Marseille want to propose microphones for referees and written explanations of VAR decisions after Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas bemoaned the officiating in his side's defeat at the Stade Velodrome.

Dimitri Payet scored twice as Marseille defeated their rivals 2-1 on Sunday, although the opening goal came from the penalty spot amid much controversy.

Lyon midfielder Thiago Mendes was punished for handball inside the area, yet replays appeared to show Marseille's Morgan Sanson had also handled earlier in the move.

Aulas later criticised the VAR decision, also referring to a clash between Dario Benedetto and Leo Dubois, prompting a response from Marseille on Wednesday.

While "surprised" Aulas, who holds a role on the executive committee at the French Football Federation (FFF), had questioned officials, they offered ideas for how VAR could be better implemented in the league.

In a lengthy statement, Marseille suggested they join with the FFF to approach refereeing body the International Football Association Board, with their plan to install a microphone on referees to broadcast live the exchanges between the official and players, as well as broadcasting such conversations on a slight time delay.

They also advocated slow-motion replays being aired inside the stadium "in such a way as to show the public that the picture does not explain everything", plus a report be published after each day of the championship "specifying the right refereeing decisions, the obviously erroneous decisions and the decisions that should have been made but which were not".

Marseille pointed to the successful implementation of similar systems in both rugby and the NBA.

They described the increased "transparency" of such processes, adding they would "prove that these mistakes affect all clubs equally in the long run".

In addition to Aulas' comments regarding decisions on the field, Marseille also responded to criticism of the atmosphere at their ground, where Lyon's bus was attacked as it arrived at the venue.

Lyon had been advised to use an unmarked bus, as Marseille do against Paris Saint-Germain, but chose instead to arrive in club colours.

"The match was marked in the stadium by the exemplary behaviour of the immense majority of our supporters who, with their tifos and their encouragements throughout the match, gave the most beautiful expression of support to their club," the statement read.

"The Velodrome - with a record Ligue 1 attendance - showed again a unique atmosphere in France and Europe. The show on the field and in the stands ensured our championship an exceptional promotion around the world."

The writing has long been on the wall for Gareth Bale.

Zinedine Zidane wanted him gone from Real Madrid before the previous transfer window closed, but a move did not materialise.

But as the January window approaches, Bale is reportedly ready to leave.

 

TOP STORY – GARETH WANTS TO BALE

Gareth Bale wants to leave Real Madrid in January amid links to the Chinese Super League, according to Cadena Ser.

Bale was poised to make a shock switch to China after being told to move on by Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, though the Welshman remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Bale is reportedly desperate for a January exit and wants Madrid to listen to offers from the CSL.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has offered himself to former club Juventus. Bologna have confirmed their interest in the LA Galaxy striker, whose contract is set to expire. A-League team Perth Glory want to bring the 38-year-old to Australia. Ibrahimovic spent two years at Juventus, however, the Serie A champions are reportedly not prepared to bring back the veteran as they look to trim their squad in January.

Roma are close to reaching an agreement with Manchester United for on-loan defender Chris Smalling. Calciomercato reports the Serie A side are preparing to present a €17million (£14.6m) offer for the Englishman.

William Saliba is yet to play a match for Arsenal but he could already be on the move. Saliba signed for the Gunners in July before he was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. However, Defensa Central claims Real Madrid are eyeing the 18-year-old French defender. Monaco's Benoit Badiashile and Boubacar Kamara of Marseille are also on the list to potentially replace Raphael Varane.

- The Telegraph says Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is a target for clubs in the Chinese Super League and MLS. Lallana is out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronald Koeman dominates the frontpage of Monday's SPORT newspaper. The Netherlands boss is heavily linked to Barcelona having revealed a release clause in his contract, and amid growing pressure on head coach Ernesto Valverde .

- Former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta are among the candidates to replace Unai Emery should the Gunners sack the Spaniard, according to the Mirror. Allegri has also been linked to Bayern Munich and Manchester United, while Arteta is serving as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City assistant. Jose Mourinho has also reportedly emerged as an option.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted the Classique must be respected in response to Andre Villas-Boas' comments about the Ligue 1 rivalry after Marseille's crushing defeat.

Ligue 1 holders PSG routed visitors Marseille 4-0 in Paris on Sunday thanks to braces from star forwards Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe.

