Paul Pogba's brother Mathias has been charged and detained over the alleged extortion of the France and Juventus midfielder.

An investigation was opened last month into allegations Paul was the target of an extortion plot by his brother and childhood friends demanding a €13million sum.

Mathias, who is a free agent after a spell with French fourth-tier side Belfort came to an end in April, threatened to share "explosive revelations" in a video posted on social media. 

The 32-year-old has denied taking part in extortion attempts against his brother.

However, it emerged on Saturday that he and four others have been charged and will now be held in jail while he awaits a decision from the judge regarding bail.

Mathias' lawyer confirmed to French outlet BFMTV that his client intends to challenge the decision.

"It's a decision we do not understand especially because the courts have recognised Mr. Pogba did not participate in the acts of kidnapping, which his brother was allegedly the victim of," the lawyer said.

"Mr. Pogba could perfectly have and should have been released during this judicial investigation. So that will not stop there, we will challenge this decision from a legal point of view so that Mr. Pogba can be released as soon as possible.

"This is an individual who has never been talked about, who has a clean criminal record, who is not a thug, who is presumed innocent. And the elements of this file, it is my assessment, show that he did not commit any criminal offence. 

"So for a person who may not have, and I'm telling you certainly not, committed a criminal offence, ending up in prison is something extremely difficult. So we are going to fight so that he can get out as soon as possible."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri is positive about his team's prospects, despite a difficult start to the season.

Juve have won just two of their eight games in all competitions so far (D4, L2), and were beaten 2-1 at home by Benfica on Wednesday in the Champions League.

That marked the first time the Bianconeri have lost their first two games in the group stage, having lost by the same score at Paris Saint-Germain a week prior.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of their Serie A clash at Monza, Allegri said he believes his side are playing well, and just need to "pay more attention to details".

"We must not only look at the results," he said. "I believe the team is growing. We also had a good reaction physically with Benfica, but we need to pay more attention to details.

"We must be focused on the next games and through the performance, obtain the result. Then there will be a break and with confidence, we must prepare for the Champions League challenge."

Allegri has been without a number of players through injury but is sure his backroom staff are working hard to minimise the impact in a hectic season.

"The number of injuries is similar to last year, 10 against 11, but playing many more games," he said. "Then, we had more problems on the flexors, this year on the adductors... but there is no doubt about the fact that the staff inside Continassa [the club's training centre] works well."

Juve travel to Monza on Sunday, who sit bottom of the table, and Allegri will still be without several players.

"Alex Sandro, [Adrien] Rabiot, [Manuel] Locatelli will not be called up," he said. "[Wojciech] Szczesny will be available but [Mattia] Perin will play.

"[Angel] Di Maria will start, and I'll have to decide who to play in defence."

Real Madrid have joined the race to land Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, with the 27-year-old's contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Skriniar has been one of the most in-demand defenders in the world this year, with numerous bids coming during the last transfer window from Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Tottenham.

While Inter are keen to fend off the outside interest and lock him into a new contract, the fact that he will be able to leave on a free transfer at the conclusion of the campaign could force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID HOPE TO SECURE SKRINIAR ON FREE TRANSFER

Madrid took advantage of the free agent market this past window, signing Antonio Rudiger when his Chelsea contract finished, and Football Insider claim they have similar plans for Skriniar.

Inter reportedly turned down bids worth in the €60million range from PSG with the hope an upgraded contract could keep Skriniar in Italy long-term, but with time running out, Tuttosport is reporting the French giants will return with a bid of €30m in January.

The Football Insider report also stresses how important Tottenham's Antonio Conte views the big Slovakian, having started 31 out of 38 league games for Conte when he was with Inter for their Serie A title in 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

– 90min is reporting Arsenal are considering a move for 27-year-old free agent midfielder Xeka after his contract with Lille recently expired.

– According to The Mirror, Liverpool are leaning towards terminating the loan of Juventus' Arthur Melo just weeks after the 26-year-old midfielder arrived at Anfield.

– After an impressive loan stint at Fiorentina last season, Real Madrid right-back Alvaro Odriozola has caught the eye of another Italian club, with Juventus said to be interested in a January move in the range of €15m.

– Leicester City centre-back Caglar Soyuncu has decided to sign with Atletico Madrid when his contract finishes at the end of the season, per Mundo Deportivo.

– The Independent is reporting Everton are preparing a new contract offer for Anthony Gordon that will pay him six times his current salary.

Sergino Dest is ready to give "100 per cent" in order to secure his long-term future at Milan following his loan move from Barcelona.

The United States international is on a season-long loan in Serie A, with a purchase option, following a frustrating 2021-22 campaign under Xavi at Camp Nou.

