Sassuolo forward Giacomo Raspadori is in line for an Italy debut after Roberto Mancini named him in an initial 33-man squad ahead of Euro 2020.

On the day Mancini extended his contract until after the 2026 World Cup, the Azzurri head coach confirmed a first group to face San Marino in a May 28 friendly.

Italy have to trim that selection to 26 men for the rescheduled European Championship finals, with a second warm-up fixture following against the Czech Republic on June 4.

Raspadori will hope he can impress Mancini in order to play a part having come to the fore for Sassuolo since the March international break.

The 21-year-old had a goal and an assist across just 110 minutes in the European Under-21 Championship group stage during that period, having only made his Italy U21 bow in September.

Raspadori has since scored five goals in nine Serie A games for Sassuolo, netting with 31.3 per cent of his shots at a rate of one every 127 minutes. He had only a single goal in 18 league matches prior to this run.

The forward joins the usual established Azzurri stars, including Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile and Leonardo Bonucci.


Italy squad in full:

Alessio Cragno (Cagliari), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino); Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Alessandro Florenzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Manuel Lazzari (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta); Nicolo Barella (Inter), Gaetano Castrovilli (Fiorentina), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Stefano Sensi (Inter), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain); Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Vincenzo Grifo (Freiburg), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Moise Kean (Paris Saint-Germain), Matteo Politano (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo).

Europe's top five leagues all conclude this week and there are still plenty of matters to be resolved – not least who will be crowned champions in Spain and France.

Every division has something riding on the final days of the season, whether it be top spot, European qualification, or relegation.

Ahead of what is set to be a dramatic conclusion to the Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga campaigns, we look at the state of play in each league.

 

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title with three games to spare, making them the first team in the competition's history to win the title despite being as low as eighth on Christmas Day.

All three relegation places were also decided with three games remaining – a Premier League record – with Fulham joining Sheffield United and West Brom in dropping down a division.

That leaves just the European spots to fight for, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining end to the English top-flight season in that regard. Manchester United are guaranteed a top-four finish, but five other teams – Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham – are in the mix for the two other Champions League berths with two rounds of games to go.

There is also the small matter of the Europa League places for the teams finishing in fifth and sixth, as well as a spot in the inaugural Europa Conference League, which goes to the team in seventh, meaning everyone from 10th-placed Leeds United to Leicester in third have something to play for. That includes Arsenal, who have not missed out on European football of some sort in 25 years.

LALIGA 

The Spanish title race appeared to take a dramatic twist on Sunday as Real Madrid leapfrogged Atletico Madrid at the summit for around 20 minutes. However, Atleti scored two late goals to beat Osasuna, meaning they are two points ahead of their city rivals heading into the final round of games.

Atleti, who have led the way at the top for 29 matchdays, now need to match Madrid's result against Villarreal when they travel to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid on the final day of the season. It is worth noting that Los Blancos have the superior head-to-head record, so a draw would not be enough for Atleti if Madrid win.

Barcelona are officially out of the title race, meanwhile, but they are assured of a top-four finish along with Sevilla. Real Sociedad and Real Betis occupy the Europa League spots, while Villarreal are in a Europa Conference League berth, though just one point separates the three teams so that could all yet change.

To complicate matters, Villarreal could still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League final against Manchester United.

At the bottom end of the division, Eibar are already relegated and they will be joined by two of Valladolid, Elche or Huesca. Valladolid must beat Atletico in their final game to have a chance of staying up, while the onus is on Elche to better Huesca's result as they are level on points but have an inferior head-to-head record.

LIGUE 1

The Ligue 1 title battle is also going right down to the wire in a three-way dogfight. After a thrilling race that has lasted the course of the season, underdogs Lille lead heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain by one point with one matchday left.

Monaco have won seven of their previous eight games and are three points off leaders Lille, though they require both Les Dogues and PSG to slip up on the final day, as well as beating Lens. Should it come down to goal difference, PSG hold a big lead over their two title rivals.

Incredibly, PSG are still not yet technically assured of a Champions League place as Lyon in fourth are only three points worse off, although it would take a defeat for the reigning champions and victory for Lyon, plus a goal swing of 16, for them to miss out.

Monaco's opponents Lens, incidentally, also have plenty to play for at the weekend as they are sixth – enough for Europa Conference League qualification – but can still be caught by Rennes in seventh, while they could yet overtake Marseille in fifth if results go their way.

