Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis revealed he has discussed the possibility of signing Romelu Lukaku, but put talk of a bid being made down to a ploy to drive up the Manchester United striker's valuation.

The Belgium international appears to be on his way out of Old Trafford in the closing stages of the transfer window after losing his place to Marcus Rashford in the second half of last season.

Lukaku, not used in any of United's six pre-season friendlies, has previously talked up a "dream" move to Serie A and is wanted by Inter and Italian champions Juventus.

But Inter were unable to agree a fee for the 26-year-old and Juve's hopes of signing him reportedly depend on Paulo Dybala agreeing to head the opposite way as part of a player-plus-cash deal.

Napoli are the latest club to be linked with Lukaku, with reports coming out of Italy on Saturday suggesting they are willing to offer a cash sum plus striker Arkadiusz Milik.

De Laurentiis confirmed he has talked with Lukaku's agent, but Napoli have not tabled an offer for his services.

"You know why there are rumours about him? Because I am good friends with his agent, Federico Pastorello, who I often wake up at dawn for a chat," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"I asked him: 'Do you think Lukaku would suit Napoli? Is he going to Juventus or not?' We spoke in those terms, but then we know it’s in the interest of agents to make it seem as if we made an offer, as that raises the price tag for someone else.

"This is why I’d prefer it if the transfer market opened the day after the season ended and closed at the end of July."

Napoli have missed out on attacking target Nicolas Pepe, who left Lille for Arsenal earlier this week, but they are still in the running for James Rodriguez, Hirving Lozano and Mauro Icardi.

"Beyond James, Lozano and Icardi, we are also evaluating other names," De Laurentiis said.

"In negotiations, when everyone knows there is a willingness to buy, they all try to get the best deal. We have to take the environmental factors into account, because signing a player means bringing his family over too.

"Naples is a beautiful city, but for someone who is accustomed to a very different lifestyle, it can be an overwhelming experience to come here. The fans don't realise that."

Manchester United and Juventus have been discussing a swap deal involving Paulo Dybala.

However, Tottenham are also interested in the Argentina international.

With the Premier League transfer window to shut on August 8, there is still plenty of twists and turns to come.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS EYE DYBALA AMID UNITED TALKS

Tottenham have made an approach for Juventus star Paulo Dybala, according to SoccerLink.

Dybala is in talks with Manchester United, who have reportedly agreed a deal to send striker Romelu Lukaku to Juventus for the former Palermo forward.

The 25-year-old is reportedly not convinced about joining United and Champions League finalists Tottenham are ready to pounce after manager and fellow Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino tried to convince the player to move to London.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of SPORT is dominated by Neymar. The newspaper says Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are working on a loan deal with a non-mandatory purchase option to unlock negotiations. The new formula could accelerate a transfer.

- Manchester United star Paul Pogba fears being priced out of a move to Real Madrid, according to The Mirror. Madrid are in negotiations to sign Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek as they struggle to prise Pogba away from Old Trafford.

- The Express says Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is eyeing Real Madrid midfielder Isco and Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake. The Premier League champions are reportedly targeting Ake – who is believed to be wanted by Leicester City – as Manchester United close in on Harry Maguire.

- Napoli have entered the race to sign Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United, reports Alfredo Pedulla. However, Lukaku has apparently rejected the offer as he eyes a move to Juventus.

- According to O Jogo, Benfica are plotting a €6million transfer for Partizan Belgrade teenager Strahinja Pavlovic. The 18-year-old defender has been linked with Serie A champions Juventus.

- La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Ligue 1 duo Lyon and Monaco are keen on signing AC Milan attacker Suso.

- Barcelona are close to signing Real Betis full-back Junior Firpo, according to Marca. Mundo Deportivo says the two Spanish clubs have agreed a €25m fee for the 22-year-old.

Real Madrid want to add a midfielder or two and they have made progress with Donny van de Beek and entered the race for another star.

The LaLiga giants have consistently been linked with Manchester United's Paul Pogba this close season, but it seems their chase of the France international is making very slow progress.

