Napoli forward Victor Osimhen has described the facial injury he suffered last season against Inter as "like a near-death injury".

The Nigeria international was hurt in a clash of heads with Nerazzurri defender Milan Skriniar during Inter's 3-2 win against Napoli at San Siro in November.

Osimhen, who has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks, needed surgery on his face and did not return to action until mid-January.

Despite that lay-off, the 23-year-old scored 18 times in 32 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side in all competitions last season.

His 14 league goals also meant Osimhen became the first Nigerian to achieve double figures in two straight Serie A terms, while he became just the fourth African player to achieve the feat in the Italian top flight after George Weah for Milan, Samuel Eto'o for Inter and Mohamed Salah for Roma.

Speaking to Wazobia FM, Osimhen detailed his injury against Inter and the mentality he needed to come back.

"As I got to the hospital, I told my doctor that I would be out for two weeks maximum," he said.

"When the scan came out, I fractured many bones, which they had to remove and fix inside again. I have like 18 screws under my jaw. I went through a lot.

"I could not sleep, I could not eat with the pain. But at the end of the day, I am a lion, and I know the kind of mentality I have.

"In my mind, I had already scheduled my return following the surgery."

Osimhen returned for the 2-0 win at Bologna in which Hirving Lozano scored both goals, with Napoli ultimately ending the season in third place in Serie A.

Italy great Fabio Cannavaro has suggested former club Napoli should attempt to sign Paulo Dybala, while making a "sacrifice" to renew Kalidou Koulibaly's contract.

Dybala appears set to join Inter when his Juventus contract expires at the end of June, with Romelu Lukaku also reportedly close to joining Simone Inzaghi's side on loan.

Napoli supporters have grown frustrated with president Aurelio De Laurentiis, with the Partenopei said to be looking to reduce their wage bill, leaving the future of Dries Mertens and Koulibaly in doubt.

Lorenzo Insigne has already left for MLS side Toronto and Cannavaro, who started his career in Naples, urged Napoli to move for Dybala.

"If I were in De Laurentiis I would make a proposal to Dybala," the World Cup winner told Corriere dello Sport.

While Napoli are unlikely to be able to acquire the Argentina international, Cannavaro also says they must do all in their power to keep Koulibaly.

Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester United are reportedly interested in the centre-back, whose contract is set to expire in June 2023.

De Laurentiis conceded earlier in May that the Senegal international could not be forced into staying after Koulibaly had stated "we'll see what happens at the end of the season".

"Kalidou represents a pillar of a team that in recent years has always been lucky enough to be able to count on him: if I were in the club I would make a sacrifice to keep him, to renew," Cannavaro added. 

"Maybe he has demands that some other club could satisfy, but it is difficult to find players like him in that role: we must keep them close. 

"There is a shortage [of such players], you can find a midfielder or a forward."

Luciano Spalletti will be keen to keep Koulibaly after Napoli conceded the joint-fewest goals in Serie A (31) and kept the second-most clean sheets (16 – behind Milan, 18) in the 2021-22 campaign.

Milan will start their Serie A title defence at home to Udinese, while Inter's attempts to reclaim the Scudetto will begin at newly promoted Lecce.

Stefano Pioli's side edged out Inter for the championship in the 2021-22 campaign, their first Scudetto in 11 years, and will again face stern competition from Juventus, Napoli and Simone Inzaghi's side next season.

Milan visit Atalanta on the second matchday, with the first Derby di Milano between Pioli's side and Inter coming on September 4, when Lazio host Napoli.

Dusan Vlahovic will return to Fiorentina with Juventus on the same weekend, while Milan host Napoli and Massimiliano Allegri's side in the space of two weeks between matchday seven and nine.

The first Derby di Roma will see Jose Mourinho's side host Lazio on matchday 13, with the return meeting scheduled for matchday 27.

Inter will meet Milan for their second clash in week 21, while Serie A will take a break between November 13 and January 4, owing to the World Cup in Qatar.

The weekend of May 7 could be influential in the title race, with Atalanta hosting Juventus, Lazio visiting Milan, Inter travelling to Roma and Napoli playing at home to Fiorentina.

Milan lifted the Scudetto on the final matchday in 2022 and should it go all the way again, Pioli's men host Hellas Verona, while Inter make the trip to Torino and Juventus are away at Udinese.

