Felix Afena-Gyan thanked Jose Mourinho after the teenage sensation opened his Roma account with a stunning brace off the bench to sink Genoa 2-0 in Serie A on Sunday.

Afena-Gyan enjoyed a fairytale outing, the 18-year-old substitute scoring twice to ruin Andrey Shevchenko's debut as Genoa head coach.

With the score deadlocked at 0-0, Afena-Gyan was introduced by Mourinho in the 75th minute and turned the match on its head, breaking the deadlock seven minutes later.

After sprinting to celebrate with Mourinho, the Ghanaian forward then sealed the victory with a sublime strike in the fourth minute of stoppage time at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

"I thank God for this opportunity he gave me, the team, the coach, the fans, players for their amazing support," Afena-Gyan told DAZN.

"I also want to say thank you Mom, she is in Ghana, I love you."

 

It was a memorable night for Afena-Gyan, who became the first player born after January 2003 to score at least one goal in Serie A.

Afena-Gyan ticked off a number of feats – the youngest player to score more than one goal in a match in this season's top-five European League (18 years, 10 months and two days), youngest foreign player in Serie A's three-point era (since 1994-95) to score for Roma, youngest foreign player to net more than once for the Giallorossi in Serie A since 1994-95, while he is the first Ghanian to score for the capital club.

Afena-Gyan added: "Mourinho is a great person, a great manager and a great coach. He gives you the motivation to learn every day. I am very happy he is here.

"Tonight is a dream come true. It was my first goal, I was hoping for a very long time. I want to continue my performance, prove myself and do more in future."

Afena-Gyan was making only his third appearance for Roma, having been introduced to the senior side by veteran boss Mourinho in Rome.

 

"I had promised to buy Felix the boots he really likes, which are really expensive, they cost €800, so he ran over and told me not to forget! Tomorrow morning, the first thing I do is buy him the boots," Mourinho told DAZN.

"I am sorry for Mister [Daniele] De Rossi and the Primavera squad, but Felix will stay with us. The Primavera work close to us, so Felix and another four or five players have come across to the senior squad.

"What impressed me the most was his cool head in front of goal. If he is not in terms of technique fantastic, he does have a strong mentality.

"You get these kids now who think they know everything, but he is humble and you can sense he just absorbs all this information from everyone around him. That's fantastic."

Jose Mourinho believes Andriy Shevchenko has already shown that he can be a success as a head coach in Serie A ahead of his first game in charge of Genoa on Sunday.

The Ukraine legend replaced Davide Ballardini as head coach of the Grifoni two weeks ago after a 2-2 draw at Empoli made it nine games without a win.

Shevchenko's first game in club management sees him hosting Roma and Mourinho, who was at the helm at Chelsea when 'Sheva' arrived at Stamford Bridge as a player in 2006.

The 45-year-old recently left his role in charge of the Ukrainian national team after a quarter-final defeat to England at Euro 2020.

Shevchenko enjoyed a very successful time as a player in Italy, scoring 127 goals in 226 Serie A games for Milan, and Mourinho expressed his hope that he can have success as a manager as well.

"He was an incredible player," Mourinho said at a media conference on Saturday. "This is his first job in club management, but he did really well with Ukraine.

"I think he showed he has ideas, he has leadership... but I hope he loses the first of his club management career, like I did!"

Mourinho will also be looking to improve the fortunes of his own team, with Roma having won just one of their last seven games, and he will be missing several players through injury and COVID-19.

The Giallorossi announced on Saturday that Bryan Cristante and Gonzalo Villar have tested positive for COVID-19, and join injured quartet Matias Vina, Chris Smalling, Riccardo Calafiori and Leonardo Spinazzola on the sidelines.

"We didn't do any training this morning. It will be fun for you to think about how we will play tomorrow," Mourinho said. "The work we've done in the week has to go in the bin a bit.

"It's clear we need to find new solutions and perhaps some players will have to 'sacrifice' themselves in different roles."

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United manager knows the risks that come with playing a team under a new head coach, and believes that factor will make the clash all the more interesting.

"At the very least, it's going to be an entertaining, intriguing game," he added. "The Genoa fans will be up for the game, the players will want to impress the new coach. It's a beautiful stadium and I'm sure it will be a great atmosphere."

