Federico Chiesa has returned to first-team training with Juventus, nine months after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The Italy international underwent surgery after injuring his left knee in a Serie A win over Roma in January, causing him to miss the rest of Juventus' 2021-22 campaign.

Chiesa, who starred in the Azzurri's Euro 2020 triumph last year, scored four goals and added two assists in all competitions last season before suffering the injury.

A statement on Juventus' website revealed the attacker "began a partial and gradual return to the group" on Monday after coach Massimiliano Allegri recently professed his hope the 24-year-old would return to action before the World Cup.
 
Juventus host Maccabi Haifa in a huge Champions League group-stage match on Wednesday, having suffered back-to-back defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica so far in the competition.

The Bianconeri have never previously lost their first three games of a Champions League campaign, and they were eliminated from their group the last time they failed to record a victory in their opening three matches (in 2013-14 – D2 L1).

Massimiliano Allegri called for Juventus to become more "unpleasant" as he said the Bianconeri must remain in Scudetto contention by the time Serie A breaks for the World Cup in November.

Juventus have made a solid if unspectacular start to the new campaign, taking nine points from their first five Serie A matches while remaining unbeaten.

But Allegri's men have faced criticism for their tepid style, and were outplayed by Paris Saint-Germain when they suffered a 2-1 defeat in their Champions League opener on Tuesday. 

That result means the Bianconeri have started a Champions League campaign with a loss for just the second time in their 23 participations in the competition (W13 D8), also losing to Barcelona in September 2017 (3-0).

Allegri believes Juventus were too "nice" on their trip to France and called for them to toughen up ahead of Sunday's match against Salernitana.

"After 2-0 there was a good match, a good reaction. I don't like that Juve played well after the 2-0, and we have also become nice," Allegri said on Saturday.

"That's not good. I am very angry, you have to be unpleasant, so we are successful. Otherwise we get used to being nice and pretty and losers, and that's not good! 

"You have to take the positives from the game. The boys know it, we have a game to face with the right seriousness.

"We work day-by-day to create conditions to achieve goals. But it takes something else. You don't have to be nice or pretty."

 

Juventus have been beset by injuries – including those suffered by new arrivals Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria – in the season's early weeks, and are also waiting on the recovery of Federico Chiesa, who has not featured since undergoing surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in January.

With Serie A set to pause for almost two months from early November, Allegri believes remaining in contention until the World Cup starts will be crucial for their Scudetto hopes.

"At this moment, with the numerical difficulties, we need to arrive in November in the best possible ranking condition," Allegri said.

"I know that there is a great desire to work, to return to winning even if it is not easy. We were missing players from the beginning, important players.

"In January we will recover everyone but we cannot ruin everything this month.

"[What] if we take away the equivalent of Pogba, Di Maria and Chiesa from the other teams? 

"We must be happy with what we are doing, knowing that the prospects are rosy."

On Chiesa, Allegri added: "I hope to have him before the World Cup break. He will be at 100 per cent in January, now there is a month left, he is working on the field alone. 

"We hope to have him as soon as possible with the team in a partial role."

Juventus are looking to defend a strong record against Salernitana when they host Davide Nicola's men on Sunday; the Bianconeri have won four of the teams' previous six Serie A meetings (D1 L1), keeping five clean sheets.

Aaron Ramsey has been left out of Juventus' squad for their pre-season tour of the United States amid reports the midfielder wants his contract terminated in Turin.

The Wales international struggled for appearances last season before he was considered surplus to requirements as Massimiliano Allegri sent him on loan to Rangers.

Ramsey helped the Scottish Premiership side to the Europa League final but missed a penalty in the shoot-out as Eintracht Frankfurt lifted the trophy in Seville.

The 31-year-old is entering the final 12 months of his contract with Juve, but reports suggest he wants to cut short his deal to end a frustrating and injury-marred spell with the Serie A side.

Cardiff City are said to be among front-runners to sign Ramsey – who played just 97 Serie A minutes last season – with Burnley, Rangers and a host of MLS sides also linked to the midfielder.

Ramsey will want to be playing regular first-team club football ahead of going to the World Cup with Wales in November.

As Juventus head off the US, where they face C.D. Guadalajara, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Federico Chiesa is another to have been left out of the 27-man squad as he continues his recovery from an ACL injury.

There are also injury concerns Mattia De Sciglio, Kaio Jorge and Arthur, who is reportedly a target for Arsenal should Mikel Arteta not be able to sign Leicester City star Youri Tielemans.

Meanwhile, Adrien Rabiot had already confirmed on Wednesday that he would miss the tour due to "personal reasons" and was subsequently left out of Allegri's squad that was announced the following day.

Gleison Bremer, Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria have all been included as Juventus prepare to see their new arrivals in action.

