Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Juventus and his selection as a substitute for Sunday's season opener at Udinese was a mutual decision, according to Pavel Nedved.

Former Juve midfielder Nedved is now a vice-president at the club and was asked about Ronaldo being surprisingly left out of the starting XI in Udine.

Nedved said, according to Sky Sport Italia: "We must not look for sensations where there are none. It was a choice shared with the player.

"At the beginning of the season it is normal that the conditions are not top and the coach tries to field the most competitive team tonight."

Asked whether Ronaldo would remain a Juventus player this season, the last on his contract, Nedved said: "Absolutely yes."

There was nevertheless speculation that Ronaldo had requested to be selected on the bench, with Sky Sport Italia claiming the forward was looking to leave the club before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Head coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted this week that last season's Serie A 29-goal top scorer had told him he wanted to stay in Turin, and the Portuguese superstar has condemned what he described as "frivolous" rumours around his future.

 

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Real Madrid or Manchester United, while Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.

However, any of those clubs would likely have to generate funds before mounting a move for the 36-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner, and City are expected to move for Harry Kane rather than Ronaldo.

With Ronaldo watching on from the sidelines, Juventus snatched a third-minute lead at Udinese through Paulo Dybala.

Cristiano Ronaldo was named only as a substitute for Juventus' opening Serie A match against Udinese amid renewed speculation he wants to leave the club.

Speaking ahead of his side's opening league game of 2021-22, head coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted Ronaldo had told him he wanted to stay in Turin.

Those comments came after the Portugal star posted to social media to hit out at what he described as "frivolous" rumours around his future.

However, on Sunday, Allegri selected Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata as a strike partnership, with Ronaldo on the bench.

Sky Sport Italia then reported that Ronaldo had requested to be left out of the first XI as he is attempting to secure a transfer before the window closes.

 

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Real Madrid or Manchester United, while Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.

However, any move would appear problematic. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has already said the 36-year-old will not be returning and Los Blancos are said to be trying to build funds for an attempt to sign Kylian Mbappe.

Selling the France star would likely be the only means for PSG to sign Ronaldo given the huge increase to their wage bill following the free transfer of Lionel Messi, while United must sell before buying again after spending upwards of £105million on Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

City, meanwhile, broke the Premier League transfer record by signing Jack Grealish for £100m and are expected to make another push to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham in the next week.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says Cristiano Ronaldo has told him he wishes to stay at the club for the 2021-22 season.

Speculation has persisted in recent weeks that the Portugal star is pushing to leave Turin three years after his move from Real Madrid in a deal worth €112million.

A return to the Spanish capital was mooted until coach Carlo Ancelotti shot down the rumour, while possible moves to former club Manchester United, Premier League champions Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have also been suggested.

Ronaldo himself hit out at the media frenzy around his future in a social media post, condemning the coverage as "frivolous" and "disrespectful".

Allegri has now stated the 36-year-old wants to see out the remaining year of his contract at the Allianz Stadium.

"Ronaldo told me he's staying at Juve," Allegri said on Saturday ahead of Juve's Serie A opener against Udinese.

"He's always trained well. I read the rumours in the newspapers. He never told us he wanted to leave.

"Ronaldo is a bonus for us because he guarantees a large number of goals. Of course, we have to work as a team to bring the best out of a single player.

"Ronaldo didn't play the [pre-season] game on Thursday because we had been going through a tough week and I gave him half a day off."

 

Allegri returned to Juve to take over from Andrea Pirlo, having stepped down in 2019 following five hugely successful years with the Bianconeri.

He led Juve to five consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italiana, while also reaching two Champions League finals.

The 54-year-old said his past achievements will mean little if he cannot mount a serious challenge to reclaim the Scudetto from Inter.

"I don't have to show anything, I have to work to get results. What happened in my five years stays in the museum," he said.

"Ronaldo has won five Ballons d'Or but if this year he doesn't have a good year, they'll remember his last year at Juventus. The same goes for [Federico] Chiesa: what he did at the Euros won't count.

"We have to question ourselves every day, otherwise the conditions to win aren't created."

The transfer window is not even closed but attention is already turning to next season.

Kylian Mbappe is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, while Erling Haaland's Borussia Dortmund deal has clubs queuing up.

Manchester United are reportedly set to pursue both.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE, HAALAND FUTURE RED DEVILS?

