Roma head coach Jose Mourinho joked that if he could multiply star Lorenzo Pellegrini, they would all be in his starting XI.

Pellegrini has established himself as an integral part of the Roma side since arriving via Sassuolo in 2017, with the Giallorossi captain's exploits reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester United.

Among midfielders last season, Pellegrini led Roma in chances created (65), interceptions (43), tackles won (24) and penalty area entries (241), having also scored seven goals and supplied six assists with a passing accuracy of 82 per cent.

In Roma's season-opening 3-1 win over Fiorentina in Serie A last week, the 25-year-old created two chances while boasting a 93.3 passing accuracy, to go with three recoveries, two through balls and five penalty area entries.

Mourinho hailed the Italy international ahead of Thursday's Europa Conference League clash against Turkish visitors Trabzonspor.

"He can do everything," Mourinho told reporters, with Roma leading 2-1 after the first leg.

"If we had three Pellegrini's, they would all be starting the game at the same time. They would never stay all three in the bench.

"He is multifunctional, he can adapt to different roles. The other day when we were 10 he played on the internal part of the right flank and created the chance for Tammy [Abraham] to hit the crossbar.

"He is smart, can understand the game and my ideas. If there were three of him, they would all play."

Jose Mourinho hailed Tammy Abraham an "important player" after the forward assisted twice in Roma's 3-1 defeat of Fiorentina.

Henrik Mkhitarayan's opener was cancelled out by Nikola Milenkovic but a Jordan Veretout brace secured three points for Mourinho on his return to Serie A.

Abraham benefited from VAR twice for his two assists, first rolling in Mkhitaryan before offloading for Veretout to convert his first.

The former Chelsea forward, who only managed one assist in his final 42 league games with the Blues, was preferred ahead of Eldor Shomurdouv but was replaced with just over 20 minutes left.

"It’s not easy to leave someone on the bench, but [Eldour] Shomurodov can play on the left, he can be a forward with Tammy [Abraham] as well," Mourinho told DAZN post-match.

"At this moment, neither of them are in the same condition as the players who worked in pre-season training from the first day, so I figured to use [Lorenzo] Pellegrini behind.

"He is an important player, with the space that was there I thought it was Abraham's game.

"Shomurodov is very dangerous attacking the space, Tammy is more of a reference point, so even if he wasn’t tired at that stage, I would’ve made the substitution a few minutes later anyway.

"We have many different solutions, but at this moment what I like is the spirit, the defensive organisation is getting there, but Fiorentina made it very, very difficult for us."

With Sunday's victory, Mourinho becomes the fastest manager to reach 50 Serie A wins (77 games) in the three points for a win era (since 1994-95).

The former Manchester United manager is also the fastest to reach such a mark in the Premier League (63 games) and LaLiga (62 games).

Jose Mourinho is already finding the nuance in Italian news conferences a mixed blessing after the Roma boss was served a tactical puzzler ahead of the Serie A season opener.

The former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham manager suggested he had been pining for Italy while working in the Premier League last season, due to frustration with the English media.

But when faced with a question about Roma's full-backs struggling to deliver effective crosses in the European clash with Trabzonspor on Thursday, Mourinho initially suggested he did not want to answer.

"I will start with a joke," he told reporters. "In England I always used to say that I missed the press conferences in Italy, because here we talk more about tactics – whereas they only want to talk about controversies.

"Now I'm back in Italy, though, I don't want to talk about tactics because you are too good at it!"

But Mourinho went on to give a full answer to the enquiry, admitting Roma "messed up" several crosses and concluding his team would "try to build up our attacking play so we have a number of different options".

Roma edged their Europa Conference League game 2-1 in Turkey, and on Sunday they begin their Serie A campaign with a home test against Fiorentina.

Tammy Abraham could make his debut in that game, Mourinho confirmed, even though the striker has been unable to train with his new team-mates due to pandemic restrictions on his involvement since arriving from Chelsea.

"Tomorrow he will be in the squad," Mourinho said, as quoted by Roma's official website.

"He has not trained this week with the team, he's been training alone because those are the current rules. But he has played pre-season at Chelsea, he's played in some decent games with them and I think he's physically ready to play.

"It's been a tough week for him, though, with all the travelling and the medical tests and the paperwork that has had to be signed. But he will be with us. We have three forwards: Borja [Mayoral], him, Eldor [Shomurodov]. I am delighted to have them."

Mourinho made a cutting remark ahead of the Trabzonspor game by complimenting the work of the Turkish club's ground staff and suggesting on Instagram that those responsible for the state of Roma's own pitch were on holiday.

Returning to the issue on Saturday, Mourinho said: "In England the climate helps a lot with the quality of the pitches, and that is true in other aspects too – so it is a little difficult to compare England with other places.

