Paulo Dybala has revealed the troubling reality of life with coronavirus and insists staying at home is the best way to steer clear of the pandemic.

The Juventus forward was one of the first notable footballers to confirm he had tested positive for COVID-19, though Dybala is optimistic he has shaken off the illness.

He and girlfriend Oriana Sabatini have been in self-isolation, and Dybala said both would be re-tested to check if they were now clear.

The 26-year-old said he would rather experts give advice on how to handle the virus but added: "I always try to give a message of what happened to me, that people take it seriously and that they stay at home."

Dybala also revealed how Juventus doctors have been in daily contact.

"All the people here have been very good to us and there are many cases here. I always tell them I'm fine and to try to see the people who really need it," he said.

Italy has been hit hard by the global health crisis, and Dybala is acutely aware there are many having a worse experience with coronavirus than he and his girlfriend.

"Well, luckily [we are] much better, these days we do not have any symptoms," he said.

"I had stronger symptoms, I got tired very quickly, when I wanted to train, I was short of breath after five minutes. There we noticed that something was not right and through the tests the club did we were told that we were positive.

"From there we had more symptoms, such as cough, tired body and when we slept I felt very cold, but from the club they had told us that we were going to be fine so we had to be calm."

Dybala said the first concern that you may have coronavirus is particularly difficult.

"It is a bit psychological, because you feel something and you are already afraid," he said. "I tried to think that it might not be that."

The couple are trying to make those in Argentina aware of the tough times they may face.

Dybala did also inject a little levity into his interview, which he gave to the Argentina Football Association's AFA Play service.

"Oriana and I will need to do the test again to know if is gone or not. And we will know the truth," he said. "I always joke, thinking that it was me who transmitted the virus to her since some of my team-mates of Juventus had it. I am sure it was me."

Squads for the upcoming Copa America could look vastly different by the time the tournament comes around following its postponement.

The latest edition of the competition was scheduled to start in June, but the coronavirus pandemic has seen it pushed back 12 months.

Some veteran players might now fade from the picture before the Copa America gets under way next year, while other stars will have time to recover from injury.

There could also be some new faces on the scene, with a host of uncapped prospects given an extra campaign to break through.

We take a look at five players who might emerge between now and the tournament.

 

GABRIEL MARTINELLI (BRAZIL)

Even beyond Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and co., Brazil have a wealth of attacking talent.

Matheus Cunha and Paulinho each starred at this year's CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament and are already plying their trade in the Bundesliga, yet the nation's most outstanding prospect might reside in London.

Gabriel Martinelli is eligible for both Brazil and Italy, but the Selecao will surely move swiftly to cap-tie the striker.

Martinelli trained with Brazil last year aged 17 after starring for Ituano, and he has continued to impress in his first season at Arsenal, scoring 10 goals in all competitions.

Further progress in the coming season would give Tite something to think about.

 

CRISTIAN ROMERO (ARGENTINA)

Argentina have long had problems at centre-back, with Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi still a regular at international level.

However, head coach Lionel Scaloni could soon have greater options to choose from, with younger talents now breaking through.

Nehuen Perez might well have gone to the 2020 Copa America, having been called up for the first time late last year after promising loan spells away from Atletico Madrid, but he could soon find himself nudged back down the pecking order.

Cristian Romero appears well-placed to establish himself, having earned a €26million move from Genoa to Juventus at the start of the season, although he returned on loan to his former club, who are enduring a testing campaign.

With Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci ageing, Romero should get opportunities with Juve next term - and Argentina could soon come calling.

 

DIEGO ROSSI (URUGUAY)

Uruguay continue to rely on a number of their veterans of previous tournaments, but this will have to change in the coming months and years - especially in attack.

Luis Suarez faced a race to be fit for the 2020 edition, while Edinson Cavani's club future is in doubt as his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires. Even Cristhian Stuani is now playing in Spain's second tier. All three are 33 years old.

And Diego Rossi should back himself to be in position to put pressure on that star trio in 12 months' time.

Rossi left Penarol for Los Angeles FC aged 19 and has proven an instant hit in MLS, scoring 29 goals in 68 regular-season appearances, helping his club win the 2019 Supporters' Shield.

LAFC general manager John Thorrington has spoken of "significant interest" in Rossi from Europe, and such a move would give the forward a great chance of making the grade for Uruguay.