Manchester United have made Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe a target for next season, according to ESPN.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join Real Madrid and Saturday's Marca and Diario AS claim the LaLiga giants are still trying to sign the PSG star before the end of the transfer window.

Liverpool have also previously been linked with Mbappe, but United are keeping tabs on his situation, with the Frenchman out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

French journalist Julien Laurens, meanwhile, also suggests next year could be the perfect time for United to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland has no shortage of suitors, linked with Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich as his release clause comes into force at season's end.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail says City are willing to sell defender Aymeric Laporte for £60million (€69m). The Spain international is reportedly wanted by Juventus and Madrid.

Chelsea remain interested in Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, per The Telegraph. The Blues have also been linked with Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, who has also caught the attention of United and Liverpool.

- Diario AS says wantaway Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is eyeing a switch to Madrid, Barca or Bayern.

Real Sociedad are tracking PSG star Pablo Sarabia, according to Le Parisien. Sevilla could also reportedly rival Sociedad for the Spain international.

- Sky Sport Italia reports Juve are set to meet with Paulo Dybala's agent to discuss a new contract.

The 2021-22 Serie A campaign commences on Saturday following a busy close season that saw more than half of the 20 teams change head coach.

Antonio Conte departed Inter after guiding the club to their first Scudetto in more than a decade, with Simone Inzaghi being plucked from Lazio, who in turn turned to Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri's former club Juventus decided to end the Andrea Pirlo experiment after just a year and opted for a familiar face in six-time title winner Massimiliano Allegri as his replacement.

Luciano Spalletti is back in Serie A with Napoli, meanwhile, and Jose Mourinho has returned to Italy with Roma some 11 years on from his hugely successful stint with Inter.

There will be just as much focus on the dugouts as the field when the new season gets up and running this weekend, then, and some coaches are facing a tougher challenge than others.

Stats Perform looks at what the managerial changes could mean for some of Serie A's biggest clubs.


Inter 

In: Simone Inzaghi

Out: Antonio Conte

Conte will go down in Inter folklore as the man who ended the club's 11-year wait to return to the top of Italian football.

In an ideal world, one in which the Nerazzurri were not in a position whereby they had to sell star players to balance the books, Conte would still be in charge at San Siro.

As it is, though, Inzaghi will be at the helm this coming season and is in a rather unenviable position of having to pick up where Conte left off, minus the goals of Romelu Lukaku.

Inzaghi has his own vision but does not differ too much from Conte in terms of tactics, both coaches favouring a 3-5-2 formation of sorts throughout their careers.

Moving the ball forward quickly will be the aim, with Milan (90) the only side in Serie A last term to register more direct attacks than Inzaghi's former side Lazio (89). By comparison, Inter were third on that list with 80.

While the structure will remain largely the same, losing Lukaku and influential wing-back Achraf Hakimi – albeit with Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries arriving – means Inzaghi will need to get more out of others if Inter are to retain their crown.

 

Lazio

In: Maurizio Sarri

Out: Simone Inzaghi

The man tasked with replacing Inzaghi at Lazio is Sarri, who endured mixed fortunes during his most recent two stints in Serie A with Napoli and Juventus.

Having come so close to ending Juve's stranglehold on the title in 2017-18 while at Napoli, the 62-year-old won the Europa League in his solitary season at Chelsea and was then given just 14 months at the Allianz Stadium.

His stint in Turin came to an early end despite leading Juve to top spot, his style of play – coined 'Sarriball' – deemed too distant from what Juventus typically expect from a head coach (more on that later!).

At the Stadio Olimpico, Sarri will have more freedom to put his spin on things as he looks to build or improve upon last season's sixth-placed finish. A back four, rather than the three-man defence Inzaghi favoured, can be expected.

Sarri teams are known for their verticality, meaning they like to move the ball forwards. Lazio, as already touched upon, are a good fit in that regard.

They ranked lowest in the top eight last season for build-up attacks (83), which is defined as the number of open play sequences that contain 10 or more passes and either ends in a shot or has at least one touch in the opposition box.

The big question, though, is whether Sarri has the personnel to turn Lazio into top-four regulars in the same way he did at Napoli. With Immobile taking on the Gonzalo Higuain role up top, it might just be a possibility.

Juventus

In: Massimiliano Allegri

Out: Andrea Pirlo

While a lot of clubs mentioned are entering the unknown with their managerial appointments, Juve know exactly what they are getting in Allegri.