Barcelona's much-publicised financial difficulties are creating unwanted kind of leverage in the transfer market.

The Blaugrana have been linked to the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah, but via a free transfer, circumventing the need for an initial outlay.

Reports suggest one of their transfer targets this off-season appears to be unattainable, though.

TOP STORY – SEVILLA STIFLE KOUNDE MOVE TO BARCELONA

Barcelona's reported interest in Jules Kounde will face a stumbling block in the form of Sevilla, according to Marca.

The Andalusian club have set a €60million price for Kounde, reportedly knowing that interest from Premier League clubs will meet that benchmark and effectively price Barcelona out of the market.

In addition, Sevilla would want to close the deal quickly, forcing Barcelona into cash-flow difficulty if they were to meet the demands for Kounde.

Barcelona are unwilling to pay the €60m despite sourcing fresh funds, with a reported need to primarily balance this year's budget.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal and Newcastle United are keen on Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, whose contract runs out in 2023, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Borussia Dortmund are set to sign Ajax striker Sebastian Haller, per ESPN.

Real Madrid have stepped up their interest in Raheem Sterling with his future in Manchester City uncertain, the Mirror reports.

Chelsea are considering signing 29-year-old Lens full-back Jonathan Clauss, Goal is reporting.

Manchester United are reportedly preparing a second offer for 22-year-old Porto striker Evanilson after they had a bid of €65million rejected by the Portuguese champions.

The Brazilian was purchased by Porto in 2020 for €8.8m out of Fluminense, and after scoring four goals from 24 appearances in his first season in the Primeira Liga, he exploded in his second campaign with 21 goals in 46 outings.

He had 14 goals and four assists in 30 league games, and seven goals in seven Taca de Portugal fixtures on the way to winning Portugal's top domestic cup.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS PLAN BIG-MONEY MOVE FOR LITTLE-KNOWN BRAZILIAN

The report out of Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claims Porto has already fought off interest from both Brighton and Hove Albion and Wolves by raising their asking price to €80m.

Porto are said to be desperate to retain the striker's services for one more season – even labelling him 'untouchable' – but could have their hand forced if the Old Trafford side is willing to go all-in.

It would be a shock for United to fork out such a large sum for a striker while also trying to push Barcelona's asking price for Frenkie de Jong down to a more palatable number.

The Sun is also reporting Ajax winger Antony is a serious target for former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, Goal claims that they are hoping to convince Christian Eriksen to sign on as well, and Corriere dello Sport believe they are investigating the possibility of landing Tammy Abraham.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal have reportedly become the favourites to land Leeds United winger Raphinha as Barcelona's interest in the Brazilian cools off, according to Goal.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Chelsea have joined the race for Everton striker Richarlison, with Tottenham also in the bidding for the £50m man.

– According to Sky Sports, West Ham are planning a £30m bid for 20-year-old striker Armando Broja, who scored nine goals for Southampton last season while on loan from Chelsea.

Nottingham Forest are trying to break their club-record transfer fee to sign 24-year-old Nigerian striker Taiyo Awoniyi for £17.5m from German side Union Berlin, per the Telegraph, although Football Insider claims Awoniyi will turn them down in favour of other offers.

– Calciomercato is reporting Kalidou Koulibaly will not join Juventus because he does not want to be considered a "traitor" like Gonzalo Higuain after his move to Turin – instead favouring a move to Barcelona.

Napoli star Victor Osimhen has left the door open for a move to Arsenal after declaring "anything can happen" amid continued transfer speculation.

Arsenal have reportedly had advances turned down for Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus as Mikel Arteta looks to add firepower to his attack.

A talisman appears the main priority in the transfer window for Arsenal, with Alexandre Lacazette moving to Lyon and Eddie Nketiah yet to sign a new contract after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang previously joined Barcelona.

Osimhen has emerged as a target for the Premier League side, who have reportedly already had a sizeable bid turned down for the Nigeria international.

The Napoli striker would add a much-needed reference point for Arteta's side up top, with Osimhen scoring 14 times in 27 Serie A appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side last season.

His 14-goal tally was the 23-year-old's best in a single season in Europe's top-five leagues, surpassing the 13 Ligue 1 strikes he recorded in 2019-20 for Lille.

