UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin would not mind if Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona quit the Champions League after the trio "tried to kill football".

Juve, Madrid and Barca were three of 12 clubs announced as founding members of the Super League in April, along with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

However, the contentious project failed to get off the ground as a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of all six English teams involved, followed by Atleti, Milan and Inter.

All 12 founding Super League members quit the European Club Association (ECA) before the competition collapsed, but nine of the rebel clubs have since been welcomed back.

Madrid and financially stricken LaLiga rivals Barca retain a commitment to the ill-fated collaboration, as do Serie A giants Juve, yet each of those teams will compete in the Champions League when the group stage begins next week.

Taking aim at the presidents of the three breakaway clubs, Andrea Agnelli, Florentino Perez and Joan Laporta, Ceferin told Der Spiegel: "These three clubs simply have incompetent leaders. Those guys have tried to kill football.

"I would not mind if those teams left. It is very funny that they want to create a new competition and at the same time they want to play in the Champions League this season."

Speaking in April, Super League president Perez argued the competition would be the saviour of football as clubs struggled to adjust to the financial problems brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Just four months on, though, Madrid tabled three offers for Kylian Mbappe, who is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, with the third of the rejected bids reportedly worth up to €200million.

"He is criticising UEFA and saying that the club can only survive with a Super League, then he tries to sign Mbappe," Ceferin said of Perez.

Massimiliano Allegri revealed he turned down Real Madrid in favour of a second spell with Juventus.

Allegri was appointed as Bianconeri boss in May after Andrea Pirio was relieved of his duties following a poor season, ending with the club only fourth in Serie A.

The experienced Allegri led the Turin giants to five consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia triumphs and two Champions League finals during his previous tenure.

Allegri, 53, on Tuesday revealed he could have taken over at Madrid before Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as head coach.

"I have to thank Real Madrid and the president for the opportunity he gave me [to coach Real Madrid]. Then I thought about it and chose Juventus," Allegri said during his presentation news conference.

"It was a gesture of love for a club that gave me a lot and who I enjoy coaching."

Inter's 2020-21 Scudetto triumph ended Juventus' nine-year spell of dominance in Italian football and Juve president Andrea Agnelli is hoping Allegri can reassert the Bianconeri's authority.

"It’s useless to present him and repeat what he’s won once again. Perhaps, the streak of Serie A titles he’s won is something impossible to equal," Agnelli added at Allegri's unveiling.

"We analysed what Juventus could have been with the return of Allegri, we agreed that it could have been a risky choice for both of us because of his glorious past and the expectations that he would bring.

"What Juventus can give is the right environment to reach these results. Every victory has been achieved thanks to hard work. As Max has said many times, winning is not for everybody.

"A new season begins, our target is to be competitive for every trophy in March, then we’ll see. Max is the coach of Juventus for the next four years because he has the credibility to write an exciting new chapter."

The Juve president took a dig at former head coach Maurizio Sarri, who had claimed the 2019-20 Scudetto he won in Turin was taken for granted.

"Here at Juventus, we work hard every day to achieve victories," Agnelli continued.

"We can’t take victories for granted, whoever thinks that the trophies we’ve won over the last few years have been less appreciated is wrong because, behind every trophy and every season, there is a great commitment, sacrifice and desire to win."

Agnelli also confirmed Giorgio Chiellini, who captained Italy to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 at Euro 2020, will sign a contract extension with the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo has not signalled that he wants to leave Juventus and will soon join up with his team-mates for pre-season training, according to football director Federico Cherubini.

Portugal international Ronaldo is into the final year of the four-year contract signed when joining from Real Madrid in a €112million (£99.2m) deal.

The 36-year-old has been tipped to leave Turin ahead of the new campaign, with former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid among those to have been linked, along with Paris Saint-Germain.

Speculation over Ronaldo's future comes amid a period of change at Juve, with Massimiliano Allegri returning as head coach and Cherubini replacing Fabio Paratici, while Maurizio Arrivabene has been named CEO.

However, speaking at a news conference on Thursday to officially mark his appointment, Cherubini dismissed recent reports that Ronaldo is looking to move on during the current transfer window.

"There has been no signal from Ronaldo," he said. "Especially [on] the rumours that there should be a transfer. There's no sign from Juventus in this regard.

"Last season he scored 36 goals in 44 games. The numbers don't always say everything but hide many truths. 

"We are happy that Ronaldo will join the team as soon as he has finished his holidays."

