Chelsea are reportedly weighing up a potential £102million move for Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

The Stamford Bridge club have been actively searching for ways to plug the gap in the centre of their defence since losing Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers, and are said to have also enquired about Inter's Milan Skriniar and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.

Kouliably appeared the most palatable option at a fee in the range of £40m, but Chelsea may have decided the 22-year-old Netherlands international is a stronger long-term investment, and they could also potentially include a player swap to avoid forking out the full £102m release clause.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA SET SIGHTS ON ONE OF THE WORLD'S TOP YOUNG CENTRE-BACKS

The Telegraph is reporting that Juventus are holding firm on making any De Ligt suitors meet his release clause, while Football.London claims Chelsea are hoping to get a deal done with £60m plus sending Christian Pulisic to Turin.

All reporting agrees that De Ligt desires a move to the Premier League and that talks are progressing well, indicating it could just be a matter of time before a transfer fee is agreed.

Manchester City centre-back Nathan Ake is also said to be on the move to Chelsea – the club he spent five years with before departing to Bournemouth in 2017 – in a deal Calciomercato claims to be in the range of £40m.

Chelsea could theoretically land both Ake and Koulibaly for less than it would take to bring in De Ligt, but if their transfer budget in this current window is close to the reported figure of £200m, money may not be an issue.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Times claims that Barcelona's finances are in better shape after their recent television rights deal, and the club are now willing to match the £60m required to secure Leeds United winger Raphinha.

– According to Calciomercato, Paris Saint-Germain have raised their bid for 23-year-old Sassuolo striker Gianluca Scamacca, although it is short of their £50m asking price.

Tottenham are reportedly in advanced talks to land Middlesbrough full-back Djed Spence in a deal worth at least £15m, per Sky Sports.

– The Sun is reporting that Ruben Neves is likely to remain with Wolves for the upcoming season as clubs are unwilling to meet their demands of £75m.

– According to Sky Sports, Kalvin Phillips will undergo his medical on Friday before confirming a £45m move to Man City.

Juventus and Milan target Domenico Berardi has suggested he is ready to leave Sassuolo.

Berardi impressed again for Sassuolo in the 2021-22 season, scoring 15 times in Serie A – the third consecutive campaign the forward has posted double figures in the league.

He also recorded the most assists in the Italian top flight (14) and was the only Serie A striker to manage double figures for both goals and assists.

The 27-year-old has been at Sassuolo his entire career, but with two years left on his contract there have been growing suggestions he could soon move on.

Sassuolo chief executive Giovanni Carnevali hailed Berardi as a "champion", but revealed last April he may leave if the club receive an offer that is too good to refuse.

Berardi has been linked to Juventus, who co-owned him between 2013 and 2015, while Liverpool and Milan have also been among those reportedly interested in the Italy international.

The Sassuolo attacker has expressed his love for the city of Modena, but acknowledged he would be ready to depart after 10 years with the club.

Asked by magazine Chi whether he would be leave, Berardi responded: "I like living in Modena. I have lived here for 11 years but I have reached a point at which I would suffer less from change.

"That is thanks to my wife and my son, with them I would feel at home in any city."

 

Stefano Pioli says Milan's Scudetto triumph was fully deserved as they were more consistent than Inter and showed more belief than their fierce rivals.

Milan ended their 11-year wait to finish top of Serie A with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo on Sunday, rendering Inter's win at home to Sampdoria by the same scoreline meaningless.

The Rossoneri finished two points ahead of erstwhile champions Inter to claim their first trophy since the 2016 Italian Super Cup some 1,976 days ago.

Pioli's men won their final five matches and went 15 without defeat to see out the campaign, with their final tally of 88 points their second best ever in the three-points-per-win era.

And after a gripping title battle with Inter that went down to the final game – the first time that has happened in Serie A since 2009-10 – Pioli was full of praise for his players.

"They are phenomenal," he told DAZN. "I am happy for them, for myself, for the fans, the club. This Scudetto makes us all very happy.

"We showed more consistency than Inter. The last game we lost was against Spezia in January and even then we shouldn't have lost it.

"The team never gave up; all the players were fantastic. We fully deserved this Scudetto because we believed in it more. We are a strong team and I have great staff around me."

Olivier Giroud scored twice for Milan in their title-clinching win at Sassuolo and Franck Kessie added a third before half-time.

