Inter striker Lautaro Martinez has signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract, the Serie A club have announced.

The Argentina international's new deal expires at the end of the 2025-26 season and does not contain a release clause, according to reports.

Martinez had previously been heavily linked with Barcelona, while rumours of interest from Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Tottenham circulated in the previous transfer window.

However, the 24-year-old has committed his future to the Serie A champions, who had remained determined to keep the former Racing star after seeing Romelu Lukaku depart for Chelsea.

The list of candidates to replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona is already forming.

Koeman was dismissed after Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano which left them ninth in LaLiga.

Barcelona are battling financial challenges and have struggled since Lionel Messi's exit in August.

TOP STORY – XAVI OFFERED BARCELONA JOB

Barcelona have offered their vacant head coaching role to club legend Xavi, reports Goal.

The Catalans have acted fast with Koeman sacked late on Wednesday.

Xavi is currently coaching Qatari outfit Al Sadd but has an exit clause in his contract, although Barca are prepared to pay any fee required.

The 41-year-old long-time Barcelona midfielder retired from playing in 2019, with his final on-field stint at Al Sadd before moving into coaching.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are in the box seat to sign Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to the Daily Star. Phillips, who is contracted with Leeds until 2024, has been linked with Manchester United too, but the report claims Liverpool are his first choice and the deal would be worth around £60million.

- Manchester United have conceded that agreeing a new deal with Paul Pogba is impossible and are prepared to lose the France international on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, reports ESPN. Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain , Juventus and Real Madrid .

- Manchester United's Amad Diallo is interested in going out on loan to Dutch club Feyenoord, according to Feyenoord TM. The 19-year-old Ivorian winger has not played this season.

- TEAMtalk claims that PSG have joined the pursuit of Leeds United's Brazil international Raphinha. PSG is the current home of Raphinha's Brazilian team-mates Neymar and Marquinhos.

- Chelsea are preparing for Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen's exit by lining up moves for Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt, reports Eurosport.

Aurelio Andreazzoli claimed even his "four-year-old grandson could see that was a penalty" after he was left furious with the refereeing in Empoli's 2-0 defeat to Inter.

Danilo D'Ambrosio headed in the opener for Inter after 33 minutes but Empoli felt Nedim Bajrami had been fouled at the other end by the Nerazzurri centre-back.

Federico Dimarco subsequently added a second following Samuele Ricci's dismissal for a reckless challenge on Nicolo Barella, leaving Andreazzoli fuming over the standard of officiating in Wednesday's Serie A clash.

"I want to be very clear that I have never talked about referees, because I think they ought to be defended as a profession," Andreazzoli told Sky Sport Italia.

"However, I want to know what exactly Paolo Valeri was doing this evening at the VAR desk. Either he was distracted or he popped to the bathroom or something, because how is it possible that VAR does not help the referee when it has to?

"Let’s leave aside the Inter performance, just like the red card for Ricci, which I’ll admit was basically an orange card and I accept that. I always accept decisions.

"However, if VAR sees a clear and obvious error, I ask myself why do they not help the referee? That is what they are there for.

"Honestly, even my four-year-old grandson Tommaso could see that was a penalty. I saw it on a phone when I went back into the locker room at the final whistle and was shocked when I saw the replay.

"If we do not use these instruments and this technology, then we remove the objectivity of refereeing in games. The matches must be objective. The referee did a good job overall, but he didn’t see that incident, the VAR did, so help him make the right decisions."

Inter managed a seventh consecutive top-flight clean sheet on the road against Andreazzoli's team – their best run against a single opponent in the competition and tied for the best streak of any one side against another.

At the other end, Alexis Sanchez assisted D'Ambrosio's opener - his 21st goal involvement in 23 Serie A starts with the Nerazzurri in Serie A (nine goals, 12 assists) - and Inter's assistant manager Massimiliano Farris was quick to praise the Chile international.

"It’s true that his characteristics are fairly unique within the team, but Joaquin Correa could do something similar if called upon," Farris said post-match to Sky Sport Italia.