Now, they have reportedly agreed to terms with Ajax star Van de Beek and stunningly entered the race for Bruno Fernandes.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AGREE TERMS WITH VAN DE BEEK, ENTER FERNANDES RACE

Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Van de Beek over a move to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to Marca.

The 22-year-old Ajax and Netherlands midfielder will make the move if Madrid can agree a fee with the Eredivisie champions.

However, Marca also say Madrid's move for Van de Beek would not close the door to Pogba.

Having already strengthened in the close season, Madrid are also in the race for Sporting CP star Fernandes – linked with Manchester United and Tottenham – according to Record.

 

ROUND-UP

- 'It's war!' reads the cover of Sport, who say Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has insisted his desire is to return to Barcelona. They report the Ligue 1 champions are losing patience with the Brazil forward and will make a decision on the forward's future next week.

- With or without Neymar, Barcelona are making moves. Sport report the LaLiga champions have agreed to a five-year deal with Junior Firpo but are still working to reach a deal with Real Betis for the left-back. Barca will offer around €20million, but Betis are looking for €25m, with variables in the discussion.

- There is also set to be an exit from Camp Nou. Juventus will offer Barcelona €10m plus bonuses for left-back Juan Miranda, but the Spanish side will only accept a deal if a buy-back clause is included.

- Amid continued talks between Manchester United and Juventus regarding a Romelu Lukaku-Paulo Dybala swap deal, it seems Mario Mandzukic is ready for a switch to Old Trafford. Il BiancoNero reports Juve's Croatian striker is positive about the chance to join the Premier League giants.

- Mauro Icardi's Inter career is over. La Gazzetta dello Sport report Nerazzurri chiefs have told the forward he is no longer wanted at San Siro and should consider offers from Roma and Napoli.

- Nicolo Zaniolo has been linked with a move away from Roma, but the Serie A side are set to begin talks with the midfielder over a new contract, according to Calciomercato. Juventus and Tottenham are reportedly interested in the 20-year-old.

Manchester United could end up with not one but two Juventus attackers by the end of the transfer window.

Heavily linked to Paulo Dybala as they look to sell Romelu Lukaku, Mario Mandzukic has emerged as another target for the Red Devils.

It is going to be a busy couple of days, with the Premier League window set to slam shut on August 8.

 

TOP STORY – MANDUZKIC TO FOLLOW DYBALA TO OLD TRAFFORD?

Growing reports suggest Juventus pair Mandzukic and Dybala are being pushed to join Manchester United.

United striker Lukaku has agreed a €9million salary with Juventus, according to Goal, as the Red Devils look to sign Dybala in exchange.

Dybala is reportedly demanding €12m to make the move to Manchester, with the deal hinging on the Argentina international swapping Turin for Old Trafford.

Tuttosport, Goal and other outlets are also claiming Mandzukic has been discussed with United, in what would be a separate transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Sun, Manchester City have set Leroy Sane's asking price at €158m (£145m) as Bayern Munich look to sign the Germany international.

Real Madrid are seriously considering a move for Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, Marca reports. Manchester United star Paul Pogba has emerged as a key target for Madrid. However, Zinedine Zidane's side are eyeing a €60m bid for Van de Beek.

- Champions League holders Liverpool are pondering a bid for Bordeaux forward Francois Kamano as Jurgen Klopp looks to add depth to his attacking options, according to The Sun.

- The Sun also reports that Arsenal have been put off by West Ham's £60m valuation of defender Issa Diop, who has also been linked to Manchester United. Arsenal have already signed William Saliba but the teenage defender has been loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 campaign.

Radamel Falcao will not be leaving Monaco for Turkish side Galatasaray, according to Fabrizio Romano. The 33-year-old has been hampered by injuries since moving to Monaco in 2013.

- ESPN FC says Manchester United and Leicester City are £15m apart in their valuation of centre-back Harry Maguire. In one of the most drawn-out transfer sagas this off-season, United have been tipped to sign Maguire in a world-record transfer for a defender, however, the England international is yet to arrive at Old Trafford. The Red Devils are reportedly offering £70m plus add-ons, while Leicester want £85m plus add-ons.

