Torino president Urbano Cairo says it is "foolish" for Serie A clubs to be considering returning to training given the ever-changing circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport in Italy has been on lockdown since March 9 due to the spread of COVID-19, with most domestic leagues across the globe now suspended.

There have been 4,825 deaths in Italy as a result of the virus, the highest tally of any nation.

However, Cagliari and Napoli are among the clubs to say training will resume in the coming week, while Lazio are also said to be planning on returning.

Cairo expressed his frustration at those plans in an interview with Turin paper La Stampa.

"If I think back to the Lega meeting on March 10, there were still those who talked about training and returning to play," Cairo said.

"Those speeches, to be heard now, seem [like they're] from another planet.

"I said, 'If we do not take drastic action, moving fans will also contribute to increasing the infection of others'.

"It seems foolish to me to argue a thesis on the basis of contagion data. Saying 'my region has no problems' with such a changing situation isn't a good explanation.

"Meanwhile, there are 16 clubs who don't want to think about [returning to training]."

Asked why he thinks some teams want to train, Cairo replied: "I guess for sporting interests. Perhaps to take advantage of the preparation."

Cairo also said it was "inevitable" clubs will have to ask players to take pay cuts during the crisis and believes the only way to complete the season is to have matches behind closed doors.

"Football is now more united, it is not time for cunning. If the championship ever resumes, it will be played behind closed doors," he said.

Riyad Mahrez only joined Manchester City in 2018 but the Premier League champions are already reportedly willing to cash in on the Algeria international.

With City's looming UEFA ban – the Manchester giants are appealing a two-season suspension – Mahrez could depart the Etihad Stadium.

And Paris Saint-Germain are a possible destination.

 

TOP STORY – PSG AN OPTION FOR MAHREZ

Manchester City attacker Riyad Mahrez is open to moving to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to Calciomercato.

Premier League giants City are reportedly prepared to sell Mahrez and PSG are believed to be the Algeria international's preferred destination.

Mahrez, who arrived at City in 2018, has started 15 of his 23 Premier League appearances this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Is Paul Pogba out of the picture? Juventus have been linked with a move for their former midfielder, however, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed the disgruntled star will be at Old Trafford next season. With that in mind, Calciomercato says Juve are targeting Lyon's Houssem Aouar as an alternative.

- The Daily Star reports Barcelona have decided on their salary for target and Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. Real Madrid, United and Chelsea have also been linked to the Argentina international.

- Fiorentina and Italy star Federico Chiesa is wanted by PSG, Juve, Inter and United, Le10Sport claims.

Angelino to Barca? The City left-back – who is on loan at Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig – has impressed the LaLiga champions, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Sport Witness says Napoli are ready to sell striker Arkadiusz Milik after failing to agree a new deal. Inter, Arsenal and Tottenham have all been linked.

- While Milik could leave, Torino's Andrea Belotti could arrive in Naples. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Napoli, who signed Andrea Petagna in January before loaning him back to SPAL, could include the striker in a deal for Belotti.

Kai Havertz to Juve is not a possibility, says Calciomercato. The Bayer Leverkusen sensation is a player in demand but Juve have ruled out a move due to the €80million price tag. Havertz has been linked to the likes of Bayern Munich, Liverpool, United and others.

Parma's game against SPAL proceeded on Sunday despite confusion before kick-off, when it appeared Serie A could be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Players from both teams were in the tunnel at the Ennio Tardini but were ordered back into the changing rooms to await a final decision over whether the match would go ahead.

Kick-off was initially delayed by half an hour before being rescheduled for 13:45 local time (12:45 GMT), over an hour after the intended start time.

The incident came about as Italian authorities apparently considered whether all Serie A matches should be cancelled amid the ongoing spread of the virus in the country.

Speaking on Sunday, Italy's minister for sport Vincenzo Spadafora confirmed he was recommending an immediate halt to the top-flight season.

He said: "It makes no sense right now, as we ask citizens to make huge sacrifices to prevent the spread of the disease, to put at risk the health of players, referees, coaches and fans, who will surely gather together to watch the games, just to protect the interests that revolve around the sport.

"Other federations have wisely decided to suspend football for the next few days. I think it is the duty of the FIGC [the Italian Football Federation] president, Gabriele Gravina, to reflect again, without waiting for the first case of a Serie A player to be infected, before taking on this very serious responsibility."

Authorities had already ordered all sporting events to be played behind closed doors until at least the start of April to limit the risk of infection.

On Saturday, the Italian government locked down the northern region of Lombardy in an attempt to contain the proliferation of COVID-19, which has infected 5,883 people in the country and claimed 234 lives.

People face fines if they are caught entering or leaving the region unless they have a serious reason to do so. All public events, including weddings and funerals, have been banned.