"The pitch was not good last week, and I have my doubts about whether it will be great tomorrow – but I have confidence in the professionalism and pride of those whose job it is to work on it.

"For sure, the week after, when Lazio play at home, the pitch will be in even better condition for them.

"So, there should be a bit of pressure applied from everyone, not just from my Instagram – which is a bit of a mean Instagram where I have no filter. I think something, and I just post it. No-one can control me.

"With a little pressure from us all we can make the fields at a better level. When I look at the level of the coaches who are in Serie A and others who are no longer there like Conte, Gattuso and Ranieri, I think we all want quality football and therefore we also need quality pitches."

The 2021-22 Serie A campaign commences on Saturday following a busy close season that saw more than half of the 20 teams change head coach.

Antonio Conte departed Inter after guiding the club to their first Scudetto in more than a decade, with Simone Inzaghi being plucked from Lazio, who in turn turned to Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri's former club Juventus decided to end the Andrea Pirlo experiment after just a year and opted for a familiar face in six-time title winner Massimiliano Allegri as his replacement.

Luciano Spalletti is back in Serie A with Napoli, meanwhile, and Jose Mourinho has returned to Italy with Roma some 11 years on from his hugely successful stint with Inter.

There will be just as much focus on the dugouts as the field when the new season gets up and running this weekend, then, and some coaches are facing a tougher challenge than others.

Stats Perform looks at what the managerial changes could mean for some of Serie A's biggest clubs.


Inter 

In: Simone Inzaghi

Out: Antonio Conte

Conte will go down in Inter folklore as the man who ended the club's 11-year wait to return to the top of Italian football.

In an ideal world, one in which the Nerazzurri were not in a position whereby they had to sell star players to balance the books, Conte would still be in charge at San Siro.

As it is, though, Inzaghi will be at the helm this coming season and is in a rather unenviable position of having to pick up where Conte left off, minus the goals of Romelu Lukaku.

Inzaghi has his own vision but does not differ too much from Conte in terms of tactics, both coaches favouring a 3-5-2 formation of sorts throughout their careers.

Moving the ball forward quickly will be the aim, with Milan (90) the only side in Serie A last term to register more direct attacks than Inzaghi's former side Lazio (89). By comparison, Inter were third on that list with 80.

While the structure will remain largely the same, losing Lukaku and influential wing-back Achraf Hakimi – albeit with Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries arriving – means Inzaghi will need to get more out of others if Inter are to retain their crown.

 

Lazio

In: Maurizio Sarri

Out: Simone Inzaghi

The man tasked with replacing Inzaghi at Lazio is Sarri, who endured mixed fortunes during his most recent two stints in Serie A with Napoli and Juventus.

Having come so close to ending Juve's stranglehold on the title in 2017-18 while at Napoli, the 62-year-old won the Europa League in his solitary season at Chelsea and was then given just 14 months at the Allianz Stadium.

His stint in Turin came to an early end despite leading Juve to top spot, his style of play – coined 'Sarriball' – deemed too distant from what Juventus typically expect from a head coach (more on that later!).

At the Stadio Olimpico, Sarri will have more freedom to put his spin on things as he looks to build or improve upon last season's sixth-placed finish. A back four, rather than the three-man defence Inzaghi favoured, can be expected.

Sarri teams are known for their verticality, meaning they like to move the ball forwards. Lazio, as already touched upon, are a good fit in that regard.

They ranked lowest in the top eight last season for build-up attacks (83), which is defined as the number of open play sequences that contain 10 or more passes and either ends in a shot or has at least one touch in the opposition box.

The big question, though, is whether Sarri has the personnel to turn Lazio into top-four regulars in the same way he did at Napoli. With Immobile taking on the Gonzalo Higuain role up top, it might just be a possibility.

Juventus

In: Massimiliano Allegri

Out: Andrea Pirlo

While a lot of clubs mentioned are entering the unknown with their managerial appointments, Juve know exactly what they are getting in Allegri.

The 54-year-old guided Juve to five straight Serie A titles and two Champions League finals between 2014 and 2019, having also previously lifted the Scudetto at Milan.

Only one coach in the Bianconeri's history, Giovanni Trapattoni, has overseen more league games than Allegri's 190, while Juve's two highest-scoring seasons dating back as far as 1930 have both come under the stewardship of the returning favourite.

This Juve side has changed since Allegri's first stint, though, and it may take him time to make this team his own again following the aforementioned reigns of Sarri and Pirlo.

Whereas Sarri and Pirlo were a little complex with their tactics and what they expected from players, Allegri will take a different approach. That is not to say Juve will not be able to chop and change things under Allegri, as they did in his previous spell.

One aspect that will surely differ from last season is the number of goals Juve score. They found the net an underwhelming 56 times from open play last season from an expected goals return (xG) of 54.3.

