Stefan de Vrij's positive coronavirus test has ruled him out of the latest Netherlands squad, with Mainz centre-back Jeremiah St Juste included for the first time in his place.

Dutch coach Frank de Boer named a final 24-man squad on Friday, picking from an initial 31-man group selected earlier this month.

Inter defender De Vrij was among those to make way, having contracted COVID-19, prompting a lockdown of the Nerazzurri camp.

Their international players have been banned from joining their national teams, although Belgium still called up Romelu Lukaku while De Boer suggested a delayed arrival was possible for De Vrij.

But that complication has created an opportunity for St Juste, a former youth international.

"For Stefan de Vrij, it is of course annoying that he tested positive for corona," De Boer said. "That's why we can't summon him.

"We need to see how that develops and whether Stefan can possibly join later. We'll really have to wait and see.

"With Jeremiah St Juste, who can play at right-back and right-centre, I now have a good replacement. It's nice for him to be able to make his debut in the squad."

Although St Juste's passing accuracy of 79.6 per cent pales next to De Vrij's (93.5 per cent), he has had far more practice in a defensive sense this season at Bundesliga strugglers Mainz.

The 24-year-old contests more duels (9.8, winning 58 per cent), aerial duels (3.9) and tackles (1.9) per 90 minutes than De Vrij, while also contributing more interceptions (2.1) and blocks (0.9).

Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, last in a Netherlands squad in October 2017, has also been handed a chance.

Wout Weghorst misses out, his 26 goal involvements in 32 Wolfsburg games not enough, as does Quincy Promes, who was arrested in December in connection to a stabbing earlier last year. The player denied his alleged involvement.

"We are now close to the European Championships," De Boer said. "That means that all players from the provisional squad remain in our picture, even if they are not in the final group now.

"This applies, for example, to Quincy Promes, who I have not selected now. The competition in his position is great and I choose others at the moment.

"Of course I know the stories around him, but for me only one thing applies: you are innocent in the Netherlands until proven guilty. So I treat him just like everyone else."

Netherlands squad in full:

Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich City), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax); Daley Blind (Ajax), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Denzel Dumfries (PSV), Jeremiah St Juste (Mainz), Kenny Tete (Fulham), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Joel Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion), Owen Wijndal (AZ); Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool); Ryan Babel (Galatasaray), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham), Calvin Stengs (AZ), Memphis Depay (Lyon), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Donyell Malen (PSV).

Where will Jack Grealish play his football next season?

It is one of the big questions in English football right now and Manchester City have joined the conversation.

City are reportedly emerging as the favourites to sign the Aston Villa captain.

 

TOP STORY – CITY LINE UP GREALISH SPLASH

Manchester City appear best placed to sign Aston Villa's £100million-rated captain Jack Grealish, according to the Daily Mail.

Grealish reportedly came close to joining Manchester United last year, but the Red Devils could not come up with the funds to seal the deal.

City manager Pep Guardiola is a well-known admirer of Grealish, previously calling him "an exceptional player".

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Liverpool have joined the queue chasing Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni, with a reported £43m (€50m) move. European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Barcelona are also allegedly keen on the 21-year-old Italy international.

Tottenham are likely to opt out of exercising the £36m (€42m) option-to-buy Carlos Vinicius, who is on loan at Spurs from Benfica according to the Daily Mail. The report claims Spurs are only willing to pay more than half that amount for the Brazilian.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are considering a move for Arkadiusz Milik, who they have previously been linked with as they prepare for the possible departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala. Juve are reportedly set to revive their interest in Milik, with the Poland international on loan at Marseille from Napoli.

- Football Insider reports that United are plotting a move for Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez amid doubts over star David de Gea and Dean Henderson. They have also been linked with Milan sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Real Madrid are keen to bring back Levante winger Jorge de Frutos to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to Marca.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic declined to discuss his Milan future following the club's Europa League exit to Manchester United on Thursday.

Ibrahimovic came off the bench in the 65th minute but could not inspire Milan to victory – the Rossoneri losing 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate against United.

