Italy have been dealt a blow on the eve of Euro 2020, with Lorenzo Pellegrini set to missing out after sustaining an injury in training.

The Roma midfielder, who has been linked with Barcelona and Liverpool in recent weeks, was due to play in his first international tournament after being included in Roberto Mancini's squad.

He featured three times in qualifying, with Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Nicolo Barella the only central midfielders to play more games than him.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a solid season for the Giallorossi, his 13 goal involvements (seven scored, six assists) bettered by only eight midfielders – though among them were individuals who play in more advanced roles, such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Josip Ilicic.

 

Although he would ordinarily be considered a back-up for the Azzurri, his withdrawal comes as a considerable blow given Mancini is already without Stefano Sensi, and Verratti is a doubt for the Turkey clash.

Additionally, Pellegrini proved himself an able creator for Roma this term, his 65 key passes the sixth highest among Serie A midfielders.

But he will have to watch on with the rest of Italy's fans over the next month, with Mancini's side starting the tournament against Turkey on Friday.

"Unfortunately this damn thigh problem will not allow me to play this European Championship," he wrote on his official Instagram account.

"There is a lot of bitterness right now ... but it is now that we need to hug even more and cheer on this fantastic group of real men who will surely give their souls to every game from start to finish.

"I believe it. Come on guys, come on Italy. All together."

Italy confirmed they have asked UEFA for permission to replace him in the squad with technically gifted Fiorentina midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli, 24.

Is Aymeric Laporte's future away from Manchester City?

Laporte hit the ground running in Manchester, but Pep Guardiola has since preferred John Stones and Ruben Dias.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are reportedly willing to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – LAPORTE HEADED FOR SPAIN RETURN?

LaLiga pair Real Madrid and Barcelona are tracking Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte , according to Caught Offside.

Laporte left Spanish outfit Athletic Bilbao for City in 2018 but the newly capped Spain international slipped down the pecking order during the 2020-21 campaign.

As City reportedly prepare a new long-term contract for John Stones , who has been preferred alongside Ruben Dias, Madrid and Barca are waiting in the wings.

 

ROUND-UP

-  Tottenham have abandoned their plans to appoint former Inter boss Antonio Conte , reports Sky Italy. Spurs and Conte were in negotiations and while ex-Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici is poised to join the Premier League side, Conte will not reunite with his Italian compatriot. Tottenham were initially linked with former manager Mauricio Pochettino , who is currently in charge of Paris Saint-Germain. Amid ongoing speculation, Le10 Sport claims a sensational deal to bring Pochettino back to London could go ahead.

- PSG  are trying to hijack Barcelona 's move for Georginio Wijnaldum , says ESPN. Wijnaldum is available on a free transfer following the expiration of his Liverpool contract and he has been tipped to make the switch to Camp Nou.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Valencia captain Jose Luis Gaya is the on the radar for Barca , who are eyeing a new left-back.

- Gazzetto dello Sport reports  Juventus  are interested in Fiorentina defender  Nikola Milenkovic . Fiorentina could be willing to sell the Serbia international, who is out of contract in 2022. Milenkovic has previously been linked with  Tottenham Manchester United  and  West Ham Milan  could also make a move if they fail to tie up a permanent deal for Chelsea's  Fikayo Tomori .

Dusan Vlahovic  of Fiorentina, Marseille's  Arkadiusz Milik and Sassuolo's Gianluca Scamacca  are among the possible new forward signings for  Milan , says Gazzetta dello Sport. Chelsea veteran Olivier Giroud has been strongly linked with Milan.

- Marca claims  Gareth Bale  is leaning towards retirement after Euro 2020. Bale is set to return to Real Madrid following his loan spell at Tottenham.

- New Inter boss  Simone Inzaghi  wants to keep  Alexis Sanchez , per Calciomercato. As Inter look to cut costs, Sanchez has been linked with  Roma Romelu Lukaku Lautaro Martinez  and  Alessandro Bastoni  and their futures have also been questioned due to the club's financial issues.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku headlined the list of Serie A's MVP winners for the 2020-21 season.

Ronaldo finished the campaign as the leading scorer in the competition, netting 29 times across 33 appearances for Juventus to be named the most valuable forward.

