Lautaro Martinez does not know where Inter-linked forward Paulo Dybala will play next season but hopes it will be "where he is happy".

Dybala's contract at Juventus is expiring, making him one of the most sought-after free agents of the upcoming transfer window.

Widespread reports have suggested he is most likely to join Argentina team-mate Martinez at Inter – although the Nerazzurri striker is also the subject of transfer speculation.

But as the pair link up on national team duty, Martinez insists Dybala's club future has been set to one side.

"We didn't touch the subject," Martinez told TyC Sports. "We talk about many things, about his situation and everything, but today he is thinking about the national team.

"His future will be decided when these games are over.

"He is a player with quality, personality and I hope he plays where he feels most comfortable, where he is happy."

Martinez is also focused on his role with Argentina, looking ahead to the World Cup in Qatar later this year – the first of his Albiceleste career.

"[The World Cup] is a dream I have had since childhood," Martinez said. "With my family, I constantly talk about this – they are all football fans.

"If I think now about what could happen, anxiety comes to me. I hope we can leave a good impression.

"These are dreams you always have. First your dreams are of being a professional, then they are renewed. Today I am months away from this [dream]; I hope it can be fulfilled and I can help my team-mates."

Even before that, at the start of June, Argentina have the Finalissima against Italy at Wembley to look forward to, pitting the Copa America winners against the European champions – an eagerly awaited fixture for Italy-based Martinez, even if the Azzurri will not be in Qatar.

"It will be an important game for us because of what the opponent means, beyond the fact that they have been left out of this World Cup," he said.

"We know their characteristics, their players, they are a high-level opponent. We have a very important test ahead to see where we stand."

Rafael Leao expressed his excitement over speculation of interest from Real Madrid, but the Milan forward assured his "feet will remain firmly on the ground".

The Portugal international has starred for Milan since joining from Lille in 2019 and played an integral role as Stefano Pioli's side secured their first Scudetto in 11 years.

Leao scored 11 times and assisted eight in 34 Serie A appearances over the 2021-22 season, setting up two goals in the final-day 3-0 win over Sassuolo that sealed the title.

No Milan player outscored him – Olivier Giroud also scored 11 league goals – or recorded more assisted for the Rossoneri this term.

Leao regularly tormented Serie A defences with his powerful runs down the left flank, with only Adama Traore (107), Kylian Mbappe (112) and Allan Saint-Maximin (150) completing more dribbles than him (98) across Europe's top five leagues.

The form of Pioli's key man has led to reports Madrid are interested after missing out on Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe, but Leao insists he is focusing on life with the Rossoneri.

"I'm at Milan, I have another two years on my contract," he told A Bola. "Untouchable? I'm happy with these words. I feel at home, but right now my focus is on the national team.

"[The rumours about Real Madrid] make me happy, but my feet are firmly on the ground. It is a pride to work with highly experienced players. 

"As for my development, I left Sporting [CP] when I was young and went to Lille. People may not know it, but Ligue 1 is a strong league, I have evolved."

Leao will now target World Cup success with Portugal in Qatar as he looks to partner fellow Sporting academy graduate Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Two years have not gone as I would have liked, but now I am more mature and confident, the season has gone as I wanted," he added.

"I hope to do great things in the future. I want to be a point of reference in my club and in the national team… the highest point is, for example, winning a World Cup."

Meanwhile, Milan technical director Paolo Maldini insists Leao will never be put up for sale by the Rossoneri.

"Of course he is not for sale," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is still a rough diamond who from one year to the next has already improved so much.

"We signed him from Lille for €24million and immediately put a €150m release clause on him, because we believed so much in this player.

"He was always potentially a great champion, but he needs to continue this growth process that he is only part-way through.

"He is extremely intelligent but needed to be helped along the way and I spoke to him a lot.

"Clearly, if in future Milan are not at the level of Leao or if Leao is not at the level of Milan, things could change. But at this moment, the growth is exponential for both the club and the player."

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.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed he has "never suffered so much" as he did in the past six months after the Milan striker underwent knee surgery.

The new Serie A champions on Wednesday revealed Ibrahimovic will be out for up to eight months following an operation on his left knee.

Ibrahimovic came off the bench in a 3-0 win over Sassuolo on Sunday that sealed the Rossoneri's first Scudetto for 11 years.