By comparison, champions Inter scored 65 open play goals from a near identical xG as Juve of 54.6. With the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo set to stay at the club for at least one more season, there is hope of reclaiming the title this time around.

 

Roma

In: Jose Mourinho

Out: Paulo Fonseca

The highest-profile of the incoming coaches in Serie A this season, Mourinho arrives with his 'Special One' status still intact in Italy thanks to his success at Inter a little over a decade ago.

Mourinho won as many league titles in two seasons at San Siro (two) as he has in the 11 years since (one), while also lifting the second of his Champions League crowns, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during that trophy-laden stay.

The Portuguese won 62 per cent of his matches at Inter but that win rate has steadily declined and he won just 51.2 per cent of his games with Tottenham, leaving the club in April after just 17 months in charge.

Mourinho's sides were so often hard to beat, but Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him, making it his worst ever season in that regard and he did not even see it all the way through.

But could his career take a turn in the right direction in Rome? Mourinho's tactics have remained largely consistent throughout his career, no matter the club or country he is coaching in.

The back three largely favoured by Paulo Fonseca will become a back four and there will be particular emphasis on Bryan Cristante, a typical Mourinho player in many ways, to shield the defence and get the ball forward.

The addition of Tammy Abraham from Chelsea is clearly a Mourinho signing, helping the fill the void left by Edin Dzeko, but Mou's pragmatic approach is surely a concern for a Roma side that looked better offensively than defensively last season. 

Finding the correct balance will be key, and that ultimately depends on whether Roma have hired the pre-2015 Mourinho or post.

Napoli

In: Luciano Spalletti

Out: Gennaro Gattuso

With spells at seven different Italian clubs under his belt, including two years at Inter, Spalletti certainly does not lack of experience. After two years out of the game, however, the 62-year-old has to quickly prove he is not yesterday's man.

Spalletti made clear when he took over from Gennaro Gattuso that he will look to operate with a 4-3-3, though on the basis of pre-season it may well be a more familiar 4-2-3-1 come the opening day.

He inherits a talented squad that includes the likes of Piotr Zielinski, Victor Osimhen, Dries Mertens, Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne – for now – in attack.

Napoli had no problems scoring goals last time out, with no team managing more shots from open play than their 493 and only Atalanta (77) and Inter (65) scoring more from non-set-piece situations than their 64.

Pressing is a big part of Spalletti's game and that makes Napoli a good fit as they ranked joint-second in Serie A last season for goals scored from high turnovers (nine), behind only Atalanta (10).

There are already a few rumblings of discontent behind the scenes with regards to transfer activity, but a kind fixture list ensures that Spalletti can hit the ground running in his quest to guide Napoli back into the Champions League.

Barely a month has passed since Giorgio Chiellini lifted the European Championship trophy at Wembley, and it would seem logical to expect Serie A to begin amid high fanfare.

This may prove to be the case, as the opening weekend of the season arrives, but a major talent drain from the Italian league since last term cannot be ignored.

Romelu Lukaku, Cristian Romero and Gianluigi Donnarumma have all moved on, swapping Inter, Atalanta and Milan respectively for Chelsea, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

To put those losses into greater context, of the 2020-21 Serie A end-of-season award winners, that is the MVP, the top defender and the leading goalkeeper all exiting the league.

Sweeping changes on the coaching benches also add to uncertainty as the new campaign begins, with a much-changed Inter hoping to successfully defend their title.


JUVE ON A SCUDETTO MISSION

After the folly of handing dugout rookie Andrea Pirlo the reins before last season, Juventus look to be on firmer ground this time with Massimiliano Allegri back as head coach.

They have brought in Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo, primed to play a Pirlo-like role on the pitch, and it seems Cristiano Ronaldo will hang around for the final year of his contract.

Rumours continue to encircle the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, but Allegri can likely count on his reliable flow of goals, just as he did for the 2018-19 season – Ronaldo's debut campaign in Turin and the end of the line for Allegri in his first stint as coach.

A six-time Scudetto winner, Allegri will look to get the best out of wingers Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Chiesa as they enter their second seasons with the Bianconeri, while it remains to be seen how Paulo Dybala performs as he enters the final year of his deal.

Plagued by injury last season, Dybala started just 14 Serie A games, but results were often perkier when he played. Of those 14 games, Juventus won 10, drew three and lost one, with a points-per-game average of 2.4 when he played from the off, compared to 1.9 when he was absent or a substitute. The win percentage of 71.4 per cent when Dybala was in the starting XI (compared to 54.2 per cent when he was not) is in the ball park that Allegri will be eyeing.

 


INZAGHI STEPS INTO CONTE SHOES

Social media tells us Antonio Conte has been thoroughly enjoying his summer, topping up his tan and seemingly showing no regret over his Inter exit, which came in May, just weeks after he guided the Nerazzurri to title glory.