 

Ronaldo is being given an extended break after featuring four times for Portugal at Euro 2020.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner could not fire the reigning European champions beyond the last 16, where they fell to Belgium, but he did score five times to equal Ali Daei as the leading all-time goalscorer in international men's football on 109.

Ronaldo scored 29 times in 2020-21 to win the Capocannoniere, meanwhile, having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since joining Juve in July 2018, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over that period rank fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

Speaking about his club future ahead of Portugal's ultimately underwhelming Euros campaign, Ronaldo said reports of interest from rival clubs were causing him "no sleepless nights".

Asked to clarify if Ronaldo will still be a Juventus player in 2020-21, Cherubini said: "I don't have a crystal ball. Right now, there are no signals regarding a possible transfer. But let me reaffirm: I'll be happy if he stays."

 

Juve announced on Wednesday that a cash injection of €400m has been sanctioned to help redress the financial damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Italian club's analysis of the cost of the pandemic's impact suggests they are set to lose €320m in total between 2019 and 2022.

President Andrea Agnelli, who led attempts to form a breakaway Super League, used Thursday's news conference to discuss the magnitude of the financial problems now facing football clubs in general. 

"UEFA knows the whole situation in all leagues. UEFA estimates a liquidity need of around €8.5bn for the clubs," he said.

"There's a risk that around 120 clubs will be at risk of insolvency in the short term. Some operations have been announced on the debt side and I'm thinking of Barcelona, Inter, West Ham, Porto for significant amounts.

"Then there are capital increases such as Roma, Atletico Madrid and we are here too. We fit into this context. It's important that the shareholders support the growth of this club. 

"The ownership is one of the strengths of this club, I say this as president and a member of the family."

Agnelli also reiterated that he expects Juventus to compete in the Champions League next season, despite the ongoing fallout from the Super League plans.

"We have calmly received the letter from UEFA admitting us to the next Champions League," he said. 

"On our part there's a willingness to talk and we are not afraid of the threats that have been made in recent months and are convinced that legal actions will lead to successes."

Juventus chairman and vice-chairman of the proposed European Super League Andrea Agnelli insists the attempted breakaway from UEFA was a "desperate cry for help" rather than a "coup".

Agnelli previously served as an executive and chairman of the European Club Association, an independent body that represents football clubs at a continental level, acting as a "voice" for teams and key stakeholder in the landscape of the game internationally.

But the 45-year-old stepped down from the ECA in April as he officially became a key figure for the Super League, a breakaway, closed-shop competition that threatened the competitive nature of European football.

Juve were one of 12 clubs to be announced as founding members of the league, but a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of all six English clubs involved, followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan.

Juve, Real Madrid and Barcelona have stood firm and affirmed their commitment to radical change, a stance that has subsequently seen UEFA open disciplinary proceedings against all three.

Agnelli addressed the media on Friday in a news conference arranged to bid farewell to sporting director Fabio Paratici, who is reportedly close to joining Tottenham, and the Juve chief again stressed the need for reform.

"For years I have tried to change European competitions from the inside, because the signs of crisis were evident even before the pandemic," he told reporters.

"The Super League is not a coup, but a desperate cry of help for a system that, knowingly or not, is heading towards insolvency.

"The agreement between the founders [of the Super League] was conditional on UEFA's prior recognition of the competition. The response was deafening, with offensive terms and arrogant methods, and then it turned to three clubs.

"It is not with this type of behaviour that football is reformed in the face of this crisis. Fortunately, I know that not everyone in UEFA feels the same way. The desire for dialogue, however, remains unchanged.

"Other sports have faced changes of this type, and almost all stakeholders agree that the model needs to be changed.

"Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are determined to achieve a complete reform of the competitions, and above all, in the interest of the clubs that show us fear for this situation."

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli congratulated Inter on their Serie A triumph but promised his club would make every effort to win back the Scudetto.

After nine consecutive league titles, the long reign of Juventus was officially ended on Sunday as Inter wrapped up the 2020-21 championship.

Atalanta's failure to beat Sassuolo – that game finished 1-1 – meant Antonio Conte's Inter were home and dry with four games to spare.

Juventus, meanwhile, face a battle just to secure a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.

For all their defending of Andrea Pirlo, the first-time head coach has not made the impression that Juventus would have wanted this season.

They followed up last season's Scudetto by winning the Supercoppa with a win over Napoli in January, but it has been a largely disappointing campaign for the Turin giants.

"For ten years in a row we have won a trophy ... not bad, but the best will always be the next!" Agnelli wrote on Twitter.

In an apparent message to Inter chairman Steven Zhang, Agnelli added: "Well done Steven! Happy for you and proud of being your loyal opponent on the pitch and friend off the pitch. We’ll be back..."