That also made Osimhen the first Nigerian to achieve double figures in two straight Serie A terms, while he became just the fourth African player to achieve the feat in the Italian top flight, after George Weah for Milan, Samuel Eto'o for Inter and Mohamed Salah for Roma.

Osimhen, speaking while away on international duty with the Super Eagles, is aware of the transfer reports and admitted he does not know where his future lies.

"I don't know my future, I know anything can happen, but now I just want to go on vacation with my family, clear my head and recharge my batteries. Then we'll take care of the rest," he told reporters.

"I know there are many rumours that they would like me in Spain or in England, but I don't think it's the right time to talk about it now that I'm with the national team."

Arsenal finished fifth in the Premier League behind fierce rivals Tottenham, leaving Arteta's team playing Europa League football next season.

There has not been a lot of movement among Inter's defensive stocks in recent years, with Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni providing continuity in front of Samir Handanovic.

Skriniar appears set to leave this off-season, however, after five years at the club.

The Nerazzurri are reportedly well-prepared in what looks set to be an active transfer window for them.

 

TOP STORY – INTER PLAN FOR SKRINIAR EXIT AS PSG MOVE NEARS

Inter have identified who they would want to replace Skriniar in the event he departs for PSG, according to Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport.

Gleison Bremer and Nikola Milenkovic are viewed as possible replacements for the 27-year-old Slovakia international, as his move to Ligue 1 appears increasingly likely.

Skriniar's priority is to remain with Inter, where he has been since 2017 after signing from Sampdoria, but would not stand against a move to PSG if it helped Inter financially.

Bremer has reportedly already agreed personal terms with the Nerazzurri, while Milenkovic's agent met with club representatives this week.

ROUND-UP

Roma and Lazio are both keen to sign Napoli forward Dries Mertens, whose contract expires this off-season, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Denzel Dumfries is open to leaving Inter in order to join Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, the Daily Mail reports.

– Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri are set to sign Paulo Dybala on a three-year deal with his contract at Juventus expiring, per Goal.

– Bild claims that Jonjoe Kenny has committed to joining Hertha Berlin on a free transfer from Everton.

Kalidou Koulibaly's agent says the Napoli defender is not in talks with any other club amid speculation over a transfer to Barcelona.

Koulibaly's contract with Luciano Spalletti's side is set to expire in June 2023, leading to suggestions Xavi's Blaugrana could swoop for the 30-year-old.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis conceded earlier this month that the Senegal international could not be forced to stay, after the centre-back had stated "we'll see what happens at the end of the season".

Spalletti will be eager to keep Koulibaly, after Napoli conceded the joint-fewest goals in Serie A (31) and kept the second-most clean sheets (16 – behind Milan, 18) this campaign.

Fali Ramadani, the agent of Koulibaly, says talk of his client being on the move is premature.

"There are many rumours, and I want to clarify that we are not in talks with any club for Koulibaly," Ramadani told Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport.

"We are waiting to meet with Napoli to decide the best solution for both parties."

Reports in Italy also suggest Juventus are interested in Koulibaly after Bianconeri great Giorgio Chiellini ended his 17-year spell in Turin.

Napoli announced two signings on Thursday, confirming midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa from Fulham on a permanent deal and the arrival of Mathias Olivera from Getafe.

The Cameroon international spent this season on loan at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, and Napoli have taken up the option to make the move permanent for an undisclosed fee.

Zambo Anguissa joined Fulham from Marseille in 2018, making 66 appearances in all for the Cottagers.

He made 25 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side in Serie A this season, recording two assists.

The Italian club also confirmed the signing of Olivera from Getafe, with the Uruguayan left-back having made 119 appearances during five seasons in Spain.

Arsenal are looking to bring in two forwards this off-season after narrowly missing out on Champions League football.

With Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah's contracts expiring and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang already leaving in January, the Gunners are in need in attack.

According to reports, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has identified the players to propel his side forward.

TOP STORY – ARSENAL IDENTIFY STRIKER TARGETS    

Arsenal are looking to bring in Victor Osimhen and Gabriel Jesus this off-season, according to Goal.

Jesus' contract at Manchester City expires following the end of the next season, but the Gunners have reportedly been in talks for weeks with his representatives, with a deal early in the window in mind.