Conte reportedly left amid concern the club planned to raise funds with sales that have duly come to fruition. The loss of striker Lukaku feels like a body blow, given his influence, and persistent rumours suggest Lautaro Martinez could also move on. Achraf Hakimi is another big loss, but, as with Lukaku, a big fee was banked as the right-back proved a one-season wonder in Italy.

In have come coach Simone Inzaghi, who impressed at Lazio, while Edin Dzeko will be a straight swap for Lukaku in the forward line, albeit unlikely to carry quite the same threat. Former PSV star Denzel Dumfries can replace Hakimi in the attacking right full-back role, and Inter will hope his Euro 2020 form transfers to Serie A duty.

It is hard to see Inter repeating last season's success, and the comedown could be painful. They exceeded their expected goals total last season, scoring 84 goals against an xG of 75.3, and Inzaghi will look for more of the same.

They possess plenty of quality still, but they have likely lost Christian Eriksen for the long term too after his cardiac arrest on Denmark duty at Euro 2020. His survival was everything in June, and now his recovery is all-important. The knock-on effect is that Inter have lost a player who became important over the second half of the season.

So much has changed since that title was secured. Landing Hakan Calhanoglu on a free from Milan looks like great business, but consolidation with a top-four finish may be their limit in the new campaign. That, and being sure to secure city bragging rights again.

 


MOURINHO'S BACK AMID MERRY-GO-ROUND

Never mind Inzaghi and Allegri at Inter and Juve, now is the time to get used to the sound of Maurizio Sarri's Lazio, Vincenzo Italiano's Fiorentina, Luciano Spalletti's Napoli ... and Jose Mourinho's Roma. Milan rather feel like the odd ones out, keeping faith with Stefano Pioli.

A whirlwind of change has swept through Serie A, and it will be worth watching to see quite what impact Mourinho can have on a side who finished 16 points short of the Champions League places last term.

His 'Special One' reputation was enhanced the last time he coached in Italy, guiding Inter to a treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in the 2009-10 campaign.

Spells at Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham have followed, but Mourinho's cachet has diminished over the past decade.

Tammy Abraham has followed him in swapping London for Rome, with the Chelsea striker arriving, along with Eldor Shomurodov from Genoa, to pep up an attack depleted by the loss of Dzeko. Rui Patricio has joined fellow Portuguese Mourinho, and the goalkeeper's arrival from Wolves could prove a fine signing.

Roma won just five Serie A away games last term, and have only had fewer once in a season beginning in the 20th century (4 in 2002-03), while their shot conversion rate of 41.35 per cent can be improved upon, given they topped 50 per cent twice in the 2010s.

Most important for Mourinho, perhaps, will be to build on Roma's poor duel success rate (48.97 per cent) and cutting out the errors leading to goals (10 in 2020-21 in Serie A).

The duel figures are important and were the worst Roma had managed in at least 15 years, while the error count will be simply intolerable to the new boss. Only Bologna committed so many costly errors (also 10). Mourinho has his work cut out.

Jose Mourinho hailed the ambition shown by Tammy Abraham after the forward joined Roma from Chelsea on Tuesday.

Abraham has signed a five-year contract with the Serie A club to fill the void left by Edin Dzeko's departure to Inter.

Roma paid €40million (£34.1m) to secure the services of a player who made his Chelsea debut in 2016 and has played six times for his country.

Mourinho believes leaving the Premier League behind for a new challenge shows Abraham has lofty aspirations.

"With Tammy, I prefer to say, 'wait and see'," Mourinho said in a video posted on Roma's Twitter account.

"I say that with total confidence. I've known him since he was a boy. He's never played for me because he was a 14, 15, 16-year-old boy when I was at Chelsea, but I know him very well.

"I know him as a player, a person and in terms of his mentality. I know how he made the decision to leave the Premier League, which is always tough for an English player.

"That tells me so much about him, because when you leave the Premier League, you do so because you're ambitious.

"You leave because you want to get back in your national team, because you want to play at the World Cup, because you want success outside of England, where not many English players have had brilliant careers. 

"He comes here with that ambition and we hope to see his best qualities as a player."

Chelsea will reportedly receive a further €5m in add-ons and have an option to re-sign the 23-year-old, who fell further down the pecking order when Romelu Lukaku returned to Stamford Bridge.

After scoring 15 Premier League goals for the Blues in the 2020-21 season when Frank Lampard was in charge, Abraham saw his opportunities diminish under Thomas Tuchel last term.

The 23-year-old started only three league fixtures following the appointment of Tuchel in late January, while he did not feature at all in the knockout stages of the Champions League as Chelsea went on to lift the trophy in Porto.

He also missed out on England's squad for Euro 2020, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin preferred by Gareth Southgate as a direct back-up to Harry Kane.