 

JORGE CARRASCAL (COLOMBIA)

Rossi's LAFC team-mates Eddie Segura and Eduard Atuesta both appear set for first Colombia caps, but Jorge Carrascal might now have nudged to the front of that queue.

A tricky winger who debuted for Millonarios at just 16, Carrascal initially struggled after joining River Plate on loan from Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv last year.

However, Carrascal improved as the season went on, earning a permanent switch to River - and, crucially, a call-up to the Colombia Under-23s.

Representing his country at youth level for the first time since 2015, the 21-year-old scored in each of his first three games at the Pre-Olympic Tournament and started all seven matches.

A return to the River Plate XI this year could see Carrascal earn a senior Colombia call-up.


REINIER (BRAZIL)

It might seem a long shot for a player who has yet to feature for Real Madrid's first team and started only twice at the Pre-Olympic Tournament to be playing for Brazil's senior side in just over a year's time.

But Reinier will have the benefit of 12 months in the limelight at one of the world's biggest clubs.

After signing from Flamengo for €30m, Reinier netted a brace in just his third Castilla appearance - his final match before the coronavirus crisis intervened.

The pre-season will be key if the 18-year-old is to get a chance at Madrid in 2020-21, and there is no reason why he could not then do enough to catch Tite's eye.

Vinicius Junior made a big-money move from Flamengo to Madrid in 2018 and had debuted for Brazil within 12 months of his LaLiga bow. The path is clear.

Lionel Messi has "ousted" Diego Maradona as Argentina's greatest number 10, according to former Italy international Antonio Cassano.

Messi's consistency over such a long period has made him the finest player Argentina has produced according to Cassano, who has called for Maradona's fans to accept that the Barcelona talisman deserves to be recognised as the best.

Cassano helped Real Madrid to the 2006-07 LaLiga title at the expense of Barca and Messi, but that success in Spain has not altered his opinion on the forward.

"Maradona did something never seen before for four or five years, but Messi has done the same things for 15 years," he said in an interview with Corriere dello Sport.

"He has made 710 goals and 300 assists. When he plays you start with a 1-0 lead.

"The ‘Maradonians’ have to accept it: there is someone who has ousted him."

Cassano revealed that, prior to Messi moving to the top of the list, he believed Brazil striker Ronaldo – a former Madrid team-mate - was the game's greatest.

"We were losing 1-0 at home," Cassano recalled. "The whole stadium was whistling, especially him [Ronaldo].

"In the locker room the coach removes Ronnie to put [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy on, but he [Ronaldo] stops him and says 'no, you take me off in 15 minutes if I haven't scored two goals'.

"Minute 15: 2-1 and two goals from Ronaldo. I said that if there is a football god, it is Ronaldo. Then I discovered that Messi is above him."

Lionel Messi is the "leader and protector" of Argentina, according to international team-mate Nicolas Tagliafico.

Messi, 32, has faced criticism for his performances for the national team as his wait for a first senior trophy at international level goes on.

But Ajax defender Tagliafico, a 25-time Argentina international, said the Barcelona star was key for his nation.

"Messi was released from the pressure to get results [at the 2019 Copa America, where Argentina finished third]," he told Ole.

"He more than anyone gets angry when he loses, but Messi became more aware that he has to enjoy the national team.

"I don't know until when he will play, but it is not that he will have too many cups with the national team. He is at a stage where he wants to enjoy everything, training, games.

"He is the leader and protector of the team. That facet came out that we might not always see."

The Copa America was due to be played again this year, but has been pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tagliafico said it was crucial for Argentina, who are unbeaten in seven games, to develop a strong foundation.

"We must find a very solid structure, not only for Leo, but also for the future, for what is to come," he said.

"To be able to find a structure to grow. It is good to build a solid foundation and don't build a base and then take it apart.

"If we can help Leo and Leo can help us, we will do much better. Everything is going to multiply. You have to create a structure and from there start to grow."

Lionel Messi not winning the World Cup with Argentina would be unfair, according to goalkeeper Oscar Ustari.

Messi has won everything on offer during his time as a Barcelona player – the Champions League, LaLiga, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is yet to taste senior success in an Argentina jersey following a runners-up finish at the 2014 World Cup, having also reached back-to-back Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016.

A two-time Argentina international, Pachuca goalkeeper Ustari warned against doubting captain Messi – the country's all-time leading goalscorer.