Lukaku ranked second in the scorer's list with 24 goals from 36 outings, though the Belgium striker did provide 11 assists compared to Ronaldo's tally of three as he was named "the best overall" MVP.

Both forwards only netted one goal from outside the area and scored six penalties apiece, while Lukaku had a better shot conversion rate than Ronaldo – 25 per cent compared to 17.26 - as he helped Inter finish as champions.

 

Meanwhile, Gianluigi Donnarumma – whose future remains unclear as his contract at Milan nears an end – was selected as the top goalkeeper.

No other keeper played more games than the 22-year-old (37), while his tally of 14 clean sheets was level with Inter's Samir Handanovic for most in the league.

Cristian Romero was named as the best defender after a fine season with Atalanta, while Inter's Italy international Nicolo Barella scooped the midfield MVP honour.

Barella played 36 times for Antonio Conte's champions, scoring three goals and setting a further up seven. On average, he created 1.46 chances per 90 minutes.

There was also recognition for Dusan Vlahovic, named the best player under the age of 23 in Serie A after netting 21 league goals for Fiorentina.

Gennaro Gattuso will take over as Fiorentina's new head coach next season, their agreement coming just two days after his Napoli exit was confirmed.

Shortly after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona consigned Napoli to finishing fifth in Serie A, Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Gattuso's exit. 

Napoli went into the weekend in fourth position but were leapfrogged on the final day by Juventus, who were 4-1 winners at Bologna. 

Gattuso's contract was due to expire at the end of 2020-21 and Napoli's failure to reach the Champions League seemingly cost him an extension.

He won 46 of his 81 games as Napoli boss, giving him a win percentage of 56.8 – better than Rafael Benitez (52.7 per cent) and Carlo Ancelotti (52.1 per cent) but worse than Ottavio Bianchi (56.9 per cent) and Maurizio Sarri (66.2 per cent). 

Nevertheless, the former Italy midfielder has landed on his feet by securing a deal with Fiorentina, who had reportedly been interested in him for several months.

La Viola endured a difficult 2020-21.

Giuseppe Iachini started and finished the season as coach, finding himself sacked in November before being rehired four months later when his successor Cesare Prandelli suddenly resigned, citing struggles with a "period of profound distress which is preventing me from being who I really am".

Iachini saw out the remainder of the campaign as La Viola finished 13th in Serie A – only once since their first season back in the top flight in 2004-05 have they ended a season lower in the table (16th in 2018-19).

Robert Lewandowski may be contracted to Bayern Munich until 2023 but speculation is mounting about his future.

Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the Poland international, particularly if the Parisians lose Kylian Mbappe.

The agent of the Bundesliga record-breaker is reportedly putting pressure on Bayern to re-negotiate his current deal, fuelling the rumours of a switch.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA MAKE LEWANDOWSKI ENQUIRY

Chelsea have reached out to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to discuss a potential move for Robert Lewandowski, according to Sky Sport Germany.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea would face stiff competition from Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, in the event Lewandowski decides to leave Munich, where he has been based since 2014.

Chelsea have been linked with a big-money move for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, showcasing their financial strength which could be switched to Lewandowski should they miss out on the Norwegian.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester City have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Tottenham star Harry Kane reports the Daily Mail. Kane has reportedly asked to leave Spurs amid links with City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Chelsea are also interested in signing Atalanta's Ruslan Malinovskyi, claims The Sun. Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix is also a target for the Blues, reports Sky Germany.

- The Sun says David Beckham's MLS franchise Inter Miami are pursuing Arsenal attacker Willian, who is reportedly keen on the opportunity.

Frank Lampard is on Crystal Palace's radar as they plan for Roy Hodgson's successor, according to Talksport. Hodgson will leave the Premier League club at the end of the season.  

- Corriere dello Sport claims Gennaro Gattuso is ready to leave Napoli as Fiorentina circle and he wants club captain Lorenzo Insigne to join him.

Antonio Pirlo does not believe his bosses are happy with his efforts after Juventus were held to a 1-1 Serie A draw at Fiorentina.

Dusan Vlahovic gave the relegation-threatened Viola a deserved first-half lead from the penalty spot at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday after Adrien Rabiot handled in the area.

