Deadline day has seen major transfers aplenty, with clubs across Europe pushing to complete final pieces of business before the window slams shut until 2023.

Barcelona have terminated Martin Braithwaite's contract, the forward widely expected to join Espanyol, while in France, Abdou Diallo completed a switch to RB Leipzig to begin an exodus from Paris Saint-Germain.

Further deals for both clubs are also on the cards, with a frantic end to the window expected in the final hours.

Premier League's power push

PSG's exodus was of benefit to English sides, Fulham signing Layvin Kurzawa on loan and Everton bringing Idrissa Gueye back to Merseyside three years after he left for the French capital. Gueye said: "There is no better feeling than coming back home. I've followed the team every week and watched how they play. For me, there is no better place than Everton so that's why I chose to come back here."

Fulham have also signed former Chelsea and Arsenal playmaker Willian on a free transfer.

Nottingham Forest hit number 19 for the window, drafting in Willy Boly from Wolves, while Southampton saw Jack Stephens move across the south coast to join Bournemouth on loan.

Arsenal's quest for a new midfielder has seen attention turn to Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz, though the Gunners face a stern test with bids reportedly rebuffed from the side they defeated 2-1 on Wednesday.

Chelsea look set to bring one of the long-running sagas of the window to a close, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poised to join from Barcelona. Marcos Alonso is expected to move to Camp Nou as part of that deal and the Blues may sell Billy Gilmour to Brighton and Hove Albion.

One player not on the move, however, was Joao Pedro as he confirmed he would remain at Watford amid reported interest from Newcastle United and Everton.

Europe's eye for business

On the continent, Julian Weigl moved to Borussia Monchengladbach on loan from Benfica. 

Free agent Florian Grillitsch has joined Ajax, who are said to have turned down approaches from Chelsea and Everton for Edson Alvarez and Mohammed Kudus respectively.

Krzysztof Piatek also departed Germany, leaving Hertha Berlin for Serie A side Salertina, and was followed to Italy by Aster Vranckx, joining Milan on loan from Wolfsburg.

The Serie A champions are not yet finished, with an announcement confirming the capture of Sergino Dest from Barcelona expected imminently.

In Spain, Luca Zidane, son of Zinedine Zidane, joined second-tier outfit Eibar on a free transfer following his exit from Rayo Vallecano and Ilaix Moriba joined Valencia on loan from Leipzig, with Gennaro Gattuso's side also closing in on signing Justin Kluivert from Roma following the collapse of a proposed move to the Premier League.

Real Sociedad were also in on the late action, landing forward Umar Sadiq from Tenerife, the Nigerian likely to be a replacement for Alexander Isak.

Chelsea are expected to be one of the major players on deadline day, having completed a deal for Wesley Fofana on Wednesday.

The Blues have been one of the big spenders during the transfer window and owner Todd Boehly is eager to bolster his squad after a slow start to the season.

Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with the Blues, along with Anthony Gordon, although Everton boss Frank Lampard insists he is not for sale.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA OFFERED CHANCE TO SIGN PSG'S NEYMAR

The Daily Mail claims Chelsea have been offered the chance to sign Neymar, but the Times reports that Paris Saint-Germain are now refusing to sell him in an apparent U-turn.

The 30-year-old Brazil international had been linked with a move away from Paris during the off-season, although nothing substantial materialised.

Chelsea were approached about Neymar, with PSG potentially open to letting him go as they seek to avoid any issues with UEFA's Financial Fair Play guidelines.

ROUND-UP

Chelsea have made a €50 million (£43m) bid for Ajax centre-back Edson Alvarez, according to the Telegraaf. The Blues have already added Fofana but want more reinforcements, with the Mexican able to also play in midfield.

Chelsea are also interested in Aubameyang, with Fabrizio Romano claiming negotiations are progressing with Marcos Alonso involved in a deal with Barcelona. The Blues have also been linked with Milan's Rafael Leao, according to The Times.

– Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona and Inter have agreed to a deal for full-back Jordi Alba to join the Nerazzurri on loan. The deal is on the basis that Robin Gosens leaves Inter for Bayer Leverkusen.

Milan are set to win the race to sign Barcelona's Sergino Dest, beating out interest from Manchester United, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Dest will join the Rossoneri on a season-long loan with the option of a permanent deal.

Newcastle United are in the race to sign Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, claims the Mail. Arsenal are also interested in the Belgium international.

