Napoli could be without Elseid Hysaj when they take on Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with the right-back having suffered a sprained knee.

Albania international Hysaj went off with 10 minutes remaining in Napoli's 1-0 Serie A victory over Cagliari at the Sardegna Arena on Sunday.

Tests carried out on Monday showed the 26-year-old has sustained damage to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Reports in Italy suggest Hysaj could be set for two weeks on the sidelines, which makes him a doubt for the visit of Barcelona next Tuesday.

Napoli face Brescia in Serie A on Friday and entertain Torino four days after taking on Barca at Stadio San Paolo.

The second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Inter, in which they hold a 1-0 aggregate lead, is scheduled for March 5.

Pep Guardiola will consider his future at Manchester City after the club were hit with a two-season Champions League ban.

City were handed the sanction – and a €30million fine – by UEFA on Friday for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Premier League club have denied wrongdoing and intend to appeal the verdict, but they could face personnel problems if unsuccessful.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO CONSIDER MAN CITY FUTURE AFTER EUROPEAN BAN

Guardiola will consider his future as City manager at season's end unless the verdict is overturned, according to The Telegraph.

The Catalan – who has been linked with Juventus – is contracted until 2021 and had suggested previously he intended to honour his deal.

ESPN reports Guardiola is worried about how the ban will impact his players but does claim the former Barcelona coach would be willing to remain as long as he, personally, is happy.

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still under some pressure at Old Trafford, Manchester United are favourites to land Massimiliano Allegri as manager, according to Sport Mediaset. Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Roma are also reportedly interested in the former Juventus coach.

- Staying at Manchester United, the Manchester Evening News reports Leicester City star James Maddison wants a move to the Premier League giants. Maddison has been reported to be close to signing a contract extension at the King Power Stadium.

- With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming out of contract at the end of next season, Arsenal may opt to sell the forward during the next transfer window. The Mirror reports Inter are hoping to sign Aubameyang, who has also been linked to Barcelona.

- Olivier Giroud is prepared to wait to make a decision on his future despite coming out of contract at season's end. The Telegraph reports the Chelsea striker has been offered a pre-contract by Lazio but is in no rush to make a decision after attracting interest from Tottenham in January.

- Inter and Napoli are set for a transfer battle. CalcioMercato reports Hellas Verona and Albania defender Marash Kumbulla is a target for both clubs, who will need to pay at least €20m for the 20-year-old.

Antonio Conte feels Inter's derby victory over Milan took away a lot of "nervous" energy as his side fell to a limp Coppa Italia semi-final first-leg loss at home to Napoli.

The Nerazzurri fought back to defeat their rivals 4-2 in a barnstorming Serie A encounter on Sunday.

It was a different story on this occasion, though, as Inter struggled to get out of second gear and succumbed to a 1-0 loss thanks to Fabian Ruiz's excellent second-half strike.

Speaking to Rai after the game, head coach Conte said: "The derby took away a lot of energy, especially nervous. 

"I made five changes from Sunday to bring in fresh legs, but Napoli beat Juventus, Lazio and Liverpool this season, so that means they've got quality there. 

"I'd say that, after Juventus, Napoli have the most impressive squad in Serie A.

"Gennaro Gattuso was smart to sit back, wait and go on the counter. We had the chances and it would've been a fair result if we had played out a draw.

"When you're up against defensive teams like this, you have to move the ball around faster and create spaces.

"We are at the start of this journey, so if some think we are at the same level as a side that was at the top for many years, then I say we're a long way off and have to use these defeats to improve."

Christian Eriksen was again only among the Inter substitutes, with Conte explaining the Denmark playmaker is still finding his best form after being in and out of Tottenham's team.

"He is certainly a player of quality, he needs to rediscover that intensity, seeing as he hasn't played much in the last six months," the ex-Italy boss said of Inter's January arrival.

Fabian Ruiz's fine effort earned Napoli a potentially crucial 1-0 victory over Inter in Wednesday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg.

The Spain midfielder lit up an otherwise turgid San Siro affair with a finish right out of the top drawer shortly before the hour in Milan.

It proved the decisive moment against an Inter side – playing just three days on from beating Milan in the derby – lacking in creativity and Antonio Conte's men will have to show more in a huge Serie A clash with Lazio on Sunday.

