Argentine veteran Sergio Aguero has been list with plenty of clubs after Manchester City confirmed he would be leaving this off-season.

Among those are European heavyweights Chelsea and Barcelona.

But Leeds United have reportedly entered the race for the 32-year-old forward.

 

TOP STORY - LEEDS JOIN AGUERO PURSUIT

Leeds United want to bring Sergio Aguero to Elland Road on a free transfer this off-season.

Manchester City confirmed last month that Aguero would be departing the club after a decade of service.

90Min reports that Leeds hope Aguero's countryman Marcelo Bielsa can help woo him to the newly promoted club.

 

ROUND-UP

- The speculation around Kylian Mbappe's future continues, with The Telegraph reporting that he is stalling on signing a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain with his current contract to expire in 2022. Cuatro claims Mbappe will not sign a new deal as he wants to join Real Madrid.

- ESPN reports Edinson Cavani is "closer than ever" to finalizing a deal to join Argentine club Boca Juniors from Manchester United for this off-season.

- Manchester United may look into signing West Ham United's England international midfielder Declan Rice, as part of a permanent switch for Jesse Lingard, claims the Athletic.

- Metro claims Lyon's Joachim Andersen will cost £25m amid reported interest from Manchester United and Tottenham.

- Yangel Herrera, who is on loan at Granada from Manchester City, has ignited interest from West Ham United according to Todofichajes.

- Inter may explore signing Napoli's Nikola Maksimovic if Andrea Ranocchia leaves, reports Calciomercato.

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.

Andrea Pirlo is hopeful Paulo Dybala will stay at Juventus after the forward came off the bench to secure a Serie A win over Napoli.

Dybala scored as a substitute in a league game on Wednesday for the first time since March 2020, steering a fine finish past Alex Meret in Juve's 2-1 win after Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half opener.

It proved to be the decisive goal, with Juve having been left living dangerously in the closing minutes after a late penalty from Lorenzo Insigne.

With a year to run on his contract, it has been suggested Juve could look to move Dybala on after this season, but head coach Pirlo is keen to keep the Argentina international.

Indeed, Pirlo believes Dybala would have made a greater impact this season had he not missed nearly four months of action with a knee injury.

"When you have a player like Dybala at your disposal, you always try to let him play. We've almost never had him," he told Sky Sport.

"When you miss someone like this, it becomes difficult, and when he comes back he helps you win.

"He still has a year on his contract. We hope to be able to keep him."

The win saw Juve bounce back from their shock 1-0 home loss to Benevento last week, but league leaders Inter remain 12 points ahead after beating Sassuolo 2-1.

Pirlo accepts the champions have themselves to blame for allowing such a gap to open up, but he was delighted with the attitude shown by his players against Gennaro Gattuso's side.

"We've lost a lot of points. We gave up too many chances on the road that led us to having this gap to the leaders," he said.

"When you sacrifice yourself for everyone in the game, you get the great benefit of the result. Everyone sacrificed themselves. Cristiano, too, when someone was out of position, he ran backwards."

Juventus returned to winning ways in Serie A with a 2-1 defeat of Napoli at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday.

After a shock defeat to Benevento ended their run of seven consecutive home league wins, the champions responded in impressive style to record a ninth victory in 10 home league games against Napoli.

Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched a cross from the excellent Federico Chiesa to put Juve ahead with his fourth goal in his past six appearances against the Partenopei.

Gianluigi Buffon made a handful of solid saves to preserve Juve's lead before substitute Paulo Dybala fired in an expert second to make the points safe, with Lorenzo Insigne's late penalty counting for little.

Ronaldo missed a clear chance to head in the opener before finding his mark with aplomb 13 minutes in, steering home a low right-footed finish after Chiesa had twisted superbly into space down the right wing.

Chiesa and Juan Cuadrado were causing real problems for Gennaro Gattuso's side, the latter stinging the palms of Alex Meret after a promising run.

The visitors offered little first-half threat of their own, although Insigne did have Buffon scrambling with a shot from the edge of the box that whistled wide.

Buffon was busier after the restart, denying Giovanni Di Lorenzo and then Insigne from either side of the six-yard box as Napoli pushed forward for an equaliser.