"Alexis has that creativity, that moment of magic, you just need to see the assist for D’Ambrosio’s goal.

"D’Ambrosio and Dimarco are added value to this squad and bring more than you’d expect.

"It’s a pity Lautaro Martinez didn’t score today, but he’s saving his goals for other games. We made a few changes, everyone showed they were ready when called upon, as everyone has to work together as a team."

Massimiliano Allegri was frustrated Juventus did not settle for a point against Sassuolo on Wednesday, instead leaving themselves open to concede a late winner as they chased one of their own. 

Juve lost 2-1 at the Allianz Stadium, their first defeat in 10 matches in all competitions and their first home reverse at the hands of Sassuolo. 

The Bianconeri had recovered from Davide Frattesi's first-half opener, as Weston McKennie headed in with 14 minutes to play. 

But Allegri's men went looking for a decisive second and instead allowed Maxime Lopez space to run through and score in the 95th minute, condemning Juve to their third defeat in 10 Serie A matches this term. 

It was the 13th league goal Juve have conceded this season – their most at this stage of a campaign since 1988-89 – and one of the most frustrating for Allegri. 

The coach, who became the third Juve boss to oversee 200 Serie A games, told a news conference his team "lost our heads" after equalising. 

He added: "We have to have a different management like we had up to the 75th minute. After the equaliser, we were frantic and we lost in the 95th minute. This cannot happen anymore. 

"When you can't win, you must not lose, and maybe this lost point will come to weigh heavy at the end of the season. 

"After the 75th minute, the inertia was over; if you can't score, you don't concede the second goal. Then it is a goal that is also bad to see." 

 

Juve drew 1-1 with Inter on Sunday, with that game providing an example of what Allegri was looking for, even if their equaliser at San Siro came courtesy of a controversial penalty. 

"It's more a mental thing, more a balance that we have to find, knowing that we don't have to be in a hurry, we don't have to be unstable when we play games," Allegri told DAZN. 

"We suffered less on Sunday. In Milan, when we were 1-0 down, we didn't even suffer a counter-attack, and today, at the end, we were immediately counter-attacked. 

"Against Inter, we were more orderly in playing the ball, more relaxed, tonight instead we were unstable after it went to 1-1." 

Federico Chiesa squandered Juve's best opportunities before McKennie's leveller, failing to hit the target with any of his game-high four attempts. He at least had a greater impact than Alvaro Morata, who did not have a single shot. 

Allegri stuck up for Morata, insisting: "Come the end of the season, he will have scored goals and he will surely have won games." 

Danilo D'Ambrosio and Federico Dimarco were on target as Inter returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Empoli on Wednesday.

Simone Inzaghi's side had stuttered in Serie A in recent weeks, losing to Lazio and drawing with Juventus before this trip to Empoli.

However, D'Ambrosio broke the deadlock in the first half, scoring in a seventh consecutive top-flight campaign, and Samuele Ricci's dismissal for a reckless challenge after the break eased Inter's task.

Dimarco capitalised to make sure of the points and consolidate the Nerazzurri's third-place position.

Petar Stojanovic's speculative long-range effort had brought the first save of the contest from Samir Handanovic, before Dimarco tried his luck from a similar distance and was denied by Guglielmo Vicario.

The Empoli goalkeeper was powerless 11 minutes before the break, when D'Ambrosio headed into the bottom-left corner following Alexis Sanchez's dinked pass.

Nicolo Barella almost doubled Inter's lead on the stroke of half-time but blasted against the woodwork, before Ricci received a straight red card for a dangerous sliding challenge on the Nerazzurri midfielder after the interval.

Roberto Gagliardini then headed onto the left-hand post and Martinez was denied by a wonderful Vicario stop, either side of Sanchez's close-range finish being chalked off for offside.

Dimarco eventually added a second in the 66th minute, tapping in Martinez's low cross at the back post, although the visitors could have won by more, with two more goals ruled out. Gagliardini was penalised for handball and Stefano Sensi was flagged in the closing stages.

Simon Kjaer has penned a new two-year contract with Serie A leaders Milan.