Napoli have been well off the pace in the league but Gennaro Gattuso will take heart from a resolute defensive display that sets them up well for the return tie on March 5.

Dries Mertens scooped over from 20 yards during a drab opening, in which Lautaro Martinez should really have done better with a free header from Cristiano Biraghi's floated left-wing cross.

Daniele Padelli made a fine one-on-one stop when Mertens slipped in Giovanni Di Lorenzo, with Napoli's protests that the follow-up was handled by Stefan de Vrij going unheard.

Inter, as in the first half, attempted to play on the front foot without troubling David Ospina early in the second period – aside from a decent header from Romelu Lukaku that the keeper held with ease.

The game needed a flash of brilliance and Fabian delivered in the 57th minute, playing a neat one-two with Di Lorenzo before bending a fine left-footed effort past a despairing Padelli.

An equaliser almost arrived during a mad scramble 15 minutes from time where Lukaku and Christian Eriksen each nearly beat Ospina, who gratefully smothered the ball.

Eriksen  and Alexis Sanchez provided some impetus off the bench and fellow substitute Danilo D'Ambrosio almost prodded Lukaku's last-minute flick-on past Ospina but Inter paid the price for a largely toothless display.

What does it mean? Big few weeks for Inter on the horizon

Inter may be leading Serie A but before they play Napoli again the Nerazzurri face Lazio, Sampdoria and Juventus in the league and a Europa League last-32 double header with Ludogorets. Chasing this tie at the culmination of that run is not ideal. 

Fab by name...

In a game lacking in prolonged quality, it was left to Fabian to steal the headlines with his wonderful goal. It was reward for a disciplined performance in midfield.

'King' Lukaku and Martinez struggle

Lukaku declared "there is a new king in town" after scoring in Inter's derby beating of Milan. There is no denying the impact he has had at Inter but there was little regal about his performance on a frustrating evening. Martinez had a couple of decent opportunities and was also ineffective.

What's next?

Inter return to Serie A action with mouth-watering showdown at fellow title challengers Lazio on Sunday, the same day Napoli travel to Cagliari.

Premier League clubs are queuing up to sign Jadon Sancho.

But, Borussia Dortmund will not be rushed in parting with the England teenager.

Dortmund are reportedly determined to make the most of a strong Euro 2020 for the 19-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WON'T RUSH SANCHO SALE

Borussia Dortmund will take their time over selling in-demand star Jadon Sancho amid links to Manchester United and Chelsea, reports 90min.

Sancho is a player in demand, with Premier League giants United and Chelsea interested in luring the 19-year-old back to England.

Bundesliga outfit Dortmund, however, are keen to maximise Sancho's transfer value after Euro 2020.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona captain Lionel Messi wants to stay at Camp Nu despite his public row with sporting director Eric Abidal, according to Sky Sports News. Amid uncertainty over Messi's future with his contract due to expire in 2021, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner had been linked to Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Inter and United.

- Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is unhappy with Gareth Bale's training, reports Marca. Bale – who was linked with a return to former club Tottenham during the January transfer window – and his intensity at training has reportedly angered Zidane.

- Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose is Barcelona's main target, says Marca. With Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele injured, LaLiga champions Barca are hoping to be granted permission to sign a Spain-based player to fill the void.

- Il Mattino claims United are at the front of the que to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. The defender has also been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and City.

Juventus are rushing to make a move for United star Paul Pogba, says Tuttosport. United are reportedly resigned to Pogba leaving and former club Juve are keen to bring the Frenchman back to Turin as Madrid also circle.

Kylian Mbappe appears unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are continuing to track the forward.

Mbappe was unhappy with head coach Thomas Tuchel after being substituted during PSG's 5-0 Ligue 1 win over Montpellier on Saturday.

The pair were apparently part of talks that seemingly did not go that well on Sunday, once again sparking Madrid's interest.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE MBAPPE AMID PSG TROUBLES

Real Madrid are tracking the situation of Kylian Mbappe at PSG, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The France international is out of contract in 2022 and Madrid would hope to land the forward for less than €300million next year.

Le Parisien reports Mbappe, Tuchel and PSG sporting director Leonardo met on Sunday, but the relationship between coach and player may be at the point of no return.