Fulham have submitted a bid for Blackburn's Chile international Ben Brereton Diaz according to The Athletic. Rovers boss Jon Dahl Tomasson has said he would cost a lot of money, with Fulham's offer not disclosed.

– PSV have opted against selling 23-year-old Netherlands international Cody Gakpo amid interest from Leeds United and Southampton, reports The Athletic.

It has been a record-breaking transfer window across Europe, and one that has thrown up more than a surprise or two on the continent with numerous big-name players making fresh starts.

While the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mane, Erling Haaland and Gabriel Jesus have all made fast starts to life at their new clubs, for others their futures remain unclear heading into the final day of the window.

As any football supporter will know, some of the biggest deals can often be left to deadline day – and occasionally even after the cut-off point, as long as an agreement has been reached and ratified with the relevant authorities.

With less than 24 hours of the window to run across each of Europe's top five leagues, Stats Perform looks at the names that could yet be on the move on Thursday.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

It has been quite the transfer window for Manchester United forward Ronaldo. Having only returned to Old Trafford last year, the Portugal international is reported to have informed the club of his desire to leave in early July, coinciding with the arrival of new head coach Erik ten Hag.

Ten Hag has repeatedly stated Ronaldo remains part of his plans, but the 37-year-old's lack of playing time this season suggests otherwise – albeit not helped by a disrupted pre-season owing to family reasons.

Ronaldo proved last season he is still capable of doing a job at the highest level, though finding a club willing to pay his huge wages – on top of paying a fee to United – is a different matter. Rumoured interest from Bayern Munich, Chelsea and even Sporting CP came to little, though talk of a surprise switch to Napoli persists.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Barcelona)

Just six months on from arriving at Barcelona as a free agent following a tumultuous end to his time with Arsenal, Aubameyang may well be on his way back to English football with Chelsea.

The Gabon international has slipped down the pecking order at Camp Nou following the arrival of Lewandowski and Barca could do with freeing up some funds, with Aubameyang one of a few players still in place that were expected to depart.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel previously worked with Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund and recently said he feels like the striker is still one of his players. Having scored 68 goals in 128 Premier League games for Arsenal, Aubameyang already has proven pedigree in the division.

Anthony Gordon (Everton)

Given Chelsea's slow start to the 2022-23 season, it is perhaps no surprise that they are being linked with numerous names ahead of Thursday's deadline. Everton winger Gordon is high on the Blues' list of targets, with a couple of bids already reported to have been knocked back.

Everton boss and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard stressed once again on Tuesday that Gordon is not for sale, but one final push from the London club – and a word or two from Gordon, should that be what he wants – may well tempt the Toffees into a sale.

While the sums of money being discussed for a player with just 35 league starts to his name may be extortionate, Chelsea have clearly identified Gordon as a vital piece of their jigsaw and do not appear ready to give up on him without a fight.

 

Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

De Jong's name dominated the gossip columns for a large period of the transfer window, though things have gone a little quieter on that front after Manchester United instead moved for Casemiro.

That is not to say a move has been entirely ruled out, however, particularly when taking Barca's rather desperate financial situation into account. 

With Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain having also been linked with De Jong at various points, the Netherlands international may just have a big decision to make in the next 24 hours or so.

Pedro Neto (Wolves)

Jurgen Klopp has made no secret of his desire to bring another midfielder to Liverpool before the window closes due to Thiago Alcantara, Curtis Jones, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all nursing injuries.

The club do not want to bring in a player for the sake of it, however, limiting themselves to just a few targets. RB Leipzig's Konrad Laimer and Inter's Nicolo Barella had been among those linked, but moves for both are said to have been ruled out.

Brighton and Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo and Neto of Wolves, the latter of whom is also supposedly on Arsenal's radar, are two other candidates to come in on deadline day. Time, though, is not on Liverpool's side.

Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)

Perhaps Liverpool would be wiser to move for Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans, who could be available for as little as £25million if certain reports are to be believed.

Arsenal, too, could do with some further midfield competition and are known to have shown an interest in the talented Belgium international in the past.

Tielemans, capable of operating as a deep-lying midfielder or higher up the pitch, is due to become a free agent at the end of the campaign, meaning Leicester's hand is being forced somewhat.

Sergino Dest (Barcelona)

Them again! Despite their well-publicised financial issues, Barcelona have still managed to substantially strengthen their squad this window, and there could still be another arrival at Camp Nou.