New Genoa boss Andriy Shevchenko believes the club "can do great things" and is "really convinced" by the project.

Genoa's new owners, 777 Partners, acquired Italy's oldest club in September and felt the need to replace Davide Ballardini with the team sitting 17th in Serie A after just one win from their first 12 games.

Shevchenko, whose entire five-year coaching career has been as Ukraine manager, was signed to replace him on Sunday and his primary task will be saving Genoa from relegation.

"This is a very important moment in my career as a coach," Shevchenko said. 

"Genoa are an important club, this is a project I care about and the number one objective for us right now is to be in Serie A again next season.

"This is the oldest club in Italy and that means something. I hope to remain here for a long time. I was really convinced by this project. I believe Genoa can do great things in future."

The former Milan striker called on the historic club's fans to play their part in driving the team on, and revealed that new signings would be necessary for the team to achieve their aims.

"I remember it was like playing against 12 men at the Marassi, because the fans were so passionate," Shevchenko continued. "I hope they can provide that atmosphere again, because we need their support.

"The team needs to be reinforced in January. Historically, it has always been a very aggressive side and we need the right mentality. Speaking to the players, I felt they too wanted to improve the situation."

This job is Shevchenko's first foray into club management and the 45-year-old name-checked three of his former coaches when asked to cite his influences.

"The Italian school is very important, so working with coaches like Carlo Ancelotti, Alberto Zaccheroni and Cesare Maldini was a great experience," Shevchenko added.

"Coming to coach in Italy means being able to challenge the best tacticians and it’s an exciting challenge for me.

"I think this side has certain characteristics, probably suited to either the 3-5-2 or the 4-3-3 formation."

Genoa's next game is against Roma and Shevchenko's former manager at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, who the Ukrainian revealed his reverence for.

"I have great respect for Mourinho," Shevchenko said. "His arrival has brought a great deal to Italian football."

Genoa appointed former Ukraine boss Andriy Shevchenko as their head coach, the Serie A strugglers announced on Sunday.

Shevchenko was available after stepping down following a five-year spell in charge of his native Ukraine, who reached the quarter-finals for the first time at Euro 2020.

Milan great Shevchenko – contracted until June 2024 – takes over a Genoa side only above the relegation zone on goal difference ahead of Sampdoria after 12 rounds after Davide Ballardini was sacked following a 2-2 draw with Empoli on Friday.

Shevchenko's first task will be a showdown with under-fire Jose Mourinho and his out-of-form Roma following the international break on November 21.

A 111-cap Ukraine international, Shevchenko won the Scudetto and Champions League during his initial seven-year stint at San Siro, where the 45-year-old scored 173 goals after arriving from Dynamo Kiev in 1999.

Shevchenko joined Premier League giants Chelsea in 2006 and was part of the team that won the FA Cup and EFL Cup in his debut campaign before returning to Milan on loan in 2008.

Appointed by Ukraine in 2016, Shevchenko finished with a 48.1 winning percentage having won 25 of his 52 international fixtures.

 

Antonio Rudiger is out of contract with Chelsea after the season. 

The 28-year-old will have several suitors. 

Real Madrid are prepared to make major changes to acquire him.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID PLOT RUDIGER MOVE

Real Madrid are set to make a push for Antonio Rudiger next off-season, reports AS. 

The centre-back wants €12million (£10m) in annual salary but is not likely to get it from Chelsea. 

Carlo Ancelotti would like to bring Rudiger aboard but may need to clear several other salaries to do so.

Among those potentially on the way out according to AS are Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Isco and Marcelo. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Juventus will try to lure Axel Witsel from Borussia Dortmund in the next transfer window, says Bild. Witsel will be out of contract after the season. 

- Roma could shore up their defence by adding Nacho from Real Madrid in January, says Calciomercato. 

- Tottenham and other suitors are eyeing 20-year-old Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile, reports Calciomercato.

- Genoa are set to sack head coach Davide Ballardini and appoint Andriy Shevchenko as his replacement, reports Gianluca Di Marzio.

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi believes Hakan Calhanoglu "doesn't realise how good he is" after a stunning debut performance against Genoa on Saturday.