ROUND-UP

- Lautaro Martinez has starred for Inter this season, scoring 11 Serie A goals. Corriere dello Sport reports the Italian giants are keen to offer Martinez an improved contract amid reported interest from Barcelona, with the Argentina international's deal expiring in 2023.

- Despite scoring only four Serie A goals this campaign, Lorenzo Insigne could be set to earn a new deal at Napoli. Corriere dello Sport says the forward is set for talks over a contract extension, with his deal set to expire in 2022.

- Lille forward Victor Osimhen is attracting interest from LaLiga's two biggest clubs. The 21-year-old is already up to 16 goals this season and Lille were contacted by Real Madrid and Barcelona at the end of the January transfer window, according to Le10sport.

- Christian Eriksen apparently could have ended up at Juventus. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A leaders were seriously considering the midfielder in December before they landed Dejan Kulusevski, leading to Inter making their move for the Tottenham star.

Liverpool might be cruising towards the title but the runaway Premier League leaders could still face a crucial fight in the near future.

According to a new report, star centre-back Virgil van Dijk has become a top target for Italian giants Juventus.

Could a record-breaking transfer to Turin appeal to the Netherlands international?

 

TOP STORY – JUVE SET SIGHTS ON VAN DIJK

Maurizio Sarri's Juve have identified Reds defender Van Dijk as the man to help achieve their Champions League dream, according to The Sun.

The Bianconeri are said to be preparing a €178.5million (£150m) offer that could force Liverpool to consider parting company with the 28-year-old, who swapped Southampton for Merseyside in a £75m move in January 2018.

The report claims Van Dijk "may be open to a move abroad" if he wins the Premier League this term, which now appears a mere formality.

The proposed fee would eclipse the £80m that saw Harry Maguire leave Leicester City for Manchester United and again make Van Dijk the world's most expensive player in his position.

 

ROUND-UP 

- After signing Maguire, the Red Devils appear to be pining for another expensive defender. The Daily Star suggests the club will ramp up their attempts to capture Kalidou Koulibaly in the close season - although the Napoli centre-back could cost up to £90m.

- Arsenal rejected a deadline-day approach for Mesut Ozil from an unnamed Qatar club, the Mirror states. Ozil, 31, reportedly "would have been willing to listen" to an offer, but the contact came too late for the Gunners to arrange a replacement.

- LaLiga leaders Real Madrid considered signing teenage attacker Amine Gouiri and contacted Lyon before deciding against lodging a formal January bid, according to L'Equipe.

- Their title rivals Barcelona are close to agreeing a deal that will see Chelsea winger Willian arrive on a free at season's end, reports Marca.

- Gouiri is not the only Lyon youngster attracting interest. Milan, already planning for next season, are monitoring the Ligue 1 club's promising right-back Pierre Kalulu, claims CalcioMercato.

Maurizio Sarri insists his comments suggesting he would prefer to lose to Napoli than anyone else were "twisted" as Juventus fans reacted in anger.

Juve were beaten for just the second time in Serie A this season when Sarri took the defending champions to his old club Napoli, where he spent three years as head coach before leaving for Chelsea in 2018.

Sarri said he was happy for his old team to get three points given they are languishing in 10th place in the table.

Juve supporters were far from pleased with the remarks, but Sarri believes too much has been made of what he considers to be fair comments about a team who helped him to reach "the biggest club in Italy".

"I don't know much about any controversies. It seems strange to me that certain phrases were twisted," he told reporters on Saturday ahead of the league meeting with Fiorentina.

"It seems natural to me that I remain tied to those boys I worked with for three years and who allowed me to get to top clubs like Chelsea and Juventus. There's gratitude because that's where my journey started that led to the biggest club in Italy - Juventus.

"Juve fans were rightly angry because we played badly and we lost."

Juve signed Dejan Kulusevski during the January transfer window but sent him on loan to Parma for the rest of the season, meaning Sarri has no reinforcements for the remainder of 2019-20.

The squad was trimmed further as Mario Mandzukic left for Al Duhail, with Marko Pjaca and Mattia Perin loaned out and Emre Can sent to Borussia Dortmund on an initial loan with an obligation to buy.

Can had been furious to be left out of Juve's bloated Champions League squad and started just twice in Serie A under Sarri, who considers it normal for good players to find game time difficult at top clubs.

