New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reportedly spent his first few days identifying transfer targets with football director John Murtough, technical director Darren Fletcher and recruitment consultant Ralf Rangnick.

United's maneuverability in the transfer market will likely depend on the players they can first offload, in what is an already bloated and disjointed squad.

The Dutch manager joined United in the off-season after leading Ajax to the Dutch Eredivisie title.

TOP STORY – TEN HAG PRIORITISES NUNEZ, TIMBER DEALS    

Erik ten Hag has told Manchester United to make the signings of Benfica's Darwin Nunez and Ajax's Jurrien Timber as the first order of business this off-season, according to the Mirror.

Ten Hag wants to make six signings, with the Benfica striker and Ajax defender at the top of his priorities, with respective £80million and £35m price tags.

The two players would effectively be the first dominoes in the row, given the cumulative hit to their transfer budget. 

ROUND-UP

– Ten Hag and United are also considering a bid for Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, according The Guardian.

– Meanwhile, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel will hold talks with Conor Gallagher over his future after his loan spell at Crystal Palace, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Romano is also reporting Ivan Perisic is set to sign this week for Tottenham on a free transfer from Inter.

– Roma boss Jose Mourinho is hoping to beat his former clubs in United and Spurs in the race to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, TyC Sports is reporting.

Jose Mourinho has already turned his attention to his next challenge as he looks to build on Roma's Europa Conference League win.

A first-half strike from Nicolo Zaniolo on Wednesday secured a 1-0 final win over Feyenoord to give the Giallorossi secured their first UEFA trophy and first title in any competition since the Coppa Italia in 2008.

Mourinho became the second coach to win five major European titles after Giovanni Trapattoni; the Portuguese coach added to his two crowns in both the Champions League and Europa League/UEFA Cup.

Roma had already secured Europa League football for next season by finishing sixth in Serie A, seven points behind a place in the top four for Champions League qualification.

Mourinho will lead them into that competition, having asserted his desire to stay, but he is quickly focusing on "what next" in the Eternal City.

"Memories stay forever and history can't be deleted," Mourinho posted on Instagram. "For me these were incredible, unforgettable emotions, but I need to think 'what next'...

"Before that, I need to hug everyone. I need to tell the world my gratitude to my PLAYERS: every one of them, from Rui [Patricio] who played 54 matches to Pietro [Boer] who didn't play one single minute.

"But in this team everyone played every minute of every game, that is what the Einsteins of football don't know, don't understand, and I feel sorry for them.

"Football is what you see and what you can't see, football is not played by 11, it is played by many more, and we were so many… Players, coaches, medical staff, analysts, kitmen, kitchen people, families, friends, Romanisti, Mourinhisti, and I am so grateful to everyone.

"One day I will leave Roma and AS Roma, that's the law of football, but more than one or more cups I would love to see this club forever and ever united by this passion and love.

"Two pictures to hug you all. Have a great June."

Jose Mourinho has declared he is "100 per cent Roma" after their 1-0 Europa Conference League final triumph over Feyenoord on Wednesday.

Playing in their first continental showpiece since losing the 1984 European Cup final to Liverpool, Nicolo Zaniolo scored the only goal for the Giallorossi, poking the ball home in the 32nd minute after chesting down Gianluca Mancini's ball over the top of the defence.

The victory in Tirana gave the Serie A club their first major European trophy.

In his first season at Roma, Mourinho has now emulated Giovanni Trapattoni's feat of winning a European trophy in three separate decades.

Despite famously leaving in the following off-season after winning the Champions League with Porto and Inter, the 59-year-old asserted he wants to stay and build on this success in the Italian capital.

"I remain, even if some voice or offer arrives," Mourinho said. "I want to stay in Rome and we need to understand what our owners want to do in the next season because we can follow up on this story, we must define the direction for the next season.

"I feel like a Roma player, like I feel like an Inter fan, a Chelsista, I'm crazy about Real Madrid, but for all due respect for the clubs I have worked for, I feel 100 per cent Roma.

"The beautiful thing about my career beyond winning with Manchester United, winning with Porto, Inter and now with Roma is something special. Winning when everyone expects it is easy, while it is special to win when you do something truly historic. I hope the fans wait for us and celebrate with us all."

In distinct Mourinho fashion, the Giallorossi were able to absorb pressure once they took the lead, only holding 33 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes.