The 39-year-old has been a key figure for Milan this term, netting 16 goals, including 14 in the Serie A to help the Italian giants sit second in the standings and nine points adrift of city rivals Inter.

Ibrahimovic, who turns 40 in October, is out of contract at the end of the season and has previously declined to offer any insight into his plans beyond the 2020-21 campaign.

"If we get into the Champions League, that is great too, but the objective is to win a trophy," Ibrahimovic told Sky Sport Italia post-game.

"I can't say anything about next season, all I know is that I'm here at the moment."

Ibrahimovic, who has returned to the Sweden squad ahead of the rescheduled 2020 having retired in 2016, felt Milan did not deserve to be knocked out by former club United.

"There is great disappointment, because we did very well over the two legs, we made one mistake and conceded a goal," said Ibrahimovic, who spent two years at Old Trafford before joining LA Galaxy in 2018.

"We should've made more of our chances. We didn't deserve to go out today, but this is football. You learn from the negative moments and use them to grow. We go forward and the season is not over.

"We have to come back stronger in Serie A, learn from our errors and keep improving. I want to play to win something, we are second and must continue like this to try and win the Scudetto."

Milan return to Serie A action on Sunday, travelling to Fiorentina.

Inter have hit out at the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, describing his comments about the club's stadium project as "offensive and disrespectful".

The Nerazzurri, along with city rivals Milan, have plans in place to build a state-of-the-art stadium to replace San Siro and renovate the surrounding area.

But speaking on Thursday, Sala revealed the project is on hold until Inter's ownership situation becomes clearer.

Current owners Suning, who acquired the club in 2016, are reported to be looking to find a buyer amid financial uncertainty.

"I think that until Inter clarifies its fate, things must necessarily be at a standstill for us," Sala said.

"The point is, and I want to say clearly to the people in Milan, that we are not just talking about the stadium, but a project in which half the investment is on the stadium and half on other things that make up the future of that area.

"It will mean that there will be, I assume, five or six years of work. I cannot entrust a district of the city for such a long period to a reality whose future ownership is not certain.

"I speak with respect of [Inter president Steven] Zhang, but they must necessarily clarify the future of the club, until then I think it's logical to stop."

However, Inter released a statement on their official website later on Thursday that was a rebuke to Sala's comments.

"FC Internazionale Milano has a glorious ultra-centenary history," the statement read. "It existed before Mayor Sala and will continue to exist when his mandate ends.

"We find the comments from the mayor of Milan offensive towards the owners, disrespectful towards the history and reality of the club and its millions of fans in Milan and all over the world, not to mention irrelevant with respect to the current administrative process on the new stadium for Milan project.

"If it is confirmed that Inter and the owners are not appreciated by the current administration, we will know how to take the consequent decisions."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists he is deserving of his place in the Sweden squad, even if he is no longer the same player he was when last representing his national side in 2016.

The Milan striker was recalled by Janne Andersson for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Kosovo and Georgia, plus the friendly with Estonia, paving the way for him to potentially play at Euro 2020.

He celebrated his first call-up in nearly five years by posting a picture on Twitter of himself in a Sweden shirt with the caption: "The return of the God."

Ibrahimovic, who turns 40 in October, is Sweden's all-time leading scorer with 62 international goals, the last of those coming against Denmark in November 2015. 

And having also impressed in Serie A this term with 14 goals in as many matches, the ex-Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain striker believes he can still make an impact.

"I don't want to be considered and called up for what I did before, but for what I can give now," he told the Swedish Football Association's official YouTube channel.

"I can't be the player I was five, 10, 15 or 20 yeas ago. Now, I have a completely different physique and a completely different game.

"But I keep a very high level. You don't have to worry. I'm not on the squad list because my name is Zlatan and I'm Ibrahimovic.

"It's because of what I add to the squad and what I have achieved. I think I deserve it."

Andersson previously ruled out a recall for Ibrahimovic, but his stance changed following a "great conversation" with the 116-cap ace in November.