Abraham will be hoping to have similar success in Serie A as another England international, Chris Smalling, who rejuvenated his career with a loan switch to Roma in 2019-20, which was made permanent last year.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has been sent off as tempers boiled over in the 5-2 pre-season friendly defeat to Real Betis on Saturday.

The former Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United boss stormed on to the pitch and approached the referee to protest a dubious Betis goal.

The incident occurred with the match at 2-2 with Alex Moreno awkwardly netting for Betis appearing to use his arm, but the referee did not disallowed the goal prompting Mourinho's strong reaction despite the friendly's relative insignificance.

Mourinho was red carded for his actions along with Lorenzo Pellegrini before Roma had two more players and two more assistant coaches dismissed and conceded two more goals to lose 5-2.

The Portuguese took over at Roma in the off-season, as the Giallorossi look to improve on last season's seventh-place finish in Serie A.

Roma commence their 2021-22 Serie A campaign against Fiorentina on Sunday 22 August.

Jose Mourinho's Roma tenure started with a 10-0 rout of minnows Montecatini in a training match on Thursday.

Having been sacked by Tottenham, former Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter boss Mourinho was appointed as Roma's new head coach in May, replacing compatriot Paulo Fonseca.

Mourinho's first competitive match in charge will come in Roma's Serie A opener against Fiorentina in August, and the Giallorossi made an emphatic start to their pre-season against Serie D side Montecatini.

Borja Mayoral scored a hat-trick, with his first goal coming after Carles Perez and Gianluca Mancini struck to put Roma 2-0 up.

Riccardo Calafiori netted a swift follow up and an own goal from Montecatini put Roma 5-0 ahead at the break.

Nicolo Zaniolo converted a penalty after Mayoral helped himself to a second, with the Real Madrid loanee completing his hat-trick after Nicola Zalewski and Amadou Diawara had got on the scoresheet.

Serie B newcomers Ternana are next up for Roma, who face Serie C outfit Triestina three days later before rounding off their pre-season preparations with friendlies against Debrecen, Mourinho's former club Porto and Real Betis.

Inter face a reunion with former boss Jose Mourinho during a potentially tricky run of games from the end of September to early December as Simone Inzaghi's side attempt to retain their Serie A crown.

The Nerazzurri finished top of the pile in Italy last season for the first time in 11 years, though there has since been a change in the dugout as Antonio Conte stepped down and has been replaced by ex-Lazio boss Inzaghi.

Inzaghi's first competitive match in charge will be at home to Genoa on the opening weekend of the season, currently scheduled for the week ending August 22.

Inter have what looks to be a kind start to the campaign on paper, with their first meeting against one of last season's top six coming at home to Atalanta on matchday six at the end of September.

Inzaghi will travel to Lazio, whom he was in charge of for five years before departing for Inter in June, on matchday eight and will welcome his former employers to San Siro at the start of 2022.

The first Mourinho meeting comes late in year. He won the treble with Inter in 2009-10, and the Nerazzurri travel to Roma on December 5.

Roma then visit San Siro for the reverse fixture in April.

In terms of other headline fixtures, the Scudetto holders face rivals and last season's runners-up Milan in the week ending November 7 and again in the first week of February.

That first game with Stefano Pioli's side comes two weeks on from a showdown with Juventus and is followed by the visit of Napoli in their next match, albeit with an international break sandwiched between.

Inter conclude their campaign with a home match against Sampdoria in the week ending May 22.

Speaking after the 2021-22 fixture list was released on Wednesday, Inzaghi told his new club's official website: "We're working to make sure we're ready for our opening Serie A game.

"It's going to be an interesting, exciting match against Genoa. We'll be playing our first one at home and we want to get off on the right foot.

"In any case for now we're just focusing on preparing as best we possibly can while waiting for the players involved in the Euros and Copa America to return."

Inter's Serie A fixtures in full, subject to change:

22/08/2021 - Genoa (h)
29/08/2021 - Hellas Verona (a)
12/09/2021 - Sampdoria (a)
19/09/2021 - Bologna (h)
22/09/2021 - Fiorentina (a)
26/09/2021 - Atalanta (h)
03/10/2021- Sassuolo (a)
17/10/2021 - Lazio (a)
24/10/2021 - Juventus (h)
27/10/2021 - Empoli (a)
31/10/2021 - Udinese (h)
07/11/2021 - Milan (a)
21/11/2021 - Napoli (h)
28/11/2021 - Venezia (a)
01/12/2021 - Spezia (h)
05/12/2021 - Roma (a)
12/12/2021 - Cagliari (h)
19/12/2021 - Salernitana (a)
22/12/2021 - Torino (h)
06/01/2022 - Bologna (a)
09/01/2022 - Lazio (h)
16/01/2022 - Atalanta (a)
23/01/2022 - Venezia (h)
06/02/2022 - Milan (h)
13/02/2022 - Napoli (h)
20/02/2022 - Sassuolo (h)
27/02/2022 - Genoa (a)
06/03/2022 - Salernitana (h)
13/03/2022 - Torino (a)
20/03/2022 - Fiorentina (h)
03/04/2022 - Juventus (a)
10/04/2022 - Hellas Verona (h)
16/04/2022 - Spezia (a)
24/04/2022 - Roma (h)
01/05/2022 - Udinese (a)
08/05/2022 - Empoli (h)
15/05/2022 - Cagliari (a)
22/05/2022 - Sampdoria (h)

Manchester City's search to replace Sergio Aguero is well known.