After joining from city rivals Milan in the close season, Calhanoglu marked his first appearance for the Nerazzurri with a superb goal and an assist for Milan Skriniar in his side's 4-0 win.  

Those two goal involvements came inside the first 14 minutes – it took him nine games to achieve that at the start of his Milan career.

Arturo Vidal added a third in the second half before former Roma man Edin Dzeko marked his Inter bow with a header in the 87th minute.

Champions Inter have now scored three or more goals in four successive Serie A home matches for the first time since 2011, when did they did it in six games.

Inzaghi was not surprised by his side's dominant display, and the former Lazio boss was particularly pleased with Calhanoglu's contribution.

"I was pretty confident the team would do well, as I've seen them working with enthusiasm and hunger since July 8, eager to learn new concepts," he told DAZN.

"We couldn't have asked for a better start, especially in front of our fans back in the stadium.

"Calhanoglu is a great player, able to unite quality and quantity. He ran so hard for the team as well. Every time I played against him, he caused me problems.

"We were fortunate enough to pick him up and I think he can get stronger, because he doesn't realise how good he is."

 

Inter lost last season's top scorer Romelu Lukaku to Premier League side Chelsea this month and Inzaghi confirmed that the club intend to dip into the transfer market to replace him, despite the arrival of Dzeko.

"Naturally we need to complete the squad, as Romelu Lukaku's departure was unexpected," he added.

"Dzeko has already shown what kind of player he is. Hopefully we'll bring in someone else who can score big goals."

Saturday's win at San Siro means Inter have won each of their last seven Serie A meetings with Genoa by an aggregate score of 25-0, while they are the first side to have scored four or more goals in their first game of the season in three successive campaigns since they did so between 1959 and 1961.

Hakan Calhanoglu hit a stunning goal on his Inter debut and Edin Dzeko followed suit as new coach Simone Inzaghi was treated by his team to a 4-0 win over Genoa.

After defecting from Milan to join the Rossoneri's city rivals in the close season, Calhanoglu also managed an assist at San Siro, setting up the opener for Milan Skriniar.

This was about as ideal an opening-day outcome as former Lazio boss Inzaghi could have imagined, with his team two goals to the good inside quarter of an hour, making light of the changes that have followed their Scudetto success last season. Arturo Vidal got the third in the second half before Dzeko marked his Inter bow with a classic header in the 87th minute.

Inzaghi's predecessor Antonio Conte quit in May, Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi have departed in big-money deals, and as recently as Friday evening the influential technical chief Gabriele Oriali was "relieved" of his duties, but this did not look like a team in crisis.

Veteran striker Dzeko has arrived from Roma, and both he and Calhanoglu starred here, clicking immediately.

Stefano Sensi slotted in just behind targetman Dzeko in a 3-5-1-1 formation, but it was a defender who made the sixth-minute breakthrough. Calhanoglu notched nine assists for Milan in Serie A last season, and his first for the Nerazzurri arrived when his whipped corner from the right was headed powerfully into the left corner of the Genoa goal by Skriniar.

Genoa's marking left a lot to be desired, but there was little they could do to prevent Inter stretching their lead in the 14th minute with a delicious goal from Calhanoglu, who collected a short pass from Dzeko and thrashed a 25-yard shot into the bottom right corner.

Dzeko hit the crossbar with a deflected shot on the turn from Matteo Darmian's cross, and Ivan Perisic was denied a goal by a VAR offside verdict after sprinting through and beating Salvatore Sirigu, who had earlier saved well from Marcelo Brozovic.

Perisic was again marginally offside before he teed up Calhanoglu to rifle into the top left corner after the interval, and that meant another Inter goal did not stand.

They found a third goal in the 74th minute though, substitute Vidal drilling in from close range after Dzeko's shot was parried out. Nicolo Barella teased the ball into Vidal and he converted, with Dzeko later meeting Vidal's delicious delivery and making no mistake. Just like Inter all afternoon.


What does it mean?

This was about as smooth a start as the new regime could have hoped for, the early goals putting paid to any tension after the close-season upheaval. Beating a distinctly limited Genoa side can only tell us so much, with the real tests still to come, but Inter looked slick and the new recruits acquitted themselves admirably.