It was a one-sided clash in the first Classique of the season in the capital, where French giants PSG extended their lead atop the table to eight points.

Prior the match, Marseille boss Villas-Boas claimed PSG were in "another league" due to their financial strength, while adding the clash at the Parc de Princes mattered little to him.

Asked if he regretted not putting more pressure heading into the game, Villas-Boas told Canal +: "No, I do not think so. We do not need pressure. 

"Thomas Tuchel can invent the things he wants to invent, with the size he has, the millions he has, the billions he spends ... For me, he must focus on the Champions League."

Responding to the former Chelsea, Porto and Zenit coach, Tuchel said: "It's a match with a great history in France, we must respect. It's not a meeting like the others for our supporters, for the city of Paris. Advantaged or not [financially], we must win, show our quality. 

"In football, anything is possible, this is for a match of the Champions League as for a match of the Coupe de France.

"OM were fourth in the standings after the last day. We respect history, we respect the game, we respect football. To play against OM, you have to play with the heart, with aggression, not just be tactical, or good technically. 

"We have shown the necessary mentality for a Classique. They tried everything against us, with their style of developing the game."

Icardi – on loan from Serie A side Inter – started ahead of Edinson Cavani and the Argentine forward opened the scoring in the 10th minute before doubling the lead 16 minutes later.

Mbappe joined in on the action with a pair of goals prior to the interval thanks to Angel Di Maria.

"I felt really good tonight. I scored two goals in my first Classique - more than I could have hoped for," said Icardi, who made it seven goals in five games for PSG.

"We won this big match in style and that's the most important. 4-0 is a great score and we need to keep working hard to continue getting results like this.

"Angel Di Maria he supplied me with two great passes to try and score and at the end of the match, we had a good moment with the supporters to celebrate the match together. It was fantastic."

The signs on Sunday evening were ominous for Marseille inside the opening 20 seconds of Le Classique.

Angel Di Maria struck just wide following slick interplay with Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe, and the Paris Saint-Germain trio would go on to dominate the headline match of the Ligue 1 weekend.

Neymar, expected to be out for at least another two weeks due to a hamstring injury, was looking on from the stands at Parc des Princes as PSG's new-look front three ran riot against fallen giants.

As far as attacking performances go, it was as close to perfect as you will get. PSG were 4-0 up by half-time, meaning there was no pressing need to inflict further damage on their floundering rivals, though the champions certainly tried.

The Parisians were spearheaded by players who have ensured the absences of Neymar and Edinson Cavani have not only not been felt, but rather embraced as an opportunity. Thomas Tuchel's side are eight points clear in Ligue 1 and have looked imperious in the Champions League.

Winning over PSG's fans again after his public attempt to leave the club may not be the only battle Neymar faces once he returns to fitness.

Marseille are winless in the last 16 Classique meetings in Ligue 1, but with their opponents in this kind of form, Andre Villas-Boas' side never stood a chance as PSG's fearsome front three reigned supreme in the capital.

MARVELLOUS MBAPPE TAKES THE SPOTLIGHT... AGAIN

Neymar strutted into PSG as the club's superstar signing, but it is Mbappe who is now the leading frontman in this show. It did not take him long to claim the starring role on Sunday.

With Icardi having helped himself to PSG's opening two goals, Mbappe - who scored a hat-trick and provided an assist after coming on as a substitute against Club Brugge in midweek - got in on the act with a tap-in just after the half-hour mark.

A typical poacher's goal was followed by the typical Mbappe goal, France's prodigy racing onto a perfect Di Maria pass before beating Steve Mandanda.

Mbappe is a force of nature and, despite his own injury struggles this term, already has eight goals from 10 appearances in all competitions.

DI MARIA DAZZLES

Di Maria thundered in an outrageous free-kick as PSG went on to win the corresponding fixture 3-1 in March last season. This time, he settled for a playmaking role, and did not disappoint.

After teeing up Icardi's opener, Di Maria slipped in Mbappe to put PSG 3-0 by the 32nd minute, though it was his sublime, sensational throughball for the France forward just prior to half-time which topped the lot.

Arguably in the form of his career, Di Maria has surely cemented himself as the first player on Tuchel's team sheet, whether Neymar is fit or not.

