Luciano Spalletti sees no reason why Napoli's remarkable campaign has to be their peak as he urged the team to make every season a "once-in-a-lifetime year".

Napoli face Torino in Turin on Sunday in what is their final match of the month, with the upcoming international window providing a brief break to the domestic season.

If results elsewhere go their way and they beat Torino, Napoli could head into the break with a 21-point lead at the Serie A summit, a surely insurmountable gap with only 11 matches to go.

Either way, the Partenopei are enjoying a sensational season, with their relentless surge for a first Scudetto in 33 years coupled with progression to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

But rather than focusing on what they are achieving, Spalletti can see their potential and hopes to inspire a quest for non-stop improvement.

"The once-in-a-lifetime year, as far as I'm concerned, will be the one after this, and then it will be the one after that, and it can go on and on," he told reporters.

"What happens to us now is real and must always be used to improve.

 

"The best is always what you want to go and discover. You must never stop, you must dig deeper to get the most out of something."

At 64, Spalletti is something of a stalwart of management in Italian football, having coached Udinese, Roma, Inter and now Napoli, among others, in Serie A.

If he does guide Napoli to the title, it will be his first league crown in Italy – even in the lower divisions, with Empoli, he did not win a championship, attaining back-to-back promotions by other means.

Nevertheless, Spalletti recognises the significance of his previous experiences and is now driven by a desire to make the most of the time he has left in the game.

"I try to optimise the time that passes, because one day we will be judged for the professionalism and seriousness shown in dealing with everything," he added.

"I know that I have to value all the opportunities that pass before me, because as a coach I don't have a lot of time, what with being 64 years old.

"And I am willing to do anything for Napoli to be able to enhance the events ahead of us."

Top Premier League clubs Manchester United, Newcastle United and Chelsea are said to be monitoring Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele ahead of his release clause activating.

Dembele is in his sixth season with Barcelona, having racked up a total of 40 goals in his 178 appearances.

He remained a first-team regular to start this campaign, with 14 starts from his 18 LaLiga appearances, before suffering a serious hamstring injury in late January.

The France international is yet to return nearly two months later, but despite his troubling physical problems, England's elite believe he could represent terrific value due to his contract situation.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA'S DEMBELE AVAILABLE AT A DISCOUNT

Dembele was purchased from Borussia Dortmund for €105million plus add-ons back in 2017, but according to Calciomercato he will be available for just €50m (£44m) in the upcoming transfer window.

His contract is set to expire after one more season, and if the club do not secure a long-term extension, Dembele will have his release clause activated.

The €50m figure is said to be more than enticing to England's wealthy clubs, as it is considered a bargain compared to the going rate for other world-class wingers.

Serie A giants Juventus and Inter are also said to be fans of Dembele's, but the price tag is too rich for their current financial situation unless they sell some players to raise funds.

 

ROUND-UP

– Foot Mercato is reporting Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi is considering a move back to Barcelona next season, with his father said to be in regular communication with the club.

Real Madrid are monitoring 29-year-old Tottenham striker Harry Kane as a potential successor to Karim Benzema, per the Daily Mail.

– According to Calciomercato, Barcelona and Tottenham are both fans of 26-year-old Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, who is expected to leave the club in the upcoming transfer window.

– Goal is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion are prepared to make 25-year-old winger Kaoru Mitoma the highest earner in club history, in order to fend off interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City and Arsenal.

– Former player Jose Enrique revealed on his live stream that Liverpool have agreed to terms for 20-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, who Enrique shares an agent with.

Roberto Mancini selected a trio of debutants and handed an international comeback to Inter defender Matteo Darmian in his latest Italy squad.

Darmian was named in the 30-man selection for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against England and Malta, marking his first call-up since March 2018, when he failed to appear from the substitutes' bench in friendlies with Argentina and England.

He last played for Italy in November 2017, when the Azzurri lost to Sweden and subsequently failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Mancini has also handed an opportunity to Lecce goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone, Torino defender Alessandro Buongiorno and Tigre forward Mateo Retegui.

However, there are notable absentees with Nicolo Zaniolo, Gianluca Mancini, Manuel Locatelli and Mattia Zaccagni missing out, while Alessandro Bastoni, Giacomo Raspadori and Guglielmo Vicario are absent due to injury.

