Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is coveted at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His French connection with Zinedine Zidane means there is constant speculation.

However, Pogba is set to remain at United for the time being.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE UP ON POGBA… FOR NOW

LaLiga giants Real Madrid will not sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba in January, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Pogba – still recovering from injury – continues to be linked with Madrid amid doubts over his United future.

Madrid, however, recognise there is "no chance" of prising the Frenchman from Old Trafford in the New Year.

 

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- A return to Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake looks likely, claims Bleacher Report. Chelsea have a £40million buyback clause for Ake, who left Stamford Bridge permanently in 2017. Manchester City have also been linked to the 24-year-old defender.

- Barcelona defender Jean-Clair Todibo has turned down a move to Milan, reports RMC. The 19-year-old has also been linked to Ligue 1 outfit Monaco and Premier League giants Manchester United.

- Qatari outfit Al Rayyan have re-opened talks with Juventus regarding the transfer of out-of-favour striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. United and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund are also reportedly interested in the veteran Croatian.

Napoli have offered Dries Mertens a two-year contract extension, says Sky Sport Italia. The Belgian, who is out of contract at season's end, has been the subject of reported interest from Dortmund.

- Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to swap Leandro Paredes for Juventus midfielder Emre Can, reports the Daily Mail.

- La Nazione says Fiorentina are looking to bring former Milan striker Patrick Cutrone back to Serie A. The Italian left San Siro for Premier League side Wolves at the start of the season.

- Former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is in talks to join Javier Mascherano at Argentine outfit Estudiantes. Iniesta currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan, however, TNT Sports claims the 35-year-old midfielder could move in 2020.

Mikel Arteta looks to be on his way out of Manchester City, and it may not be long before he is followed by Pep Guardiola.

That is if reports linking Paris Saint-Germain with a move for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach are to be believed.

Meanwhile, Arteta is not the only big managerial appointment expected imminently in the Premier League, with Carlo Ancelotti close to being confirmed as Everton boss, and reports suggest a big-name could be in line to follow the Italian to Goodison Park.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA LINED UP BY PSG

According to Le10 Sport, Paris Saint-Germain will look to swap Thomas Tuchel with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola next season.

Guardiola is currently under contract with City until 2021, though has said he is open to extending his deal. However, these reports claim PSG will aim to bring in the Spaniard, along with former Barca star Xavi, who will act as his number two.

While City are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, PSG are top of Ligue 1 and will face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16.

 

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- The Sun claims Mauricio Pochettino is holding off on making any commitment to Real Madrid as he waits to see how Guardiola's situation at Manchester City plays out.

- According to The Telegraph, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is open to linking up with former boss Carlo Ancelotti at Everton. Ancelotti is reportedly set to be appointed by the Toffees and Ibrahimovic – who has been linked to Milan and Napoli – could follow him to Merseyside.

Mesut Ozil is close to securing a loan move from Arsenal to Fenerbahce in January, according to Turkish newspaper Fotomac.

- Madrid winger Vinicius Jr. has been linked with a move to the Premier League. El Desmarque reports Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Wolves are all interested in the Brazilian.

- Another potential outgoing from Arsenal could be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with The Mirror saying one of Arteta's first tasks will be to convince the Gunners' captain to stay put.

- Sky Sports reports Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs are all monitoring Lille forward Victor Osimhen, who has scored nine Ligue 1 goals this term.

- Inter great Dejan Stankovic is poised to become head coach of Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade. After Vladan Milojevic stepped down on Thursday, reports in Serbia claim the former Red Star midfielder will be unveiled on Friday. This is set to be Stankovic's first senior job.

Tottenham are considering a January move for Leicester City full-back Ricardo Pereira, says Het Nieuwsblad.

Jose Mourinho looks set to play the waiting game at Tottenham despite the looming threat of key player departures.

According to reports, Mourinho will not be spooked into a January spending spree even as Spurs consider selling out-of-contract stars to Premier League rivals.

