing talks over Eintracht Frankfurt and Croatia attacker Ante Rebic.

- Moise Kean's surprise move from Juventus to Everton is almost done. According to CalcioMercato, the Premier League club have reached an agreement with Juve for a £27.5m (€30m) deal plus bonuses, which could take it to £37.5m (€40.9m), with the striker set to complete a medical on Wednesday.

- Are Manchester United looking elsewhere as they struggle to land Leicester City star Harry Maguire? Le10Sport say United are willing to make a £45.9m (€50m) offer for Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti as they look to strengthen their defence after Eric Bailly's serious knee injury.

Wolves have signed striker Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan in a deal that could reportedly rise to around £20million.

The one-cap Italy international has left his boyhood club to take up a four-year contract at Molineux.

"I'm very pleased to be here because the club really wanted me. I'm very happy and want to give my all for the team," Cutrone said in a statement.

"The club really wanted me and being able to play in the Premier League for Wolves is fantastic. I just can't wait to get started.

"I've come here to play football. I'll have to settle in initially and I'm looking forward to heading out on to the pitch to play.

"You never stop learning and I'm here to learn new things, but I'll certainly give my all for the team."

Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell added: "Patrick is an exciting signing at a very exciting period for this football club.

"We have a strong philosophy under the leadership of Nuno [Espirito Santo] of bringing in the right type of people and developing young talent while staying humble and grounded as individuals, and we feel Patrick perfectly fits into our philosophy.

"We are very pleased to have a player of Patrick's ability join the club and look forward to him being a part of Nuno's squad in another historic season for Wolves."

Cutrone, 21, looked at home when he broke into Gennaro Gattuso's side two seasons ago, scoring 18 goals in all competitions.

Fewer starting chances resulted in a less prolific second campaign, although another four goals in Europe lifted his career tally on the continent to double figures.

That record could prove useful for Wolves as the Premier League club target a place in the Europa League group stage.

Nuno's men take a 2-0 advantage into the second leg of their qualifying tie against Northern Irish side Crusaders on Thursday.

Jesus Vallejo, who joined on loan from Real Madrid, is Wolves' only other new signing to date.

Milan, meanwhile, will likely have to pursue a replacement partner for Krzysztof Piatek in new boss Marco Giampaolo's preferred two-striker system.

Wolves have signed striker Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan in a deal that could reportedly rise to around £20million.

Jose Mourinho is targeting a return to management and wants his next job to be in one of Europe's top five leagues.

The former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter boss has been waiting for the right opportunity since being sacked by Manchester United in December.

Guangzhou Evergrande reportedly tried to tempt him to China with a lucrative offer earlier this month.

But the 56-year-old, who is learning German, insists his focus is on getting back to the pinnacle.

Mourinho has won titles in the Premier League, Serie A and LaLiga but is yet to work in either Ligue 1 or the Bundesliga.

"The most difficult thing for me is to say no to the possibilities I have to work," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"I have to be patient and wait for the right one, and the right one is at the dimension of what I am as a manager.

"I have to be patient and that's the most difficult thing. I have the impulse so many times but... I have to wait for exactly the right one.

"If you tell me a club in another country [wants] to fight to be champions, to build something special, to bring that club in that country to a different level, maybe [I would be interested]. Who knows? But my focus is on the biggest ones.

"Why do I say no [to offers]? Because the level of challenge that I want has not arrived. But with all the respect for the clubs and the possibilities I have, I think I want the right to choose."

Though determined not to rush any decision, Mourinho admitted to growing tired of being out of the game.

"My friends tell me to enjoy your time, to enjoy your July, August that you never have," he said.

"Honestly, I can't enjoy it. I'm not happy enough to enjoy it. I have the fire."

Cristiano Ronaldo expects friend and Barcelona target Neymar to stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazil forward has been at the centre of transfer rumours since telling Thomas Tuchel he wanted to leave PSG prior to the Copa America.

LaLiga champions Barca have reportedly offered €100m plus two first-team members in an attempt to re-sign the 27-year-old two years after his departure for France.

Real Madrid, Ronaldo's former employers, and his current club Juventus have also been mentioned as possible destinations.

Yet the Portugal legend believes Neymar is most likely to remain at Parc des Princes.

Ronaldo told Marca: "I don't know. He's a great player and I get along with him very well. There is a lot of talk about him, for Madrid, Barca, Juve.

"It is the job of the press, because you have to sell papers, but I think he will stay in Paris and, if not, look for where he is happy and where he can express his football.

"I hope he will avoid injuries, because he has had a lot of them and that must worry him.

"I worry because I like to see the boy playing. Regardless of where he plays, [it is important he] takes care of himself and has no injuries. That's what I want for him."

Ronaldo left LaLiga 12 months after Neymar to join Serie A giants Juve.

The 34-year-old is now heading into his second season in Turin and first under new boss Maurizio Sarri, who has promised to afford the talismanic attacker freedom to roam the pitch.

Ronaldo, though, insists that he will not neglect his defensive duties as the Bianconeri chase silverware at home and in the Champions League.

"I will do the same thing I did in Madrid or in my first year at Juve or for Portugal: I will defend and close spaces," he said

"I'll be an attacker with freedom but I have to work defensively because only with everyone involved can a team win important things."

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Serie A giants Juventus will win the Champions League, insisting "it's coming".

After eight successive Serie A titles, Juve are eyeing European glory following five runners-up medals since their last Champions League triumph in 1996.

Ronaldo – a five-time Champions League winner who celebrated four titles with Real Madrid – was unable to help Juve past the quarter-finals in his first season last term.

However, Ronaldo believes Maurizio Sarri's Juve are poised to conquer Europe, sooner rather than later.

"After winning what I won at Madrid I needed a change and new motivation," Ronaldo told Marca.

"I still have the strength to keep winning.

"Juventus will win the Champions League. I don't know if it'll be this year or the next, but it's coming."

Ronaldo was speaking after receiving the prestigious Marca Leyenda award "for his successful career as a professional footballer and for the standing he has attained across the world."

The 34-year-old superstar made a seamless transition from Madrid to Juve, helping the Italian giants to their eighth successive Serie A crown in 2018-19.

The veteran scored 28 goals in all competitions last season, 21 of those coming in the league.

Cristiano Ronaldo said he "hopes to return to Madrid soon" after the Juventus superstar received the prestigious Marca Leyenda award.

Ronaldo was honoured in Madrid, where the five-time Ballon d'Or winner was awarded the accolade "for his successful career as a professional footballer and for the standing he has attained across the world."

The 34-year-old enjoyed incredible success during his time with Madrid before joining Juve in 2018-19, becoming the Spanish club's all-time leading scorer with 450 goals in 438 appearances.

Ronaldo also won four Champions League titles and two LaLiga trophies among other honours at the Santiago Bernabeu.

After receiving the Marca Leyenda, former Manchester United forward Ronaldo told reporters at the awards ceremony: "I felt sorry when I left Real Madrid.

"I miss both [Manchester and Madrid] but because of life's circumstances I have lived more years in Madrid, my children and my girl were born here, so I miss Madrid more.

"This trophy will be in a very nice place in my museum. Madrid is special, I travel a lot but there are few cities like Madrid.

"Much of this award is derived from what I did in Madrid. It is a Spanish trophy and leaves me very honoured. Thanks to all those who have helped me to achieve it. It is a pride for me. And I hope to return to Madrid soon."

Ronaldo made a seamless transition from Madrid to Juve, helping the Italian giants to their eighth successive Serie A crown in 2018-19.

The veteran scored 28 goals in all competitions last season, 21 of those coming in the league.

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