Between 2003 and 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League among other honours at Manchester United.

Ronaldo has since gone on to play for Real Madrid and Juventus, but he could be set for an Old Trafford reunion.

Watch this space…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED MAKE RONALDO CONTACT

Manchester United have made contact with Cristiano Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes over a return to Old Trafford, according to the front page of Friday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juventus superstar Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where he arrived in 2018, amid links with former clubs United and Real Madrid, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.

Ronaldo, who starred for United between 2003 and 2009, would have to take a wage cut in order to make a Manchester reunion a reality.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Madrid are willing to sell Raphael Varane in order to raise transfer funds amid strong links with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG star Kylian Mbappe. Varane has been linked with United and Chelsea.

- Staying at the Santiago Bernabeu, and AS says the future of captain Sergio Ramos looks less likely to be at Madrid. The likes of United and PSG have emerged as possible destinations for the superstar Spain skipper.

Barcelona are prioritising the signing of Lyon captain Memphis Depay, reports RMC Sport. Juventus have also been linked.

Rodrigo De Paul is wanted by Leeds United, Juve, Inter and Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Juve have been eyeing the Udinese star, but the Italian giants are also weighing up moves for United's Paul Pogba and Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

Lionel Messi reached 25 LaLiga goals for the season in Barcelona's win over Getafe, and in doing so he matched a feat achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Barcelona captain's double strike in Thursday's 5-2 win means he and Ronaldo are the only players from the 'top five' European leagues to have scored at least 25 goals in 12 different seasons this century.

The 33-year-old scored twice before the break, before teeing up Ronald Araujo to head a contest-settling fourth Barca goal and then playing in Antoine Griezmann to win a late penalty.

Unlike Ronaldo, Messi has achieved his run of seasons with at least 25 goals by reaching the mark in consecutive campaigns, beginning in 2009-10.

While Ronaldo has had such seasons for Manchester United, Real Madrid and current club Juventus, for whom he has scored 25 in Serie A this season, Messi's goals have all come with Barcelona.

The twin strike on Thursday also ended a mini barren run in home league games against Getafe. Messi had previously not scored in his three most recent appearances against them at Camp Nou, his longest streak without scoring at home against them in the competition.

Andrea Pirlo will consider no longer placing Cristiano Ronaldo in defensive walls after Juventus conceded from another free-kick in their win against Parma.

Ronaldo covered his face and failed to jump as Gaston Brugman lifted a superb 25-yarder over the five-man Juve wall and past a stationary Gianluigi Buffon.

The home side recovered from that setback thanks to a couple of Alex Sandro goals either side of half-time and a header from fellow defender Matthijs de Ligt.

However, Pirlo was not overly pleased with his side's display and hinted Ronaldo - criticised for turning his back on Sergio Oliveira's extra-time free-kick that saw Porto knock Juve out of the Champions League last 16 - will no longer form part of the wall.

"Unfortunately, these things happen, but we'll have to evaluate it over the next few days," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We made life difficult for ourselves with that opening goal, then ran a few other risks on set-plays. It's a pity because we'd done well defending from dead-ball situations this season."

Juventus have now conceded goals in each of their last eight Serie A games, which is their longest such streak since May 2019.

Pirlo had a couple of defenders to thank for bailing his side out, with Alex Sandro scoring more goals against Parma in Wednesday's clash than he managed in his previous 115 matches in all competitions.

While the under-fire boss is happy to have come away with all three points, he accepted there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"We were too distant in the first half and that slowed down the passing movement," he said.

"Maybe we don't maintain the same concentration and pace from match to match. Sometimes we are a little slow, we hold onto the ball, allow the opposition to occupy the space and it all grinds to a halt.

"We did well to turn it around and the win was important for our confidence as we played well and needed to take home the three points.

"We have instinctive players, but must also give them directions on the positions to hold. They did it better in the second half than the first, especially with the body positioning to receive the ball."

The win for Juve moves them into third, one point above fourth-placed Atalanta and five ahead of Napoli in fifth, both of whom have a game in hand in a tight battle for Champions League qualification.

It was an important victory in more ways than one for the fallen champions amid a backdrop of unrest over the European Super League proposal, which is now in tatters after the vast majority of teams pulled the plug.

Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli was one of the chief architects of the breakaway plans and Pirlo reiterated his pre-match comments that, while he is not against change, the club must "respect the rules".

