Inter's game against Sampdoria and two other Serie A matches have been postponed following the recent coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

At a news conference, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed Sunday's fixtures in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, including the Hellas Verona-Cagliari and Atalanta-Sassuolo clashes, would not go ahead.

The move comes as part of preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, officially named Covid-19, after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Saturday's scheduled Serie B match between Ascoli and Cremonese was earlier postponed and up to 88 amateur football matches were also called off, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

In a short statement, Inter announced only that their meeting with Sampdoria at San Siro was postponed "to a later date".

The third-placed Nerazzurri sit six points behind Serie A leaders Juventus, who won 2-1 against SPAL on Saturday.

Sunday's three other games are expected to go ahead as planned.

Genoa are due to host title-chasing Lazio, with Torino to face Parma and Roma entertaining Lecce.

Manchester United left it very, very late, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the extra striker he wanted in the form of Odion Ighalo.

With a move for Bournemouth's Joshua King dead in the water, the Red Devils focused their efforts on a loan deal for the 30-year-old, who has been playing for Shanghai Shenhua since last February.

Ighalo's deal, which Omnisport understands does not include a purchase option, will give Solskjaer another option up front during the injury absence of Marcus Rashford.

He is expected to travel to England in the coming days before United publicly announce the signing.

Ighalo was far from the only major deal to be concluded late in the transfer window, though, as West Ham just managed to finalise the signing of Jarrod Bowen from Hull City for a reported initial fee of £22million.

Aston Villa also announced a new striker signing about 10 minutes before the window closed, Borja Baston joining on a free transfer from Swansea City.

Elsewhere in England, Tariq Lamptey took the decision to leave Chelsea and sign for Brighton and Hove Albion on a contract until 2023. The Seagulls have also brought back Alexis Mac Allister from Boca Juniors, where he was on loan.


LOANS GALORE

Sheffield United had a busy end to the window, securing the arrival of Panos Retsos - initially on loan but with the option of a permanent deal - from Bayer Leverkusen, while Ravel Morrison has been sent on loan to Middlesbrough, having made one Premier League appearance this season.

Leicester City have loaned Ryan Bennett from Wolves, with Filip Benkovic allowed to leave for Bristol City for the remainder of the campaign with a view to earning regular game time.

Everton have sent Jonas Lossl back to Huddersfield Town on loan, while Connor Wickham is also heading to the Championship, the Crystal Palace striker moving to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

Wolves have secured the signing of Luke Matheson, who famously scored at Old Trafford in September as a 16-year-old, and loaned him back to Rochdale for the remainder of the season.

Leverkusen have also brought in a signing for the future, with Edmond Tapsoba arriving from Vitoria SC for a fee said to be between €16m and €18m.
 

SERIE A FLURRY

Italy's window closed a little earlier than some others and there was a flurry of deals around the deadline.

Marko Pjaca will get the chance to kick-start his career with Anderlecht, Juventus having allowed the winger to leave on loan for the remainder of the season as he looks to earn regular first-team football.

Milan have signed Alexis Saelemaekers, a highly rated 20-year-old from Anderlecht who arrives on loan with the option of a permanent move.

Fiorentina have had a busy end to the window. Kevin Agudelo has joined the Viola from Genoa on an 18-month loan deal, while Valentin Eysseric has been sent to Hellas Verona until June.

Maya Yoshida secured a switch to Sampdoria from Southampton, while Gaston Pereiro's move from PSV to Cagliari was ratified. He will be joined in Sardinia by Alberto Paloschi, with Alberto Cerri heading the other way to SPAL.

Gervinho, meanwhile, has taken another step in his nomadic career by moving to Al Sadd from Parma, who brought in Vasco Regini on loan from Samp.
 

BUSY BARCA

Barcelona will give new €10m signing Matheus Fernandes for time to acclimatise to LaLiga, spending the rest of 2019-20 with Real Valladolid.

Barca have also sent Moussa Wague on loan to Nice, who have the option of a €10m permanent deal, while Ligue 1 rivals Lyon have signed Camilo Reijers de Oliveira for €2m.

Kevin-Prince Boateng was a shock signing for Barca 12 months ago and the experienced forward is on the move again, this time heading to Besiktas on loan from Fiorentina.

Leganes bolstered their attacking depth with two loan deals, bringing in Roger Assale from Young Boys and former player Miguel Angel Guerrero from Olympiacos.