Feyenoord could do very little in breaking Roma down, generating only three shots from open play in the penalty area in the match, despite how much of the ball they had.

For Mourinho and Roma, the Conference League had become a priority and he was pleased this trophy had not c1ome at the expense of domestic ambitions.

"There are so many things going on in my head right now," he said. "I have been in Rome for 11 months and I immediately understood where I was.

"As I told the boys, in Turin in the locker room, we did what we had to do, our job. But today it wasn't work, it was history and we wrote history. The Conference League is a competition that we thought we could win from the start, slowly becoming stronger and stronger and we met stronger and stronger teams.

"But we were aiming for it and sacrificed a few points in the league without losing qualification for the Europa League."

Jose Mourinho has said Wednesday's inaugural Europa Conference League final will be about "finishing a journey" as his Roma side prepare to take on Feyenoord.

The Giallorossi beat Leicester City in the semi-finals and finished sixth in Serie A this season to qualify for next season's Europa League.

Mourinho recently insisted that winning the Europa Conference League will mean as much to him as his Champions League titles with Porto and Inter.

The game with their Dutch opponents will take place at Arena Kombetare in Tirana, Albania, and speaking at a media conference on Tuesday, Mourinho said winning the first edition of the competition was a key target for his team. 

"To me this final is not about writing history," he said. "It's about finishing a journey we've been on this season and achieving one of the targets we've always had.

"Me and my staff have been at Trigoria since the Torino game, preparing for this game. The squad look in good shape to me, ready for this."

Attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not played since suffering a muscle injury against Leicester last month, but Mourinho said the Armenian could be available on Wednesday. 

"Mkhitaryan trained today with the squad for the first time. But it was only a light session," he said.

"Still, it was important for him to see how he feels out there on the pitch. I will rely a lot on his view on whether he is ready or not tomorrow."

The former Chelsea manager has often gone by the moniker "The Special One", following his confident self-tagging when he became boss at Stamford Bridge in 2004, but he insisted he is not the same person any more and just wants to help his team.

"The Special One story is a nonsense," he added. "It's something you say in the beginning of your career. As you progress, mature, you start to think more about others than yourself. So that's an old story to me. Tomorrow, I will simply try to help."

Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini also spoke to the media, and said he and his team-mates will be "focused and determined" to get the win.

"Who wouldn't want to bring something home that will remain forever in the history of this club?" the 25-year-old said.

"We will be focused and determined, as we always are. I hope that tomorrow will end up being one of the best days of my life."

You would have been forgiven for thinking the days of Jose Mourinho leading teams to European finals were over.

From 2002 to 2010, Mourinho-coached sides appeared in two Champions League finals and one UEFA Cup showdown. On each occasion, 'The Special One' triumphed.

He had to wait seven years for his next appearance in a continental showpiece, but he kept up his 100 per cent record – Manchester United beating Ajax to lift the 2016-17 Europa League trophy.

But that was an early peak in Mourinho's United tenure. His stock has since fallen. He was sacked in 2018 and then lasted just 18 months at Tottenham, the only club he has managed so far where he has not won a trophy.

He might have had the opportunity to win the EFL Cup with Spurs, though he was sacked before that rescheduled match could take place. Hard lines.

It was hard not to feel Mourinho's race had been run. He can no longer be considered among the truly elite managers, and that was reflected as he rocked up at Roma.

Not that Roma, three-time champions of Italy, are by any means a small club. They were in the Champions League semi-finals as recently as 2018.

Yet, their last title came in 2001 and their last trophy of any description came in 2008 when they won the Coppa Italia for the ninth time. Ironically, Mourinho's Inter then beat Roma in the Supercoppa Italiana at the start of the following season, the last time the Giallorossi had a chance to win a piece of silverware.

But Mourinho is a winner, and now he has the chance to remind everyone of that. He is back in a European final as Roma get the opportunity to win their first major European trophy. No other coach has reached the final of a major European competition with four different clubs.

"I am a coach with a certain history and Roma are a big club," he told UEFA's Italian website. "I did feel a little bit of responsibility to make this a big competition.

"The Conference League is our Champions League. This is the level we are at, the competition we are playing for. The club has not reached a game like this for a very long time."

The Europa Conference League may have been scoffed at when it was introduced but for fans of Roma, and their opponents Feyenoord, continental glory that would otherwise have evaded them is now within their grasp.

With a record-breaking striker leading the line in the form of Tammy Abraham, Mourinho might just have a fifth European title under his belt.