"Agnelli explained what was happening, but that the most important thing was to secure a place in the top four to qualify for the Champions League," Pirlo said. "He reassured and encouraged us ahead of this game.

"I already spoke about [the Super League] yesterday, so did the president and the director. We all know the same things. 

"Something has to be changed on the European level, because the ideas that were proposed were good ones, but we are also open to other suggestions and will respect the rules."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said he will do everything possible so the LaLiga giants do not lose their "rightful place" as one of the world's leading clubs amid strong links with Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Madrid have long been linked with PSG's Mbappe, while in-demand Dortmund forward Haaland has emerged as a transfer target in the Spanish capital.

While discussing the new European Super League, which he is chairman of, Perez addressed the speculation regarding Mbappe and Haaland.

"The fans always ask me to buy Mbappe," Perez told El Chiringuito. "My answer? I say: don't worry... the truth is that he is a good player, yes.

"I've never talked to Mbappe. At least now... I don't know what's going to happen to his contract with PSG."

On Haaland, who has also been linked with Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, PSG, Chelsea, Liverpool and Juventus, Perez added: "Haaland's father has visited our training ground Valdebebas, yes.

"Everyone has always had the same reaction: never seen anything like this.

"Haaland and Mbappe are two excellent players but what [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo have done is incredible."

Perez, though, ruled out a reunion with the club's all-time leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid.

Ronaldo – who left Madrid for Juventus in 2018 – has been tipped to depart Turin and a Los Blancos comeback has emerged as a possible option for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

But Perez said: "Cristiano Ronaldo will not come back at Real Madrid.

"It does not makes sense, he has a contract with Juventus. I love him a lot, he has given us a lot."

Perez was also asked about the future of Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old Ramos is yet to re-sign at the Santiago Bernabeu amid reported interest from the likes of United, PSG and Chelsea.

"I love Sergio Ramos, but we are in a very bad financial situation at Real Madrid," added Perez, who insisted Vinicius Junior is not for sale. "Nobody puts money into this club.

"Will he leave the club? I didn't say that... many things can happen. We will think about it at the end of the season."

Andrea Pirlo claimed Juventus will qualify for next season's Champions League "no problem" as he lamented Cristiano Ronaldo's absence in a damaging Serie A defeat to Atalanta.

Pirlo's side suffered a 1-0 loss at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday as they again struggled without the influential presence of Portugal forward Ronaldo.

Juventus have drawn three and lost one of the four games Ronaldo has missed in Serie A this season.

The Bianconeri's lack of cutting edge up front was emphasised by the fact they managed to register 11 shots in the contest but only one of them was on target.

Atalanta's victory, secured by Ruslan Malinovskiy's late goal, was their first win over the Bianconeri in Serie A since 2001 and saw them leapfrog the Scudetto holders into third place.

"If we play with this spirit and desire to bring home the result, I am convinced there will be no problem achieving our objective," Pirlo told Sky Italia.

"We played the match we needed to, then they were lucky with the late goal, but we played with great determination and aggression. It's disappointing, we could've brought home at least a point

"We have not faced all our games with the same attitude and determination.

"It's a completely different team when we have those elements, but despite me pointing it out, we have dropped too many points by not having the right attitude in the smaller fixtures.

"We knew Atalanta would make it a duel all over the field, so that's how we prepared it. We kept good possession, covered the spaces, Atalanta can force you to play differently to other situations, but we did well."

Ronaldo has scored 25 goals and provided three assists in Serie A this season. 

The 36-year-old missed the match with a thigh injury but is expected to be fit enough for Juve's Serie A clash with Parma on Wednesday.

Pirlo acknowledged he would have been ideal for a tight match against Gian Piero Gasperini's side.

He said: "It’s no coincidence Ronaldo scored 25 goals this season and he was excellent in the first game with Atalanta too. 

"He suits these games well and is our main finisher. When missing the killer instinct in the box, it's slightly different.

"Cristiano wasn't available, but whoever went on the pitch did what he had to do. I'm satisfied with the performance.

"We didn't take advantage of the chances that happened to us in the first half. But we knew it would be an intense match. I have nothing to blame my players for."

Pirlo was asked if he felt under pressure given Juve's difficult season and speculation about his job, but added: "I've been used to it since I was a player. I let them talk."

Ruslan Malinovskiy's late effort consigned Juventus to a 1-0 defeat at Atalanta and struck a blow to their chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Only four minutes remained of Sunday's Serie A contest when Malinovskiy's effort deflected past Wojciech Szczesny to secure the points for Atalanta, who leapfrog Juve into third place in the table.