At the opposite end of the table, there may only be one spot left to be settled in the bottom three – Dijon and Nimes are both already down – but six teams are still very much in danger of the drop. Nantes occupy the relegation play-off spot, with Lorient, Brest and Strasbourg just a point better off, and Bordeaux and Reims only two points clear.

SERIE A

With Inter being crowned Scudetto winners for the first time in 11 years at the start of the month, the biggest storyline in Serie A regards Juventus' top-four fate. The dethroned champions, who had finished top nine years running before this season, are currently down in fifth.

Juve are one point behind Napoli and Milan in the two spots directly above them, while Atalanta are three points better off in second and have the better head-to-head record against the Bianconeri.

Andrea Pirlo's side are therefore in need of favours on the final day in what is poised to be a nail-biting finale in terms of those Champions League places. Lazio will finish sixth, so they are assured of Europa League football next term, while Roma hold a two-point advantage over Sassuolo in the Europa Conference League position.

Parma and Crotone are both down already and one of Benevento or Torino will join them, the latter currently three points outside of the relegation zone and with a game in hand to play on Benevento.

BUNDESLIGA

RB Leipzig provided Bayern Munich with some stern competition for a while, but the Bavarian giants' quality eventually told and they are Bundesliga champions for a ninth year running.

It's not only the title race that's done and dusted in Germany, in fact, as RB Leipzig are certain of second place, and both Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg will join them in the Champions League next season.

Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, will finish in fifth and sixth respectively regardless of events later this week.

However, Union Berlin have work to do if they are to finish seventh for a place in the Europa Conference League play-offs as Borussia Monchengladbach are a point further back, while Stuttgart and Freiburg are two behind with a game to go.

Seven-time German champions Schalke will be competing in the second tier of German football next season, but Cologne and Werder Bremen are hanging on in there, sitting two and one point behind Arminia Bielefeld respectively in 15th place.

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is weighing up offers but the outgoing Italian great is set to reject Flamengo as he floated the possibility of retirement.

Buffon will leave Juventus at the end of the season, having re-joined the Serie A powerhouse two years ago after spending the 2018-19 campaign at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 43-year-old star has been linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona as well as clubs in MLS and the Middle East, while Flamengo are also reportedly interested.

Buffon discussed his future after saving a penalty in Wednesday's 3-1 victory at Sassuolo.

"I've received some interesting offers, I want to see in 20 days if I will still have enthusiasm and desire to work hard," Buffon told Sky Sport Italia post-match.

"If I still feel to be Buffon, I'll accept the offer. Otherwise, I will retire."

On the Flamengo speculation, with the Brazilian champions led by former goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, Buffon told TNT Sports Brazil: "Flamengo contacted me to join them as a free agent but I think I'm not gonna accept.

"I'll stay closer [to Turin]... that's what I hope."

Buffon became the oldest goalkeeper to have saved a penalty in Serie A after denying Sassuolo's Domenico Berardi from the spot midweek.

This season, Buffon has made eight Serie A appearances and 13 across all competitions.

Andrea Pirlo said his Juventus players showed they "can face any situation" after winning 3-1 at Sassuolo to keep their hopes of a top-four Serie A finish alive.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala both scored to take their respective Juventus goal tallies to 100 in all competitions, and Adrien Rabiot was also on the scoresheet as Pirlo's men recovered from a disastrous 3-0 defeat to Milan.

The result leaves the Bianconeri fifth in the table, one point behind Napoli in the final Champions League qualification spot with two games left to play, but their performance at Mapei Stadium gave Pirlo confidence.

"There have been so many games where we quickly let our guard down, which is not enough when wearing that jersey," Pirlo told DAZN.

"If you are focused and have the right mind, you can face any situation, like tonight.

"We are still there, we will believe in it until the end."

Juventus must prepare for the visit of newly crowned Serie A champions Inter to Allianz Stadium on Saturday, before they face Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final and then take on Bologna on the final day of the league season.

Pirlo acknowledged the pressure that has been building on his side across a season marked by inconsistency, in which their nine-year grip on the Scudetto has slipped.

"We struggled in the last few games," said Pirlo, reflecting on a run of two wins in five matches before the victory over Sassuolo.

"That's what annoys me the most, because the weight of the ball at Juve is different: when you miss, you pay.

