Former Inter and Lazio midfielder Dejan Stankovic has been appointed head coach of Sampdoria, the Serie A club announced on Thursday.

The 44-year-old Serbian succeeds Marco Giampaolo who was sacked on Sunday following a poor start to the season, with Sampdoria bottom of Serie A after picking up just two points from their opening eight matches.

Sampdoria announced Stankovic has signed a contract running until June 2023, with an option to extend the deal for another season.

Capped over 100 times by Yugoslavia and Serbia, Stankovic won Serie A with Lazio in 1999-2000 as well as the European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 1999 during a six-year stint with the club.

He enjoyed further success with Inter where he won five Serie A titles, as well as the Champions League in 2009-10, before retiring in 2013.

Stankovic began his managerial career with Red Star Belgrade, guiding the club to three league titles and two triumphs in the Serbian Cup before resigning in August following a Champions League qualifying defeat to Maccabi Haifa.

Harry Kane has paid his respects to "truly remarkable man" Gian Piero Ventrone following the Tottenham fitness coach's death.

Tottenham confirmed on Thursday that Ventrone, who joined the club last November as part of Antonio Conte's backroom staff, had passed away.

Ventrone was nicknamed 'The Marine' because of his tough training sessions, yet he was well respected by Tottenham's players.

Kane was among those to pay tribute to Ventrone on social media, saying he will forever be grateful for the advice received from the Italian.

"A truly remarkable man. I'm devastated by the passing of our coach Gian Piero," Kane posted. "My love and strength is with his family at this time. 

"His words and wisdom will live on with me for the rest of my life and I'm just grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with him. RIP Prof."

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Ventrone died on Thursday in Naples at the age of 62 after a battle with leukaemia.

Ventrone spent a decade at Juventus and also worked for Catania, JS Suning, GZ Evergrande and Ajaccio, prior to reuniting with Conte in north London.

He was credited with helping to drive a radical improvement in the Tottenham players' fitness, with forward Richarlison among those to benefit following his arrival from Everton.

"Since I arrived at Tottenham, Gian has been a huge inspiration to me," the Brazil international said. "He always said that I would help him a lot during the season.

"But who helped me was him... much more than he can imagine. Today we woke up to the terrible news of his passing and we are all devastated.

"We will continue to play for you, my friend, who taught us to never give up! Thank you so much and rest in peace!"

Ventrone had two stints at Juventus between 1996 and 1999 and 2001 and 2004, helping to shape the side that won the Champions League in the first of those spells.

The Italian giants paid their own tribute on Thursday in a statement on their official website.

The statement read: "We will always remember his attention to detail, his work philosophy, and perhaps his greatest talent, the understanding that football – and especially the fundamental components of conditioning and athleticism – was gradually entering a new era.

"A new era that, in part, he helped write."

Tottenham have announced the death of their fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone.

Ventrone joined Tottenham last November as part of Antonio Conte's backroom staff. The Italian had previously spent a decade at Juventus and also worked for Catania, JS Suning, GZ Evergrande and Ajaccio.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport said Ventrone died on Thursday morning in Naples.

Spurs said they were "devastated" by the news.

In a statement, the club added: "As loveable off the pitch as he was demanding on it, Gian Piero quickly became a hugely popular figure with players and staff.

"He will be greatly missed by everyone at the club and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this impossibly sad time."

Ventrone was nicknamed 'The Marine' due to his diligent approach to training.

Spurs forward Son Heung-min embraced the Italian on the touchline after netting a hat-trick against Leicester City last month to break his scoring duck for the season.

"I have a really good relationship with Gian Piero," Son said at the time. "His English is not perfect. Sometimes he comes in with his phone and translates from Italian.

"I think life-wise he gives me so much advice, which I am really grateful. He has been so helpful, giving me always a big hug in tough times and even great times he has always been next to me and every staff."

Son's team-mate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, speaking during Tottenham's brutal pre-season training camp in July, said: "It's all love for Gian Piero.

"Normally when you have a fitness coach like that who is running you ragged, you start to not like him, but that’s not the case. We all absolutely love him. We've got so much respect for him that we do whatever he tells us to."