Juventus and Marseille have made offers for Barcelona left-back Juan Miranda, claims Sport. Juve reportedly want the 19-year-old on a permanent deal, while Marseille are open to bringing him to Ligue 1 on loan.

- As Lukaku nears a switch to Juventus, FCInterNews says Inter have turned to Atalanta's Duvan Zapata. The Colombia forward, who scored 28 goals in all competitions last season, is valued at €60m and Inter are willing to include Matteo Politano in exchange.

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku to Juventus in a straight swap for Paulo Dybala? It appears simple, however, it is not.

United and Juventus are reportedly ready to exchange players, but Dybala is not entirely convinced about leaving Turin.

Now Inter could be set to pounce as the transfer window takes another turn…

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA HAS UNITED DOUBTS AS INTER CIRCLE

According to multiple reports in Italy, Juventus attacker Dybala has no intention of joining Manchester United in a swap deal involving Lukaku.

Inter had been favourites to sign Lukaku, however, Serie A champions Juve have emerged as frontrunners to prise the Belgium striker at the expense of Dybala.

United and Juve have reportedly agreed on an exchange but Calciomercato, Rai Sport and Tuttomercatoweb claim Dybala is not convinced about a move to Old Trafford due to a lack of Champions League and his style of football in the Premier League.

Dybala – who is apparently demanding a higher salary than Paul Pogba and is set to meet Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri – could end up at Inter, with Corriere dello Sport's front page dominated by a shock move.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Bild+, Bayern Munich have made their first offer for Manchester City winger Leroy Sane. The report comes after Niko Kovac apologised for saying he was confident of signing Sane before the transfer window shuts.

- Paris Saint-Germain have named their price for wantaway star Neymar. L'Equipe says the Ligue 1 champions are demanding €300million for the Brazilian, who is wanted by former club Barcelona.

- Calciomercato says Manchester City are close to signing Juventus full-back Joao Cancelo. The Premier League champions have been linked with Cancelo throughout the window and they are now poised to complete a deal for the Portugal international, who could cost £45.6-50.1m (€50-55m).

Napoli want to sign Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha, according to Sky Sports News. Napoli, who have been linked to James Rodriguez, Hirving Lozano and Nicolas Pepe, are willing to pay Palace €59.9m (£54.6m) for the Ivory Coast international.

- According to Sky Sports News, Manchester United are prepared to pay up to £80m for Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire. The Red Devils have been pursuing Maguire throughout the window, but a deal is yet to be reached. However, United are willing to eclipse the world-record fee for a defender.

- Tuttosport claims Edinson Cavani has taken another step towards signing for Inter. Amid Inter's ongoing and so far fruitless pursuit of Lukaku, Paris Saint-Germain forward Cavani has emerged as a target, with a financial proposal agreed by the Uruguay international.

James Rodriguez's agent Jorge Mendes does not know what the future holds for the Real Madrid playmaker, though he just wants the best for the player and LaLiga club.

Linked to Atletico Madrid and Napoli, James took part in Madrid's 2019-20 pre-season training for the first time on Monday.

LaLiga rivals Atletico and Serie A side Napoli are reportedly vying for James' signature after the Colombia star spent the past two seasons on loan with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Asked about James' future, Mendes told Marca: "You'll have to ask the president [Florentino Perez] who is here next to me.

"I just want the best for the player and the best for the club."

James – who represented Colombia at the Copa America in June – scored seven league goals in each of his two seasons at Bayern.

The 28-year-old finished with 15 goals for Bayern, who opted against making his stay permanent in Bavaria.

Marco Giampaolo is the latest in a string of hopeful appointments by AC Milan in their bid to bring the glory days back to the red side of San Siro, and his tenure begins away to Udinese.

The Rossoneri have not finished in the top four since 2012-13 and have gone through numerous coaches in recent years, with Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Cristian Brocchi, Vincenzo Montella and Gennaro Gattuso all failing.

Gattuso narrowly missed out on Champions League football last season and stepped down, with Giampaolo coming in as his replacement from Sampdoria.

Although Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta showed promise after their January arrivals last term, Milan have only added Theo Hernandez and Rade Krunic to their squad this close season.

