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.

For so long, Real Madrid have been linked with Kylian Mbappe but will the LaLiga champions bring the French forward to the Santiago Bernabeu?

Mbappe is reportedly open to the idea of making the move to the Spanish capital.

However, Liverpool could be ready to hijack any transfer.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO MADRID?

Kylian Mbappe dominates the front pages of Tuesday's Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo as Real Madrid try to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid at the end of the season.

While the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic impacts Madrid, the Spanish giants are still working on a deal to prise the Frenchman to the Santiago Bernabeu, with Vinicius Junior a possible makeweight.

Mundo Deportivo says Premier League champions Liverpool are ready to pounce should Madrid fail to sign Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Onda Cero reports PSG have offered Madrid captain Sergio Ramos a three-year deal worth €15million a season. Ramos is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the superstar has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Juventus.

- Both Madrid and Barcelona are considering a shock move for Roma striker Edin Dzeko, according to Mundo Deportivo. Dzeko has had a falling out with under-fire head coach Paulo Fonseca, prompting links to Juve and Inter.

Thomas Tuchel is set to be named Frank Lampard's Chelsea replacement, with Fabrizio Romano claiming an announcement is "just a matter of time". Tuchel was sacked by PSG in December.

- The Athletic says Juve have identified Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres as a long-term replacement for veteran Giorgio Chiellini. Torres has also been linked with United, Manchester City, Barca, Madrid and Chelsea.

Tottenham have approached PSG's Angel Di Maria, who is out of contract at the end of the season, according to L'Equipe. Di Maria has history in England, having spent a difficult season playing for United in 2014-15.

- Sport 1 says Borussia Dortmund are interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli. The likes of Juve and City have also emerged as suitors.

Andrea Pirlo revealed he hopes to sign a striker before the transfer window closes if the right opportunity arises after Juventus beat Bologna 2-0 in Serie A on Sunday.

Roma frontman Edin Dzeko and Sassuolo's Gianluca Scamacca – who is on loan at Genoa – have been linked with a move to Juve ahead of the February 1 deadline.

Dzeko was left out of Roma's squad for their 4-3 win over Spezia on Saturday, leading to further speculation he could be on his way out of the club.

Scamacca, Olivier Giroud, Fernando Llorente and Graziano Pelle have also been mentioned as potential signings for the Bianconeri.

Pirlo said he would like to add more firepower to his squad after goals from Arthur and Weston McKennie moved the champions into fourth place in Serie A, seven points behind leaders Milan with a game in hand.

"We are watching what happens, there is not much around," Juve head coach Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia when asked about the possibility of going into the market.

"We do not have the obligation [to do any business], it will be a last-minute thing and if there is an opportunity to take it we will be happy."

Arthur scored his first Juve goal in fortuitous fashion with a long-range strike that took a big deflection in the first half and McKennie sealed all three points with a header 19 minutes from time.

Juve had 23 shots, 11 of which were on target, and Cristiano Ronaldo endured a rare off day, failing to find the back of the net with any of his five attempts.

Pirlo warned the Turin giants must be more clinical as they go in search of more trophies after their Supercoppa Italiana triumph in midweek.

"The important thing was to win after the satisfaction of the victory in the Supercoppa," he said.

"We started well but missed a few too many opportunities to end the game."

He added: "We played a good match against a team that attacks well, we were good at finding the spaces they left us."

Erling Haaland is one of the sought-after players in world football.

The Borussia Dortmund forward can reportedly take his pick from Europe's elite.

But if his agent Mino Raiola has his way, Camp Nou could be Haaland's next destination.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND COULD LEAVE BVB AT SEASON'S END

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could leave the Bundesliga club for Barcelona at the end of the season, according to TV3 program Onze.

Haaland has been linked with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus following his exploits for Dortmund.

The Norway international forward reportedly has a €75million (£66.8m) release clause at the end of his second season in Dortmund, though he could depart sooner rather than later.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says United are not working on a deal to sign Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. The Spanish superstar is out of contract at the end of the season, and he has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, City, Chelsea and Liverpool. A move to Liverpool is reportedly not on the horizon due to his role in the injury to Mohamed Salah in the 2018 Champions League final.

City have joined Serie A champions Juve in the race to sign Sassuolo star Manuel Locatelli, reports the Daily Mail.