Agnelli was one of the main protagonists behind the recent failed Super League project, with Inter and Milan having also been lined up to join that now apparently quashed competition.

Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici mixed praise for triumphant Inter with reflection on what the Bianconeri achieved in past seasons.

Paratici told Sky Sport Italia: "I congratulate the club and Conte. We know that behind every success there is passion and sacrifice.

"We know how much effort we have given to win and be top of the class for 2,382 days. We have accomplished a historic feat, unique in Italian football and, probably, also in world football. Congratulations to Inter for a well-deserved Scudetto."

Andrea Pirlo came out bullish when asked about the European Super League, insisting that Juventus are not scared of possible UEFA sanctions.

Juve were one of 12 leading European clubs to announce their intention to form a breakaway, closed-shop competition.

The news caused anger and furore across the continent, with all six English clubs involved electing to withdraw on Tuesday amid mounting pressure from fans, the media, politicians and governing bodies.

Despite the majority of the 12 clubs having pulled out, Juve – whose chairman Andrea Agnelli was one of the major players in the proposals – have not yet done so, while Barcelona and Real Madrid have also stayed in.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has been on the defensive all week, and as recently as Saturday told AS that the Super League teams were giving themselves time to reflect on the proposal.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has again reiterated that if Juve, Barca and Madrid fail to withdraw, then they could face suspension from the Champions League.

However, when asked if Juve were afraid of UEFA's threats, Pirlo – who was previewing Sunday's Serie A meeting with Fiorentina – replied: "We are not scared, we are comfortable that we can end the season pursuing our own objectives. We are okay regardless of the decisions UEFA will make."

Of Agnelli, Pirlo added: "I saw him as being serene. I believe it is normal many people talk about him, but he knows what he has to do and always encourages the team when he visits us during the training sessions. 

"The environment now is positive. We want to finish the season in the best way. After losing the title and the Champions League, our main target is to get a spot in Champions League.

"This is a must. We must be calm, but we must be fully focused for our ultimate objective."

One player certain to be crucial to Juve securing Champions League football is Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 36-year-old has scored 25 times in Serie A this term, while he has netted three goals against Fiorentina during his time with Juve – all of them coming from the spot.

"For me this is the first year [managing Ronaldo], I have a great relationship with him," Pirlo said when asked if it was difficult to handle Ronaldo's ego.

"He is a player who always wants to do well, he gets angry even when he loses minor games.

"When someone always wants to be at his best, I believe it is normal to have these kinds of attitudes. He always wants to win and is keen to help the team at all the time. This is a very positive side of him."

Nasser Al-Khelaifi has replaced Andrea Agnelli as chairman of the European Clubs Association (ECA) after the breakdown of the proposed European Super League.

Paris Saint-Germain – for whom Al-Khelaifi is chairman and chief executive – were, along with Bayern Munich, one of the few heavyweight European clubs to elect against joining the planned breakaway competition, which collapsed before it ever got started.

Only Real Madrid and Barcelona are yet to confirm their withdrawal from the now-suspended tournament, after all six English teams involved pulled out on Tuesday, with Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan following suit on Wednesday.

During a remarkable situation which rolled out over Sunday and Monday, Juve chief Agnelli – a major driving force behind the proposals – resigned from his post as the ECA chairman.

With PSG having rebuffed the invitation to join the European Super League, Al-Khelaifi issued a strong statement condemning the actions of the 12 clubs and backing UEFA.

Al-Khelaifi, who has been in charge of PSG since 2011, has now been handed a new role as Agnelli's replacement.

He said: "I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed by my fellow ECA Executive Board Members as chairman.

"The leadership, integrity and togetherness of our organisation has never been more required than at this pivotal moment in European football.

"I will provide my unconditional commitment to the entire football community: that means to all ECA Member Clubs from every European nation, and to the fans and communities they represent.

"I, alongside all my fellow ECA Board Members and Clubs, am looking to reinforce ECA in its role as the legitimate and singular voice of Europe’s clubs. Our game, adored by generations of supporters, will only prosper under unity, and it is our duty as the custodians of football to fulfil this obligation."

The ECA said: "Following the unprecedented events of recent days, which has seen attempts to undermine the entire European football community, ECA – representing the leading football clubs of Europe – welcomes the decision from its former member clubs not to pursue their purported 'Super League' project.

"ECA firmly believes this project could not succeed because football, at its core, is based on openness, sporting excellence and an inherent connection between everyone across the football family.