"These are normal situations," he said. "I had a group of 27 players: if among them there are one or two who have difficulty getting into the team, that's normal. It doesn't take away from his qualities.

"I didn't ask for anything in the summer or in January. The squad is strong. I have to adapt to the characteristics of the squad. I can't think of revolutionising a whole group of players."

The time might have come for Chelsea to cash in on one of their longest and most loyal servants.

According to reports, LaLiga giants Barcelona are eager to take winger Willian to Camp Nou before the January transfer window closes on Friday.

The experienced Brazilian has been with Chelsea since 2013, but his contract is due to expire at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY - BARCA WANT WILLIAN

Barcelona will test Chelsea's resolve with a late €23.6million (£20m) offer for Willian, Sky Sports have reported.

The Blaugrana are said to be are "long-term admirers" of the 31-year-old and hope to have him on board for the remainder of their title battle against Real Madrid.

Willian could leave Stamford Bridge on a free at the end of June if Chelsea choose not to cash in now.

Frank Lampard last month said contract talks were ongoing with the former Shakhtar Donetsk attacker, but he has not yet agreed a new deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- News of Barca's approach comes amid suggestions they have had an eye-watering €100m (£85m) offer for Richarlison rejected by Everton, rumours the Mirror indicates have been laughed off at Goodison Park.

- Chelsea, however, could be preparing their Willian replacement. According to the Daily Mail, the Premier League top-four aspirants are looking to sign 32-year-old Napoli forward Dries Mertens for a cut-price £6m fee.

- Barca, meanwhile, are trying to find a new home for Philippe Coutinho after learning Bayern Munich will not activate their €120m option to buy the on-loan playmaker, say Catalunya Radio.

- England international Danny Rose will spend the remainder of the season at Newcastle United after Tottenham accepted a £2m loan fee for the left-back, claim the Guardian.

- Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund must improve their bid from €22m to €30m to convince Serie A champions Juventus to part with midfielder Emre Can, claim CalcioMercato.

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa and Matteo Politano have agreed permanent exits from Inter, joining Flamengo and Napoli respectively.

Flamengo are said to have paid €17million to sign Gabriel, while Politano has joined Napoli on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy.

After failing to make his mark upon arriving at San Siro for a reported €25m in August 2016, Gabigol shone on loan at Flamengo last year. He scored 43 goals in 60 games as Jorge Jesus led them to Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores glory.

The 23-year-old striker was linked with a move to West Ham but signed a five-year deal to stay at Flamengo on Tuesday.

Inter also agreed to let Politano depart after he became a peripheral figure under Antonio Conte.

Politano started 31 Serie A games for Luciano Spalletti last season, leading to the Nerazzurri exercising an option to make his loan from Sassuolo permanent.

However, after being named in Conte's starting line-up just three times in 2019-20, he was allowed to leave for Napoli.

Politano was expected to return to Roma, where he spent his youth career before joining Pescara in 2013, but the move fell through and Gennaro Gattuso's side swooped in.

Inter announced the arrival of Christian Eriksen from Tottenham on Tuesday and are now expected to push forward with a move for Olivier Giroud of Chelsea, having already signed Ashley Young and Victor Moses.

Maurizio Sarri said he was happy for Napoli after his former side inflicted a second Serie A loss of the season on Juventus, who missed the chance to move six points clear of Inter.

Although Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the eighth game in a row, it was too little and too late for the champions after goals from Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Insigne put Napoli 2-0 ahead on Sunday.

There were anti-Sarri chants and banners on his return to the Stadio San Paolo, but the coach was glad to see Napoli arrest their slump, even against his current club.

"I am happy for the lads, as I will always be fond of them," he told Sky Sport Italia after Juve's five-game winning streak in Serie A ended.

"If you have to lose, I guess I'd rather it be here to help Napoli get out of their current problems. I'd rather they started winning next week, of course.

"Clearly, the game takes over and you have to detach yourself from everything around that. Napoli represented a special moment in my life and it's always pleasing and emotional to be back here.

"We should have felt more motivated to break away [from Inter] rather than less, otherwise this will mean we are weak. I would hope not.

"If that situation weighed on us, even unconsciously, it means we are not ready yet."