The head coach does, however, have two England Under-19 internationals in his sights.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO TREATING TRANSFERS WITH CAUTION

Tottenham will make transfer funds available in January but Mourinho is set to put his squad overhaul on hold, according to the Daily Mail.

Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen can all walk out on the club at the end of the season and chairman Daniel Levy has said he is prepared to make deals with other Premier League teams.

The state of flux has reportedly motivated Mourinho to leave his rebuilding efforts until the campaign is complete, although the former Manchester United and Real Madrid boss remains open to sensible short-term spending.

Spurs are said to have scouted Norwich City right-back Max Aarons and West Brom's Nathan Ferguson as they look for a challenger to Serge Aurier.

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- Liverpool should announce the capture of Salzburg winger Takumi Minamino before the weekend, writes the the Independent.

- Mikel Arteta appears set to take charge of Arsenal and Manchester City, where he has worked as an assistant since 2016, are "furious" with the Gunners' lack of communication, according to The Guardian.

- Managerial movements are happening elsewhere in the Premier League. The Mirror claims ex-Milan and Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has agreed a three-and-a-half year deal worth £11.5million per season with Everton.

- Europe's top clubs are monitoring Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Marquinhos amid a breakdown in negotiations over a contract extension with the Ligue 1 leaders, says Le 10 Sport.

- Bayern Munich are now considering whether to bring forward their planned close-season bid for Leroy Sane after the City winger expressed a desire to join the Bundesliga giants in January, reports Bild.

- Fenerbahce have expressed interest in rumoured Napoli and Schalke target Ricardo Rodriguez, claims CalcioMercato. The Switzerland left-back has started four times for Milan in Serie A this season.

Arsenal and Everton are moving closer to confirming their new bosses.

According to reports, the Premier League clubs have identified their preferred candidates and commenced discussions.

But while supporters appear to be onside, it seems Manchester City have been left upset by recent developments.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL MAKE PROGRESS WITH ARTETA PURSUIT

Arsenal have opened talks with City assistant Mikel Arteta and the Premier League champions are not pleased, according to The Athletic.

Arteta, 37, reportedly met with Arsenal's head of football Raul Sanllehi last week and discussions regarding his potential appointment are said to have advanced following discussions with key officials Vinai Venkatesham and Huss Fahmy.

The Athletic's report suggests that though the Spaniard has kept his employers informed, City have received no official approach from the Gunners – an oversight that has "angered" those at the Etihad Stadium, according to the Mirror.

Arteta spent five seasons with Arsenal as a player and was in the running to succeed Arsene Wenger in 2018, before the job went to Unai Emery.

 

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- Arteta has also been linked with a return to Everton but the Toffees look set to land a vastly more experienced candidate. According to The Telegraph, Carlo Ancelotti is on the verge of becoming their new manager on a deal running through to 2024. Everton, however, have denied issuing any contract offers in the wake of Marco Silva's dismissal.

- "Senior stars" at Tottenham have urged Jose Mourinho to sign Wolves winger Adama Traore, reports Football Insider. Traore scored a goal and ran the Spurs defence ragged in his side's 2-1 defeat at Molineux on Sunday.

- LaLiga title hopefuls Real Madrid are taking a close look at teenage Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, claims L'Equipe. Camavinga has already accrued 20 Ligue 1 starts at the tender age of 17.

- Bayern Munich hope to sign Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos but may be forced to wait until the end of the season, says Sky Sport Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Remaining with Bayern and, even though the Bundesliga champions sit six points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig, club executives are keeping the faith with interim head coach Hansi Flick, reports Bild. That means Thomas Tuchel will not be making a mid-season switch from Paris Saint-Germain.

- Serie A table-toppers Inter admire 20-year-old River Plate midfielder Cristian Ferreira and have discussed the possibility of a transfer with his agent, reports CalcioMercato. 

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde insists Napoli will be dangerous opponents in the Champions League last 16.

The Catalans were pitted against the Serie A side in Monday's knockout-stage draw in Nyon, with the first leg to take place at the San Paolo on February 25.