The 54-year-old guided Juve to five straight Serie A titles and two Champions League finals between 2014 and 2019, having also previously lifted the Scudetto at Milan.

Only one coach in the Bianconeri's history, Giovanni Trapattoni, has overseen more league games than Allegri's 190, while Juve's two highest-scoring seasons dating back as far as 1930 have both come under the stewardship of the returning favourite.

This Juve side has changed since Allegri's first stint, though, and it may take him time to make this team his own again following the aforementioned reigns of Sarri and Pirlo.

Whereas Sarri and Pirlo were a little complex with their tactics and what they expected from players, Allegri will take a different approach. That is not to say Juve will not be able to chop and change things under Allegri, as they did in his previous spell.

One aspect that will surely differ from last season is the number of goals Juve score. They found the net an underwhelming 56 times from open play last season from an expected goals return (xG) of 54.3.

By comparison, champions Inter scored 65 open play goals from a near identical xG as Juve of 54.6. With the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo set to stay at the club for at least one more season, there is hope of reclaiming the title this time around.

 

Roma

In: Jose Mourinho

Out: Paulo Fonseca

The highest-profile of the incoming coaches in Serie A this season, Mourinho arrives with his 'Special One' status still intact in Italy thanks to his success at Inter a little over a decade ago.

Mourinho won as many league titles in two seasons at San Siro (two) as he has in the 11 years since (one), while also lifting the second of his Champions League crowns, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during that trophy-laden stay.

The Portuguese won 62 per cent of his matches at Inter but that win rate has steadily declined and he won just 51.2 per cent of his games with Tottenham, leaving the club in April after just 17 months in charge.

Mourinho's sides were so often hard to beat, but Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him, making it his worst ever season in that regard and he did not even see it all the way through.

But could his career take a turn in the right direction in Rome? Mourinho's tactics have remained largely consistent throughout his career, no matter the club or country he is coaching in.

The back three largely favoured by Paulo Fonseca will become a back four and there will be particular emphasis on Bryan Cristante, a typical Mourinho player in many ways, to shield the defence and get the ball forward.

The addition of Tammy Abraham from Chelsea is clearly a Mourinho signing, helping the fill the void left by Edin Dzeko, but Mou's pragmatic approach is surely a concern for a Roma side that looked better offensively than defensively last season. 

Finding the correct balance will be key, and that ultimately depends on whether Roma have hired the pre-2015 Mourinho or post.

Napoli

In: Luciano Spalletti

Out: Gennaro Gattuso

With spells at seven different Italian clubs under his belt, including two years at Inter, Spalletti certainly does not lack of experience. After two years out of the game, however, the 62-year-old has to quickly prove he is not yesterday's man.

Spalletti made clear when he took over from Gennaro Gattuso that he will look to operate with a 4-3-3, though on the basis of pre-season it may well be a more familiar 4-2-3-1 come the opening day.

He inherits a talented squad that includes the likes of Piotr Zielinski, Victor Osimhen, Dries Mertens, Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne – for now – in attack.

Napoli had no problems scoring goals last time out, with no team managing more shots from open play than their 493 and only Atalanta (77) and Inter (65) scoring more from non-set-piece situations than their 64.

Pressing is a big part of Spalletti's game and that makes Napoli a good fit as they ranked joint-second in Serie A last season for goals scored from high turnovers (nine), behind only Atalanta (10).

There are already a few rumblings of discontent behind the scenes with regards to transfer activity, but a kind fixture list ensures that Spalletti can hit the ground running in his quest to guide Napoli back into the Champions League.

Barely a month has passed since Giorgio Chiellini lifted the European Championship trophy at Wembley, and it would seem logical to expect Serie A to begin amid high fanfare.

This may prove to be the case, as the opening weekend of the season arrives, but a major talent drain from the Italian league since last term cannot be ignored.

Romelu Lukaku, Cristian Romero and Gianluigi Donnarumma have all moved on, swapping Inter, Atalanta and Milan respectively for Chelsea, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

To put those losses into greater context, of the 2020-21 Serie A end-of-season award winners, that is the MVP, the top defender and the leading goalkeeper all exiting the league.

Sweeping changes on the coaching benches also add to uncertainty as the new campaign begins, with a much-changed Inter hoping to successfully defend their title.


JUVE ON A SCUDETTO MISSION

After the folly of handing dugout rookie Andrea Pirlo the reins before last season, Juventus look to be on firmer ground this time with Massimiliano Allegri back as head coach.