Asked about those discussions with Andersson, Ibrahimovic said: "It was very positive. We examined everything and drew a line on everything that is the past. 

"We spoke with respect among ourselves. We were able to talk to each other.

"I recognise that mentality in myself. When you're a footballer at a certain level and you've the chance to represent your country it's the greatest joy there is to be able to do so. 

"It is with pride and honour that I will wear the national team jersey."

Ibrahimovic returned to Italian football in December 2019 after a two-season spell in MLS with LA Galaxy and has scored 27 goals in 41 games in all competitions.

Twenty-four of those goals have come in 32 Serie A appearances since returning to San Siro, a tally bettered only by Romelu Lukaku (30 goals in 45 games), Ciro Immobile (31 goals in 44 games) and Cristiano Ronaldo (44 goals in 42 games).

Sweden's players are due to gather on Monday ahead of their home qualifier against Georgia on March 25.

The match between Inter and Sassuolo has been postponed after two further positive tests for coronavirus within the Nerazzurri squad.

Inter announced via a statement that Stefan de Vrij and Matias Vecino have gone into quarantine after testing positive. Samir Handanovic and Danilo D'Ambrosio had already begun isolating after previously returning positive tests.

Authorities in Milan have declared Inter must suspend all team activities for the next four days, which includes Saturday's game with Sassuolo and a ban on international players joining up with national squads.

The whole first team will undergo further tests on Monday.

The four positive tests within the Serie A leaders' squad have come as coronavirus cases across Italy continue to rise.

On Tuesday, Italy recorded 502 COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily number since the end of January. Approximately half the country entered a strict lockdown this week to combat spikes in case numbers and remaining regions are set to follow suit at the beginning of April.

Sassuolo's game against Torino on Wednesday had been rearranged after authorities called for it to be postponed due to concerns over virus cases.

Inter are top of Serie A heading into the final weekend of games before the international break, nine points clear of Milan and 10 ahead of champions Juventus, who have a game in hand.

The match between Inter and Sassuolo has been postponed after two further positive tests for coronavirus within the Nerazzurri squad.

Stefan de Vrij and Matias Vecino have gone into quarantine after testing positive. Samir Handanovic and Danilo D'Ambrosio had already begun isolating after previously returning positive tests.

Authorities in Milan have declared Inter must suspend all team activities for the next four days, which includes Saturday's game with Sassuolo and a ban on international players joining up with national squads.

The whole first team will undergo further tests on Monday.

Leroy Sane is beginning to show how important he can be to Bayern Munich after finding rhythm following a lengthy injury lay-off, says club great Franck Ribery.

Germany winger Sane joined Bayern from Manchester City in the close season but was in and out of the team as he continued to find fitness following the knee injury that restricted him to two appearances in his final campaign at the Etihad Stadium.

Across all competitions this season, Sane has eight goals and nine assists – both of which rank fourth among Bayern players this term.

He has also created 38 chances for his team-mates, 11 of those classing as Opta-defined 'big chances' – the fifth-best among Bayern's squad.

Ribery, who spent 12 years at Bayern, is delighted to see Sane begin to show his value at the Allianz Arena.

"I'm happy for him and for Bayern," Ribery told Sky Germany.

"When he came to Munich it was maybe a bit difficult for him at the beginning, the pressure was great. 

"But you shouldn't forget that he was out injured for a long time. It takes time. But things are going much better now, he's an important player for Bayern."

Ribery won nine Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals and the Champions League during a spectacular spell at Bayern.

The veteran winger has been linked with a return to Germany's top flight with Eintracht Frankfurt but for now the 37-year-old is purely focused on Fiorentina, whom he joined after departing Bayern in 2019.

"Of course, I miss the Bundesliga. I had my best time at Bayern and won a lot there," Ribery added. 

"My priority is here in Florence, I'm happy here. We still have a few games and we need the points. I want to help the club."

What does the future hold for Sergio Aguero?

With his Manchester City contract expiring at the end of the season, Aguero is no closer to re-signing.