Napoli have endured a tough season domestically, their 2-1 loss at home to Parma on Saturday leaving them in eighth place, 18 points off leaders Inter and Juventus.

Despite some poor league results, which led to Carlo Ancelotti's departure as head coach and the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso, Napoli finished Champions League Group E unbeaten and are the only team to have beaten holders Liverpool in any competition this season.

Valverde believes Barca will need to be at their sharpest if they are to progress to the quarter-finals, even though his side triumphed 4-0 in their most recent meeting in pre-season.

"Napoli are a dangerous team," he told Barca TV. "Clearly, they're not going through their best moment. They've had a change of coach and they'll have to adapt bit by bit.

"We'll see how they are and how everyone is heading into February, but without a doubt, we'll have to prepare for the tie really well.

"It'll be a strong atmosphere, with a big stadium, one of those where the fans are very close. But that's fine. In that sense, we're used to playing in front of atmospheres of this kind and it'll be beautiful to experience everything in general around Napoli as a city."

Gattuso, meanwhile, has promised Napoli will go into the tie determined to give a strong account of themselves.

"Barcelona are a great team and it will be a big challenge across two fascinating games," he said. "We'll show no fear."

Pep Guardiola will renew rivalries with Real Madrid after Manchester City were drawn to face Los Blancos in a blockbuster Champions League last-16 tie.

With City 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, success in Europe is likely to be Guardiola's main priority this season.

But their hopes of glory in the continent's premier club competition were not helped by a daunting clash with LaLiga giants Madrid, who have triumphed in four of the past six editions.

Guardiola is no stranger to Madrid having spent four years in charge of their fierce Clasico rivals Barcelona, while he was Bayern Munich coach when they were defeated 5-0 over two legs in the 2013-14 Champions League semi-finals.

Madrid have previous against City in the competition, too, coming out on top in a last-four clash in the 2015-16 campaign.

Holders Liverpool face Atletico Madrid – runners-up in 2013-14 and 2015-16 – in a return to the Wanda Metropolitano, the scene of the Reds' 2-0 win over Tottenham in last season's final as they became European champions for a sixth time.

Jurgen Klopp's side finished top of Group E by a solitary point from Napoli, who have the unenvious task of facing LaLiga champions Barcelona – aiming to get their hands on European football's most coveted prize for the first time since 2014-15.

In a draw brimming with sub-plots, Thomas Tuchel will return to Borussia Dortmund with his Paris Saint-Germain side, while Chelsea and Bayern Munich – the only team to win all six of their group-stage games – face off in what is a rematch of the 2011-2012 final.

Tottenham, aiming to beat their runners-up finish last term, go head-to-head with an RB Leipzig side playing in the knockout stages for the first time.

Juventus will start as favourites in their tie against Lyon, while fellow Serie A side Atalanta – who made the last 16 in their first endeavour into the Champions League – go up against Valencia for a place in the quarter-finals.

The first-leg matches will take place on February 18, 19, 25 and 26, with the return fixtures played on March 10, 11, 17 and 18.

Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and now Donny van de Beek?

Ajax lost stars De Jong and De Ligt in the off-season and Van de Beek is now reportedly nearing an Amsterdam exit.

It may be the case that the midfielder can choose between the two Spanish powerhouse clubs.

 

TOP STORY –  BARCA & MADRID WANT VAN DE BEEK

LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are battling to sign Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, according to reports.

Van de Beek was heavily linked to Madrid as an alternative to Manchester United star Paul Pogba during the previous transfer window.

Now, Sport claims Van de Beek could be available for between €50-60million.

 

ROUND-UP

Bayer Leverkusen are poised to sign River Plate's Exequiel Palacios, says Kicker. Palacios – previously tipped to join Madrid – is set to move to Bundesliga outfit Leverkusen in January in a €22m deal.

- Mundo Deportivo and Calciomercarto claim Barca and Milan have met to discuss the future of defender Jean-Clair Todibo. LaLiga champions Barca are reportedly happy to part with the 19-year-old.