- According to Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and Tuttomercatoweb, Milan are set to meet with free agent Mario Mandzukic over the next 24 hours to discuss a short-term deal. Staying at San Siro and Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are close to signing Torino midfielder Soualiho Meite on loan with the option to buy.

Arsenal are interested in Barca goalkeeper Neto, claims Sky Sports. With backup Runar Alex Runarsson struggling in London, the Gunners are hoping to bring in Neto on loan.

- Marca reports Barca are targeting Valencia star Jose Gaya to bolster their left-back position, while Villarreal's Alfonso Pedraza is another option.

Juventus are set to complete the signing of American defender Bryan Reynolds from MLS club Dallas, says Romano. The 19-year-old will join Benevento until June, before linking up with Juve.

Andrea Pirlo claimed his players showed they possess the "Juventus DNA" to keep fighting until the end of games this season.

Juve were far from their best in a scrappy Serie A clash with Sassuolo on Sunday and with nine minutes remaining were drawing 1-1 after Gregoire Defrel cancelled out Danilo's opener.

But late goals from Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the win for the defending champions against a Sassuolo side who played the entire second half with 10 men.

Ramsey has been involved in three goals in his past five Serie A appearances (one goal, two assists) while Ronaldo's strike ensured he has reached at least 15 league goals in his past 15 seasons.

The win helped the Bianconeri notch three consecutive victories in Serie A for the first time since July 2020 as they moved to within seven points of leaders Milan with a game in hand.

"We can improve our quality, we can play better or worse, but the determination is an element that must never be lacking," Pirlo told a post-match media conference.

"It has to be in the Juventus DNA, the determination and desire to push until the last minute.

"It was important for us to give a sense of consistency by winning this evening, otherwise the win at Milan on Wednesday wouldn't mean anything.

"We were a little sluggish at times this evening, but we became a little less organised and more determined, so we showed the hunger required to win the game.

"We are Juventus and therefore have the pressure on us to win every game. We have to face every match as if it's a final, then we'll see where we are closer to the end of the season.

"These games are fascinating to play for everyone, they inevitably raise the concentration levels and the tension too.

"If we don't play every game with the right concentration and determination, we will struggle."

Juve head coach Pirlo also said the club will assess injuries sustained by Paulo Dybala and Weston McKennie.

The pair both limped out in the first half against Sassuolo and are doubts for Juve's midweek Coppa Italia clash with Genoa.

He added: "Dybala had a knock to the collateral ligament on the inside of his knee. We'll evaluate it over the next few days and hope it's nothing serious.

"McKennie already had a slight muscular problem yesterday and he felt it again after the back-heel flick, so he stopped."

Cristiano Ronaldo unlocked a stunning new career achievement when he netted late on in Juventus' 3-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.

It meant the Portugal forward became the only player to score at least 15 goals in each of the last 15 seasons in the top five European leagues.

Ronaldo first hit double figures in a league season in 2006-07 when he was a Manchester United player, scoring 17 goals in 34 appearances.

Remarkably Ronaldo, who turns 36 next month, has not dropped below that tally in a full season ever since.

Ronaldo's best league season was the 2014-15 campaign at Real Madrid where he scored an incredible 48 goals in 35 LaLiga games.

His great rival Lionel Messi has managed to reach 15 goals in 12 consecutive seasons at Barcelona since the 2008-09 campaign, and with 11 so far in LaLiga should make it 13 this year.

Ronaldo actually scored his first Serie A goals when Juve beat Sassuolo 2-1 in September 2018, and he has now scored five goals against them in five meetings in the competition following his goal on Sunday.

Ronaldo's value to Juventus is emphasised by their record with and without the Portugal forward.

Juve's win percentage is 72.4 with him which drops down to 46.7 without him, with an average of 2.3 points per game compared to 1.7.

The Bianconeri's average goals scored with Ronaldo on the team is 2.1 per game and drops down to 1.5 when he is absent, and they are better defensively with him involved too, conceding an average 0.9 goals versus 1.1 without him.

Juventus earned a 3-1 win over 10-man Sassuolo as goals from Danilo, Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo kept them in touch with Serie A leaders Milan.

Sassuolo had frustrated the Bianconeri in the first half but their combative approach saw Pedro Obiang sent off moments before half-time.

Danilo put Juve ahead five minutes into the second half with a powerful long-range strike, yet Sassuolo equalised with a fine finish from Gregoire Defrel.

Sassuolo looked on course to take a point but late goals from Ramsey and Ronaldo secured the victory for Andrea Pirlo's side.