"We now have to recover our energies for Saturday. Then we will see tactically how we handle this match."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th goal for Juventus to help Andrea Pirlo's side beat Sassuolo 3-1 and keep their hopes of a top-four Serie A finish alive.

It was a night of heroic Juventus veterans at Mapei Stadium, where Gianluigi Buffon saved a first-half Domenico Berardi penalty before Adrien Rabiot scored to give the visitors the lead.

Ronaldo clinched his century just before the interval, becoming the first Juve player to score 100 goals in his first three seasons at the club, and Paulo Dybala matched his feat by netting his 100th for the side in the 66th minute.

The result was vital after Juve's 3-0 defeat at home to Milan, with Napoli one point ahead of them in the table in the coveted fourth Champions League qualifying spot with two games left to play.

 

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo has urged his players to not feel sorry for themselves after a humbling and potentially decisive 3-0 defeat to Milan, adamant they still have a chance of finishing in the top four.

Milan left Turin with a comprehensive victory on Sunday that propelled them back into the Champions League spaces at the expense of Juve.

It was Milan's first away win at Juventus since March 2011, with the Bianconeri conceding for the 11th league game in succession, their worst such run in just over 11 years.

Milan, who are third, now have a three-point cushion to Juve in fifth, though Pirlo's men are only one adrift of bitter rivals Napoli.

All three and Atalanta – ahead of Milan on goal difference – have three matches left this term, and Pirlo was keen to remind his players that their Champions League hopes are far from over.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's trip to Sassuolo, the under-pressure Pirlo said: "Juve will have to play a great game, I don't want to see resignation in the boys.

"We still have three games and we are one point from the Champions League [places]. In football I have seen all kinds of things, there must be no resignation but great positivity.

"We have even the chance to get into the Champions League, this must be the most important thing.

"There was great disappointment because we lost 3-0 to Milan. In football anything can happen, our goal doesn't change. I go ahead with my work. We have a duty to believe in it until the end.

"Tomorrow we need a show of collective pride, regardless of who will play. We must honour this shirt, we cannot afford performances like Sunday."

Juve's on-pitch struggles are not being helped by off-field matters and controversy, with the club currently having to deal with reports of in-house tension between sporting director Fabio Paratici and vice-president Pavel Nedved, while Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina has threatened to kick them out of Serie A if they do not renounce the European Super League.

But Pirlo insists he is paying such matters no mind.

"I don't even want to talk about gossip and invented things," he said. "I don't even want to go into it.

"These are external things, our goal is to show on the pitch that we deserve the Champions League, and we can only do it with the results."

Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe – the two parties have long been tipped to come together.

Mbappe is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain in 2022 and no closer to renewing his deal.

Madrid are reportedly moving closer to prising the France international to the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE POISED FOR MADRID MOVE?

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is edging closer to joining LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Diario AS.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap PSG for Madrid, though the Ligue 1 holds continue to try to re-sign the World Cup-winning forward.

PSG's Mbappe is determined to win the Champions League as he eyes the Santiago Bernabeu.


 

ROUND-UP

- Le Parisien, though, claims PSG are holding out hope on teaming Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi with Mbappe and Neymar in Paris. Messi is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG and Manchester City. Neymar has also been linked with a Barca return. However, Le Parisien reports PSG are prioritising a move for Messi while trying to retain Neymar and Mbappe.

Lautaro Martinez is on the verge of signing a new contract with Serie A champions Inter, says Gazzetta dello Sport. The Inter forward has been linked with Barca previously.

- Tuttosport reports star Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is a primary transfer target for Serie A rivals Juventus. Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season and the Italy international has not agreed fresh terms with Milan.

Borussia Dortmund will ask for less than €100million (£86m) to sell Jadon Sancho amid interest from United, Chelsea and Liverpool, says Fabrizio Romano.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are eyeing Roma star Lorenzo Pellegrini as incoming Giallorossi boss Jose Mourinho looks to overhaul the squad in the Italian capital. The front page of Thursday's Gazzetto dello Sport, meanwhile, claims Mourinho is looking to bring Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic and Madrid's Isco to Roma.

- Soon-to-be free agent and City star Sergio Aguero is dreaming of a Barcelona move, according to Romano. InterTottenham and Chelsea have also emerged as options for the veteran forward.