CAVANI'S BOOTS A GOOD FIT FOR ICARDI

If you are going to phase out the leading goalscorer in a club's history, then having a replacement of Icardi's quality certainly helps.

While Romelu Lukaku's fine form has meant Inter are not exactly feeling the loss of their former captain, Icardi has played like a man with a point to prove since his arrival in Paris. Heading into Sunday's encounter, the Argentina striker had scored a goal every 24 touches during his time in Ligue 1.

Record scorer Cavani came on as a substitute for Mbappe, yet at 32 and with injury problems having plagued his start to the season, his days as PSG's chief marksman look to be at an end.

Icardi's deal is at this stage a temporary one, but with seven goals in as many matches, surely PSG have found the heir to Cavani's throne.

Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe both scored twice in the first half as Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Marseille 4-0 in Sunday's Ligue 1 clash.

Free-scoring PSG had reeled off five wins in a row in all competitions heading into the first Classique of the season and made light work of seeing off their rivals.

The reigning French champions scored all four goals before half-time thanks to clinical doubles from Icardi and Mbappe in the space of 34 devastating minutes at Parc des Princes.

Edinson Cavani was brought on in the second half for his first appearance since August, but PSG - now eight points clears of closest challengers Nantes at the top of the table - could not add to their tally of 17 goals in their last four matches.

Valere Germain failed to make the most of a good chance early on and, less than a minute later, Icardi converted a rebound at the other end after his initial header was parried by Steve Mandanda.

Icardi was denied by Mandanda when played through by an exquisite flick from Mbappe, but the on-loan striker got to Marco Verratti's floated delivery ahead of the Marseille keeper three minutes later to double his tally.

Despite the best efforts from Mandanda, who produced another fine save to thwart Mbappe from a one-on-one, PSG further extended their advantage through the France forward's tap-in after being teed up by Angel Di Maria.

The home side's fourth goal arrived before half-time, Mbappe rounding off a swift counter with a shot from the edge of the box that Mandanda was unable to keep out.

Mbappe spurned his big chance for back-to-back hat-tricks when firing wide 19 minutes from time, while Leandro Paredes had a free-kick saved as Marseille managed to keep down the scoring.

What does it mean? PSG in a league of their own

Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas said in the build-up to this match that PSG are "in another league" to the rest of their top-flight rivals due to their financial strength.

On the basis of this victory, and a run of nine wins from 11 to begin the campaign, there can be little disputing those comments.

Mbappe makes his point

Mbappe scored a second-half hat-trick as a substitute against Club Brugge in midweek and later admitted to being frustrated at not starting the 5-0 Champions League win.

The France forward is now fully over his recent injury issues and marked his return to the starting line-up with another couple of goals, making it six in his last three matches.

Germain miss proves costly

Had Marseille forward Germain scored the chance that fell his way at 0-0, it may have been a different story in the French capital.

As it was, he fired his first-time shot wide of the target after being picked out by Dimitri Payet and his side were four goals down in the blink of an eye.

What's next?

Marseille are in Coupe de la Ligue action at Monaco on Wednesday, while PSG head to Dijon on Friday for their next Ligue 1 match.

Thomas Tuchel wants to start Kylian Mbappe in Paris Saint-Germain's clash with Marseille on Sunday but refused to confirm whether the forward is fully fit for La Classique.

Mbappe has not started a game since PSG beat Toulouse 4-0 on August 25, with Tuchel easing him back into action following his recovery from a thigh muscle strain.

But the 20-year-old's hat-trick as a substitute in PSG's 5-0 victory over Club Brugge on Tuesday, which followed his goal from the bench in a 4-1 win at Nice four days earlier, has increased pressure on Tuchel to give Mbappe a starting berth.

"I won't tell you if he will start," head coach Tuchel told reporters on Saturday. "I have not spoken with him since Tuesday.

"We talked on the ground, a perfectly normal discussion. Yes, we had a meeting in a meeting room in Bruges, but that's it. He could not play more than 50 or 60 minutes, depending on the intensity. He has not had a particular muscle reaction since.

"It's always complicated to say how many minutes a player could play, as for example a player could run 25 sprints, it could be too much, and on another game he would run less sprint and play more time. It's hard to say.