Federico Chiesa is a "prototype of a great champion" who can use his performance against Milan as a "starting point" to display his qualities for Juventus, says Andrea Pirlo.

Juve signed forward Chiesa on loan from Fiorentina in October in a move the Serie A champions can make permanent for a reported fee of €50million if certain conditions are met.

A red card on debut against Crotone was part of an inauspicious start to life at the Allianz Stadium for Chiesa, but there has been a marked improvement in recent games.

That culminated in a star showing in Juve's 3-1 win at leaders Milan in midweek, a match in which Chiesa scored twice.

Since the start of last season, Chiesa has been thoroughly impressive against the best teams in the league. In that time, he has had a hand in three goals against Milan (two scored, one assisted) and Atalanta (two scored, one assisted) and also scored in meetings with Inter, Napoli and Lazio.

For Juve this season, he has four goals and three assists from 11 top-flight appearances, while he ranks seventh for the Bianconeri in terms of chances created (15). 

When it comes to 'big chances' created - from which Opta would expect a goal to be scored - only Alvaro Morata (seven) has more than his tally of six, while his passing accuracy is at just over 80 per cent.

For Pirlo, there was never any doubt about Chiesa's talent.

"I'm not surprised by Chiesa," he said when previewing Juve's home clash with Sassuolo on Sunday.

"I knew his qualities and I wanted him. He can still improve a lot, he is young, he is a prototype of a great champion. 

"He has to improve himself match after match. San Siro must be a starting point."

In Sassuolo, Juve face a team who have impressed in the first half of the campaign and sit just two points adrift of the top four in sixth place.

Pirlo spoke of his respect for coach Roberto De Zerbi, who like him hails from Brescia.

"Sassuolo are an excellent team, they've been playing together for a while," he added.

"The coach is very good at constructing the game. It will be a difficult match, we can't let them go without pressure from us. 

"I have a good relationship with De Zerbi, he is from Brescia, like me. He has had a good journey; we talk often about football. There are young and good coaches also abroad, everyone follows his own path."

Andrea Pirlo warned the victory over leaders Milan will be "of little use" to Juventus if they fail to defeat Sassuolo on Sunday and says the Rossoneri remain the team to beat in the title race.

Champions Juve ended Milan's 27-match unbeaten run in the Italian top flight with a 3-1 victory at San Siro on Wednesday.

The Turin giants had eased to a ruthless 4-1 win over Udinese in their first match of the year last weekend and an impressive triumph over Milan served as a warning to their rivals.

Juve boss Pirlo stressed the importance of his side maintaining the high standards they have set when they take on a Sassuolo team that are just a point behind them in the table.

The former Italy playmaker said in a media conference on Saturday: "It was an important victory in Milan, at an important moment too, but if we don't win tomorrow, it will be of little use.

"I still consider Milan the team to beat, because they are at the top of the table."

He added: "We take our responsibilities. We have been winning for nine years, it is normal that there is pressure on us. I've asked the team to improve their concentration and mental strength, especially when we take the lead, that is a very important phase.

"We must have the same desire to achieve a result - whoever the opponent is - and then we will see where we are in April."

Matthijs de Ligt became the latest Juve player to test positive for COVID-19 this week, with Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro having missed the win over Milan after contracting the coronavirus.

Pirlo is not feeling sorry for himself after the Netherlands defender joined the list of absentees.

"The positive cases affect us, as they affect anyone. But let's think about moving forward, there are other problems," he said.

"I have four defenders, in addition to [Alessandro] Di Pardo, who can play on the flank. I will choose between them, because we are in the bubble and we cannot summon other players."

Pirlo will be able to call upon Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral at Allianz Stadium this weekend, while Alvaro Morata will be checked on to see if the striker can return from a thigh injury.

Matthijs de Ligt has tested positive for coronavirus, Juventus have confirmed.

Juve were without Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro against Milan on Wednesday due to positive COVID-19 tests and the Netherlands international has also entered self-isolation.

The Bianconeri face Sassuolo on Sunday before taking on Genoa and Inter in the following week.

A club statement read: "Juventus Football Club announces that, during the checks provided for by the protocol in force, Matthijs de Ligt has emerged positive with COVID-19.

"The player has already been placed in self-isolation."

De Ligt missed the start of the 2020-21 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in August but has started 12 straight games in all competitions since returning to action on November 21.

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