Life in the old dog?

Mourinho has overseen 54 games so far at Roma, triumphing in 28 of them to give him a win percentage of 52.

That is a slight dip from the 55 per cent in 2020-21, though that was over three fewer matches, but an improvement on the 46 per cent (from 35 games) and 42 per cent (from 24 fixtures) in 2019-20 and 2018-19 respectively.

 

Roma won 18 Serie A games this season, ensuring a place in the Europa League through a sixth-placed finish.

His 47 per cent win ratio in the league ranks him 10th out of Roma coaches to have overseen at least 10 games, while his 52 per cent in all competitions puts him joint-sixth, alongside predecessor Paulo Fonseca, of those bosses to have taken charge of at least 20 matches.

Perhaps Mourinho's decline is highlighted by the fact he is placing so much emphasis on winning UEFA's third-tier club tournament, but from Roma's perspective, that desire will surely be welcome.

Abraham the key?

Having been deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, Abraham has become something of a cult figure at Roma.

Abraham called Mourinho "the best manager in the world" in an interview with talkSPORT in April, and he has certainly thrived under the Portuguese's guidance.

 

He has scored 27 goals across all competitions this season, one better than the previous best tally he had managed, which was 26 goals for both Bristol City (in 2016-17) and Aston Villa (2018-19), albeit both of those campaigns were in the Championship.

It has been a record-breaking season for Abraham. A first-half double against Torino on Friday saw the 24-year-old become the highest-scoring English player in a single season in the Italian top flight, surpassing the previous mark of 16 set by Gerald Hitchens at Inter in 1961-62. 

The only Roma player to score more than the England international's haul of 17 in a debut Serie A season with the club was Rodolfo Volk, who registered 21 in the 1929-30 campaign. 

He has featured in all but one of Roma's league games, starting 36 times and averaging a goal every 182 minutes, converting 17.8 per cent of his 95 shots, which ranks better than two of his seasons in the Premier League (13.33 per cent in 2017-18 and 16.22 in 2019-20).

Abraham has scored nine times from 13 Conference League appearances and he has proved many doubters wrong this season.

With a place in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad later this year potentially up for grabs, playing a pivotal role in Roma's maiden European success would be some way to cap a fine campaign and seal his name in Giallorossi folklore.

Jose Mourinho declared the Europa Conference League as Roma's Champions League ahead of the final against Feyenoord, while he cannot visualise retiring.

Roma face Eredivisie side Feyenoord in the inaugural Europa Conference League showpiece in Tirana on Wednesday..

The Eternal City giants are already guaranteed to play Europa League football next season, having secured a top-six finish in Serie A with one game to play.

Mourinho has Champions League titles to his name from his time at Porto and Inter, alongside a Europa League crown with Manchester United.

The Portuguese coach is determined to get on his hands on another European trophy. 

"I am a coach with a certain history and Roma are a big club," he told UEFA's Italian website. "I did feel a little bit of responsibility to make this a big competition.

"We slowly realised our ambition to go as far as possible. With pride, we saw the semi-finals played in packed stadiums with a total 170,000 fans present.

"The Conference League is our Champions League. This is the level we are at, the competition we are playing for. The club has not reached a game like this for a very long time."

Roma have not lifted a trophy since the 2007-08 season, when they won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, and Mourinho expects his side to rise to the occasion as they strive to end the drought.

"We must forget that. In my view, you need to treat the final as a one-off match that brings pressure, tension and a sense of responsibility," he continued.

"We must only focus on the final and the opponent we are up against, forget the history of Roma right now. Obviously, it'd be marvellous to win for the city, the club and all of us.

"If I do win four European trophies with four different clubs, I will never forget the first, the Cup Winners' Cup in 1996-97 as assistant to Bobby Robson at Barcelona. Every time I sat next to him on the bench, I felt very proud."

"Every new target means more than the one before. Winning the first means you could just be in the right place at the right time. Winning a second is tougher, winning a third is even more difficult than the second.

"It is one thing to win, quite another to achieve success and win continually for your entire career."

Regardless of the outcome of the final, Mourinho insists he has no intentions to call time on his managerial career in the near future.

"Before Manchester United versus Real Madrid in 2013, [Alex] Ferguson invited me to his office, which then later became my office. I asked him: 'How's it going, boss? Does it change over the years?'," he added.