Dream start for Calhanoglu

The only disappointment for Inter's new playmaker came when his celebrations were short-lived the second time he found the net, due to Perisic straying offside. He came off after 76 outstanding minutes, receiving a big hug from Inzaghi. By half-time, Calhanoglu had chalked up a goal and an assist, among three chances created, an instant Inter hero. He created two further chances before being awarded a rest, and a deserved ovation.

Kallon catches the eye

Sierra Leonean striker Yayah Kallon looks a real prospect for Genoa, and on just his second Serie A appearance he gave Inter's defence cause for concern. Kallon should have buried a chance just before half-time but swept his left-footed shot wide of the right post. He drew a solid save from Samir Handanovic at the start of the second half before being substituted soon after. His talent is raw and he played just six passes in 54 minutes, while having only 20 touches, but the 20-year-old is one to watch.

What's next?

Inter will be back in Serie A action on Friday, when they travel to face Hellas Verona. Genoa have to wait an additional two days for their next game, a home encounter with Napoli.

Is Kylian Mbappe's future nearing a resolution?

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season and the Paris Saint-Germain forward is no closer to extending his contract in the
French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly poised to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID NEARING MBAPPE DEAL?

Real Madrid are closing in on Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Monday's Marca.

Mbappe is in the final year of his PSG contract and he has reportedly made it clear he has no intention of re-signing in Paris.

Long touted to join Madrid, the LaLiga giants' pursuit of Mbappe is set to enter a decisive phase this week.

The Transfer Window podcast, however, claims Liverpool will attempt to sign Mbappe on a free transfer at the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona are monitoring Arsenal pair Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as they look to rebuild following Lionel Messi's departure to PSG.

- Inter are eyeing Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne but want a discount on the Italy star, claims Sky Sport Italia. Napoli value Insigne at around €25-30million with one year remaining on his contract. Lazio's Joaquin Correa, Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata and Fiorentina sensation Dusan Vlahovic have also been linked to Inter.

- Sport Italia says Tottenham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, who has been linked with West Ham. Spurs are also keen on Fiorentina star Vlahovic, according to Sport Italia.

- According to Cadena SER, Antoine Griezmann is open to returning to Atletico Madrid this off-season. Griezmann swapped Atletico for Barca in 2019.

Luka Jovic has decided he wants to join Inter on loan, per Nerazzurri Siamo Noi. The Madrid outcast has also been linked with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sampdoria and Genoa.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are tracking Metz's 18-year-old midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, claims the Daily Mail.

Roma have completed the signing of Eldor Shomurodov from Serie A rivals Genoa.

The Uzbekistan forward has made the move to the Stadio Olimpico on a five-year deal, with Roma paying Genoa an initial fee of €17.5 million.

As part of the transfer, Genoa have retained the right to a percentage of any profit made from a future sale of Shomurodov.

"Joining Roma represents a huge step forward in my career – I will do everything I can to show I deserve this opportunity and to demonstrate what I can do at one of the biggest clubs in the world," Shomurodov told Roma's official website.

"The speed in which this deal was agreed is testament to my desire to be able to join up with the coach and my new team-mates and get to work as soon as possible.”

 

Shomurodov scored eight goals in 31 league appearances for Genoa last season, outperforming his expected goals (xG) of 5.8 from 39 shots.

He also created 20 chances but only one of those led to an assist.

Roma will begin their first Serie A campaign under Jose Mourinho with a home game against Fiorentina on August 22.

Aaron Ramsey has not set the world on fire since joining Juventus from Arsenal two years ago.

It has been reported in Italy that the Serie A club are ready to listen to offers.

Ramsey reportedly earns £250,000 per week and Juve are said to be keen to ease that burden.

 

TOP STORY - SPURS SHOCK MOVE FOR RAMSEY

Tottenham are lining up a shock move for former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, claims The Sun.

Juventus may be looking to offload the Wales international, who has made 46 league appearances in two seasons in Turin.

Tottenham's managing director of football Fabio Paratici is keen to bring Ramsey back to London to team up with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham have ramped up their bid to sign Atalanta centre-back Cristian Romero who will cost around £40million (€46m), according to The Telegraph.

- Marca claims Inter, Sampdoria and Genoa are monitoring Real Madrid's 23-year-old striker Luka Jovic.