Ventrone, who was 62 according to Italian media, was reportedly suffering with leukaemia at the time of his death. His family said his funeral would take place on Sunday.

Real Madrid are keen on Jude Bellingham, and so too are Premier League giants Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Given the hot pursuit, some are said to be considering alternative targets, particularly Liverpool who had a quiet off-season in the transfer market.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds added Darwin Nunez, with Sadio Mane exiting, but they did not make a major midfield signing in the off-season.

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL EYE MUSIALA AS BELLINGHAM ALTERNATIVE

Liverpool are among the clubs circling for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham. Should they miss out, they will turn to Bayern Munich's Jamal Musiala, according to the Mirror.

Germany international Musiala spent time with Southampton and Chelsea in his youth and was capped by England at age-group level.

Sky Germany reports Liverpool are among several top clubs keeping tabs on the 19-year-old, although it is believed he has no plans to exit the Allianz Arena anytime soon.

ROUND-UP

– Tottenham are the latest club to join the race to sign Milan's Portuguese forward Rafael Leao, reports Calciomercato. Chelsea and Manchester City have been linked with Leao who is set to receive a fresh contract offer from Milan.

– Calciomercato claims Real Madrid will rival Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, who are both keen on Inter defender Milan Skriniar. The Slovakian's contract ends in mid-2023, prompting interest, although Inter are trying to renew his deal.

– Marca claims Barcelona have reached an agreement to permanently sell Antoine Griezmann to Atletico Madrid for half of the €40m asking price. Griezmann is in the second season of a two-year loan deal, but Atletico have been playing him in on reduced minutes to avoid triggering a clause in his contract.

– Football Insider reports Arsenal are monitoring Marcus Rashford's situation at Manchester United, with the forward's contract to expire at the end of this season.

– Southampton are on the brink of sacking manager Ralph Hasenhuttl after managing only seven points from eight games to start this Premier League, according to the Telegraph. Hasenhuttl has been at the Saints helm since 2018.

– There is a manager merry-go-around with Nottingham Forest's under-pressure boss Steve Cooper in contention to replace Hasenhuttl at Southampton, claims the Daily Mail.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho says he is not thinking about breaking Sir Alex Ferguson's mark for winning the most European competition games during the Champions League era.

Mourinho matched former Manchester United boss Ferguson with 106 victories in the Champions League and Europa League when he led Roma past HJK 2-1 in the Europa League last month.

Only Carlo Ancelotti has more victories (120), with the era dating back to the Champions League's introduction in 1992.

Ferguson and Mourinho had a tense rivalry during the Scot's latter days at Old Trafford, spawning from the Portuguese's breakout stint at Porto before regularly locking horns during his first spell at Chelsea.

The Portuguese, who led the Italian club to Conference League glory last term, can surpass the former Manchester United manager when Roma take on Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday.

"It's not an extra motivation," Mourinho told reporters. "I am proud of the 106, and when the 107th arrives, either tomorrow or next week, I don't know, but when it comes it'll be a proud moment in my career.

"I've always said that I'll think about this kind of thing when I finish my career. When I finish my career I have so many things to think about and remember, but at this moment, no.

"Right now, the only thing that I am worried about is winning the next game, I'm always [thinking about] the next one and the next one is tomorrow.

"As I said before, it will certainly be difficult, it is a high-level game, very high. But there's no such thing as winning one more game than Sir Alex.

"This is not [why I want to win]. I want to win because we need to."

Mourinho has won 85 Champions League games and 21 Europa League games, compared to Ferguson's 105 wins in Europe's top club competition along with one UEFA Cup (Europa League) victory.

The former Inter, Real Madrid and Porto boss has two Champions League titles and two Europa League titles to his name, the latter with United. Ferguson, who retired in 2013, lifted the Champions League three times.

Ancelotti, who has won the Champions League four times, moved to 103 Champions League wins with Madrid's 2-1 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk, while he has 13 Europa League wins too.

Massimiliano Allegri's position as Juventus head coach has "never been even slightly in doubt," according to Bianconeri vice-chairman Pavel Nedved.

Juve have endured a poor start to the 2022-23 campaign; they already trail early Serie A pacesetters Napoli and Atalanta by seven points after eight games. 