Bianconeri head coach Pirlo reacted to a lacklustre display in the opening 45 minutes by replacing Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala with Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski, changing the formation after starting with three at the back.

Morata made an instant impact, equalising with a sublime left-foot finish just 31 seconds after coming on, but the champions failed to go on and secure three precious points.

Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici stated ahead of the game that Pirlo's job would be safe if they finished in the top four, but fifth-placed Napoli can join them on 66 points with five games to play by beating Torino on Monday.

Pirlo says he is learning on the job but knows he has fallen short of expectations in his first season at the helm.

He told Sky Italia: "The initial expectations [when he took charge] were different and I don't think I did the job as intended.

"Every game that passes you learn something but I'm not happy and I don't think the club is either."

Morata's sublime strike was Juve's only shot on target and Pirlo says their first-half performance was not good enough.

"There was a very bad first half that had to be faced in a different way. It was fundamental for the Champions League race. In the second half we were better." said the former Italy playmaker.

"We decided to put Morata on to change pace and that happened. We had to deal with it in another way. The three-man defence didn't go well, we had tried one thing and another happened. We changed it and it was better."

Alvaro Morata scored just 31 seconds after coming on as a substitute but Champions League hopefuls Juventus had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.

Dusan Vlahovic scored his 17th Serie A goal of the season with a first-half penalty to put the relegation-threatened Viola in front at Stadio Artemio Franchi, after Adrien Rabiot handled in the area.

Juve boss Andrea Pirlo made a double substitution at the break and it was Morata, one of the two introduced, who levelled with a stunning strike in the first minute of the second half.

The reigning champions were unable to secure a Sunday afternoon victory that would have moved them into second place and fifth-placed Napoli had the chance to join them on 66 points if they beat Torino on Monday.

Fiorentina made a promising start and Wojciech Szczesny raced out sharply to deny number Vlahovic after Franck Ribery played the striker in.

Juve had a huge stroke of luck when a deflected long-range drive from Erick Pulgar struck the post and bounced into the arms of Szczesny, but Vlahovic gave the Viola a deserved lead just before the half-hour mark.

Referee Davide Massa pointed to the spot following a check on the pitchside monitor, with the ball having struck Rabiot's arm as he jumped to try and head clear, and Vlahovic made the midfielder pay with a cheeky 'Panenka' penalty.

Aaron Ramsey missed a good opportunity to equalise late in the first half when Fiorentina were opened up by a slick move and the Wales international poked wide at full stretch with only Bartlomiej Dragowski to beat.

Pirlo reverted from a three-man defensive set-up to a back four for the second half, with Morata replacing Leonardo Bonucci and Dejan Kulusevski on for Paulo Dybala.

Morata made an instant impact, getting on the end of a ball down the right channel and cutting inside sharply before picking out the far corner of the net with a sublime left-footed finish.

Juve looked a different side after the break and Nikola Milenkovic nodded clear to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from tapping in Giorgio Chiellini's header across goal.

Ronaldo failed to head home a brilliant cross from Kulusevski six minutes from time as Juve dropped points in the battle for a top-four finish.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips as Europe's elite queue up to get their hands on Borussia Dortmund's prized asset. 

From Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona and Manchester United, to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich - there is no shortage of interest in the Norwegian sensation.

"I don't think there's a sports director or trainer in the world who would say 'not interested'," Haaland's agent Mino Raiola told BBC Sport in February. "It's like saying: 'Is there a Formula 1 team who would not be interested in having Lewis Hamilton?'"

The issue is, only a handful of clubs – in a coronavirus-impacted transfer market – could realistically afford to prise the €180m-rated Haaland from Dortmund, where the 20-year-old is contracted until 2024 and his reported €75m release clause does not come into effect until 2022.

Step forward, Dusan Vlahovic.

A revelation for relegation-threatened Fiorentina in 2020-21, the powerful but nimble left-footed Serbia international has emerged as a cheaper alternative in a Haaland-dominated market. Vlahovic's 16 league goals this season have reportedly caught the eye of a host of top European clubs, ready to upgrade their forward line in the next window.

Present, not the future

Vlahovic has been destined for the top, the player says so himself.