"He replied: 'Don't be daft, nothing changes. It remains the same to the final day.' This is why I keep saying I can't believe I am 59 years old. I can't believe I have a career of 21, 22 years as a coach behind me.

"I cannot tell you when I will retire, because I simply can't visualise it. The passion does not change."

Barcelona are reportedly in the box seat to land Leeds United winger Raphinha in the next transfer window.

Raphinha, 25, is believed to be finished with Leeds, regardless of if they remain in the Premier League for next season.

After a season where he has so far scored 10 goals and provided three assists in 34 Premier League appearances – including a goal away at Stamford Bridge – the Brazilian international is said to have his selection from some of the world's best clubs.

TOP STORY – BARCA LEAD RACE FOR LEEDS' RAPHINHA

According to 90min, Raphinha favours a move to Barcelona if all things are equal, but the Spanish giants will have plenty of competition for his services.

If Leeds are relegated to the Championship, a release clause in Raphinha's contract will mean he can be had for £25million, although it could be double that – or more – if the Whites retain their Premier League status.

Vying with Barca will reportedly be West Ham, who supposedly made a bid in the January window, as well as Newcastle United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Mail is reporting Ilkay Gundogan will be allowed to leave Manchester City in the upcoming transfer window, with one year remaining on his deal.

– According to The Guardian, Chelsea have entered the Robert Lewandowski sweepstakes, although he is believed to be destined for Barcelona.

Newcastle will test the waters to see if Jose Mourinho could be lured away from Roma, according to Marca.

– Marca also reports that Kylian Mbappe has agreed to a five-year deal with Real Madrid, although The Athletic insists no paperwork has been signed and PSG still hope to retain the France star.

Bayern Munich are showing interest in Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele ahead of his contract expiring in a month's time, per Sky Sports.

Pep Guardiola's departure from Barcelona was influenced by his hostile relationship with then-Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho, according to Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique. 

Guardiola won 14 trophies – including three league titles and two Champions Leagues – in a four-year spell at Camp Nou, developing a legendary side featuring academy graduates including Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pique.

However, Guardiola's final season at the helm saw the Catalan giants finish second to Los Blancos in LaLiga, as Mourinho's side broke the league's points tally record by earning 100 points in 2011-12, also scoring a yet-to-be-matched 121 league goals. The points tally was equalled by Tito Vilanova's Barcelona in the following season.

The two coaches clashed repeatedly after the Portuguese coach arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010, and Pique believes the rivalry "got too much", contributing to Guardiola's decision to leave.

"We were winning everything at the time and I remember that the first time Mourinho came to Camp Nou he lost 5-0 against us [in November 2010]," Pique told Gary Neville on The Overlap. 

"It was a shock of reality that these guys are going hard, but in the press conferences every time he was… you know his style, I think that for Guardiola at some point it was too much.

"It was more important sometimes what happened off the pitch than on the pitch.

"Guardiola left. Madrid won the league that year and all of a sudden, he decided to leave for so many reasons, but I am sure part of it was because with Mourinho it got too much."

After Guardiola's Manchester City team fell to a stunning 6-5 Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid earlier this month, he is tied with Mourinho as the two bosses with the most semi-final eliminations from the competition (six each), while the duo are also the two managers with the most wins in their first 100 Premier League games (both 73).

Pique claimed Mourinho's confrontational style also affected relationships between Barcelona and Madrid players in the Spain international set-up, despite the team winning three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012.

"Since he arrived, he knew that on the pitch they were weaker than us," Pique said of Mourinho's time with Madrid. "We had a better team for sure, and even the relationships between players [were better].

"I remember going to the national team, and after those games it was tough because Mourinho goes to the mind of the player and he says, 'These guys hate you', then you believe that.

"I was in the dressing room of the national team and said to [Madrid goalkeeper] Iker Casillas, 'Hey Iker', and the guy did not talk to me. At that time, I did not know, but it was the coach, he really knows how to go into the mind."

Asked whether Guardiola enjoyed the rivalry with Mourinho, Pique added: "I don't think so. I remember the semi-final of the Champions League in the Bernabeu [in 2011], he did an amazing press conference, but it was not about football.

"He enjoys talking about what is happening on the pitch, and here there was a moment where the press was focusing on what was happening outside the pitch."

Roma will target Champions League qualification next season, Jose Mourinho has insisted.