Getafe have landed Erick Cabaco on a permanent deal, the defender joining from Levante, Granada have signed Gil Dias on loan from Monaco, and Real Sociedad have sold Ruben Pardo to Bordeaux.

Celta Vigo, meanwhile, have loaned Emre Mor to Olympiacos, while a late, late deal that saw Nicolas Gaitan sign for Lille for the rest of the season was completed in time.

Real Madrid have long been touted as favourites to tempt Kylian Mbappe from Paris.

Mbappe idolises Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, who has made no secret of his desire to sign the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

But should Liverpool splash the cash, Mbappe could reportedly find himself at Anfield.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OPEN TO REDS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe would be open to joining Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool, according to journalist Julien Laurens.

Mbappe has long been tipped to eventually swap PSG for LaLiga giants Real Madrid, where he is coveted by fellow Frenchman and head coach Zinedine Zidane.

However, Laurens claims Liverpool could be an option, should the English side meet PSG's demands.

 

ROUND-UP 

Manchester United want Alexis Sanchez to return to the club at the end of the season, says the Daily Star. On loan at Serie A outfit Inter following a horror spell in Manchester, the Red Devils have decided to give the Chilean forward another chance to prove himself.

- West Ham have offered €40million (£33.7m) to Cagliari for Uruguay international Nahitan Nandez, reports Tuttomercatoweb.

- With Carles Perez edging closer to Roma, Barcelona could also sell Ivan Rakitic. According to Marca, Juventus are keeping tabs on the experienced midfielder.

- Sky Sport Italia claims Roma have contacted Chelsea over veteran forward Pedro, who is out of contract at season's end.

Flamengo have agreed terms with Inter to sign Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa on a permanent basis, reports ESPN Brazil, Globoesporte and Sportitalia.

Juventus are still pondering a swap deal that would see full-back Mattia De Sciglio move to PSG in exchange for Layvin Kurzawa, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

Lautaro Martinez has been warned to control his anger by Inter assistant coach Cristian Stellini after his "excessive" reaction earned him a red card in the ill-tempered 1-1 draw with Cagliari.

The Argentina international scored the opener in Sunday's clash in San Siro but was later sent off for dissent as Inter were held to a third successive Serie A draw.

Martinez reacted angrily to a decision that went against him, earning a yellow card from referee Gianluca Manganiello and then a straight red swiftly followed for something he said. 

Inter's players had to hold the 22-year-old back and he is now facing a ban in a further blow to the Nerazzurri's hopes of winning the Scudetto.

Antonio Conte refused to speak to the media after the match, which saw Radja Nainggolan haunt his parent club with a late equaliser, but deputy Stellini stepped in and conceded Martinez went too far.

"It was excessive. He has to be careful," Stellini said at the post-match news conference. "It is important to us that he is available for games.

"He has to learn from what happened so it doesn't happen again."

Furious Inter boss Conte made his displeasure known to the referee at full-time, while substitute Tommaso Berni was also shown a red card, but skipper Samir Handanovic refused to blame the officials for yet more dropped points.

"The draw certainly wasn't down to the referee - we only complained because he didn't blow for fouls on our forwards, but always did for theirs," he told reporters.

"But we don't want to point fingers at anyone but ourselves. We lacked clarity and should have killed the game off earlier because we had plenty of chances to make it 2-0."

Martinez's suspension opens the door for Alexis Sanchez to return to the starting XI, the Chile international having been used mainly as a substitute since returning from injury this month, including an eight-minute cameo on Sunday.

Inter take on Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Wednesday and Stellini said: "We are expecting to lose Lautaro, so it could be an opportunity for Sanchez. There are lots of games to play."

Radja Nainggolan admits he took a degree of satisfaction from scoring the goal that earned Cagliari a 1-1 draw at Inter after being "treated like a toy" by his parent club.

Inter loaned Nainggolan to Cagliari in August and the midfielder came back to haunt Antonio Conte's men with a 78th-minute strike in Sunday's Serie A clash.

The 31-year-old rifled a long-range shot past Samir Handanovic with the aid of a deflection off Alessandro Bastoni's heel to cancel out Lautaro Martinez's header.

Nainggolan's celebrations were muted at San Siro but he took some pleasure out of further denting Inter's title aspirations.