They have brought in Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo, primed to play a Pirlo-like role on the pitch, and it seems Cristiano Ronaldo will hang around for the final year of his contract.

Rumours continue to encircle the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, but Allegri can likely count on his reliable flow of goals, just as he did for the 2018-19 season – Ronaldo's debut campaign in Turin and the end of the line for Allegri in his first stint as coach.

A six-time Scudetto winner, Allegri will look to get the best out of wingers Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Chiesa as they enter their second seasons with the Bianconeri, while it remains to be seen how Paulo Dybala performs as he enters the final year of his deal.

Plagued by injury last season, Dybala started just 14 Serie A games, but results were often perkier when he played. Of those 14 games, Juventus won 10, drew three and lost one, with a points-per-game average of 2.4 when he played from the off, compared to 1.9 when he was absent or a substitute. The win percentage of 71.4 per cent when Dybala was in the starting XI (compared to 54.2 per cent when he was not) is in the ball park that Allegri will be eyeing.

 


INZAGHI STEPS INTO CONTE SHOES

Social media tells us Antonio Conte has been thoroughly enjoying his summer, topping up his tan and seemingly showing no regret over his Inter exit, which came in May, just weeks after he guided the Nerazzurri to title glory.

Conte reportedly left amid concern the club planned to raise funds with sales that have duly come to fruition. The loss of striker Lukaku feels like a body blow, given his influence, and persistent rumours suggest Lautaro Martinez could also move on. Achraf Hakimi is another big loss, but, as with Lukaku, a big fee was banked as the right-back proved a one-season wonder in Italy.

In have come coach Simone Inzaghi, who impressed at Lazio, while Edin Dzeko will be a straight swap for Lukaku in the forward line, albeit unlikely to carry quite the same threat. Former PSV star Denzel Dumfries can replace Hakimi in the attacking right full-back role, and Inter will hope his Euro 2020 form transfers to Serie A duty.

It is hard to see Inter repeating last season's success, and the comedown could be painful. They exceeded their expected goals total last season, scoring 84 goals against an xG of 75.3, and Inzaghi will look for more of the same.

They possess plenty of quality still, but they have likely lost Christian Eriksen for the long term too after his cardiac arrest on Denmark duty at Euro 2020. His survival was everything in June, and now his recovery is all-important. The knock-on effect is that Inter have lost a player who became important over the second half of the season.

So much has changed since that title was secured. Landing Hakan Calhanoglu on a free from Milan looks like great business, but consolidation with a top-four finish may be their limit in the new campaign. That, and being sure to secure city bragging rights again.

 


MOURINHO'S BACK AMID MERRY-GO-ROUND

Never mind Inzaghi and Allegri at Inter and Juve, now is the time to get used to the sound of Maurizio Sarri's Lazio, Vincenzo Italiano's Fiorentina, Luciano Spalletti's Napoli ... and Jose Mourinho's Roma. Milan rather feel like the odd ones out, keeping faith with Stefano Pioli.

A whirlwind of change has swept through Serie A, and it will be worth watching to see quite what impact Mourinho can have on a side who finished 16 points short of the Champions League places last term.

His 'Special One' reputation was enhanced the last time he coached in Italy, guiding Inter to a treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in the 2009-10 campaign.

Spells at Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham have followed, but Mourinho's cachet has diminished over the past decade.

Tammy Abraham has followed him in swapping London for Rome, with the Chelsea striker arriving, along with Eldor Shomurodov from Genoa, to pep up an attack depleted by the loss of Dzeko. Rui Patricio has joined fellow Portuguese Mourinho, and the goalkeeper's arrival from Wolves could prove a fine signing.

Roma won just five Serie A away games last term, and have only had fewer once in a season beginning in the 20th century (4 in 2002-03), while their shot conversion rate of 41.35 per cent can be improved upon, given they topped 50 per cent twice in the 2010s.

Most important for Mourinho, perhaps, will be to build on Roma's poor duel success rate (48.97 per cent) and cutting out the errors leading to goals (10 in 2020-21 in Serie A).

The duel figures are important and were the worst Roma had managed in at least 15 years, while the error count will be simply intolerable to the new boss. Only Bologna committed so many costly errors (also 10). Mourinho has his work cut out.

It has been another off-season of change in Italy, but Serie A returns this week and another intriguing campaign awaits.