Massimiliano Allegri insists Juventus "will be ready" if defender Matthijs de Ligt leaves for Bayern Munich, as he revealed talks were ongoing regarding a transfer for the Netherlands international.

De Ligt has been strongly linked with the Bundesliga champions throughout the transfer window, with Juventus chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene revealing last month that the former Ajax man wants to leave the Bianconeri.

The 22-year-old has made 87 Serie A appearances since joining Juventus for a reported €85million in 2019 but has struggled for consistency in Italy.

Having won eight consecutive league titles prior to De Ligt's arrival, Juventus have only lifted one Scudetto in three seasons with the Dutchman.

Meanwhile, Juventus never conceded more than 30 league goals during any of those eight successive title triumphs but have let in a minimum of 37 in each campaign since De Ligt joined.

Speaking on Juventus' pre-season tour of the United States on Tuesday, Allegri conceded a move to Germany was a possibility for De Ligt, but he is optimistic positive about the club's plan to replace him.

"Yesterday there was a meeting with Bayern Munich, but at the moment he is a Juventus player," Allegri said of De Ligt.

"In football, anything can happen, but if he leaves the club will be ready."

De Ligt contributed to Juventus keeping 11 clean sheets in his 31 league appearances last season, featuring in more shutouts than any other Bianconeri defender.

 

Meanwhile, Juventus have moved to recruit Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria on free transfers in an attempt to add more creativity to a side that scored just 57 Serie A goals last season – that was the fewest they have netted in a single campaign since finishing seventh in 2010-11.

And Allegri is expecting big things from his new stars as he highlighted the importance of making a fast start to the upcoming Serie A season.

"Pogba and Di Maria are important players who raise the technical level of the team and take away responsibilities from some players," he added. "I am very happy that they have arrived. 

"Pogba has arrived in the right way, with determination and with desire. In recent years he has not played at his level, now he is back home and can give us a hand. Paul has a level of physique and quality that can help us.

"Last year we didn't even win a trophy. With the additions, for now, of Di Maria, Pogba, [Federico] Gatti, and the returns of [Federico] Chiesa and [Weston] McKennie, [we] make the team more competitive. 

"Winning is never easy and we must do everything to win the championship. The first three months will be important."

Chiesa suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, six months on from starring in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph, and Allegri says Juve fans will have to remain patient as the winger recovers.

"Chiesa should return in mid-September," he said. "Then, with these injuries I am very cautious. He will return to 100 per cent from January onwards."

Romelu Lukaku completing his return to Inter would make the Nerazzurri favourites to win Serie A next season, according to Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.

Lukaku is reportedly nearing an Inter comeback less than a year after making a club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, where he scored just eight Premier League goals as Thomas Tuchel's men finished third.

The Belgian had scored 30 goals and added 11 assists during his final season with Inter, helping the Nerazzurri end an 11-year wait for a league title as they finished 12 points clear of local rivals Milan.

While the Rossoneri fought back to end their own long Scudetto drought last month, Costacurta believes the return of Lukaku would shift the balance of power in Inter's favour.

"I think they also were [favourites] last year," he told TuttoMercato.

"Inter were the strongest last year and with Lukaku the gap with the others is getting wider."

 

Costacurta also expects Juventus to be back in the title mix after they finished fourth in consecutive Serie A seasons, but claims the return of Federico Chiesa, who sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, is more important to their prospects than the potential arrival of Paul Pogba.  

"A lot will depend on the recovery of Chiesa, one of the best players in Europe. If he recovers well, Juve will fight against Inter," the former defender said.

"This will be the blow, the one that most of all can shift the balance. More than Pogba."

Meanwhile, Milan are reportedly looking to bolster their own attack with moves for departing Liverpool forward Divock Origi and Real Madrid's Marco Asensio, and Costacurta, who won five European Cup/Champions League titles with the Rossoneri, believes both would be useful additions.

"I have never been in love with him [Origi], but he is a wonderful player," he said.

"Like [Olivier] Giroud, he will be able to help. They are not extraordinary players, but [you need] to have players like that, like Giroud last year." 

On Asensio, Costacurta added: "He is an excellent player, he has a lot of quality."

Costacurta's glittering playing career saw him establish a fearsome defensive partnership with Milan's current technical director Paolo Maldini, and although reports have suggested the Rossoneri legend could leave in the absence of a new contract offer, Costacurta remains confident his old friend will extend his stay.

"I can't imagine a Milan without Paolo Maldini," he said. "I don't think they [the club] are morons and so I imagine that as soon as they can, Maldini will sign. 

"I don't even ask myself the problem. A radical change of strategy would be harmful. 

"It seems to me that everything is going very well. The limited budget leads to a lot of ideas, I wouldn't worry much about it."

Federico Chiesa is relishing the chance to link up with Dusan Vlahovic at Juventus next season, with the winger confirming he is on course to return to action in September. 

Italy international Chiesa has not played since sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Roma in January that subsequently required surgery.