An agreement is said to be in place to sign left-back Marcos Alonso from Chelsea, while Juan Foyth had been strongly linked prior to sustaining an injury for Villarreal. However, a move for either player is likely dependent on freeing up some cash first.

The departure of one of aforementioned duo Aubameyang or De Jong would help in that regard, as would exits for fringe players Martin Braithwaite, Miralem Pjanic and Ez Abde. At this stage, it appears Dest is the closest of Barca's first-teamers to leaving, with Milan his most likely destination.

RedBird Capital Partners on Wednesday completed a €1.2billion takeover of Serie A champions Milan.

It was confirmed in June that RedBird had agreed a deal to acquire Milan from Elliott.

The American private investment firm is now officially the owner of the Rossoneri, with Yankee Global Enterprises (YGE), the owner of the New York Yankees, entering into strategic partnership and acquiring a minority equity stake in the club.

Gerry Cardinale, RedBird founder and managing partner, said: "Our vision for Milan is clear: we will support our talented players, coaches and staff to deliver success on the pitch and allow our fans to share in the extraordinary experiences of this historic club. 

"We will look to leverage our global sports and media network, our analytics expertise, our track record in sports stadium developments and hospitality to deliver one goal – maintaining Milan’s place at the summit of European and world football."

RedBird’s portfolio of global sports and entertainment investments includes Fenway Sports Group (the owner of Liverpool, the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Penguins), Ligue 1 club Toulouse and Indian Premier League franchise the Rajasthan Royals.

On the partnership with YGE, Cardinale said: "We have a multi-decade relationship with the New York Yankees and the Steinbrenner family that has resulted in the creation of some of the most successful businesses in sports, entertainment and hospitality. 

"We are very pleased to continue our partnership with them and will look to explore opportunities together to broaden our fan reach and expand commercial opportunities that are only available to franchises that operate at the highest levels of sports globally."

Stefano Pioli criticised Milan after a poor performance resulted in a goalless draw with Sassuolo, but the head coach expects better in Saturday's derby against Inter.

The Rossoneri have two wins and two draws in the first four games of their Serie A title defence, though the display on Tuesday away at Sassuolo left much to be desired.

Pioli's side were far from their best, perhaps fortunate to share the spoils after Mike Maignan was required to save a Domenico Berardi penalty in the first half.

Having missed a chance to collect three points, Milan opened the door for Inter, Roma and Napoli to leapfrog them in the early stages of the 2022-23 Scudetto race.

Fierce rivals Inter are next up for Pioli and the Milan coach acknowledged there must be an improvement on this latest showing.

"It was not a Milan of quality, technique or decision-making," Pioli said. "We played football that was too frenetic, we weren't able to read the game and this made it complicated.

"It made it dirty, ruffled and with little rhythm. We struggled to find spaces. We started well, I liked the beginning very much, then we lost calmness and we were in too much of a hurry in the search for the opponent's goal.

"I have already seen the players, they have spoken more. We lacked quality and calmness, they are aware and it is important. I think that the next matches will be different."

Asked whether preparations were different due to the looming clash with Inter, Pioli added: "We recovered after [Saturday's 2-0 win over] Bologna and tried to prepare for the game well from a tactical point of view.

"Saying something to the team for the derby will be easy. It is a derby, the rivalry is high and we know how much the result can weigh and we will prepare for it in the best possible way."

Fast-paced play and a never-say-die attitude characterised Milan's route to Scudetto glory last season – a facet that was largely missing against Sassuolo.

Milan's championship-winning season has changed the way Pioli's side are judged, and the coach urged his players to rise to that challenge.

Pioli said: "Our expectations have increased and we have to hold them up, but that's right, it's a privilege."

Milan will go into the derby with Inter having suffered another early blip in the Scudetto race after being held to a 0-0 draw at Sassuolo.

The defending Serie A champions got back to winning ways at the weekend with a 2-0 victory over Bologna, having previously been held by Atalanta.

But they were not at their best on Tuesday in a game they would have lost had Mike Maignan not saved a first-half penalty from Domenico Berardi – the Italy international who later came off with a seemingly concerning injury.

It means Milan are still unbeaten with two wins and two draws from four games, but the stalemate offered Inter – along with the likes of Roma, Napoli and Lazio – the chance to leapfrog the Rossoneri in this round of midweek fixtures.

Milan unsurprisingly made the early running and went close in the 16th minute when Brahim Diaz dragged wide from the edge of the area.