The extension will keep him at the Rossoneri until June 2024 after his current deal was due to run out at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

The club announced Kjaer's new contract on Wednesday, hailing the 32-year-old as an "exemplary professional on and off the pitch" as they look forward to "continuing their journey together".

Kjaer initially moved to San Siro on a six-month loan from Sevilla in January 2020 before making the move permanent in the close season.

He was a standout performer as his side undertook something of a transformation under Stefano Pioli during the previous term.

The Denmark international received the 2021 UEFA President's award following his heroic actions in which he dealt with Christian Eriksen at Euro 2020 after his team-mate suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch in their opener against Finland.

The former Sevilla defender, who has racked up 66 appearances for Pioli's team across all competitions, also made the 30-man shortlist for the 2021 Ballon d'Or following his rapid reactions to help Eriksen in June.

The centre-back has managed 621 minutes this season in all competitions for Milan, who have won nine of their opening ten games in Serie A for just the second time since 1954-55.

The Rossoneri overcame Torino 1-0 on Tuesday and currently hold a three-point lead in the Italian top flight over Napoli, who face Bologna on Thursday.

Maxime Lopez struck for Sassuolo in the 95th minute at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday to deal Juventus a 2-1 defeat, their first reverse in 10 matches in all competitions.

A stunning finish brought an end to a frustrating encounter for the Bianconeri, whose season has hit another stumbling block after six straight wins heading into Sunday's draw at Inter.

Lopez's breakaway winner decisively put Sassuolo – previously without an away Serie A victory at Juve – in front for the second time, having earlier led through Davide Frattesi.

Weston McKennie's thumping header got Massimiliano Allegri's men back on terms and seemed to set the stage for a second home goal, but it was Sassuolo who were celebrating deep in stoppage time.

The game ended as it began, in breathless fashion. The visitors recovered from a rocky start to go close through Domenico Berardi, whose curling effort tested Mattia Perin, and came through another strong Juventus spell to lead on the stroke of half-time.

Paulo Dybala had hit the post and Federico Chiesa lashed over in the 10 minutes before the break, but an incisive move at the other end gave Frattesi a chance he would not pass up, finishing coolly past Perin.

Giacomo Raspadori was not so accurate when he might have doubled Sassuolo's advantage in the second half, a scare that stirred the hosts.

Juan Cuadrado's blast was cleared off the line by Kaan Ayhan, before Andrea Consigli beat away Dybala's drive and got back to his feet in time to see Chiesa nod over.

McKennie appeared the unlikely saviour then, meeting Dybala's free-kick with a fine header that flew beyond Consigli.

But Juve's pursuit of a second left Lopez in the clear to run onto Berardi's sublime pass, hold off the recovering McKennie and dink over Perin for a memorable Sassuolo triumph.

Giorgio Chiellini hopes Matthijs de Ligt is not taken away from Juventus by agent Mino Raiola, as he feels his defensive colleague already "has everything".

Now 37, Juve captain Chiellini is in the final years of his career, but the future of the Turin giants appears to be in the hands of De Ligt.

The former Ajax captain is still just 22 and is settled in Serie A in his third season with the Bianconeri.

De Ligt underwhelmed a little following his €75million transfer to Italy but has since performed well, last committing an error leading to a chance in the league in his debut 2019-20 season.

Although De Ligt has been limited to six appearances this term, with veteran duo Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred against Inter on Sunday, he is certainly becoming a more dominant defender.

No Juve defender is contesting (4.5) or winning (3.4) more aerial duels per 90 than De Ligt in 2021-22, while his overall duel success rate for the season is up significantly to 67.4 per cent.

Indeed, Chiellini believes De Ligt has the full package, telling DAZN: "He's very strong, I call him Thor.

 

"If he had been Italian, it would have been easier to keep him for many years, I hope that Mino will give us the pleasure of leaving him a few more years in Turin.

"He has everything, but the difference is made in the head; he is 22 years old but has the mentality of someone of 30, and he sets himself the goal of wanting to improve every day."