A pair of Champions League appearances has seen the 21-year-old on European rotation so far, but there are suggestions he will be given his chance to prove his worth with the club.

Asked ahead of this weekend's crucial clash with Napoli what he must do to earn a longer stay, Dest spoke of his commitment to the Rossoneri cause, adding that he is settling into life in Italy.

"What I can do is give 100 per cent so that Milan can decide to keep me," he stated. "Settling into Italy is going well, it has all be very fast.

"I haven't had much time to look around and visit the city, but everyone in the team is very welcoming. It's not easy to remember all the names, but the coach helps me."

Dest was included in the latest USMNT squad for their final matches ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup later this year.

Though his place is likely secure on the plane, the right-back will hope for a string of impressive performances at club level to cement his spot.

It's a bit early in the season to call Napoli's trip to Milan a "title clash" given we're only six games in, but for the Partenopei it is clearly an opportunity to make a statement.

Luciano Spalletti, a former Milan coach, has guided Napoli to 14 points from their first six matches, and they sit top of the fledgling table ahead of Atalanta and the Rossoneri on goal difference.

While Milan have already beaten bitter rivals Inter this term, Napoli haven't had the chance for such a signal of intent – at least, not in Serie A.

But neither Spalletti nor Stefano Pioli will be able to rely on their star men in San Siro on Sunday, adding to the unpredictability of a match that promises excitement.

Sorely missed

Rafael Leao and Victor Osimhen will miss this contest due to suspension and injury, respectively. Both absences are bitter blows to not only the teams, but fans tuning in.

Leao has been an especially key figure for Milan over the past year or so. Since the start of last season, he has played in 40 out of a possible 44 matches, with only Alexis Saelemaekers and Sandro Tonali (both 41) appearing more regularly.

Their win percentage with him stands at 70, while they average 2.3 points with Leao on the pitch. Of the four games he has missed, Milan have only won two.

Over the same period, Osimhen has missed 12 league games for Napoli. Their win rate increases from 58.3 per cent to 65.6 per cent when he plays, and their goals average goes up to 2.2 from 1.5 per game. Similarly, he's the only current Napoli player to score 10 or more Serie A goals (16) in that time.

The opportunity is there for others to step up in their absence.

 

At home on the road

As their position at the Serie A summit suggests, Napoli have enjoyed a fine start to the season, and their Champions League demolition of Liverpool made even more people sit up and take note.

Any successful team cannot just rely on a vociferous home support, however, and Napoli have made decent early strides in that regard, amassing seven points from their first three away Serie A games.

If they can avoid defeat on Sunday, they'll be unbeaten after the first four away games in an Italian top-flight season for the third campaign in succession, a feat no team has ever achieved before.

Granted, Milan's recent home form is decent, having won six on the trot in San Siro, which is their best run since 2013 (eight successive wins). But it was Napoli who ended that run, and the Partenopei are also hoping to rack up three consecutive away league victories over Milan for the first time in 43 years.

Party up front, business in the back

Yes, that's not quite how the saying goes, but this altered phrase is more applicable to Napoli. They have been exciting to watch going forward this term, with Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Andre-Franck Zambo Aguissa and Piotr Zielinski all catching the eye on the offensive.

But credit where it's due to Spalletti's side when they're not on the attack, as Napoli have been solid defensively.

Stretching back into last season, they have kept six clean sheets in their past nine Serie A games, including three in six this term.

Even when they have conceded, Napoli possess the necessary mentality – and ability – to fight back, with their six points gained from losing positions second only to Milan's seven in 2022-23.

 

Milan unbeaten, Napoli with everything to prove

Milan's title success last season was helped massively by their exceptionally strong end to the campaign.

They finished 2021-22 with six successive wins and went on an undefeated run that stretched back to January 17 when they suffered a shock 2-1 loss at home to Spezia.

Milan have since stretched that unbeaten streak to 22 league games, which is their longest such run since a 27-match undefeated run ended in January 2021.

That form highlights the task that Napoli face on Sunday, though by the same token, being the team to halt such a sequence would surely show Spalletti's team mean business.

Bundesliga sensation Jude Bellingham has a long list of admirers back in England.

The Three Lions midfielder's contract at Borussia Dortmund runs until 2025.

Bellingham left England when he moved from Birmingham City for Dortmund in 2020.

TOP STORY – REDS LEADING BELLINGHAM PURSUIT

Liverpool are leading the race to sign teenager Bellingham from Dortmund, reports The Telegraph.

Manchester United are also interested in the 19-year-old, who has started all nine of Dortmund's games this season.