The 40-year-old Sweden striker only started 12 games for Stefano Pioli's side this season and with his contract expiring at the end of next month, his future is up in the air.

Ibrahimovic on Thursday opened up on the pain he has experienced this year.

"For the past six months I played without an ACL in my left knee," he posted on Instagram.

"Swollen knee for six months. I was only able to train with the team 10 times in the last six months.

"Took more than 20 injections in six months. Emptied the knee once a week for six months. Painkillers every day for six months.

"Barely slept for six months because of the pain. Never suffered so much on and off the pitch. I made something impossible to something possible.

"In my mind I had only one objective, to make my team-mates and coach champions of Italy because I made them a promise. Today I have a new ACL and another trophy."

As if the protracted transfer saga for Kylian Mbappe was not arduous enough, new transfer battle lines are being drawn for PSG and Real Madrid.

The need to rejuvenate Madrid's squad has been identified despite their LaLiga title win and progression to this season's Champions League final.

According to reports, however, they should prepare for not having everything their way again, with a new player in mind.

TOP STORY – PSG TO MAKE LATE PLAY FOR TCHOUAMENI    

PSG are preparing to make a late bid for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni in an attempt to snatch him from Real Madrid , according to Goal.

The 22-year-old Monaco star is almost certain to leave the Principality this off-season, but his destination remains unclear.

Madrid have reportedly been in talks with Monaco over a prospective transfer for over a year, but have not yet completed the deal.

Kylian Mbappe was believed to have recommended Tchouameni when he was in talks over a move to the Santiago Bernabeu himself.

Now Mbappe has decided to stay in the French capital, it has accelerated the race to sign Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Chelsea are considering a move for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, according to Goal.

Arsenal target Tammy Abraham insists he is happy at Roma but would not rule out a move back to the Premier League, per Metro.

– In need of a striker, Tuttosport reports the Gunners are also monitoring Alvaro Morata's situation, with his loan deal at Juventus expiring this off-season.

– Tottenham are targeting Inter centre-back Alessandro Bastoni, with Manchester United also interested, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Milan have confirmed Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the rest of 2022 after having surgery on a knee problem, stoking speculation the forward might retire.

Ibrahimovic celebrated Milan's Serie A title success in typical style on Sunday, smoking a cigar as he made his way out onto the pitch for the trophy presentation.

Yet the 40-year-old – who came off the bench in the 3-0 win over Sassuolo that sealed the title – might have made his final appearance for Milan, and possibly of his career, after he underwent surgery on his left knee.

Milan revealed on Wednesday that Ibrahimovic will face between seven and eight months out of action, but that the surgery was a success.

"AC Milan announces that Zlatan Ibrahimovic underwent surgery on his left knee today by Dr. Bertrand Sonnery-Cottet, in the presence of club medical director Stefano Mazzoni, at the Hopital Jean Mermoz in Lyon," read a Milan statement.

"The arthroscopy had been planned for some time to definitively resolve the instability of the joint through reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament, with lateral reinforcement and meniscal repair. The operation was perfectly successful and the prognosis is estimated at seven-to-eight months."

Ibrahimovic scored eight goals from 23 Serie A appearances this season, though his last start in the competition came in January. His contract ends in June.

Reports in Italy earlier this week claimed Milan would only be offering the Sweden international a new deal should surgery not be required, also suggesting Ibrahimovic would consider retirement if an operation was needed.

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.

Jose Mourinho has said Wednesday's inaugural Europa Conference League final will be about "finishing a journey" as his Roma side prepare to take on Feyenoord.

The Giallorossi beat Leicester City in the semi-finals and finished sixth in Serie A this season to qualify for next season's Europa League.

Mourinho recently insisted that winning the Europa Conference League will mean as much to him as his Champions League titles with Porto and Inter.

The game with their Dutch opponents will take place at Arena Kombetare in Tirana, Albania, and speaking at a media conference on Tuesday, Mourinho said winning the first edition of the competition was a key target for his team. 

"To me this final is not about writing history," he said. "It's about finishing a journey we've been on this season and achieving one of the targets we've always had.

"Me and my staff have been at Trigoria since the Torino game, preparing for this game. The squad look in good shape to me, ready for this."

Attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not played since suffering a muscle injury against Leicester last month, but Mourinho said the Armenian could be available on Wednesday. 

"Mkhitaryan trained today with the squad for the first time. But it was only a light session," he said.

"Still, it was important for him to see how he feels out there on the pitch. I will rely a lot on his view on whether he is ready or not tomorrow."

The former Chelsea manager has often gone by the moniker "The Special One", following his confident self-tagging when he became boss at Stamford Bridge in 2004, but he insisted he is not the same person any more and just wants to help his team.

"The Special One story is a nonsense," he added. "It's something you say in the beginning of your career. As you progress, mature, you start to think more about others than yourself. So that's an old story to me. Tomorrow, I will simply try to help."

Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini also spoke to the media, and said he and his team-mates will be "focused and determined" to get the win.

"Who wouldn't want to bring something home that will remain forever in the history of this club?" the 25-year-old said.

"We will be focused and determined, as we always are. I hope that tomorrow will end up being one of the best days of my life."

Gareth Southgate believes the rest of Europe's leading leagues face a "jump" to the Premier League, but he has suggested Fikayo Tomori's Serie A title success with Milan represents "a really good bridge".

Tomori has long since been touted as a potential England star, yet he only returned to Southgate's senior set-up on Tuesday after clinching the Scudetto with the Rossoneri.

The former Chelsea man is well established as one of the finest defenders in Italy, although the Three Lions manager suggested this alone was not enough to put him ahead of Premier League rivals.

Southgate has also watched Tammy Abraham play in Serie A this season, with the Roma forward becoming the highest-scoring English player in a single season in the league's history (17 goals – ahead of Gerry Hitchens' 16 for Inter in 1961-62).

This has given Southgate and his coaching staff a greater understanding of the level of play in Italy, but the England boss says it pales next to the "powerful" English game, even if the pressure of a title race has now played in Tomori's favour.

"Firstly, huge credit to both the boys for going and adapting to living abroad, playing a different style of football, the endeavour to learn another language and fit in culturally with the group," Southgate said after announcing his squad for June's Nations League fixtures. "That deserves huge credit.

"We're watching a lot of Serie A, we're watching a lot of the Bundesliga, we were watching a lot of LaLiga when Tripps [Kieran Trippier] was there – the leagues are different levels to the Premier League.

"Milan's defence, if you looked at the defence in the last few months of the season, was very young, with very few international caps right across the back four.

"Inter are very strong; I think, in those leagues, the top two or three teams are very strong.

"But compared to the depth of the Premier League, there isn't the financial clout and so the depth isn't the same. And the intensity of the games is very different – there is a lot more structure, a lot less transitional.

"There is a jump, I think, and I think that's been shown in a lot of the Champions League fixtures and European fixtures.

"Our league is incredibly powerful in terms of its spending power. Some of the smallest teams in our league, with the least financial resource, can compete with some historic European giants. It's a great product we've got.

"So, we're trying to map all of that when we're assessing the players and the levels of their performances – because we watch them week in, week out, really clearly, we're pretty clear on what that is, so we're realistic in our expectations.

"But, of course, Fik in particular comes with the confidence of having just won a league title, playing at Milan in front of 70,000, 80,000 people every week.

"That's a similar sort of pressure to what he's going to have in an England shirt. It's a really good bridge."

Tomori was preferred to a more experienced option like Tottenham's Eric Dier, who is "definitely in our thinking", Southgate said.

"We know him," Southgate explained of Dier's absence, but Leicester City's James Maddison, coming off the best scoring season of his Premier League career (12 goals), was snubbed because he remains behind Mason Mount and Phil Foden in the pecking order.

The England manager still will not rule out any option ahead of the Qatar World Cup, however, adding: "We have September, and I think there's always the possibility that somebody emerges. That's always happened when I've been selecting squads."

Elsewhere, Southgate confirmed he had spoken to Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before selecting Bukayo Saka, while there were discussions with Liverpool's Champions League finalists Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson.

Alexander-Arnold is involved but will likely only to take part in "the first part of the camp", though Southgate "didn't need to see" Henderson.

Olivier Giroud has revelled in being able to celebrate Milan's "special, unique" Serie A success with two of the great Rossoneri strikers.

