Gennaro Gattuso admitted the circumstances that led to his failure to land the Tottenham job "hurt more than any defeat or dismissal".

It was reported a sustained online backlash from Spurs fans over the prospect of Gattuso, 43, succeeding Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach resulted in the club pulling the plug. 

The protests were, in part, down to the former Italy midfielder's controversial past comments on racism, women in football and same-sex marriage.

Tottenham subsequently appointed Nuno Espirito Santo as their new coach on June 30.

"It was a huge disappointment, but I wasn't described the way I am and there was nothing I could do," Gattuso told Il Messaggero.

"I am sorry I could not defend myself and explain that I am not the person they were talking about in England.

"I had to accept a story that hurts more than any defeat or dismissal, in a moment when we don't want to understand how dangerous the internet can be."

Gattuso left Napoli when the Serie A season ended in May and was named as Fiorentina boss a matter of days later, only to leave La Viola by mutual agreement on June 17 before his contract was due to commence.

He won 46 of his 81 games in charge of Napoli, giving him a win percentage of 56.8 – better than Rafael Benitez (52.7 per cent) and Carlo Ancelotti (52.1 per cent) but worse than Ottavio Bianchi (56.9 per cent) and Maurizio Sarri (66.2 per cent).

 

Gattuso felt he was the victim in an online campaign where he had no platform to respond to the claims – though he had no desire to create a social media account.

"Certain malice comes from Facebook or Twitter, where it is possible to give strength to any falsehood," he added.

"I don't have social media profiles and I don't want them.

"Why should I let them insult me for anything? I don't even have Instagram. 

"I don't understand, if I drink a bottle of wine, what's the point of taking a picture to let others know. It's my business."

Nuno Espirito Santo ended Tottenham's search for a new head coach by signing a two-year contract with the Premier League club on Wednesday.

An experienced, seasoned operator in elite European football, Nuno will be realistic enough to acknowledge he was not Spurs' first choice when they sacked Jose Mourinho in April.

What number was he on chairman Daniel Levy's list? Honestly, it's hard to say.

Here, Stats Perform looks back over more than two months of approaches, talks and breakdowns before Levy finally filled his vacancy in the dugout.


April 19 – Mourinho sacked

Jose Mourinho chalked up 13 defeats in 2020-21, more than any other season in his coaching career, and Spurs had dropped a joint-highest 20 points from winning positions in the Premier League by the time Levy decided to cut his losses. It was a busy time for the Spurs chief, whose club's involvement in the ill-fated European Super League had also just been announced.

April 20 – Mason steps in

Aged just 29 and without any prior senior coaching experience, former Spurs midfielder Ryan Mason was appointed as interim boss until the end of the season. His second game in charge was the small matter of an EFL Cup final against Manchester City, where Tottenham were thoroughly outplayed in a 1-0 defeat. In the Premier League, Mason won four and lost two to seal qualification for the Europa Conference League.

May 18 – Kane transfer request

Tottenham issued a hasty statement urging focus on the end of the ongoing season after multiple reports that England captain Harry Kane had made clear his desire to leave, with Manchester City presumed to be among the frontrunners for his services.

May 21 – Nuno announced Wolves departure

After gaining promotion back to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season and performing strongly in the next two campaigns, Nuno's Wolves fell away last term and a departure by mutual consent – despite his contract being due to expire in 2023 – was confirmed. In 199 games in charge of Wolves, Nuno amassed a record of W95 D49 L55.

May 27 – Pochettino return?

Surely not? It couldn't happen… could it? Only 18 months after being axed by Levy, The Athletic reported Mauricio Pochettino was in talks over a sensational return, having failed to settle at Paris Saint-Germain. Ultimately, nothing materialised, but Pochettino was not the only elite coach in Tottenham's sights.

June 2 – Conte in talks

Concurrent with the club's eventually successful pursuit of Fabio Paratici to become sporting director, The Guardian reported Tottenham were negotiating with Antonio Conte. The former Juventus and Chelsea boss added another league title to his collection with Inter Milan in 2020-21.

June 4 – Conte off

Conte has built a reputation as a notoriously difficult man to work with and, ultimately, Spurs did not even get that far. "Generally, I like the challenges and I’ve accepted many of them during my career," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Even the top clubs I coached were never the favourites when I arrived. However, if there's something that doesn't convince me I prefer not to accept regardless of the money."