De Ligt arrived at Juve as Andrea Barzagli retired, but he still finds himself competing with the other two members of the great 'BBC' back line.

That might not have been the case, however, as Bonucci briefly left for Milan – a move that upset Chiellini.

"I was hurt. That Milan was a team in difficulty, it was not Real Madrid or even Milan of now," he said. "Today it would be different, but at the time going there meant taking a clear step back.

"The choices remain personal and must be respected, but if we had been on holiday together that summer I would have made him understand that he was making a mistake. He realised it very soon."

Chiellini also could have been out the door by now, revealing he considered retiring following the coronavirus outbreak but played on to star at Euro 2020, where Italy won the title.

"I lived a hard period after my injury," Chiellini said. "I returned after six months and shortly after COVID broke out, and for almost a year I struggled to find the right balance.

"The thought of retirement made its way into my head but it was the European Championship that kept me going with the desire to be there at all costs."

Any hopes of Paul Pogba remaining at Old Trafford appear to be fading. 

The Manchester United stalwart has halted contract talks with the club. 

Multiple European clubs are said to be interested in the 28-year-old. 

 

TOP STORY – POGBA ENDS MAN UTD TALKS

Paul Pogba has ended talks over a potential new contract at Manchester United amid an apparent row with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Sun reports. 

The France international will be out of contract in June and appears likely to move on. 

The Sun reports he apologised to his team-mates but did not speak to Solskjaer after being sent off 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool. 

His former club Juventus could be an option, while Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have shown interest. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona would prefer to have Jurgen Klopp take over whenever they sack Ronald Koeman, says Sport. Klopp is under contract with Liverpool through 2024. 

- Newcastle United are prepared to offer Alex Ten Hag £6million a year after taxes if he leaves Ajax for St. James' Park, reports the Mail. 

- Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in Barcelona's Spain international Sergi Roberto, says Fichajes. 

- Inter have had talks with Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby's agent over a potential move, claims Calciomercato. 

- River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is drawing interest from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Aston Villa, says Calciomercato. 

Olivier Giroud acknowledged Milan's display in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Torino was by no means impressive but applauded the team for still managing to get the job done.

Giroud got the only goal of the game in the 14th minute, tapping in from close range after Rade Krunic flicked on a corner.

Precious few clear-cut opportunities came for Milan thereafter – their 1.1 expected goals (xG) value was better than Torino's (0.6), but 0.8 of the Rossoneri's total was attributed to Giroud's goal, highlighting the dearth of quality chances after the breakthrough.

Torino came on strong in the latter stages, with Tonny Sanabria forcing a save from Ciprian Tatarusanu and Dennis Praet having a deflected effort hit the crossbar.

It was hardly an emphatic performance from Milan, who had great trouble in their 4-2 weekend win at Bologna as well, but it moved them to the top of the table at least until Thursday and also ensured they reached the 10-match mark with nine victories for only the second time ever (also 1954-55).

And Giroud feels Milan can cut themselves some slack as long as they get results.

"We play every three days, and that's just not easy on the body," Giroud told DAZN. "Not everything was perfect, but we won and that's the most important thing.

"We played a good game, I think. Torino are a strong, physical team. They're aggressive in tackles and there were plenty of challenges with Bremer, who's a great defender.

"I'm really happy because we started well and Torino didn't really create lots of scoring opportunities. That shows we were really solid at the back, and we've taken the three points, which is the most important thing.

"We can do better at times. It's not perfect, but Torino are very tough to play against, and we got the three points. That's what I really like about this team [Milan], especially when playing at home, we want to make the fans happy with a lot of energy and passion."

Milan took full advantage of Napoli's Sunday slip-up as the Rossoneri beat Torino 1-0 in Serie A thanks to Olivier Giroud's early goal, the win putting them top of the table on Tuesday.

Napoli's 0-0 draw with Roma at the weekend meant the Partenopei only sat at the top of the pile thanks to goal difference, but Milan just about got the job done at San Siro to go first at least until Thursday.