Few will expect a massive improvement considering the limited investment, though a relatively easy-going opening to the season – including games against promoted Brescia and Hellas Verona – might help give them the momentum they need to build up some positivity.

AC Milan's 2019-20 Serie A fixtures in full: 

August 25: Udinese v AC Milan
September 1: AC Milan v Brescia
September 15: Hellas Verona v AC Milan
September 22: AC Milan v Inter
September 25: Torino v AC Milan
September 29: AC Milan v Fiorentina
October 6: Genoa v AC Milan
October 20: AC Milan v Lecce
October 27: Roma v AC Milan
October 30: AC Milan v SPAL
November 3: AC Milan v Lazio
November 10: Juventus v AC Milan
November 24: AC Milan v Napoli
December 1: Parma v AC Milan
December 8: Bologna v AC Milan
December 15: AC Milan v Sassuolo
December 22: Atalanta v AC Milan
January 5: AC Milan v Sampdoria
January 12: Cagliari v AC Milan
January 19: AC Milan v Udinese
January 26: Brescia v AC Milan
February 2: AC Milan v Hellas Verona
February 9: Inter v AC Milan
February 16: AC Milan v Torino
February 23: Fiorentina v AC Milan
March 1: AC Milan v Genoa
March 8: Lecce v AC Milan
March 15: AC Milan v Roma
March 22: SPAL v AC Milan
April 5: Lazio v AC Milan
April 11: AC Milan v Juventus
April 19: Napoli v AC Milan
April 22: AC Milan v Parma
April 26: AC Milan v Bologna
May 3: Sassuolo v AC Milan
May 10: AC Milan v Atalanta
May 17: Sampdoria v AC Milan
May 24: AC Milan v Cagliari

Antonio Conte is back in Italian football and is charged with restoring the glory days to Inter after several years of underachieving.

The former Italy, Juventus and Chelsea coach represents a significant coup for Inter, who ditched Luciano Spalletti at the end of last season.

Inter only just scraped a Champions League spot on the final day of the previous campaign and are now nine years on from their most recent Serie A success.

The squad has been bolstered by some new arrivals, with Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi, Valentino Lazaro and Diego Godin among those to join, while Matteo Politano's purchase option was triggered and George Puscas returned from loan in the hope of having a squad role.

Despite the investment – and aside from the potential purchase of Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku – it is clear Conte has plenty of work to do.

They will be desperate to hit the ground running, but their opening seven fixtures offer plenty of challenges. All dates and times could be subject to changes for live broadcast and European commitments.

Inter's 2019-20 Serie A fixtures in full:  

August 25: Inter v Lecce
September 1: Cagliari v Inter
September 15: Inter v Udinese
September 22: Milan v Inter
September 25: Inter v Lazio
September 29: Sampdoria v Inter
October 6: Inter v Juventus
October 20: Sassuolo v Inter
October 27: Inter v Parma
October 30: Brescia v Inter
November 3: Bologna v Inter
November 10: Inter v Hellas Verona
November 24: Torino v Inter
December 1: Inter v SPAL
December 8: Inter v Roma
December 15: Fiorentina v Inter
December 22: Inter v Genoa
January 5: Napoli v Inter
January 12: Inter v Atalanta
January 19: Lecce v Inter
January 26: Inter v Cagliari
February 2: Udinese v Inter
February 9: Inter v Milan
February 16: Lazio v Inter
February 23: Inter v Sampdoria
March 1: Juventus v Inter
March 8: Inter v Sassuolo
March 15: Parma v Inter
March 22: Inter v Brescia
April 5: Inter v Bologna
April 11: Hellas Verona v Inter
April 19: Inter v Torino
April 22: SPAL v Inter
April 26: Roma v Inter
May 3: Inter v Fiorentina
May 10: Genoa v Inter
May 17: Inter v Napoli
May 24: Atalanta v Inter

Juventus will be going for a record-extending ninth successive Serie A title in 2019-20 and new coach Maurizio Sarri can begin plotting after the Old Lady's fixtures for the new campaign were revealed on Monday.