June 9 – Fonseca talks

Paulo Fonseca would be neither the last Portuguese nor Jorge Mendes client involved in this story, but he came closer than anyone before Nuno to becoming Tottenham head coach. Multiple reports suggested a two-year deal had been agreed in principle with the former Roma boss.

June 17 – Fonseca off… but Gattuso on?

A tumultuous day saw an apparently iron-clad deal with Fonseca to be nothing of the sort and Spurs purportedly turning their attentions towards Gennaro Gattuso – the famously combustible ex-Milan and Napoli coach, who backed out of an agreement to join Fiorentina on July 1 and leapt straight into an improbable Premier League soap opera.

June 18 – No, Gattuso off

A sustained online backlash from fans over the prospect of Gattuso becoming Tottenham boss resulted in the club pulling the plug, ESPN reported. The protests were, in part, down to the former Italy midfielder's controversial past comments on racism, women in football and same-sex marriage, and Levy was back to square one.

June 21 – Man City bid £100m for Kane

As the well-trodden path towards a new manager appeared to go cold, The Guardian claimed Premier League champions City had lodged a £100million opening offer for Kane, with part-exchange players also up for grabs. Levy was reported to be uninterested in such a proposal and each club denied any official bid had been lodged.

June 30 – Nuno appointed

One man who will certainly be involved when City travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the opening day of the new Premier League season is Nuno. "I've spoken already about the need to revert back to our core DNA of playing attacking, entertaining football and Fabio and I believe Nuno is the man who can take our talented group of players, embrace our young players coming through and build something special," Levy said. At last, the situation was no longer vacant at Spurs.

Gennaro Gattuso has left as head coach of Fiorentina just 23 days after being appointed.

The Serie A club confirmed on Thursday that the former Napoli boss had stepped down by mutual consent.

"The company immediately set to work to identify a technical choice that will guide the Viola team towards the results that Fiorentina and the city of Florence deserve," they said.

Gattuso, who took the Fiorentina job just two days after leaving Napoli, is reported to have had disagreements over the club's transfer plans.

His agent, Jorge Mendes, is said to have proposed signings such as Porto's Sergio Oliveira and Goncalo Guedes of Valencia, but Fiorentina's management wanted to explore more affordable options.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, former Lyon boss Rudi Garcia, ex-Leicester City coach Claudio Ranieri and Walter Mazzarri, most recently at Torino, are candidates to succeed Gattuso.

Fiorentina finished 13th last season, with just nine victories from 38 league games.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed Luciano Spalletti has been appointed as the club's new coach.

With Napoli having missed out on the Champions League on the final day of the Serie A season, De Laurentiis chose not to keep Gennaro Gattuso, whose contract expired at the end of 2020-21.

While Gattuso was swiftly appointed by Fiorentina, Napoli have now moved to acquire his replacement, bringing in former Roma and Inter coach Spalletti.

"I am delighted to announce that Luciano Spalletti will become Napoli coach on July 1," De Laurentiis confirmed in a brief statement on the club's website.

"Welcome, Luciano – we'll do great work together."

Spalletti, 62, has not been in management since he was dismissed by Inter in 2019, with the Nerazzurri having brought in Antonio Conte, who guided them to the Serie A title this term before announcing his departure.

He failed to win a title during his time at Inter but did oversee two Russian Premier League triumphs during a stint at Zenit, after twice winning the Coppa Italia with Roma in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Gennaro Gattuso will take over as Fiorentina's new head coach next season, their agreement coming just two days after his Napoli exit was confirmed.

Shortly after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona consigned Napoli to finishing fifth in Serie A, Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Gattuso's exit. 

Napoli went into the weekend in fourth position but were leapfrogged on the final day by Juventus, who were 4-1 winners at Bologna. 

Gattuso's contract was due to expire at the end of 2020-21 and Napoli's failure to reach the Champions League seemingly cost him an extension.

He won 46 of his 81 games as Napoli boss, giving him a win percentage of 56.8 – better than Rafael Benitez (52.7 per cent) and Carlo Ancelotti (52.1 per cent) but worse than Ottavio Bianchi (56.9 per cent) and Maurizio Sarri (66.2 per cent). 

Nevertheless, the former Italy midfielder has landed on his feet by securing a deal with Fiorentina, who had reportedly been interested in him for several months.