The Bianconeri were without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo and his absence was acutely felt as Andrea Pirlo's side lacked a cutting edge in attack.

Juve have now drawn three and lost one of their games in Serie A this season where Ronaldo has been absent.

Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Juventus' Serie A clash with Atalanta on Sunday because of a thigh problem as head coach Andrea Pirlo blamed the player's workload.

The Portugal forward has been struggling with the injury sustained in Juve's 3-1 win over Genoa last Sunday and has not taken a full part in training this week, with Paulo Dybala set to start instead.

Juventus have drawn all three of the Serie A games Ronaldo has missed in this campaign, scoring just three goals in the process.

In the league fixtures where Ronaldo has played a part this season, Juve have a win percentage of 66.7 per cent from 27 games (18 wins, five draws and four losses) and have scored an average of 2.1 goals per game.

Pirlo lamented Ronaldo's absence and acknowledged the number of games the 36-year-old has played for club and country in a short timeframe have taken a toll on his fitness.

"Ronaldo will not be in for the match tomorrow," Pirlo said at a media conference on Saturday.

"In recent days he has not been able to recover from the flexor problem after last Sunday's game, he does not feel able to push it and would have risked it too much. 

"We have decided to leave him at rest and we will try to recover him for Wednesday's match [against Parma]. This problem arose already on Monday after the game. He tried and went out with the team [in training] but couldn't push as he wanted.

"It was too risky to push it. The many matches, even those with the national team, influenced him and so many games did not allow him to recover.

"He has always been in good condition, then the matches in the national team accumulated. He too told me that he shouldn't have played the third game, but then that goal [against Serbia] was cancelled and they didn't get six points. 

"They forced him to play the third as well, otherwise he would have returned to Juventus before the third."

Atalanta’s last win against Juventus in Serie A came back in February 2001 and since then the Bianconeri have won 24 of the 32 league games between the two sides, drawing eight.

However, Juve have won only one of their last six games against Atalanta (D4 L1) when all competitions are taking into account, getting that victory in November 2019 in Bergamo.

Defending champions Juve are third in Serie A heading into Sunday's games – sitting 12 points behind leaders Inter, and a point ahead of Atalanta in fourth.

Pirlo added: "We have focused ourselves on a new goal, which is not the one suitable for Juventus who have always fought to win the championship.

"But unfortunately the points are a bit distant and the goal must be to finish the season well and reach the final goal [of Champions League qualification].

"We have worked well during the week knowing that Atalanta are a team with particular characteristics.

"They play a different football than the other teams and therefore we tried moves to counter their fierce pressure. We worked intensely during the week and I'm happy and confident for the game."

Cristiano Ronaldo is happy at Juventus and looks primed to stay at the club for multiple years, according to his former Real Madrid and Portugal team-mate Pepe.

The forward has 25 goals in 27 Serie A matches this season, topping the league's scoring charts, four clear of nearest rival Romelu Lukaku.

Ronaldo has been prolific since signing for Juve from Real Madrid in 2018 and continues to be so at the age of 36, now three goals away from reaching 100 for the Italian club in all competitions.

However, his future was thrown into the spotlight after Juventus once again failed to reach the latter stages of the Champions League this season, with Pepe and Porto knocking them out in the last 16.

Domestically, Inter look poised to end Juve's run of nine straight Scudetto successes and Ronaldo has been linked with a move away amid speculation over Juve's financial situation and direction of their project.

But Pepe thinks Ronaldo's accomplishments are being underestimated and sees him remaining at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

Pepe was asked if Ronaldo would contemplate a return to playing in Portugal, where he started his career with Sporting CP.

He told Novo: "Honestly, given how I know him, I don't know if he would tolerate the way many people talk about football in Portugal.

"I think he is happy in Turin. He is the leading goalscorer in Serie A. Those who criticise him don’t know how difficult it is to score more than 30 goals every year.

"What Cristiano can do is incredible. And I hope he will stay there for more years, giving joy to football lovers and representing Portugal very well, as he has always done."

Ronaldo - defended by head coach Andrea Pirlo last week for throwing his shirt after failing to score in a win over Genoa - is under contract with Juve until June 2022, while at international level he has Euro 2020 and the World Cup coming up for his country before the end of next year.