"I have a lot of respect for the Inter fans and for my former team-mates," he told DAZN. "But I felt treated like a toy. On one hand I'm happy for the goal, on the other I'm not as I wish my ex-team-mates the best.

"Who knows [what will happen in the future]. I'm concentrating on each game as it comes. I'm having fun, I have some excellent team-mates and we're playing for something special."

Cagliari have now earned back-to-back draws following a run of five successive defeats in all competitions, including a 4-1 reverse to Inter in the Coppa Italia 12 days ago.

Head coach Rolando Maran believes a change in formation played a big part in his side's point at San Siro.

"I adjusted our tactics to 3-5-2 so we could cover more width," he told DAZN. "We made it difficult for their strikers and blocked their passing channels.

"When we had the ball, the intention was to shake off Inter's pressing game and make them work harder. We had to avoid being under constant pressure and it worked."

Inter have now been held to three successive 1-1 draws in Serie A and are three points adrift of leaders Juventus, who face Napoli in their game in hand later on Sunday.

Martinez was sent off late on for shouting in the referee's face and Inter's coaching staff continued their protests long after the full-time whistle had sounded.

Conte made his displeasure known to the match officials as they headed down the tunnel and the Nerazzurri's coach did not speak to the media at full-time.

Radja Nainggolan struck late on against his parent club as 10-man Inter's winless run in Serie A extended with a 1-1 draw at home to Cagliari on Sunday.

The Belgium international was loaned to Cagliari for the season in August and found a way through 12 minutes from time to deny Inter a first win in three league games – their misery compounded in stoppage time as Lautaro Martinez was sent off.

Inter debutant Ashley Young had earlier set up Martinez for what appeared to be the winning goal, but the hosts failed to kill off the match and were pegged back.

And Antonio Conte's men were then reduced to 10 men late on when Martinez was shown a straight red card for dissent, as Inter lost further ground on Juventus in the title race.

 

Mattia De Sciglio, Emre Can and Marko Pjaca have been left out of the Juventus squad to face Napoli amid links to moves away from Turin.

Full-back De Sciglio is dealing with a fitness issue but is also a reported target for Paris Saint-Germain in a potential swap deal for Layvin Kurzawa, who is also said to be interesting Arsenal.

Germany international Can is reportedly an option for Borussia Dortmund in his homeland, meanwhile, having joined Juve on a free transfer from Liverpool 18 months ago.

And Pjaca is absent following talk of an imminent switch to Cagliari.

The Bianconeri head to Naples four points clear of second-placed Inter in Serie A, while their Sunday opponents - title challengers in previous campaigns - are struggling in the bottom half.

Antonio Conte admitted Inter face a midfield "emergency" as he dismissed transfer talk as making it look like the club were "buying half of Real Madrid".

Conte is considering giving new recruits Ashley Young and Victor Moses immediate debuts against Cagliari on Sunday, with Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud and Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen also thought to be targets.

With Marcelo Brozovic suffering an ankle injury in last weekend's draw at Lecce, Antonio Candreva suspended and Valentin Lazaro loaned to Newcastle, Inter lack engine-room options for the San Siro clash.

The 1-1 outcome against Lecce has left Inter four points behind Serie A leaders Juventus.

Asked whether the confirmed new arrivals could figure, after Young signed from Manchester United and Moses was prised from Chelsea on loan, Conte stressed he would do whatever it takes to ensure Inter are competitive in midfield.

Young and Moses can both play as attacking full-backs or in wide midfield roles.

"Tomorrow we are in emergency," Conte said in a Saturday news conference.

"We have only three midfielders. Candreva is suspended and Lazaro has left, meaning we will also need to make hasty decisions.

"However, as for the title we need to focus on ourselves. This is what we have to do at all times. We cannot worry about the other teams. Let us focus on ourselves and our job. I want us to keep improving. Let us keep up this enthusiasm."

Eriksen was left out of Tottenham's team on Saturday for the FA Cup game against Southampton, indicating he may have played his last game for former Inter boss Jose Mourinho.

Yet Conte has become bemused by media coverage of Inter's pursuit of new players, telling reporters: "You make it seem that we're buying half of Real Madrid."

Conte outlined Inter's transfer policy and said supporters should not expect Young and Moses to instantly become game-changers with the Nerazzurri.