The capital club are in a tussle with city rivals Lazio for fifth place in Serie A, and have a Europa Conference League final against Feyenoord to look forward to on May 25, with Mourinho becoming the first coach to reach the final of a major European competition with four different clubs.

Success in Europe would mark a brilliant achievement in Mourinho's first season at Roma, who are 10 points adrift of the top four in Italy's top flight.

Regardless of the final outcome of Roma's campaign, Mourinho's goal for the 2022-23 campaign is clear.

"We want to try and get into the Champions League but when you look at the level of investment at Inter, Milan and Juventus, you realise three of these spots should be closed," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"There is a fourth spot, last season it was Atalanta, this season it's Napoli, can we get there next season? I think we can.

"In this second part of the season, after the January transfer window, we did small [changes] enough to improve the squad. I'm not as lucky as some coaches who can buy what they want.

"We can improve things. Next season after this year of work and evolution at every level I think we have a chance and that's the next target for next season."

Mourinho was also questioned over his future, but he has no plans on leaving Roma any time soon.

"In this moment, everything is very calm because I have two more years of a contract," Mourinho said.

"The club didn't approach me to try to extend so they don't put me in a situation of accept or don't accept. Everything is calm, stable and that is the way it has to be.

"I have to finish the season as best we can and 100 per cent start next season because I am not looking for a change, my people know that. I couldn't leave the club in my second season, I couldn't do that to the club. So next season I am here."

Newcastle United were one of the sides linked to Mourinho before they appointed Eddie Howe, who has since guided them to Premier League safety.

"I learned what Newcastle is and how to like the club very much through Bobby's [Robson] eyes and heart," Mourinho said.

"I'm very happy that they found their stability. Eddie is doing good work, the club gave the tools for a change in the January market and I wish them the best."

Inter's unlikely 2009-10 Champions League success under Jose Mourinho could inspire Cameroon to a shock World Cup triumph in Qatar, according to the former Nerazzurri and Indomitable Lions striker Samuel Eto'o.

The Cameroon great was part of the Inter side that completed a stunning treble in 2009-10, winning a fifth consecutive Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and their first Champions League or European Cup title in 45 years.

Diego Milito's brace was enough to down Bayern Munich in the final of UEFA's elite club competition, with Eto'o assisting the Argentina international for his second goal to wrap up victory.

Inter overcame Chelsea and Barcelona either side of defeating of CSKA Moscow en route to the final, and Eto'o – who is now president of the Cameroonian Football Federation – optimistically believes his country can follow the Nerazzurri's example at Qatar 2022.

"I don't see why he can't win it," he told reporters in Milan, where the 41-year-old has returned to announce a charity friendly game in San Siro on May 23 that will include the likes of Francesco Totti and Lionel Messi.

"I believe that in order to win the World Cup you don't need to be monsters or aliens, you need good preparation, a strong mentality and a pinch of madness.

"I won a bit in my career and to do it I gave everything. 

"I always take Inter as an example: no one at the beginning of the 2009-10 season thought we could win [the Champions League] and instead Mourinho did something crazy, with a group of men and warriors.

"I would like something like that for Cameroon too."

Cameroon's best performance at a World Cup saw them famously reach the 1990 quarter-finals, but they did not make it out of the group in any of their other six participations, failing to even register a point at either South Africa 2010 or Brazil 2014.

Having missed out on Russia 2018, Cameroon will have to overcome the world's number-one ranked side Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in Group G later this year.

With his contract set to expire at the end of this season, Kylian Mbappe is reportedly going to sign a two-year extension with Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe, 23, has established himself as one of the world's premier players, with 24 goals and 16 assists in his 32 Ligue 1 fixtures this season, and six goals with six assists in eight Champions League games.

In his four seasons since arriving in Paris in 2018, he has won three Ligue 1 titles with one runners-up finish, but has never won the Champions League. A disappointing exit in the first knockout stage this campaign was supposed to push the young star out the door, but that may not be the case.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE ON THE BRINK OF PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN EXTENSION

Mbappe has been strongly linked with Real Madrid – often referred to as his 'dream club' – but he may snub the Champions League finalists for a deal Le Parisien reports is worth £42.5million per year, with an £85m signing bonus.

If he does opt to stay in France, it will have a significant domino effect as it would likely take PSG out of the discussion for a number of the world's most expensive players in the coming transfer window, and vastly increase Madrid's spending power if they had budgeted for his arrival.

While it appears at this stage that a deal is likely, The Mirror is reporting Mbappe's mum saying "there is no agreement in principle with Paris Saint-Germain or any other club".