Italy's qualification for Euro 2024 begins with a rematch of the 2020 final against England on March 23, before then travelling to face Malta three days later.

Italy squad: Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG), Wladimiro Falcone (Lecce), Alex Meret (Napoli), Ivan Provedel (Lazio); Francesco Acerbi (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Alessandro Buongiorno (Torino), Matteo Darmian (Inter), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Federico Dimarco (Inter), Alessio Romagnoli (Lazio), Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta); Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo), Jorginho (Arsenal), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Monza), Sandro Tonali (Milan), Marco Verratti (PSG); Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Wilfried Gnonto (Leeds United), Vincenzo Grifo (Freiburg), Simone Pafundi (Udinese), Matteo Politano (Napoli), Mateo Retegui (Club Atletico Tigre), Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in contention to start for Milan against Udinese on Saturday as the 41-year-old looks to lift Stefano Pioli's' struggling champions.

The striker, recalled by Sweden this week, has recovered from major knee surgery and come through three substitute appearances.

Now the veteran is a prime contender to line up from the first whistle as Milan are forced to cope without the suspended Olivier Giroud in their last game before the international break.

Ibrahimovic is already the oldest player to feature for Milan in a Serie A game during the three-points-for-a-win era (since 1994-95), and Pioli would have no doubts about his readiness.

"Zlatan is calm; he wants to play and win every game," Pioli said on Friday. "He's feeling good, but I don't think he's got 90 minutes in him. He could start, as could Divock [Origi] and Ante [Rebic]."

Ibrahimovic has been involved in five goals in his last four games against Udinese in Serie A (3 goals, 2 assists) and is looking to start a game in Serie A for the first time since January 23, 2022, when he faced Juventus.

Winger Rafael Leao should keep his place despite what Pioli described as a "strange situation" on Monday, when the Portugal international put in a flat performance in the 1-1 draw with Salernitana, a result that followed defeat to Fiorentina in Milan's previous league game.

Coach Pioli is surprised by how little impact Leao is having at times, but he expects him to come good.

"Rafa is training really well. He's very motivated and determined, and he remains an important figure in our attack because, even if he's not scoring, he keeps opposition defences occupied," Pioli said.

"My advice to him would be to stay close to those who care deeply for him and want to help him grow. Goals and decisive pieces of play are expected from him, but, as previously mentioned, he's dangerous even when he doesn't score."

Ibrahimovic was left off Milan's Champions League squad list, so Pioli must plan without him for the quarter-final against runaway Serie A leaders Napoli.

That was the match-up that came out of Friday's draw, and it is not one that intimidates the Rossoneri, who have won Europe's premier club competition seven times.

Quoted on Milan's official website, Pioli said: "Napoli are enjoying a great league campaign, but the Champions League is the Champions League and AC Milan are AC Milan. It's exciting and fascinating and our opponents are very strong, but we're deservedly part of it and have plenty of motivation and ambition.

"We'll play with the aim of making it through. We'll have time to talk about the Champions League, which is certainly an objective of ours, but, right now, doing well in our next three league games is crucial."

Milan sit fourth in Serie A, a point ahead of Roma who have a derby against third-placed Lazio coming up on Sunday.

Dropping points to mid-table Udinese would be a jarring way to enter the international break for the San Siro giants.

"It's not the break itself that will be important but how we head into it," said Pioli, "meaning tomorrow's result will be vital."

Though neither has hope of winning the Scudetto this season, history will be made at San Siro when Inter and Juventus meet in one of the Italian football's most famous fixtures.

Eighteen points behind Napoli, second-placed Inter are looking over their shoulders at those behind them in a tight fight for the Champions League places.

Had they not been deducted 15 points, Juve would be above Inter and firmly in that battle.

As it is, victory here is critical for Juve's slim chances of climbing into the top four — they are 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Milan — with both sides hoping the Rossoneri slip up at Udinese and Lazio and Roma play out a draw.

And, as Stats Perform explains in a look at the standout Opta numbers ahead of the Derby d'Italia, history is on the side of Juve keeping themselves in the hunt.

Juve dominance

Inter and Juve are set to face off for the 180th time in the top flight, making it the fixture with the most matches in Serie A history.