Giroud's early effort was one of few clear-cut chances in the entire match, with the Frenchman becoming only the second player in the three-points-for-a-win era to score in his first three home league appearances for Milan (after Mario Balotelli in 2013).

For the vast majority of the match, Torino looked the better side but their inability to consistently worry the Milan defence meant the hosts were able to hold on to a slender victory.

A scrappy opening was devoid of excitement, but Milan went ahead with their first meaningful attack in the 14th minute, as Giroud met Rade Krunic's flick-on and tapped in from close range.

It was not until the final action of the first half that Milan went close again, with Krunic getting another header away, although this time it landed just wide with Giroud not there to guide it in.

Andrea Belotti let Milan off the hook early in the second period when his mishit shot asked little of Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Torino came on strong towards the end, with Tonny Sanabria forcing a necessary save from Tatarusanu and Dennis Praet's deflected effort clipping the top of the crossbar, but it was too little, too late.

What does it mean? Milan not convincing

While the win puts Milan top at least until Napoli face Bologna on Thursday, their performance was hardly an emphatic statement.

The Giroud goal aside, Milan never really looked like scoring – their cumulative expected goals figure was 1.1, though 0.8 of that was attributed to the France forward's tap-in.

Thankfully for them, once Pierre Kalulu went off at the break, Milan were mostly solid in defence, with Torino restricted to only one major opportunity.

Kalulu caught short

Deployed at left-back from the start, the youngster was withdrawn at the break after struggling in the first half. He was careless in possession on several occasions and just never looked an assuring presence defensively.

Tonali takes plaudits

It was a match with few standout performances in truth, but Sandro Tonali did catch the eye. He was one of only two Milan players to play more than one key pass (two) and he worked hard throughout his 65 minutes on the pitch – his 14 duels were bettered by only three team-mates, all of whom played at least 22 more minutes.

What's next?

A trip to Jose Mourinho's Roma awaits Milan on Sunday. Torino host Sampdoria the day before.

Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa will start Juventus' Serie A clash with Sassuolo after Massimiliano Allegri accepted he made a mistake with his team selection against Inter.

Allegri introduced Dybala and Chiesa from the substitutes' bench with Juve trailing in Sunday's match at San Siro, and the former netted a late penalty to rescue a 1-1 draw.

Despite only being brought on in the 65th minute, Dybala led the way among Juventus players for shots (four), shots on target (two) and big chances created (two).

The Argentina international, who was returning from a four-game injury lay-off, has been directly involved in more goals (six) than any team-mate in all competitions this term.

Chiesa's 12 chances created this term, meanwhile, has been bettered by only Alvaro Morata (13) and Juan Cuadrado (15).

Juventus head coach Allegri explained the decision to overlook the pair for Derby d'Italia selection was down to fitness issues, with both set to be recalled against Sassuolo on Wednesday.

"Paulo and Chiesa will play, so everybody is happy. You write and I make you happy," Allegri, who was criticised for his team selection, said at his pre-match news conference.

"Dybala has important technical qualities. He is different from [Dejan] Kulusevski, but Kulusevski played a good game in Milan in the first 60 minutes.

"Chiesa is a top player. He's played many games already. On Sunday, I was wrong, but I had read the game in a different way, with Kulusevski man-marking [Marcelo] Brozovic.

"It's not a problem if a player starts on the bench, there are many games. Chiesa didn't drop to the bench because he deserved it. I had read the game in a certain way.

"Eventually, when he was introduced, we needed more quality and he had a great impact.

"Federico is a reference point for the national team and Juventus, but if I use the same players all the time, I'll need 20 new players in January.

"We hope we’ll play 57 games this season and sometimes players must rest. They can benefit from it, physically and mentally."

 

Allegri also confirmed Adrien Rabiot is back and available, but Moise Kean and Federico Bernardeschi are ruled out for the visit of Sassuolo to Allianz Stadium.

Juve have taken 13 points from their last five Serie A matches – only Milan (15) are in better form – but they still sit down in sixth after a poor start to Allegri's second tenure.