Premier League rivals Chelsea could be ready to pounce…

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA KEEPING TABS ON AGUERO

Chelsea are tracking Manchester City star and soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero, according to the Daily Mail.

Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and the City forward has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Barcelona.

But Premier League rivals Chelsea are reportedly eyeing a move for City's all-time leading goalscorer.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail reports City and Chelsea are both interested in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud. Tottenham and Everton have also been linked with the Germany international.

Juventus are eyeing a move for star Atalanta wing-back Robin Gosens, claims Calciomercato. Gosens has starred for Atalanta, who value him between €35-€40million.

- FootMercato says Paris Saint-Germain want Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier as former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino seeks a reunion.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester United have not made a bid for Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. United have also been linked with RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, as well as Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White.

- In-demand Dortmund star Erling Haaland has a "crush" on Madrid but El Chiringuito insists no club is close to signing the Norwegian. Haaland has been linked with Madrid, Barca, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back in Milan's squad to face Manchester United but Stefano Pioli is yet to determine his involvement and admitted "he does not have 90 minutes in his legs".

Sweden great Ibrahimovic, who on Tuesday confirmed he is to come out of international retirement, suffered a thigh injury in the 2-1 Serie A win at Roma on February 28 and has not featured since.

It meant Ibrahimovic missed the Rossoneri's Europa League last-16 first-leg tie against his former club at Old Trafford last week, in which Milan secured a useful away goal in a 1-1 draw.

However, Ibrahimovic has trained for an injury-hit Milan this week and is in line to play a part in a crucial second leg at San Siro.

Ismael Bennacer is also back involved but head coach Pioli still has several other issues to contend with.

"Ibra and Bennacer are recovered, they are important for us and they are among the squad," Pioli said.

"For the others, [Davide] Calabria, [Rafael] Leao, [Alessio] Romagnoli and [Ante] Rebic, we have to wait for tomorrow morning. We'll take a few more hours to decide.

"His [Ibrahimovic's] return is important, he will not be able to have 90 minutes in his legs and tomorrow we will see what to do."

Ibrahimovic has 16 goals across all competitions this season and in United faces a team with who he enjoyed EFL Cup and Europa League success under Jose Mourinho – although the latter final he missed out on due to a serious knee injury.

United now have Ibrahimovic's former Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Edinson Cavani among their ranks, a player who claimed the Swede's status as the club's all-time leading scorer.

Asked which striker is better, Pioli diplomatically replied: "Ibra is a champion. I have never coached Cavani, he is a great player, but I hold on to Ibra."

Cristiano Ronaldo is more likely to return to Manchester United than Real Madrid, while Chelsea are desperate to land Erling Haaland.

Ronaldo, 36, is out of contract at Juventus in 2022 and his future has again become a talking point.

Two of his former clubs, United and Madrid, have been linked with the Portugal star.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD RETURN MORE LIKELY THAN MADRID FOR RONALDO

A return to Manchester United is more likely than Real Madrid for Juventus star Ronaldo, according to Tuttosport.

The report says Madrid president Florentino Perez has not opened the door for a Ronaldo return, due to the club's interest in Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Ronaldo starred at United between 2003 and 2009 before shining in Madrid for nine seasons.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea look desperate to land Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. The Daily Star reports Chelsea are prepared to again do business with Haaland's agent, Mino Raiola, in a bid to sign the forward. Chelsea fell out with Raiola after Romelu Lukaku joined Manchester United over them in 2017.

- Could Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann be set to swap places? CalcioMercato reports there is an idea for Dybala to leave Juventus and join Barcelona, with Griezmann heading to Turin.

- Liverpool seem set to strengthen ahead of next season. Eurosport reports the Premier League champions are thinking about a move for Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge.

- Manchester United have reportedly received a transfer boost. The Sun reports Sevilla have lowered their asking price for defender Jules Kounde to around £50million (€58.4m).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been called up by Sweden for the World Cup qualifiers against Kosovo and Georgia, paving the way for him to play at Euro 2020 this year.