The 24-year-old, one of the stars of Italy's triumphant Euro 2020 campaign last year, is back in the early stages of training but will not rush his recovery programme.

"My dream is to return as soon as possible, but there are schedules to be respected," he said at a Save The Children event in Turin on Friday.

"The Juventus medical staff have been fantastic, helping me with everything. Now I have started to run and make changes of direction.

"By the beginning of September I hope to be ready, but let's see if we can shorten the times a little. We have to make sure there are no relapses."

Chiesa made 18 appearances for Juventus in his second season with the club prior to being struck down by injury, scoring four goals and assisting two more.

His injury coincided with the signing of Vlahovic, whom he previously played alongside at Fiorentina, though the pair have yet to play together in the Bianconeri strip.

Vlahovic arrived in Turin with a big reputation and reached double figures for goal involvements in his 21 outings for Juve in the second half of last season.

Indeed, his 10 goals and assists combined were at least two more than any other Juve player between his debut in early February and the end of the campaign.

 

"We've already paired up and he is someone I get on with very well on the pitch," Chiesa said of Vlahovic. "He's a friend off it and that only makes things better on the pitch.

"I can't wait to play with him and provide him with some balls to score a few more goals."

Chiesa's injury lay-off was also a huge blow for Italy, who suffered a shock qualifying play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March to miss out on Qatar 2022.

And with Italy having failed to qualify for successive World Cups for the first time, either side of winning the European Championships, Chiesa accepts changes are required.

"[Roberto] Mancini and those who work with him know better than me. But we need change, new and fresh players," he said. 

"We also need to change the Italian system, because the truth is that we are behind the other nations. The coach is right, the players in Italy don't play.

"Is the problem that there is no talent or training? We have to start asking ourselves these questions and change our mentality a bit. I think Mancini is the best person for the job.

"He did it after the first collapse by taking us to the top of Europe after missing the World Cup. So Mancini is the most suitable person. 

"In my opinion training is fundamental. When I grew up in Fiorentina's youth sector they taught the basics; now they think about the result."

Dusan Vlahovic pledged to improve on his first half-season with Juventus and "become a champion" as the Bianconeri prepare to end their Serie A campaign against his former club Fiorentina.

Vlahovic joined Massimiliano Allegri's side in a €70million move in January after scoring 17 goals in 21 Serie A appearances for Vincenzo Italiano's men this season, adding a further seven in 14 league appearances for the Old Lady since arriving in Turin.

The striker became the joint-highest scoring Serbian player in Serie A history in Monday's 2-2 draw with Lazio (51 – level with Dejan Stankovic), while one more league goal would make him just the second player aged under 23 years old to hit 25 in a Serie A season in 60 years – the other being Ronaldo for Inter in 1997-98.

However, Vlahovic has struggled to match his Fiorentina form during Juventus' frustrating end to the campaign, averaging a league goal every 151.86 minutes for Juve as opposed to every 109.47 minutes for his former club.

Juventus are guaranteed to finish fourth in Serie A for a second consecutive season, having won the title in each of the nine previous campaigns, and lost the Coppa Italia final to rivals Inter this month.

But Vlahovic remains happy with his decision to move to Turin and sees room for improvement moving forward.

Speaking at the Turin book fair, Vlahovic was asked about former Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli labelling him a "true champion" recently, replying: "I would like to say, speaking of myself as a champion... I don't like it. There is a long way to go, to work. I will give my all and I hope I will become a champion.

"I like Juve's DNA, this desire to fight and not give up, to go over the limit, until the end. 

"I am a bit like that too. I like working, above all because when I stop playing, even if it's early, I don't want to have regrets. I want to give everything, I don't want to have regrets. 

"This is my job, I am privileged and I don't see why it should be different. You can always do better. Even when you have done something extraordinary, you must be aware and satisfied, without exaggerating."

Juventus can end this Serie A campaign with a maximum of 73 points, guaranteeing their worst such return since the 2010-11 campaign (58 points, under Luigi Delneri).

The Bianconeri's hopes of a successful campaign suffered a huge blow when Italy's Euro 2020 star Federico Chiesa suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January.

Vlahovic played with Chiesa at Fiorentina and cannot wait to see the winger return to full fitness next term as he looks to rekindle their on-pitch relationship.

"He saw me grow up as a kid," he said of Chiesa. "We shared three years at Fiorentina, luckily we're together again. 

"He got injured when I arrived, I hope he'll be back as soon as possible. We hope to find our understanding on the pitch, which has remained from Florence. 

"I can't wait to play with him, to take the field and fight with him and win together."

What do Dusan Vlahovic, Dodi Lukebakio and Gaetan Laborde all have in common?