Juve have dominated this great rivalry, winning 86 matches compared to 48 for Inter, with 45 games finishing as a draw.

The hosts have long since struggled in this fixture when it has been played in the second half of the season. They are winless against Juve at home in Serie A in such games since April 2010.

On top of that, since winning the treble 13 years ago, Inter have prevailed in just two their 12 total home league games against the Bianconeri (D5 L5).

Key to improving that record may be Lautaro Martinez, who has scored four home goals in Serie A in 2023, a tally only Adrien Rabiot and Victor Osimhen can match.

However, the World Cup winner has only scored one goal in nine top-flight games against Juventus and has a goal average of one every 586 minutes against the Bianconeri: his worst in Serie A against any opponent versus whom he has found the net.

Bianconeri back at their best

From an Inter perspective, Juve head into this game in worryingly good form.

Indeed, the Bianconeri are playing at a level not far away from that of runaway leaders Napoli.

Only Napoli (23) have scored more goals than Juventus (20) in Serie A in 2023, while Partenopei are the sole team to have claimed more wins (9) than Massimiliano Allegri's side in this calendar year.

Perhaps of even more concern for Inter is the contrast in form between the two sides in the match immediately after a European contest.

Another Champions League hangover?

Inter got the job done in Porto in midweek and, through to a quarter-final with another Portuguese opponent in Benfica, can have hope of a first Champions League final appearance since their triumph in 2010.

But the Nerazzurri have struggled of late in games following Champions League tussles. Inter have lost three of their last six Serie A matches after their Champions League games, including their last two (against Bologna and Juventus in the reverse match).

Juve are competing in the Europa League after failing to make it out of the Champions League group stage, but they have won each of their last such six league games after Continental encounters.

If Juve repeat the feat from the reverse fixture and defeat Inter without conceding, it will mark the first time they have won both games in this fixture to nil since the 1976-77 season.

It's fair to say Serie A sides have enjoyed themselves on the continental stage this season, with six Italian clubs reaching major European quarter-finals for the first time this century.

Three of those teams have been making waves in the Champions League, for which Luciano Spalletti's Napoli have been touted as genuine contenders after outscoring every other team in the competition.

Meanwhile, rivals Milan and Inter went about their last-16 assignments in quietly impressive fashion, seeing off Tottenham and Porto respectively, both winning 1-0 on aggregate.

With three of Italy's finest reaching the last eight, a first all-Italian Champions League meeting since 2005 was always highly probable, and so it proved with Milan and Napoli paired together.

With the winner of that tie set to face either Inter or Benfica in the semi-finals, the prospect of a first Italian Champions League winner since Inter's class of 2009-10 has perhaps never appeared more realistic.

Ahead of a blockbuster tie between last season's Serie A winners and their likely successors, Stats Perform looks back at the Champions League's previous all-Italian tussles.

Shevchenko decisive in tight derby double-header

Given the remarkable European pedigree enjoyed by seven-time European Cup/Champions League winners Milan, the fact that the Rossoneri have featured in all five previous all-Italian games in the competition is perhaps unsurprising. 

The first two of those came at the semi-final stage in the 2002-03 campaign, when Milan and Inter faced off in a tense double-header ultimately decided by a Rossoneri great.

Milan had reached the last four courtesy of Jon Dahl Tomasson's last-gasp strike against Ajax, while the Nerazzurri edged out Valencia on away goals.

Hector Cuper's men had less luck with that rule against their rivals, with Andriy Shevchenko's 'away' goal deciding a tie which ended 1-1 on aggregate – despite, of course, both legs being held at San Siro.

Inter's Obafemi Martins set up a tense finish after coming on as a substitute, but Carlo Ancelotti's team held on to reach a first final since 1995 – where they would face another domestic rival.

Dida wins battle of the goalkeepers at Old Trafford

Italian football's reputation for being risk-averse has not always been warranted, but given the way 2003's Champions League final between Milan and Juventus played out, that tag is perhaps understandable. 

Juve had already edged out both Milan giants to win Serie A by the time they faced the Rossoneri at Old Trafford, for what represented Marcello Lippi's fourth Champions League final with the Bianconeri (winning in 1996, losing in 1997, 1998 and 2003).