Valencia's Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Atalanta is due to be played on Tuesday without fans present at Mestalla, while traditional pre-match media duties have been cancelled.

Speaking last week, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin insisted it is not the right time to consider "dark scenarios" such as postponing domestic and European competitions or the Euro 2020 finals this year.

"We are dealing with it and we are confident we can deal with it," Ceferin said. "You don't know how many big concerns we have: we have security concerns, political instability and one is also the virus.

"Let's try to be optimistic, not think about dark scenarios – there's time for that later."

Italy prime minister Giuseppe Conte revealed all of Serie A's Week 26 fixtures, including the blockbuster showdown between Juventus and Inter, could be postponed due to coronavirus fears.

The outbreak of coronavirus in Italy forced four top-flight matches to be postponed over the weekend, including Sunday's clash between Scudetto hopefuls Inter and Sampdoria.

Italy's move came as part of preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 which originated in China, after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Now, upcoming fixtures across Italy's leagues are in doubt, with Serie A leaders Juve scheduled to host Inter in Turin on March 1.

"I don't think that in just one week we'd be able to slow down the contagion so much that we could resume sporting events," Conte told Rai.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation and will evaluate. We'll see the evolution of the contagion and evaluate postponing all next week's matches."

Juve are a point clear atop the table following Saturday's 2-1 victory away at bottom side SPAL.

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th career appearance with a goal, scoring in an 11th consecutive top-flight match – matching a feat previously achieved by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

In-form Lazio were also in action on Saturday and edged Genoa 3-2 to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games, while Inter are six points off the pace with a game in hand.

Torino's home fixture against Parma has become the latest Serie A game to be postponed due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus in Italy.

It was confirmed on Saturday that title-chasing Inter's match against Sampdoria would not go ahead as planned on Sunday, with Hellas Verona-Cagliari and Atalanta-Sassuolo also falling victim.

Torino have now announced their clash with Parma, who sit ninth and still harbour European ambitions this term, will be put back.

"We inform you that the Torino-Parma match, scheduled for today, Sunday 23 February, at 3pm at the Olimpico Grande Torino stadium and valid for the 25th day of the Serie A TIM, has been postponed to a date to be decided," a short statement on the club's official website read.

The decision to postpone the fixtures is part of preventative measures against the spread of coronavirus, officially named Covid-19, in Italy after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Prior to the Inter announcement, the Serie B game between Ascoli and Cremonese was called off and up to 88 amateur matches did not take place, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Lazio, who are second, are scheduled to visit Genoa and Roma are due to entertain Lecce as things stand.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli claimed his players have started to embrace his football philosophy but was coy on their hopes of securing a Champions League place.

The Rossoneri moved up to eighth place in Serie A after a 1-0 win over Torino on Monday thanks to Croatia forward Ante Rebic's first-half strike.

It ensured Milan went unbeaten in nine home games in a row in all competitions for the first time since January 2017.

Pioli, 54, has regularly faced scrutiny over his position during a testing season, having replaced Marco Giampaolo in October last year.

"I am happy with both the result and the performance, we are forming an identity and a way of being on the pitch," Pioli said in his post-match news conference.

"And we still have 14 games to go up the table. We are always under scrutiny, but it is normal and also beautiful in certain respects. 

"You can't think about the future now, there is still so much to do, the future will be decided at the end of the season.

"I had asked for an important effort. We also suffered because of us because we could immediately end the game in the second half.

"I am satisfied with the team's recent performances, but it can be improved in the final phase of matches."

Pioli, however, played down his side's chances of making a sustained end-of-season surge to finish in Serie A's top four.

Milan are still 10 points behind Atalanta, who occupy the fourth Champions League spot after 24 matches of the season, with Pioli keen to keep expectation levels grounded.

"Can we dream of the Champions League? There is only room to prepare well for the next game in five days," Pioli added.

"It is a difficult match against a strong Fiorentina, then we will think about the league table from Saturday evening.

"Winning, gritting one's teeth and fighting is positive. We could certainly have finished the game earlier.

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic came out angry because he wanted to end the game, instead we missed some chances in transition and we had to suffer to the end."

Ante Rebic scored his sixth goal of 2020 as Milan claimed a first win in four in all competitions and climbed to eighth place in Serie A with a 1-0 victory over Torino on Monday.

In-form Rebic found his opportunities limited earlier in the season but has now scored in three consecutive games after strikes against Inter and, in the Coppa Italia, Juventus.

Unlike in those matches, Milan this time held onto their lead to secure a victory that boosts their hopes of a Europa League place.

Torino, who rarely threatened at San Siro, have a five-point cushion to the relegation places but have now suffered four consecutive defeats.

Stefano Pioli described mounting speculation over his future as Milan head coach as "normal" as he aims to end the season strongly despite rumours Andriy Shevchenko could replace him.