As of this moment, not much – aside from having been touted as the next Newcastle United signing. But if Vlahovic gets a goal for Juventus against Fiorentina on Wednesday, he will join Wolfsburg's Lukebakio (who joined on loan from Hertha Berlin) and Rennes' Laborde (who signed from Montpellier) as the only players in Europe's top five leagues to score for and against the same team this season.

Vlahovic said his feelings were "a bit mixed" as he contemplated facing the Viola at the Artemio Franchi, where he spent four years after joining as an 18-year-old from Partizan. "It's a bit strange," he told DAZN, to prepare for a game against the team for whom he scored 33 times in Serie A in 2021, equalling the competition's calendar-year record set by Cristiano Ronaldo – the man he was bought to replace in Turin.

The sentiment among Fiorentina's faithful will be a bit more, well, partisan. Vlahovic's January transfer, completed on his 22nd birthday for an initial fee of €70million, sparked levels of fury among the fan base arguably not seen since the Roberto Baggio riots of the early 1990s. Fiorentina ultras vented their anger not just at the player, but at the club itself, lambasting president Rocco Commisso for doing deals with "the ultimate evil" after previously promising never to sell their best players to the hated Bianconeri.

Meanwhile, Vlahovic has got on with the day job of scoring goals, and with three in his past two games, Juve are beginning to hope of a surprise late challenge for the Champions League and Serie A titles. Before then comes the small matter of a Coppa Italia semi-final in Florence, and the chance for Vlahovic to take a step closer to a first trophy outside Serbia by knocking out his old employers.

And he wouldn't be the first Juve player to return to haunt Fiorentina...

Roberto Baggio

Baggio isn't the sole reason Fiorentina don't like Juventus, but ask someone to explain the rivalry and his name will likely come up pretty quickly.

The pony-tailed posterboy of Italian football developed into a star in his five years in Tuscany even before his rise to global fame at the 1990 World Cup on home soil. It was in that same year that Juve signed him from Fiorentina for an approximate fee of £8million, smashing the world transfer record and sparking furious Fiorentina fans to take to the streets in protest.

Baggio claimed he never really wanted to leave and, when he returned to face them in Bianconeri colours on April 7, he refused to take a penalty ostensibly out of concern that goalkeeper Gianmatteo Mareggini would know where he would put it. Luigi Di Biagio stepped up instead, missed, and Juve lost. Picking up a Fiorentina scarf didn't help Baggio to endear himself to the Juve faithful, either.

Still, over the next five years, Baggio would fire them to Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup glory and become the first Italian since Paolo Rossi in 1982 to win the Ballon d'Or (it would be 13 more years before another, Fabio Cannavaro, did the same).

Giorgio Chiellini

If Baggio's transfer sparked a riot, Giorgio Chiellini's permanent move to Juve in 2005 prompted more of a quiet grumble. He spent 2004-05 with the Viola after they and Juve reached a co-ownership deal, so it was always anticipated the suits in Turin might stump up the full amount for his registration rights.

Of course, watching Chiellini win nine Scudetti, five Coppa Italia crowns and Euro 2020 as part of a glittering Azzurri career has left plenty of Fiorentina fans with an unshakeable sense of 'what if'.

In December 2005, Chiellini started against Fiorentina in a frankly unfair back four that also featured Lillian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta, with Juve claiming a 2-1 win thanks to Mauro Camoranesi's 88th-minute goal. 

He's since gone on to face Fiorentina 17 times in Serie A, losing just twice. But, more importantly, Chiellini has become a Juve great – he is just two games away from putting himself third behind Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon on the club's all-time appearances list.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi may have moved out of season, but that didn't stop Fiorentina fans venting their anger in response to his €40m switch. They hung a banner outside the stadium that made their displeasure fairly clear. It read: "Who wouldn't like to spit in your face… you s***** hunchback".

His move to the Old Lady came after a something of a breakthrough season as he scored 11 times in Serie A – that was an improvement of nine from the two he'd got the previous campaign.

Unsurprisingly he was jeered and targeted by banners on his first return to Florence in February 2018, though Bernardeschi had the last laugh, curling a free-kick in as Juve won 2-0. It's fair to say he didn't abstain from celebrating, letting out a huge scream.

"I celebrated when I scored because I believe a professional should respect the fans. I've always been grateful to Fiorentina, and always will, for the way they looked after me and helped me develop, but I made a career choice and now I play for another team," he told Sky Sport Italia at the time.

But Bernardeschi's struggled to have the same kind of importance to Juve, rather being used as more of a utility and back-up player, which is reflected by the fact he's scored just eight league goals for the club.

Federico Chiesa

If Fiorentina fans are upset on Wednesday, just wait until next season when Federico Chiesa is fit again and lining up alongside Vlahovic. The pair appeared together 41 times for the Viola before Chiesa's October 2020 departure for Turin.

Chiesa, who is out for the rest of the season following damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, will be a permanent Juve player in 2022-23. For now, remarkably, he is merely on loan from Fiorentina.