"I am a Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Belgrade, I will play for the strongest clubs," is what former Fiorentina forward Valeri Bojinov recalled being told by Vlahovic in an interview with Transfermarkt earlier this year.

There have always been high expectations for Vlahovic – the youngest debutant in Partizan Belgrade's history after making his debut aged 16, while he became the youngest goalscorer in the club's 75-year history that season – but he is more than just the future, he is the here and now.

In a struggling Fiorentina side fighting to preserve their top-flight status, Vlahovic has been a shining light. The 21-year-old's tally of 16 goals in 31 appearances this season only behind Haaland (23 in 25) for most goals by players aged under 22 in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.

 

Vlahovic is the first Fiorentina player to score 16 goals in a single top-flight campaign since Giuseppe Rossi in 2013-14, the first player born after the year 2000 to reach 20 Serie A goals and one of just four players born post-2000 to net 20 career goals in Europe's top-five leagues. He also became the first Fiorentina player to score a first-half Serie A hat-trick since Kurt Hamrin in 1964 after his treble against Benevento in March.

Vlahovic has 22 goals in 71 Italian top-flight appearances, one more goal than Juventus' Paulo Dybala (21) from one game less (72) before the age of 22, though Alexandre Pato bagged 50 goals in 102 Serie A games and Bojinov tallied 22 goals in 86 league matches in Italy before celebrating his 22nd birthday – it did not exactly go according to plan for the latter pair.

The average non-penalty shot conversion rate in Serie A this season is 11.1 per cent and Vlahovic has performed comfortably above this average, by converting 17.6 per cent of his shots – in line with the quality of chances he has been given, with his expected goals (xG) per non-penalty shot at 0.173. 

Being able to sustain this over a longer period will reveal more about the qualities he possesses as a forward, but the Belgrade-born sensation is on the right track.

 

Smarter and wiser

There were signs of promise in 2019-20, but Vlahovic's form was patchy with six goals in total.

Expected to hit the ground running this term, Vlahovic had a dismal return of just one goal from his first 10 appearances of the season. Despite growing pressure, he kept the faith thanks to some advice from star team-mate Franck Ribery.

"When I was down, he spoke to me and told me to never give up," Vlahovic said. "That’s how I understood what it means to be a champion on the pitch and in life."

Starting to realise his enormous potential, Vlahovic made his senior international debut in October last year and scored his second goal for Serbia in March's World Cup qualifier against Ireland – his improvement is clear to see.

In 2020-21, the average quality of his shots is 0.17 xG, not far off being double what it was in 2019-20 (0.10). Now finding more intelligent shooting positions his shot conversion rate has unsurprisingly jumped from 7.8 per cent to 17.6 per cent across the two seasons. 

Being able to produce shots from wiser positions on the pitch is a sought-after skill and the 21-year-old has excelled in 2020-21. Of the 13 players to have scored at least 10 non-penalty goals in Serie A this season, only Simy (0.21 xG) and Romelu Lukaku (0.20 xG) have averaged better quality shots from open play than Vlahovic.

More than meets the eye

Standing six feet and three inches, Vlahovic is a towering presence on the field. Powerful and quick but technically astute and comfortable with the ball at his feet – trademark Balkan traits.

Vlahovic has been involved in the second-most aerial duels in Serie A this season – 206, behind only Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby. For his stature, it is surprising to discover he has only won 42 per cent of those duels, among the lowest of players to be involved in at least 100 aerials this season in Italy's top-flight.

You would also expect a healthy portion of Vlahovic's goals to come in the air, but this is not the case. Only one of his 16 goals have come from a header, this despite attempting the second most headed efforts in Serie A (17) and just three of these have been on target (18 per cent).

There is more to him than meets the eye, just look at his stunning stoppage-time equaliser against Inter last season – starting with his back to goal in his own half, he left Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij scrambling before producing a clinical shot across Samir Handanovic. Vlahovic's control, awareness, speed and finishing on display for all to see in Florence.

Or there is the Turin example seen in December, Vlahovic splitting Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci and leaving the Juventus pair in his wake as he expertly scooped the ball over the onrushing Wojciech Szczesny.