Milan have lost just one of their past nine games in all competitions, with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in January having helped Pioli recover some of the ground lost in a dismal stretch either side of his October arrival in place of Marco Giampaolo.

But a run of two draws and a defeat in three games ahead of the visit of Torino in Serie A on Monday has returned the focus to Pioli's position.

Former Rossoneri and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was also mentioned in reports discussing potential appointments in the coming months.

"I know very well what my role is and how we have been very good at not getting carried away by rumours," said Pioli. "We have to do this until the end.

"We are in a great club, it is normal for there to be some talk. We must be very focused on our work.

"There is a lot of season remaining to do well; 45 points are available.

"I am not worried about my future and I am not even thinking about it. I want to try together with the team to exploit this situation."

Pioli started Hakan Calhanoglu in support of Ibrahimovic in Milan's 1-1 Coppa Italia draw with Juventus on Thursday and in his side's 4-2 derby defeat to Inter before that.

And the Rossoneri boss backed his decision to play a lone striker, rather than pairing Ibrahimovic with another forward such as Ante Rebic or Rafael Leao.

"We must strengthen the positive feelings and bring back the same spirit of the last few matches," said Pioli as he looked forward to entertaining Torino at San Siro.

"All game systems are good if the characteristics of the players are suitable for that system.

"We have the characteristics to play with this formation. We see that the team feels these positions and is very balanced and compact, as well as being very dangerous and shooting on goal more than the opponents."

Torino have dismissed Walter Mazzarri as head coach and hired Moreno Longo as his replacement.

Toro have endured a wretched run of form, losing their past four matches in all competitions and conceding 17 goals.

A 4-0 hammering at Lecce proved the end for Mazzarri, who had his contract terminated by mutual consent following a meeting with club president Urbano Cairo.

"The club wishes to thank the coach and all of his staff for the commitment, fairness, and professionalism shown in these last two years," Torino said in a statement on Tuesday.

Longo, a former full-back for Torino and previously a youth coach at the club, has since been confirmed as Mazzarri's replacement.

Longo led Frosinone back to Serie A via the play-offs in 2017-18 but was sacked in December that year.

Torino, who host Sampdoria on Saturday, are 12th in Serie A after 22 matches but just five points outside the top six.

Milan's bid to sign left-back Antonee Robinson from Wigan Athletic collapsed on Friday, the Championship club confirmed.

The Serie A giants allowed Ricardo Rodriguez to depart for PSV earlier in the week and looked to have identified a replacement in the form of United States international Robinson.

The 22-year-old, who joined Wigan from Everton last July following a successful loan spell, had appeared set to provide cover for Theo Hernandez.

But Milan have instead recalled Diego Laxalt from a loan with Torino.

Wigan released a statement on Friday confirming Robinson was heading back to the DW Stadium after a hitch in the transfer.

Wigan said a fee was agreed - reportedly worth up to €11.9million (£10m) - and Robinson travelled to Milan earlier in the day, but the need for additional tests following a medical meant the deal could not be completed before the transfer deadline.

Milan had also been linked with a move for Matias Vina from Nacional in Uruguay, but he joined Palmeiras on Friday.

Stefano Pioli hailed Milan's bench as an "extra weapon" after a 4-2 extra-time win over Torino in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Milan's substitutes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic among them, delivered at San Siro, where the hosts came from behind.

Hakan Calhanoglu, introduced late on, equalised to force extra time before netting again prior to Ibrahimovic's sealer.

Pioli praised his team and said the power off the bench gave them even more options.

"We started the game very well, we would have deserved a bigger lead at the break," the head coach told Milan TV.

"But having such important players on the bench allows me to find alternate solutions. So, it is an extra weapon for the team and everyone needs to accept starting on the bench with the right mentality.

"The important thing is not playing the full 90 minutes, but to give the right contribution to the team, whether they play 90 minutes or five or eight, we must always play with this mentality."

Milan have been resurgent to begin 2020 and the win over Torino marked their fifth straight.

Pioli said his side, who host Hellas Verona in the Serie A on Sunday, were heading in the right direction.

"The players deserve the congratulations because they made another important statement, a statement of quality, intensity and sacrifice," he said.

"We're on the right path."

Hakan Calhanoglu scored a double off the bench to take Milan from the brink of Coppa Italia elimination and into the semi-finals with a thrilling 4-2 victory after extra time against Torino.

Milan took the lead when Giacomo Bonaventura converted in the 12th minute, but a brace from defender Bremer looked set to be enough to send Torino into the semi-finals for the first time since 1993-94.

However, Calhanoglu replaced Rade Krunic in the 82nd minute and his stoppage-time strike from the edge of the box forced an additional half an hour.

A stunning drive from the same player just 29 seconds into the second half of extra time was followed two minutes later by Zlatan Ibrahimovic's second goal since returning to the club, sending the Rossoneri through to face Juventus in the last four.