Fabian Ruiz was denied by the Juve veteran from another hopeful attempt, and Napoli heads dropped further 17 minutes from time when Dybala swept a stylish low finish past Meret from the edge of the box – his first goal since January 3.

Insigne at last beat Buffon with an emphatic penalty after Giorgio Chiellini bundled over Victor Osimhen, but it proved too little too late for the visitors.

 

What does it mean? Andrea Pirlo restores pride but Inter remain clear

Juve are still third but just a point behind Milan, who drew with 10-man Sampdoria last weekend.

However, with Inter 12 points ahead at the top, Juve's hopes of making it 10 consecutive league titles are beginning to look slim indeed.

Napoli stay fifth but are only two points behind Atalanta in fourth.

Cunning Chiesa

Chiesa was the liveliest player on the pitch and Juve's most persistent source for attacking threat, even after his superb assist for Ronaldo.

While he completed the fewest passes (15) of any starting Juve player, his runs with and without the ball caused chaos and he should have had the chance to score a simple finish from Alvaro Morata's fast break.

Morata misfires

Morata was guilty more than once of getting into the right position in attack only to make the wrong call with the ball at his feet.

While he did manage to create two chances in his 69 minutes on the pitch, he missed both of his attempts at goal and made a mess of a three-on-one counter-attack.

What's next?

Juve host Genoa on Sunday, with Napoli next in action away to Sampdoria.

Lionel Messi's future is a popular topic.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona at the start of the season but opted to remain at Camp Nou.

With his contract expiring at the end of 2020-21, the Barca superstar is continuing to make headlines.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WAITING ON BARCA

Barcelona have yet to make a move to re-sign superstar captain Lionel Messi, according to the front page of Wednesday's Marca.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and his future is far from certain, having been tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

Led by new president Joan Laporta, Barca are determined to retain the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports Ousmane Dembele wants to continue with Barca, but speculation is mounting that Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar could return to Camp Nou. Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 – has been negotiating a new contract in the French capital. Dembele has previously been linked with Manchester United.

Manchester City are eyeing a new striker but they are unwilling to spend "crazy" money, claims Fabrizio Romano. With Sergio Aguero – linked with Chelsea, Inter, PSG and Barcelona – leaving on a free transfer, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland has emerged as City's prime target, while Tottenham star Harry Kane is another option.

- Goal says Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli and Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi could swap clubs. Both players have struggled this season and they could reportedly be involved in an exchange deal. Romagnoli has attracted interest from Barca and Chelsea.

- Eurosport reports United and Liverpool could go head-to-head in a battle to sign RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. The 21-year-old has been heavily linked with Liverpool, but United are also interested. Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Villarreal's Pau Torres and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly are also reportedly being monitored at Old Trafford.

- Romano claims there are "huge chances" for Hector Bellerin to leave Arsenal. The Spaniard was previously linked with PSG and Barca.

Andrea Pirlo was not concerned by a meeting between former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and president Andrea Agnelli, insisting he retains the support of the Serie A champions.

Reports this week revealed Allegri, who won five Scudetti in five seasons in Turin, had met with Bianconeri chief Agnelli.

That appeared to increase pressure on Pirlo, whose first season as a senior coach has badly gone off the rails.

Juve are fourth heading into Wednesday's game against Napoli, who are fifth on the same number of points.

After nine consecutive Serie A titles, Juve risk missing out on Champions League qualification for next season.

But Pirlo feels he still has the backing of Agnelli, who informed him of the encounter with Allegri, a coach who has been without a job since his departure in 2019.

"There is no position," Pirlo said ahead of the Napoli game. "I was warned by the president himself about the meeting with Allegri.

"Football is one thing, friendship is another. I have a daily relationship with Agnelli, we tell each other everything that happens.

"I knew about this meeting and I know I have his confidence, then obviously it's up to me to prove that I can be the coach for next season as well."

Pirlo might find the going tough against Napoli, as the Partenopei arrive in Turin on a four-match winning run in Serie A.

Napoli have also won their previous two games against Juve, while they have a joint-high five wins over the Bianconeri since the start of their sequence of nine championships in a row.

Pirlo will also be without Merih Demiral, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi following positive coronavirus tests, but the coach insisted he had no issue with the game going ahead.