Both defences were on top throughout a nail-biting affair, with Shevchenko seeing a goal ruled out for offside and Antonio Conte rattling the crossbar as the game went to a penalty shoot-out.

With both goalkeepers clearly advancing off the goal line for each spot-kick, Gianluigi Buffon saved from Clarence Seedorf and Kakha Kaladze – only for Dida to go one better by denying David Trezeguet, Marcelo Zalayeta and Paolo Montero as Milan won their sixth European crown.

 

Dida in the spotlight again as violent scenes mar San Siro clash

Dida was again in the spotlight when two Italian sides last squared off in the Champions League – this time for all the wrong reasons.

The 2004-05 quarter-finals featured another heavyweight derby clash between Milan and Inter – who, as was the case two years earlier – finished the Serie A season in second and third respectively as Juventus triumphed.

Milan have always been Italy's European kings, however, and goals from Jaap Stam and Shevchenko put them in the ascendency as Ancelotti's men won the 'home' leg 2-0.

When Shevchenko's first-half effort put the Rossoneri ahead in the return game and Inter – now requiring four goals – saw an Esteban Cambiasso strike ruled out for a foul, the Nerazzurri supporters reacted furiously.

Flares rained down from the stands onto the San Siro pitch, with Dida struck on the shoulder and left requiring treatment for a burn.

Referee Markus Merk attempted to restart the game after a lengthy delay, but when Christian Abbiati was targeted with further missiles, the game was abandoned and Milan were awarded a 3-0 win, making it 5-0 on aggregate and leading to condemnation from across the continent. 

From a Milan point of view, the less said about their subsequent trip to Istanbul for the 2005 final against Liverpool, the better.

Borussia Dortmund are reportedly fighting to keep hold of forward Julian Brandt amid interest from England and Italy's biggest clubs.

Brandt, 26, is enjoying arguably his best season in the yellow and black, with nine goals in all competitions tying his best return since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

The Germany international, with 39 senior caps to his name, has capitalised on the extra eyes pointed towards Dortmund this season, delivering strong performances alongside super prospects Jude Bellingham and Youssoufa Moukoko.

A slew of Champions League clubs are said to have enquired about the availability of Brandt, although Dortmund are reportedly desperate to keep him at the club long-term.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE AND SERIE A LEADERS LOOK TO BRANDT

According to Football Insider, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Newcastle United, Napoli and Inter have all been closely monitoring Brandt as he nears the final 12 months of his contract.

The report states Dortmund feel confident they will be able to retain their in-form talent, despite the rising interest, but they could be forced into a move if Brandt does not indicate he will remain with the club beyond next season.

With an enormous windfall on the horizon due to Bellingham's expected sale, the club are likely under no financial pressure to move on from Brandt earlier than they would like.

 

ROUND-UP

– Fichajes.net is reporting that Real Madrid are surprise suitors for Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku, who is not expected to return to Stamford Bridge when his current loan at Inter ends.

– According to The I, Newcastle will make 26-year-old Leicester City midfielder James Maddison a priority signing at the end of the season, and the interest will be mutual if the Magpies can make the Champions League.

Barcelona are planning a €100million double move to secure both 25-year-old Villarreal right-back Juan Foyth and 18-year-old Athletico Paranaense forward Vitor Roque, per Fichajes.net.

– 90min is reporting Manchester United, City, Newcastle, Brighton and Hove Albion, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Brentford are all scouting breakout 20-year-old Celta Vigo midfielder Gabri Veiga, who has a £35m (€40m) release clause.

– According to journalist Florian Plettenberg, 24-year-old Napoli striker Victor Osimhen dreams of one day playing in the Premier League, and would be open to a move to either England or Bayern Munich.

There is uncertainty at Paris Saint-Germain due to fears over further financial fair play sanctions, leading to speculation of numerous players being sold or offloaded.

L'Equipe claimed earlier this week that PSG had put on hold contract negotiations with Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi.

Messi is contracted with PSG until the end of this season, although he reportedly had come to a verbal agreement with the club in December.

Back in September, the Ligue 1 leaders were hit with a €10million fine for FFP violations after the 2020-21 season with a further €45m suspended for any future infringements.