Napoli's first home league win since October followed a midweek Coppa Italia victory over Lazio, but head coach Gennaro Gattuso is not getting carried away with his side's improvement.

"I go home tonight and will still keep thinking about the [2-0] defeat to Fiorentina, because that was just shocking," Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.

"We beat two good teams now, fine, but we are still in trouble, still a long way back and need to keep pushing.

"I congratulate the lads for the work they've done over the last seven days, but we have to keep going like this now, do not let up, focus on Napoli 24 hours a day.

"We didn't do that well in possession today, but did far better when covering, blocking off the passes and the overlapping runs were timed properly.

"I was angry at the Ronaldo goal, because we can't let anything slip at the moment."

Juventus suffered a 2-1 loss at Napoli on Sunday, ending the Serie A champions' run of five straight wins in the league.

Piotr Zielinski scored the opening goal of the game midway through the second half, finishing on the rebound after Wojciech Szczesny pushed Lorenzo Insigne's shot back into the danger zone.

Napoli had lost four home league games in a row but climb to 10th in the table after Insigne volleyed in a second, Maurizio Sarri's return to Stadio San Paolo ending in Juve's second league defeat of the season. 

Cristiano Ronaldo hit a late reply but Juve missed the chance to move further ahead of nearest title rivals Inter and remain three points clear in top spot.

August's reverse fixture was a seven-goal thriller, Juve 2-0 ahead inside 20 minutes though needing Kalidou Koulibaly's late own goal to seal a 4-3 win, but this time half-time arrived with a single shot on target.

Arkadiusz Milik's tame header was comfortably saved by Szczesny with Napoli having had the edge in a strangely low-key opening 45 minutes.

Juve lost Miralem Pjanic to injury shortly after the break, the midfielder having been hurt in a tackle from Diego Demme before the break with Adrien Rabiot introduced in his place.

A late offside flag denied Ronaldo a 53rd-minute opener, the Portuguese then tricking his way past Elseid Hysaj to set up Gonzalo Higuain, whose low drive was stopped by Alex Meret.

Juve appeared in control but Napoli broke the deadlock on the counter in the 63rd minute when Szczesny parried Insigne's 25-yard drive and Zielinski was on hand to convert the rebound.

Napoli had penalty appeals rejected when Juan Cuadrado appeared to handle inside the box but the points were sealed by Insigne's strike that deflected in off Matthijs de Ligt in the closing stages.

Ronaldo gave Juve hope, extending his scoring streak to eight games, but when Higuain's overhead kick flew straight at Meret in the 94th minute, Napoli had secured a famous win.


What does it mean? Hope for Inter in title race

Juve - who started with Ronaldo, Higuain and Paulo Dybala all in attack - would have been six points clear had they won, with yet another title surely within their grasp. 

This result will be welcomed by Inter, who earlier in the day were held to a third straight league draw, while Lazio moved five points behind Juve after they drew with rivals Roma.

As for Napoli, a first home league win since October may prove a turning point in their season with results having failed to improve since Gennaro Gattuso was appointed as Carlo Ancelotti's successor.


Di Lorenzo stars as Koulibaly's deputy

Giovanni Di Lorenzo was excellent in the heart of the Napoli defence, showing a calmness in possession and helping to keep Ronaldo and ex-Napoli striker Higuain quiet.


Szczesny error proves costly

With Gianluigi Buffon back on the bench after starting the midweek win over Roma, his replacement Szczesny made a bad mistake to hand Napoli the opening goal. Insigne's strike was not easy to deal with but Szczesny made a mess of his save, presenting Zielinski with a tap-in.


What's next?

Juve will aim to bounce back when they return to action at home to Fiorentina next Sunday, with Napoli away to Sampdoria a day later.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be linked with a move from Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are the latest European heavyweight reportedly interested in the forward.

Aubameyang, 30, is reportedly a target for Barcelona after scoring 16 goals in 26 games for struggling Arsenal this season.

However, with Edinson Cavani potentially leaving, PSG are also eyeing the Gabon international.

 

TOP STORY – PSG INTERESTED IN AUBAMEYANG AMID BARCELONA LINKS

PSG are considering a move for Aubameyang, according to Foot Mercato.

Cavani may leave the Ligue 1 giants for Atletico Madrid during this transfer window and Aubameyang could be his replacement, the report says.