Juventus are away to Atalanta on Sunday, a team they have beaten only once in their last six meetings across all competitions.

However, Ronaldo will be buoyed that Juve have scored at least two goals in each of their last seven away games against Atalanta in Serie A.

Cristiano Ronaldo's future beyond this season has been a hot topic of discussion.

The 36-year-old Portuguese forward appears set to exit Juventus after three seasons in Turin, despite being contracted for another year.

Ronaldo has been linked with former club Real Madrid and a switch to the United States, but there may be another option.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO IN UTD-JUVE SWAP DEAL

Manchester United want to sign Cristiano Ronaldo this off-season and would consider a swap deal with Juventus for Paul Pogba, according to Calciomercato.

Ronaldo played for United from 2003 to 2009 in the earlier part of his career, making almost 300 appearances for the Red Devils before his blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

Pogba, who spent time at Juventus from 2012 to 2016, has also been the subject of transfer speculation.

Juventus have this week been linked with a mega swap deal with United as they look for a transfer shake-up this off-season.

ROUND-UP

- The Independent reports Harry Kane's preference, if he was to leave Tottenham, is to remain in England and join either United or Manchester City.

- Juve forward Paulo Dybala has attracted interest from Premier League pair United and Chelsea, claims Tuttosport.

- United are also keen on an off-season move for Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Mail. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United have also been linked with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla star Jules Kounde and Villarreal defender Pau Torres.

- The Daily Mail reports Bayern Munich are bullish they can sign Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland as Robert Lewandowski's heir if he remains in Germany for one more season amid widespread interest this upcoming off-season. Haaland has been heavily linked with City, United, Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira is wanted by Argentine giants Boca Juniors, reports TyC Sports. Torreira is currently on loan at Atletico Madrid.

Bayern Munich will approach Wednesday's quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint Germain with the confidence expected of Champions League holders.

Sure, they lost 3-2 in an enthralling meeting at the Allianz Arena last week and are without star striker Robert Lewandowski, but Hansi Flick's men had more than enough chances to have emerged victorious and face up to a PSG defence likely to be without the influential Marquinhos.

The main problem for Bayern is Kylian Mbappe's apparent bid to turn the competition into his own personal playground.

Having put Barcelona to the sword with a hat-trick at Camp Nou in the previous round, the France forward was PSG's match-winner once more with a brace in Bavaria.

When the second leg gets under way, Mbappe will be 22 years and 115 days old. No player has scored more than his 27 goals in the Champions League by that age. For reference, Lionel Messi had 18, Raul 12, Wayne Rooney 12 and Cristiano Ronaldo three at the same vintage.

A place among the Champions League greats looks to be Mbappe's for the taking and we've decided to compare his Barcelona and Bayern performances to some of the most memorable goalscoring outings of recent years on the biggest stage.

Lionel Messi – Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal: April 6, 2010

A second-leg penalty from Mbappe as PSG overcame Barcelona 5-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 made him the youngest player in Champions League history to reach 25 goals at 22 years and 80 days, usurping the great Messi.

Of course, Mbappe still has plenty more to accomplish if he is to get close to Messi's deeds in the competition. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has won Europe's top competition four times. Barca were triumphant finalists in 2009 and 2011, with Messi netting in each game against Manchester United. They fell short in 2009-10, but a dominant quarter-final win over Arsenal that season found him at his very best.

The Gunners battled to a thrilling 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium and led at Camp Nou through Nicklas Bendtner, but the tie was as good as over before half-time as Messi compiled a blistering hat-trick – smashing in from the edge of the area, finding the roof of the next with an opportunistic effort and then racing clear to sublimely lob Manuel Almunia.

He nutmegged the Arsenal goalkeeper having dribbled through a bedraggled defence for his and Barcelona's fourth. Messi's haul came from eight shots overall, with six on target. Three goals came from his impeccable left boot, with the second right footed. He stamped his mark all over the contest, completing 46 of 52 passes and making 77 touches – a greater level of overall involvement than any other performance on this list.

Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid: April 24, 2013

Injury has robbed us of the Mbappe v Lewandowski showdown we crave and the quarter-final first leg might have panned out differently if Bayern had been able to call upon their attacking talisman.

Lewandowski's deadly finishing has been a constant over the past decade and he produced a breakout performance in the 2013 semi-finals against Real Madrid, while still at Borussia Dortmund.