"We will decide tomorrow if he can start against Marseille. Everyone knows that I want to play with him."

Tuchel was pressed for updates on the fitness of Neymar, who missed the win over Club Brugge due to a hamstring injury he sustained on international duty.

The injury occurred during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Nigeria, and Neymar has since been left out of his national team's squad to face Argentina and South Korea in November.

Tuchel dodged questions about whether Neymar could yet be passed fit to join up with the Selecao, saying: "I have to prepare my team, and they [Brazil] have to prepare their team. Fair enough.

"We have different goals. It's a discussion between the club and the Brazil team.

"We will do whatever it takes to get him back as quickly as possible."

Thomas Tuchel believes Andre Villas-Boas' claim Paris Saint-Germain are in "another league" to their domestic rivals was simply an attempt to manage Marseille fans' expectations ahead of Le Classique.

Villas-Boas said this week that Sunday's clash at the Parc de Princes matters little to him, given PSG's vastly superior financial muscle.

The Ligue 1 champions have dominated in France since they were taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, winning six out of a possible eight league titles.

PSG are also responsible for paying the two biggest transfer fees of all time, shattering the world record when they spent €222million to get Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, while Kylian Mbappe cost a reported €180m from Monaco.

Tuchel brushed off Villas-Boas' claim PSG – who went into this weekend with a five-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit – have an unfair advantage, saying the nature of their rivalry means anything can happen.

"Maybe I would say the same thing if I was the Marseille coach to manage the expectations of the fans," he told a media conference.

"I can understand his opinion because we are in a good period at PSG. We are strong and we have won a lot of titles in recent years. I also consider this to be an isolated match in the league, where the standings of either club don't matter.

"We are not afraid of Marseille and we expect a special atmosphere, like you would have in a Champions League or cup game.

"We like these kinds of atmospheres and are very competitive in them. We are ready to challenge them. This is a big challenge; we expect Marseille to play with intensity and aggression."

Edinson Cavani failed to make it off the bench for the second consecutive game against Club Brugge on Tuesday as he nears a comeback from a hip injury.

Tuchel says the Uruguay international was disappointed not to feature but the PSG boss stands by his decision to reintroduce him slowly.

"He was disappointed, of course, because it's Edinson and he's used to playing with us," he added.

"He missed a lot of games because of his injury. I talked with him. On the one hand, I want to give him minutes because he deserved it and worked super hard to be ready. 

"On the other hand, I have to think about the team, to balance it. I cannot promise him he will play 15 or 20 minutes. It depends on tactical circumstances and injuries. It's hard for me to know.

"I know he's disappointed, but he does not show it in training. I hope he will stay with the same state of mind and I will try to give him some minutes. He needs it to regain rhythm."

Marseille head coach Andre Villas-Boas believes Paris Saint-Germain's spending power means they are operating in "another league" from their domestic rivals in France.

The Parisian giants have dominated Ligue 1 since they were taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, winning six out of a possible eight league titles.

They are also responsible for paying the two biggest transfer fees of all time, shattering the record when they spent €222million to get Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, while Kylian Mbappe cost €135m from Monaco.

Unsurprisingly, they have wasted little time in stamping their authority on the league again this season, racing into a five-point lead at the summit after 10 games.

Marseille travel to Parc des Princes for Le Classique on Sunday but Villas-Boas says the game matters little to him, given their opponents' financial muscle.

"We're going to have a completely different game against a team that, for me, is not part of this championship because of the investments they've made over the years," he told the media after his side's 2-0 win over Strasbourg on Sunday.

"We're going to try to play the game for the game's sake, but it's a game that doesn't mean much to me. PSG-Marseille, or Marseille-PSG, for me, this is an opportunity to try to do something.

"We obviously dream of winning, but it's a team from another league. It was a Classique in the past. But we're going to Paris; we're going to think of a strategy to play. The most important thing is to have possession of the ball there."

Marseille are fourth in Ligue 1, having picked up 16 points from their opening 10 games.

Dimitri Payet has been handed a four-match suspension after he insulted a referee during the Ligue 1 game between Marseille and Montpellier.

The France international has already served a one-game ban but will be unavailable to Marseille for matches against Rennes, Amiens and Strasbourg, the Ligue de Football Professionnel confirmed.