La Viola endured a difficult 2020-21.

Giuseppe Iachini started and finished the season as coach, finding himself sacked in November before being rehired four months later when his successor Cesare Prandelli suddenly resigned, citing struggles with a "period of profound distress which is preventing me from being who I really am".

Iachini saw out the remainder of the campaign as La Viola finished 13th in Serie A – only once since their first season back in the top flight in 2004-05 have they ended a season lower in the table (16th in 2018-19).

Napoli parted ways with head coach Gennaro Gattuso on Sunday after the club missed out on qualification for next season's Champions League. 

Shortly after a 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona that consigned Napoli to finishing fifth in Serie A, president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Gattuso's exit. 

Napoli went into the weekend in fourth position but were leapfrogged on the final day by Juventus, who were 4-1 winners at Bologna. 

Gattuso, whose contract expires at the end of June, has been linked with Fiorentina among other Italian clubs.

"Dear Rino, I am happy to have spent almost two seasons with you," tweeted De Laurentiis. 

"Thanking you for your work, I wish you success wherever you go. A hug to your wife and children too." 

Napoli took the lead against Verona through Amir Rrahmani in the 60th minute – a club-record 50th home league goal this season – but Marco Faraoni ensured the spoils were shared. 

It spelled the end of Gattuso, who took over in December 2019 following the dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti. He led Napoli to glory in the Coppa Italia and a seventh-place finish in Serie A last season. 

Napoli were surprisingly eliminated from the Europa League last 32 by Granada and missing out on Champions League qualification saw the club opt against a renewal.

Gattuso won 46 of his 81 games as Napoli boss, giving him a win percentage of 56.8 - better than Rafael Benitez (52.7 per cent) and Ancelotti (52.1 per cent) but worse than Ottavio Bianchi (56.9 per cent) and Maurizio Sarri (66.2 per cent). 

 

Robert Lewandowski may be contracted to Bayern Munich until 2023 but speculation is mounting about his future.

Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the Poland international, particularly if the Parisians lose Kylian Mbappe.

The agent of the Bundesliga record-breaker is reportedly putting pressure on Bayern to re-negotiate his current deal, fuelling the rumours of a switch.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA MAKE LEWANDOWSKI ENQUIRY

Chelsea have reached out to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to discuss a potential move for Robert Lewandowski, according to Sky Sport Germany.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea would face stiff competition from Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, in the event Lewandowski decides to leave Munich, where he has been based since 2014.

Chelsea have been linked with a big-money move for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, showcasing their financial strength which could be switched to Lewandowski should they miss out on the Norwegian.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester City have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Tottenham star Harry Kane reports the Daily Mail. Kane has reportedly asked to leave Spurs amid links with City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Chelsea are also interested in signing Atalanta's Ruslan Malinovskyi, claims The Sun. Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix is also a target for the Blues, reports Sky Germany.

- The Sun says David Beckham's MLS franchise Inter Miami are pursuing Arsenal attacker Willian, who is reportedly keen on the opportunity.

Frank Lampard is on Crystal Palace's radar as they plan for Roy Hodgson's successor, according to Talksport. Hodgson will leave the Premier League club at the end of the season.  

- Corriere dello Sport claims Gennaro Gattuso is ready to leave Napoli as Fiorentina circle and he wants club captain Lorenzo Insigne to join him.

Jesse Lingard has been in blistering form during his six-month loan spell at West Ham.

As a result, speculation is rife over the 28-year-old England international's future.

Lingard is contracted with parent club Manchester United for one more season.

 

TOP STORY - EUROPEAN GIANTS CIRCLE FOR LINGARD

European powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Inter are all interested in Lingard, claims ESPN.

Lingard has scored eight goals in nine games for the Hammers, who are surprisingly sitting fourth in the Premier League.

ESPN reports those clubs are monitoring Lingard's situation, with West Ham keen to sign him permanently and the player yet to declare a preference, although it is believed he wants to play  Champions League football.

 

ROUND-UP

- Serbia international Sergei Milinkovic-Savic has garnered interest from European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The midfielder is contracted with Lazio until 2024.

- Manchester United may have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho last off-season but they are set to revive their interest, says the Manchester Evening News.

- Calciomercato reports that French winger Ousmane Dembele is open to joining Juventus from Barcelona in the next transfer window.

