Will Paul Pogba return to Turin?

Pogba's future at Manchester United is in doubt, with the World Cup-winning Frenchman reportedly looking to leave the Theatre of Dreams.

Juventus are keen to re-sign Pogba – who initially left United for the Italian giants in 2012 before returning to Manchester four years later.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE WANT POGBA REUNION

Signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba remains the dream for Juventus, according to Calciomercato.

Pogba is eyeing an Old Trafford exit amid growing links to former club Juve and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

Juve are keen on reuniting with Pogba, though Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli, Lyon star Houssem Aouar, Udinese midfielder Rodrigo De Paul and Roma sensation Nicolo Zaniolo are alternatives.

 

ROUND-UP

It appears that, if Lionel Messi has his way, he will be playing for a new club before long.

The Barcelona captain and talisman told his employers he wanted to leave and, although the club won the battle in the previous transfer window, they may end up losing the war.

Messi is now entering the final six months of his contract and, unless a new deal is agreed soon, he could become perhaps the most sensational free transfer of all time in 2021.

Of course, tempting Messi away from Barca is by no means straightforward. His basic salary is said to be roughly €71million and, when you add in bonuses and other possible commitments, that represents a huge outlay on a player who turns 34 next June. Only a handful of clubs are even capable of pulling off such a deal, particularly in a financial landscape changed by COVID-19.

But what if, just for a minute, we imagine money is no object and Messi could play for anyone he chooses? What if the thrill of the game were more important to him than winning a fifth Champions League? What if he threw caution to the wind and went somewhere just for fun?

We've imagined such a scenario, and these are the teams we'd love to see him play for...

 

AJAX

The link between Ajax and Barca goes beyond the basics of football: it's a shared ideology, a philosophical connection, a spiritual understanding.

From Johan Cruyff to Ronald Koeman, plenty of players and coaches have shared the love of both clubs, but Messi moving to Amsterdam would turn the romance up to 11.

Messi as the focal point of an Ajax side - who are beautiful to watch as it is - is a wonderful idea. Perhaps Luis Suarez could join him at his old club when the Uruguay star decides his time in LaLiga is over.

Plus, given the players they have signed from Ajax in the past - Frenkie de Jong and Sergino Dest the latest - Barca probably owe the Eredivisie club a transfer favour in return.

ATALANTA

Gian Piero Gasperini's side captured the hearts of the football world in 2019-20, threatening a title challenge in Serie A and coming close to reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

They did all this on a modest budget, playing vibrant, attacking football, and all during a global pandemic that struck Bergamo and the Lombardy region harder than almost anywhere else in Europe.

The way Argentine Alejandro Gomez pulls the strings for Atalanta is a joy to watch, but it seems likely he will move on in January after a falling-out with his head coach.

Imagine if they signed Messi to replace him. Imagine them facing Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus. Imagine Marten de Roon's Twitter feed.

Glorious, isn't it?

COLOGNE

The GOAT and the Billy Goats - what could be better?

Cologne have gone through some tricky times but Markus Gisdol has done a good job in steadying the ship in the Bundesliga and was rewarded with a new contract until June 2023. However, with another relegation battle looking likely this season, they could do with a decisive signing or two to boost their survival chances.

They might not have won the title since 1978, but they are among Germany's most esteemed clubs, with an ardent fan base and a beautiful home city. If Messi could lead them to challenge the big boys in the Bundesliga, it would be an unforgettable story.

If not... well, they have a goat as a mascot, for goodness' sake. It's too perfect.

LEEDS UNITED

It might be too early for Messi to return to Newell's Old Boys, but what if he joined up with Rosario's other most famous footballing export in Yorkshire?

Leeds United are back in the Premier League and have become the division's great entertainers, having swept all before them in the Championship in 2019-20 under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa and his big blue bucket.

The chance to help awaken a sleeping giant of the English game while playing for the man who inspired Pep Guardiola sounds like an opportunity that's too good to miss.

Plus, if he wanted to visit Sergio Aguero, Manchester is less than an hour away by train.

NEWELL'S OLD BOYS

What could be more magical than Messi returning to where it all began? A lifelong Newell's fan, Messi was on their books as a youngster until they – and River Plate afterwards – were unable to pay for necessary growth hormone treatment.

Before then, as the story goes, Messi had scored nearly 500 goals in youth football for the club, and throughout his days as a professional he has been linked with a future move to Newell's prior to retiring.

As recently as last year Messi expressed doubt that such a "dream" could ever happen due to the needs of his family.

It is the move football romanticists will want to see and, while unlikely, Messi did leave the door open: "I will try to convince the family."

NAPOLI

The Serie A move that would capture the imagination the most would be joining Napoli.

Not only would Messi's arrival get one over on long-standing rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who would no longer be the solo big ticket in Serie A, it would give him the chance dispel some other demons.

For much of his career, Messi has contended with people saying he's not at the level of Diego Maradona, the man who made Napoli kings of Italy.

Now that El Pibe de Oro has passed on, the sight of Messi leading Napoli to Scudetto glory at the stadium now bearing the name of his compatriot would be truly unforgettable.

Lionel Messi's future has been the subject of much speculation but a reunion with Pep Guardiola is still very much in Manchester City's plans.

Messi has been disgruntled with his situation at Barcelona since the end of last season, despite head coach Ronald Koeman's insistence that his superstar captain is happy.

Four-time Champions League winner Messi unsuccessfully tried to force an exit in August, however there will be no legal clauses to stop him when his contract expires in June 2021.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTED ON FIVE-YEAR DEAL

The City Football Group (CFG) is eyeing a 2021 swoop that will see Lionel Messi split time between their Premier League powerhouse Manchester City and MLS franchise New York City, according to the Telegraph.