- According to 90min, Liverpool are set to beat Manchester City and Chelsea to Coventry City left-back Sam McCallum.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has walked away from negotiations with Milan, reports Calciomercato. A free agent after leaving LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic has been linked with a return to Milan, as well as Napoli. But the 38-year-old is reportedly not moving back to San Siro after failing to reach an agreement.

- Valencia teenager Ferran Torres is high on the agenda of Madrid, according to AS. The 19-year-old is attracting interest from across Europe, including Liverpool and Juventus.

- Keen to provide competition for Tammy Abraham, 90min says Chelsea are considering a January bid for Bordeaux forward Josh Maja.

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis appeared to rule out the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, insisting the club must "start from scratch" after Gennaro Gattuso replaced Carlo Ancelotti.

Ibrahimovic is a free agent after leaving MLS side LA Galaxy and the veteran striker has been linked with a return to Serie A via Napoli, former club Milan and Serie C outfit Monza.

Touted to re-join Milan, the arrival of ex-Rossoneri boss Gattuso in Naples has led to speculation Ibrahimovic could move to Napoli instead.

It comes after Napoli reportedly offered Ibrahimovic an 18-month contract before head coach Ancelotti was sacked following the club's Champions League victory on Tuesday.

Asked about Ibrahimovic, De Laurentiis told reporters: "Zlatan is a great person with a strong character. We thought about Ibrahimovic when Ancelotti was in charge, as he would've taken a certain role.

"Now before thinking about him, I have other priorities, as this is a team that must play in a different system with a very high line and a defence that cannot allow what it allowed against Parma.

"We must focus first and foremost on what we have in-house and then to reinforce the midfield. It's a pity all the work we had done for Ancelotti now has to be scrapped and we start again working for Gattuso's ideas. We start from scratch, but do not lack enthusiasm."

Gattuso's first match in charge did not go according to plan – Napoli stunned 2-1 by visiting Parma after conceding a 93rd-minute goal on Saturday.

The result left Napoli languishing in eighth in Serie A, 11 points outside the top four amid an eight-match winless streak in the league.

"I am totally in sync with Gattuso, who is a great worker," De Laurentiis said. "He did well at Milan and is the right profile for us, as was Carlo, who remains an extraordinary person.

"Now we need a great deal of patience, nerves of steel and cool heads. I tell that above all to the fans. They want to win at all costs, but football has changed and it has become far more complex."

On Ancelotti, De Laurentiis added: "I can only wish Ancelotti all the best. He is an extraordinary person and a great friend. Once we reach the end of the season, I'll look at everything and understand what went wrong or who was wrong. We will draw a definitive line."

Ezequiel Lavezzi has announced his retirement from professional football.

The 34-year-old said in a statement on social media that he is calling time on "the most amazing phase life has given me".

Lavezzi had suggested last month that he could end his playing career after Hebei China Fortune's final Chinese Super League match of 2019 against Wuhan Zall on December 1, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The former Argentina international, who won 51 caps for his country and reached the finals of the 2014 World Cup and 2015 and 2016 Copas America, wrote on Twitter on Friday: "They were amazing years of this story.

"Years marked by learning, unique moments and lots of memories that will stay in my heart for good.

"I am forever grateful for those who have stayed by my side throughout this journey.

"With lots of joy, I say goodbye to the most amazing phase life has given me. I've been extremely happy!"

Lavezzi moved to Hebei China Fortune in 2016 after four years with Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he won four Ligue 1 titles, two Coupes de la Ligue, two Trophees des Champions and the Coupe de France.

He was previously part of a formidable attacking trio with Napoli, alongside Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik, and won the Coppa Italia in 2012 with a 2-0 win over Juventus in the final.

Lavezzi started his career with Rosario Central before spending a year with Estudiantes and three with San Lorenzo, where he won the 2007 Clausura title.

Europe's top five leagues have monopolised the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in the competition's history.