Maurizio Sarri is a candidate to take charge of Milan if Stefano Pioli fails to guide the Rossoneri into the Champions League, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. Sarri was reportedly set to join Roma before Mourinho's appointment.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli and Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad are on Barca's shortlist to replace Sergio Busquets, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Inter were confirmed as Serie A champions after rivals Atalanta drew 1-1 at Sassuolo on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri have claimed the Scudetto for the first time since their 2009-10 treble triumph.

Antonio Conte's side have charged clear since the turn of the year, moving 13 points ahead of early pace-setters Milan.

Inter won 2-0 at Crotone on Saturday, meaning only an Atalanta win against Sassuolo could delay their celebrations.

Atalanta led through a goal from Robin Gosens after 32 minutes, goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini having earlier been sent off, but Domenico Berardi levelled seven minutes into the second half.

Luis Muriel had the chance to keep the title race alive, winning a penalty after a foul that saw Marlon Santos earn a second yellow card, but his poor attempt was saved by Andrea Consigli.

Inter's success ends a run of Juventus winning nine consecutive titles.

It is the Nerazzurri's 19th Scudetto, moving them clear of Milan into outright second place behind Juve (36 titles).

With four games remaining, Conte's men have matched their points (82) and clean sheets (14) totals for the whole of last season, when they finished a point behind the Bianconeri.

Juve's focus in the closing weeks of this season has switched to simply qualifying for the Champions League, as they headed into Sunday's game at Udinese outside the top four.

Between 2003 and 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League among other honours at Manchester United.

Ronaldo has since gone on to play for Real Madrid and Juventus, but he could be set for an Old Trafford reunion.

Watch this space…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED MAKE RONALDO CONTACT

Manchester United have made contact with Cristiano Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes over a return to Old Trafford, according to the front page of Friday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juventus superstar Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where he arrived in 2018, amid links with former clubs United and Real Madrid, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.

Ronaldo, who starred for United between 2003 and 2009, would have to take a wage cut in order to make a Manchester reunion a reality.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Madrid are willing to sell Raphael Varane in order to raise transfer funds amid strong links with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG star Kylian Mbappe. Varane has been linked with United and Chelsea.

- Staying at the Santiago Bernabeu, and AS says the future of captain Sergio Ramos looks less likely to be at Madrid. The likes of United and PSG have emerged as possible destinations for the superstar Spain skipper.

Barcelona are prioritising the signing of Lyon captain Memphis Depay, reports RMC Sport. Juventus have also been linked.

Rodrigo De Paul is wanted by Leeds United, Juve, Inter and Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Juve have been eyeing the Udinese star, but the Italian giants are also weighing up moves for United's Paul Pogba and Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

Stefano Pioli did not take the opportunity to highlight Milan's involvement in the European Super League saga as a distraction after their 2-1 defeat to Sassuolo.

The Rossoneri were among 12 elite clubs - including three from Serie A - to sign up for the controversial breakaway competition on Sunday.

An angry response from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media prompted several outfits to rethink, though, with England's 'big six' all backing out on Tuesday.

Milan followed suit on Wednesday, confirming their withdrawal just five hours before kick-off against Sassuolo.

With their place in a continental tournament no longer secured as a result, Pioli's side have work to do to qualify for the Champions League.

Milan are second but the loss to Sassuolo, having led through Hakan Calhanoglu, opens the door for fifth-placed Napoli to close to within three points if they win their game in hand against Lazio.

Giacomo Raspadori was Sassuolo's two-goal match-winner, but Pioli chose not to look for an excuse.

"It did not affect us," he told Sky Sport. "We did not let ourselves be distracted by anything.

"We are focused on our goal. These are things that we have not decided and we have not talked about."

Pioli was asked about comments made by Milan technical director Paolo Maldini before the game in which the Rossoneri great apologised for the club's Super League involvement despite insisting he had no knowledge of the discussions.

"I don't think anyone could have had any doubts about Paolo's moral integrity," Pioli said.

"He has many values, he expressed himself for what he feels. If he said those things, it means that he has these feelings."

Maldini had said: "I have never been involved in the discussions related to the Super League.

"I only heard the news on Sunday, like all of you, through the joint communications that have been published.

"It's something that's been decided at a higher level than my role. In any case, this does not exempt me from taking responsibility for apologising to Milan fans who have felt betrayed in the fundamental principles of sport that we have always respected."

He added: "It is normal that in 2021 a manager [director] of a great team cannot fail to know that revenues and sustainability are important concepts.

