Dusan Vlahovic's remarkable goalscoring feats continued on Saturday – and so too did discussion about his Fiorentina future.

Vlahovic netted twice in a 4-0 Serie A win over Salernitana to at least temporarily move Fiorentina up to fifth.

The team the Viola leapfrogged – Juventus, in action later on Saturday – have been hotly tipped to make a January move for the forward, who is quickly closing on a mark set by former Bianconeri man Cristiano Ronaldo.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo scored 33 Serie A goals in 2020, the most of any player in a single calendar year in the past 60 seasons.

After this brace, Vlahovic has 32 in 2021 with two league games remaining, passing ex-Fiorentina forward Luca Toni's 31 in 2005.

Juve are not the only team said to have been attracted by this sensational form, but vice-chairman Pavel Nedved – speaking ahead of the game against Venezia – was reluctant to discuss Vlahovic at this stage.

"We have to think about making our current players perform and trusting these players," Nedved told DAZN. "They are strong players.

"We have a lot of young people and if they improve we can do well. Some work in January is not impossible but now let's think about our players."

Similarly, in his news conference, Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano did not want to consider fears Vlahovic could leave.

"Right now I'm not afraid of anything except doing well in the last three games," he said. "The goal is to do great things, even though I've never mentioned the word Europe. We want to keep this position.

"In the hug he gave me, Vlahovic reminded me that we managed to score goals in a situation we practised in training."

 

Italiano preferred to reflect on Fiorentina's improvement in front of goal, having now won five consecutive home games while scoring three or more goals for the first time since 1960.

That run has led to 21 goals in eight home games – Fiorentina's best such start since 1960-61 (22 in eight) – with Vlahovic contributing to more than half of them, scoring 10 and assisting two.

Home and away, the 21-year-old has 15 goals through the first 17 games of the season, making him the youngest player to achieve that feat since both Jose Altafini and Antonio Valentin Angelillo in 1958-59.

Alberto Gilardino in 2008 was the last Fiorentina player to score in five straight, as Vlahovic has done.

"There was a moment in the season when we weren't able to reach our forwards well," Italiano said. "Now we can supply them. Having a striker with 15 goals is a huge satisfaction for us."

Pavel Nedved has indicated Juventus could make use of the January transfer window as Massimiliano Allegri battles to piece together a winning team.

Vice-president Nedved was livid as he saw Juventus beaten 2-1 by Sassuolo on Wednesday, as the Turin giants fell 13 points behind Napoli and Milan at the Serie A summit.

For now, Nedved is prepared to back the players at Allegri's disposal, but he said January would be a time for reflection and potentially action to strengthen the Juventus squad.

The loss of Cristiano Ronaldo as the last transfer window closed means Juventus have been forced to look elsewhere for goals, given the Portuguese was so prolific in his three years in Italy.

Vice-president Nedved believes Allegri's current squad can come good, yet it appears nothing is being ruled out.

He said at the club's shareholders' meeting: "We have tried and are trying to rejuvenate the team, knowing that what matters is always the victory.

"The players, coach, staff, and all of us, know this. We had some difficulties, but we are going to start again tomorrow.

"It is difficult to talk about the Scudetto and the objectives right now. We have to look at the opponents who are in front of us, and work match after match because we still have a long way to go.

"We believe that the squad is sufficient and very good. We will evaluate things in January, but we are sure that the squad is of absolute value to aim for the top places."

Atalanta's Dusan Vlahovic has been recently linked as a likely target of Juventus, with the 21-year-old Serbian having been a revelation since the beginning of last season, netting 26 goals in 47 league games.

Nedved, who spoke alongside CEO Maurizio Arrivabene and president Andrea Agnelli, confirmed there has been significant progress in moves to sign up Paulo Dybala to a new deal, with the Argentine forward's contract due to expire at the end of this season.

"We are at an excellent point in Paulo Dybala's renewal," former Juventus playmaker Nedved said. "We are very happy that he is back and in good shape on the field, we are trying to conclude the operation."

There has been criticism of Nedved's behaviour, notably when he has shown a temper, but the Czech insisted he was a worthy vice-president.

"You can't play such a prestigious role just because I'm a friend of the president," Nedved said, quoted in Corriere dello Sport. "I don't think the ownership would allow it.

"I've always felt so many responsibilities, even too many. I've heard criticism too."

He said it was "fair" to be critical of his conduct at times. "But it is part of my character," he added. "I will always give everything for this club, I have always acted for its good and I will do it until the last day I am here."

Nedved said he would "never change", pledging: "I will carry out my work with maximum personality and commitment."

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.

Juventus are confident of signing Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo after tabling what vice-president Pavel Nedved describes as an "appropriate offer".

The 23-year-old midfielder has established himself with Sassuolo over the past two seasons in Serie A and is now on the radar of several leading European clubs.

Locatelli's stock has risen even further after featuring five times for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, including an appearance against England in last month's final.

He scored twice against Switzerland in the group stage and had the second best goals-per-90-minute ratio of any Italy player (0.66) in the tournament after Matteo Pessina (0.95).

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

Arsenal have already made a bid for the midfielder, while fellow English side Liverpool have also been linked, but Nedved is positive Juve can win the race for his signature.

"We spoke to Sassuolo and we made our offer, which we believe is appropriate for the current climate, with the way finances and the transfer market have been affected by COVID," Nedved told Sport Mediaset.

"We are convinced this is a good offer and it is the right one. We are always confident. Naturally in negotiations there are things that must be clarified and resolved. When you want a player and that player wants you, it's clear..."

 

Nedved's comments come after Sassuolo CEO Giovanni Carnevali revealed last week that Locatelli would prefer a move to Juventus.