Spanish reports have linked Pep Guardiola’s side with Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann.

So, could City - who won the Premier League but lost the Champions League final to Chelsea – be set to bring in the France international? Possibly not...

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN NOT ON CITY RADAR

Manchester City are ready to ramp up their move for a new striker during the transfer window but will not pursue Barcelona forward Griezmann, claims The Sun.

Pep Guardiola's side will instead set their sights on Tottenham's Harry Kane, while Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is another possibility.

The Sun's report denies Spanish links between City and Frenchman Griezmann, with Barcelona understood to be keen to reduce their wage bill to free up funds to re-sign Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail reports that Atletico Madrid's signing of midfielder Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese will pave the way for Liverpool's proposed move to sign Saul Niguez. De Paul's arrival means Atleti are free to sell him off, with the Reds and Barcelona reportedly interested.

- Juventus are homing in on a transfer for Manchester City's Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, while they are also keen on bringing back Moise Kean to Turin, according to Tuttosport.

- Manchester United are edging closer to agreeing terms with French defender and long-term target Raphael Varane for a move from Real Madrid, reports the Mail.

- Jadon Sancho's move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United will be confirmed this week with a medical before his post-Euro 2020 holiday, claims The Sun.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio will become Jose Mourinho's first signing at Roma imminently.

Jose Mourinho claimed his "disaster" years would be regarded as career high points by many bosses as he began life as head coach of Roma.

The 58-year-old rejected any suggestions he was in decline and set his sights on bringing success to the Giallorossi, his second Italian club after a highly successful two-year stint at Inter.

Sacked by Tottenham in April, Mourinho believes it could be a long rebuild at Roma, a club that last won a trophy in 2008 when they landed the Coppa Italia.

Roma's last Scudetto came in 2001 when a star-studded side pipped Juventus to the title. Mourinho has won the Italian league title since then, guiding Inter to a Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble in 2010.

"I'm a victim of what I've done and the way people look at me," Mourinho said in a news conference. "If you look at Man United, I won three times and was a disaster.

"At Tottenham I took over and took them to a cup final where I couldn't manage them in, and it was seen as a disaster.

"In my last three clubs I won the league title with Chelsea, three trophies with Man United, I got to a final with Tottenham. We ended up in the Europa League.

"For me that is [thought of as] a disaster, but perhaps some coaches haven't achieved that ever."

The three trophies Mourinho is counting at Manchester United are the Europa League and EFL Cup from the 2016-17 season, and the Community Shield from the beginning of that campaign.

He left United after failing to build on his early promise there and was chopped by Tottenham before their cup final last season, caretaker Ryan Mason seeing Spurs through the final weeks of the campaign.

During his Premier League career, Mourinho had a points-per-game record of 2.33 in his 2004-07 first spell at Chelsea, falling to 2.00 when he returned to Stamford Bridge from 2013 to 2015, sliding to 1.89 in his 2016-18 stint at United and then delivering at 1.64 during his Tottenham career.

At Inter his team had a 2.18 points-per-game rate, losing just eight times in Serie A across two seasons, and they achieved a league win record of 64.47 per cent.

Inter made San Siro a fortress under Mourinho, staying undefeated there over those two campaigns, winning 29 games and drawing nine.

His Nerazzurri side struggled against Roma, however, winning just one of their four Serie A meetings (D2 L1).

Mourinho stressed he returns to Italy, 11 years after leaving Inter for Real Madrid, as a more rounded personality.

"Perhaps I'm more experienced and mature now and that puts me in a more solid position from an emotional standpoint," the Portuguese said.

Roma finished seventh in the 2020-21 Serie A campaign, which leaves considerable room for improvement.

"We ended the season 29 points behind the winners and 16 points behind fourth place and we can't escape from that reality," Mourinho said. "First of all, we want to understand why and understand how we can change that.

"Time is a word that we all share. That was a key word when we met with the owners for the first time. If we can accelerate the process, all the better.

"We're not speaking about trophies. We're speaking about time, projects and work.

"Titles will come. For the owners a key principle is the idea they don't want isolated success. They want to choose success and maintain success.

