Where will Jack Grealish play his football next season?

It is one of the big questions in English football right now and Manchester City have joined the conversation.

City are reportedly emerging as the favourites to sign the Aston Villa captain.

 

TOP STORY – CITY LINE UP GREALISH SPLASH

Manchester City appear best placed to sign Aston Villa's £100million-rated captain Jack Grealish, according to the Daily Mail.

Grealish reportedly came close to joining Manchester United last year, but the Red Devils could not come up with the funds to seal the deal.

City manager Pep Guardiola is a well-known admirer of Grealish, previously calling him "an exceptional player".

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Liverpool have joined the queue chasing Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni, with a reported £43m (€50m) move. European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Barcelona are also allegedly keen on the 21-year-old Italy international.

Tottenham are likely to opt out of exercising the £36m (€42m) option-to-buy Carlos Vinicius, who is on loan at Spurs from Benfica according to the Daily Mail. The report claims Spurs are only willing to pay more than half that amount for the Brazilian.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are considering a move for Arkadiusz Milik, who they have previously been linked with as they prepare for the possible departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala. Juve are reportedly set to revive their interest in Milik, with the Poland international on loan at Marseille from Napoli.

- Football Insider reports that United are plotting a move for Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez amid doubts over star David de Gea and Dean Henderson. They have also been linked with Milan sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Real Madrid are keen to bring back Levante winger Jorge de Frutos to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to Marca.

Inter have hit out at the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, describing his comments about the club's stadium project as "offensive and disrespectful".

The Nerazzurri, along with city rivals Milan, have plans in place to build a state-of-the-art stadium to replace San Siro and renovate the surrounding area.

But speaking on Thursday, Sala revealed the project is on hold until Inter's ownership situation becomes clearer.

Current owners Suning, who acquired the club in 2016, are reported to be looking to find a buyer amid financial uncertainty.

"I think that until Inter clarifies its fate, things must necessarily be at a standstill for us," Sala said.

"The point is, and I want to say clearly to the people in Milan, that we are not just talking about the stadium, but a project in which half the investment is on the stadium and half on other things that make up the future of that area.

"It will mean that there will be, I assume, five or six years of work. I cannot entrust a district of the city for such a long period to a reality whose future ownership is not certain.

"I speak with respect of [Inter president Steven] Zhang, but they must necessarily clarify the future of the club, until then I think it's logical to stop."

However, Inter released a statement on their official website later on Thursday that was a rebuke to Sala's comments.

"FC Internazionale Milano has a glorious ultra-centenary history," the statement read. "It existed before Mayor Sala and will continue to exist when his mandate ends.

"We find the comments from the mayor of Milan offensive towards the owners, disrespectful towards the history and reality of the club and its millions of fans in Milan and all over the world, not to mention irrelevant with respect to the current administrative process on the new stadium for Milan project.

"If it is confirmed that Inter and the owners are not appreciated by the current administration, we will know how to take the consequent decisions."

The match between Inter and Sassuolo has been postponed after two further positive tests for coronavirus within the Nerazzurri squad.

Inter announced via a statement that Stefan de Vrij and Matias Vecino have gone into quarantine after testing positive. Samir Handanovic and Danilo D'Ambrosio had already begun isolating after previously returning positive tests.

Authorities in Milan have declared Inter must suspend all team activities for the next four days, which includes Saturday's game with Sassuolo and a ban on international players joining up with national squads.

The whole first team will undergo further tests on Monday.

The four positive tests within the Serie A leaders' squad have come as coronavirus cases across Italy continue to rise.

On Tuesday, Italy recorded 502 COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily number since the end of January. Approximately half the country entered a strict lockdown this week to combat spikes in case numbers and remaining regions are set to follow suit at the beginning of April.

Sassuolo's game against Torino on Wednesday had been rearranged after authorities called for it to be postponed due to concerns over virus cases.

Inter are top of Serie A heading into the final weekend of games before the international break, nine points clear of Milan and 10 ahead of champions Juventus, who have a game in hand.

The match between Inter and Sassuolo has been postponed after two further positive tests for coronavirus within the Nerazzurri squad.

Stefan de Vrij and Matias Vecino have gone into quarantine after testing positive. Samir Handanovic and Danilo D'Ambrosio had already begun isolating after previously returning positive tests.

Authorities in Milan have declared Inter must suspend all team activities for the next four days, which includes Saturday's game with Sassuolo and a ban on international players joining up with national squads.

The whole first team will undergo further tests on Monday.

Nicolo Barella said he is inspired by Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and former NBA MVP Allen Iverson as the Inter midfielder discussed his love of basketball.