Yet Sassuolo were gifted a chance to take the lead when Giorgos Kyriakopoulos was tripped just inside the box by Alexis Saelemaekers in the 21st minute.

However, Berardi's penalty lacked direction and Maignan was equal to it, his save providing a huge let-off for the champions.

Berardi's day got worse when he had to be helped off seven minutes into the second half and was clearly emotional in the dugout after coming off. 

Kristian Thorstvedt drew a comfortable save from Maignan as the hosts initially enjoyed the better of the second period.

Chances at either end were few and far between thereafter, though, Milan hitting the target just twice in an underwhelming display that was capped by Alessandro Florenzi limping down the tunnel in injury time.

Rafael Leao scored one and assisted another as Milan continued their unbeaten Serie A start with a dominant 2-0 victory over Bologna.

Stefano Pioli's side had to recover from a goal down in each of their opening two league games, winning one and drawing the other, but did not need another rescue act on Saturday.

Leao was a constant threat down the left flank and grabbed a deserved goal in the first half, before setting up a smart Olivier Giroud finish in the second half to cap an impressive performance.

Victory at least temporarily moved Milan to the top of the embryonic Serie A table, while the Rossoneri are now unbeaten in 19 top-flight games – the longest ongoing undefeated streak in Europe's top five leagues.

 

Pioli's men started slowly but kicked into gear after 21 minutes as Charles de Ketelaere dispossessed Jerdy Schouten and powered forward to tee up Leao, who rolled his finish into the bottom-left corner.

De Ketelaere continued to be Milan's chief creative force, chipping a delicate pass through for Pierre Kalulu, only for the defender to waste a glorious one-on-one chance up against Lukasz Skorupski.

Junior Messias was the next to be thwarted by Skorupski, before Leao blazed over the rebound, and Giroud dragged just wide of the target prior to the break.

The Rossoneri deservedly doubled their lead after 58 minutes when Leao lofted in a cross from the left for Giroud to acrobatically volley into the bottom-right corner.

Nicola Sansone almost hit back for Bologna, but his driven effort cannoned against Mike Maignan's right-hand post as Milan preserved their first clean sheet of the campaign.

What does it mean? Milan continue Bologna dominance

Milan had only lost one of their previous 25 Serie A meetings with Bologna, with that defeat coming in January 2016 when Rossoblu coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was with the Rossoneri.

Given their recent dominance in this fixture and last season's Scudetto-winning exploits, it came as little surprise to see Milan control most of proceedings – not allowing a single Bologna shot on target.

With Inter to come next weekend, Milan have thrown down an early marker as they look to defend their title this season.

Home comforts for Leao

Leao was a pivotal factor for Pioli last season as Milan edged out fierce rivals Inter to lift the Scudetto, and the Portugal international proved his worth once more here.

The 23-year-old has scored eight times in the league at home since the start of 2022, with no Serie A player finding the net on more occasions at their own stadium in that time.

Awful Arnautovic

Marko Arnautovic was in the headlines earlier in the month after being linked to Manchester United, only for backlash from Red Devils fans to seemingly end any talk of a move.

The forward subsequently became the first player to score in both of Bologna's first two games in a Serie A season since Roberto Baggio in 1997-98, but he failed to deliver up against Milan's well-regimented defence.

What's next?

Milan will look to maintain their unbeaten run when they travel to Sassuolo on Tuesday ahead of the derby against Inter. Bologna host Salernitana on Thursday.

All signs point to Chelsea securing the services of Everton winger Anthony Gordon, although the selling club may not be content with just a hefty transfer fee, with reports they are also demanding a player on loan in return.

The report from talkSPORT mentions Chelsea have offered £50million plus around £10m in add-ons, and that Gordon has informed Everton of his interest in heading to Stamford Bridge, but they will not let him leave without first investigating what else they could come away with in the deal.

It names 20-year-old striker Armando Broja and 22-year-old midfielder Conor Gallagher as the two players Frank Lampard would like to bring in for the season on a loan deal – two players Thomas Tuchel has publicly declared the club has no interest in parting ways with.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA ASKED TO SEND OVER A PLAYER AS WELL AS CASH FOR GORDON

Gordon is young, under contract through 2025, and is on track to potentially break through on the international stage and represent England at this year's World Cup, so it is fair to say Everton will not let him walk without a deal they believe will benefit them long-term.