Meanwhile, it is understood Osimhen's agent flew to London for a meeting with Arsenal technical director Edu over a possible transfer.

With Napoli having qualified for the Champions League and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis driving a traditionally hard bargain, however, the 23-year-old's transfer will not come cheap.

Although Arsenal may be looking for two forwards, it remains to be seen if they opt for two big-money signings.

ROUND-UP

– Eden Hazard has ruled out an off-season departure from Real Madrid, citing unfinished business after an injury-plagued time at the club, per HLN.

– Sevilla will not be turning Anthony Martial's loan deal from Manchester United into a permanent move, according to the Daily Mail.

– Raphinha has reportedly told Leeds United he wants to leave this off-season to play for Barcelona, Sport reports.

– Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel is set to have a £200m influx of transfer funds as Todd Boehly's takeover nears completion, the Telegraph is reporting.

The inevitable at Camp Nou has arrived along with the end of the season in LaLiga.

Xavi's rebuild and transformation of the Barcelona has lingered over this past season, despite the need to recover from their slow start.

According to reports, the Blaugrana are not wasting any time.

TOP STORY – XAVI CLEAR-OUT TO BEGIN AT BARCELONA   

Xavi has informed a number of Barcelona's players that the club is intending to sell them, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Riqui Puig, Samuel Umtiti, Oscar Mingueza and Martin Braithwaite have already been notified they are not in the club's future plans.

The four of them have been peripheral figures under Xavi, since he took over as head coach in November, but he had avoided contract talk with the press during the season.

While the 42-year-old has confirmed he has spoken to those four players "and others", it appears to be only the start of a sizeable squad transformation.

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, the Barca boss has confirmed they are in talks to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, Goal reports.

– Napoli have rejected a €90million (£76m) bid from Arsenal for Victor Osimhen, according to Calciomercato.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Paris Saint-Germain are preparing a final offer for Paul Pogba, but Juventus are confident their offer of a €14.2m yearly salary will be sufficient.

– The Daily Mail is also reporting that Inter want Ivan Perisic to agree to a new contract amid interest from Tottenham and Chelsea.

Declan Rice and Christopher Nkunku have joined victorious Eintracht Frankfurt stars in headlining the Europa League's team of the season.

The selections for the competition's end-of-season awards were announced by UEFA on Friday, two days after Eintracht's final shootout triumph against Rangers.

Wing-backs Filip Kostic and Ansgar Knauff earned individual recognition, the former the player of the season and the latter the young player of the season.

But there was no room for Knauff in the best XI, with Rangers captain James Tavernier, the competition's leading scorer, preferred.

Tavernier had two Rangers colleagues in the team in Calvin Bassey and Ryan Kent, yet Kostic was one of four Eintracht players.

Penalty heroes Kevin Trapp and Rafael Borre made the cut, alongside defender Martin Hinteregger.

Perhaps the two biggest names included were beaten semi-finalists, however, with Rice and Nkunku – both set to be the subject of close-season transfer speculation – recognised.

Departing Napoli great Lorenzo Insigne did not make the side but was awarded the goal of the season his stunning strike against Legia Warsaw.

Europa League team of the season:

Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt); Craig Dawson (West Ham), Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt), Calvin Bassey (Rangers); James Tavernier (Rangers), Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig), Declan Rice (West Ham), Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt); Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Rafael Borre (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ryan Kent (Rangers).

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly will not be forced to stay at the club amid reports linking him with Barcelona, according to club president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Koulibaly's contract with Luciano Spalletti's men is due to expire in June 2023, and the Blaugrana have been touted as a potential destination if he decides to end his eight-year spell with the Partenopei.

The 30-year-old has been a key figure as Napoli secured a third-place finish in Serie A this season, and they go into their final game of the campaign, against Spezia on Sunday, having conceded the joint-fewest goals in the league (31 – along with Milan) and kept the second-most clean sheets (15, Milan have kept 17).

Koulibaly fuelled speculation over his future earlier this week when he told Onze Mondial: "We'll see what happens at the end of the season."

The Senegal international did say he would not force a move to another club, though he did suggest Napoli had ended previous negotiations over a transfer by setting a high asking price, adding: "Sometimes it was too high for some clubs, and it blocked negotiations. 