Giroud scored two goals on Sunday's final day of the season to help clinch a 3-0 win at Sassuolo and the Scudetto.

The triumph ended an 11-year wait for a title for Milan and a 10-year wait for Giroud, whose sole previous domestic championship came with Montpellier.

"This Scudetto with Milan has a special, unique flavour," the forward told la Repubblica.

"I won the only national title in my career 10 years ago in Ligue 1, at Montpellier. I was young. This is the triumph of maturity.

"I was talking about it with my brother. Thinking about it, I still have goosebumps, especially since I won with the Milan shirt."

Giroud's love for all things Milan made one post-title message particularly precious, as former Ballon d'Or winner Andriy Shevchenko reached out.

"We felt the emotion of the fans, who have been waiting for this joy for 11 years," Giroud added. "This club is back in its place, I'm proud of us.

"As a kid, my idol was Shevchenko – he sent me a message of compliments; he made me too happy."

Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a member of Milan's previous title-winning team and now back aged 40, has also had a big role to play.

Giroud, himself a veteran at 35, said: "Zlatan is the alpha male. When he speaks, everyone pays attention.

"On the bus, he grabbed the microphone and had a personalised gift for everyone, from us players to every member of the staff. Before the games, he made videos and messages.

"He is a leader, I hope he can continue. I told him I'm proud to have played with him. For me, he is like a big brother."

The season's only real lowlight was a group-stage exit in the Champions League, meaning the target now is to kick on in Europe.

"That's the next step: to go as far as possible in Europe," the World Cup winner said.

"The group is certainly growing and if it remains the same, it can continue a winning cycle. I can't wait to go back to Milanello, [after] just a little vacation."

But Giroud also has aims again in Serie A: "[I want] to win again. I came here for the Scudetto, and it has arrived. A sportsman lives his career for moments like this.

"In the midst of such a young team, it's like I'm 20. I am living my second youth."

You would have been forgiven for thinking the days of Jose Mourinho leading teams to European finals were over.

From 2002 to 2010, Mourinho-coached sides appeared in two Champions League finals and one UEFA Cup showdown. On each occasion, 'The Special One' triumphed.

He had to wait seven years for his next appearance in a continental showpiece, but he kept up his 100 per cent record – Manchester United beating Ajax to lift the 2016-17 Europa League trophy.

But that was an early peak in Mourinho's United tenure. His stock has since fallen. He was sacked in 2018 and then lasted just 18 months at Tottenham, the only club he has managed so far where he has not won a trophy.

He might have had the opportunity to win the EFL Cup with Spurs, though he was sacked before that rescheduled match could take place. Hard lines.

It was hard not to feel Mourinho's race had been run. He can no longer be considered among the truly elite managers, and that was reflected as he rocked up at Roma.

Not that Roma, three-time champions of Italy, are by any means a small club. They were in the Champions League semi-finals as recently as 2018.

Yet, their last title came in 2001 and their last trophy of any description came in 2008 when they won the Coppa Italia for the ninth time. Ironically, Mourinho's Inter then beat Roma in the Supercoppa Italiana at the start of the following season, the last time the Giallorossi had a chance to win a piece of silverware.

But Mourinho is a winner, and now he has the chance to remind everyone of that. He is back in a European final as Roma get the opportunity to win their first major European trophy. No other coach has reached the final of a major European competition with four different clubs.

"I am a coach with a certain history and Roma are a big club," he told UEFA's Italian website. "I did feel a little bit of responsibility to make this a big competition.

"The Conference League is our Champions League. This is the level we are at, the competition we are playing for. The club has not reached a game like this for a very long time."

The Europa Conference League may have been scoffed at when it was introduced but for fans of Roma, and their opponents Feyenoord, continental glory that would otherwise have evaded them is now within their grasp.

With a record-breaking striker leading the line in the form of Tammy Abraham, Mourinho might just have a fifth European title under his belt.

Life in the old dog?

Mourinho has overseen 54 games so far at Roma, triumphing in 28 of them to give him a win percentage of 52.

That is a slight dip from the 55 per cent in 2020-21, though that was over three fewer matches, but an improvement on the 46 per cent (from 35 games) and 42 per cent (from 24 fixtures) in 2019-20 and 2018-19 respectively.

 

Roma won 18 Serie A games this season, ensuring a place in the Europa League through a sixth-placed finish.