Payet had been booked for a foul on Montpellier's Hilton and he responded angrily towards referee Amaury Delerue, who produced a second yellow card.

The 32-year-old, who has scored two Ligue 1 goals this season, will be back to face Paris Saint-Germain in Le Classique at the Parc des Princes on October 27.

There were three red cards in the game and Marseille defender Boubacar Kamara has been banned for two matches for his sending-off against Montpellier.

Jordan Ferri was also sent off after a scuffle with Kamara in the closing stages and the Montpellier midfielder will serve a three-match suspension.

Marseille will also be without Kevin Strootman for their Ligue 1 match against Amiens due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Marseille winger Florian Thauvin is expected to miss the rest of the first half of the season as he prepares to undergo keyhole surgery to correct an ankle problem he sustained in April.

Thauvin was injured during Marseille's 3-1 victory at Guingamp on April 20 and exacerbated the problem in training, although he recovered in time to help his side finish the 2018-19 season with back-to-back victories as they claimed fifth place in Ligue 1.

However, the issue continued to hamper the France international, who has played just 10 minutes as a substitute in the top flight this term, and he has made the decision to go under the knife in order to return to full fitness.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Florian Thauvin suffered an accidental ankle injury in a match about four and a half months ago.

"This type of lesion, small, very localised, usually allows [the player] to resume after appropriate care and rest. His current progress has allowed him to return to the group but the player still feels a discomfort.

"In order to be able to return to 100 per cent of his capacity, Florian and Olympique de Marseille have decided to carry out a small operation (arthroscopy) in the coming days.

"His period of unavailability should last until the winter break."

The news means Thauvin is likely to be out of action until January, with Ligue 1's mid-season break scheduled to run from December 20 until January 10.

Thauvin's injury problems hampered his side's progress last season, with a heel injury in October 2018 forcing him to miss a Europa League defeat to Lazio before his April absence left Marseille short of creativity at a key stage in the season.

Andre Villas-Boas' side had a mixed start to the new campaign, recovering from an opening-day defeat at home to Reims to go unbeaten in their past three league matches.

Marseille travel to Stade Louis II to face Monaco in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Nice midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou and Marseille captain Steve Mandanda condemned the homophobic banners that forced Wednesday's Ligue 1 clash to be halted.

Marseille emerged 2-1 winners away to Nice midweek, but not before a controversial delay in play at Allianz Riviera.

Referee Clement Turpin decided to stop the game after two signs including homophobic language were seen in the crowd – the delay lasting around five minutes.

"We will not hide behind the interruption of the match," Lees-Melou said. "But it hurt us, we were in a strong time. 

"Was this decision justified? We are all against discrimination. We will not be able to change everything overnight.

"I heard such songs on the grounds. Now, if you have to police every game, it will be complicated."

Goalkeeper Mandanda added: "I totally understand the referees. It must be stopped.

"The stadium is supposed to be a festive and fun place. As for us, the players, this kind of interruption is always complicated. It is always difficult to return quickly then in the game."

It was Marseille's first victory of the season following a draw and loss under new head coach Andre Villas-Boas, while the result ended Nice's perfect start to the campaign.

The Ligue 1 match between Nice and Marseille on Wednesday was paused after homophobic banners were displayed.

Two signs including homophobic language were seen in the crowd at Allianz Riviera, leading referee Clement Turpin to stop the game.

A delay of around five minutes followed before the match got back under way, with Nice player Wylan Cyprien critical of the interruption.

"We can't stop a game every time that stupid people act like that," he said to Canal+. "I am against every discrimination, homophobia or racism.

"But we can't stop games for that. It's ridiculous."

Referees in France have been instructed to stop matches if homophobic banners are displayed, or homophobic chanting is heard, during the 2019-20 season.

The Ligue 2 match between Nancy and Le Mans on August 16 was the first to be temporarily suspended, while a referee threatened to do the same during the meeting of Monaco and Nimes in the top flight on Sunday.

The controversy at Nice came in the week British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe completed his long-awaited takeover.

Ratcliffe is the president of petrochemicals company INEOS, which this year bought the cycling outfit formerly known as Team Sky.

France defender Adil Rami has joined Fenerbahce following his sacking by Marseille.