The Bianconeri strolled to league success last term, finishing 11 points clear of Napoli after looking in control at the summit for much of the campaign.

Nevertheless, that was not enough to keep Massimiliano Allegri in the job, as the coach and Juve's hierarchy opted to end their five-year association, with some arguing it was due to another Champions League failure.

Juve brought in Sarri just a year after he left bitter rivals Napoli for Chelsea and they have further strengthened their squad, winning the race for Matthijs de Ligt, while also signing Adrien Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey, Luca Pellegrini, Merih Demiral and club great Gianluigi Buffon.

Their fixtures for the new season are now confirmed, although they could be subject to changes for live broadcast and European commitments, and Sarri is set for a Napoli reunion a little sooner than he might have liked.

Juventus' 2019-20 Serie A fixtures in full: 

August 25: Parma v Juventus
September 1: Juventus v Napoli
September 15: Fiorentina v Juventus
September 22: Juventus v Hellas Verona
September 25: Brescia v Juventus
September 29: Juventus v SPAL
October 6: Inter v Juventus
October 20: Juventus v Bologna
October 27: Lecce v Juventus
October 30: Juventus v Genoa
November 3: Torino v Juventus
November 10: Juventus v AC Milan
November 24: Atalanta v Juventus
December 1: Juventus v Sassuolo
December 8: Lazio v Juventus
December 15: Juventus v Udinese
December 22: Sampdoria v Juventus
January 5: Juventus v Cagliari
January 12: Roma v Juventus
January 19: Juventus v Parma
January 26: Napoli v Juventus
February 2: Juventus v Fiorentina
February 9: Hellas Verona v Juventus
February 16: Juventus v Brescia
February 23: SPAL v Juventus
March 1: Juventus v Inter
March 8: Bologna v Juventus
March 15: Juventus v Lecce
March 22: Genoa v Juventus
April 5: Juventus v Torino
April 11: AC Milan v Juventus
April 19: Juventus v Atalanta
April 22: Sassuolo v Juventus
April 26: Juventus v Lazio
May 3: Udinese v Juventus
May 10: Juventus v Sampdoria
May 17: Cagliari v Juventus
May 24: Juventus v Roma

Serie A champions Juventus will host last season's runners-up Napoli on the second gameweek of the 2019-20 campaign.

The Bianconeri romped to an eighth consecutive league title last term and will face an early test of their credentials under new head coach Maurizio Sarri – Napoli boss until 2018 – when Carlo Ancelotti takes his side to Allianz Stadium on September 1.

That day will also see the first Rome derby of the season, with Lazio and Roma facing off at Stadio Olimpico.

The first Milan derby between AC Milan and Inter is scheduled for September 22, with the reverse fixture lined up for February 9.

In November, Juventus face a Turin derby against Torino and a home clash against AC Milan.

Following the winter break between December 23 and January 5, Napoli host Inter and Juventus meet Roma in the capital in January before the season comes to an eye-catching close on May 24.

Juve host Roma, Inter travel to Atalanta – who finished third last season – and Napoli take on Lazio at the San Paolo on what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the campaign.

All fixtures are subject to changes for live broadcast and European commitments.

 

Serie A 2019-20 key fixtures:

September 1, Juventus v Napoli

September 1, Lazio v Roma

September 22, Milan v Inter

October 6, Inter v Juventus

November 3, Torino v Juventus

November 10, Juventus v Milan

November 24, Milan v Napoli

December 8, Lazio v Juventus

December 15, Genoa v Sampdoria

--

January 5, Napoli v Inter

January 12, Roma v Juventus

January 26, Napoli v Juventus

January 26, Roma v Lazio

February 9, Inter v Milan

March 1, Juventus v Inter

April 5, Juventus v Torino

April 11, Milan v Juventus

April 19, Napoli v Milan

April 26, Juventus v Lazio

May 3, Sampdoria v Genoa

May 24, Juventus v Roma

Antonio Conte's Serie A return with Inter will come at home to promoted Lecce, while Juventus' title defence starts with a trip to Parma.

Serie A announced the fixtures for the new campaign on Monday, with the 2019-20 season set to begin on August 25.