His 47 per cent win ratio in the league ranks him 10th out of Roma coaches to have overseen at least 10 games, while his 52 per cent in all competitions puts him joint-sixth, alongside predecessor Paulo Fonseca, of those bosses to have taken charge of at least 20 matches.

Perhaps Mourinho's decline is highlighted by the fact he is placing so much emphasis on winning UEFA's third-tier club tournament, but from Roma's perspective, that desire will surely be welcome.

Abraham the key?

Having been deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, Abraham has become something of a cult figure at Roma.

Abraham called Mourinho "the best manager in the world" in an interview with talkSPORT in April, and he has certainly thrived under the Portuguese's guidance.

 

He has scored 27 goals across all competitions this season, one better than the previous best tally he had managed, which was 26 goals for both Bristol City (in 2016-17) and Aston Villa (2018-19), albeit both of those campaigns were in the Championship.

It has been a record-breaking season for Abraham. A first-half double against Torino on Friday saw the 24-year-old become the highest-scoring English player in a single season in the Italian top flight, surpassing the previous mark of 16 set by Gerald Hitchens at Inter in 1961-62. 

The only Roma player to score more than the England international's haul of 17 in a debut Serie A season with the club was Rodolfo Volk, who registered 21 in the 1929-30 campaign. 

He has featured in all but one of Roma's league games, starting 36 times and averaging a goal every 182 minutes, converting 17.8 per cent of his 95 shots, which ranks better than two of his seasons in the Premier League (13.33 per cent in 2017-18 and 16.22 in 2019-20).

Abraham has scored nine times from 13 Conference League appearances and he has proved many doubters wrong this season.

With a place in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad later this year potentially up for grabs, playing a pivotal role in Roma's maiden European success would be some way to cap a fine campaign and seal his name in Giallorossi folklore.

Speculation over Declan Rice's future has long centred on an apparently inevitable departure from West Ham United.

The Hammers run to the Europa League semi-final has amplified talk around the England international midfielder, with Chelsea and Manchester United linked.

According to reports, though, the 23-year-old appears content at London Stadium with a World Cup on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – DECLAN RICE TO STICK WITH WEST HAM    

Declan Rice will not leave West Ham despite interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, according to The Mirror.

The 23-year-old has been reticent to sign a new deal at the club, but he is reportedly in no hurry to leave yet either, seemingly wanted to stay settled ahead of November's World Cup in Qatar.

United have looked to Rice as one of their primary transfer targets as Erik ten Hag looks to overhaul the squad, but Rice appears set for one more season at West Ham following their run to the Europa League semi-final this term.

Hammers management had previously advised that Rice is not for sale, and strong performances at the World Cup with England would likely only increase his already lofty market value.

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are showing interest in Milan's Rafael Leao after Kylian Mbappe opted to stay at Paris Saint-Germain, according to Marca.

– Los Blancos are also looking to scupper Liverpool's move for Aurelien Tchouameni, despite the player having already agreed terms with the Reds so say The Mirror.

Barcelona are discussing personal terms with Marcos Alonso, who is set to leave Chelsea, Fabrizio Romano reports.

– Arsenal defender William Saliba wants to stay at Marseille, where he has been on loan, per Goal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic declared his Milan mission accomplished as the Rossoneri were crowned Serie A champions for the first time in 11 years – but the veteran has not ruled out playing for another season.

The 40-year-old Swedish striker embarked on the second spell of his career with Milan in December 2019, and said that was at the behest of his long-time agent Mino Raiola, who died in late April.

Ibrahimovic dedicated his title success with Milan to Raiola, who he said had backed him to lift Milan from the doldrums.

The former Juventus and Inter player's impact at San Siro has been remarkable, with a glut of goals early on serving to lift spirits at the club and set the tone for the success that has followed.

Last season, Ibrahimovic scored 16 goals in 26 games as Milan finished second in Serie A, while this term he has also featured 26 times, albeit starting only 12 games and netting eight times.

The returns have been diminishing and injuries have been a problem, with knee and Achilles trouble disrupting his season this time around, but Ibrahimovic's effervescence continues to be infectious as he proves a positive dressing-room presence.