The 33-year-old's contract with the Ligue 1 side was terminated two weeks ago for gross misconduct, after he reportedly skipped training to take part in a reality TV show.

Rami, who spent two years at Marseille following spells with Lille, Valencia, AC Milan and Sevilla, has been handed a one-year deal by Fenerbahce with the option of a further 12 months.

"I'm very happy to be here," he told his new club's official website. "I've watched the derbies before - there is a real passion here.

"I'm going to start training now with my new team-mates. I'm going to try to find myself slowly, then I will prepare for the matches.

"I'm so proud to be here. I will do my best as a part of the Fenerbahce family."

Rami was part of France's World Cup-winning squad last year but did not play a single minute in Russia.

Mario Balotelli has signed for hometown club Brescia after agreeing a "multi-year" contract with the Serie A outfit.

The Italy international was a free agent after his short-term deal with Marseille expired and when negotiations with Brazilian club Flamengo broke down he looked set to start the new season without a club.

But Brescia president Massimo Cellino told Gazzetta dello Sport Balotelli made it clear he wanted a move to Stadio Mario Rigamonti on August 12 - his 29th birthday.

"That day he expressed his desire to return to his city," said Cellino of Balotelli, who spent much of his childhood in the region of Brescia.

"Hence all those rumours have only caused confusion, because there was no written agreement and Flamengo rushed to Monte Carlo to trip us up."

Balotelli scored eight Ligue 1 goals in 15 appearances for Marseille in 2018-19 but the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League forced them to lower their wage budget and allow him to leave.

Prior to his move to Stade Velodrome, Balotelli impressed during a two-and-a-half-year spell at Nice, where he scored 33 league goals in his first 51 appearances, before enduring a difficult start to the 2018-19 campaign.

Cellino has high hopes for him at Brescia.

"I have good feelings," said Cellino.

"I'm sure Mario will give everything for survival, which remains a difficult goal.

"It is also a way to thank Brescia, who is very close to me. I won't talk about figures, but this operation costs a lot."

Balotelli could make his debut when newly promoted Brescia begin their Serie A campaign with a trip to Cellino's former club Cagliari on Sunday August 25.

Mario Balotelli being without a club once again as a new season approaches is "not normal", says Italy head coach Roberto Mancini.

Balotelli is reportedly close to joining hometown club Brescia after negotiations to join Brazilian giants Flamengo broke down.

He scored eight goals in 15 appearances for Marseille last term, having impressed in an early stint with their Ligue 1 rivals Nice, but budgetary constraints at the Stade Velodrome left the 29-year-old once again seeking pastures new.

Mancini managed Balotelli at Inter and Manchester City and ended his four-year international exile by recalling the striker when appointed as Azzurri boss in 2018.

Nevertheless, some exasperation with his one-time protege was evident in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.

"At 29, and for the second year in a row, less than 10 days before the start of the championship, he still didn't have the absolute certainty of a team," Mancini said.

"He didn’t prepare, he didn't train regularly. He must reflect, it is not normal."

On whether Brescia might be the right option in terms of Balotelli getting back into the Italy fold, he replied: "Whether it will be a good solution does not depend on Brescia but on him.

"Perhaps by playing closer to home he will feel more comfortable but it is not [guaranteed to] be enough.

"I love him, but for him I can't do anything anymore. He must think that he is in the middle of his career and that he still has much to give – if he wants."

For now, Mancini's hopes in attack for Italy are far more likely to rest on Moise Kean, who completed a surprise switch from Juventus to Everton during the close season.

Although he views the transfer as a disappointing development for Serie A, the 54-year-old feels it can ultimately benefit his national team.

"It is a pity because he is Italian and an international," he said. "But he goes to play in a beautiful and difficult league, at a club where they have not won for years and have to make the team competitive again.

"This can help him grow; my sorrow is more personal. But by now we know – it is no longer the football of 20 years ago, when everyone came to play in Italy, the most beautiful championship where they earned the most."

On whether Serie A should aspire to be more like the Premier League, Mancini added: "We can't expect the rhythm of the Premier League, that's just their thing. They have always been used to it – much faster and with fewer interruptions.

"With us, the pace can grow and we must understand that technical quality is essential. But we are making progress."

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