TOP STORY – MESSI'S OFFER TO ECLIPSE RONALDO'S RECORD

Marca reports Lionel Messi is set to receive a world-record €220million (£193m) per year offer from an unnamed Saudi Arabian club.

Messi's contemporary rival Cristiano Ronaldo joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr in January in a deal worth €200m, the highest football salary in history.

The Mirror claims the unnamed club is Al Hilal. The Argentinian has constantly been linked with the MLS too.

ROUND-UP

–  Barcelona head coach Xavi has been in touch with Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan about a move, with his contract running out at the end of this season, claims AS.

– Calciomercato claims Marco Verratti is weighing up a move away from Paris Saint-Germain following recent criticism. Verratti penned a contract extension until 2026 recently.

Manchester United are pondering tabling a £105m offer for Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani, per Sport Bild.

– Mundo Deportivo claims Manchester United are interested in Barcelona's Franck Kessie as a midfield partner for Casemiro, while Tottenham and Chelsea are also circling for him.

Arsenal are interested in Real Madrid midfielder Eden Hazard who may be available for a cut price with his current deal due to expire in 2024, reports Fichajes.

Paul Pogba is eager to remain at Juventus despite battling injuries throughout this season, claims 90min.

Luciano Spalletti believes Napoli's current team is a greater collective unit than the Partenopei sides which Diego Maradona inspired to two Serie A titles.

Napoli reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time on Wednesday, completing a 5-0 aggregate triumph in their last-16 tie against Eintracht Frankfurt.

A Victor Osimhen brace and a Piotr Zielinski penalty guided Napoli to a 3-0 win at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with last season's Europa League winners failing to land a blow on Spalletti's men.

With Napoli set to end a 33-year wait to win Serie A after building an 18-point lead at the summit, comparisons have been made with the sides Maradona led to the Scudetto in 1986-87 and 1989-90.

However, Spalletti feels his team are less reliant on individual brilliance, saying: "There is a key difference – nobody wins games alone like Maradona did. 

"We manage to make up for our shortcomings thanks to collective work. Tonight I saw many elements combine and play a messy game, which sometimes you need. 

"It's not just that the important individuals create an outlet. To make the most of it, you need those who scrape and clean up situations for the players with more quality."

While Napoli's remarkable rise has been a collective effort, Osimhen produced another talismanic forward display against Eintracht as he reached 23 goals for the campaign.

The Nigeria international has scored 13 times since the turn of the year – a tally only bettered by Marcus Rashford (15) among players from Europe's top five leagues – and Spalletti says there is more to come.

"He's already a world-class player, a great world-class player," Spalletti said of Osimhen. "He still has untapped potential – a lot of it – so we're pleased. 

"In addition to scoring goals, he cleans up situations when the opposing team presses us, he creates opportunities for us. He has these flashes. 

"Everything is correct with him, and we need to build on these matches both individually and collectively to be even more ready for the following games."

Stanislav Lobotka has signed a contract extension at Napoli until June 2027, with the club possessing an option for a further year after that.

The Slovakia international has appeared in all of Napoli's Serie A and Champions League matches this season so far, having become a key player for the Scudetto frontrunners

Playing in holding midfield, Lobotka joined the club in January 2020 from Celta Vigo and has since grown in influence – particularly following the departure of Fabian Ruiz.

Previously settling for a bit-part role, Lobotka's status as one of the first names on the teamsheet this season has coincided with Luciano Spalletti's men establishing a dominant 18-point lead at the top of the league, looking almost certain to win a first title since 1990.

Napoli have also made a splash in this season's Champions League, including in a 4-1 demolition of 2022 finalists Liverpool in Naples.

Since his arrival, Lobotka has scored just twice for the Partenopei, with the last of these goals coming in his side's season-opening 5-2 victory over Hellas Verona in August.

After his new contract was announced on Wednesday, Lobotka will be hoping to make his 100th competitive appearance for Napoli in their Champions League round-of-16 second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Lobotka also has three goals in his 43 caps for Slovakia.

Mohamed Salah is contracted with Liverpool until 2025 having penned an extension in July.

Salah's new deal is reportedly worth around £350,000 per week.