Bonaventura turned Ante Rebic's cross home from six yards to put Milan ahead, but the Croatia international failed to convert a brilliant cross from Samu Castillejo in the 33rd minute to double the lead.

It proved costly 51 seconds later, with Bremer letting a delightful lofted pass from Simone Verdi bounce before guiding a clever finish underneath the onrushing Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Ibrahimovic replaced the disappointing Krzysztof Piatek in the 65th minute but Torino moved in front when Ola Aina's cross from the left was nodded in by Bremer.

Torino were unable to hang on until the final whistle, though, with Calhanoglu's stoppage-time effort from the edge of the box beating Salvatore Sirigu after deflecting off Bremer's replacement Koffi Djidji.

Ibrahimovic missed a glorious chance to wrap things up in normal time from six yards with the goal gaping, while Theo Hernandez failed to guide the ball beyond Sirigu, who also kept him out the follow up, in the 103rd minute.

The crucial fifth goal eventually arrived in the second half of extra time, with substitute Franck Kessie releasing Calhanoglu for a fierce effort that had too much power for Sirigu.

Ibrahimovic squeezed a pass from fellow sub Rafael Leao inside the near post to seal the deal in the 108th minute, ensuring there will be no Turin derby in the semi-finals.

A hat-trick from Josip Ilicic that included a sensational free-kick inspired Atalanta to an astonishing 7-0 away win over Torino, their biggest ever Serie A triumph.

Atalanta, who will play Valencia in the Champions League last 16, boosted their hopes of achieving another top-four finish with a stunning victory on Saturday.

Ilicic, who netted a remarkable free-kick from near the halfway line, scored his fourth Serie A hat-trick since the start of 2018, with only Lionel Messi (7) and Sergio Aguero (6) boasting better records over that span in the top five European leagues.

Atalanta's first top-flight win by a seven-goal margin - and Torino's largest such home defeat - saw Robin Gosens follow up Ilicic's close-range opener with a fine volley.

Duvan Zapata scored a penalty on the stroke of half-time before Ilicic caught out home goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu with an audacious set-piece from next to the centre circle after 53 minutes.

He completed his hat-trick a minute later and Il Toro's humiliation was sealed when substitute Luis Muriel scored a quickfire late double, one of his efforts coming from the penalty spot.

Armando Izzo was sent off for a second bookable offence when Torino were five goals down, and they ended up with nine men after Sasa Lukic got a straight red for a foul on Alejandro Gomez, by which point the visitors had already scored seven.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men are fifth in the table, level on points with Roma above them, with Torino down in 10th position.

Atalanta were third in Serie A last season and finished second to Manchester City in Champions League Group C despite losing their first three matches in the competition.

Christian Eriksen is back on Manchester United's transfer radar.

The Red Devils are said to be preparing a January bid for the Tottenham midfielder, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

Eriksen reportedly turned down a move to Old Trafford earlier this year.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED REIGNITE ERIKSEN INTEREST

Could Jose Mourinho unintentionally do his old employers another favour?

Tottenham lost to United in midweek and are now about to receive an offer for playmaker Eriksen from their Premier League rivals, reports The Mirror.

The Denmark international has not featured in the starting XI since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino and, though he prefers a move abroad, might have a decision to make when the transfer window reopens.

Seemingly not convinced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side a few months ago, Eriksen can sign a pre-contract agreement with clubs overseas from January.

ROUND-UP

- Leicester City are set to hand in-demand manager Brendan Rodgers a bumper new deal in a bid to end interest from Arsenal, according to The Telegraph.

- David Moyes wants a long-term commitment from Everton before agreeing to a second stint in charge at Goodison Park, says The Sun.

- Contrary to recent reports, ESPN suggests Patrick Vieira is not at the top of Arsenal's shortlist of potential managers.

- Error-riddled Roberto's ill-fated period as a Premier League goalkeeper could soon be over. The Guardian reports West Ham will look to sell or loan the Spaniard in January, with Turkey a likely destination, as they pursue stronger competition for the injured Lukasz Fabianski.

- Serie A side  Milan have offered Zlatan Ibrahimovic a contract that could run for 18 months and will demand an answer from his agent Mino Raiola next week, claims CalcioMercato.

- Diego Simeone wants Atletico Madrid to prioritise signing a striker over Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to AS. The Spanish newspaper links Krzysztof Piatek, Andrea Belotti of Torino, Chelsea centre-forward Olivier Giroud and Valencia's Rodrigo with moves to the Wanda Metropolitano.

- Staying with Atletico and the Rojiblancos have entered the race for rumoured Juventus, Inter and Borussia Dortmund target Sandro Tonali, says CalcioMercato. Tonali, 19, is in his third season in Brescia's first-team squad.

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