The Poland striker reached to volley home Mario Gotze's eighth-minute cross and controlled Marco Reus' mis-hit shot to finish smartly early in the second half – prompting a run of three goals in 16 minutes as Lewandowski showed immaculate close control to rifle into the top corner before converting a penalty in similarly emphatic fashion.

All Lewandowski's goals came from inside the area, all with his right foot as he netted four of five attempts on target (seven in total) to fire Dortmund towards an all-Bundesliga final against his future employers.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich (aet): April 18, 2017

Mbappe has the opportunity to build on eight goals in this season's competition in the return against Bayern – the joint-most by a French player in a single campaign alongside Wissam Ben Yedder (2017-18) and David Trezeguet (2001-02).

In terms of huge one-season hauls, Ronaldo sets the gold standard. His 17 en-route to glory with Real Madrid in 2013-14 were followed by 16 in 2015-16 and 15 in 2017-18 as Los Blancos claimed three in a row.

In between, when Madrid went all the way in 2016-17, Ronaldo's personal total was – by his own remarkable standards – a relatively meagre 12. However, six of these came in quarter-final and semi-final hat-tricks versus Bayern and Atletico Madrid.

The Bayern treble was the most dramatic as Madrid diced with elimination. They lost 2-1 in 90 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu but Ronaldo would not be denied, netting in the 76th minute and then twice more in extra time to complete a perfect hat-trick from nine attempts, five of which were on target.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus 3-0 Atletico Madrid: March 12, 2019

Ronaldo's ambition of winning a sixth Champions League at a third club looks set to come up short after Juventus's meek exit against Porto last month. But during his first season in Turin, everything appeared to be falling into place against a familiar foe.

Atletico Madrid won the first leg of the last-16 encounter 2-0, but the writing was on the wall from the moment Ronaldo powered in a towering back-post header in the 27th minute.

Early in the second half, Jan Oblak could only claw away another headed Ronaldo attempt from behind the goal line and the Atlei goalkeeper had no chance when faced with penalty from the Portugal great five minutes from time.

Ronaldo netted with all three of his attempts on target, while his five efforts overall on the night had an xG value of 1.39.

Lucas Moura – Ajax 2-3 Tottenham: May 8, 2019

The 2018-19 season provided relentless drama when it came to improbable comebacks and Tottenham were surely down and out when 2-0 behind after 35 minutes Amsterdam, nursing a 3-0 semi-final aggregate deficit against an Ajax side who had already seen off Real Madrid and Juventus. Enter Lucas Moura.

The Brazilian forward, leading the line for Spurs in Harry Kane's injury absence, streamed into the Ajax penalty area to pull one back early in the second half and by the time he engineered space to dispatch a fine left-footed finish in the 59th minute, the whole complexion of the contest had changed.

Five minutes of stoppage time had just expired when Lucas clipped a third with his trusty left boot to break Ajax hearts. Opta began collecting xG data in the Champions League in 2013-14. Of the hat-tricks on this list with those figures available, Lucas' is the only one with an overall shot value (0.88) below an xG of one.

Kylian Mbappe – Barcelona 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain: February 16, 2021

Despite Messi putting Barcelona ahead with a first-half penalty, Mbappe soon took charge. Magnificent close control, nimble movement and a thumping finish with his left brought PSG level.

Mbappe was again happy to crash home with his weaker foot on the other side of half-time and curled in a majestic strike on the counter-attack after Moise Kean made it three. Four of his six attempts (xG 1.84) were on target in an all-action display.

It made Mbappe the third player in Champions League history to score a hat-trick against Barcelona after Faustino Asprilla for Newcastle United and Andriy Shevchenko for Dynamo Kiev in 1997.

Kylian Mbappe – Bayern Munich 2-3 Paris Saint-Germain: April 7, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino's men overwhelmed Barcelona at Camp Nou but were forced to play a different game against Bayern last week, spending long spells on the back foot.

This gave Mbappe the chance to show his ruthless side as he scored from each of his two shots, albeit helped by an error from Manuel Neuer for the opener. A fit-again Neymar laid on that goal and he and Mbappe have assisted one another 10 times in the Champions League since joining forces in 2017-18 – at least three more than any other pair during this period.

Neymar also set up compatriot Marquinhos to make it 2-0 before Eric Maxim Choupo Moting and Thomas Muller brought Bayern level.