PSG are reportedly discussing a loan with an option to buy Aubameyang.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal are close to a deal for Flamengo defender Pablo Mari, according to ESPN and other reports. The Premier League club will reportedly pay £8.4million (€10m) for the Spaniard.

- Marcos Rojo could be on his way out of Manchester United. After just three Premier League appearances this season, the defender is heading back to Estudiantes – where he started his career – on loan, according to the Mirror.

- Carles Perez is set to join Roma. Sky Sport Italia reports the Barcelona forward will join the Serie A club on loan until the end of the season, with a mandatory purchase option for €13m to be part of the deal.

- Inter are already preparing for a period of dominance, including next season. Sport Italia reports Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne has been offered to Inter, who may land the forward ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

- Inter and Napoli seem to have a decent relationship. CalcioMercato reports Matteo Politano will swap Milan for Naples, where he will sign a deal until 2024 with a medical set for Monday.

- Mauricio Pochettino remains without a job after being sacked by Tottenham in November. The Mirror reports Spurs will be entitled to £10m in compensation if the Argentinian finds another job before the end of the season.

Mattia De Sciglio, Emre Can and Marko Pjaca have been left out of the Juventus squad to face Napoli amid links to moves away from Turin.

Full-back De Sciglio is dealing with a fitness issue but is also a reported target for Paris Saint-Germain in a potential swap deal for Layvin Kurzawa, who is also said to be interesting Arsenal.

Germany international Can is reportedly an option for Borussia Dortmund in his homeland, meanwhile, having joined Juve on a free transfer from Liverpool 18 months ago.

And Pjaca is absent following talk of an imminent switch to Cagliari.

The Bianconeri head to Naples four points clear of second-placed Inter in Serie A, while their Sunday opponents - title challengers in previous campaigns - are struggling in the bottom half.

Maurizio Sarri has indicated he could retire from football at the end of his Juventus reign.

The former Chelsea boss is in his 30th year as a coach and has arguably reached the highest point of his career by taking charge of the Italian champions.

As he prepares Juventus to tackle his former team Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday, Sarri revealed he may not look for another job in the future.

Asked whether he could see himself ever returning to Napoli, the 61-year-old told reporters: "After this experience I could even quit: it depends on what energy I have left and if I think I can do well again. These aren't things I'm thinking about at this moment."

But when asked again if he would not stay in coaching until the age of 70, Sarri, who signed a three-year deal with Juventus in June 2019, said it would depend on whether he still felt challenged by the game.

"Pressure is a false myth: external pressure must not influence you, but if your motivation is lost then it is better to stop," Sarri said.

"I don't know if at the end of my contract with Juventus I will be the same Sarri: if yes, I will continue. Otherwise, no."

Sarri's Juventus lead the way in Serie A, possessing a four-point cushion over second-placed Inter heading into the weekend.

He twice led Napoli to second-placed finishes and is puzzled by the Naples side's struggles this season.

Sitting 11th in the table before the 21st round of fixtures, the dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti and appointment of Gennaro Gattuso as head coach in December has yet to bring about a significant turnaround in fortunes.

A Coppa Italia victory over Lazio in midweek may mark a turning point or prove a blip in a difficult campaign.

Sarri, though, thinks Napoli are a better unit than their results suggest.

He said: "Napoli are a strong team that even in difficult moments can be dangerous in a one-off game. They have a position that doesn't reflect their performance. And they will have great motivation.

"Napoli have changed from Ancelotti to Gattuso. They are working to improve their solidity because they remain ever dangerous in the attacking phase."

He added: "For me, it's clearly a special game, but you shouldn't spend your energy on a personal point of view when the collective goal is what matters: to bring home the three points in a difficult match.

"It is true that Napoli's position is strange, because they are first in terms of ball possession and have other excellent statistics, but they haven't obtained the points that reflect what they have done so far."

Title rivals Inter are looking to bring in Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen from Tottenham, but Sarri appears unflustered by the prospect of the Nerazzurri strengthening with such an acquisition.

"Certainly he is a player of great stature," said Sarri. "But from here to think that he can change the balance of a championship, that is a next step.

"And we don't care: we have to focus only on ourselves, knowing we are competitive."

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