Fiorentina's Vlahovic is only involved in 25 per cent of shot-ending sequences for the Viola, with just one in four of their open-play shots involving him either as someone in the passing build-up for the shot, the assister of the shot or the player to take the shot. When Vlahovic is involved, he is usually the end of the chain.

Compare this to Haaland, the Norway international is far more involved in the build-up or as the provider than Vlahovic and it is the same story with the Serie A's top two goalscorers, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Inter's Romelu Lukaku.

Haaland is much more of a box player than Vlahovic – 24.5 per cent of the former's touches are in the penalty area, with 12.1 per cent shots. If you compare that to his Fiorentina counterpart, whose 15.2 per cent of touches are in the box and just 7.6 per cent are shots.

 

"I watch him and I try to understand his finishing and how he moves," Vlahovic, whose has scored a lot of his goals from central areas, told La Repubblica of Haaland. "Then, I focus on my strong points and my weaknesses. It may be presumptuous, but with commitment, I can get there too."

While not yet as clinical, Vlahovic is confident he can reach the same level as Haaland and there are not too many reasons to doubt him.

Erling Haaland might be too expensive a purchase for some of football's richest clubs. 

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is on everyone's wish list.

The question is who will be willing to meet his reported demands?

 

TOP STORY - LALIGA GIANTS PRICED OUT OF HAALAND MOVE?

Haaland's apparent desire for a €35million annual salary has the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid thinking twice about a potential move, Goal reported. 

The prolific 20-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, has held informal discussions with both LaLiga stalwarts but the sides did not get into specifics about finances. 

For now it appears Barca and Madrid are content to wait it out and see how Haaland's market unfolds. 

That is not the case for another potential suitor. According to Goal, an unnamed English club that made inquiries about the Leeds-born striker earlier this year has backed away from talks due to that salary figure. 

The mystery team is not Chelsea, who consider Haaland their top target according to an Evening Standard report. 

 

ROUND-UP

- While the Blues can hope to land the high-flying Norwegian, Timo Werner may be on the way out. Though the Evening Standard reports Chelsea have not yet seriously discussed selling him, it is not clear how he fits into the Blues' strike force at the moment.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract with AC Milan this summer and has had talks with Juventus, per La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Manchester United have coveted Nikola Milenkovic and may be ready to make a move for the Fiorentina defender, though The Sun says United would not be interested at the rumoured £38m fee. 

- United also want Edinson Cavani to have another season at Old Trafford, but at age 34 he might want to move closer to home. Boca Juniors would offer him a two-year deal, says Fabrizio Romano. 

- Watford are prepared to bring Ashley Young back to the club should they return to the Premier League next season, the Daily Mail says. Young's contract with Inter is expiring.

- After a loan spell with Paris Saint-GermainAlessandro Florenzi could be in line to play in Italy with Inter next season rather than returning to Roma, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported. 

- Luis Suarez appears likely to remain with Atletico Madrid, but there is a possibility he could rekindle last year's reported talks with David Beckham's Inter Miami. The American side's interest in the Uruguayan "has not stopped," according to Mundo Deportivo. 

- One player not headed anywhere is Karim Benzema, who Marca reports will sign to remain with Real Madrid through 2023.

Jesse Lingard has been in blistering form during his six-month loan spell at West Ham.

As a result, speculation is rife over the 28-year-old England international's future.

Lingard is contracted with parent club Manchester United for one more season.

 

TOP STORY - EUROPEAN GIANTS CIRCLE FOR LINGARD

European powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Inter are all interested in Lingard, claims ESPN.

Lingard has scored eight goals in nine games for the Hammers, who are surprisingly sitting fourth in the Premier League.

ESPN reports those clubs are monitoring Lingard's situation, with West Ham keen to sign him permanently and the player yet to declare a preference, although it is believed he wants to play  Champions League football.

 

ROUND-UP

- Serbia international Sergei Milinkovic-Savic has garnered interest from European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The midfielder is contracted with Lazio until 2024.

- Manchester United may have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho last off-season but they are set to revive their interest, says the Manchester Evening News.

- Calciomercato reports that French winger Ousmane Dembele is open to joining Juventus from Barcelona in the next transfer window.

- Tottenham are making their move to sign off-contract Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, reports Sky Germany.