"Football is for everybody. Recent events have been a reminder that club owners are merely custodians of their clubs, which are historic beacons that mean so much to fans and their communities.

"ECA believes that it is the responsibility of every member club to ensure that we develop football and leave it in a better place for the next generation; not to dismantle it purely for financial gain."

Andrea Pirlo and his Juventus team are "calm" about the club's involvement in the breakaway European Super League and remain focused on first qualifying for the Champions League.

Juve were among 12 elite clubs to announce plans to launch a lucrative new continental competition on Sunday. All founding clubs would controversially be guaranteed participation every season.

Bianconeri chairman Andrea Agnelli is at the forefront of the plans, prompting criticism from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who is charged with organising the rival Champions League.

Ceferin has made a number of threats towards the dozen clubs involved, including the suggestion their players could be banned from international fixtures.

But Pirlo is confident the saga is not providing a distraction ahead of Juve's game on Wednesday against Parma, who they could beat in four successive Serie A meetings for the first time.

Three points would be particularly precious with Pirlo's men in fourth, struggling to qualify for the Champions League.

While Super League proposals suggested a swift start to the new tournament, meaning Juve would no longer play in UEFA's competition, Agnelli has encouraged the players to ensure they finish in the top four this term.

"We are focused on what we need to do and that is to qualify for the Champions League," Pirlo said.

"This morning the president told us about the Super League. We are calm, because the president is planning this thing, but we have to think about the present, which is qualification for the Champions League.

"[The Super League] is a development for the world of football. There's been a lot of change over the years, but I'm not the right person to explain this.

"The president is at the forefront and he will be better able to explain things as they are these days, as the other presidents are doing.

"I didn't hear anything further from the president, because we see him most days and so he's always been close to the team.

"He explained the project to us broadly, not in detail, but he gave us great confidence and told us that the most important thing is to continue our work to earn the Champions League on the field.

"For now, [the Super League] is just a project and [the players] have to rest easy because football goes on.

"They know that the present is tomorrow's game and they must focus on the present and Parma."

Juve have lost five of their 31 league games so far this season, their most at this stage of a campaign since 2010-11 (nine) - the last time the title went anywhere other Turin.

The most recent of those defeats came last time out against Atalanta, but Pirlo was without Cristiano Ronaldo.

The coach confirmed Ronaldo, along with Gianluigi Buffon and Paulo Dybala, would start against Parma, one of the superstar forward's favourite opponents.

He has scored two or more goals in three games against Parma in Serie A. Against no side has he done so more often, also netting at least twice in three matches with Cagliari.

Antonio Conte has apologised for his actions during Inter's Coppa Italia exit to Juventus, saying he should have "reacted differently" after he was "insulted".

The Inter coach, previously in charge in Turin, aimed an insulting gesture at Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli as the pair traded comments at the Allianz Stadium.

The Bianconeri earned a goalless draw to advance to the final 2-1 on aggregate, but Conte was apologetic when revisiting the incident ahead of Inter's Serie A meeting with Lazio on Sunday.

However, the former Italy boss, who said after the game Juve "need more sportsmanship and respect", suggested he was insulted first.

Conte said: "I want to only talk about football during the press conference, so I will say this before we begin: I am here to apologise.

"I reacted in the wrong way to being insulted. I could have reacted differently and that would have been more positive.

"I am sorry and I will learn from this for future reference. The insults and provocation should not be an excuse, because I still shouldn't have responded like that.

"Everyone saw what happened; that is important to me.

"However, we as coaches, players and presidents are meant to set an example and therefore I should have reacted to insults and provocation in a different way - perhaps with a thumbs up or applause, to show I could hear what was being said, but it would've been a more positive response.

"Having said all that, now we should concentrate on the game. People want to talk about football, not gossip."

Leonardo Bonucci admitted an attention-grabbing exchange between Inter boss Antonio Conte and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli was "bad" but stressed it was in keeping with the heat of battle.

Conte and Agnelli clashed on Tuesday during the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final in Turin, a match that ended 0-0 to see Juve prevail 2-1 on aggregate.

Footage appeared to show the ex-Juve boss making a gesture that was reportedly towards Agnelli, who could be heard on a pitch-side microphone making comments aimed at the touchline following the end of the game.

Speaking to RAI after the draw, Conte said Juventus should "tell the truth" over what unfolded, adding: "They should be more polite in my opinion. They need more sportsmanship and respect for those who work."

Juventus defender Bonucci understands that while those involved in top-level football must set an example to the audience watching on, it is not always easy to stay calm in such high-pressure situations.