An extra £50m in the transfer market will allow plenty of flexibility either in this window or in January, but the prospect of also receiving a high-quality loanee to fill Gordon's shoes in the meantime is what really interests the club.

Broja impressed on loan at Southampton last season and would give Everton another option to support Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is out injured. Gallagher enjoyed a fine campaign at Crystal Palace, meanwhile, and might want regular minutes ahead of the World Cup.

The Mirror adds Everton would like to have a suitable replacement lined up for transfer before finalising a Gordon move, and have named Watford's Joao Pedro and Southampton's Che Adams as players the Toffees have enquired about.

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are prepared to offer Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp a salary in the range of £9m to join the club, according to Sport1.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting that West Ham have submitted an €11m offer to Club Brugge for midfielder Hans Vanaken.

– According to 90min, Roma and Milan are both hoping to secure Chelsea's Trevor Chalobah on loan, with the Blues continuing their pursuit of Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana.

Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund are discussing a potential defender swap that would send Sergino Dest to Germany while Thomas Meunier would head to Spain, per Sport.

– Sport also claims Barcelona are interested in Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin.

Chelsea lost 3-0 to Leeds United on Sunday and it would appear that defeat has sparked the Blues into action.

New owner Todd Boehly has been keen to make his mark since arriving at Stamford Bridge, bringing in Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella among others.

But head coach Thomas Tuchel wants more. Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana is a priority target for the defence, while last week Chelsea had two bids rejected by Everton for Anthony Gordon.

Now it would appear the Blues are confident of completing the signing, while they are also reportedly in talks to land a second attacker.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA IN FOR GORDON AND LEAO

The Times reports that Chelsea will this week push ahead and match Everton's £50million asking price for winger Gordon, who scored four goals in a breakthrough Premier League season last term.

Everton boss Frank Lampard stressed the importance of Gordon to his plans, and played the 21-year-old against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but also suggested that a decision might have to be made if a bid was too good to turn down.

Gordon might also be joined in moving to Stamford Bridge by Milan star Rafael Leao. The Portugal international scored 11 times for the Rossoneri as they won Serie A last season, and the same report claims that Chelsea are in talks with the Italian champions over a move for the 23-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- Several outlets are reporting that West Ham have struck a deal with Chelsea to sign left-back Emerson Palmieri for around £13million.

- Eric Bailly is close to joining Marseille on loan from Manchester United, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- The Telegraph claims Newcastle United have been told they must pay £30million to buy striker Joao Pedro from Watford.

- Villarreal coach Unai Emery told El Larguero that Edinson Cavani could join the club, while he also said that Juan Foyth is of interest to Barcelona.

- Everton were hoping to have Idrissa Gueye and Mohammed Kudus signed but have bumped into difficulties with Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively, says The Times.

- Fabrizio Romano also reports that Fulham and Roma will hold further talks this week over Justin Kluivert.

- Barca defender Samuel Umtiti will join Lecce, says Gianluca Di Marzio.

Stefano Pioli hailed Milan's resilience and maturity after the Serie A champions came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw at Atalanta on Sunday.

Milan looked set to suffer a first league defeat since a 2-1 loss to Spezia on January 17 when Ruslan Malinovskyi's long-range effort deflected past Mike Maignan.

However, Ismael Bennacer arced a terrific left-footed effort in off the post to spare the Rossoneri's blushes in the second half.

Although the result halted Milan's seven-match winning run in Serie A and denied the champions a perfect start to the new campaign, it offered further evidence of the Rossoneri's remarkable powers of recovery.

Milan have claimed more points from losing positions than any other Serie A side in 2022 (14), and the overall picture left Pioli satisfied.

"I go away convinced that we are strong, we have shown it," Pioli said. "Of course, there is the regret of not having won the game, it is a pity not to have won it, but I have seen a solid and mature team.

"The boys gave very little to a very strong opponent, we suffered less pressure. Later there will be many aspects to highlight in order to improve."

 

Milan also recovered from a goal down to beat Udinese 4-2 in a thrilling contest last week, meaning they have fallen behind in consecutive Serie A matches for the first time since November 2021 (a 1-1 draw with Inter and a 4-3 defeat to Fiorentina).

Although Pioli was relieved at clinching a point against a lively Atalanta, the Rossoneri boss did highlight the need for attacking improvements, adding: "The last step was missing.

"[Junior] Messias' two chances, but also [Pierre] Kalulu's, are chances that you have to try to take advantage of. We'll go to work on these details, we faced a strong team that bothers everyone."