Mbappe's electrifying pace and unerring poise were again on display when he cut inside Jerome Boateng to send the winner fizzing past Neuer at his near post. His five away goals in the knockout rounds is already a single-season record in the Champions League. To earn the chance to add to that number, there is first some mouth-watering business to attend to at Parc des Princes.

Mason Greenwood emulated a feat last achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard's astonishing purple patch continued in another enthralling weekend of Premier League action.

Greenwood came off the bench to play a big part in second-placed United's 3-1 victory at Tottenham on Sunday.

Lingard also starred in London earlier in the day, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Leicester City to keep West Ham on course to defy the odds and seal a Champions League spot.

Leeds United shocked champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while Alexandre Lacazette brought up a half-century of goals in Arsenal's 3-0 success at rock-bottom Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at some quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches.

 

Greenwood sets high sub standard

As cameo appearances go, Greenwood's short time on the field against Spurs was right up there.

The 19-year-old replaced Marcus Rashford after 72 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the game in the balance at 1-1.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could surely not have wished for a bigger impact from the forward, who laid on a goal for Edinson Cavani before sealing all three points by finding the back of the net himself deep into stoppage time.

Greenwood became the first teenager to score and assist as a substitute for United in a Premier League match since the legendary Ronaldo did so against Portsmouth in November 2003.

Lethal Lingard outfoxes Leicester

On the subject of big impacts, Lingard has been a revelation for the Hammers since his loan move from Manchester United in January.

The England forward can do no wrong at the moment and helped himself to a first-half double in a huge victory over the Foxes, moving David Moyes' men back up to fourth.

Lingard has now scored in four consecutive games for the high-flying London club, taking his tally in the Premier League to eight.

That equals his best goalscoring return in a top-flight campaign and he has only made nine appearances. Lingard also netted eight times for his parent club in the 2017-18, but that was from 33 matches.

Andrea Pirlo had no issues with Cristiano Ronaldo throwing his shirt on the ground after failing to score in Juventus' Serie A victory over Genoa.

Dejan Kulusevski, Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie were on target as Juve took another step towards sealing a Champions League spot with a 3-1 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Ronaldo has found the back of the net 32 times for the Bianconeri this season, but cut a frustrated figure after he was unable to add to his tally in Turin.

The Portugal captain struck the post in the first half before Morata followed up to double Juve's lead and hit the target only twice in six attempts.

Ronaldo whipped off his shirt and hurled it on the turf following the final whistle and head coach Pirlo had no problem with that reaction.

Pirlo said: "He was keen on scoring. He is one of the champions because they always want to leave their mark, but these are normal things that happen."

Juve came under pressure after dominating the first half and were in danger of losing their lead following Gianluca Scamacca's goal early in the second half.

Pirlo was concerned by the manner in which they let Genoa come back into the game.

He added: "It all seemed easy, at the end of the first half we suffered an opportunity due to lack of concentration.

"It had happened to us in other games, it could cost us dearly. We entered the field wanting to play the game but we sat back."

Paulo Dybala had to once again settle for being introduced as a substitute after coming off the bench to score in a huge win over Napoli amid speculation over his future.

Pirlo defended his decision not to start the playmaker, who spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The former Italy midfielder said: "I'm lucky enough to coach the champions and Dybala is one of them so I try to be able to make the most of him in every game.

"We didn't have him available very much this year, now he's back and it will help us to give us a hand in this final rush. The managers are there for these decisions."

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo?

Mbappe has been heavily linked with Real Madrid, while Ronaldo's future at Juventus is far from certain.

A possible switch to the Spanish capital could reportedly impact Ronaldo.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, RONALDO IN AT PSG?

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo could join Paris Saint-Germain if Kylian Mbappe leaves for Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid, who have been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku.

If Mbappe makes the move to the Santiago Bernabeu, it could send Ronald to Paris as Juve look to reduce their wage bill in Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic reports Harry Kane will ask to leave Tottenham if they do not qualify for next season's Champions League. The Spurs star has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Madrid.

Barcelona are eyeing Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez, claims Mundo Deportivo. The LaLiga giants are not rumoured to be interested in Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, who is set to depart Bavaria at season's end.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are interested in signing Barca star Pedri, who reportedly has a release clause around £70million (€81m).

United have been warned West Ham will not accept an offer to include Jesse Lingard as part of a deal to prise Declan Rice to Old Trafford, claims The Sun. United are also keen to bring back Sam Johnstone from West Brom if David de Gea or Dean Henderson leave.