"There is little to add, the images speak clearly," Bonucci said in an interview with Sky Sport Italia. "What happened is bad, but it is not up to me to judge why it happened or what had to be done.

"Obviously we must always be an example, but sometimes it is difficult. When you step onto the pitch the environmental situation does not make you think.

"In some moments, adrenaline and tension make you become something different than what you would like to be, episodes like this happen, amplified by the empty stage with the sideline microphones that can transmit a sneeze."

Juve had won the first leg 2-1 at San Siro, having previously lost 2-0 at the same venue in January when going up against the Nerazzurri in Serie A action.

Bonucci points to that league defeat as a turning point for the reigning champions of Italy, as Juventus have not lost in seven games since that setback. Their reward for progressing in the Coppa Italia is a final showdown with Atalanta, which takes place in May.

"It represents a small step towards another goal, which is to bring home the trophy. It will be difficult, because Atalanta have been one of the best Italian teams for several years, they have also shown it in Europe," the defender said.

"It will be an unprecedented and complicated final, but there will be the desire to take home the cup.

"For the group it is yet another confirmation that after the match in Milan with Inter something different has taken place in us as a team and as individuals and this bodes well."

Juve switch their focus back to Serie A this weekend, though Bonucci is an injury doubt for Saturday's game away at Napoli due to a muscle issue.

Midfielder Arthur also appears set to miss the fixture after the club revealed he has "the presence of a post-traumatic calcification at the level of the interosseous membrane" in his right leg. The Brazilian will be monitored on a daily basis, though it is unclear when he will return to action.

Antonio Conte was left fuming over a heated post-match exchange with Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli following Inter's Coppa Italia semi-final exit.

The Milan-based side were held to a tense 0-0 draw in the second leg at the Allianz Stadium as the Old Lady advanced to the final, 2-1 on aggregate, before ugly scenes allegedly erupted following the final whistle.

Media outlet RAI reported that Conte made an insulting gesture towards his former employer Agnelli at half-time, and the Juve chief retaliated by verbally abusing the Inter coach as the teams left the field.

Conte criticised his former club's behaviour in his post-match interview but stopped short of pointing any fingers.

"Juventus should tell the truth," Conte told RAI. 

"I think the fourth official heard and saw what happened throughout the match.

"They should be more polite in my opinion. They need more sportsmanship and respect for those who work."

Conte coached in Turin between 2011 and 2014 and led the Bianconeri to three Serie A titles before taking up a role in charge of Italy after the 2014 World Cup.

The 51-year-old was questioned on the incident in his post-match news conference but he refused to elaborate.

"What happened at the end of the game? I have neither the desire nor the pleasure to comment on anything," Conte said.

"I think that in all things there must be education. Enough."

The competition's most successful club, Juventus, advance to the final to face Atalanta or Napoli, as Andrea Pirlo's side search for a 14th Coppa Italia triumph.

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli does not expect fans to be allowed back into stadiums this season and fears the losses incurred by European clubs due to the COVID-19 crisis could rise to €8.5billion.

The Deloitte Football Money League this week reported that the 20 richest clubs in Europe are predicted to lose in excess of €2billion by the end of the 2020-21 campaign as a result of the pandemic.

A lack of matchday revenue with games played behind closed doors and less broadcast income have hit clubs across the continent hard.

Agnelli, also chairman of the European Club Association, does not envisage supporters returning to watch their teams live this season and believes the financial picture is bleaker than Deloitte painted.

"My firm opinion that we will have a real understanding of what this crisis has meant for clubs only at the end of the season," Agnelli said at the News Tank Football seminar on Wednesday.

"I have seen the Deloitte study that came out yesterday. I was looking at data for the top 20 clubs whereby we had a €1.1billion hit in the 2019-20 season and the estimate for those 20 clubs alone is a €2billion hit for the combined two years.

"I think it's going to be much worse than that. The 2019-20 season only has three or four months of crisis, of empty stadiums, no fans, commercial rebates, broadcasting rebates, while as it seems right now from my point of observation 2020-21 will be a full season without fans in stadiums.

"We are in the middle of [broadcast] tenders. Some have been out, the Germans have been out, they've had a loss of value 10 per cent. We are seeing international broadcasters not paying their dues.

"And so I think this season will be much worse. It's going to be much worse than what we've seen there.

"When I look at the best information I've had so far, we're looking at a bottom-line loss for the industry in the region of €6.5 billion to €8.5 billion for the combined two years, and about 360 clubs in need of cash injections, whether it's debt or equity within those two years, for an amount of €6billion."

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