Recent arrival Charles De Ketelaere impressed after entering the fray as a second-half substitute in Bergamo, and Pioli is looking forward to seeing more of the former Club Brugge attacker in the coming weeks.

"He is growing, he is working on an equal level with his team-mates, the setting requires mutual knowledge, but he is a quality player," Pioli added.

"He will give us the right satisfactions, he will make us have fun. Now I can't tell you if he will play against Bologna [on Saturday], but we will start a period of matches every three days. Everyone will be starting."

Milan came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw against Atalanta as Ismael Bennacer cancelled out Ruslan Malinovskyi's opener with a fine equaliser for the Serie A champions. 

Malinovskyi's deflected first-half effort put Gian Piero Gasperini's hosts in the ascendency as Junior Messias, Pierre Kalulu and Theo Hernandez spurned good opportunities for the visitors.

With Stefano Pioli's side pinning Atalanta back after the break, Bennacer bent a fine effort home to earn Milan a valuable point in their bid to defend the Scudetto.

While Milan were unable to force a winner and make it two wins from two Serie A outings, they remain unbeaten in league action since January after claiming a point from a difficult away trip.

Rafael Leao and Malinovskyi both dragged efforts into the side-netting during an open start, before Messias volleyed wide after receiving a glorious cross-field pass from Hernandez 23 minutes in.

The hosts hit the front in the 29th minute when Malinovskyi met Joakim Maehle's cut-back with a left-footed strike from the edge of the area, beating Mike Maignan with the help of a slight deflection off Kalulu.

Kalulu headed Hernandez's free-kick over as Milan looked to respond after the break, before Leao cut inside to bend a long-range effort narrowly wide of the top-right corner.

Maignan turned Mario Pasalic's powerful header over the crossbar 10 minutes into the second half, before Juan Musso raced off his goal-line to smother Hernandez's goal-bound effort as the Rossoneri upped the ante.

Atalanta's resistance was finally broken with 22 minutes remaining, Bennacer whipping a terrific effort in off the far post after cutting in from the right to ensure the spoils were shared.

Stefano Pioli has rejected suggestions Milan are favourites to retain the Serie A title this season, claiming the Rossoneri will struggle to match last campaign's tally of 86 points in a "very competitive" league.

Milan ended an 11-year wait for the Scudetto when they edged out rivals Inter at the end of a fierce title race in May, and began the new campaign with a thrilling 4-2 victory over Udinese last week.

But several sides, including Inter, Juventus, Napoli and Roma – all of whom also started the season with a victory – have been tipped to challenge Milan for their crown, and Pioli expects a difficult fight.

"We have to be an interchangeable team," Pioli said ahead of Sunday's trip to Atalanta.

"It will be such a balanced championship that it will be difficult to score last year's points. Difficulties will come for everyone, even with teams that you don't expect.

"There are seven or eight strong teams, a very balanced and competitive league. One game at a time we must continue on our path and work to become more and more competitive.

"We are strong, here we all have to feel important, but nobody is indispensable. What is indispensable is the mentality and the work. 

"The winner will be whoever is the most consistent in results and performances. You have to play with intensity and quality. 

"Head-to-head matches are important and last year we won precisely because we scored so many points with the big teams."

Milan started both of their previous full Serie A seasons under Pioli with consecutive victories, beating Bologna and Crotone to begin the 2020-21 campaign before overcoming Sampdoria and Cagliari last term, and will be looking to maintain that record in Bergamo on Sunday.

Meanwhile, since clinching the title, Milan have acquired Belgian attackers Charles de Ketelaere and Divock Origi, and Pioli has refused to rule out further activity before the closure of the transfer window.

However, the 56-year-old insists the Rossoneri will only move for the right target, as he revealed Simon Kjaer is closing in on a return after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury last year.

"As for the market, we have the will - if the situation were right - to improve certain situations," he added.

"But the squad is strong, Kjaer is approaching 100 per cent. I repeat, if we find something to improve well [we may be active], otherwise we are already competitive like this."

Juventus and Milan target Domenico Berardi has signed a new contract with Sassuolo that will keep him at the club until 2027.

Berardi impressed again for Sassuolo in the 2021-22 season, scoring 15 times in Serie A – the third consecutive campaign the forward has posted double figures in the league.

He also recorded the most assists in the Italian top flight (14) and was the only Serie A forward to manage double figures for both goals and assists.