The fixture was originally scheduled to take place in October but did not go ahead as planned, after Napoli did not travel to Turin on the recommendation of their local health authority (ASL).

"We respect the protocol," Pirlo said. "We are in tune with what the ASL says. We will do what we have always done, we will present ourselves and play."

Paulo Dybala, left out against Torino on Saturday after breaching COVID-19 regulations, is back in contention, while Pirlo is keeping faith with Wojciech Szczesny and Dejan Kulusevski, who have each been guilty of recent on-field mistakes.

Juve had not committed a single error leading to a goal in Serie A this season until March but have since had three.

Szczesny's, against Torino, also saw Kulusevski - at fault against Lazio - give the ball away cheaply.

"Szczesny will play because after a negative performance there is always a desire for redemption," Pirlo said, adding: "I spoke to Kulusevski. I reassured him. Mistakes can happen - you have to raise your head."

Juventus have announced Federico Bernardeschi has tested positive for COVID-19, ruling him out of Wednesday's crucial game against Napoli.

Bernardeschi is isolating away from the rest of the first-team squad following the test result, though Juve revealed on Tuesday that the Italy international is asymptomatic.

The 27-year-old came on as a second-half substitute as the reigning champions drew 2-2 with Torino on Saturday, a result that further damaged their bid to win the league for a 10th straight season.

Juve boss Andrea Pirlo was without both Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral for the Turin derby after the defenders tested positive for coronavirus during the international break.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck a late equaliser but the Bianconeri still dropped down to fourth in the table, 12 points behind leaders Inter with just 10 matches remaining.

Juve host fifth-placed Napoli in midweek too, a key fixture for both clubs in the battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Like compatriot Bonucci, Bernardeschi was involved for the Azzurri as they started their World Cup qualifying campaign last month – he made appearances in all three Group C fixtures in March, against Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania.

The Italian Football Federation announced four members of their staff had returned positive tests prior to the game in Lithuania, which resulted in a 2-0 win for Roberto Mancini's side.

Sergio Aguero's next destination is a hot topic of conversation after Manchester City confirmed he will leave at the end of the season.

The Argentina forward has been linked with a host of clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

The 32-year-old has spent the past decade in England with City.

 

TOP STORY - BLUES IN BOX SEAT FOR AGUERO

Chelsea have moved into pole position to land Aguero, who wants to remain in England according to the Daily Mail.

The Blues, who wanted to sign Aguero in 2011 when he left Atletico Madrid for City, will be in the market for a forward with rumours about Timo Werner's future after an underwhelming debut season at Stamford Bridge.

Portuguese publication Record claims Benfica are also interested in Aguero, while The Sun has added Arsenal and his former club Independiente to the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- Lyon's Netherlands international Memphis Depay has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, but Marca claims Liverpool could 'muscle in' for the soon-to-be free agent.

- Le Parisien reports that Paris Saint-Germain are in a hurry to get Kylian Mbappe to commit to a new contract amid speculation linking him with a move away, including to Real Madrid.

- L’Equipe claims that Arkadiusz Milik has a €12million buyout clause in his Marseille loan contract from Napoli and Juventus are preparing an offer to swoop for him.

Sheffield United midfielder Ismaila Coulibaly has attracted interest from AC Milan and Galatasaray but the Blades want to keep him, according to Yorkshire Live.

Lionel Messi has been tipped to leave Barcelona for either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

But Haaland could reportedly unlock Messi's future.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND TO CITY MEANS BARCA STAY FOR MESSI?

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could hold the key to Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Barca, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

City have been tipped to sign Messi, but should they step up their pursuit of Haaland, the Premier League leaders could reportedly drop their interest in the Barca captain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says new Barca president Joan Laporta is preparing a contract renewal for Messi, who is set to become a free agent at season's end.

- Bayern Munich are eyeing a move for Tottenham star Son Heung-min, claims Football Insider. Son has reportedly been offered a bumper new contract by Spurs, but the former Bayer Leverkusen forward is wanted in Munich.

- Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha, Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria and Sander Berge of Sheffield United are on the list of midfielders to replace City veteran Fernandinho, reports A Bola.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Juventus and Barca are interested in Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli. The Italy defender is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly seeking a €6million-a-year contract.