"That's harder because it's easier to get that isolated success. We want to be sustainable and we are completely united on that front. It is about hard work and the rest will come."

He added: "I know the passion here, I've already changed my phone three times. Maybe it won't be pleasant for you to talk to me, for me it is essential that everything stays inside Trigoria.

"I want to get to know the squad, that's the most important thing. There are fundamental and non-negotiable principles. I want players to understand my principles right away. Anything that is not 100 per cent is not good."

Gareth Southgate and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are benefiting from Jose Mourinho's "hard-line" approach to managing Luke Shaw at Manchester United.

That is according to former England boss Steve McClaren, who believes the United full-back's strong recent form owes much to the lessons he learned under his former manager.

Shaw started just 17 Premier League games out of a possible 76 during Mourinho's two full seasons at Old Trafford and was a regular target for criticism from his boss throughout.

Disagreements between the pair have not subsided since the latter's departure from United, either, with his punditry during Euro 2020 prompting their most recent war of words.

However, McClaren is convinced that Shaw's improved performances for club and country over the past 12 months are a consequence of the tough love he received from Mourinho.

He told Stats Perform: "The key relationship is always the player and the manager. Whenever you move clubs, whenever you go to a new situation, internationals, whatever. 

"Maybe Shaw was in a moment also in his career where he needed Jose Mourinho’s management – maybe everybody's [previously] accepted [his behaviour]. 

"And maybe you come with a hard-line manager who won't accept this, won't accept that. And this player needs teaching and this player needs the hard line. 

"Unfortunately, you're the manager that suffers because of that. Because Shaw’s probably been through that and is a more mature, more professional, and a better player.

"Who's benefiting? The manager after, which is Ole and which is now Southgate with England. 

"So, it's a journey for a player and you always want a manager that likes you and loves you, plays you. 

"Sometimes you don't [have that] and that teaches you lessons that stay with you when you do come to a manager who does like [you], you love and you will play."

Shaw's recent renaissance at international level has come under the guidance of one of McClaren's former charges in Southgate.

This year, the England boss has backed up leading his country to a World Cup semi-final by helping them to the same stage of Euro 2020, prompting a nation to dream that glory could lie ahead.

And that success has come as no surprise to McClaren, who believes the Three Lions are being coached by a man who has always shown a knack for leadership and bringing people together.

He said: "I remember signing him as my first signing for Middlesbrough. [He was] an important signing and I wanted a captain, I wanted a leader in the dressing room, and I bought him for leadership. 

"He epitomised exactly what I wanted in the dressing room and on the field. One, he was a winner. He’d proven that at Aston Villa and England – he was a winner, he wanted to win. 

"Number two, he was so professional. And that's what I wanted. That was the main thing. Gareth always did the right thing every day: first in, then last away, fantastic professional. 

"And the third and most important thing was as a leader in the dressing room. He brought people together. We had a lot of foreign players, a lot of cliques in that dressing room at Middlesbrough. 

"And he would mix with them all. I always remember dinner times, lunch times, breakfast, whatever meetings we had, the cliques would always sit on one table and everyone would always sit on one side, which was fine. 

"But every meal-time Gareth used to flit from one table to the other. And he used to mix with everybody, he knew the importance of the squad, the team sticking together. 

"And that's what he's brought to England. The key thing for me is it's like England's like a club side in the present moment.

"I think being the Under-21 coach for that many years, he's had all these players, he knows them inside out. He's got a story with every one of them. 

"He knows the best ones, he knows the characters, knows what will gel, he's brought them into the England team, grown up with them really. And now they're like a club side. 

"And that's what's driving it for us."

Harry Kane has described Nuno Espirito Santo as a "great manager" but will hold off from speaking to his new Tottenham boss until after England's Euro 2020 campaign.

The 27-year-old's club future has been a hot topic of debate after admitting in May he feels at a "crossroads" in his career following another trophyless campaign with Spurs. 

Kane, who has spent the past 17 years with the north London club aside from four loan spells away, is a rumoured target for Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Keeping hold of the prolific striker will be a top priority for Nuno, who was last week confirmed as Jose Mourinho's permanent successor.

But Kane has yet to discuss his future with the ex-Wolves coach as he is eager to focus solely on helping England to Euro 2020 glory on home soil over the next week.

"Whenever a new manager comes in, I guess there's a level of excitement around the club," Kane, who has scored three goals in England's run to the semi-finals, told talkSPORT.

"Obviously, I've not been there and not had any contact with him. I'm away with England now and my full focus is on here.

"Hopefully, we've got a week left. He's a great manager and did a great job at getting Wolves playing a really good way.

"Let's get back and I'm sure we'll be in contact after the tournament."

 

Kane finished as the Premier League's top scorer last season with 23 goals, making him the third player to win the award three times after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer.