Such deals that appear to favour the buying club are not uncommon in Serie A, but Fiorentina supporters could be forgiven for being furious as their club again accommodated the transfer of a star player to their bitter rivals.

Chiesa – the son of former Fiorentina forward Enrico – dazzled in his final full season in Florence, with 11 goals and six assists, and has done likewise for Juve following a slightly tricky start. At the time of his injury – before Vlahovic's arrival – he was the Bianconeri's standout performer.

Every league seems to have those teams that just produce talent on an apparently non-stop basis, before those players inevitably get picked off by the bigger boys.

In Germany, you can't move for former Schalke or Stuttgart players. There's Lyon and Monaco in France, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia in Spain, Southampton and Aston Villa in England.

In Italy, that team is probably Fiorentina, who are in the same position once again after La Viola sold star striker Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus in a €70million deal.

Stats Perform takes a look at some of the biggest names in Italian football who made a name for themselves with the team from Tuscany, and what they went on to achieve in the game.

 

Roberto Baggio

Having begun his career at Vicenza, The Divine Ponytail's move to Fiorentina saw his star rise as he spent five impressive years in the purple shirt.

However, after he helped Fiorentina to the 1990 UEFA Cup final, only to be defeated over two ill-tempered legs by their great rivals Juventus, salt was very much rubbed into the fans' wounds as the Bianconeri paid a then world-record fee to take Baggio.

Reports claimed that fans hurled bricks, chains and Molotov cocktails at Fiorentina's headquarters, and for the two days after the transfer was announced, club president Flavio Pontello took shelter in the stadium, with 50 injuries and nine arrests recorded.

Baggio would only improve his reputation further at Juve, winning the UEFA Cup in 1993, before securing a league and cup double two years later, scoring 115 goals in 200 games across five seasons before moving to Milan, where he won another Scudetto in his first year.

After being dismissed by Fabio Capello at San Siro in 1997, Baggio had an impressive season at Bologna where he scored a personal best 22 league goals, before moving back to the city of Milan with Inter.

Things did not work out at the Nerazzurri but he still went on to enjoy four final seasons in Serie A with Brescia, where he reached double figures in each campaign before retiring in 2004.

Gabriel Batistuta

There is arguably no more iconic player in Fiorentina history. A striker who football fans of a certain vintage remember banging in goals on Sunday afternoons during the nineties.

Unlike most of the players on this list, Batistuta actually spent the majority of his career at Fiorentina, staying for nine years before his big-money move to Roma.

The man affectionately known as 'Batigol' remains the club's record goalscorer with 159 goals in 198 games, though it does help his record that people like Vlahovic are usually sold before they can get anywhere near that total.

Though he had won a Coppa Italia, Batistuta wanted a Scudetto and moved to Roma in 2000 in order to get it. It was the highest fee ever paid for a player over the age of 30, a record which stood until Leonardo Bonucci moved to Milan from Juventus in 2017.

It seemed like a justified move when Batistuta scored 20 goals, including netting against his former club, on the way to winning the title in his first season in the Italian capital, but was unable to reach those heights again, scoring just 11 over the following season and a half before a loan move to Inter.

Rui Costa

The Portuguese maestro had made a name for himself at Benfica before moving to Italy in 1994 and making 230 appearances in seven years with La Viola, winning two Coppa Italia titles.

However, like Batistuta, Rui Costa was moved on for big money to try and help the club's finances, ending up at Milan for a then club-record fee of around £35m.

Rui Costa spent five years at San Siro where he won six trophies, including the Champions League in 2003 and Scudetto a year later. He moved back to Benfica in 2006 after the emergence of Kaka saw his minutes reduced.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi came through the youth ranks at Fiorentina, with big things expected of him as he burst onto the scene after an impressive loan at Crotone in Serie B in the 2013-14 season.

During three years in the first team, Bernardeschi scored 23 goals in 93 games and registered 11 assists, which unfortunately for Viola fans saw old enemies Juve come swooping in again.

He has claimed three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies in Turin, as well as being a part of the Italy squad that won the rescheduled Euro 2020 last year.

Bernardeschi, who has scored just 11 times in 170 games for Juve, largely remains a squad player under Massimiliano Allegri, in part because of this next man...

Federico Chiesa

Another Fiorentina youth product, Chiesa had all eyes on him as soon as he broke through due to being the son of former Viola and Italy striker Enrico Chiesa.

Chiesa Jr made his first-team debut, somewhat ironically, against Juve at the age of 18, and over the next couple of years began to establish himself as the potential future of the club.

More suited to playing out wide than his father, who was a traditional central striker, Chiesa's managed 34 goals and 19 assists in 153 games at Fiorentina but it his tenacity, pace and skill that sets him apart.

That was enough to tempt – yes, you guessed it – Juve to come along and take him on a two-year loan, with an obligation to make it permanent at the end of the current campaign.