Barella has established himself as one of the best midfielders in Serie A and Europe amid Inter's Scudetto charge this season.

The 24-year-old Inter and Italy star has scored three Serie A goals and supplied five assists for the Nerazzurri, who are nine points clear atop the table.

Barella revealed he wears the number 23 jersey because of four-time NBA champion James, while also highlighting his admiration for Philadelphia 76ers great Iverson.

"I played basketball for four years. There was a lot of competition in my family, but my cousins are better than me," Barella told Sky Sport Basketball Conversation.

"I discuss basketball with Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Lautaro Martinez. We follow NBA. When I join the national team, I talk about it with Davide Calabria, Mattia Perin and Giorgio Chiellini.

"Allen Iverson's jersey was one of the first ones I bought. Seeing someone like him dominating among the giants was an important source of inspiration for me. In addition to his technical skills, his attitude impressed me.

"I wear the number 23 shirt, because LeBron James also inspires me. I used to have the number 24 because it's the day when my daughter was born. I had a little argument with my wife for this change, but in the end, she understood.

"What impresses me about LeBron is the fact that he manages to change a team, bringing all his team-mates to the highest level.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is the LeBron James of football. He has talent, desire to work hard, and longevity and he brings his desire to win in every team.

"Winning the NBA is like winning the Champions League, it's more important than a Scudetto, even if I hope I can win one sooner or later."

Stefano Pioli says it is understandable Milan are struggling to cope with a crippling injury list after losing further ground in the Serie A title race.

Milan fell to a 1-0 loss at home to Napoli on Sunday through Matteo Politano's strike early in the second half, the Inter loanee's fourth goal in his past eight league games - as many as he managed in his first 17 appearances of the campaign.

The defeat leaves Pioli's men nine points behind leaders Inter, having themselves been at the summit just a month ago.

Milan were again without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Napoli, as well as Mario Mandzukic, while Ante Rebic and Hakan Calhanoglu have also spent time on the sidelines.

That told as the Rossoneri failed to find a way past David Ospina from their five shots on target, though Pioli pointed out fellow heavyweights Inter and Juventus would also struggle if they were without their best players.

"When you are missing that many players, it does make a difference, especially when they are players who also bring experience and leadership," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We had to play many games without a real centre-forward, so considering all of that, the team deserves praise for all they've been able to do in the circumstances.

"Try to imagine Inter without [Romelu] Lukaku, Lautaro [Martinez] or [Alexis] Sanchez; maybe Juventus without [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Alvaro] Morata or [Federico] Chiesa.

"We had more than half the season without Zlatan, while Rebic and Calhanoglu were also injured for long periods.

"We showed all week that this is not just a strong team, but a special one. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough tonight.

"We should've either been more courageous or sat back more, but tonight we tended to be somewhere in-between and were caught in no man's land."

Milan have now won just two of their past six league matches and are only six points better off than fifth-placed Napoli, who also have a game in hand to play.

And with the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with Manchester United to come on Thursday, three days before a trip to Fiorentina, Pioli accepts fatigue is now playing a big part.

"It was a very tough and tiring week. I saw a performance that was sufficient, but that's not enough," he said.

"We returned from Manchester at 3am on Friday morning. It's obvious the Europa League is more stressful and damaging than the Champions League, especially when we started in September.

"Having said that, we are Milan and would never want to be without that European presence. We weren't expecting to be in second place, but now that we are here, we want to keep hold of it.

"Inter have the momentum - they really started to step on the gas after their Champions League exclusion and it allowed them a full week to prepare for every game.

"We are not looking ahead or over our shoulders; we just stay focused on our path."

Napoli, previously without an away win in four league outings, are now unbeaten in their past six league encounters with Milan at San Siro since December 2014.

The home side's misery was compounded late on when, shortly after Theo Hernandez had a strong penalty shout rejected, substitute Ante Rebic was dismissed for dissent.

Despite now being closer to fifth place than first, however, midfielder Sandro Tonali insists Milan are still looking up the table rather than down.

"I don't think there is fear, otherwise we'd lose every game," he said. "We are here and must continue to aim high and not give up now."

"This is not the game we prepared - it was not what we intended to do. Napoli closed down all the spaces and we didn't create enough scoring opportunities.

"The ones we did create with Rafa Leao were not converted and then Napoli scored their first real chance."

Inter assistant coach Cristian Stellini hailed the impact of substitutes Christian Eriksen and Alexis Sanchez in the Serie A leaders' 2-1 win over Torino on Sunday. 