- Bild says Liverpool are entering the final stages of a deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Premier League rivals United have also been linked.

Juventus returned to winning ways in Serie A with a 2-1 defeat of Napoli at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday.

After a shock defeat to Benevento ended their run of seven consecutive home league wins, the champions responded in impressive style to record a ninth victory in 10 home league games against Napoli.

Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched a cross from the excellent Federico Chiesa to put Juve ahead with his fourth goal in his past six appearances against the Partenopei.

Gianluigi Buffon made a handful of solid saves to preserve Juve's lead before substitute Paulo Dybala fired in an expert second to make the points safe, with Lorenzo Insigne's late penalty counting for little.

Ronaldo missed a clear chance to head in the opener before finding his mark with aplomb 13 minutes in, steering home a low right-footed finish after Chiesa had twisted superbly into space down the right wing.

Chiesa and Juan Cuadrado were causing real problems for Gennaro Gattuso's side, the latter stinging the palms of Alex Meret after a promising run.

The visitors offered little first-half threat of their own, although Insigne did have Buffon scrambling with a shot from the edge of the box that whistled wide.

Buffon was busier after the restart, denying Giovanni Di Lorenzo and then Insigne from either side of the six-yard box as Napoli pushed forward for an equaliser.

Fabian Ruiz was denied by the Juve veteran from another hopeful attempt, and Napoli heads dropped further 17 minutes from time when Dybala swept a stylish low finish past Meret from the edge of the box – his first goal since January 3.

Insigne at last beat Buffon with an emphatic penalty after Giorgio Chiellini bundled over Victor Osimhen, but it proved too little too late for the visitors.

 

What does it mean? Andrea Pirlo restores pride but Inter remain clear

Juve are still third but just a point behind Milan, who drew with 10-man Sampdoria last weekend.

However, with Inter 12 points ahead at the top, Juve's hopes of making it 10 consecutive league titles are beginning to look slim indeed.

Napoli stay fifth but are only two points behind Atalanta in fourth.

Cunning Chiesa

Chiesa was the liveliest player on the pitch and Juve's most persistent source for attacking threat, even after his superb assist for Ronaldo.

While he completed the fewest passes (15) of any starting Juve player, his runs with and without the ball caused chaos and he should have had the chance to score a simple finish from Alvaro Morata's fast break.

Morata misfires

Morata was guilty more than once of getting into the right position in attack only to make the wrong call with the ball at his feet.

While he did manage to create two chances in his 69 minutes on the pitch, he missed both of his attempts at goal and made a mess of a three-on-one counter-attack.

What's next?

Juve host Genoa on Sunday, with Napoli next in action away to Sampdoria.

Romelu Lukaku has starred for Inter since arriving from Manchester United in 2019.

Lukaku is spearheading Inter's quest for a Serie A title, with Antonio Conte's side clear atop the table.

His exploits, however, have not gone unnoticed in Europe.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU HAPPY AT INTER

Inter star Romelu Lukaku is flattered by Barcelona's interest but is not looking to leave the Nerazzurri, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Lukaku has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid and former club Chelsea following his exploits for Inter, who are closing in on the Scudetto.

But Lukaku is happy at Inter, with the Belgium international only possibly leaving San Siro should the Italian powerhouse seek to raise funds.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports Cristiano Ronaldo wants to see out his Juventus contract, which runs until June 2022. Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where Juve are struggling under Andrea Pirlo this season. Former clubs Madrid and United have emerged as possible destinations, as well as Paris Saint-Germain. However, Ronaldo is keen to continue at the club, should they qualify for the Champions League.

- PSG star Kylian Mbappe remains a priority signing for Madrid, claims Diario AS. Mbappe has been a long-term target in the Spanish capital, though the economic fallout following the coronavirus pandemic appears to have derailed Madrid's pursuit. But Los Blancos – also linked with in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland – are still determined to prise Mbappe from Paris.

- Record reports United are ready to make a move for Sporting CP star Nuno Mendes, who has also been linked with Manchester City and Liverpool. United could reportedly use Alex Telles in a deal to sign the Portuguese full-back.

- Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli is eyeing a new deal amid interest from Barca and Chelsea, according to Calciomercato. Romagnoli is contracted to the Rossoneri until 2022. Barca's reported pursuit comes as they eye the likes of Bayern Munich star David Alaba, City duo Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero, Lyon forward Memphis Depay and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

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