However, the 30-year-old has only managed 11 Premier League goals this term, with Liverpool's hopes of mounting a title charge long gone, and their place in next season's Champions League is far from secure.

There is now speculation that one of Europe's elite is looking to poach Salah ahead of next season.

 

TOP STORY – SALAH STRONGLY WEIGHING UP LIVERPOOL EXIT

Fichajes reports Mohamed Salah is strongly considering departing Liverpool, with Paris Saint-Germain circling.

The Egypt forward extended his Anfield stay last year but the situation has changed amid an underwhelming season.

Liverpool might be in need of a revamp next season, with Roberto Firmino already confirmed to be on his way out, following Sadio Mane's exit last year.

Jurgen Klopp will surely want to keep Salah, but if PSG offer huge money, it could provide the German with the cash needed to rebuild, with Borussia Dortmund's sought-after midfielder Jude Bellingham widely reported to be Liverpool's priority target.

ROUND-UP

–  Tottenham do not want to sell talisman Harry Kane even if he does not commit to a new deal, with his contract due to expire in 2024, according to Sky Sports. Kane has been linked with Manchester United and Bayern Munich, while he wanted to join Manchester City in 2021.

City, meanwhile, have agreed on a new five-and-a-half-year contract for Argentina forward Julian Alvarez amid interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, according to Fabrizio Romano.

City have also asked Napoli about Victor Osimhen's availability, reports Florian Plettenberg. The Nigerian forward has interest from PSG, Chelsea and Manchester United too.

– Football Insider claims Chelsea have made Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong their primary focus for the next transfer window.

Juventus may move for PSG pair Juan Bernat and Renato Sanches with Juan Cuadrado and Adrien Rabiot set to exit, reports Calciomercato.

– The Times reports former Spain head coach Luis Enrique would be interested in becoming Tottenham boss should Antonio Conte depart.

Romelu Lukaku's future is shrouded in uncertainty after Inter director Beppe Marotta acknowledging the striker "is not yet the same" following a difficult second spell with the Nerazzurri.

The Belgium international enjoyed a prolific first stint with Inter between 2019 and 2021, scoring 64 goals in 95 appearances and helping them win the Scudetto in the latter year.

However, he has scored just five goals for Simone Inzaghi's side since returning from Chelsea on a season-long loan last June.

Although, three of those have come in his last five appearances, including a late winner in the first leg of Inter's Champions League last-16 clash with Porto.

It remains to be seen whether the 29-year-old will extend his stay at San Siro or returns to Chelsea following the conclusion of his loan spell.

But Marotta appeared adamant, believing Inter are still yet to see the best of Lukaku, who he feels was also affected by his exertions during the mid-season World Cup in Qatar.

"I want to underline it was a one-season loan, so he will go back to Chelsea," the club director told Sky Sport Italia.

"This is an anomalous season, the problems we have are shared by other clubs, namely that their players took part in this unusual World Cup.

"Lukaku and [Marcelo] Brozovic have not fully recovered, and in Lukaku's case, his physicality and fitness are the key elements of his game.

"He is not at 100 per cent, he is not yet the same Lukaku that we saw in previous years."

Real Madrid have reportedly identified Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and Manchester City's Joao Cancelo as their three primary targets in a €300million plan.

The Spanish giants have been pursuing 19-year-old Bellingham for months, while 22-year-old Kvaratskhelia has emerged as one of world football's breakout prospects during his first Serie A season.

Cancelo's future with City is also up in the air after Pep Guardiola allowed him to be loaned to Bayern Munich, with the German club hesitant to make the move permanent.

They could be three of the biggest names to move in the upcoming transfer window, and Madrid are said to want to bring them all to LaLiga instead of resuming the chase for Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

TOP STORY – MADRID PLAN AMBITIOUS MOVE FOR WORLD-CLASS TRIO

According to Fichajes.net, Madrid will try to secure all three of their top targets for a combined fee in the range of €300m.

The report states they are comfortable with the asking price of Kvaratskhelia, which is said to be a minimum of €100m, while they expect Liverpool to rival them in a €150m chase for Bellingham.