The Nerazzurri's winning streak looked in danger when Antonio Sanabria cancelled out Romelu Lukaku's 62nd-minute penalty – Inter's first shot on target – 20 minutes from full-time. 

Lautaro Martinez sealed all three points for Inter, though, heading home a teasing cross from Sanchez in the 85th minute. 

Stellini – in charge due to Antonio Conte serving a one-match suspension – praised the contribution of the Chile international and Eriksen, who had been linked with a move away from San Siro in the mid-season transfer window. 

"This win was crucial against a team that sits back. They don't concede a lot," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We needed an episode to break the deadlock. We were lucky to get that penalty kick and then we did well when we scored that second goal.

"Sanchez and Eriksen changed the game. We knew it. Eriksen was ready, albeit with some physical problems. We had prepared it this week. We knew they could be dangerous coming off the bench.

"Christian has changed his performances. He's always tried hard. In the beginning, it could be challenging to adapt to a different kind of football, but now he's settled in well.

"Lautaro and Lukaku have many qualities, they are solid, they complete each other, and they sacrifice for the team.

"Sometimes we have to stop them, telling them they can't train too much. Now we can breathe a little bit, and we can take care of every detail."

Martinez's winner means he is up to 14 goals in 27 Serie A matches this season, equalling his best-ever return in the Italian top flight.

It was the fourth consecutive game against Torino in which he has scored and the Argentina striker said Inter needed "heart and soul" to edge past Davide Nicola's side. 

"We knew Torino needed points, but we needed them too. It was a tough game, but we managed to win, and we are so happy," he said.

"We train every day to do the right things. We prepared the game differently. We needed quality, heart and soul. We proved we aim for something important.

"We want to win, it doesn't matter who scores. It's important to find the net, I am happy to score and I am happy."

Inter strengthened their position at the Serie A summit as Lautaro Martinez's late header secured a slender 2-1 win over Torino on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri never looked like scoring during a dismal first half, but they forged ahead in the 62nd minute when Romelu Lukaku slotted home from the penalty spot.

Antonio Sanabria pulled the hosts level eight minutes later, yet Inter celebrated an eighth consecutive top-flight win courtesy of Martinez's 14th league goal of the season five minutes from full-time.

The result moved Antonio Conte's side nine points clear at the top of Serie A, although Milan had the chance to restore a six-point gap by overcoming Napoli later on Sunday.

RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann compared Brian Brobbey to Inter star Romelu Lukaku after the Bundesliga side agreed to sign the Ajax sensation.

Brobbey will join Nagelsmann's Leipzig on a free transfer at the end of the season after agreeing a four-year deal until 2025.

Eredivisie giants Ajax were determined to keep Brobbey, but the 19-year-old Dutch forward opted to leave for Leipzig.

Brobbey, who made his senior debut for Ajax in October, has scored twice in seven substitute appearances in Eredivisie this season, while he has netted as many goals during the 2020-21 Europa League campaign.

Nagelsmann compared Brobbey to in-form Inter forward Lukaku after being asked about the similarities between the two players.

"It is always very tough for a player, when you compare him to others as people start to grow expectations that are not good for a player at that age," Nagelsmann told reporters ahead of Sunday's showdown with Eintracht Frankfurt.

"In regards to his physique and the way he plays, he is similar to Romelu Lukaku. And we would be happy if he can manage to become a player with the same qualities. But to paint a picture for the fans, you can definitely say that he is similar to Lukaku. But it is a great wish of ours that he can develop himself in a similar way and that he will be able to become as important for the European football [as Lukaku].

"If that will be the case, then our scouting department has made a great decision. We will cross our fingers for that to happen. But please don't start saying that he will play just like Lukaku, because this won't be the case."

After Friday's announcement, Brobbey said: "RB Leipzig is a great club and is playing an amazing season. Julian Nagelsmann is a young and very good coach, who I can learn a lot from.

"The team is stable and gives off a strong feeling of unity. I'm looking forward to joining the team and of course want to play my part in helping the club be so successful."

Leipzig are second in the Bundesliga, two points adrift of leaders and defending champions Bayern Munich through 24 rounds.

But Nagelsmann is unwilling to discuss the title race, adding: "I have already mentioned that I do not want to talk about that so much. Last year, we were a bit closer to Bayern or maybe a bit further ahead and we still didn't manage to win the tile and eventually fell behind with a few points difference.

"For us it is about following through with the consistency that we currently have. There are still many games to be played, many points to get but also many points to lose in either direction. We don't gain a lot from just talking about it. We need to try to be the best possible opponent for all the teams we face.