Chiesa had an impressive first season at Juve, including scoring the winning goal in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, before starring for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, scoring twice in seven appearances and making the team of the tournament.

He started 2021-22 in sharp form, only for a serious knee injury to end his season early.

 

There also must be honourable mentions for the likes of Luca Toni, whose emergence at Fiorentina earned him a lucrative move to Bayern Munich, and Francesco Toldo - he was sold to Inter at the same time that Costa was packed off to Milan to ease club debts.

Juan Cuadrado (now at Juventus) and Marcos Alonso were both sold to Chelsea for decent money two years apart, while Felipe Melo (Juventus), Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) and Matias Vecino (Inter) continued Fiorentina's philosophy of buying low and selling high.

The path well-trodden out of the Stadio Artemio Franchi has often led to bigger and better things, and that bodes well for Vlahovic now that it appears he will be the next in line.

He seems to have all the tools to be the star striker this current, rather dour, edition of the Bianconeri require. Indeed, Vlahovic's 33 goals in Serie A last season matched the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve in 2020.

It might be tough to take (again) for Viola fans, but if history is anything to go by, their next hero won't be far away.

Of course, he'll probably also sign for Juve eventually, but that will just be a case of crossing the Ponte Vecchio when they come to it.

Every league seems to have those teams that just produce talent on an apparently non-stop basis, before those players inevitably get picked off by the bigger boys.

In Germany, you can't move for former Schalke or Stuttgart players. There's Lyon and Monaco in France, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia in Spain, Southampton and Aston Villa in England.

In Italy, that team is probably Fiorentina, who appear to be in the same position once again as La Viola are reportedly on the verge of selling star striker Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus for a deal believed to be in the region of €75million.

Stats Perform takes a look at some of the biggest names in Italian football who made a name for themselves with the team from Tuscany, and what they went on to achieve in the game.

 

Roberto Baggio

Having begun his career at Vicenza, The Divine Ponytail's move to Fiorentina saw his star rise as he spent five impressive years in the purple shirt.

However, after he helped Fiorentina to the 1990 UEFA Cup final, only to be defeated over two ill-tempered legs by their great rivals Juventus, salt was very much rubbed into the fans' wounds as the Bianconeri paid a then world-record fee to take Baggio.

Reports claimed that fans hurled bricks, chains and Molotov cocktails at Fiorentina's headquarters, and for the two days after the transfer was announced, club president Flavio Pontello took shelter in the stadium, with 50 injuries and nine arrests recorded.

Baggio would only improve his reputation further at Juve, winning the UEFA Cup in 1993, before securing a league and cup double two years later, scoring 115 goals in 200 games across five seasons before moving to Milan, where he won another Scudetto in his first year.

After being dismissed by Fabio Capello at San Siro in 1997, Baggio had an impressive season at Bologna where he scored a personal best 22 league goals, before moving back to the city of Milan with Inter.

Things did not work out at the Nerazzurri but he still went on to enjoy four final seasons in Serie A with Brescia, where he reached double figures in each campaign before retiring in 2004.

Gabriel Batistuta

There is arguably no more iconic player in Fiorentina history. A striker who football fans of a certain vintage remember banging in goals on Sunday afternoons during the nineties.

Unlike most of the players on this list, Batistuta actually spent the majority of his career at Fiorentina, staying for nine years before his big-money move to Roma.

The man affectionately known as 'Batigol' remains the club's record goalscorer with 159 goals in 198 games, though it does help his record that people like Vlahovic are usually sold before they can get anywhere near that total.

Though he had won a Coppa Italia, Batistuta wanted a Scudetto and moved to Roma in 2000 in order to get it. It was the highest fee ever paid for a player over the age of 30, a record which stood until Leonardo Bonucci moved to Milan from Juventus in 2017.

It seemed like a justified move when Batistuta scored 20 goals, including netting against his former club, on the way to winning the title in his first season in the Italian capital, but was unable to reach those heights again, scoring just 11 over the following season and a half before a loan move to Inter.

Rui Costa

The Portuguese maestro had made a name for himself at Benfica before moving to Italy in 1994 and making 230 appearances in seven years with La Viola, winning two Coppa Italia titles.

However, like Batistuta, Rui Costa was moved on for big money to try and help the club's finances, ending up at Milan for a then club-record fee of around £35m.

Rui Costa spent five years at San Siro where he won six trophies, including the Champions League in 2003 and Scudetto a year later. He moved back to Benfica in 2006 after the emergence of Kaka saw his minutes reduced.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi came through the youth ranks at Fiorentina, with big things expected of him as he burst onto the scene after an impressive loan at Crotone in Serie B in the 2013-14 season.

During three years in the first team, Bernardeschi scored 23 goals in 93 games and registered 11 assists, which unfortunately for Viola fans saw old enemies Juve come swooping in again.