The Bianconeri also lost their opening two Group H matches in the Champions League, with Allegri describing Wednesday's visit of Maccabi Haifa as a "must win" following a pair of 2-1 defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica.

Although, they do have momentum after Sunday's 3-0 victory over Bologna ended a five-game winless streak across all competitions.

And Nedved insists everyone is focused on turning the club's fortunes around.

"I don't know why it is difficult for us in the Champions League," he told Sky Sport Italia prior to Wednesday's game.

"We are doing everything, the club, coach, staff and players, to get us back on track, to play Juve-style games that can get us through to the next round and recover in Serie A. That is our objective.

"The coach has never been even slightly in doubt, I want to make that clear. There was more confidence after the win, but we have also had very few training sessions, very few, so we will discover the form of the team as we go forward."

Lautaro Martinez's agent Alejandro Camano is not surprised by reports linking the Inter forward with Bayern Munich, insisting the Argentine is one of the world's top 10 players.

Martinez scored 21 goals in 35 league outings as Inter finished as Serie A runners-up last season, and has begun the new campaign with three strikes in eight top-flight appearances.

With Bayern struggling in the Bundesliga after opting against signing a direct replacement for Robert Lewandowski in the recent transfer window, the Bavarian giants have been touted as potential suitors for Martinez.

Camano told TyC Sports such interest does not come as a surprise and revealed the 25-year-old rejected transfer offers in the latest window in order to focus on Inter.

"I wouldn't be surprised because there are always requests, but Lautaro has very clear ideas," he said about the Bayern reports.

"Today he thinks about Inter and the World Cup.

"In the last market there were possibilities to leave for impressive figures, but he has understood that it was better not to change.

"Lautaro is among the top 10 players in the world, and although I have many calls, he has two priorities by the end of the year: Inter and the national team. 

"He is mature, with a nice family to accompany him, with an atmosphere of tranquillity, which is always important. He feels loved by Italians and Argentines.

"He started the year with a beautiful project, with an Inter that was built in a powerful way. The truth is that winning the World Cup would be the icing on the cake for him."

Alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, Martinez has impressed in a fluid Argentina attack recently, with Lionel Scaloni leading his side to a 35-match unbeaten run.

Argentina are just two games short of matching Italy's record 37-match unbeaten run in international football, and Camano believes they will be serious contenders at the World Cup.

"Not only are Argentina a candidate, but those of us who know Lionel Scaloni know that he has the same leadership mentality he had when he played," he added. 

"Lautaro's hope is the same as the others - they want to make people happy.

"Winning a World Cup is not easy, but the team is ready to reach this goal."

Former Juventus and Inter full-back Kwadwo Asamoah has announced his retirement from playing at the age of 33.

Asamoah, who was capped 74 times by Ghana and appeared at two World Cups, most recently featured for Cagliari at club level in the 2020-21 season.

He confirmed on social media he has officially called time on one chapter of his career and will now become a player agent.

Versatile defender Asamoah started his career at Udinese and made 279 appearances in Serie A – the most for an African player in the competition's history.

Asamoah joined Juve from Udinese in July 2012 and won 13 titles across six seasons with the Turin giants before spending two years with Inter.

Injuries curtailed his time at Cagliari, for whom he made his final appearance in a goalless draw against Milan in May 2021.

Chelsea's admiration of 23-year-old Milan forward Rafael Leao is not a secret.

The Blues, along with several other clubs including Manchester City, are keen on the Portuguese.

Chelsea have also been linked with Christopher Nkunku in recent days but are plotting ways to land Rafael Leao too.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA AND MILAN PLOTTING SWAP DEAL

Chelsea and Milan are considering a swap deal whereby Rafael Leao would join the Blues, claims Calciomercato.

Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi would be part of the deal, although the Italian champions would still demand a £90million fee for the Portuguese.

According to the report, Milan will use their Champions League game on Wednesday against the Blues at Stamford Bridge to talk with Pulisic, along with Trevoh Chalobah.

ROUND-UP

– 90min claims that West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is top of Chelsea's transfer wish list. The Hammers slapped a £120m price tag on the England international in the off-season, although that will likely drop as the length of his contract shortens.