Where will Erling Haaland be playing in 2021-22?

That is the question everyone is asking as clubs queue up to sign the Borussia Dortmund goalscoring machine.

Manchester United are reportedly determined to prise the Norway international to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SET SIGHTS ON HAALAND

Manchester United have settled on Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as their centre forward priority in the transfer market, according to Manchester Evening News.

United tried to sign Haaland before he joined Dortmund from Austrian champions Salzburg last year.

Eyeing a long-term replacement for Romelu Lukaku, with United veteran Edinson Cavani linked to Boca Juniors after signing a one-year deal at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and football director John Murtough have agreed to target Haaland.

Haaland has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, LiverpoolManchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

It comes after United reportedly received little encouragement of the possibility of signing Tottenham star Harry Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has an agreement in place to sign a new one-year deal with the LaLiga champions.

- Arsenal are keen to keep Martin Odegaard – on loan from Madrid – beyond the 2020-21 season, reports the Daily Mail.

- The Daily star says Donny van de Beek wants to quit United. Van de Beek only joined from Ajax at the start of the season but he has been unable to cement a spot in the starting XI.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel wants to keep Antonio Rudiger as the Blues seek to avoid losing him on a free transfer in 2022 by offering a new contract, reports the Daily Mail.

Nicolo Barella said he is inspired by Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and former NBA MVP Allen Iverson as the Inter midfielder discussed his love of basketball.

Barella has established himself as one of the best midfielders in Serie A and Europe amid Inter's Scudetto charge this season.

The 24-year-old Inter and Italy star has scored three Serie A goals and supplied five assists for the Nerazzurri, who are nine points clear atop the table.

Barella revealed he wears the number 23 jersey because of four-time NBA champion James, while also highlighting his admiration for Philadelphia 76ers great Iverson.

"I played basketball for four years. There was a lot of competition in my family, but my cousins are better than me," Barella told Sky Sport Basketball Conversation.

"I discuss basketball with Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Lautaro Martinez. We follow NBA. When I join the national team, I talk about it with Davide Calabria, Mattia Perin and Giorgio Chiellini.

"Allen Iverson's jersey was one of the first ones I bought. Seeing someone like him dominating among the giants was an important source of inspiration for me. In addition to his technical skills, his attitude impressed me.

"I wear the number 23 shirt, because LeBron James also inspires me. I used to have the number 24 because it's the day when my daughter was born. I had a little argument with my wife for this change, but in the end, she understood.

"What impresses me about LeBron is the fact that he manages to change a team, bringing all his team-mates to the highest level.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is the LeBron James of football. He has talent, desire to work hard, and longevity and he brings his desire to win in every team.

"Winning the NBA is like winning the Champions League, it's more important than a Scudetto, even if I hope I can win one sooner or later."

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo said he always wants "more and more" as he eyes further records after surpassing Pele.

Ronaldo scored a perfect hat-trick on Sunday to inspire Juve to a 3-1 win over Cagliari in Serie A and move onto 770 career goals.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner became the top goalscorer in history, eclipsing Brazil legend Pele.

"There is still much more to achieve and I believe we can do it together," Ronaldo wrote via Instagram on Monday.

"Goals are an essential part of who I am. I can't stop chasing for more, looking forward to achieving another record.

"I always want more and more and I think that's why people often say that I have so much energy and that I never stop.

"Maybe it's true, but this is essential to keep me alive."

Only once before had Ronaldo scored a quicker hat-trick from kick-off, doing so after 20 minutes against Espanyol in 2015.

Ronaldo is now four clear of Inter's Romelu Lukaku at the top of the Serie A scoring charts, with 23 goals from as many appearances. 

In total, Ronaldo has scored 87 times for club and country in March, making it his favourite month of the year in terms of goals, surpassing September (86), while he has now also netted at all 18 stadiums he has played at in Serie A.

The 36-year-old became the first Juve player to score a perfect hat-trick (right foot, left foot and header) in Serie A since David Trezeguet against Livorno in August 2007.

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