- Tottenham are making their move to sign off-contract Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, reports Sky Germany.

- Arsenal have joined the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, alongside Leicester City, according to the Telegraph.

- Tuttosport says Torino's Italy international forward Andrea Belotti is being courted by Chelsea, Everton, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid.

- Fiorentina want to hire Gennaro Gattuso from Napoli as their next coach, claims Sky Sport Italia. Gattuso is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season.

Lionel Messi has been tipped to leave Barcelona for either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

But Haaland could reportedly unlock Messi's future.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND TO CITY MEANS BARCA STAY FOR MESSI?

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could hold the key to Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Barca, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

City have been tipped to sign Messi, but should they step up their pursuit of Haaland, the Premier League leaders could reportedly drop their interest in the Barca captain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says new Barca president Joan Laporta is preparing a contract renewal for Messi, who is set to become a free agent at season's end.

- Bayern Munich are eyeing a move for Tottenham star Son Heung-min, claims Football Insider. Son has reportedly been offered a bumper new contract by Spurs, but the former Bayer Leverkusen forward is wanted in Munich.

- Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha, Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria and Sander Berge of Sheffield United are on the list of midfielders to replace City veteran Fernandinho, reports A Bola.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Juventus and Barca are interested in Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli. The Italy defender is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly seeking a €6million-a-year contract.

Napoli are eyeing Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi and sporting director Igli Tare, claims Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso has been tipped to leave Napoli at the end of the season, with ex-Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, Luciano Spalletti and Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric among the possible replacements. But Lazio duo Inzaghi and Tare are being monitored to replace Gattuso and Cristiano Giuntoli in Naples.

United are interested in Lille defender Sven Botman, according to Fabrizio Romano. Sevilla star Jules Kounde has been on United's radar but the club's asking price of €80m (£68m) is too steep.

- Romano also says there is no agreement with United and Paul Pogba over a new contract. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve, Madrid and PSG.

Manchester City have been linked with Erling Haaland.

As Sergio Aguero appears headed for an exit, Pep Guardiola wants to bolster his attack.

But Danny Ings has reportedly emerged as an alternative to the expensive and in-demand Haaland.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGET INGS

Manchester City are considering a move for Southampton star Danny Ings, according to Sky Sports.

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and no closer to extending his deal in Manchester.

Pep Guardiola's City are reportedly among the admirers of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

With Haaland set to command a huge fee, City are eyeing former Liverpool forward Ings as a cheaper alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport report Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is on the brink of being sacked. Juve are out of the Champions League and 10 points off the pace following their shock loss to Benevento. Former boss Massimiliano Allegri has been linked with a return, while La Repubblica claims Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini, Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi and Luciano Spalletti are on a three-man shortlist.

- Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is Roma's number one option should they sack head coach Paulo Fonseca, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Fonseca – under pressure in the Italian capital – has also been linked with Napoli, alongside Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric. Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso has been linked with Fiorentina, Torino and Bologna.

Neymar re-signing with Ligue 1 holders PSG is "just a matter of time", according to Fabrizio Romano.

Aaron Ramsey is interested in a move to Premier League champions Liverpool, according to Calciomercato. The Juventus midfielder, who left Arsenal for Turin in 2019, is seen as a possible replacement for rumoured Barca target Georginio Wijnaldum at Anfield.

- The Daily Express reports Arsenal are eyeing Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho. However, a move will depend on whether Arsenal sign loanee Martin Odegaard permanently from Madrid.

Xabi Alonso is set to become the new head coach of Borussia Monchengladbach next season, replacing Dortmund-bound Marco Rose. Romano, however, insists no contract has been signed as the former Bayern Munich star remains in charge of Real Sociedad's B team.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has been given the all-clear to chase Erling Haaland, while Liverpool are also eyeing a forward.

Borussia Dortmund star Haaland is wanted by numerous European giants, with Manchester City among those reportedly interested.

But Chelsea are also targeting the 20-year-old forward.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA GIVEN ALL-CLEAR TO CHASE HAALAND

Chelsea boss Tuchel has been given the green light to go after Dortmund star Haaland ahead of next season, according to Bild.

Haaland has scored 27 goals in 25 games for Dortmund this season.

Chelsea spent big ahead of 2020-21, but are seemingly eager to land Haaland to strengthen further.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently eyeing a forward of their own. Diario Gol reports Jurgen Klopp wants Real Madrid forward Rodrygo.