– Football Insider claims Arsenal have reached an agreement in principle with 21-year-old winger Bukayo Saka on a new contract. Saka's current deal expires in 2024.

Everton are eager to use the option-to-buy trigger in Conor Coady's loan deal from Wolves, claims The Times. Coady would cost the Toffees less than £10m.

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper could be sacked by owner Evangelos Marinakis, according to The Mail, with The Guardian linking Rafael Benitez with the role along with ex-Burnely boss Sean Dyche.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that former Inter and Lazio midfielder and Red Star boss Dejan Stankovic has reached a full agreement with Sampdoria to become the Italian Serie A club's new manager to replace the sacked Marco Giampaolo.

Jose Mourinho is set to be offered a new contract by Roma, potentially keeping him in the Italian capital until 2026, reports La Repubblica.

– Sport1 claims ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has declined the opportunity to take over at Bayer Leverkusen amid their poor start to the season.

Chelsea and Liverpool are reportedly both interested in Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer, who could become available at the end of this season.

Bennacer, 24, spent time at Arsenal's academy before heading to Empoli, where he impressed enough to earn a €16million move to Milan in 2019.

He already has 42 international caps for Algeria after debuting as an 18-year-old, and he has started in seven of Milan's eight Serie A fixtures to begin this campaign, but his contract situation could accelerate his exit from Italy.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE HEAVYWEIGHTS CIRCLE BENNACER

Bennacer's contract expires in 2024, at the end of next season, but the more time that passes before signing an extension, the more pressure Milan will be under to cash in as opposed to letting him leave for free.

According to Calciomercato, Milan value him at €50million as Chelsea, Liverpool and Serie A rivals Juventus all keep a close eye on his progress.

The report says to pry him away from Milan in January would take a "sensational offer", but if Milan decide to see out the rest of the season their leverage in negotiations will be significantly weakened.

Both Bennacer and team-mate Rafael Leao have high levels of interest from elite clubs, and Milan will likely not have the budget to hand out two big extensions.

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Manchester United will not stand in Cristiano Ronaldo's way if he wishes to leave in January.

– According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea are interested in signing Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli.

– 90min is reporting Chelsea are also trying to push RB Leipzig into accepting deals for centre-back Josko Gvardiol and forward Christopher Nkunku as soon as possible.

Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of getting Lionel Messi to agree to a new contract with his deal set to expire at the end of this season, although they will hold off on negotiations until after the World Cup, per Mundo Deportivo.

– January will mark 18 months remaining on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's contract with Lazio, and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's top clubs are all keeping a close eye on the 27-year-old's availability.

Federico Chiesa has returned to first-team training with Juventus, nine months after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The Italy international underwent surgery after injuring his left knee in a Serie A win over Roma in January, causing him to miss the rest of Juventus' 2021-22 campaign.

Chiesa, who starred in the Azzurri's Euro 2020 triumph last year, scored four goals and added two assists in all competitions last season before suffering the injury.

A statement on Juventus' website revealed the attacker "began a partial and gradual return to the group" on Monday after coach Massimiliano Allegri recently professed his hope the 24-year-old would return to action before the World Cup.
 
Juventus host Maccabi Haifa in a huge Champions League group-stage match on Wednesday, having suffered back-to-back defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica so far in the competition.

The Bianconeri have never previously lost their first three games of a Champions League campaign, and they were eliminated from their group the last time they failed to record a victory in their opening three matches (in 2013-14 – D2 L1).

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi believes his team need to play with "aggression and determination" against Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Inzaghi is under fire after a run that has seen Inter lose four of their last six in all competitions, with a 2-1 home defeat to Roma at the weekend leaving the Nerazzurri ninth in Serie A, already eight points behind joint-leaders Napoli and Atalanta.

And Tuesday's match will see them host a Barcelona side in red-hot form, top of LaLiga and yet to lose a league match this season under the leadership of former midfielder Xavi.

In his pre-match press conference, Inzaghi outlined just how tough a task the game was going to be, while explaining how his team need to play at the San Siro if they are to get a result.

"Tomorrow is a great opportunity, knowing that we meet a very strong team, probably one of the best in Europe," Inzaghi told reporters.