Bellingham may be allowed to leave Dortmund in 2023, and the German club are expecting a bid from the Reds.

ROUND-UP

– The Mirror claims Liverpool are also mulling over a move for new Wolves signing Matheus Nunes as an alternative to Bellingham, should they miss out.

– Rafael Leao has attracted interest from Chelsea and Manchester City but will snub both to stay with Milan on a new long-term deal, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

– Sport claims Barcelona are keeping an eye on Monaco's Brazilian left-back Caio Henrique.

– Free agent Danny Rose has verbally agreed to join AEK Athens, reports The Sun. The ex-Tottenham defender left Watford earlier this month.

Jose Mourinho admitted he was "a little scared" amid speculation of Nicolo Zaniolo leaving Roma, while he refuted suggestions the attacker was difficult to manage.

Zaniolo scored the winning goal as Roma ended a 14-year trophy drought, defeating Feyenoord in the inaugural Europa Conference League final in May.

But speculation persisted in the close season that the 23-year-old may depart the Eternal City, with Juventus reportedly the favourites to secure his signature.

Zaniolo dismissed the move as never likely ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with HJK Helsinki, which Roma won 3-0 after goals from Paulo Dybala, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Andrea Belotti.

While the Italy international suggested a transfer was never on the cards, Mourinho acknowledged he was nervous he could lose one of his brightest prospects.

"The director [Tiago Pinto] never came to me to tell me: 'this possibility exists'. Never. You read so many things, especially in the summer," the Roma coach told reporters after victory over HJK. 

"I knew he was an important player for us, with different qualities than the others. He's the only one with this physical potential. Yes, I was a little scared.

"He's a good guy, they told me he was a disaster as a professional. Either it was lies or he changed. I have never seen him arrive late, never had problems."

Roma sit three points behind early pacesetters Real Betis in Group C, with Ludogorets in second after defeating the Giallorossi on matchday one.

Jose Mourinho admitted he was "a little scared" amid speculation of Nicolo Zaniolo leaving Roma, while he refuted suggestions the attacker was difficult to manage.

Zaniolo scored the winning goal as Roma ended a 14-year trophy drought, defeating Feyenoord in the inaugural Europa Conference League final in May.

But speculation persisted in the close season that the 23-year-old may depart the Eternal City, with Juventus reportedly the favourites to secure his signature.

Zaniolo dismissed the move as never likely ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with HJK Helsinki, which Roma won 3-0 after goals from Paulo Dybala, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Andrea Belotti.

While the Italy international suggested a transfer was never on the cards, Mourinho acknowledged he was nervous he could lose one of his brightest prospects.

"The director [Tiago Pinto] never came to me to tell me: 'this possibility exists'. Never. You read so many things, especially in the summer," the Roma coach told reporters after victory over HJK. 

"I knew he was an important player for us, with different qualities than the others. He's the only one with this physical potential. Yes, I was a little scared.

"He's a good guy, they told me he was a disaster as a professional. Either it was lies or he changed. I have never seen him arrive late, never had problems."

Roma sit three points behind early pacesetters Real Betis in Group C, with Ludogorets in second after defeating the Giallorossi on matchday one.

Massimiliano Allegri told his Juventus players to internalise their frustration and focus on training harder after defeat to Benfica put their Champions League hopes in peril.

A 2-1 loss in Turin followed last week's defeat by the same scoreline at Paris Saint-Germain, leaving the Bianconeri six points behind both of their early conquerors after two rounds of Group H games.

Allegri, in the second season of his second spell as Juventus head coach, appeared to point to the mental fragility of his team after the final whistle, saying they "collapsed" after going 2-1 behind in the 55th minute.

He has said he does not fear for his job, nor is he willing to engage in drawn-out public discourse about how the Turin giants might get back on track.

It is simple, according to Allegri, who believes working beats talking in a time of crisis.

"I knew when I came back that it would take time to rebuild," he said. "But unfortunately I did not think that at this moment we would lose two games in a row [in the Champions League]."

Juventus won nine consecutive Serie A titles before failing to make it 10 in a row during Andrea Pirlo's single season in charge.

They laboured to fourth place under Allegri last term, and the coach says finding an instant winning formula was always going to be difficult.

"But this is something the club knows, we all know it, but the important thing is to try to do well, to stay in the Champions League," Allegri said. "And these two games p***** us off.

"This does not mean that everything is compromised in the Champions League, but at the moment talking is useless. Plus the less we talk, the better it is, because we waste less energy."

With his team sitting eighth in Serie A after two wins and four draws so far this season, Allegri's words sounded worrying after Wednesday's defeat.

Juve had no response to the dominance of Benfica, who had previously lost 10 of their last 12 visits against Italian clubs.