Inter were champions last term, ending Juventus' run of nine straight Scudetti, but they have not been able to keep their title-winning side together.

Romelu Lukaku is gone, as is coach Antonio Conte, while Massimiliano Allegri has returned to Juve to tee up another tilt.

So, what does that all mean for the coming season? Stats Perform attempts to find out.

The Stats Perform League Prediction Model, created by Stats Perform AI using Opta data, has analysed the division ahead of the new season to assign percentages to potential outcomes for each club.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) based on teams' attacking and defensive qualities, which considers four years' worth of results, with weighting based on recency and the quality of opposition. The season is then simulated 10,000 times to calculate the likelihood of each outcome.

Read on to see who can realistically compete with Inter and who should be looking over their shoulders...

THREE FIGHTING FOR TITLE

Inter might have lost some key men, but the model is backing a team that finished second and then first to lead the way again.

The Nerazzurri are given the best chance of taking the title (45.1 per cent), while they certainly should make the top four even without Lukaku and Conte, rated as a 94.2 per cent likelihood.

Unsurprisingly, Juve are the closest challengers to Inter's crown, with a 21.5 per cent shot.

It is not set to be a two-horse race, though, as Atalanta are the third and final team to be given a substantial chance at 19.6 per cent.

In fact, Atalanta's lowest probable finish of ninth is higher than Juve's 10th, with another exciting season expected for La Dea.

 

TOP FOUR SETTLED?

There is strength in depth in Serie A this season, but the model has identified a clear frontrunner for the fourth Champions League place.

Napoli, with a 9.4 per cent title chance, have a 68.6 per cent likelihood of making the top four, putting them well clear of the rest despite finishing fifth in 2020-21.

That means disappointment for big names like Milan, Lazio and Jose Mourinho's Roma.

Milan do have a 44.0 per cent shot at Champions League qualification, but that is a modest opportunity given they were second last term and led the league for half the season. A Scudetto triumph is rated at 3.6 per cent.

Lazio, under Maurizio Sarri, have a 14.9 per cent hope of a top-four place, while Mourinho clearly has work to do as rivals Roma are only given an 8.2 per cent likelihood.

Besides those sides, only Sassuolo – 1.1 per cent for the Champions League, 2.6 for the Europa League and 8.2 per cent for the Europa Conference League – are realistically also in the European picture.

STRAIGHT BACK DOWN AGAIN

The model does not make for pretty reading for the three promoted sides, who are all expected to spend only a single season in the top flight before returning to Serie B.

For Salernitana and Venezia, a particularly brutal campaign could be in store. They are highly likely to go down, rated at 95.9 per cent and 94.8 per cent respectively.

Empoli are given a slightly improved chance but are still expected to be relegated, at 79.3 per cent.

Torino's awful season, finishing 17th in 2020-21, should not be repeated, with merely a 4.3 per cent likelihood of demotion.

That still makes them sixth favourites for the drop, also behind Spezia (6.0 per cent) and Hellas Verona (5.4 per cent).

Erling Haaland is one of the most in-demand players in Europe.

Clubs from across the continent are queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund forward.

Real Madrid, however, are firmly placed to make a move for the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL EYEING HAALAND

Real Madrid believe a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could be done next year, according to the front page of Friday's Marca.

Kylian Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has dominated headlines as Madrid target the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

But Madrid have not forgotten about Haaland, who is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic says Bernardo Silva has turned down a move to Tottenham as part of a potential deal that would help send Harry Kane to City. Atletico Madrid and Barca have also been linked with City's Silva.

Pedri could sign a new four-year deal with Barca by September, reports Sport. The 18-year-old has been a revelation at Camp Nou.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Milan are nearing a deal to sign Tiemoue Bakayoko from Chelsea. Bakayoko spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Milan. Di Marzio, meanwhile, says Milan are interested in bringing Monaco's Pietro Pellegri to San Siro on loan.

- Staying in Milan and Tuttosport reports the Rossoneri are interested in Sassuolo and Italy star Domenico Berardi. Leicester City are also reportedly among his admirers.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is dreaming of a move to PSG, according to Le Parisien. United have also been linked with the France midfielder.

Juventus will pay Sassuolo nothing for new signing Manuel Locatelli until 2023.

The Serie A giants confirmed on Tuesday they had secured Italy midfielder Locatelli's services on a five-year deal, with a €25million fee cited.

However, the full details of the agreement show Juve effectively have Locatelli on a free for the next two years.