Cancelo has a €70m (£61.5m) buy clause in his loan deal, which is said to be more palatable to Madrid than Bayern, as they view him as a long-term solution at right-back.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider is reporting Manchester United remain keen on 26-year-old Inter defender Denzel Dumfries, and that the Italian club's financial situation could tempt them to accept a bid in the region of €50m (£44m).

– According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Inter and Milan are enamoured with 21-year-old Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun, who is among Ligue 1's top scorers this season during a loan stint with Reims.

Manchester United are concerned with the prospect of a drawn-out pursuit of Tottenham striker Harry Kane and will instead prioritise Napoli's Victor Osimhen or Juventus' Dusan Vlahovic, per ESPN.

– Journalist Ekrem Konur is reporting Atletico Madrid plan to offer Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino a two-year deal with an option for a third year.

– According to The Athletic, 31-year-old Neymar wants to finish his career at Paris Saint-Germain and has no interest in leaving.

Stefano Pioli lamented Rafael Leao's "strange" lack of form after the Milan forward endured another underwhelming outing in Monday's 1-1 Serie A draw with Salernitana.

The Rossoneri failed to capitalise on slip-ups from top-four rivals Inter, Roma and Lazio as Olivier Giroud's first-half header was cancelled out by Boulaye Dia after the break.

In a wasteful display which saw Milan record 24 shots but draw just two saves from Salernitana's Guillermo Ochoa, Leao attempted a game-high five shots – none of which found the target.

Having reportedly attracted interest from a host of European giants including Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid after helping Milan win the Scudetto last season, Leao has struggled in recent weeks.

The Portugal forward has gone 10 games without scoring since finding the net at Lecce in January, leading Pioli to bemoan his inability to replicate his promising performances in training.

"Being close to my players is my priority, when things are going well or badly," Pioli said when asked whether Leao would benefit from more criticism.

"Leao's strange situation is this – in training he does very well, he moves a lot and does everything very well, then in the game he does less. He has to find a middle ground."

Milan's frustrating performance came five days after they secured a Champions League quarter-final spot with a 1-0 aggregate win over Tottenham, and Pioli refused to use fatigue as an excuse.

"No, there was no tiredness, but a lack of quality and players in the area," he said. "We weren't as fast as we could be, or as careful. 

"When I have the team review the goal that we conceded… it was too easy to score. We had to manage the game better. We tried, but we had to be brighter and more precise."

Milan were denied a penalty shortly after Salernitana's equaliser, with referee Federico La Penna reversing his decision to award a spot-kick for Domagoj Bradaric's challenge on Ismael Bennacer after being sent to the VAR monitor.

Asked about that incident, Pioli said: "I honestly didn't see it again after the match, so I can't judge it honestly. Otherwise, I would say what I think."

Milan missed the chance to gain ground on their rivals for a top-four Serie A finish as Boulaye Dia cancelled out Olivier Giroud's opener in a 1-1 draw with Salernitana at San Siro.

Slip-ups from Inter, Lazio and Roma gave Milan the chance to strike an important blow in the Champions League race on Monday, and they looked set to do so when Giroud headed the opener on the stroke of half-time.

However, Salernitana hit back through Dia just after the hour mark, before a VAR review denied Milan a penalty when Ismael Bennacer went down easily under Domagoj Bradaric's challenge.

The result means Milan remain fourth, just a point clear of fifth-placed Roma in a tense battle for Champions League qualification.

While Milan dominated possession from the off, Salernitana kept them quiet until the half-hour mark, when Giroud sent a trademark overhead kick narrowly over the crossbar.

Salernitana then squandered two chances on the break, with Grigoris Kastanos' effort deflecting wide after a loose pass from Mike Maignan, before the Milan goalkeeper made a fine last-ditch challenge to prevent Dia rounding him.

The visitors' resistance was broken just before half-time as Giroud met Bennacer's corner at the near post to glance a header into the bottom-left corner. 

Salernitana hit back after the restart as Bradaric led a Salernitana break down the left, with his driven cross turned beyond Maignan by a stretching Dia.

Milan threw on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in search of a winner and saw referee Federico La Penna reverse a decision to award them a spot-kick, while Guillermo Ochoa denied Divock Origi with a fine save late on.

Ochoa was involved again as Milan went agonisingly close to a winner late on, somehow clawing the ball away from the goal line following a scramble.

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