He has claimed three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies in Turin, as well as being a part of the Italy squad that won the rescheduled Euro 2020 last year.

Bernardeschi, who has scored just 11 times in 170 games for Juve, largely remains a squad player under Massimiliano Allegri, in part because of this next man...

Federico Chiesa

Another Fiorentina youth product, Chiesa had all eyes on him as soon as he broke through due to being the son of former Viola and Italy striker Enrico Chiesa.

Chiesa Jr made his first-team debut, somewhat ironically, against Juve at the age of 18, and over the next couple of years began to establish himself as the potential future of the club.

More suited to playing out wide than his father, who was a traditional central striker, Chiesa's managed 34 goals and 19 assists in 153 games at Fiorentina but it his tenacity, pace and skill that sets him apart.

That was enough to tempt – yes, you guessed it – Juve to come along and take him on a two-year loan, with an obligation to make it permanent at the end of the current campaign.

Chiesa had an impressive first season at Juve, including scoring the winning goal in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, before starring for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, scoring twice in seven appearances and making the team of the tournament.

He started 2021-22 in sharp form, only for a serious knee injury to end his season early.

 

There also must be honourable mentions for the likes of Luca Toni, whose emergence at Fiorentina earned him a lucrative move to Bayern Munich, and Francesco Toldo - he was sold to Inter at the same time that Costa was packed off to Milan to ease club debts.

Juan Cuadrado (now at Juventus) and Marcos Alonso were both sold to Chelsea for decent money two years apart, while Felipe Melo (Juventus), Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) and Matias Vecino (Inter) continued Fiorentina's philosophy of buying low and selling high.

The path well-trodden out of the Stadio Artemio Franchi has often led to bigger and better things, and that bodes well for Vlahovic now that it appears he will be the next in line.

He seems to have all the tools to be the star striker this current, rather dour, edition of the Bianconeri require. Indeed, Vlahovic's 33 goals in Serie A last season matched the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve in 2020.

It might be tough to take (again) for Viola fans, but if history is anything to go by, their next hero won't be far away.

Of course, he'll probably also sign for Juve eventually, but that will just be a case of crossing the Ponte Vecchio when they come to it.

Juventus winger Federico Chiesa will not play again this season after undergoing knee surgery on Sunday.

The Serie A giants said Chiesa is likely to be sidelined for around seven months, meaning he could return in the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign.

That would give Chiesa a chance to prove his fitness to Italy boss Roberto Mancini ahead of the World Cup starting in November, providing the Azzurri qualify. It definitively means Chiesa can be ruled out of Italy's plans for the World Cup play-offs.

The European champions face North Macedonia in the play-off semi-finals in March and will then meet either Turkey or Portugal for a place in Qatar.

Chiesa was hurt in the thrilling 4-3 Serie A victory over Jose Mourinho's Roma two weeks ago, sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury. He was substituted in the first half of that game.

Juventus said Chiesa's operation had gone to plan, indicating they had been expecting this outcome.

The club said in a statement on Sunday: "This afternoon, Federico Chiesa underwent surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

"The operation, performed at the Hochrum clinic in Innsbruck by Professor Christian Fink and in the presence of Juventus' Dr Stefanini, proved to be a perfect success. The expected recovery time is approximately seven months."

His confirmed absence is a huge blow to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side were in Serie A action against Milan on Sunday evening.

Juve have recently appeared to have turned a corner after a rocky start to the season, but they still face a battle to secure a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League.

Their Champions League last-16 tie with Villarreal begins in February, and Chiesa will only be a spectator.

After making an impressive impact in Euro 2020, Chiesa scored four goals and provided two assists in 18 appearances for Juve in all competitions this season.

Juventus star Federico Chiesa will undergo surgery in the coming days on an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The Italy international was hurt in the thrilling 4-3 Serie A victory over Jose Mourinho's Roma on Sunday.

The winger suffered what Juve described as "a blunt trauma sprain" to his left knee, which left him requiring crutches to attend the club's medical centre on Monday.

"The diagnostic tests performed this morning at J|Medical revealed an injury of the anterior cruciate ligament," Juve's statement said.

"It will be necessary for the player to undergo surgery in the next few days."

Chiesa is likely to miss the rest of the season in what is a huge blow to Massimiliano Allegri's side.

The Bianconeri, who face Inter in the Supercoppa Italiana on Wednesday, are 11 points off the league-leading champions and three outside the top four.

They continue their Coppa Italia defence against Sampdoria next week, while their Champions League last-16 tie with Villarreal begins in February.

Chiesa's injury is also a significant setback for Italy's hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

The European champions face North Macedonia in the play-off semi-finals in March and will then meet either Turkey or Portugal for a place in Qatar.

 

Chiesa has four goals and two assists in 18 appearances for Juve in all competitions this season, his dynamic displays with the ball at his feet often a notable bright spot in a difficult campaign for Allegri.