Rafael Leao assisted two of those strikes and has been involved in at least one goal in his past six league appearances, including three strikes of his own.

The Portugal international was named as Serie A's Most Valuable Player for 2021-22, while Pioli was named Coach of the Year.

"I have the players and the club to thank for that," Pioli said. "This award is for them. Without them what we achieved would not have been possible."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic smoked a cigar and toasted Milan's Serie A title triumph with champagne as he collected yet another medal on Sunday.

The Rossoneri secured their first Scudetto for 11 years with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo on the final day of the season, finishing two points clear of city rivals Inter.

All three goals came in the first half at the Mapei Stadium on Sunday, Olivier Giroud scoring twice before Franck Kessie got in the act for rampant Milan.

The outstanding Rafael Leao laid on all three goals as a huge contingent of Milan fans partied in Reggio Emilia, where they moved level with Inter's tally of being crowned champions of Italy 19 times.

It was Ibrahimovic who took centre stage during the trophy presentation ceremony, coming out of the tunnel smoking a cigar and swigging champagne.

The 40-year-old had a goal disallowed for offside against Leao after he came on to replace Giroud in the second half of what could be his final appearance for the club.

Ibrahimovic's contract expires at the end of the month and he could be on the move once again. 

While he has not lit up San Siro this season due to injury problems, if the legendary Swede's Milan career is over, it seems only right that he departs on a such a high note resembling a rock star.

Milan have been crowned as Serie A champions for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign after beating Sassuolo.

Stefano Pioli's men went into the final day of the season knowing they simply needed to avoid defeat to clinch their first Scudetto in over a decade.

The Rossoneri had established a two-point lead over rivals Inter – against whom they also held a head-to-head advantage – at the Serie A summit. 

And they made sure of their success with a 3-0 defeat of Sassuolo, thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Franck Kessie.

Milan travelled to Sassuolo having made light of a challenging run-in, winning five consecutive games to tee up their historic triumph, as they matched the Nerazzurri's tally of 19 Italian top-flight titles. Only Juventus (36) have more than the two Milanese giants. 

While Inter avoided handing the title to the Rossoneri following a hard-fought 3-1 win over Cagliari last weekend, their result against Sampdoria on the final day was ultimately immaterial as Milan made their advantage count at the end of an absorbing title race.

The Rossoneri's last title triumph came under the tutelage of Massimiliano Allegri some 11 seasons ago, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato, and Robinho each scoring 14 Serie A goals apiece as Milan finished six points clear of Inter.

Pioli's men have been able to rely on a fantastic defensive record to get them over the line, conceding just eight league goals since the turn of the year.

Indeed, 11 of Milan's 17 Serie A clean sheets this season have come in 2022, and last week's crucial 2-0 win over Atalanta marked the first time they had kept five consecutive home clean sheets in Serie A since a run of six under Carlo Ancelotti in 2002.

The Rossoneri's title win also marks the first major trophy of Pioli's coaching career, and the club's first trophy win since the 2016 Supercoppa Italiana.

Olivier Giroud scored twice as magnificent Milan ended an 11-year wait to win the Serie A title with a 3-0 defeat of Sassuolo.

Milan only needed a point at the Mapei Stadium on the final day of the season to dethrone city rivals Inter and they made it mission accomplished in style.

There were no sign of nerves from the rampant Rossoneri as the outstanding Rafael Leao set Giroud up for a double and also laid on the third goal for Franck Kessie in a totally one-sided first half.

Stefano Piolo's side eased to victory in a party atmosphere in Reggio Emilia on Sunday, finishing two points clear of Inter to finally claim the Scudetto once again.


Milan swarmed all over Sassuolo from the start, Giroud forcing a save from Andrea Consigli with a bullet header before Fikayo Tomori had an effort cleared off the line.

The Rossoneri were totally dominant and a huge contingent of away fans erupted in the 17th minute when Leao robbed Kaan Ayhan on the halfway line and burst down the left before picking out Giroud, who put the ball between Consigli's legs.

Leao was also the architect for the second goal just after the half-hour mark, dispossessing Gian Marco Ferrari and pulling back from the byline for Giroud to sweep home.

Sassuolo were unable to live with Leao and he surged down the right before laying into the path of the onrushing Kessie, who fired home brilliantly with his left foot nine minutes before half-time.

Milan were in complete control and there was party atmosphere as their supporters were spared final-day tension following a dream first half.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a great reception when he replaced Giroud 18 minutes from the end of what might be his last game for Milan and the striker had a goal ruled out for offside against Leao.