"But if we can learn a lesson from this story it is to have understood how far we can go.

"[We can] definitely not change the principles of sport that consist of meritocracy and dreams that must be guaranteed to everyone."

Milan's hopes of Champions League were qualification were hit by a 2-1 home defeat to Sassuolo in their first match since playing a part in European football's remarkable Super League saga.

The Rossoneri were among 12 elite clubs signed up to play in a controversial new continental competition until England's 'big six' backed out on Tuesday and prompted its collapse.

Milan have not played in the Champions League - the tournament the lucrative Super League sought to rival - since 2013-14 and have work to do to clinch the top-four finish that would end that wait, barring any UEFA sanctions.

Substitute Giacomo Raspadori's quickfire late double, after a superb Hakan Calhanoglu opener, leaves the second-placed side still well within reach for Napoli in fifth, six points ahead but with a game in hand to come for the Partenopei.

Inter showed just how much they have grown this season with their 2-1 win over Sassuolo on Wednesday, according to head coach Antonio Conte.

The Nerazzurri moved 11 points clear at the top of Serie A with the victory, sealed through goals from Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez in each half – their only two on-target attempts of the contest.

Hamed Junior Traore deservedly pulled one back for Sassuolo with a late strike, but the league leaders held on to become the second side in Serie A history – after Milan in 1989-90 – to win their first 10 games in the second half of a campaign.

Inter recorded their lowest possession rate (30 per cent) in a Serie A match since Opta records began in 2004-05 and were outdone on shots by Sassuolo 15 to seven.

But Conte was happy with the manner of the victory, insisting that points are more important than the performance, as Inter learned the hard way when exiting the Champions League in the group stage.

"I congratulate Sassuolo as they came here to play their game and this performance shows how much we've grown," he told Sky Sport Italia. "With this attitude, we'd still be in the Champions League.

"Sassuolo make possession their main strength, so we chose to close the gaps in the centre more than anything else. We knew that we'd have to cede possession.

"Aesthetics are fine, but the Scudetto is too important. We played beautiful football in the Champions League and all anyone said was that we were eliminated, so we have to focus on the results now.

"We are trying to press high, without running too many risks, so we can make the most of players like Lukaku, Lautaro and [Achraf] Hakimi who can hurt teams when running into space."

Lukaku's 10th-minute opener came from his only attempt and he added to that with the assist for Martinez's goal midway through the second half.

The Belgium international has now scored in five successive outings for club and country, with this his first headed goal in Serie A since July 2020.

"You can see the work Romelu has done and I don't forget when people said he was overrated. I immediately said that with his potential, he could do extraordinary things here," Conte said.

"The great thing about our strikers is that they are all willing to do the dirty work, too. Christian Eriksen has also grown. We knew it would be difficult for him to adapt to a very tactical league like Serie A. He can do much more, but we are counting on him.

"It's a pity we conceded that late goal, but we are more balanced and mature as a team now. If you want to win league titles, solidity is important."

Despite boasting a healthy lead over closest challengers Milan, and a 12-point advantage on champions Juventus, Conte does not feel there is much difference between the clubs in terms of quality.

"I'm amazed by that," he said of the points gap. "To regain so many points over the past two seasons against the team that has dominated for the past nine years was difficult even in the best of dreams.

"But it doesn't mean we are better than Juventus. They have a strong team and they demonstrated that by beating Napoli."

Inter have won 11 home league games in a row and host relegation-threatened Cagliari on Sunday, but Conte is not ready to celebrate a first Scudetto for Inter since 2009-10 just yet.

"There are still many games to go and each victory is worth six points," he said. "By winning we have put on more pressure and can see the satisfaction in everyone's eyes.

"We want to do something wonderful for a club that hasn't won for 10 years. It's be wonderful if we were the ones to remove from the pedestal those who won for nine years non-stop.

"But there will be tension from here on – it'll feel like the ball weighs more at our feet, perhaps more than for those teams who no longer have the same objectives."

Romelu Lukaku maintained his impressive scoring run to help Inter to a 2-1 win over Sassuolo at San Siro that moves Antonio Conte's side 11 points clear at the top of Serie A.

The Belgium international scored for a fifth game running for club and country to open the scoring after 10 minutes and Inter did not look back in Wednesday's rescheduled clash.