The 28-year-old has been at Sassuolo his entire career, but there had been suggestions recently that he could be tempted by a new challenge.

He was linked to Juventus, who co-owned him between 2013 and 2015, while Liverpool and Milan were also among those reportedly interested in the Italy international.

However, it was announced on Wednesday that he had pledged his future to the club for a further five years.

Berardi was in the headlines for the wrong reasons last week after he was involved in a heated spat with a Modena fan.

Sassuolo were eliminated from the Coppa Italia by their Serie B hosts at Stadio Alberto Braglia, with their loss followed by Berardi apparently chasing an opposing supporter outside the ground.

The footage went viral, but Berardi took to social media to offer an explanation, suggesting his family had been targeted off the pitch to spark his ire.

 

Chelsea are reportedly weighing up a second bid for 21-year-old Everton winger Anthony Gordon after their initial £40million offer was turned down.

Gordon, a product of Everton's youth academy, broke into the first team this past season, tallying four goals and two assists in 35 Premier League appearances.

Manager Frank Lampard has publicly said the club values him highly and that he is not for sale, but with a bidding war beginning to emerge, it remains to be seen if there is a price that could change that mindset.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA CHASE ENGLAND UNDER-21 WINGER

According to ChronicleLive, it was Newcastle United who first approached Everton with a £35m offer, which Chelsea caught wind of and immediately began the process of coming in over the top with a larger bid.

Gordon is only a couple of seasons into a five-year extension that ties him to the club until 2025, although further reporting from CBS claims Everton have told interested parties that a figure of £50m would trigger a serious conversation.

CBS's Ben Jacobs adds that Chelsea are very interested in including players in their offer, although Everton have no desire to bring back Ross Barkley, and the Stamford Bridge club do not want to include Armando Broja, although Michy Batshuayi was mentioned as a possibility.

Newcastle are expected to re-enter the chase for Gordon if Chelsea can agree on a fee.

 

ROUND-UP

– Deportivo Mundo are reporting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wants to stay at Barcelona and fight for a starting spot after a £12m bid from Chelsea was turned down, although Metro claims the Spanish giants would accept a bid in the range of £23m.

– According to the Mirror, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham are all interested in 20-year-old Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo.

– Sky Sports Italy reports Nottingham Forest are close to landing Arsenal target Houssem Aouar from Lyon, and talkSPORT add the newly promoted Premier League side have also bid £17m for Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Djibril Sow.

Leicester City are prepared to let Youri Tielemans leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, according to the Times.

West Ham have made a €10m offer for 22-year-old Spezia centre-back and Polish international Jakub Kiwior, per Calciomercato, with Milan also said to have interest.

Milan recovered from conceding just two minutes into their Serie A title defence to beat Udinese 4-2 at San Siro on Saturday.

The opening game of the season in the Italian top flight for the Rossoneri saw a penalty from Theo Hernandez, two goals from Ante Rebic and another from Brahim Diaz guide them to three points, despite conceding twice to the visitors through Rodrigo Becao and Adam Masina.

New signings Charles de Ketelaere and Divock Origi were named on the bench for Stefano Pioli's side, with the former introduced for the final 20 minutes and the latter for the final seven in front of their new fans. 

It was a losing start for new Udinese head coach Andrea Sottil, though he will have been buoyed by his team's ability to keep Milan honest in a game that was more open in the first half than Pioli would have liked.

It was far from an ideal start for the hosts as Udinese took the lead in just the second minute when Becao headed a Gerard Deulofeu corner in at the near post.

That advantage did not last long though as a VAR check led to a Milan penalty being awarded on 10 minutes after Brandon Soppy was judged to have fouled Davide Calabria, with Hernandez calmly dispatching the spot kick.

The champions were in front just four minutes later when neat play from Diaz gave Calabria the chance to cross to Rebic, who swept the ball past Marco Silvestri.

Deulofeu made a mess of a chance when in on goal, but Udinese were level just before half-time when two more former Watford players combined, with Roberto Pereyra crossing for Masina to head in at the far post.

If Milan made a slow start in the first half, Udinese managed to trump it in the second as Nehuen Pereza and Masina made a mess of a Hernandez cross from the left, allowing Diaz to prod the hosts back in front just 34 seconds after the restart.

Diaz had been a thorn in Udinese's side all game, and won the ball inside the opposition's box on 68 minutes before squaring to Rebic to lift his finish into the roof of the net to seal the win.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.