- After starring for Burnley, Nick Pope is linked with a move. LancsLive reports the Premier League club want around £50million for the goalkeeper, who is said to be a target for Tottenham.

- Manchester United continue to be linked with West Ham midfielder Declan Rice. 90min reports United are willing to offer any of Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones to West Ham in their bid to land Rice.

- Staying at Manchester United and the Daily Express reports they may give up on Norwich City right-back Max Aarons due to a £35m asking price.

- With Napoli seventh in Serie A and out of the Europa League after being eliminated by Granada, the pressure is on head coach Gennaro Gattuso. But CalcioMercato reports Gattuso is safe for now despite his side's struggles.

Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo questioned the "dubious" penalty awarded to Napoli and claimed his side are treated differently to other Serie A clubs.

Lorenzo Insigne scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot after Giorgio Chiellini caught Amir Rrahmani in the face with a flailing arm.

That was one of only two shots on target Napoli managed in Saturday's 1-0 win at Estadio Diego Armando Maradona, compared to six for Juve - five of those in the second half.

And Pirlo, who saw Juve lose for the second time in five league matches to drop more points in the Scudetto race, felt his side were hard done by.

"They barely had a shot on goal and we lost through a dubious decision," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We played a good game but did not get the result we deserved.

"We played the ball around but not quickly enough, allowing Napoli to get back. We created more chances in the second half but did not find the goal."

Asked to elaborate on why he considered the 31st-minute penalty to be dubious, Pirlo said: "If you give a penalty for that then any contact in the box is punishable.

"If that had been given for us there would have been a lot of controversy and complaints, though I don't know if we would have been given a penalty in a situation like this."

Juventus have had five penalties in Serie A this season, putting them level with Roma and Sassuolo and behind only Milan, who have had an incredible 14.

Alex Meret, a late addition to Napoli's starting line-up after David Ospina sustained an injury in the warm-up, made six saves to frustrate Juve in front of goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo had four on-target shots kept out, while Alvaro Morata had a goal disallowed for an infringement by Chiellini - making his 400th Serie A outing - in the build-up.

But rather than blame his attackers for firing a blank, Pirlo instead credited Meret for standing firm between the sticks.

"My players played the game they had to," he said. "It is normal that playing so many games close together means a loss of sharpness.

"But both those who started and came on from the bench had an excellent game. The only thing lacking in the end was a goal.

"There's no guarantee the team that scores the most goals then wins the Scudetto. 

"We create plenty of chances and the Napoli goalkeeper was man of the match, so I can't complain about my strikers today."

Napoli's victory was their first in four matches and eases the pressure on boss Gennaro Gattuso, who was reportedly set to be sacked had his side lost again on Saturday.

However, Gattuso - a former team-mate of Pirlo's for club and country - insisted he never doubted the backing of his players and staff.

"We showed great heart and determination," he said. "Juve deserved something more, but my team was under pressure and fought hard to keep the clean sheet.

"I never had doubts on this squad, otherwise I would've packed up my things and gone home. 

"You can't get anywhere without the faith of the players. I always felt they were ready to do what I asked and that’s what matters."

Andrea Pirlo feels sorry for friend and former team-mate Gennaro Gattuso, whose job is hanging by a thread ahead of Napoli hosting Juventus.

Sixth-placed Napoli welcome the Serie A champions on Saturday with reports suggesting Gattuso's spell as head coach could be over if they suffer an eighth top-flight defeat.

Gattuso came out in bullish fashion when asked about his future after his team were defeated 3-1 by Atalanta in their Coppa Italia semi-final on Wednesday.

He insisted it was the club's hierarchy who must answer any questions over his future.

Juve, meanwhile, reached the final by beating Inter 2-1 on aggregate, with Pirlo joking he was now 'Allegriano' after deploying a defensive style in the 0-0 second-leg draw and their last league victory over Roma.

"It's part of our job, but we are always minded to do our best," Pirlo said about Gattuso.

"The games are important, then it can happen that there may be some difficult moments.

"I'm sorry for Rino's situation, but I have to think about my problems. We want to do well and are trying to win games."

Napoli will have their work cut out against Juve, who have not conceded a goal in three consecutive Serie A games, their longest streak since reaching six in a row under Massimiliano Allegri in December 2018.