Hamed Traore rattled the post late on and that was as close as Sassuolo came to a consolation as Pioli celebrated with his players and staff on the touchline before the final whistle was blown.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is eager to play an important role when Milan look to clinch the Serie A title at Sassuolo on Sunday. 

Victory at the Mapei Stadium will see the Rossoneri win the Scudetto for the first time since 2010-11, which was during Ibrahimovic's first stint with the club. 

The Swede returned in January 2020 and in 72 appearances in all competitions has scored 35 goals – nine more than any of his team-mates in the same time frame – at a rate of one every 129 minutes. 

Ibrahimovic, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, has also contributed 11 assists for a total of 46 goal involvements. Rafael Leao is second on 42 for Milan but has played 28 games more. 

Although only 11 of the 40-year-old's Serie A appearances this season have come as part of the starting line-up, head coach Stefano Pioli believes he has been crucial to Milan's title challenge behind the scenes. 

Asked if Ibrahimovic was keen to play an important role against Sassuolo, Pioli replied: "A lot, like all of us. 

"We are experiencing an important moment. The season will finish tomorrow. There's a difference between winning and losing, and everyone must think they can be decisive. 

"Zlatan has brought a strong mentality and quality. He has more football intelligence than anyone else. He has been a reference point and has been instrumental in the growth of the team, which have been good at following his lead. They have become stronger players with him." 

Sassuolo have won each of the past two Serie A meetings between the teams but Milan are on a run of five straight away league wins against the Neroverdi. 

"Today, in my opinion, we deserve to be first. We've been the best team but also need to be [against Sassuolo]," said Pioli. 

"It's a difficult game. Nobody has given us anything this season and tomorrow will be the same. I just think about preparing as best as possible, knowing that we have reached this point with solid foundations. 

"Sassuolo can surprise you. It will be a complicated match tactically and physically, but we know how to fight and suffer." 

Luciano Spalletti hit out at the media coverage surrounding Napoli after his side cruised to a 6-1 thrashing of Sassuolo on Saturday.

Napoli saw their Scudetto hopes crushed as a second-half collapse allowed Empoli victory last week, but Spalletti's side raced out the blocks against Sassuolo as Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Osimhen and Hirving Lozano struck.

The rapid start saw Napoli net three times within the first 20 minutes of a Serie A match for the first time since May 2009 before Dries Mertens added a double either side of the interval.

Amir Rrahmani then turned home with the hosts claiming a 6-1 win after Maxime Lopez's late consolation goal.

But Spalletti was in no mood for celebrating after Napoli all but secured Champions League qualification, sitting 12 points clear of fifth-placed Roma, who have four games to play.

The Napoli coach questioned the reporting by the media after speculation persisted over his future following the disappointing defeat to Empoli.

"Being almost mathematically certain of Champions League football with three rounds to spare was not an easy target. Having said that, there are some regrets," he told reporters.

"I was the one who talked about the Scudetto to raise the bar, but winning a game in today's atmosphere, with part of the crowd protesting, is something that disappoints me considering all the players have done this season.

"It almost feels like it's a success to be where Roma, Atalanta or Lazio are, but Napoli are treated as a failure.

"Who has doubts about me? A journalist who has no ideas and decides to fill up space by going back to find problems from years ago, back to Francesco Totti, Mauro Icardi and who knows what else.

"I see bad faith in some reporting around me and Napoli. You are trying to obscure the great result of Champions League qualification by making it all about the Scudetto.

"It's true we dropped points against Empoli, but just as true that we have achieved things with Napoli this season. The team did not deserve to play in this atmosphere."

Spalletti is aiming to continue building at Napoli even if he is to lose some of his star players after impressing this season.

"This season told us a lot, now we have more material available and we have created a showcase for many players," he added.

"At the beginning of the season the president talked about having to lower the salary, there were not many proposals, now many are interested in the transfer market and I'm happy with this.

"These players here deserve showcases and deserve to be in the sights of other important clubs such as Napoli."

Massimiliano Allegri has his sights set on a third-placed finish in Serie A after Juventus came from behind to beat Sassuolo 2-1.

The Bianconeri snatched all three points at MAPEI Stadium – Citta del Tricolore on Monday to take a big stride towards qualifying for the Champions League after Giacomo Raspadori opened the scoring.