After that time, and if certain "sporting objectives are met", Juve will be obligated to pay the €25m over the following three years to retain his registration.

A further €12.5m will be payable if additional conditions are met.

Locatelli scored twice against Switzerland and made five appearances in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph.

Juve vice president Pavel Nedved revealed at the start of this month that the Turin giants had made what they considered to be an "appropriate offer" for Locatelli and they have now got their man.

Locatelli had the second-best goals-per-90-minute ratio of any Italy player (0.66) in Euro 2020 after Matteo Pessina (0.95).

Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and no closer to re-signing in the French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly holding onto hope of securing his services before the end of the transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL DREAMING OF MBAPPE

Real Madrid have not given up on signing Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Mbappe is into the final year of his PSG contract and while he has been tipped to make the move to Madrid, he has reportedly told friends he will remain in Paris.

However, LaLiga powerhouses Madrid – also linked with Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland – believe it is a strategy to secure a friendly exit from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are interested in Monaco defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, say reporters Sacha Tavolieri and Jonathan Shrager. United have also been linked with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who is reportedly wanted by PSG and Madrid.

- RB Leipzig star Marcel Sabitzer is interested in a move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich, claims Bild.

- Goal and widespread reports say Arsenal are close to signing Martin Odegaard from Madrid. Odegaard spent six months on loan at Arsenal last season.

Duvan Zapata is Inter's priority signing, according to Calciomercato. Despite signing Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries after Romelu Lukaku's, the Serie A champions are eyeing the Atlanta forward. Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, Joaquin Correa of Lazio, Torino forward Andrea Belotti and Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst are other options.

- Italian journalist Sara Meini reports Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit of Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic amid their struggle to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham. Atletico Madrid and Spurs have also been linked with Vlahovic.

Juventus are nearing a deal to re-sign Miralem Pjanic from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve, according to Di Marzio, are also listening to offers for Weston McKennie.

Manuel Locatelli has described his move to Juventus as a "dream come true" and has thanked Sassuolo for giving him a platform to showcase his talents.

The 23-year-old, one of the stars of Italy's successful Euro 2020 campaign, completed a switch to the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday in a deal worth €25million plus add-ons.

Following weeks of speculation linking him with a switch to the Turin giants, as well as other European clubs, Locatelli put pen to paper on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy.

"It's a dream come true," he told Juventus TV after finalising the transfer. "It is the dream of a child who worked so hard, that has given everything on the pitch.

"I arrive at Juve with the desire to take to the field for the fans and can't wait to get onto the pitch at the stadium. That's just the start!"

Locatelli featured five times for Italy at the European Championship finals, including an appearance from the bench in their penalty shoot-out win against England in last month's final.

He scored twice in the group-stage win over Switzerland and had the second-best goals-per-90-minutes ratio of any Italy player (0.66) after Matteo Pessina, who netted twice in four games (0.95).

Milan youth product Locatelli also won more tackles per 90 minutes (2.32) at the Euros than any other Italy player, followed by Marco Verratti (2.02) and Federico Bernardeschi (1.42).

 

Locatelli's impressive Euros showing came on the back of a solid campaign at club level for Sassuolo, having played the second-most successful passes of any player in Serie A last season (2,426), behind only team-mate Gian Marco Ferrari (2,483).

No player in the Italian top flight played more passes in the opposition half (1,606) or into the final third (446) than Locatelli in 2020-21, and he also ranked fourth for his tackle success rate (58.02).

After spending three seasons at the Mapei Stadium, the first of those on loan, Locatelli paid an emotional tribute to his now-former club.

"What to say. The tears I had yesterday when saying goodbye to the squad are proof you are in my heart," he posted on Instagram. "You always will be, because you made me become a better person and player.

"Life is made of choices and it was the right time to say goodbye after you accompanied me on this wonderful journey.  It has not been easy, you know that, but once you overcome the difficulties, the result is extraordinary.

"You are my family, you took me to winning the Euros. I will always love you. Thank you from the depths of my heart to the Squinzi family, who showed belief in me. 

"Thank you to all the team-mates who, between a telling-off and a speech, made me a man. Thank you to director [Giovanni] Carnevali, Giovanni Rossi and coach [Roberto] De Zerbi, for whom I will always feel something special. 

"Thank you to all from Fofo to every person who works in this oasis of joy. I love you all so much. Arrivederci, Sassuolo."