"When I got back here, I remember a journalist at a press conference saying that usually those who go back to where they have been can do only worse," Ibrahimovic told DAZN after the title-clinching 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

"I replied that I would fight to get the club back up and to win the Scudetto. Nobody believed it, but we are here, we have worked hard and made many sacrifices, proving that thanks to work nothing is impossible."

Ibrahimovic was Milan's main man when they won the 2010-11 Serie A title, having previously been a table-topper in Italy with Juve and Inter. He has since starred for Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and LA Galaxy, where it was widely assumed he was winding down his career, albeit with a glut of goals. The return to Milan has proved otherwise in that regard.

He recognised his playing efforts this year had been less influential than in the past two campaigns, and his contract is due to expire next month.

"But I think I have been useful to this group off the pitch," he added.

Milan collected gained 86 points in Serie A this season, and only in 2005-06 (88 points) have they managed more in the era of three points for a win.

Speaking about Raiola, Ibrahimovic said: "The dedication is to Mino Raiola. This is the first trophy I have won without him.

"When I returned to Europe, I was close to Napoli, and then I asked him where I could go to make a difference and he replied that only I could save Milan."

Ibrahimovic puffed on a cigar and celebrated with champagne after Milan secured the Scudetto. If that suggested a sense of finality, Ibrahimovic seemingly did not intend it that way.

He will have his body checked out now the season is over, and said: "If I'm fine, this wasn't my last match. I'll consider whether to have surgery."

Cagliari were relegated from Serie A after only managing a draw against Venezia as Salernitana retained their top-flight status despite being thrashed by Udinese.

Salernitana looked in serious danger of going down when Davide Nicola took charge in February, sitting bottom of the table with three wins from 23 games.

Nicola inspired a resurgence, though, with his side picking up 15 points in a run of seven league games to head into the final matchday two points clear of Cagliari.

However, Udinese were rampant as Gerard Deulofeu, Ilija Nestorovski and Iyenoma Destiny Udogie put Nicola's side 3-0 down before half-time on Sunday.

Udinese captain Roberto Pereyra added a fourth after the interval as the Friulians achieved their best Serie A points haul (47) since the 2012-13 season (66).

That meant Cagliari would have stayed up with a win at already-relegated Venezia, but Alessandro Agostini's could only muster a draw as the Rossoblu were relegated to Serie B for the sixth time in their history.

Cagliari's failure handed Salernitana their first-ever Serie A survival, having failed to do so on their other two attempts in 1947-48 and 1998-99.

Salernitana also became the first team to stay up despite conceding at least 78 goals in a single top-flight campaign after Livorno (79 in 1929-30) and Lucchese (82 in 1947-48, 79 in 1949-50).

Meanwhile, Cagliari join Venezia and Genoa in Serie B and the trio will aim to bounce straight back up next season.

Stefano Pioli says Milan's Scudetto triumph was fully deserved as they were more consistent than Inter and showed more belief than their fierce rivals.

Milan ended their 11-year wait to finish top of Serie A with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo on Sunday, rendering Inter's win at home to Sampdoria by the same scoreline meaningless.

The Rossoneri finished two points ahead of erstwhile champions Inter to claim their first trophy since the 2016 Italian Super Cup some 1,976 days ago.

Pioli's men won their final five matches and went 15 without defeat to see out the campaign, with their final tally of 88 points their second best ever in the three-points-per-win era.

And after a gripping title battle with Inter that went down to the final game – the first time that has happened in Serie A since 2009-10 – Pioli was full of praise for his players.

"They are phenomenal," he told DAZN. "I am happy for them, for myself, for the fans, the club. This Scudetto makes us all very happy.

"We showed more consistency than Inter. The last game we lost was against Spezia in January and even then we shouldn't have lost it.

"The team never gave up; all the players were fantastic. We fully deserved this Scudetto because we believed in it more. We are a strong team and I have great staff around me."

Olivier Giroud scored twice for Milan in their title-clinching win at Sassuolo and Franck Kessie added a third before half-time.

Rafael Leao assisted two of those strikes and has been involved in at least one goal in his past six league appearances, including three strikes of his own.

The Portugal international was named as Serie A's Most Valuable Player for 2021-22, while Pioli was named Coach of the Year.

"I have the players and the club to thank for that," Pioli said. "This award is for them. Without them what we achieved would not have been possible."

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