It has been an intriguing close season in Italy, with many of the country's top clubs changing coaches.

Conte is now at Inter and former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is back in Serie A with defending champions Juve after leaving Chelsea.

AC Milan swapped Gennaro Gattuso for Marco Giampaolo and Roma are now under the tutelage of Paolo Fonseca.

Sarri's new side begin by travelling to Parma, while Milan go to Udinese and Roma host Genoa on the opening weekend.

Matchday one fixtures in full

Cagliari v Brescia
Fiorentina v Napoli
Hellas Verona v Bologna
Inter v Lecce
Parma v Juventus
Roma v Genoa
Sampdoria v Lazio
SPAL v Atalanta
Torino v Sassuolo
Udinese v AC Milan

James Rodriguez's hopes for another chance at Real Madrid have been boosted after he took part in the club's 2019-20 pre-season training for the first time on Tuesday.

After spending the past two seasons on loan in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, James had looked set for a permanent departure from the LaLiga giants during the off-season, with Napoli and Atletico Madrid heavily linked with moves for the 28-year-old.

Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti has been open about his desire to sign James, with whom he has worked during previous spells in charge of both Bayern and Madrid.

However, a long-term injury to Marco Asensio and a thumping 7-3 friendly defeat to Atleti on Saturday appear to have convinced Zinedine Zidane to keep the Colombia international at Madrid.

James missed Los Blancos' tour of the United States after featuring at the Copa America but played a full part in training, while Gareth Bale worked separately from his team-mates.

The Wales international's proposed move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning collapsed on Sunday and he now looks set to stay in Madrid, unless a deal can be done elsewhere.

Madrid also confirmed striker Luka Jovic trained indoors after his collision with Jan Oblak during the defeat to their city rivals.

The 21-year-old, who has joined from Eintracht Frankfurt, was forced off after 30 minutes but has seemingly not sustained any lasting damage.

New left-back Ferland Mendy and Brahim Diaz were Madrid's other injury absentees along with Asensio, who is expected to miss much of the coming campaign having ruptured his knee ligaments.

Maurizio Sarri's journey to the top of Italian football has been long and arduous.

Sarri's first foray into coaching came at the age of 31 via U.S.D Stia in 1990 while juggling work commitments – foreign currency trader by day, coach by night. That combination of banking and amateur football continued until he devoted himself to coaching in the early 2000s.

Years in the lower tiers of Italian football saw Sarri gain promotion with the likes of Sansovino, who he led to Coppa Italia Serie D glory in 2002-03, and Sangiovannese. There were also brief and forgettable stints in charge of Pescara, Arezzo, Avellino, Hellas Verona and Perugia.

It was not until 2014 that Sarri had his first taste of Serie A after guiding Empoli to promotion at the age of 55. A surprise move to Napoli followed 12 months later – the Naples-born coach, who grew up in Tuscany, an unpopular choice among fans and even club great Diego Maradona.

But Sarri revolutionised Napoli and Italian football with his attacking and free-flowing brand, earning admirers from far and wide. Head-hunted by Chelsea following two runners-up medals in Naples, Sarri now finds himself at the helm of Serie A champions Juventus after leading the Blues to Europa League glory in his one and only campaign at Stamford Bridge in 2018-19 for his first major title.

Sarri's appointment at Juve has raised eyebrows, questions asked due to his Napoli links and philosophy – his approach in complete contrast to Bianconeri teams of years gone by. With eight years of domestic domination, Sarri has been tasked with leading the Old Lady to Champions League success after five runners-up medals since their last triumph in 1996.

Former midfielder Luca Tognozzi knows Sarri better than most. He was a favourite of the 60-year-old, following Sarri to Sansovino, Sangiovannese and Pescara.

"The chance and his decision to land to Juventus team I think he is the right person in the right place at the right time," Tognozzi told Omnisport. "He deserves this opportunity for several reasons:  the way with which his teams played in recent years, results he achieved always.

"I am sure his dedication to daily work, his wilfulness and his adaptability will immediately give his mark. He is in the most important Italian football team and will also have the opportunity to entertain his audience with his personal way of making his teams play to be able to fight to achieve great results.