With Atalanta's 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk, the Serie A side ensured only nations from Italy, England, France, Germany and Spain would complete the last-16 line up prior to the final group fixtures on Wednesday.

Atalanta's win left only one place in the last 16 to be decided, with Atletico Madrid's 2-0 triumph over Lokomotiv Moscow – combined with a 2-0 loss for Bayer Leverkusen at home to Juventus – enough to send Diego Simeone's men through.

It is the first time only teams from the top-tier nations in European football have been included in the draw for the knockout stage, which will take place on Monday.

England – Premier League: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham

Chelsea and Liverpool had the biggest scares of the group stage when it came to the English sides, though both ultimately qualified.

Current holders Liverpool put in a clinical second-half display to dispatch Salzburg 2-0 in their final Group E match, with Frank Lampard's side progressing from Group H thanks to a 2-1 win over Lille – last season's semi-finalists Ajax dropping into the Europa League despite amassing 10 points

Tottenham were on the wrong end of a 7-2 hammering by Bayern Munich in October, but three successive victories sent them through prior to their second meeting with the German champions, while Manchester City qualified as Group C winners.

France – Ligue 1: Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain look like they mean business this season and, after ensuring their place in the next round with a 2-2 comeback draw away at Real Madrid, capped off their Group A campaign in style with a 5-0 thrashing of lowly Galatasaray.

Neymar starred on Wednesday, with Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all scoring too – with their star-studded forward line in such form, Thomas Tuchel's side should be some force in the knockouts.

Memphis Depay was the hero for Lyon, meanwhile, as his 82nd-minute equaliser against RB Leipzig sent Rudi Garcia's side from bottom up to second.

Germany – Bundesliga: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig

Along with PSG, Bayern were the standout performers of the group stage – their haul of 18 points and a goal difference of +19 making them the best group winner in Champions League history.

Leipzig made history when they secured their first participation in the knockout stage thanks to Emil Forsberg's double against Benfica on matchday five in Group G, though Borussia Dortmund had to see off Slavia Prague 2-1 in their final Group F game – and rely on Barcelona to defeat Inter.

Italy – Serie A: Atalanta, Juventus, Napoli

Atalanta seemed on the brink after three straight defeats to start their Group C campaign, yet Gian Piero Gasperini's side battled back – a draw with City and wins over Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar continuing their Champions League adventure, becoming the first side to go through after losing their opening three matches.

Juventus' tally of 16 points in Group D saw them equal their own record – set in 1996-97 and matched in 2004-05 – while Napoli hammered Genk 4-0 on Tuesday to book their last-16 berth, though it was not enough to keep Carlo Ancelotti in his job.

There will be no place in the last 16 for Serie A leaders Inter, though, with Antonio Conte's side dropping into the Europa League.

Spain – LaLiga: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia

LaLiga, like the Premier League, will have four representatives in the knockout stage. Barca were unconvincing at times in Group F, but had enough to seal their spot with a game to spare before ending Inter's hopes.

Atleti needed to overcome Lokomotiv on matchday six, but did so easily enough thanks to Joao Felix and Felipe – though Kieran Trippier missed an early penalty – and their city rivals Real Madrid ultimately easily progressed from Group A despite a chastening defeat to PSG in their opening match.

Valencia were involved in a mighty tussle with Chelsea and Ajax, who beat them 3-0 in their first home match, but eventually topped Group H thanks to a 1-0 win over the Eredivisie champions on Tuesday.

The race to sign Erling Haaland has taken another turn.

According to reports, the in-demand striker flew to Germany on Wednesday to hold talks with Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland has become one of Europe's hottest properties following a prolific run of form for Salzburg.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND MEETS WITH DORTMUND

Could talented teenager Haaland be the next bright young forward to join Bundesliga side Dortmund?

Local newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten and Radio 91.2 claim the Norwegian and his high-profile agent Mino Raiola arrived at Dortmund Airport and were met by a BVB official the day after Salzburg's Champions League loss to Liverpool.