Lukaku played in strike partner Lautaro Martinez for the home side's second and they held on for another win after Hamed Junior Traore had set up a nervy finale with a well-taken strike five minutes from time.

With this latest victory, Inter become just the second side in Serie A history - after Milan in 1989-90 - to win their first 10 games in the second half of a campaign.

Lukaku scored the only goal for Inter in their 1-0 win over Bologna last weekend and picked up from where he left off with Serie A goal number 21 of the season early on here.

Ashley Young sent in a right-footed cross from the left and former Manchester United team-mate Lukaku guided the ball into the far corner with a header from 10 yards.

Sassuolo were without a number of players through coronavirus concerns but would have been level if not for a fine Milan Skriniar block to thwart Jeremie Boga in the box.

The lively Boga tested Samir Handanovic the other side of the half-time interval as the visitors, who held Roma in their last match, started to pose more of a threat.

But Martinez gave Inter further breathing space by burying a low shot past Andrea Consigli once picked out by Lukaku on the counter.

Sassuolo felt Stefan de Vrij pulled back on the shirt of skipper Giacomo Raspadori in the build-up to Martinez's strike, but VAR did not feel the need to intervene.

Inter's win was not without a scare, though, as Traore curled a fine finish away from Handanovic following an Achraf Hakimi error, though there was to be no late leveller at San Siro.

Antonio Conte has seen evidence of "massive progress" in Lautaro Martinez's game both with and without the ball during his time as Inter coach.

Conte arrived at San Siro in 2019, a year after striker Martinez was signed from Racing Club.

The Argentina international's debut campaign had brought just nine goals and two assists in 35 games in all competitions, but those figures quickly improved under Conte.

Martinez tallied 21 goals and five assists in 49 outings last season and has scored 16 times and created six more for team-mates in 38 appearances in the 2020-21 campaign.

His minutes-per-goal rate has improved across his three seasons in Italy, this season finding the back of the net every 162.2 minutes.

Martinez is also creating more chances, 1.4 per 90 minutes, resulting in the increase in assists, but his work in defending from the front has been similarly impressive.

The 23-year-old has won possession in the final third 32 times this term (1.1 per 90) and posted 31 interceptions (also 1.1 per 90), comfortably more than in his previous two seasons combined.

Among Serie A forwards to score 15 or more goals in all competitions this season, Martinez leads the way in both categories as well as in recoveries per 90 (3.1).

Conte was asked about his number 10 ahead of Inter's game with Sassuolo on Wednesday, and said: "He has improved in all areas, on the ball and off the ball.

"He has improved when it comes to holding up possession and attacking the space.

"Like the other players, he has made massive progress. He needs to stay on this track. Taking his age into account, he has a very bright future ahead. It's in his hands."

Of those with 15 goals or more, Martinez's strike partner Romelu Lukaku ranked last for interceptions (0.1) and recoveries (1.6).

But Lukaku trails only Cristiano Ronaldo (31) in the scoring charts with 26 strikes in all competitions, and Conte is confident all of his players are contributing to the cause as Inter - eight points clear with Wednesday's game in hand - close on a first Scudetto since 2009-10.

"I think for every side putting the team first is the most important factor," the coach said. "Alone, you cannot win matches.

"It's the team that gets the best out of the individual. The players have understood the message. They are all pulling in the same direction."

The match between Inter and Sassuolo has been postponed after two further positive tests for coronavirus within the Nerazzurri squad.

Inter announced via a statement that Stefan de Vrij and Matias Vecino have gone into quarantine after testing positive. Samir Handanovic and Danilo D'Ambrosio had already begun isolating after previously returning positive tests.

Authorities in Milan have declared Inter must suspend all team activities for the next four days, which includes Saturday's game with Sassuolo and a ban on international players joining up with national squads.

The whole first team will undergo further tests on Monday.

The four positive tests within the Serie A leaders' squad have come as coronavirus cases across Italy continue to rise.

On Tuesday, Italy recorded 502 COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily number since the end of January. Approximately half the country entered a strict lockdown this week to combat spikes in case numbers and remaining regions are set to follow suit at the beginning of April.

Sassuolo's game against Torino on Wednesday had been rearranged after authorities called for it to be postponed due to concerns over virus cases.

Inter are top of Serie A heading into the final weekend of games before the international break, nine points clear of Milan and 10 ahead of champions Juventus, who have a game in hand.

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