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Matthijs de Ligt was left bemused by transfer stories circulating about him before his move to Juventus, particularly one concerning Manchester United and fears about his weight.

The Netherlands international completed a move to Juventus on Thursday in a deal that could cost the Serie A champions €85.5million.

De Ligt, 19, had been one of the most in-demand young players in the world following his exceptional performances as captain of Ajax, who won the Eredivisie and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season.

He was linked with a possible move to United until a story emerged in the Daily Mirror suggesting a scout had warned the Red Devils off making a bid as De Ligt would be susceptible to gaining weight as he got older, like his father.

De Ligt says such claims left him truly baffled, even amid the persistent speculation over where he would be playing football next season.

"Every day, there was something new," he told Voetbal International. "Suddenly, even my father was too fat and that's why one of the clubs wouldn't want me. That makes you go, 'Come on, man...'"

There was another rumour De Ligt turned down Paris Saint-Germain because he wanted a higher wage than Kylian Mbappe, something he previously told Algemeen Dagblad was "insane".

"Money played no role at all in my choice for a new club," he said. "Everyone who knows me, knows that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I will respect that, but some people were saying things like that [PSG story] very easily."

De Ligt is the latest high-profile player to secure a big-money transfer through the hugely successful agent Mino Raiola, who counts Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti among his clients.

"He has a lot of experience," De Ligt said of Raiola. "I think there may be a certain negative image of him in Holland, but I certainly don't experience it that way.

"I think if you ask all of his players if Mino does a good job for them, everyone would say yes. That's the most important thing. It's not about what other people say about him, it's about what he can do for me."

Maurizio Sarri urged Juventus to show less naivety on the ball after Adrian Rabiot's late lapse led to a 3-2 loss to Tottenham in Singapore.

The Serie A champions succumbed to defeat in Sarri's first match in charge courtesy of Harry Kane's sublime lob over Wojciech Szczesny from inside the centre circle in the third minute of added time.

New signing Rabiot dallied on the ball and invited a tackle from Lucas Moura, from which the ball spilled into Kane's path.

Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo earlier scored to overturn Erik Lamela's first-half opener, before Lucas equalised in the 65th minute.

"It was a difficult game, there is a difference between us in our physical preparation," Sarri told reporters.

"Tottenham have players who have known each other for years and in the first half they seemed quicker, but it's normal.

"If we want to show our football we must defend further forward. In the first half we weren't high enough up the pitch, which made things difficult.

"In the second half we pressed better and we did some good things, even though we were naive with the lost balls.

"But I think this is also affected by the level of physical conditioning."

The International Champions Cup clash was the opening pre-season match for both clubs.

Debutant Rabiot said: "It was the first game, so there is still a lot of work to do. Physically I need to grow, but I felt good playing my first game.

"We are understanding each other very well within the team and with the coach."

Juve return to action against Serie A rivals Inter in China on Wednesday.

Christian Eriksen put some of Europe's biggest clubs on alert when he declared he would "like to try something new" and now it seems the Tottenham star could make a surprise move.

Initial speculation suggested that Real Madrid would make a move for the talented Spurs playmaker.

As the 2019-20 season draws ever closer, however, it could be that another Spanish giant – and neighbours of Real Madrid – steal a march in the quest to land the Denmark international.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETI AND TOTTENHAM IN ERIKSEN TALKS

Atletico Madrid have enjoyed a productive transfer window – despite losing Antoine Griezmann, Rodri and Diego Godin – and could be set to swoop for Tottenham's Christian Eriksen.

The Dane has spent six seasons with the north London club but is ready for a new challenge and could join former team-mate Kieran Trippier in the Spanish capital.

AS reports that the two clubs have started discussions over a fee for the 27-year-old, with Spurs likely to demand in excess of €70million.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain have found their target if Neymar gets his desired move away from the Parc des Princes. According to RMC Sport, Juventus midfielder Paulo Dybala is PSG's top option if Neymar leaves.

- James Rodriguez is linked with the likes of Atletico Madrid and Napoli, and Real Madrid want around €40m for the playmaker, according to Marca.

- David de Gea will become the world's highest paid goalkeeper. The Manchester United shot-stopper has agreed to a six-year deal worth around £117m with the Premier League giants, according to The Telegraph.

- Arsenal could land Moise Kean from Juventus, but only if any deal includes a buy-back clause. The Daily Mail say Juve will insist on a £36m (€40.1m) clause in a possible deal involving the forward.