Napoli are eyeing Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi and sporting director Igli Tare, claims Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso has been tipped to leave Napoli at the end of the season, with ex-Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, Luciano Spalletti and Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric among the possible replacements. But Lazio duo Inzaghi and Tare are being monitored to replace Gattuso and Cristiano Giuntoli in Naples.

United are interested in Lille defender Sven Botman, according to Fabrizio Romano. Sevilla star Jules Kounde has been on United's radar but the club's asking price of €80m (£68m) is too steep.

- Romano also says there is no agreement with United and Paul Pogba over a new contract. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve, Madrid and PSG.

Fabian Ruiz insisted he is "very happy" at Napoli amid links with Atletico Madrid and LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Napoli and Spain star Fabian has repeatedly been tipped to return to his homeland, where Atletico, Madrid and Barca are reportedly interested.

Fabian – contracted to Serie A side Napoli until 2023 – has starred in Italy since arriving from Real Betis in 2018.

Amid speculation over his future, Fabian, who is on international duty with Spain for their World Cup qualifiers, told reporters: "I'm very happy at Napoli and I have two more years contract left there.

"Now I'm just focused on the next game on Wednesday as it will be very tough."

Fabian, 24, added: "About LaLiga, without a doubt it is one of the most competitive leagues in the world as there are many great players and teams.

"However, every player just tries to do the best for his own future. Sometimes you have to move abroad but it does not mean those leagues are better. The players are just interested in their happiness and work, so they make their own decisions.

"I can't say which one is better but I'm sure LaLiga is one of the three best leagues in the world."

Fabian has scored once and supplied one assist for Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli in Serie A this season.

 

Another day, another Erling Haaland rumour.

Haaland's future is dominating headlines amid widespread interest in Europe.

Barcelona are reportedly interested in the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI OUT, HAALAND IN?

Barcelona have identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a top transfer priority if Lionel Messi leaves at the end of the season, according to Diario AS.

Messi is out of contract at season's end and the superstar Barca captain has been tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

Should Messi depart, Haaland is wanted by Barca and head coach Ronald Koeman, though all eyes will be on Lyon forward Memphis Depay if the former remains at Camp Nou.

Haaland has also been linked with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG, Liverpool and City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims City are convinced Kevin De Bruyne will sign a new contract with the club. Raheem Sterling's contract is also on the agenda, while soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero will decide his future in the coming weeks. Aguero has been linked with Inter, Barca and Chelsea.

United are set to challenge Madrid in the chase to sign Villarreal defender Pau Torres, reports The Mirror. United are keen to bolster their defence amid links with Madrid pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate.

- Calciomercato says Inter will reject any offers for star Romelu Lukaku. It comes as Chelsea and Barca reportedly eye the in-form Belgian.

Barca are monitoring the future of Valencia star Jose Luis Gaya, according to Diario AS. The captain is negotiating a new contract with Valencia.

- Napoli and Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz is wanted by LaLiga trip Barca, Madrid and Atletico Madrid, claims Diario Sport.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal are considering a move for Real Betis star Nabil Fekir amid doubts over loanees Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos.

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.

Where will Jack Grealish play his football next season?

It is one of the big questions in English football right now and Manchester City have joined the conversation.

City are reportedly emerging as the favourites to sign the Aston Villa captain.

 

TOP STORY – CITY LINE UP GREALISH SPLASH

Manchester City appear best placed to sign Aston Villa's £100million-rated captain Jack Grealish, according to the Daily Mail.

Grealish reportedly came close to joining Manchester United last year, but the Red Devils could not come up with the funds to seal the deal.

City manager Pep Guardiola is a well-known admirer of Grealish, previously calling him "an exceptional player".

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Liverpool have joined the queue chasing Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni, with a reported £43m (€50m) move. European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Barcelona are also allegedly keen on the 21-year-old Italy international.

Tottenham are likely to opt out of exercising the £36m (€42m) option-to-buy Carlos Vinicius, who is on loan at Spurs from Benfica according to the Daily Mail. The report claims Spurs are only willing to pay more than half that amount for the Brazilian.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are considering a move for Arkadiusz Milik, who they have previously been linked with as they prepare for the possible departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala. Juve are reportedly set to revive their interest in Milik, with the Poland international on loan at Marseille from Napoli.