The Bianconeri, who reappointed Massimiliano Allegri in May after sacking Andrea Pirlo, have yet to make any new signings ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Juve face Barcelona in a prestige pre-season friendly next weekend before beginning their Serie A campaign away at Udinese on August 22.

Cristiano Ronaldo will remain with Juventus despite speculation he will depart before the new season, according to the Serie A club's vice-president Pavel Nedved 

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

Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Turin ahead of the new campaign, with former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid among those to have reportedly been interested, along with Paris Saint-Germain.

The 36-year-old scored 29 times in 2020-21 to win the Capocannoniere having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since he joined Juve in July 2018, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over that period ranks fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

"Ronaldo will return to training on Monday and he will stay with us," Nedved told Sky Sport Italia.

Nedved spoke about Ronaldo's future after Juve beat Cesena 3-1 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, and was also asked about what was in store for Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini.

Argentina forward Dybala, 27, is also entering the final year of his contract with the Serie A club. 

“[Director Federico] Cherubini has already been in contact with his [Dybala's] agent, who will arrive in Turin next week," former Juventus and Czech Republic midfielder Nedved explained.

"We are in good time to get the situation resolved, it’s not a problem."

On Italy centre-back Chiellini, whose contract expired in June, Nedved added: "When he returns from his vacation, then we can talk."

Gianluigi Buffon has called time on his second spell at Juventus, concluding a defining playing association with the Serie A giants.

There may only be three clubs on the goalkeeping great's resume but sustained excellence over more than two decades has filled his trophy cabinet with individual and team honours. 

The former Parma prodigy has rubbed shoulders with the very best in world football throughout that time, forming part of Serie A, Ligue 1 and World Cup-winning sides.

In honour of Buffon's stellar career, we have compiled a star-studded group of former team-mates for a dream XI.

 

GOALKEEPER: GIANLUIGI BUFFON

Who else has the pedigree to don the gloves in such a side?

A five-time member of the UEFA Team of the Year, he boasts more Serie A clean sheets than any other player and, as captain of his country from 2010 until his retirement in 2018, would have no trouble bringing this team together.

RIGHT-BACK: LILIAN THURAM

Having been joined by Buffon at Parma after his switch from Monaco in 1996, Thuram followed his team-mate in making the move to Turin ahead of the 2001-02 campaign.

The 142-time France international, part of the side that tasted glory at the 1998 World Cup on home soil and won Euro 2000, spent five seasons at Juve before rounding out his career with a spell at Barcelona.

CENTRE-BACK: FABIO CANNAVARO

Buffon's inheritance of the Italy armband from Cannavaro in 2010 completed the striking symmetry of their careers.

They both made their Parma debuts in 1995, did the same for Italy in 1997 and were reunited at club level when Cannavaro, one of few defenders to win the Ballon d'Or, joined Juve in 2004. They also lifted the World Cup together in 2006.

CENTRE-BACK: ALESSANDRO NESTA

A long-time rival at club level, Nesta was part of the famous Milan defence that beat Juve in the 2002-03 Champions League final – he scored his penalty against Buffon in a 3-2 shoot-out victory – and triumphed again four seasons later.

He was named in the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2000, which Buffon missed through injury, but the 2006 World Cup success will undoubtedly be the highlight of his career.

LEFT-BACK: PAOLO MALDINI

With admirable longevity, loyalty and leadership, classy defender Maldini set the path that Buffon has so impressively followed.

The long-time Rossoneri skipper, a seven-time Scudetto winner who also lifted the European Cup on five occasions, Maldini was the only player to have managed more Serie A appearances than the veteran keeper until his Juve return.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: ANDREA PIRLO

Has there been a more iconic duo of the modern era?

Pirlo was already at the top by the time he swapped Milan for Juve, but he saved plenty of his play-making brilliance for Buffon and friends as the Bianconeri re-asserted themselves as Italy's top club with a run of successive Scudetti that stretched to nine before being ended by Inter this season as their reunion as player and head coach did not yield similar results.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: PAVEL NEDVED

Nedved's blend of athleticism, tenacity and well-rounded technical ability made him close to the complete midfielder.

He helped Czech Republic to the final of Euro 1996 and his value to Juve was summed up by a Ballon d'Or victory in 2003.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: ROBERTO BAGGIO

Less than two years after a 17-year-old Buffon held Baggio and Milan scoreless on his senior debut for Parma, the pair were sharing the same shirt for Italy.

Two of the Azzurri's greatest were in the same squad at the 1998 World Cup, although Buffon would ultimately go one better than the 1993 Ballon d'Or winner, who suffered final heartache against Brazil at USA 94.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO

He stands as an equal in the pantheon of Juve luminaries.

Buffon and the majestic Del Piero combined to help the Bianconeri finish top of Serie A on five occasions, while they lined up for Italy together for over a decade and experienced World Cup glory together

FORWARD: CRISTIANO RONALDO

Ronaldo joined Juve as Buffon embarked upon his hiatus with Paris Saint-Germain. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was supposed to add Champions League glory to domestic dominance and now Juventus have neither.

Nevertheless, Ronaldo's individual form has remained imperious. In 127 appearances for the Bianconceri, he has 97 goals at a rate of a goal every 113 minutes.

FORWARD: KYLIAN MBAPPE

They were only together for a year but the France phenomenon is a performer to compare with many of the greats to have shared a dressing room with Buffon.

Fresh from 2018 World Cup success with France, Mbappe scored 39 goals in 43 appearances for PSG in 2018-19, averaging 90.25 minutes per goal and boasting a shot conversion rate of 22 per cent.

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