"In these moments I think there are few explanations to give," Allegri said, "because in any case after we went 2-1 down, the game was over because it was in their hands. On a psychological level we had collapsed and therefore, in this moment, we can only remain silent, work and take little step after little step to get back up."

He pinpointed Sunday's Serie A game against Monza as a chance to bounce back, but whatever the result of that game it will do nothing to repair the early damage to Juve's European hopes.

"At this moment, going to look for and talk about the problems that exist does not make sense," Allegri said.

"The Champions League in this moment is complicated. This doesn't mean that it is already over, but at the moment the closest thing is Monza. So we have four days to better prepare for the match in Monza at a mental level."

He added: "I don't want to blame the lads for anything. It is normal that there must be a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone and everyone needs to do something more – not overdo, but do."

Serie A will look into the practicalities of staging an All-Star game, says league president Lorenzo Casini.

New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly raised it as a possibility for the English Premier League when speaking at the SALT conference this week.

Boehly said an All-Star fixture could pit players from the league's northern clubs against those from the south, with the additional revenue used to fund the wider football pyramid.

The idea was given short shrift by the likes of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and former Manchester United player Gary Neville.

However, Casini believes it is a notion that "deserves attention", and insisted Serie A will consider it in future, citing the Europe against the Rest of the World charity game played in the United States in 1982 that included the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Zico, Socrates and Michel Platini.

Casini was quoted by ANSA as saying: "The idea of an All-Star Game in Serie A deserves attention.

"We will study the project and the clubs in the assembly will evaluate all the pros and cons.

"I recall the excitement of the Europe v Rest of the World match in August 1982 that included Dino Zoff, Marco Tardelli, Paolo Rossi and Giancarlo Antognoni, who played better than Michel Platini and Zico.

"We need to rediscover that spirit, involving clubs, presidents, directors and coaches, as well as the media and fans."

Manchester United are reportedly ready for a major change, with Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak said to be a priority target.

Both Oblak, 29, and current United number one David de Gea, 31, are in the last season of their respective contracts. While a January move may be possible, it appears more likely United will try to bring in Oblak on an end-of-season free transfer, as Atletico will also want to hold onto their world-class keeper for as long as possible.

De Gea has publicly declared his desire to remain at Old Trafford, but if Erik ten Hag decides his time as the number one is coming to an end, then he will likely have to leave unless United want the most expensive backup keeper in the world.


TOP STORY – UNITED TARGET JAN OBLAK AS LONG-TERM GOALKEEPER REPLACEMENT

According to a report from French publication Jeunes Footeux, United are looking for a goalkeeper of international calibre and are willing to pay up for the man with 359 appearances for Atletico since 2014.

It claims United are willing to make an offer of €18million per season – almost double the current salary of the 29-year-old Slovenian – to convince him to make the jump to the Premier League.

The report includes a nugget of information about Paris Saint-Germain also being interested in securing Oblak's services, as questions continue to be asked about Gianluigi Donnarumma.

ROUND-UP

– GiveMeSport is reporting Arsenal are "very close" to securing a contract extension for 21-year-old Bukayo Saka.

– According to Calciomercato.com, Manchester City are joining Chelsea in the chase for Milan's Rafael Leao as he bides his time on signing a new contract.

– Calciomercato is also reporting Milan are looking for forward reinforcements after recent injuries to Divock Origi and Ante Rebic, with Club Brugge winger Noa Lang named as a possible future target. Lille's Jonathan David and Salzburg's Noah Okafor have also been linked.

Brighton are offering new deals to Alexis Mac Allister and Leandro Trossard in an effort to fend off transfer offers, according to Ekrem Konur with Fichajes.

– After being one of the most in-demand centre-backs in the world this past transfer window, Inter's Milan Skriniar is expected to be awarded with a new and improved contract, according to Foot Mercato.

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini has spoken about Rafael Leao's future with the club, believing the forward is keen on staying put.

The Brazilian was in sensational form to fire Milan to Serie A glory last season, striking 11 league goals as Milan pipped arch-rivals Inter on the final day of the season.

Leao's performances attracted interest from Chelsea in the transfer window, with Maldini confirming their advances were fended off.

Negotiations regarding a fresh deal for the 23-year-old have stalled since, though Maldini is not concerned and feels Milan is the perfect place for his continued development.

"We have already started talking to him. But not now, for a long time. Every renewal can be simple or complicated, the will of the player makes the difference because that of the club is there," he told Gazzetta.

"Renewal is an issue that we addressed many months ago. Rafa knows that to become stronger than now the solution is to stay with us. We are a young and growing team.