- Arsenal have joined the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, alongside Leicester City, according to the Telegraph.

- Tuttosport says Torino's Italy international forward Andrea Belotti is being courted by Chelsea, Everton, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid.

- Fiorentina want to hire Gennaro Gattuso from Napoli as their next coach, claims Sky Sport Italia. Gattuso is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season.

What does the future hold for Lorenzo Insigne?

The Napoli captain is no certainty to remain at his boyhood club as his contract runs down.

A switch to Milan could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – MILAN TARGETING INSIGNE

Milan met with Lorenzo Insigne's agent as they eye a move for the Napoli captain, according to Gianluigi Di Marzio.

Insigne – previously linked with Liverpool – has one year remaining on his current contract and the Italy international is yet to re-sign with his boyhood club.

Serie A rivals Milan are monitoring the situation and ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- A move for Insigne depends on the future of Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu. The 27-year-old is set to become a free agent and Arsenal and Chelsea are eyeing the Turkey international, reports Sky Italy. Manchester United have also been linked.

- The front page of Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter and neighbours Milan are going head-to-head to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbia international is also reportedly wanted by United, Juventus and Tottenham.

Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City are vying to sign Inter star Romelu Lukaku this off-season, claims Calciomercato. Lukaku has emerged as a target for all three clubs, who are also eyeing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling HaalandReal Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, United and Liverpool have also been linked with Haaland.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Roma and Milan both want to sign Torino captain Andrea Belotti. With Torino struggling, the Italy forward could be ready to jump at the chance for European football.

Tottenham are stepping up their pursuit of Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard, says the Express. Spurs have long been linked with Inter star Milan Skriniar, but Vestergaard appears to be an easier option.

Franck Ribery made a public apology to his Fiorentina team-mates after the veteran French star was sent off for the seventh time in his club career.

The former Bayern Munich winger, who turns 38 on Wednesday, was dismissed by referee Fabio Maresca after going in studs-up on Davide Zappacosta during Saturday's Serie A clash away to Genoa.

That incident occurred in the 51st minute, with the teams locked at 1-1, and Fiorentina held on as the match finished without any further goals.

Fiorentina and Genoa lurk in lower mid-table, with both sides looking to banish the distant threat of relegation after the international break.

Ribery, who in 2012-13 beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win UEFA's Men's Player of the Year award, recognised he let down his Viola team-mates.

"Guys, I'm sorry I left you alone," he wrote on Twitter. "I didn't want to go in badly and I have already apologised. You fought to the end and you were very brave and careful. Keep going like this!"

Ribery joined Fiorentina on a two-year deal after being released by Bayern in 2019 and was sent off against Lazio early in his Serie A career. He had been dismissed four times for Bayern and once when playing for Marseille.

An ankle injury meant Ribery missed a large chunk of his debut season in Italy, when he scored three goals and had three assists in 21 games.

There have been flashes of his best in the current campaign, in which he has scored twice and had five assists in 23 appearances so far, also hitting the woodwork twice.

However, the number of chances he has created has dipped from 35 last season to 26 this term, despite spending 197 more minutes on the pitch, and his dribble success rate has also fallen, shrinking from 59.55 to 52.63 per cent.

Timo Werner only joined Chelsea at the start of the season, but could he leave Stamford Bridge?

Premier League giants Chelsea are among the clubs interested in Erling Haaland.

But reports claim Chelsea are not prepared to sanction a Werner exit.

 

TOP STORY – NO CHELSEA EXIT FOR WERNER

Chelsea are not planning on selling Timo Werner as they eye Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Telegraph.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea have been heavily linked with Haaland, who is also being targeted by Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

But Chelsea are against the idea of parting with Werner or using the German forward in a deal to prise Haaland to Stamford Bridge after one season in London.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca are eyeing a move for Sergio Aguero after City announced their all-time leading goalscorer will leave the club on a free transfer at season's end, claims Fabrizio Romano. Inter, Chelsea and PSG have also been linked.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Kalidou Koulibaly is likely to leave Napoli at the end of the season. Koulibaly has been linked with United, PSG and Bayern Munich previously.