"I have no doubt that if Messi isn't world champion, football will be unfair," Ustari told Radio Mitre.

"Doubting Messi is nonsense. Things can go well or not, but I can tell you that I have seen him crying like a child because of what was happening in the national team. It's very difficult to be in his shoes.

"I remember that in the 2011 Copa America [Argentina were eliminated by Uruguay in the quarter-finals] I was recovering from my knee and, when they lost, I went to see Messi at the Ezeiza venue and I saw him like I had never seen him before, devastated."

CONMEBOL has asked FIFA to postpone qualifying for the 2022 World Cup until September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The start of the South American qualifiers were scheduled to begin on March 26, however, the fixtures were suspended amid the COVID-19 emergency.

Now, with the world struggling to contain the virus, South American football's governing body is eyeing a September start.

"By doing this, the confederation ensures all precautions are taken against the global and regional spread of the coronavirus, in line with the recommendations of international health authorities," CONMEBOL said in a statement following a meeting of its executive board via a video conference call on Thursday.

In the opening round of qualifying, Copa America champions Brazil are due to host Bolivia, while Lionel Messi's Argentina are to face Ecuador.

The 2020 Copa America has already been postponed until 2021 in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The new dates for the 2021 Copa America are June 11 to July 11.

Globally, more than 10,000 people have died from almost 245,000 cases.

Lionel Messi echoed the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With LaLiga suspended for at least the next two matchdays, Messi and his Barcelona team-mates do not know when their title challenge will resume.

Barcelona are top of the table, two points clear of Real Madrid whose players have been told to self-isolate for 15 days after a member of the club's basketball team tested positive for COVID-19.

After Ronaldo, Jurgen Klopp, Paul Pogba and other leading names from the football world spoke out to encourage the public to take precautions for their health, Messi followed suit with a post on his Instagram account.

He said: "These are complicated days for everyone.

"We live worried about what is happening and we want to help [by] putting ourselves in the place of those who are having the worst of it, either because it directly affected them or their family and friends, or because they are working on the front line to combat it in hospitals and health centres.

"I want to send a lot of strength to all of them."

Messi has scored 19 goals in 22 LaLiga appearances this season, most recently netting the winner in Barcelona's 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad on March 7.

The Blaugrana were scheduled to play Mallorca on Sunday ahead of a midweek clash with Napoli in the Champions League, both of which have been postponed.

Messi added: "Health must always come first. It is an exceptional moment and you must follow the instructions of both health organisations and public authorities.

"Only in this way can we combat it effectively."

FIFA has confirmed this month's South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

CONMEBOL had requested the postponement of games including Brazil v Bolivia and Argentina v Ecuador due to the pandemic, which has claimed nearly 5,000 lives worldwide.

In a statement released on Thursday, FIFA indicated a decision has not yet been made over when the two rounds of qualifiers, which were set for March 23-31, will be played.

"FIFA will continue to assess the situation in relation to COVID-19 and will decide whether further changes to the schedule of South American FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers are required, always with the aim of protecting the health and safety of all individuals involved," the body said.

CONMEBOL has also confirmed a temporary suspension of the Libertadores due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CONMEBOL has asked FIFA to postpone the start of its 2022 World Cup qualifying, scheduled for this month, due to coronavirus fears.

In a letter sent to FIFA on Wednesday, CONMEBOL asked for its opening qualifiers, scheduled for March 26, 27 and 31, to be postponed.

COVID-19 has killed more than 4,600 people worldwide while affecting more than 126,000.

CONMEBOL cited the possibility of players not being able to travel from Europe due to coronavirus as a reason for its request.

"The member countries of CONMEBOL – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela have requested the CONMEBOL to submit to FIFA's consideration the request to postpone the start of the qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup," the statement read in part.

Lionel Messi's Argentina are due to begin their qualifying campaign against Ecuador in Buenos Aires, while Brazil are scheduled to face Bolivia in Recife.

The other matchday one games are Paraguay-Peru, Uruguay-Chile and Colombia-Venezuela.

Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi is no longer a phenomenon as Hugo Gatti criticised the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Messi scored four goals in a 5-0 LaLiga rout of Eibar last month but the Barca captain has failed to find the back of the net in six of his past seven matches.

The 32-year-old attacker struggled to make an impact in the 2-0 El Clasico defeat to Real Madrid last time out and former Argentina goalkeeper Gatti took aim at Messi.