"If we get cash then we will invest I think," Conte said. "But I don't think that is a surprise or anything strange. We want to strengthen this squad.

"[Chief executive Giuseppe] Marotta has been very clear on this matter. If we bring in two players, for instance, two will leave. But let us keep our feet on the ground.

"We cannot put too much expectation on the new arrivals. Young and Moses did not play much at their previous clubs so they need time to settle. Let us be patient and give them time."

Criticism of Inter's performance in the draw at Lecce rankles with Conte, who says his team cannot always play at their peak.

"Listen, it is simple," he said. "We need to go at full pelt in every game.

"I know that is not always possible. During a season there are lots of games, so you cannot always give 110 per cent. It is normal to have an off day every now and then. That is football and it happens."

Romelu Lukaku said leaving Manchester United for Inter was his best option after the star forward continued his red-hot form with a brace in the Coppa Italia.

Lukaku scored twice in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over Cagliari to take his season tally to 18 goals across all competitions for Inter since his club-record arrival at the start of the campaign.

The Belgium international opened the scoring after just 21 seconds, while he also headed in Inter's third in the second half at San Siro, where the Nerazzurri advanced to the quarter-finals.

"I must thank my team-mates, the coach, the backroom staff and the fans. Everyone has helped me from day one," Lukaku, who has scored six goals in his last four games, told Rai.

"Inter were my best option. I can grow here and I can give my contribution. My role is to help the team in any way and I know that the fans like this. I must keep this up.

"Obviously, scoring is the objective, however, I'm not just thinking about myself, but also the team. I'm here to achieve this and I hope to win something. However, for now, I'm only focused on Lecce."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte, who wanted to sign Lukaku during his time at Chelsea before finally getting his man this season, said: "You know that I don't like to talk too much about individuals. Romelu is proving his worth and he can still keep improving."

On the team following Saturday's 1-1 draw with Atalanta, which saw Inter drop two points behind Serie A champions Juventus in the race for the Scudetto, Conte added: "I'm really pleased, it was a great response from the lads. Even from those who've played less of late and those who were coming back from injury.

"I'm happy for [Nicolo] Barella, who is recovering after his injury and he was one of our starters today, as was [Alexis] Sanchez. He is an important player for us and slowly he'll get back to his best. I'm also pleased for Borja Valero, who proved himself once again today, as well as [Valentino] Lazaro, [Federico] Dimarco and [Andrea] Ranocchia, who haven't had many chances so far but all played really well. 

"There's real harmony among this group, they are a great bunch of lads that want to do well. I'm really pleased to be working with them. We rounded off an important first half of the season in the league, picking up 46 points despite our difficulties and they have now left us in a strong position.

"The second half of the campaign won't be easy but we've started on our journey and we want to keep growing, maintaining the right amount of patience to bring everything together."

Romelu Lukaku scored a double to guide Inter into the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia as they breezed to a 4-1 win over Cagliari.

Lukaku is enjoying an excellent first season with the Nerazzurri following his move from Manchester United and went into Tuesday's clash at San Siro with 16 goals in 24 games in all competitions.

He added to that tally with a goal in each half against a Cagliari side an impressive sixth in Serie A despite a poor run of form, needing only 21 seconds to open the scoring after Christian Oliva inadvertently played him through on goal.

His goals were sandwiched by a tap-in from Borja Valero and Antonio Conte's Serie A challengers were rarely threatened until Oliva atoned for his earlier error with an emphatically taken consolation.

Andrea Ranocchia restored Inter's three-goal lead late on and they will now switch focus back to an engrossing title battle with Juventus.

Lukaku was ruthless in punishing Oliva's error as he calmly slotted into the bottom-right corner and he would have had a second if not for a questionable offside decision, the Belgium striker adjudged to have strayed as he turned home a near-post cross in the 11th minute.

The former United man was unable to connect with Nicolo Barella's right-wing cross, but it mattered not as the delivery was bundled in by Valero at the second attempt.

Cagliari continued to afford Lukaku opportunities and four minutes into the second half he steered a difficult header into the net from another superb Barella ball into the box.

Radja Nainggolan, on loan at Cagliari from Inter, struck the post with a vicious drive, before Oliva beat Samir Handanovic with a rasping finish from Alberto Cerri's backheel lay-off.