Haaland played 75 minutes against the holders but was unable to add to his impressive eight-goal haul in Europe this season.

Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid are among the other heavyweights reportedly showing interest in the 19-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

- Salzburg could be about to part with more than one highly-rated attacker. The Telegraph says Premier League outfit Wolves are preparing to make a move for Hwang Hee-chan, who could cost around £21million (€25m).

- Roma will allow Alessandro Florenzi to leave for €25m in January, claims CalcioMercato. Inter are said to be his strongest suitors, with fellow Serie A sides Napoli and Fiorentina also in contention.

- Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara is unhappy with his reduced role under interim boss Hansi Flick and is thinking of returning to Spain, reports Bild.

- Spain Under-21 international Carles Alena is set to join Real Betis on loan from LaLiga leaders Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- ESPN reporter Julien Laurens believes this season will be Thomas Tuchel's last in charge of Paris Saint-Germain. Tuchel has been heavily linked to Bundesliga champions Bayern.

Gennaro Gattuso will need to get the fans onside if he is to be a success at Napoli, according to former midfielder Massimo Crippa.

Napoli sacked Carlo Ancelotti after Tuesday's 4-0 win over Genk secured their passage into the last 16 of the Champions League, the 60-year-old paying the price for a string of poor results and discord between the players and president Aurelio De Laurentiis

Former Milan boss Gattuso was confirmed as the successor to Ancelotti – who he won two Champions League titles under as a Rossoneri player – at a news conference on Wednesday.

Gattuso had been out of work since leaving Milan at the end of last season after they missed out on Champions League qualification.

The 41-year-old outlined his ambition to steer the team from seventh in Serie A into the top four, and Crippa – part of the Napoli team that won the UEFA Cup in 1989 and the Scudetto the following year – thinks he will need to turn things around quickly if he is to last at the San Paolo.

"Rino [Gattuso] worked really well at Milan. He had a squad that wasn't at the same level as the club's reputation," Crippa told Omnisport.

"You cannot appoint Gattuso and sack Ancelotti without clear ideas about the future.

"We have to remember Gattuso is a Milan legend. Napoli fans can forgive anything but if you don't do well..."

Gattuso will hope to end Napoli's seven-game winless run in Serie A when they entertain Parma on Saturday.

Gennaro Gattuso has taken over from Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli but received advice from the former head coach on how to turn their fortunes around.

Ancelotti was sacked in the hours following Tuesday's 4-0 win over Genk that secured progression to the Champions League last 16, his position having come under intense scrutiny amid poor form and a reported rift between the players and president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Napoli announced Gattuso as their new boss on Wednesday, and the 41-year-old made sure to reach out to Ancelotti – who he won two Champions League titles under as a Milan player – before he was presented to the media.

"We spoke this morning, even though I wanted to talk to him last night. These days were not easy. I knew I had to clarify things with him and explain my decision," said Gattuso, who had been out of work since leaving Milan in May after failing to secure Champions League qualification.

"I grew up with Ancelotti - we won so much together. Six years ago, I started coaching and when I had difficulties I called him; he always made himself available and was always very kind.

"He confirmed that today. He told me where the team can improve and once again showed himself to be a great man.

"He was very open, we talked and I keep that to myself. It was very, very important for me to hear what he said.

"But don't compare us. He won everything, I am a young coach and I have to show a lot more. I hope to win 10 per cent of what he won."

Asked about the length of the contract he signed, with the club having provided no details, Gattuso added: "You make me laugh when you ask these questions. Whether I have six months or an option, it doesn't matter, because our jobs are tied to results.

"If the president had offered me only six months, I would've taken that too because this is a huge opportunity. It feels like these players are made for my style of football."

Disharmony between the players and De Laurentiis appeared to reach a head last month when the first-team squad apparently refused to attend a week-long training camp.

The club suggested in a statement that they could punish players, possibly with fines, promising to do "everything in its power to protect its economic interests, assets, image rights and disciplinary interests".