"I don't care if they criticise me in Argentina," Gatti said on El Chiringuito. "I'm very Argentinian and Messi is a phenomenon, but he's not a phenomenon now.

"They treat him wrong because they big him up and big him up and treat him wrong. He gets used to it and walks more on the pitch. He has to be better.

"Cristiano [Ronaldo] and him are the two best. Messi has to be better, he's got used to playing at a weary rhythm, walking and those that know football think the same.

"Take off, kid. You have to play well. When there's a player like Messi, like it was with Maradona and Pele, and his team-mates always give the ball to him to win the game.

"They spoil the team and they don't put everything they have into it. The team get used to giving him the ball and not anyone else."

Messi has scored 18 LaLiga goals for Barca this season, and 23 across all competitions.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni believes Barcelona captain Lionel Messi is comfortable at the LaLiga champions.

Messi and his future have been the topics of discussion since the Barca superstar's public row with director of football Eric Abidal.

After Abidal suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's sacking in January, Messi snapped back via social media and it raised doubts over his future at Camp Nou.

Scaloni, however, is not concerned about Argentina skipper and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi – who is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 season.

"I see him [Messi] fine," Scaloni told reporters. "The other day, against Real Betis, he was the best player in the field without scoring. He gave the assist and participated of every chance.

"He's fine, he's comfortable, he will have to decide on his future but I think he's comfortable."

"I'm not worried at all," Scaloni continued. "He's comfortable, he's comfortable at the national team and at Barcelona. Then what will come will come, I stay out of it."

Argentina finished third at the 2019 Copa America but Scaloni's side have another chance to be crowned South American champions as co-hosts of this year's tournament alongside Colombia.

Messi is still seeking his first senior title with Argentina, who were runners-up at the 2014 World Cup before losing in back-to-back Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016.

"I think the important thing is to try [to win the Copa America], that he knows we'll try and be protagonists," Scaloni added. "He [Messi] is not the only one that wants to win something with the national team, we all want to win, the coach, his teammates, so well, we'll try and let's hope we can make it."

Argentina are in Group A (South Zone) for the 2020 Copa America, along with Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and first-time guests Australia.

La Albiceleste will open the tournament against Chile in Buenos Aires on June 12.

Nantes have revealed a one-off Argentina-inspired kit they will wear in Sunday's Ligue 1 meeting with Bordeaux in memory of former striker Emiliano Sala.

Sala, along with pilot David Ibbotson, went missing on January 21 last year when their plane crashed over the English Channel a few days after his move to Cardiff City from Nantes had been confirmed.

The body of Argentina native Sala was later discovered and a report released by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in August said he had clearly been exposed to the poisonous gas carbon monoxide. Ibbotson has not been found.

Nantes marked the anniversary of the incident by confirming the creation of a special strip in tribute to their former striker, with the kit set to be worn on Sunday against Bordeaux, Sala's first club in France.

Combattant et généreux, tu rêvais et méritais le maillot de l'Albiceleste. L’intégralité des bénéfices liés aux ventes de ce maillot sera allouée aux deux clubs formateurs argentins d’Emiliano.

 https://t.co/J9oVerGK5p pic.twitter.com/EMgEhTWTSe

— FC Nantes (@FCNantes) January 21, 2020

Profits from the jerseys will be donated to the two Argentinian clubs Sala played for as a child, Nantes said.

A statement read: "Because he dreamed of wearing the jersey of the Argentina national team, the players of Nantes will give up their traditional yellow and green jersey for a blue and white kit.

"This jersey, from which the entire sales profits will be allocated to the two Argentinian training clubs of Emiliano, is a way of paying homage to him."

Nantes also announced several other tributes to Sala will take place on Sunday, including a minute's applause and a "giant tifo".

Lionel Scaloni hopes the 2020 Copa America is not Lionel Messi's last as he eyes success with Argentina.

Argentina will open next year's tournament against Chile at El Monumental on June 12, it was revealed on Tuesday.

Scaloni hopes 32-year-old Messi, who will again be aiming to win his first senior international trophy, plays beyond the 2020 Copa.

"I don't know if it will be the last. Hopefully not," the Argentina coach told reporters.

"But Argentina need the title, more than just him. Hopefully, don't promise anything, but we'll give the maximum to reach the final."