Of returning to a style previously deployed by Allegri at Juve, Pirlo added: "We faced Roma and Inter in a different way by our choice, but it doesn't mean that we will always play like this.

"These are my choices based on the opponent, but the approach remains the same - to command the game and press high. 

"It's not always possible to press high up the pitch, sometimes it is better to sit deep and let the opponents keep possession."

Juve sit seven points behind leaders Milan with a game in hand and Pirlo acknowledged it may not take as many points as normal to claim the Scudetto.

He added: "More than 80 points will certainly be needed, but compared to other years, I think it has dropped a bit due to the many competitions and the general level of the league. 

"It is difficult for a team to stay at the top all year."

Having won 2-1 in January 2020, Napoli are looking to win two consecutive games against Juve in Serie A for the first time since 2011, when they were playing under Walter Mazzarri.

Napoli have been up and down under Gattuso, drawing only one of their last 25 Serie A matches, with 15 wins and nine defeats.

Gennaro Gattuso came out in bullish fashion when asked about his Napoli future after his team were defeated 3-1 by Atalanta in their Coppa Italia semi-final.

Duvan Zapata was integral as Atalanta claimed a place in the Coppa final for the second time in three seasons, with the striker scoring a thunderous opener before teeing up Matteo Pessina in a blistering first-half display from Gian Piero Gasperini's side.

Hirving Lozano's goal had given Napoli a glimmer of hope early in the second half, but Zapata and Pessina combined again to seal Atalanta's progression into a final against Juventus with a 3-1 aggregate success.

With Napoli sitting in sixth in Serie A – having lost seven games – reports have emerged over recent weeks claiming Gattuso, who joined last season, is fighting to save his job.

Napoli face Juve in their next outing on Saturday and, asked if that match will prove make or break for his tenure, Gattuso insisted it was the club's hierarchy who must answer that question.

"I don't know, you have to ask the club," he said. "The captain of the ship is me, when things go badly, they are at the expense of the captain.

"I can't think of this as the penultimate or last resort, I have to work and I have to be able to trust.

"I'm a coach, it's like that. I won't be the first, nor the last, but I have the duty to try until the end."

Without first-choice centre-backs Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli allowed 19 attempts at their goal, with Atalanta landing seven on target.

Atalanta were worthy winners, and Gasperini had only one regret.

"It's a great satisfaction," he said. "We dedicate it to the fans.

"The regret is not living these moments with them, but reaching the final is a sign of continuity. This team are at the top. 

"We will think about the final later. For us it's already a great success. Then we will play against an extraordinary side like Juventus.

"Now we have many important games, we will host Real Madrid [in the Champions League]. That will be an event for Bergamo."

Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli future appears bleak after the Coppa Italia holders' hopes of retaining their crown were ended by a 3-1 defeat at Atalanta.

Gattuso led Napoli to their sixth Coppa Italia triumph in his first half-season at the club in 2019-20, and talks of a new deal were rife earlier this season.

Yet those discussions have made way for reports of Gattuso's imminent departure and, despite a spirited second-half showing sparked by Hirving Lozano's 53rd-minute goal, his time might be up.

Without Kostas Manolas or Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli's defence was carved open in the first half – Duvan Zapata integral as he scored the opener and twice set up Matteo Pessina, whose double sent Atalanta into a final against last season's runners up Juventus.

After drawing 0-0 in the first leg, Atalanta threw away a three-goal lead against Torino on Saturday and might have conceded early on this time had Lorenzo Insigne directed a dipping volley on target.

But it was Atalanta who hit the front when Zapata arrowed a brilliant 10th-minute shot into the left-hand corner from 25 yards out.

Zapata turned provider six minutes later, the Colombia striker playing a crisp first-time pass into the path of Pessina to round off a slick team move.

Atalanta could have had a third prior to the break if Zapata had kept a close-range prod down.

With nothing to lose, Napoli came out rejuvenated after the break, and had their rewards when Lozano turned in at the second attempt following Pierluigi Gollini's save.

Zapata should then have restored Atalanta's two-goal lead, yet failed to keep his header on target after meeting Josip Ilicic's corner.

His profligacy may have proved costly, but Gollini made a superb stop to deny Victor Osimhen, and Pessina ultimately wrapped up the win with a deft close-range finish to book Atalanta's place in the final.

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