"He still has to learn many things but we intend to do great things and grow with him.

"Chelsea's officially written offer has not arrived, but on an informal level it has. Of course, it was rejected."

Maldini's comments came ahead of Milan's Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb and the former defender believes his side are a team opponents will not want to be drawn against.

"We may not be ready to think about reaching the final this year, but dreaming is a must. Because Milan is a team that the big ones would not want to face," he added.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic still has no concrete plans to retire despite his latest injury woes, claiming he will only stop once he has seen a player who is "stronger than me".

Ibrahimovic will turn 41 in early October and is into his third full season at Milan, having joined from LA Galaxy in December 2019.

Injuries have been a regular source of frustration for the Swede since his return to Milan, though he still has a fine goalscoring record of 33 in 60 Serie A appearances during his second spell at the club.

Ibrahimovic is not expected to play again this year after having surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury in May, an injury that at the time seemed likely to end his career.

But it appears the enigmatic striker is determined to go out on his own terms, dismissing recent comments from former Milan player and executive Zvonimir Boban, who said it was "not right" for Ibrahimovic to keep playing.

Asked about Boban's opinion, Ibrahimovic told Gazzetta dello Sport: "If I see a player stronger than me, I'll stop. But I haven't seen him yet.

"I am arrogant, [I have] zero fear. I'm fine, I work every day to come back. When I come back, I'll be heard, you can count on it.

"I'll [return] with violence. It takes patience – this is the key now."

Ibrahimovic helped Milan to Scudetto success before his injury, with that being the Rossoneri's first league title since 2011, during his first spell.

Milan have enjoyed a decent start to their title defence, with Napoli and Atalanta only sitting above them in the table after six games by virtue of a better goal difference.

When Ibrahimovic does return to the pitch, he believes he will be coming into a team that is even better than the one that won the title, appearing particularly excited about Charles de Ketelaere.

"De Ketelaere is top, I say so. You just have to give him some time to grow," he continued.

"We are even stronger than last year as a group. Overall, we are a better team, the market in the summer after the Scudetto strengthened us and now we have more alternatives on the bench.

"If I hadn't liked it [the transfer business], I wouldn't have been here."

Milan veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic has vowed he will return and clarified he has no plans to retire.

The forward, who turns 41 in October, underwent ACL surgery in May but signed a one-year contract extension with the Rossoneri in July.

Given the former Sweden international's age and the severity of the injury there has been talk that he will not return, but Ibrahimovic insisted he will with a January timeframe on the cards.

"I will be back soon," Zlatan told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I'm not going to retire, I'm coming back and I won't give up."

Ibrahimovic helped Milan clinch last season's Serie A title, scoring eight league goals with two assists from 23 appearances, including 11 starts.

Milan have collected 14 points from six games this campaign to sit third, with Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud both netting three times.

InjuredNew signing Divock Origi is yet to start for Milan, making four appearances off the bench in all competitions for no goals.

Stefano Pioli has no worries about continuing to select Olivier Giroud to lead the Milan attack in the continued absence of Divock Origi.

Giroud has played in all seven of Milan's matches so far this season, starting five of those, due to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ante Rebic and new signing Origi being injured.

Origi has managed just 80 minutes of action since arriving as a free agent in the transfer window and has yet to open his goalscoring account for the club.

Pioli had hoped to call on the ex-Liverpool striker before next week's international break, but he has been ruled out of Wednesday's Champions League tie with Dinamo Zagreb.

France international Giroud, who turns 36 later this month, is now expected to start at San Siro as he looks to add to his tally of three goals and an assist so far this term.

Milan head coach Pioli is not overly concerned by Origi's injury-plagued start to life at the club and is happy for Giroud to continue in the role.

"Olivier can play every game, and I have many other players who can also play in that position," Pioli said at Tuesday's press conference.

"I'm not worried about Origi's injury, but sorry. He is a player we strongly wanted and I'm now hoping to have him back after the [international] break."

 

Giroud has scored only one goal in his past 11 Champions League appearances, managing just eight shots in total across that period – only five of which were on target.

Milan could do with the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker stepping up on Wednesday as they aim to improve on last week's 1-1 draw away at Salzburg in their Group E opener.

However, Zagreb enter the contest in good form having won six games on the spin, including a 1-0 victory over Chelsea that leaves them top of the early standings.

"We have to put our full potential into every game," Pioli said. "Tomorrow's match is very important, but not yet decisive because there are many other matches remaining.

"We could be on top of the group with a win. We have a chance, but it will be difficult because Dinamo deservedly won the first game [against Chelsea].

"If we play at a high level, we have a good chance to win both in Italy and in Europe. We have to play at our best."

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