"I think all this is the right reward, if you can say so, for a man and for a coach who too late he got a chance to be a trainer in a team that can be highly competitive in all European competition. I am very happy for him because he deserves all of this."

Tognozzi enjoyed success with Sarri at Sansovino, where the pair helped the club move up to Serie C2 from Serie D. Tognozzi then followed the coach to Sangiovannese in 2003 and promotion to Serie C1 was achieved.

"Sarri has always been Sarri," said the 41-year-old, who also played for Sarri at Pescara in 2005-06. "Certainly, over the years he has also had the capability and the smartness to evolve himself and his way to teach football.

"I feel very proud to have been one of his players. He was a fantastic football teacher for me. I had some fun life moments with him because he is a very ironic person [as almost all Tuscan people are] ... but I keep those moments for myself."

Tognozzi continued: "He is highly demanding because he believes in what he does and the way he teaches in a work methodology and he doesn't leave nothing to chance. This makes him a special person. He can be liked or not but in the football world where not always everything is so genuine, his passion and his determination is authentic.

"Football is his passion and Sarri is involved at 100 per cent in every little detail. He started from the amateurs up to the professionals, a long journey to arrive at the top. I think it may be a greatest satisfaction. At the same time, many experts should do mea culpa for their fast and superficial evaluations.

"Out of the field Mr. Sarri is a normal and simple person with whom you can talk about everything: from literature to story, from politics to music."

Carlo Ancelotti insists he is "not disappointed" after media reports began to indicate Napoli have missed out on Lille winger Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal.

Ivory Coast international Pepe scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 last term, subsequently emerging as one of the hottest properties in French football.

Pepe has been linked with a host of Europe's biggest clubs, including Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

Napoli and Arsenal appeared to be leading the chase, but speculation on Saturday suggested the Gunners had all but wrapped up a £72million deal.

And after beating Liverpool 3-0 in a friendly on Sunday, head coach Ancelotti seemed to accept Napoli have missed out on the forward.

"I don't like to talk about players of other teams, but I'm not disappointed," Ancelotti told reporters when asked about Arsenal's apparent success in landing Pepe.

"We have some players like Allan, [Kalidou] Koulibaly and Fabian Ruiz who are still on holiday. We are definitely looking for players.

"The transfer window is so long. We are looking [at signings]. If there are opportunities, we will look to seize those chances."

Jurgen Klopp is convinced the 2019-20 Premier League campaign will not be another two-horse race but still believes Manchester City are the team to beat.

Liverpool ran City close last term, finishing just a point behind the eventual champions, who accumulated a total of 98.

The Reds' impressive form was not for nothing, however, as they managed to win the Champions League, making up for their final defeat the season before.

Their pre-season exploits have left a bit to be desired, as Klopp's men have won two of six matches and those victories came against lower-league opposition Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City.

Following defeats to Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla and a draw with Sporting CP, Liverpool were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Napoli on Sunday, and Klopp recognises an improvement is necessary ahead of what he expects to be a tough season.

When asked if the Premier League will be following a similar pattern to 2018-19, the Liverpool manager said: "Of course not.

"It became a two-horse race last year, but unfortunately there are too many good clubs in this competition. I think even City see it like this.

"They are the big favourite, and all the others try to beat them - and we are one of these teams.

"At least we should give it a try, but we have to play better football, and we will play better football, I know."

Sunday's match was not all bad for the Reds, however, as 16-year-old Harvey Elliott made his first appearance on the same day his signing from Fulham was confirmed.

The winger showed promising flashes at Murrayfield, and Klopp is excited by him.

"That's why he is here," Klopp said. "I could say so many positive things about the boy.

"We signed him, he came here, he decided [to play] for us and could have gone pretty much everywhere, but he wanted to be part of Liverpool.

"The stories with the boy start early, and already he is the youngest ever Premier League player and has broken quite a few records because of his talent.

"Now he is here, so let's work with him. He needs game time, we will see where he gets that, but he is obviously a fine, fine footballer and that's why we were really interested."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.