- Monaco's Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic has agreed to join Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin on a deal until 2024, reports Sky Sport.

- The Telegraph reports that Newcastle United  are keen on signing Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe, with a loan or permanent move discussed.

- Sky Sports claims West Ham are still interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who spent last season on loan at Fulham.

- Italian clubs Lazio and Napoli,  along with Spanish outfit Villarreal,  fancy Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri, reports Sky Sports.

Milan kept some pressure on Serie A leaders Inter as they cut the gap at the top of the table to eight points with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Genoa.

Ante Rebic's superb 13th-minute opener appeared to put Milan on course for a routine win, but they made heavy weather of things thereafter.

Former Milan loanee Mattia Destro levelled before half-time and the Rossoneri required an own goal from Gianluca Scamacca to claim maximum points.

Inter can stretch their lead at the top back to 11 points by beating Napoli later on Sunday, but Milan's slim hopes are still alive, while this result is another step towards making sure of Champions League qualification.

Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin had not been tested in the opening 12 minutes but he was left with no chance when Rebic unleashed a stunning volley on the turn to find the bottom-right corner in style after the visitors failed to clear having initially blocked Theo Hernandez's effort from a free-kick.

But Milan were unable to build on their lead and saw it eradicated by an excellent header from Destro eight minutes before half-time as he lost his marker to meet Miha Zajc's corner.

Rebic spurned a golden chance to restore Milan's advantage but could only blaze over from point-blank range after excellent work from Pierre Kalulu.

Marko Pjaca threatened to complete the turnaround for Genoa as he came off the bench and shot narrowly wide and Simon Kjaer should have done better with a header at the other end.

However, Milan were given a helping hand by Scamacca, who inadvertently diverted Hakan Calhanoglu's corner into his own net in the 68th minute.

They required late defensive heroics from Kjaer and Fiyako Tomori to stay in front as they each produced goal-line clearances to deny Andrea Masiello and Valon Behrami and keep Milan hanging on Inter's coattails.

 

Andrea Pirlo had no issues with Cristiano Ronaldo throwing his shirt on the ground after failing to score in Juventus' Serie A victory over Genoa.

Dejan Kulusevski, Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie were on target as Juve took another step towards sealing a Champions League spot with a 3-1 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Ronaldo has found the back of the net 32 times for the Bianconeri this season, but cut a frustrated figure after he was unable to add to his tally in Turin.

The Portugal captain struck the post in the first half before Morata followed up to double Juve's lead and hit the target only twice in six attempts.

Ronaldo whipped off his shirt and hurled it on the turf following the final whistle and head coach Pirlo had no problem with that reaction.

Pirlo said: "He was keen on scoring. He is one of the champions because they always want to leave their mark, but these are normal things that happen."

Juve came under pressure after dominating the first half and were in danger of losing their lead following Gianluca Scamacca's goal early in the second half.

Pirlo was concerned by the manner in which they let Genoa come back into the game.

He added: "It all seemed easy, at the end of the first half we suffered an opportunity due to lack of concentration.

"It had happened to us in other games, it could cost us dearly. We entered the field wanting to play the game but we sat back."

Paulo Dybala had to once again settle for being introduced as a substitute after coming off the bench to score in a huge win over Napoli amid speculation over his future.

Pirlo defended his decision not to start the playmaker, who spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The former Italy midfielder said: "I'm lucky enough to coach the champions and Dybala is one of them so I try to be able to make the most of him in every game.

"We didn't have him available very much this year, now he's back and it will help us to give us a hand in this final rush. The managers are there for these decisions."

Dejan Kulusevski scored his first goal since January as Juventus took another step towards securing a Champions League spot with a 3-1 win over Genoa.

Kulusevski opened the scoring early on and Alvaro Morata doubled Juve's lead midway through the first half of Sunday's Serie A clash at Allianz Stadium.

Genoa posed much more of a threat after the break and Gianluca Scamacca's goal early in the second half gave them hope.

Weston McKennie gave Andrea Pirlo's side breathing space with a third goal as they moved a point behind third-placed Milan with eight games to play.

Juan Cuadrado was the architect for Juve's opening goal four minutes in, bamboozling Nicolo Rovella with great trickery before cutting the ball into the path of Kulusevski, who found the far corner of the net with a measured left-foot finish.