"It is our aim to win every match. I also said on Wednesday after [Champions League fixture against] Liverpool that I find it disrespectful against many others to say that the championship will be decided on the third of April. There are still a few games to go. This would also imply that we will win every game that we come up against. But to do so we will have to go to our limits. It's not like we will win every game with ease and then say: 'It was nice of you to come for a visit. Goodbye and it was obvious that you'll lose'. There's a lot of work to be done with many narrow games. We have seen it against Freiburg where we took a lot of time to find our rhythm needed to win the game.

"Against [Borussia] Gladbach, it took us until the 93rd minute to win. We had a bit of luck against Berlin as well, but have solved it with dominance towards the end and scored the very important second goal. It is not a walk in the park for us. Therefore, it doesn't help us to talk about the aim at the end. We have to be successful from game to game and take them as they come. Now it is Frankfurt and then we will see what will happen at the end.

"Of course, we are happy when coaches or experts are honouring our success but we can't gain anything from that. It is important that we deserve to be where we are after the 34th matchday. Whatever it will be, we will take that into our holiday. In the middle of the season, it is a nice feeling but it doesn’t help us a lot at the moment."

Leipzig's 53 points from 24 games represents their best-ever return at this stage of a Bundesliga season. The club's previous best was 49 points, achieved in both 2016-17 and 2019-20.

Meanwhile, Leipzig have won six consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time since 2019. Their club record stands at eight wins in a row from September to December 2016.

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti "can't say" the Serie A leaders want Lionel Messi as he believes the Barcelona superstar will remain at Camp Nou.

Messi's future has dominated headlines, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner tipped to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain or Premier League leaders Manchester City on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Inter have also emerged as a possible destination for Messi, who tried to leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

Argentina and Inter great Zanetti, though, feels his 33-year-old countryman will continue playing for Barca beyond this season.

"We can't say that, he is a Barcelona player and he's spent the whole career there. I think he will continue there," Zanetti told ONTime Sports.

"We are focused on the group of players we have. We must be focused on ourselves, we are focused on the next game. Everyone is doing very well."

Asked to compare Messi to legendary football Diego Maradona – who died in November – Zanetti added: "I can't make comparisons, they are both great champions.

"It's always good when big players move to Serie A. When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived, it was good for the league."

Messi has scored a league-high 19 goals and supplied six assists in 24 LaLiga appearances for Ronald Koeman's second-placed Barca this season, and 25 across all competitions.

Barca are six points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of Monday's match against Huesca.

Messi has been involved in five goals in two games against Huesca in LaLiga (two goals and three assists), including two goals and two assists in his only league appearance against them at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have gone 16 games without losing in LaLiga (W13 D3) – the best current unbeaten streak of any team in the five major leagues in Europe.

Inter midfielder Arturo Vidal is to undergo surgery on his left knee.

The Serie A leaders announced on Thursday that Vidal has been suffering from meniscus pain.

The experienced Chile international will be treated at the Humanitas Institute in Rozzano on Friday.

Vidal, 33, has made 30 appearances in all competitions for Antonio Conte's side this season, scoring two goals and providing one assist.

The former Juventus star has won 1.2 tackles and 5.2 duels on average per 90 minutes this season. Among Inter midfielders, only Nicolo Barella (six) averages more successful duels per game.

The Nerazzurri, who are six points clear at the top of Serie A, face Torino away from home on Sunday.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, so where will he be playing in 2021-22?

The Milan and Italy goalkeeper – still in discussions with the Rossoneri – has attracted interest from across Europe.

Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly circling.

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA WANTED IN ENGLAND

Manchester United and Chelsea are considering signing Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma as a free agent, according to The Transfer Window podcast.

Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, though Tuttosport reports he and Milan remain in contract discussions.

Serie A champions Juventus and Ligue 1 titleholders Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

Sky Sports says United are also targeting Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak amid doubts over David de Gea's future.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are eyeing Chelsea's Christian Pulisic. The United States international has found himself out of favour under new manager Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

- The wish list of new Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been revealed. Sport reports aside from Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Laporta is also targeting Sergio Aguero and Bayern star David Alaba, as well as in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Arsenal want to sign Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, according to the Telegraph. Bellerin has been linked to PSG and Barca.

- Sport Bild reports Bundesliga champions Bayern will let veteran defender Jerome Boateng leave amid his links with Chelsea.

Inter coach Antonio Conte is refusing to get carried away about his side's Serie A title prospects despite Monday's 1-0 win over contenders Atalanta restoring their six-point buffer.

Milan Skriniar scored the lone goal of the game from a 54th-minute corner as Inter responded after their closest competitors Milan and Juventus both won earlier in the weekend.