Paulo Dybala equalised just before half-time and Moise Kean came off the bench to win it in the 88th minute.

Victory for Juve moved them eight points ahead of fifth-placed Roma with four games to play and just a point adrift of third-placed Napoli.

Defeat was harsh on Sassuolo, who posed a big threat going forward with Domenico Berardi, who has now assisted 12 goals in Serie A, the most of any forward in the competition in a single campaign since Ronaldinho in 2009-10, a constant menace.

Juve boss Allegri, who brought Dusan Vlahovic and Giorgio Chiellini on early in the second half but left Matthijs de Ligt on the bench as he has been suffering with illness, says there can be no let-up from his players in their remaining fixtures.

He said: "We have Napoli one point ahead of us. We hope to play well and try to overcome them, as we hoped to fight after the many positive results to be closer to those in the lead but we didn't succeed.

"Now we have to do the best we can from now to the end."

Juve had a tough start to the season, but Allegri is pleased with the strides they have made early in his second spell with the club, having seen his team win 16 points from losing positions in Serie A this season – with only Inter (19) having earned more.

He said: "We are doing a good job. I think Juve have laid a good foundation for the future and I think there are players with room for improvement, there are those who arrived in January.

"We need to understand that Juve are working in a certain way and I think there is a good basis.

"How we work every day, we know it inside and we are trying to do a good job every day, the seasons sometimes are born in one way, they end in another, there are situations like injuries, now we have five.

"[Federico] Chiesa has been out for so long, [Weston] McKennie the same, they have characteristics that we needed, I think the team is doing well. The team is adapting and doing well, maybe at the beginning of this race we would have lost this game and tonight the boys won it, there are also positive signs."

Moise Kean came off the bench to score a late winner as Juventus took a big stride towards securing a Champions League place with a 2-1 victory at Sassuolo.

Sassuolo were much the better side in the first half of the Serie A clash at MAPEI Stadium – Citta del Tricolore on Monday and they were rewarded when Giacomo Raspadori put them in front.

Paulo Dybala equalised on the stroke of half-time, though, and substitute Kean's first goal for two months in the 88th minute snatched a huge win for the Bianconeri.

Juve remain in fourth place with four games to play, eight points better off than Roma in fifth spot and just one behind Napoli.

 

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri has warned his players of the technical ability of Sassuolo, saying they will suffer metaphorical "broken bones" if they do not match them.

The Bianconeri are in a strong position to seal Champions League qualification, and could cement their place in the top four further on Monday.

Juve sit in fourth place in Serie A, five points ahead of Roma in fifth having played a game fewer, with the Giallorossi losing 3-1 at league leaders Inter on Saturday.

Speaking at a media conference on Sunday, Allegri said: "Tomorrow it will be difficult because Sassuolo is a technical team, in an excellent position in the table and comes from a defeat.

"We will need a serious technical game, otherwise we risk going out with broken bones."

In the 17 previous Serie A games between Sassuolo and Juventus, there have been 12 wins for the Old Lady, three draws and two defeats, including in the reverse fixture this season in Turin.

Only in one season (two draws in 2019-20) have Sassuolo managed to remain unbeaten in both league meetings against Juve.

While not literally referring to injuries with that "broken bones" comment, Allegri did later provide updates on the fitness of some of his players, giving hope for Weston McKennie and Arthur, but seeming to cast doubt on whether Manuel Locatelli will play again this season.

"Today, after training, I will make the decisions on the midfield and beyond," he told reporters. "Arthur does not recover, we hope he is available for the Venezia game.

"As for Weston McKennie, yesterday he took his first running steps. He is improving. Manuel Locatelli, finally, is behind and I don't know if he will return before the end of the season. 

"[Matthijs] De Ligt will certainly play in defence, while I will choose one between [Leonardo] Bonucci and [Giorgio] Chiellini. Up front, I will also evaluate [Alvaro] Morata, we will see."

Massimiliano Allegri remembers his maiden successes with Sassuolo and Milan more fondly than his triumphs with Juventus. 

Sassuolo made history under Allegri in 2007-08 when he led them to the Serie C title and promotion to the second tier for the first time.

He was poached by Cagliari and took over at Milan ahead of the 2010-11 season, guiding them to a first Scudetto in seven years. 