Argentina, who last won the Copa in 1993, will also face Uruguay, Paraguay, Australia and Bolivia in Group A after their opener against Chile.

Scaloni's men beat Chile in the third-place play-off this year, in a game that saw Messi and Gary Medel sent off.

"It's a nice game to start," he said. "Anyone would have been difficult because the debut is always difficult, but this one has a special feeling.

"Chile has always been difficult for Argentina, especially in recent times. Difficult, but we are fine."

Argentina will open the 2020 Copa America with a blockbuster clash against Chile in Buenos Aires.

In a rematch of this year's third-place play-off, which Argentina won as Lionel Messi and Gary Medel were sent off, the teams will meet again at the El Monumental on June 12 next year.

While the draw took place on Tuesday, the nations already knew almost all of their opponents with teams split into zones for next year's tournament in Argentina and Colombia.

However, Australia – playing at their first Copa America – were drawn into Group A, which features Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay.

Qatar, the other invited nation, will meet Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Brazil will go into the tournament as defending champions after their success at home this year.

The top four teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals.

Group A: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay.
Group B: Colombia, Brazil, Qatar, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru.

Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham after their frustrating start to the Premier League season, though the Argentinian will seemingly have no shortage of potential suitors.

Pochettino led Spurs to four successive top-four finishes in the league and also oversaw a memorable charge to the Champions League final last season.

Tottenham went down 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid, however, and with 12 games played in the top flight this term, they sit 14th, having won just three times. They also suffered a humiliating 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last month.

Despite Spurs opting to make a change, Pochettino is still widely regarded as one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe.

We look at the teams most likely to come calling for his services.

MANCHESTER UNITED

After sacking Jose Mourinho in December 2018, Manchester United were heavily linked with Pochettino, but instead appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

However, since Solskjaer - who was initially handed an interim role at Old Trafford - took permanent charge in March, United's form has been inconsistent to say the least.

The Red Devils have managed just six Premier League victories since Solskjaer was named as their full-time boss and they sit just two points above Spurs in the table.

With a squad still in the midst of an apparent overhaul, United may well now rekindle their interest. Given Pochettino's Premier League experience, Solskjaer could feel the pressure should results not pick up.

REAL MADRID

Real Madrid have also been consistently touted to hold a major interest in Pochettino, with Los Blancos having endured a difficult season in 2018-19 after Zinedine Zidane elected to leave on the back of winning a third straight Champions League.

Zidane returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in March, of course, after a miserable stint from Julen Lopetegui and underwhelming performances under Santiago Solari.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo to call on, Zidane has not had quite the impact as he had during his first spell in charge, though Madrid do sit level on points with LaLiag leaders Barcelona.

Madrid would be able to offer the riches and resources Tottenham never could for Pochettino, but will they oust a club legend to bring him in?

BAYERN MUNICH

Bundesliga champions Bayern were ruthless in their decision to axe Niko Kovac earlier in November and are now on the hunt for a permanent replacement.

Interim coach Hansi Flick has won both of his matches in temporary charge - 2-0 against Olympiacos and 4-0 over Borussia Dortmund - but Bayern might be tempted by the opportunity to appoint a coach with the pedigree of Pochettino.

Like Madrid, Bayern could offer Pochettino plenty of money to spend in the transfer market, though there would also be the added expectation of silverware not only on the domestic front, but also in Europe.

BARCELONA

Citing his loyalty to Espanyol, Pochettino has previously claimed he would not wish to coach Barca - not to mention Lionel Messi. However, should the Catalan giants come calling, it may be difficult for Pochettino to turn down the opportunity to take the helm at Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde appeared to be on the brink of losing his job following last season's Champions League capitulation and defeat in the Copa del Rey final.

With Barca stuttering in both LaLiga and the Champions League so far this term, Valverde - who does not seem to be too popular with the club's fanbase - could well be on borrowed time now Pochettino is available.

ARGENTINA

Pochettino may wish to remain in club management for a while longer before moving into international coaching, but the draw of leading his nation towards the 2022 World Cup may be enough to tempt the 47-year-old.

Lionel Scaloni is currently in charge of the Argentina national team, taking the side to a third-place finish in this year's Copa America, though performances have remained inconsistent, with too great a reliance on Messi.

With the Barca forward surely set to feature in his final World Cup – should he play at all – in Qatar, Pochettino may relish the chance to take his country back to the pinnacle of international football.

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