"You should know that I am not a guy who likes to go to clash to get something. If I have to leave one day, I will leave cleanly rather than fight with the club." 

Speaking at a charity event in Naples, De Laurentiis said he remains keen to keep Koulibaly, but would not force the defender to stay.

"He is a symbol of Napoli, and if he wants to no longer be a symbol, he must decide," De Laurentiis said.

"We must decide. We want Koulibaly to stay, but people can't be forced to. Everyone has their own dignity and needs. 

"We respect everyone, do you understand that I [only once] forced someone to stay? The only one, who is a dear friend, is [former Napoli head coach] Walter Mazzarri, after two years he told me he wanted to leave, I told him he would stay. He did it and he gave us four years of satisfaction."

Koulibaly has featured in 26 league games for Napoli this season, with Spalletti's men conceding just 19 goals across those contests.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. It appears time will finally run out on Sunday and the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga will finally be at its end.

Paris Saint-Germain have experienced another monumental blow this season with another cruel elimination in the Champions League and Real Madrid are waiting in the wings.

According to reports, the 23-year-old will finally announce his decision on Sunday.

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO CONFIRM DECISION ON SUNDAY  

Kylian Mbappe will announce whether he will play for Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid on Sunday, according to L'Equipe.

The Parisian has never hidden his admiration for LeBron James and appears set to mimic his 'The Decision' announcement from 2010.

What is for certain according to reports, Mbappe is intent on announcing the decision before the France national team meets up for camp in Clairefontaine on May 28.

While it has been recently reported a move to Real Madrid seems likelier, talks are still ongoing according to the L'Equipe report, with PSG aiming to scupper a potential move at the last minute.

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, France team-mate and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba had agreed personal terms with Manchester City, according to the Times, but backed out in fear of fan backlash and now appears likely to move abroad.

– Along with Pogba, Juventus are also hoping to further bolster their midfield stocks and sign Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, the Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

– Diario AS is reporting Paulo Dybala has ruled out a move to Tottenham once his contract with Juve expires at the end of the season.

– Kalidou Koulibaly has emerged as a target for Barcelona, who would be willing to add Miralem Pjanic as part of a package deal for Napoli, per Fichajes.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has declared Giorgio Chiellini's decision to leave Juventus and retire from international football as a "pity for everyone".

Juve great Chiellini confirmed after the 4-2 Coppa Italia final loss to Inter last week that he will depart Turin at the end of the season, ending a 17-year spell with the Bianconeri that has seen him lift 20 trophies.

The centre-back has also already revealed he will retire from international duty with Italy after the Azzurri play Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1.

Chiellini opted to play in the Finalissima, a new final pitting the winners of the Copa America and European Championship against each other, as a fitting conclusion after Italy lifted Euro 2020 at Wembley in July.

Reports suggest 37-year-old Chiellini may accept an offer to play in MLS before taking his sizeable experience into management or a coaching role.

Mancini, speaking at the Prisco Prize in Chieti where he received a Special Jury Prize, was quick to heap praise on the veteran Chiellini as he reflected on the influence he has had on Italian football.

"It is a pity for everyone because he was a great player for the national team and for Juve," Mancini said, as quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

"Unfortunately, time passes for everyone. He made this decision but leaving after winning the European Championship in a race like the one at Wembley is still important."

Napoli talisman Lorenzo Insigne has also announced he will leave Serie A to move to Toronto FC at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old scored on his final home appearance for Napoli on Sunday, becoming the second-highest goalscorer in the club's history as he moved clear of Marek Hamsik's tally of 121.

Only team-mate Dries Mertens, with 148, has managed more goals for Napoli, and Mancini spoke glowingly of Insigne after his efforts in Naples and with the national side.

"He will go on to have an important experience anyway. He gave a lot to the national team and I hope he can do it again," the Azzurri boss added.

With those two experienced campaigners leaving Serie A, Mancini believes it is time for the Italian top flight to provide more young talent to fill the void Chiellini and Insigne will leave.

Mancini and the Italian system came into criticism for not trusting younger players after Italy failed to qualify for a second successive World Cup following play-off defeat to North Macedonia in late March.

"The important thing when things didn't go well is to get up," he continued. "We will have games in the summer and then the Nations League restarts. 

"There are several interesting youngsters in the championship but we would like more."

Page 1 of 13
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.