Allegri only added the Supercoppa Italiana before moving onto Juve in 2014. He steered the Bianconeri to five straight Serie A titles – the first four of which were domestic doubles thanks to successes in the Coppa Italia – and two Champions League finals, both of which ended in defeat. 

Despite the incredible record he possessed during his first stint at Juve, it is the triumphs in the earlier stages of his career that he remembers more prominently. 

"All the titles are beautiful, I cannot choose. The ones I remember the most are the Serie C title with Sassuolo and the first Serie A title with Milan," said Allegri. 

"The defeats, on the other hand, are all bad – some more than others because the question remains for you about whether you could have done something better." 

Juve endured a sluggish start to the season following Allegri's return to the helm and sit eight points adrift of leaders Milan with seven games to play. 

Allegri has come in for criticism for a lack of willingness to try out young players, an attitude many believe is widespread in Italy and a significant factor in their failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. 

The 54-year-old explained why he may seem reluctant to put his faith in youth. 

"For some years in Italy, there has been a tendency to consider youngsters to be champions after two or three games," he said. 

"But that is pushing them ahead of schedule – at 20 years old a footballer cannot have the maturity of a 28-year-old."

Marco Verratti and Jorginho were among a group of six players to leave the Italy camp after their failure to qualify for the World Cup. 

Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Mancini also returned to their clubs ahead of schedule, with the latter two having sustained knocks. 

Italy coach Roberto Mancini is expected to ring the changes in a friendly against Turkey on Tuesday following the Azzurri's shock defeat to North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on Thursday. 

The Euro 2020 champions' first ever home loss in World Cup qualifying meant they failed to reach successive finals for the first time in their history. 

Instead of taking on Portugal in the play-off final, Italy will depart for Konya on Monday. 

Manchester City's search for a permanent striker appears to be ramping up, with a deal for Erling Haaland reportedly in the works.

City have not been able to properly replace Sergio Aguero despite leading the Premier League, and Haaland looks to be their primary target.

Details and discussion of the deal already appear to be in advanced stages, and City look to be best placed to sign the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR MAN CITY SWITCH

According to the Daily Mail, Haaland is set to move to Manchester City at the end of season, with personal terms already discussed and the framework for the deal already green-lit by City decision makers.

Haaland's father Alf-Inge played for the club but more importantly, City appear willing to meet Borussia Dortmund's release clause of £63million (€75.1million). 

The 21-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, would also be set to earn a significant portion of the transfer fee per reports, meaning the total outlay will reach nine figures.

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have shown keen interest in the Norwegian striker, but the Premier League leaders look to be in pole position.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are looking at Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak as an alternative in the event they don't manage to sign Haaland from Dortmund . According to El Nacional, Xavi is an admirer of the 22-year-old Swedish striker, but they would face competition from the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal .

- Milan are set to make an offer for Mamadou Coulibaly from Monaco. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Rossoneri scout Geoffrey Moncada is particularly keen on the 17-year-old, who will be leaving Monaco at the end of the season.

- According to reports from Calciomercato, Napoli will look to begin talks with Sassuolo for talented attacker Hamed Junior Traore soon. Following the expiry of Juventus' right of first refusal clause, reports also say the Partenopei will want to move quickly.

- Real Madrid are close to confirming a contract extension for Luka Modric, per Marca reports, but are unwavering in their plans to offload Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Isco at the end of the season.

Antonio Rudiger's future at Chelsea has been the topic of plenty of speculation.

The 29-year-old centre-back has been with the Blues since 2017 when he joined on a five-year deal.

Rudiger is yet to extend his contract with Chelsea, with plenty of interest in the Germany international.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE AND MAN UTD IN FOR RUDIGER

Newcastle United are ready to compete in the race to sign Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, claims the Telegraph.

The Germany international has drawn interest from Real Madrid while the Express reports that Manchester United are also considering a move for the defender.

Rudiger's contract with Chelsea expires at the end of this season, although he has not ruled out staying at Stamford Bridge.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Express claims Harry Kane has informed his Tottenham team-mates that he will remain with the club should they clinch a top-four spot and Champions League football.

Arsenal may move to re-sign Serge Gnabry from Bayern Munich, who previously spent four years with the Gunners, according to Football.London. Gnabry is valued at €75million (£63m).

Arsenal, along with Leicester City, have sent scouts to track Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi, according to Nicolo Schira. The Italians are asking for €30m for their club captain, with interest from Napoli and Milan also.

- FootMercato claims Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are considering moves for Manchester City's Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez.

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