- Danny Rose is widely expected to leave Tottenham this close season, with numerous clubs linked with the left-back. Now, the Mirror report Serie A champions Juventus are the frontrunners to sign the defender.

- After Aaron Wan-Bissaka's move to Manchester United, Crystal Palace may have found their replacement. The Daily Mail report Palace have held further talks over a potential deal for Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne.

Lazio will not stop Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from moving on to fulfil his ambitions at one of Europe's biggest clubs but the Serie A side have not received a concrete offer, according to president Claudio Lotito.

Milinkovic-Savic, 24, has been linked to Premier League giants Manchester United and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Lazio are reportedly refusing to consider bids under €80million for star midfielder Milinkovic-Savic, who was the subject of strong interest prior to the 2018-19 season.

Amid ongoing speculation over Serbia international Milinkovic-Savic, Lotito told Sky Sport Italia: "The important thing is that we have today built a club that is no longer just a stepping stone to bigger things, but many players dream of coming here.

"Last year, I fought hard to ensure Milinkovic-Savic didn't leave. This season, I certainly have fewer weapons to call upon if the situation should arise again.

"That doesn't mean the club is working actively to sell him. Certainly, Milinkovic-Savic on a personal level has other ambitions and that seems fair, so we won't clip his wings.

"We understand it's important for a player to step up to one of the biggest clubs in the world. However, a player only has a price-tag when he is for sale and the transfer market is dictated by action, not words.

"When a concrete proposal arrives, we'll examine it and see what the conditions are, whether they satisfy the club and the decisions we'll then make."

Milinkovic-Savic scored seven goals in all competitions last season as Lazio won the Coppa Italia and finished eighth in Serie A.

 

New Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has welcomed speculation that Neymar could make a dramatic return to the LaLiga champions.

De Jong, 22, was signed by Barca from Ajax in January for a reported €75million, but only made the move at the end of the season.

Neymar has reportedly told Paris Saint-Germain that he wants to leave the club during the close season, two years after his world-record €222million transfer from Barca.

The Catalan club appear to be keen on bringing the Brazilian superstar back to Camp Nou and De Jong says he would relish the opportunity to play alongside him.

"Of course I would like to play with Neymar," he told Sport. "I think he's a really good player but it isn't up to me to decide if he comes to Barcelona or not."

De Jong will be tasked with supplying a mouth-watering attack in the 2019-20 season, led by Lionel Messi, and the Netherlands international is looking forward to teaming up with a player he considers to be the very best.

"I think he's the best player in the world," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing with all the guys, not only with Messi."

Barca were linked with a move for De Jong's former Ajax team-mate, Matthijs de Ligt, but the 19-year-old opted to join Serie A champions Juventus.

De Jong says he would have loved De Ligt to have joined him at Barca but believes he has made a positive move.

Asked if he was disappointed by De Ligt's decision, De Jong said: "No, I'm not disappointed. Not at all. Of course, I'd be happier if he had decided to join Barcelona, but it's his decision and he made it with his family, his agent and girlfriend.

"I'm happy for him. He's made a great move. I would rather see him at Barcelona but Juventus is a good move for him."

Antonio Conte says it is his "will and hope" that Inter sign Romelu Lukaku but concedes a potential transfer is out of his hands.

Lukaku missed Manchester United's 1-0 win over Inter on Saturday, just hours after widespread reports that the Red Devils had turned down a £54million bid from the Serie A side for the Belgium international.

Inter look set to sell Mauro Icardi during the close season and Conte has made no secret of his desire to bring Lukaku to San Siro.

Speaking after the defeat to United in Singapore, Conte again revealed his desire to link up with the 26-year-old.

"He is a United player and for this reason we must show great respect for the club, for the player and also for my own players," he told a media conference.

"Lukaku is a player that I like because I consider him a player that could improve our team. On one side is my hope and my will and on the other side we will see what we find with the club."

Conte, meanwhile, has suggested that Ivan Perisic does not fit into the system that he wants to play at Inter.

The Croatia star was introduced as a half-time substitute against United but Conte was not impressed with his contribution, believing it fell short of the standard set by Dalbert on the left flank.

"We are working but the answers are not positive," the Inter boss said of Perisic. "I don't think he is adapting to the role that I asked him to do.

"The only place he can play right now is as a striker. On the other hand, I saw Dalbert applying himself greatly in this match.

"We have to improve so much from all points of view. We have a lot of work to do and we will do it."

Cristiano Ronaldo "can play anywhere" for Juventus but Maurizio Sarri plans to return his superstar forward to a familiar role at the outset of the season.