Fifth-placed Atalanta, the second top scorers in Serie A behind Inter this season, posed a major threat but the Nerazzurri did enough to claim their seventh consecutive league win, prompting calls they have one hand on the Scudetto already with 12 games to play.

"If I look in my pocket, I find €40," Conte laughed, when asked post-game if he felt he has a piece of the Scudetto in his pocket. "I went to get petrol and I have €40 left.

"Having said that, we must continue. There are still two games before the break against Torino, entangled in the bottom half of the standings, and the other is against Sassuolo, who create big problems for everyone.

"We have to continue not thinking about what it was. Tomorrow, the lads will rest, we recharge our batteries and get ready."

The ex-Chelsea manager added: "We went back being six points clear. We played later and knew that our direct rivals had won in Verona, Juve had won against Lazio and they had come closer, and it’s inevitable that pressure will increase from now until the end.

"There was a lot in it but we hope to carry on improving from now until the end, it's also important to mention that Atalanta is a tough team that takes points from all of the big sides."

Inter restored their lead at the top of Serie A to six points as Milan Skriniar's second-half strike sealed a 1-0 victory over Atalanta.

With Milan and Juventus winning over the weekend, Antonio Conte's side needed three points to keep their title rivals firmly at arm's length.

It was hard work, but the points duly came their way, with centre-back Skriniar arrowing home in the 54th minute.

A rare moment of profligacy from Romelu Lukaku might have cost Inter had Duvan Zapata's subsequent effort been a foot to the right, but other than Luis Muriel's shot from a tight angle, that was the closest Atalanta came to a comeback.

Conte's temper did not take long to reach boiling point – Inter's coach receiving a caution, seemingly for complaining against the award of an Atalanta corner, in the 14th minute.

Cristian Romero almost cheered Conte up moments later when he inadvertently lobbed his own goalkeeper, with Marco Sportiello just recovering to head it over.

Samir Handanovic had to be at his best to prevent Zapata from putting Atalanta ahead before half-time, yet Inter's breakthrough came shortly into the second half, with two unlikely sources combining.

Alessandro Bastoni managed to get to a corner, and though he wanted a penalty, claiming he was pulled down, his fellow defender Skriniar was on hand to lash in.

Lukaku looked set to extend Inter's lead within four minutes, only for Romero to make a superb last-ditch challenge.

Inter's work was nearly undone with 20 minutes remaining, but Zapata dragged a low effort wide from the edge of the area.

Zapata's strike partner Muriel tried his luck shortly after, though Handanovic was again in sharp form to help Inter wrap up a 10th straight home league win.

Antonio Conte is focused only on this season with Inter, rather than his long-term future at the club, as the Serie A leaders prepare to host Atalanta.  

Inter's 2-1 triumph at Parma on Thursday – sealed thanks to a brace from Alexis Sanchez – made it four league wins on the spin, though Conte acknowledges there is still a long way to go yet in their bid for a first Scudetto since 2010.  

The former Juventus and Chelsea boss is in his second year in charge of the Nerazzurri, his current deal running until the end of the 2021-22 campaign.  

It remains to be seen if he will sign an extension to extend his tenure beyond then, though his primary concern right now is staying clear of the chasing pack in the title race.  

"The fact is I have another year to run on the contract. At this moment, all of us – me, the coaches, the players – must focus on the present," Conte said.

"We cannot be distracted by other factors, we must be concentrated because we can influence the present, from here to the end of the season.  

"What will happen externally, I do not know. We have no influence over that. We can influence the present and our job.  

"I know that people want to talk about other factors, but we must stay concentrated. We need continuity and consistency. We want to show that Inter are back to the levels it deserves. 

"We cannot get carried away and think about the future – we must stay focused and think about the here and now. Our objective is playing matters and doing well for the club." 

Conte will come up against one of his former clubs on Monday, though Atalanta are a far different proposition now to when he was in charge in 2009-10.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side are once again fighting for a top-four finish, their total of 49 points a club-record tally after 25 games in a top-flight campaign.

Inter have triumphed only once in their last six matches against Atalanta in Serie A, with Conte full of praise for his opposite number ahead of the game at San Siro.

"We are facing a team that creates big problems for everyone, in the Champions League and in the league, where they have won several times against the big names," Conte said. 

"Atalanta have consolidated, aware of their means and have strong players, both the starters and those who enter during the match – I think of [Luis] Muriel, who has taken over many times and has solved complicated games. 

"Gasperini is doing an extraordinary job, the group is following his ideas and I'm happy for him and for Atalanta, who I coached for a while."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.