The champions were in the mood and doubled their last after 21 minutes, with a moment to forget for Ivan Radovanovic.

Federico Chiesa raced away from the defender after robbing him just inside the Juve half before forcing a fine save from Mattia Perin and although Cristiano Ronaldo struck the post from a tight angle, the onrushing Morata lashed the loose ball home with his left foot.

Perin palmed Adrien Rabiot's rasping drive away and Wojciech Szczesny prevented Scamacca from pulling a goal back on the stroke of half-time after the striker got away from Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini with a sharp turn.

Scamacca halved the deficit three minutes into the second half, though, heading home an outswinging corner from the Juve-owned Rovella with De Ligt on the floor claiming he was pushed.

The Bianconeri looked shaky at the back and Marko Pjaca forced a great save from Szczesny before the same player fired wastefully off target from inside the area.

McKennie eased the tension just a couple of minutes after coming on, calmly finishing after clearly thinking he had strayed offside.

 

Juventus' win over Napoli in midweek will be rendered "meaningless" if they do not follow it up with another three points against Genoa on Sunday, according to head coach Andrea Pirlo. 

The Bianconeri bounced back from a 2-2 derby draw against Torino last weekend with a slender 2-1 victory over Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli on Wednesday to move to within one point of second-placed Milan. 

They host Genoa at the Allianz Stadium looking to achieve a fourth consecutive Serie A win against Davide Ballardini's men for the first time since 2008.

Pirlo was pleased with his side's approach against Napoli and says it is imperative his players have the same attitude on Sunday.

"It's perhaps much easier to find the right spirit in a big match like Napoli, but we need the same attitude even against smaller clubs, starting from tomorrow," he told a media conference.

"We need to find some consistency and that means facing tomorrow's game with ferocity. Beating Napoli is meaningless unless we follow it up with the same performance against Genoa."

Paulo Dybala came off the bench to score the decisive goal against Napoli, steering a fine finish past Alex Meret after Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half opener.

He has scored seven league goals against Genoa, including his first Serie A hat-trick in August 2017 – only against Udinese (eight) has he scored more in the competition.

With a year to run on his contract, it has been suggested Juve could look to move Dybala on after this season, but Pirlo insists the Argentina international remains a key part of his plans. 

"I don't think Dybala will start, because he was out for three months, so he needs another slightly longer spell as a substitute first," he said. 

"I've always said Dybala is an important player and unfortunately I haven't had him at my disposal very much this season. Let's look at the present, because that is more important than the future.

"He still has a year left on his contract, so we will have him here next season. Dybala is a player who makes the difference. 

"I do hope to be able to use Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and Dybala together at some point. I can say it's probable Dejan Kulusevski will start tomorrow."

Franck Ribery made a public apology to his Fiorentina team-mates after the veteran French star was sent off for the seventh time in his club career.

The former Bayern Munich winger, who turns 38 on Wednesday, was dismissed by referee Fabio Maresca after going in studs-up on Davide Zappacosta during Saturday's Serie A clash away to Genoa.

That incident occurred in the 51st minute, with the teams locked at 1-1, and Fiorentina held on as the match finished without any further goals.

Fiorentina and Genoa lurk in lower mid-table, with both sides looking to banish the distant threat of relegation after the international break.

Ribery, who in 2012-13 beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win UEFA's Men's Player of the Year award, recognised he let down his Viola team-mates.

"Guys, I'm sorry I left you alone," he wrote on Twitter. "I didn't want to go in badly and I have already apologised. You fought to the end and you were very brave and careful. Keep going like this!"

Ribery joined Fiorentina on a two-year deal after being released by Bayern in 2019 and was sent off against Lazio early in his Serie A career. He had been dismissed four times for Bayern and once when playing for Marseille.

An ankle injury meant Ribery missed a large chunk of his debut season in Italy, when he scored three goals and had three assists in 21 games.

There have been flashes of his best in the current campaign, in which he has scored twice and had five assists in 23 appearances so far, also hitting the woodwork twice.

However, the number of chances he has created has dipped from 35 last season to 26 this term, despite spending 197 more minutes on the pitch, and his dribble success rate has also fallen, shrinking from 59.55 to 52.63 per cent.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.