Portugal legend Ronaldo moved between multiple attacking positions in his first campaign with Juve, playing on the flanks, through the middle and in partnership with Paulo Dybala.

But the 34-year-old is set to initially be given a more defined brief under new boss Sarri, a coach noted for being unfailingly faithful to his favoured 4-3-3 system.

For Ronaldo that means moving slightly wider, to a role he performed with distinction at Manchester United and Real Madrid.

"I'm going to first use Cristiano on the left in attack," Sarri said.

"But really, with the quality he has, he can play anywhere.

"He's very experienced and has won everything, individually and collectively."

Sarri's first chance to experiment comes against Tottenham in the International Champions Cup in Singapore.

The Italian confirmed new signing Matthijs de Ligt will "certainly play part of the game" in a bid to quickly integrate the Netherlands international into his new surroundings.

De Ligt, 19, signed from Ajax this week in an €85.5million deal despite reported interest from Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.

The defender denied being swayed by the wage on offer in Turin, though, slamming reports which claimed otherwise.

"At a certain point it was a bit tiring [hearing all the reports]," he told Dutch newspaper AD.

"The most insane thing I read was that I wouldn't go to PSG because I wanted to earn more than Kylian Mbappe. What nonsense.

"Mino [Raiola] is my agent, he deals with the business side, but that only mattered after my sporting choice was made."

Roma have announced the signing of Jordan Veretout from Fiorentina, the midfielder initially joining on loan.

Veretout will cost Roma a €1million loan fee with the deal including an obligation for the Giallorossi to make the move permanent for €16m next year.

The transfer for the 26-year-old also includes a potential €2m of add-ons to be paid to Fiorentina.

Veretout, who has agreed a contract to 2024 with Roma, previously played for Nantes, Aston Villa and Saint-Etienne.

"I am very happy to play for this great club, with so many great players," Veretout told Roma's official club website.

"I am looking forward to sharing a great new phase of my career with some fantastic team-mates."

Veretout is the latest new arrival for Roma, who have also signed Leonardo Spinazzola, Amadou Diawara, Bryan Cristante and Pau Lopez but allowed club legend Daniele De Rossi to depart.

"I am really pleased to be able to bring Jordan to the club,” said Gianluca Petrachi, Roma's sporting director.

"From the very start of negotiations I recognised his eagerness to come here and wear the club's colours. I am certain that his desire and technical qualities will prove a vital part of the side we are building."

Maurizio Sarri has hinted he would like Paul Pogba to leave Manchester United and join Juventus.

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has confirmed the midfielder wants to leave Old Trafford, three years after he returned for a second spell.

The France midfielder was nevertheless named in United's starting line-up for Saturday's International Champions Cup clash with Inter.

But Juve's new head coach Sarri, speaking ahead of their ICC game against Tottenham, opened the door to a potential transfer.

"I like him very much, but he's a Manchester United player," Sarri told a news conference. 

"I'm not the technical director [Fabio Paratici] so I don't know the situation."

Pogba, who played for Juve between 2012 and 2016, started renewed speculation over his future by saying he wanted a "new challenge" last month.

The World Cup winner has been linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as Juve.

The Neymar saga has dominated the narrative at Paris Saint-Germain in recent days, with his future yet to be settled.

But the Ligue 1 champions still have moves to make themselves in the remaining weeks of the transfer market.

And PSG might back themselves to tempt an out-of-favour Juventus star to make the switch to France.

 

TOP STORY – PSG MAKE APPROACH FOR DYBALA

If Neymar does leave Paris, Paulo Dybala would represent a fine replacement. He is an option, according to RMC Sport.

It is reported PSG have approached Dybala's camp, with any deal quite separate from Neymar's future.

A fee of less than €50million could be enough to see Juventus sell, with Dybala no longer a vital cog following Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival last year.

 

ROUND-UP

- Dybala might not be the only Juventus player heading to Ligue 1, though. Le Parisien have reported PSG interest in Blaise Matuidi, who Sky Sport Italia say is also a target for Monaco.

- Further movement in Serie A could see Suso heading off. According to Calcio Mercato, the AC Milan star is a target for Roma. The Rossoneri will ask for close to €40m despite the midfielder appearing to be out of favour.

- Working rather harder to keep a key man are Tottenham. They will offer Christian Eriksen £200,000 a week to keep Real Madrid at bay, according to the Daily Mail.

- With Laurent Koscielny's future at Arsenal uncertain, Unai Emery's captaincy group will look quite different next season. According to the Mail, Rob Holding or Calum Chambers could be in line to be skipper.