Juventus have completed the signing of Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli from Serie A rivals Sassuolo.

The Bianconeri will pay an initial €25million, plus add-ons that could be worth a further €12.5m, to land the 23-year-old on a five-year deal.

Locatelli arrives on a two-year loan with the permanent deal to be completed at the end of the 2022-23 season.

Locatelli scored twice against Switzerland and made five appearances in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph.

Juve vice president Pavel Nedved revealed at the start of this month that the Turin giants had made what they considered to be an "appropriate offer" for Locatelli and they have now got their man.

Locatelli had the second best goals-per-90-minute ratio of any Italy player (0.66) in Euro 2020 after Matteo Pessina (0.95).

Juventus have completed the signing of Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli from Serie A rivals Sassuolo.

The Bianconeri have paid an initial €25million, plus add-ons that could be worth a further €12.5m, to land the 23-year-old on a five-year deal.

Locatelli scored twice against Switzerland and made five appearances in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph.

Juve vice president Pavel Nedved revealed at the start of this month that the Turin giants had made what they considered to be an "appropriate offer" for Locatelli and they have now got their man.

Locatelli had the second best goals-per-90-minute ratio of any Italy player (0.66) in Euro 2020 after Matteo Pessina (0.95).

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo hit out against "frivolous" and "disrespectful" speculation over his future in a social media post on Tuesday.

There has been great uncertainty over the 36-year-old's intentions ahead of the 2021-22 Serie A season as he has entered the final 12 months of his contract.

Ronaldo has been linked with a number of clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain and former side Real Madrid, whose coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke this week to deny reports the player would be returning to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Manchester United, where Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the 2007-08 Champions League, and English champions Manchester City have also been touted as possible destinations in this transfer window.

Ronaldo issued a statement via his official Instagram page in response to "people playing around with my name" as he suggested nobody was concerned with learning "the actual truth" of his intentions.

While he did not offer any assurances he would be staying at Juve, Ronaldo stressed the story of his Madrid career "had been written" in the post, which accompanied a picture of the Portugal captain holding a finger to his lips.

The post read: "Anyone who knows me is aware of how focused I am on my work. Less talk and more action, this has been my guiding motto since the start of my career. However, in view of everything that's been said and written recently, I have to set out my position.

"More than the disrespect for me as a man and as a player, the frivolous way that my future is covered in the media is disrespectful to all the clubs involved in these rumours, as well as to their players and staff.

"My story at Real Madrid has been written. It's been recorded. In words and numbers, in trophies and titles, in records and in headlines. It's in the Museum at the Bernabeu Stadium and it's also in the minds of every fan of the club. And beyond what I achieved, I remember that in those nine years I had a relationship of deep affection and respect for 'merengue aficion', an affection and respect that I retain to this day, and that I will always cherish. I know that the true Real Madrid fans will continue to have me in their hearts, and I will have them in mine.

"As well as this most recent episode in Spain, there have been frequent news and stories associating me with a number of clubs in many different Leagues, with nobody ever being concerned about trying to find out the actual truth.

"I'm breaking my silence now to say that I can't allow people to keep playing around with my name. I remain focused on my career and in my work, committed and prepared for all the challenges that I have to face. Everything else? Everything else is just talk."

Juve begin their new season away to Udinese on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo is not in line for a sensational return to Real Madrid despite rumours of a Santiago Bernabeu reunion with Carlo Ancelotti, Los Blancos' head coach has confirmed.

The Portugal international is into the final year of the four-year contract he signed at Juve following his transfer from Madrid in a €112million (£99.2m) deal in July 2018.

Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Turin with former club Madrid among those to have reportedly been interested in the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

The superstar forward scored 450 goals and provided 132 assists in 438 appearances during his nine years at Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018.

He played under Ancelotti during the Italian's first spell in charge of Los Blancos between 2013 and 2015 winning the Champions League, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup during that time.

However, Ancelotti posted on Twitter that he has no intention of pursuing a move for the 36-year-old despite holding him in high regard.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is a Real Madrid legend. And I really respect him," Ancelotti posted on Tuesday.

"But I have never asked or planned to sign Cristiano this summer. We're looking forward."

Ronaldo scored 29 times in 2020-21 to win the Capocannoniere last season having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved has previously stated he expected Ronaldo to stay with the club this season.

Massimiliano Allegri's side begin their Serie A campaign on Sunday with an away fixture against Udinese.

 

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