"It is a complete, strong team with a lot of quality. They know how to do everything, they have pressing and ball recovery. It is a team that knows how to do everything in possession and non-possession.

"Barcelona are a very strong team, complete in all departments. They have a lot of quality, plus they have [Robert] Lewandowski.

"We will have to play a game of aggression and determination."

Inzaghi also had positive news about striker Lautaro Martinez's availability for the fixture, adding: "This morning Lautaro made an exam where no injury was evident.

"He finished the game [against Roma] fatigued, today he will do a partial training and we will see what his condition will be."

Sampdoria have parted company with head coach Marco Giampaolo after Sunday's 3-0 home defeat to Monza.

It brings an end to Giampaolo's second spell at the club, having also been in charge between 2016 and 2019, but after recording just two points from their first eight games of the Serie A season, the 55-year-old has departed again.

After returning in January to replace Roberto D'Aversa, Giampaolo took charge of 24 Serie A games, winning five, drawing three and losing 16.

The former Milan and Torino coach was finally relieved of his duties after goals from Matteo Pessina, Gianluca Caprari and Stefano Sensi condemned Samp to a hefty loss to newly-promoted Monza at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium.

A statement on the club's website read: "U.C. Sampdoria have announced that they have relieved coach Marco Giampaolo of his duties.

"The club would like to thank Marco and his staff for the dedication and professionalism they showed while working for Sampdoria."

Sampdoria travel to Bologna on Saturday.

Manchester United have already conceded 14 goals in seven Premier League games this season.

United boss Erik ten Hag is weighing up his goalkeeping options, having stuck with long-term number one David de Gea since taking over.

Reports have emerged that United and De Gea are set for talks on his future, with the 31-year-old's deal to expire in 2023.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD EYE COSTA AS DE GEA REPLACEMENT

Manchester United's goalkeeper situation is in flux, with the club interested in Porto custodian Diogo Costa, according to Metro.

United have sent scouts to watch the 23-year-old goalkeeper, who has seven caps for Portugal.

The Red Devils are looking for De Gea's successor, with the Spaniard seemingly not suiting Ten Hag's possession-based style.

United also have 25-year-old England international Dean Henderson out on loan at Nottingham Forest.

ROUND-UP

– O Jogo claims former Olympiacos manager Pedro Martins could be the latest Portuguese coach to take over at Wolves, following Bruno Lage's dismissal on Sunday. The Telegraph reports that under-fire Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui may be considered and Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has also been discussed.

Juventus and Real Madrid will rival Liverpool in the race to sign Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans from Leicester City, claims Calciomercato.

– LaLiga pair Sevilla and Valencia are both interested in Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, reports Todofichajes.

Tottenham and Juventus target Nicolo Zaniolo is set to pen a new deal with Roma, re-committing on a €4million per-year deal until 2027, according to Calciomercato.

– Everton's Venezuela international striker Salomon Rondon has interest from UAE club Sharjah FC but is likely to stay with the Toffees, reports Liverpool Echo.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri says his side must take matters "one step at a time" after breaking a month-long winless streak against Bologna on Sunday.

The Bianconeri ran out 3-0 winners at the Allianz Stadium, clinching their first victory in all competitions since the end of August thanks to goals from Filip Kostic, Dusan Vlahovic and Arkadiusz Milik. 

The result arrested Juventus' slide into mid-table mediocrity in Serie A, although they remain four points adrift of the top four and seven shy of early-season leaders Napoli.

The difficulty of the challenge facing Juve is not lost on Allegri, who says his team need to avoid getting ahead of themselves in the coming weeks.

"We need to take it one step at a time, and hopefully, we can close the gap," he told DAZN. "We closed it last season, so [we know] we can do it again.

"We needed patience and focus to build the performance and get the result. I almost felt like we couldn't believe it when we got back to the locker room.

"It needs to be one small step at a time. We can't make up that difference all in one go. At this moment, we need clear and cool heads."

Kostic netted his first goal in club colours to round off a superb run from Vlahovic, who arguably delivered his best performance of the season in Turin.

Kostic said he would look to repay the favour by teeing up his fellow Serbia international in the future, stating: "I do a good job with Dusan, I thanked him for the assist and I hope I can give one back next time."

 

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