- While a Koulibaly departure is on the cards, could legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon arrive? Gazzetta dello Sport claims Napoli are interested in the Juventus great, who is searching for regular football.

Cristiano Ronaldo will decide his future before May, according to Tuttosport. The Juventus superstar has been linked with former clubs Madrid and United, as well as PSG.

- Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic, Torino captain Andrea Belotti, PSV's Donyell Malen, AZ's Myron Boadu and Celtic star Odsonne Edouard are on Milan's shortlist of strikers in the transfer window, reports Calciomercato.

- The Athletic and other outlets claim Liverpool are nearing a deal to sign RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche played down the possible transfer in an interview with Stats Perform News.

Cesare Prandelli has resigned from Fiorentina and accepts his coaching career could be over after revealing he has been "going through a period of profound distress".

Prandelli joined La Viola in November for a second time after previously managing the club between 2005 and 2010 before taking over from Marcello Lippi as Italy's national team boss. 

He replaced Giuseppe Iachini in November, but oversaw just five wins in 21 Serie A games to leave Fiorentina 14th in the table. His last game in charge was Sunday's 3-2 home defeat to Milan.

In a statement posted on the club's official website, Prandelli said he stood down after a "dark cloud" had developed inside him.

"This is the second time I've left Fiorentina," he said. "The first time was not my decision, but this time it is. In life, as well as the good times, there are also dark moments which can get on top of you.

"I have been going through a period of profound distress which is preventing me from being who I really am. I began this experience with joy and love, spurred on by the enthusiasm of the new owners. 

"It's likely that my love for the city, and the memories of the great moments I've experienced here, made me blind to the early signs that something wasn't right inside.

"My decision has been guided by the enormous responsibility I have towards the players, the club and – last but certainly not least – to the Fiorentina fans, for whom I have great respect.

"All players at this level have talent, and when you have talent you are perceptive – I wouldn't want my distress to be picked up and affect the team's performances. 

"Over the past few months, a dark cloud has developed inside of me, changing the way I see things. I came here to give 100 per cent, but I now feel that this is no longer possible and therefore I have decided to step back for the good of everyone involved.

"I'm aware that this could be the end of my career as a coach, but I have no regrets and don't wish to have any. 

"The world I've been a part of for my whole life probably isn't right for me anymore – I no longer see myself in it. 

"I've certainly changed, but the world is moving faster than I thought, too. That's why I believe the time has come for me to stop being swept along, stop for a while and rediscover my true self once again."

Manchester City have been linked with Erling Haaland.

As Sergio Aguero appears headed for an exit, Pep Guardiola wants to bolster his attack.

But Danny Ings has reportedly emerged as an alternative to the expensive and in-demand Haaland.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGET INGS

Manchester City are considering a move for Southampton star Danny Ings, according to Sky Sports.

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and no closer to extending his deal in Manchester.

Pep Guardiola's City are reportedly among the admirers of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

With Haaland set to command a huge fee, City are eyeing former Liverpool forward Ings as a cheaper alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport report Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is on the brink of being sacked. Juve are out of the Champions League and 10 points off the pace following their shock loss to Benevento. Former boss Massimiliano Allegri has been linked with a return, while La Repubblica claims Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini, Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi and Luciano Spalletti are on a three-man shortlist.

- Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is Roma's number one option should they sack head coach Paulo Fonseca, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Fonseca – under pressure in the Italian capital – has also been linked with Napoli, alongside Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric. Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso has been linked with Fiorentina, Torino and Bologna.

Neymar re-signing with Ligue 1 holders PSG is "just a matter of time", according to Fabrizio Romano.

Aaron Ramsey is interested in a move to Premier League champions Liverpool, according to Calciomercato. The Juventus midfielder, who left Arsenal for Turin in 2019, is seen as a possible replacement for rumoured Barca target Georginio Wijnaldum at Anfield.

- The Daily Express reports Arsenal are eyeing Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho. However, a move will depend on whether Arsenal sign loanee Martin Odegaard permanently from Madrid.

Xabi Alonso is set to become the new head coach of Borussia Monchengladbach next season, replacing Dortmund-bound Marco Rose. Romano, however, insists no contract has been signed as the former Bayern Munich star remains in charge of Real Sociedad's B team.

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