Gattuso sounded keen to offer a clean slate to the squad as he outlined his aim to lift them from seventh in Serie A into the Champions League qualifying spots.

"Some things didn't work out [under Ancelotti], but I wasn't here when those happened, so I don't want to be told who did and said what. I like to experience them for myself," said Gattuso.

"Bitterness and personal issues won't get us anywhere. We have to get Napoli back to where it belongs.

"It's a big difference between fourth and fifth place in terms of the financial benefits. Seeing this team in seventh is a little embarrassing.

"The team is well aware that the performances have not been the best, but yes, our objective is to reach the Champions League. I missed out last season with Milan by a point, but this team has everything it takes to achieve that."

Gennaro Gattuso has been appointed the new head coach of Napoli, the Serie A club have confirmed.

The former Milan coach and midfielder takes charge at the San Paolo following Tuesday's dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti.

Gattuso twice won the Champions League as a player under Ancelotti in a hugely successful spell with Milan.

Ancelotti's exit was announced just hours after Napoli's 4-0 win over Genk secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Their success in Europe has belied a mostly troubling few months, marred by poor domestic form and disputes within the club.

Napoli are seventh in Serie A, with just five wins from 15 games leaving them 17 points adrift of leaders Inter.

Disharmony between the players and president Aurelio De Laurentiis appeared to reach a head last month when the first-team squad apparently refused to attend a week-long training camp.

The club suggested in a statement that it could punish players, possibly with fines, promising to do "everything in its power to protect its economic interests, assets, image rights and disciplinary interests".

Tuesday's win over Genk was Napoli's first since a 3-2 victory away to Salzburg on October 23, their nine-game winless run piling greater pressure on Ancelotti.

The 60-year-old former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid boss has been linked with Premier League clubs Arsenal and Everton.

"I would like to personally thank the club, its employees, my players, my staff and the president for the opportunity to live an unforgettable experience in a wonderful city such as Naples," Ancelotti tweeted on Wednesday.

Gattuso, 41, took over as Milan coach following Vincenzo Montella's dismissal in November 2017, but he left his post at the end of last season after failing to secure Champions League qualification.

A host of Napoli players have paid tribute to Carlo Ancelotti following his sacking, with the Italian lauded as a "special person" by Lorenzo Insigne and others.

Ancelotti was dismissed on Tuesday despite guiding Napoli to a 4-0 win over Genk earlier in the day, securing their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

It has been a difficult first half of the season for Napoli, with underwhelming league form combining with tension between Ancelotti and the club's hierarchy.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis was reported to have ordered Ancelotti and the players to attend a training retreat in early November, but the squad failed to show up in what was deemed by the Italian media to be an act of open rebellion.

Napoli threatened sanctions in the wake of that situation and Ancelotti's days seemed to be numbered from then, with Tuesday's win over Genk their first win in any competition in well over a month.

After Napoli confirmed Ancelotti had been dismissed following a meeting with De Laurentiis, it seems he has retained the respect of the players.

Club captain Insigne – who acknowledged an up-and-down relationship with Ancelotti in October – wrote on his Instagram account: "Thank you boss - it was an honour to have worked with you and your staff. In these two years I met a special person. I wish you the best!"

Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz has developed into an important player for Napoli and Spain under Ancelotti. He also saluted the three-time Champions League-winning coach.

"Boss, thanks for everything you did," he wrote. "You have been a special person for me, I wish you the best, wherever you go you deserve the best. A big hug and good luck."

Allan added: "You were a special person, much more than a coach... I thank you for everything you've done in almost two years together... I wish you and all the staff good luck."

Kostas Manolas, Arkadiusz Milik, Kalidou Koulibaly and Hirving Lozano were among the others to post their thanks to Ancelotti, who has been strongly linked with the vacant managerial positions at Premier League duo Arsenal and Everton.

Gennaro Gattuso is expected to be announced as Ancelotti's successor on Wednesday.

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