 

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Star is reporting Pep Guardiola will sign a contract extension to keep him at Manchester City until at least 2025.

– Everton are prepared to sell goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to fund a rebuild, according to Talksport. Tottenham and Newcastle United are said to be monitoring the England international's situation.

– Jose Mourinho wants to bring Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Roma, per The Sun.

– The Sun is reporting Man City will compete with United for the signature of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

– According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen would prefer to join Arsenal instead of Man United or Newcastle.

An emotional Jose Mourinho spoke of his burning desire to bring silverware to Roma after reaching the Europa Conference League final, declaring: "This is our Champions League."

The Italians will contest the competition's first ever final later this month after beating Leicester City 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico to secure a 2-1 aggregate success in the semis.

Afterwards, the manager reflected on the importance of a victory that sets up Roma to win a first European title since lifting the 1961 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

And he insisted that winning the Europa Conference League would feel just as significant as claiming one of European football's more glamorous prizes.

He told BT Sport: "When you work in Rome, you live in Rome, you breathe Rome and you breathe this club because this club is the real club of the city. 

"I felt from day one that it's a huge club, as you could see, but no victories and not many finals. The history is not related with the social dimension of the club.

"We managed to build an okay team that grew up step by step and we could beat a Premier League team that comes from a different dimension.

"So I'm very, very emotional. Of course I had bigger moments than this but I'm not feeling for myself, I'm feeling for the people and my players.

"This for us is our Champions League."

Meanwhile, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers was left to lament the defensive fragility his side showed around the corner that led to Tammy Abraham's 11th-minute winner.

He said: "The corner, it's been our Achilles' heel all season. We've tried every structure in the box to defend, man-marking, zonal. 

"Clearly, we lack physicality in the team to deal with certain situations consistently and it's obviously cost us tonight."

And the former Liverpool boss hinted that changes could be afoot as the Foxes look to bounce back next term.

He added: "We have to finish the season strongly now and look to progress in the summer to challenge again next season."

Jose Mourinho has been accused of lacking respect by Roma's rivals Lazio after he claimed their winning goal against Spezia should not have stood.

Roma and Lazio are locked in a battle to secure a top-six finish in Serie A, and Maurizio Sarri's team sit level on points with the Giallorossi after earning a last-gasp 4-3 win over Spezia on Saturday, while Mourinho's men dropped points in a goalless draw with Bologna a day later.

Having spent much of their match trailing, Lazio snatched a thrilling win when Francesco Acerbi flicked home in the final minute.

After Ciro Immobile became just the 10th player to reach 150 Serie A goals for one club earlier in the match, Acerbi's winner was controversial as it appeared he turned home from an offside position, leading Mourinho to take aim at the decision to let the goal stand.

Subsequently, Lazio have hit back.

"The fact that in 2022 a coach of another team repeatedly refers to presumed referee favours to competing teams demonstrates some things," the statement began.

"That Lazio is obsessively in their thoughts more than other coveted professional goals; that, as often happens, one looks into other people's homes to divert attention from missed results and sensational episodes that have occurred in one's own home, in one's favour, under the eyes of all.

"Despite the need to evolve the image of football in Italy, some players are stuck with the constant repetition of accusations against the referees and the VAR, [and] these offensive attitudes towards referees are too often overlooked.

"The Lazio Sports Society rejects the criticisms and insinuations. It continues to believe that values are demonstrated on the pitch and not in the television salons. Lazio will never lend itself to being anyone's alibi or scapegoat and will assert its reasons in the appropriate forums." 

In accusing Mourinho of lacking respect for referees and other clubs, Lazio also claimed not to have commented on several refereeing decisions which they perceived to have gone against them in recent weeks.

These incidents included a potential foul on Acerbi in the build-up to Sandro Tonali's late winner for Milan at the Stadio Olimpico, and an alleged elbow by Roger Ibanez when Lazio met Roma in March.

"The company's line continues to be that of not discussing the decisions taken on the pitch, even when it comes to obvious episodes that occurred to the detriment of the Biancoceleste team, such as [Sandro] Tonali's foul on Acerbi in Lazio-Milan on the occasion of the goal, or the elbow from [Roger] Ibanez on [Sergej] Milinkovic-Savic in the [Rome] derby," the statement continued.