However, poor marking at a corner allowed Ranocchia to make absolutely sure of victory as he converted from substitute Cristiano Biraghi's set-piece 10 minutes from time.

 

What does it mean? Inter take step towards silverware

Inter have not lifted a trophy since winning this competition in 2011, but this was a performance of a side primed to end that drought. Conte's side were in control from the start and never lost their grip on the contest. Atalanta or Fiorentina will be up next.

Ruthless Romelu

Lukaku has adapted brilliantly to Italian football and he provided another demonstration of his significant goalscoring prowess with a clinical display.

No case for Cagliari defence

Oliva's howler meant they were on the back foot from the off, but Cagliari's defending, particularly in the first half, left a lot to be desired and on another day Inter would have won by a wider margin.

What's next?

Inter visit Lecce in Serie A on Sunday, when Cagliari are away at Brescia. These two sides meet again at the same venue in the league a week later.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic plans to "celebrate like a God" when he scores at San Siro having opted to strike a calm pose after netting in his first start since returning to Milan against Cagliari.

Milan ended a miserable run of three straight games without a goal with a 2-0 away win on Saturday, Ibrahimovic scoring his side's second midway through the second half with an excellent first-time finish. 

A deflected strike from Rafael Leao had given Stefano Pioli's men the lead just after half-time.

Ibrahimovic, who came off the bench in the 0-0 San Siro draw with Sampdoria, is saving his biggest celebration until he scores on home soil.

"I'll celebrate like a God at San Siro, not here," the 38-year-old told Sky Sport Italia. 

"I celebrate God every time I score, that way I feel alive! It's important for a striker to try and be there, then sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't. 

"I got a few balls wrong at the start of the game, but I need a few matches to get into shape."

Of Pioli checking on Ibrahimovic in the second half, the striker added: "I feel good, the coach just wanted to think about my age and see if I needed a rest, but there's no problem. My mind is still sharp and the body has to follow.

"We played with two strikers and two wingers to push the whole team further forward, and it went well."

Pioli felt Ibrahimovic's presence was already being felt, adding: "This was certainly a different performance to recent outings. 

"We were more effective, more solid. Zlatan's presence clearly gives us a reference point to build around and it will take us a while to really get to know each other.

"Ibrahimovic probably won't run into space that much, so we need someone around him who can do the running, as we saw Leao, Samu Castillejo and Hakan Calhanoglu, then Giacomo Bonaventura do. 

"We have only just started working on this system, but the early signs are positive."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired Milan to victory on his first start since returning to the club, netting in a 2-0 Serie A win at Cagliari.

With Milan having gone three straight games without scoring, the 38-year-old netted the decisive second goal with an excellent finish after 64 minutes.

The visitors had moved ahead on Saturday through Rafael Leao's deflected effort, his first goal since September, which arrived just 32 seconds after the restart.

Cagliari remain sixth in the table but have lost four straight Serie A matches and are on their worst run since October 2017.

The only chance in a quiet first half hour was Theo Hernandez's shot from a tight angle that was saved by the legs of Robin Olsen.

Milan almost broke through when Ibrahimovic's header was touched onto the upright by Olsen and they came close again from the resulting corner, which was flicked on by Alessio Romagnoli to a stretching Leao, who could not convert at the far post.

Cagliari rarely threatened but an audacious Nahitan Nandez lob from the right touchline had to be saved by a back-tracking Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Milan made an ideal start to the second half when Samu Castillejo's lofted pass found Leao, who controlled neatly before seeing his shot deflect off defender Fabio Pisacane and loop in over a helpless Olsen.

Midway through the half, Ibrahimovic sealed victory as he swept a first-time, left-footed effort into the far corner from 12 yards after latching on to Hernandez's delivery from the left.

Ibrahimovic thought he had a second late on but was denied by an offside flag having headed in a cross from Ismael Bennacer, Donnarumma not having a save to make in the closing stages as Milan held on comfortably.
 

What does it mean? Ibra gives Milan much needed boost

Coming into the game, Milan were on their lowest Serie A goal total after playing 18 games since 1985.

Enter Ibrahimovic, whose fine finish sealed victory after he went the closest of anyone to scoring in a quiet first half. His return and Milan's seventh top-flight win of the season gives them something to build on in the second half of the season.