He has the most overall take-ons (68) and take-ons in the opponents' half (51) of any Juve player this term, while his average carry progress of 7.8 metres per attempt is the best of anyone in the squad to make more than one appearance.

In total, 23 of his carries – where a player moves five metres or more with the ball – have ended in either a shot or a chance created. Among Juve players, only Alvaro Morata, who has played seven more matches, can better this figure (28).

Could Bayern Munich really part with Robert Lewandowski?

The 33-year-old talisman has broken all kinds of records in Munich, but he is not getting any younger.

With Erling Haaland the face of a new era, Bayern may be tempted for the Borussia Dortmund star to lead the way.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI OUT, HAALAND IN?

Bayern Munich could sell Robert Lewandowski to raise funds for in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Sport Bild.

Bundesliga champions Bayern are planning with Lewandowski for the future, though they have reportedly not written off the idea of bringing in Haaland, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Should Bayern and Lewandowski not agree to a new deal, the Poland international is believed to be interested in a switch to the Premier League or PSG.

As for Bayern, they feel cashing in on Lewandowski for around €60million would help in landing Haaland, who has a release clause of €75m.

Bayern are also eyeing Barca's Ousmane Dembele, while Inter's Lautaro Martinez, Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic and Juventus star Federico Chiesa are among their alternative options.

 

ROUND-UP

- Eurosport claims LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid want to bring in wantaway United forward Anthony Martial in a swap deal.

Barca and Atletico are interested in Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, says Sport. Azpilicueta is a free agent at the end of the season. Chelsea team-mate Antonio Rudiger is also set to become available on a free transfer.

- Calciomercato reports PSG are eyeing a move for Bayern forward Kingsley Coman. The 25-year-old Frenchman made three appearances for PSG before leaving the capital in 2014.

- Salzburg sensation Karim Adeyemi is wanted by Barca, Inter and Liverpool but the Germany international wants a move to Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Manchester City's forward pursuit has dominated headlines.

Since Sergio Aguero left for Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's champions have been targeting a replacement.

Karim Benzema could reportedly fill the void.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO CITY?

Manchester City want to sign Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, according to El Nacional.

Premier League champions City are desperate to bolster their attack, having missed out on Tottenham's Harry Kane following the departure of Sergio Aguero at the start of the season.

Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic have been linked, but Benzema – out of contract in 2023 – has emerged as an option.

 

ROUND-UP

- Nicolo Schira claims Bayern Munich are set to battle Chelsea for Federico Chiesa. The Italy international is on loan at Juventus from Fiorentina and set to join the Bianconeri permanently at the end of the season. However, if Juve fail to qualify for the Champions League, rivals could pounce.

Barcelona are eyeing a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, per Mundo Deportivo. Martial has found game time hard to come by at Old Trafford.

- SuperDerpote claims Madrid midfielder Luka Modric would be open to leaving for City. Modric is out of contract at the end of the season. It comes after Marca said Los Blancos are not interested in United star and soon-to-be free agent Paul Pogba.

Marcelo Brozovic is set to re-sign with Serie A champions Inter, according to Tuttosport. Brozovic has been linked with United, Barca and PSG.

It has been a turbulent period for Manchester United, but they appear on the cusp of solving one issue.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gone, struggling United need a new manager and while Mauricio Pochettino seems to be the dream appointment, the Red Devils are reportedly closing in on a short-term solution.

Ralf Rangnick.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TURN TO RANGNICK ON SHORT-TERM BASIS

Manchester United are set to appoint former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick as interim manager, according to The Athletic, ESPN and widespread reports.

After sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United outlined their plan to install an interim boss until the end of the season amid reported long-term interest in Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag.

There had been reports United could turn to Pochettino immediately but a deal to prise the former Tottenham boss from Paris proved difficult.

Instead, United have offered Rangnick a six-month contract at Old Trafford, where the 63-year-old German is set to take up a consultancy role once his interim tenure ends.

Rangnick is currently head of sports and development at Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea are plotting a move for Italy star Federico Chiesa, who is still on loan from Fiorentina. Juventus are set to sign Chiesa permanently at the end of the season, though he is wanted by a host of clubs, including Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

- United have emerged as a possible destination for in-demand Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, reports the Daily Mail. Vlahovic is wanted by Manchester CityAtletico Madrid, JuveInterArsenalTottenham and Bayern but the Red Devils are believed to have joined the race.

Barcelona could sell Memphis Depay to help in their efforts to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, per El Nacional. Depay only joined Barca on a free transfer at the start of the season, but the financially stricken LaLiga giants are among the long list of Haaland admirers. Haaland has been linked with CityUnitedReal MadridBayernLiverpoolChelseaJuve and PSG.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Stefano Pioli will sign a new contract with Milan on Friday. The Rossoneri head coach is set to extend his deal until June 2023, with the option of a further season.

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