"[These are] decisive episodes on which we have chosen silence, out of respect for the referees on the field and the VAR, respect that others have not shown and continue not to demonstrate."

The capital clubs are separated by virtue of their head-to-head record with three games left, with Roma boasting the advantage after winning 3-0 in March.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest managers of his generation and has nothing to prove, according to Leicester City counterpart Brendan Rodgers.

Mourinho and Rodgers will come face-to-face on Thursday when Leicester host Roma for the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final.

The pair worked closely together when Rodgers was head of youth development at Chelsea during Mourinho's first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho's stock has fallen somewhat in recent years, with this his first trip to England since being sacked by Tottenham in April last year.

The Portuguese has since had a mixed time of things in charge of Roma, with the Europa Conference League his last realistic shot at success this season.

Despite going five years since last winning a trophy – the Europa League with United in 2016-17 – Rodgers remains a big supporter of Mourinho.

"He has nothing to prove to anyone. He will always be a winner," Rodgers said at his pre-match news conference on Wednesday. 

"I cannot speak any higher of him. He is one of the greats of our generation. I have got nothing but admiration for him. 

"I became a manager in my own right but I'll never forget what I gained from him as a young coach. I studied him and watched him and at that time it was a really special period."

Mourinho has won 25 trophies in four different countries across a 22-year career in senior management, including the Champions League with Porto and Inter.

"He had the X factor," Rodgers said when asked why he rates Mourinho as one of the best. "There isn't one single thing. He was brilliant in so many aspects of the game.

"Detail-orientated, man-management of the players, his understanding of the tactical adaptation of the game, he had that special quality I was able to see."

 

Leicester have struggled for consistency domestically this season and are only competing in the Europa Conference League after dropping out of the Europa League.

The Foxes have defeated Randers, Rennes and PSV to make it through to the semi-finals of UEFA's third-tier competition, where they will face Roma for the first time.

City have failed to win their previous two games against Italian opposition, losing and drawing with Napoli this season, while Roma have won just one of their 21 away games in England.

Rodgers, who confirmed striker Jamie Vardy could make a second start of 2022, is eager to set up a final against either Feyenoord or Marseille.

"It's a prestigious competition, all four teams will want to win it," he said.

"It's a fantastic occasion against a top-class team. To get to the final we will do everything we can. It's another symbol of our growth as a club."

Leicester have lost just one of their last 16 home games in all European competitions and none in the 2021-22 campaign.

Jose Mourinho has said he wants his former club Inter to win the Serie A title after his Roma were beaten 3-1 by the Nerazzurri on Saturday.

Goals from Denzel Dumfries, Marcelo Brozovic and Lautaro Martinez sent Inter top of the table at San Siro, though Henrikh Mkhitaryan pulled back a late consolation for the Giallorossi.

Having played the same number of games, Inter are now a point ahead of Milan and five beyond Napoli in the race for the Scudetto.

Milan face Lazio in Rome while Napoli travel to Empoli, both on Sunday.

When asked if losing to his former club made defeat any easier, Mourinho insisted not, though did concede that he is backing Simone Inzaghi's men to defend their title.

“No absolutely not," he said. "I want to win all the games. 

"I love Inter, Inter love me. Obviously now I can say that we don't play against Inter, Milan, Juve and Napoli, now I can say that I would like Inter to win the Scudetto. But before the game I was only focused on winning. 

"I love Inter but I love Rome and I love my job. We are paid to win."

Roma remain in fifth place, five points behind Juventus in the final Champions League spot having played a game more, and only two points ahead of Fiorentina and Lazio in sixth and seventh, having played two and one games more than both respectively.

Mourinho conceded that his opponents had too much on the day, describing Inter's players as "animals".

"They are too much Inter, the strongest team in the league," he said. "They have strong players on all aspects. 

"I say this with respect, there are many 'animals' in their team. To win against them you have to find them at a time when they are in trouble, as they were a few weeks ago, or to win against them you have to be perfect and we weren't. We have been good, but not perfect. 

"We did well but then we had a concentration break in the last 10-15 minutes of the first half. Then in the second half we conceded a goal from a set piece and my players knew it perfectly well because we had talked about it so much."

Roma had previously gone 12 games in Serie A without defeat, having not lost since the dramatic 4-3 reverse against Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico on January 9.

However, Mourinho did take solace in the fact it took a team like Inter to end that run.

"To lose after three months in Serie A, I prefer to lose against a team that is stronger than us."

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