Castillejo creativity boosts Milan

Castillejo was handed a rare start and made the most of it, setting up Leao's opener and finishing with three chances created, level with Hakan Calhanoglu for the best on the pitch.


Simeone struggles for hosts

Ahead of the match, Giovanni Simeone revealed he used to wear an Ibrahimovic shirt when he grew up as a Milan fan, but the striker could not match the former Sweden international on the pitch, substituted after 69 minutes having struggled to make an impact.


What's next?

Milan have the chance to continue their momentum when they host a poor SPAL side in the last 16 of the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, a day after Cagliari have a challenging trip to Inter in the same competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first Serie A hat-trick as Juventus overcame Cagliari and he was pleased to put the pressure on Inter, who topped the league during the mid-season break.

After a goalless first half at Allianz Stadium, Ronaldo showed great anticipation to beat Sebastian Walukiewicz to Ragnar Klavan's loose pass and round Robin Olsen for the opener.

The 34-year-old added a second from the penalty spot following Marko Rog's foul on Paulo Dybala.

Gonzalo Higuain extended Juve's lead further in the 81st minute and five seconds after Cagliari restarted the match Ronaldo slotted in his third.

The victory sent Maurizio Sarri's men three points clear of Inter ahead of the Nerazzurri's trip to Napoli later on Monday.

"The year has started very well. The most important thing despite the hat-trick is that the team wins," Ronaldo told Sky Sport Italia.

"We played well and created a lot of chances. I am pleased with the hat-trick, but the most important thing was to win and put pressure on Inter.

"The team is getting better, not just in defence but in all areas. We must improve in all aspects, not just one. We are a complete squad and have to work together in every move."

On whether he will watch Inter's game against Napoli, Ronaldo added: "I don't know, but obviously I hope Inter lose, because that would help us.

"In any case, we've done what we needed to do and can only wait now."

Cristiano Ronaldo got his 2020 up and running with a hat-trick as Ragnar Klavan's error helped gift Juventus a 4-0 win over Cagliari, sending the champions back above Inter at the Serie A summit.

Despite a dominant first-half display, Juve - who were defeated by Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana in their final match of 2019 - were unable to find a way through before Klavan's calamity.

But once presented with a clear chance, Ronaldo made no mistake, keeping his composure to beat Robin Olsen, who was beaten again by the former Real Madrid star from the spot in the 67th minute.

Ronaldo's penalty came after Giovanni Simeone almost snatched an equaliser against the run of play, but a strike from substitute Gonzalo Higuain and a composed third from Ronaldo comfortably ensured Juve made it 30 consecutive home league matches without defeat.

 

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri would not confirm whether he will continue to use Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain as a front three against Cagliari, but he warned of the threat of the opposition midfield.

Sarri bowed to pressure by using Ronaldo, Dybala and Higuain together in attack ahead of the mid-season break.

Although the star trio initially impressed in wins over Udinese and Sampdoria, they then started the 3-1 Supercoppa Italiana defeat to Lazio.

Sarri insisted at the time that loss was not due to his front line, yet speaking ahead of a return to Serie A action against Cagliari, he would not commit to sticking with the system.

A talented Cagliari side boasting the likes of Radja Nainggolan, Nahitan Nandez and Marko Rog could see Sarri select Aaron Ramsey instead.

"We'll see tomorrow," he told a Sunday news conference of his line-up. "Ramsey also seems to be growing, so we will have to decide.

"We will need to take a lot of care. The Cagliari midfielders can start strong attacks, so we will need great balance on our part, especially in midfield.

"When you concede a lot of goals [before Christmas], you often place the blame on the defenders. But that's not always the case.

"In my opinion, the right protection has not been given to the defence. That's why we have been working on the movements of the midfielders."

Douglas Costa is still regaining fitness, but centre-back Matthijs de Ligt could be handed a recall, having not started since a league defeat to Lazio on December 7.

"He had a complicated period, with shoulder and adductor problems," Sarri added of the Dutchman. "He is very young, he rested because he had small problems, and [Merih] Demiral has grown a lot.

"He seems to be recovering, so we'll see for tomorrow."

Juventus this week completed the signing of Dejan Kulusevski from Atalanta for an initial €35million, although he remains on loan at Parma.

Sarri said: "[Kulusevski] is a great prospect and it is important that the club is attentive to these young players and gets there first.

"There were no conditions [possible] where he could be available now."

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