The Bianconeri trailed leaders Napoli by 10 points heading into the weekend games, while Inter were also seven points off top spot, but Allegri still rates the defending champions as favourites to win the Scudetto.

"[Simone] Inzaghi won't admit it, but Inter are the favourites to win Serie A," Allegri said. "Anything can happen in football, but they remain the favourites.

"We had a bad start, so there is no room for mistakes. The draw against Inter is important, but only if we win tomorrow."

Juventus have lost only one of their 16 Serie A matches against 13th-place Sassuolo (W12 D3) – a 1-0 defeat in October 2015 via a Nicola Sansone goal.

Milan playmaker Brahim Diaz is poised for a first-team return after testing negative for coronavirus.

The Spaniard has missed the last three games for the Rossoneri after contracting COVID-19.

Diaz, 22, was forced to isolate while Milan secured Serie A wins over Hellas Verona and Bologna either side of a Champions League defeat to Porto.

Ahead of Milan's clash with Torino on Tuesday, the San Siro club said on their website: "AC Milan announces that Brahim Diaz has tested negative to the COVID-19 swab test."

Diaz, on loan from Real Madrid, has scored three goals in Serie A this season and provided one assist.

Stefano Pioli's side will go top of the table if they avoid defeat at home against Torino.

Manchester City had a relatively quiet off-season in the transfer market.

City landed Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in a big-money move but failed in their efforts to sign Tottenham star Harry Kane following Sergio Aguero's exit.

But the Premier League champions could be more active in the January transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PLAN FOR DE JONG SWOOP

Manchester City are plotting a move for Barcelona star midfielder Frenkie de Jong, according to Calciomercato.

De Jong, who also has interest from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, signed a five-year deal with Barcelona effective from July 2019, tying him down to 2024.

The 24-year-old Netherlands international has made 11 appearances in all competitions this season and is yet to score.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Manchester United have made no official proposal for former Chelsea and Inter boss Antonio Conte yet amid doubts over the future of Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Sunday's 5-0 rout at the hands of Liverpool. Zinedine Zidane and Ajax's Erik ten Hag are also possible options.

- Manchester United's wantaway Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek is preparing to make a January move with Voetbal International claiming he has swapped agents. EvertonNewcastle United and Juventus are all interested in Van de Beek, per Metro.

Paris Saint-Germain will switch their attention to Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso if they cannot secure a move for Manchester United's Paul Pogba, reports Calciomercato. Pogba has also been linked with Juve and Real Madrid.

Newcastle and Juve are contending to sign Barca forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Sport. Dembele is set to exit Barca at the end of this season and his agent has reportedly been in touch with both clubs about a move, while Liverpool and United are also possible destinations.

 

Milan forward Olivier Giroud is focused on winning Serie A with the Rossoneri as he targets league success.

A Champions League victor in 2020-21 before leaving Chelsea for Milan, Giroud has not won a league crown since conquering Ligue 1 with Montpellier in 2011-12.

Milan – without a Scudetto since 2011 – are level atop the Serie A table alongside Napoli through nine rounds after their enthralling 4-2 win at nine-man Bologna last week.

"I used to say football is an everlasting new beginning and you must always be ready for the next challenge," France international Giroud, who has three goals in five Serie A appearances this season, told Football Ramble podcast.

"That's one of my regrets in my career, it's not to have finished the job by winning the European Cup with France at home to Portugal. Another is not winning the Premier League with Arsenal or Chelsea.

"I still have a lot of hopes regarding winning another league with my new club and I am focused on it."

Stefano Pioli oversaw his 100th match in charge of Milan across all competitions following Saturday's triumph over Bologna.

He has won 56 of those games, exactly as many as Massimiliano Allegri had recorded with the Rossoneri after the same tally of games.

"This might sound like a threat for someone, but I expect to reach at least another 100 more," Milan head coach Pioli said.

Milan have won eight of their opening nine games of a Serie A season for the second time in their history – previously in 1954-55.

Pioli's Milan, meanwhile, have equalled their record of away wins in a single calendar year in Serie A thanks to 14 victories, as in 1964.

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