He also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Those 37 goals involvements were his most across a league campaign in his career, while his 14 assists doubled a previous high of seven in 2016-17.

Kane is under contract for another three years and new sporting director Fabio Paratici stressed on Monday that Spurs have no intention of selling the "special" player.

Asked about the comments made by Paratici, Kane said: "Of course, as a player you want to be wanted, you want to feel like you're loved, which I do.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to any of these people yet. I'm sure we'll get to know each other after the tournament, have a phone call or two once I get a week or two of holiday.

"To get praise from big people from football is great, it gives you confidence, it gives you motivation so of course it’s nice to hear."

 

While Kane has yet to speak with Nuno or Paratici, he has been in dialogue with Mourinho since the Portuguese was sacked by Tottenham in April.

"He's been texting me," Kane said of the now-Roma boss. "It's common knowledge we have a great relationship and got on really well.

"I really respect him as a manager and person. I wish him all the best at Roma. It is great to have one of the best managers in the world on your side.

"I will always respect him and hopefully be in contact with him for the rest of my career."

Dele Alli insists he does not blame Jose Mourinho for his decline in form that has left him struggling for game time at Tottenham and out of contention for England selection.

The 25-year-old, who joined Spurs back in 2015, was rarely involved in key matches prior to Mourinho being sacked in April and was linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain that would have reunited him with Mauricio Pochettino.

Alli played five times for England at World Cup 2018 but his lack of match action and reduced production meant he was not a candidate for Euro 2020 selection.

Mourinho was often questioned for his decision to rarely use Alli even as Spurs struggled to a seventh-place finish.

But the player insists he does not blame his former boss, who has clashed with multiple players, for his fall from prominence over recent years.

"The only person I blame is myself," Alli said to Goal.

"I should be performing at a level where it is difficult to not put me in the team or not play me. 

"I don’t blame anyone but myself. Working with Mourinho was a great experience and one I learned a lot from.

"It has been a tough few years but I have been working hard and analysing what I need to do to get better.

"I have been training a lot on most days of my holiday. I didn't feel I needed much rest, so it is just training the whole way through."

After a protracted search for a manager to replace Mourinho, Spurs eventually landed on ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Having been brought back as a regular starter when Ryan Mason took temporary charge towards the end of last year, Alli is relishing a fresh start.

The playmaker added: "He [Nuno] has done a great job at Wolves.

"I am looking forward to speaking to him and working with him. He is a great manager and it is exciting times.

"I want to make this year one of the best I have had. A lot of people have said I need to find the form I was in a few years ago. 

"For me, I don't even want to get to that, I want to go past that and reach my full potential to be the best player I can be.

"Everyone is looking for that extra few per cent, so you have to keep up. I am feeling good and the best I have felt in a long time."

Jose Mourinho has spoken highly of Luke Shaw's performances at Euro 2020 following his standout display in England's win over Ukraine.

The Manchester United left-back was voted as the Three Lions' man of the match in a fan poll after providing two assists in the 4-0 quarter-final victory in Rome.

Shaw appears to have cemented his place as Gareth Southgate's first-choice left-back at these finals, a fitting reward for an impressive season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United.

The former Southampton man has enjoyed arguably the strongest 18 months of his career, a far cry from a difficult spell when Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford, when the Portuguese would often single out Shaw for criticism.

Mourinho took aim at Shaw again after England's group-stage win over the Czech Republic, claiming his delivery from corners was "dramatically bad". That prompted a response from the player, who accused his old boss of having a "strange" personal agenda, adding: "Clearly, I'm in his head."

However, Mourinho appeared far more impressed with Shaw's display in the Italian capital on Saturday, saying the form of England's defenders means Southgate should resist any temptation to revert to a back three for the semi-final against Denmark.

 

"The question is, do England need to play with a back three like they did against Germany? My view is no," he told talkSPORT.

"The back four is really, really solid. Luke Shaw is playing better and better and better. Kyle Walker is having an amazing tournament.

"The two centre-backs are very solid and the back four with the amazing Euros that both central midfielders are doing is more than enough to control Denmark offensively. Then, you have four players to decide the creativity of the game. It is there that Gareth may have some doubts.

"Walker, [Harry] Maguire, [John] Stones and Shaw is clear. [Kalvin] Phillips and [Declan] Rice is clear. [Raheem] Sterling and [Harry] Kane is clear and there are two places that in my opinion are open and two positions where the options are different.

"[Jadon] Sancho played well, [Phil] Foden started the tournament, the same with [Mason] Mount, while [Jack] Grealish looks like he's not the favourite player of Gareth but, every minute he's on the pitch, he does well. There are lots of options for these two places.

"I believe playing at Wembley, England will be solid as always but you have to try and win the match as soon as they can and I don't believe that they need to play with a back three like they did against Germany."

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