- Football Insider reports that United are plotting a move for Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez amid doubts over star David de Gea and Dean Henderson. They have also been linked with Milan sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Real Madrid are keen to bring back Levante winger Jorge de Frutos to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to Marca.

What does the future hold for Sergio Aguero?

With his Manchester City contract expiring at the end of the season, Aguero is no closer to re-signing.

Premier League rivals Chelsea could be ready to pounce…

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA KEEPING TABS ON AGUERO

Chelsea are tracking Manchester City star and soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero, according to the Daily Mail.

Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and the City forward has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Barcelona.

But Premier League rivals Chelsea are reportedly eyeing a move for City's all-time leading goalscorer.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail reports City and Chelsea are both interested in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud. Tottenham and Everton have also been linked with the Germany international.

Juventus are eyeing a move for star Atalanta wing-back Robin Gosens, claims Calciomercato. Gosens has starred for Atalanta, who value him between €35-€40million.

- FootMercato says Paris Saint-Germain want Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier as former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino seeks a reunion.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester United have not made a bid for Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. United have also been linked with RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, as well as Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White.

- In-demand Dortmund star Erling Haaland has a "crush" on Madrid but El Chiringuito insists no club is close to signing the Norwegian. Haaland has been linked with Madrid, Barca, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus.

Stefano Pioli says it is understandable Milan are struggling to cope with a crippling injury list after losing further ground in the Serie A title race.

Milan fell to a 1-0 loss at home to Napoli on Sunday through Matteo Politano's strike early in the second half, the Inter loanee's fourth goal in his past eight league games - as many as he managed in his first 17 appearances of the campaign.

The defeat leaves Pioli's men nine points behind leaders Inter, having themselves been at the summit just a month ago.

Milan were again without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Napoli, as well as Mario Mandzukic, while Ante Rebic and Hakan Calhanoglu have also spent time on the sidelines.

That told as the Rossoneri failed to find a way past David Ospina from their five shots on target, though Pioli pointed out fellow heavyweights Inter and Juventus would also struggle if they were without their best players.

"When you are missing that many players, it does make a difference, especially when they are players who also bring experience and leadership," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We had to play many games without a real centre-forward, so considering all of that, the team deserves praise for all they've been able to do in the circumstances.

"Try to imagine Inter without [Romelu] Lukaku, Lautaro [Martinez] or [Alexis] Sanchez; maybe Juventus without [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Alvaro] Morata or [Federico] Chiesa.

"We had more than half the season without Zlatan, while Rebic and Calhanoglu were also injured for long periods.

"We showed all week that this is not just a strong team, but a special one. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough tonight.

"We should've either been more courageous or sat back more, but tonight we tended to be somewhere in-between and were caught in no man's land."

Milan have now won just two of their past six league matches and are only six points better off than fifth-placed Napoli, who also have a game in hand to play.

And with the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with Manchester United to come on Thursday, three days before a trip to Fiorentina, Pioli accepts fatigue is now playing a big part.

"It was a very tough and tiring week. I saw a performance that was sufficient, but that's not enough," he said.

"We returned from Manchester at 3am on Friday morning. It's obvious the Europa League is more stressful and damaging than the Champions League, especially when we started in September.

"Having said that, we are Milan and would never want to be without that European presence. We weren't expecting to be in second place, but now that we are here, we want to keep hold of it.

"Inter have the momentum - they really started to step on the gas after their Champions League exclusion and it allowed them a full week to prepare for every game.

"We are not looking ahead or over our shoulders; we just stay focused on our path."

Napoli, previously without an away win in four league outings, are now unbeaten in their past six league encounters with Milan at San Siro since December 2014.

The home side's misery was compounded late on when, shortly after Theo Hernandez had a strong penalty shout rejected, substitute Ante Rebic was dismissed for dissent.

Despite now being closer to fifth place than first, however, midfielder Sandro Tonali insists Milan are still looking up the table rather than down.

"I don't think there is fear, otherwise we'd lose every game," he said. "We are here and must continue to aim high and not give up now."

"This is not the game we prepared - it was not what we intended to do. Napoli closed down all the spaces and we didn't create enough scoring opportunities.

"The ones we did create with Rafa Leao were not converted and then Napoli scored their first real chance."

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