- Their London neighbours Chelsea, meanwhile, are set to temporarily part ways with Ethan Ampadu. The teenager is on the brink of joining RB Leipzig on loan, according to the Guardian, and could be joined at the Bundesliga club by Ademola Lookman of Everton.

- But as one young prospect arrives in Germany, another might be on the way out. Bild say Barcelona are keen on Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, who is also said to be in the sights of Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Boca Juniors president Daniel Angelici believes a deal for former Roma icon Daniele de Rossi is all but sealed.

Sporting director Nicolas Burdisso spoke last month of his desire to see De Rossi join Boca after the World Cup winner left boyhood club Roma.

And despite reports the Italian would instead retire, links to the Argentine giants have persisted.

Angelici now hopes a move is close, claiming negotiations are 99 per cent of the way.

"The negotiations for De Rossi are well under way," he told TyC Sports. "In the coming days, he will fly to Buenos Aires.

"It is 99 per cent that Daniele will be a Boca player.

"To have a world champion say he wants to finish his career here fills me with pride. It is good for Argentine football to have a player like this."

De Rossi would likely replace Uruguay star Nahitan Nandez, who is a reported target for Cagliari.

Dimitar Berbatov feels criticism of Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku is unfair and hopes the Belgian stays at Old Trafford.

Lukaku joined United from Everton in a £75million deal in 2017, scoring 28 goals in 66 Premier League games since then, but his performances have been much maligned.

The former Chelsea man has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes up his United squad ahead of the new season.

But Berbatov, who played under Alex Ferguson for four years at United, would prefer to see Lukaku remain at the club.

"I hope Lukaku is staying because he's a good player and the criticism he's facing is not fair," he told the Straits Times.

However, Berbatov believes United would have the firepower to cope with Lukaku's departure, backing Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford for big seasons.

"I am calm because I like Martial a lot," he said. "I used to play with him in Monaco a lot and I know that he is really good and that he can be even better.

"I like Rashford as well; he can develop and become even better."

Armando Izzo has signed a new contract at Torino, ending speculation he could move to the Premier League.

Arsenal were reportedly interested in the centre-back, who has also been linked with Manchester United and Everton.

But Izzo, who made his first Italy appearance in a Euro 2020 qualifier in March, has instead signed a new five-year deal with Torino.

Speaking last month, the 27-year-old indicated he would commit to the Granata and he is thrilled to have agreed an extension.

"Happy to continue with the Bull, with the same determination we will still face many battles together!!" Izzo wrote on Instagram.

Torino, who finished seventh in Serie A last season, will play in the Europa League in 2019-20 due to AC Milan's ban.

Walter Mazzarri's side face a qualifier against Hungarian outfit Debrecen, with the first leg to be played on Thursday.

Udinese have announced the signing of Cristo Gonzalez from Real Madrid.

Gonzalez, 21, has agreed a five-year deal with the Serie A side, who are reported to have paid €1.5million.

Madrid are said to have included both a buy-back clause and a sell-on fee in the deal for the striker.

Gonzalez scored 21 goals for Real Madrid's reserves last term and hit his first senior goal for the club in a Copa del Rey win at Melilla.

Madrid, meanwhile, are closing in on the signing of midfielder Alberto Soro, according to Real Zaragoza president Christian Lapetra.

Soro will reportedly sign for Madrid in a €2.5m deal that could rise to around €5m, before returning to Zaragoza on loan.

Paolo Maldini insists AC Milan did not make an offer for Luka Modric this close season, although he admits the Real Madrid man would be "perfect" at San Siro.

Modric is expected to stay at Madrid, where he has been since 2012, but the 33-year-old was linked with moves to Inter last year and rivals Milan in recent months.

Maldini, acknowleding the midfielder's blend of experience and talent, says there was never any negotiation for the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner.

"We never negotiated for Modric, but we've said to [coach Marco] Giampaolo this club are looking for good young players and some experienced ones," Rossoneri technical director Maldini told a news conference.

"The growth of young players takes place through the presence of experienced players. Modric would be perfect here, but we've never negotiated for him."

Maldini was speaking alongside Rade Krunic and Theo Hernandez as they were presented as Milan players on Friday.

Hernandez, a left-back just as Maldini was in his playing days, was delighted to have joined Milan.

"It is a real honour to be sitting next to [Maldini]," Hernandez said. "He will always be the best full-back in the world.

"We met in Ibiza, where he had some very beautiful and sincere words for me. Since then, I have had the desire to join Milan. I trained hard to succeed and in the end I did it."

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