A five-year contract could be offered to superstar Barcelona captain Messi, which includes three years in England, taking the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to the age of 37, followed by an additional two more in the United States.

In an interview with Spanish TV channel La Sexta, Messi admitted his desire to one day play in the United States, a hint that City's proposal may be on his mind.

Tottenham are keeping an eye on Sergio Ramos' situation at Real Madrid, while Georginio Wijnaldum is set to decide his future.

Ramos, 34, is coming out of contract at Madrid at the end of the season.

With the defender yet to re-sign, he has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM KEEPING AN EYE ON RAMOS

Tottenham are keeping an eye on Ramos' situation at Real Madrid, according to the Evening Standard.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho worked with Ramos at Madrid between 2010 and 2013.

Ramos has been at the Spanish giants since 2005, winning five LaLiga titles and three Champions League trophies among numerous other honours.

 

ROUND-UP

- Also out of contract at season's end, Wijnaldum is set to make a decision on his Liverpool future. Sky Sports reports the midfielder will decide this week whether to sign a new deal with the Premier League champions amid links to Barcelona.

- Diego Costa is set to leave Atletico Madrid, who are eyeing a replacement. Marca reports Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik is best placed to replace Costa.

- Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha is again linked with a move. The Sun reports Serie A leaders AC Milan are chasing Zaha in January.

- Arsenal look set to be busy in January. The Sun reports the Premier League club want Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan in a £32million (€35.3m) move. Meanwhile, The Athletic says Arsenal are unlikely to rekindle their interest in Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar.

- Could Marcos Alonso be returning to Spain? The Independent reports Atletico Madrid are in talks to sign full-back Alonso on loan from Chelsea in January. Alonso has played just three Premier League games for Chelsea this season.

Andrea Pirlo should have kept quiet rather than wade in on Napoli's successful appeal against their 3-0 forfeit defeat to Juventus and one-point penalty, according to Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli did not turn up for their game in Turin in October and were also docked a point by Serie A after arguing they were banned from travelling by local health authorities as Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas and a member of staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

Juventus also reported two positive cases among staff a day before the game but made clear they intended to play the match at the Allianz Stadium.

Pirlo named a starting XI but the game did not go ahead due to Napoli's absence and was officially abandoned, but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) ruled the Partenopei had ignored the coronavirus protocols in place, which state a team must fulfil an fixture if they have 13 available players, including a goalkeeper.

Napoli refused to drop the matter and took the case to the Italian National Olympic Committee's (CONI) Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport – the highest sports authority in the country – and it ruled in the club's favour on Tuesday, with the rescheduled game set to take place in 2021.

Pirlo appeared to take a swipe at the ruling this week, saying: "I'm sorry for the other teams who have travelled and lost points without saying anything, leaving and playing without those who had COVID-19. I'm more sorry for them than for us."

Napoli president De Laurentiis was not impressed with Pirlo's remarks and said he should stick to coaching instead of commenting on matters of law.

"Pirlo is not a lawyer by trade, he does not know certain procedures and does not know what has happened in terms of protocols," De Laurentiis told Radio Capital.

"Pirlo should be a coach and that's it, leave certain answers to his club representatives."

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso admitted "only a crazy person like me would keep going" after revealing he is suffering with a flare-up of an auto-immune disease. 

Gattuso wore an eye patch on the touchline during Napoli's 2-0 defeat to Lazio in Rome on Sunday, and also sported specialised glasses as his team drew 1-1 with Torino in their final game of 2020 on Wednesday.

The former Milan and Italy midfielder suffers from an auto-immune disease known as ocular myasthenia.

It is a condition that causes the muscles that control the eyes to weaken and the eyelids to droop, while it can also lead to severe fatigue and double vision.

Nevertheless, Gattuso has carried on, but the Napoli boss conceded he has been suffering.

"I admit I've not been myself for the last 12 days," Gattuso told a news conference, having skipped media duties for Napoli's previous outing.

"I want to make an appeal to all those, especially kids, who look in the mirror and see something that looks odd or not quite right: life is beautiful. Embrace it all.

"The lads suffered too seeing me like this, I know that, but I'm alive. I've had myasthenia for 10 years, this is the third time it has flared up this badly, but it'll pass and my eye will return to normal.

"It's not just that it looks bad, this condition makes you feel really exhausted, plus seeing double 24 hours a day really takes it out of you. Only a crazy person like me would keep going.

"However, this is my life and there are worse things. I know some out there already assume I've got a month left to live, but I can assure you, it's fine. When I eventually die, I want to go where I lived, on a football pitch."

Napoli enjoyed a strong start to the season, though have tailed off in recent games, winning just one of their last five outings in all competitions.

They sit fifth in Serie A, nine points behind leaders Milan, though with a game in hand on the Rossoneri. 

Napoli have successfully appealed against the 3-0 forfeit defeat to Juventus and subsequent one-point penalty, with the game to be rescheduled in 2021.

Gennaro Gattuso's men did not turn up for their game in Turin in October and were also docked a point by Serie A for failing to fulfil their fixture obligations.

Napoli argued they were banned from travelling by local health authorities as Piotr Zielinski, Eljif Elmas and a member of staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

Juventus also reported two positive cases among staff a day before the game but made clear they intended to play the match at the Allianz Stadium.

Andrea Pirlo named a starting XI but the game did not go ahead due to Napoli's absence and was officially abandoned, but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) ruled the Partenopei had ignored the coronavirus protocols in place, which states a team must fulfil an fixture if they have 13 available players, including a goalkeeper.

Napoli refused to drop the matter and took the case to the Italian National Olympic Committee's (CONI) Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport – the highest sports authority in the country – and it ruled in the club's favour on Tuesday.

A statement on behalf of the Collegio di Garanzia confirmed the punishment had been "cancelled without postponement".

Real Madrid are still eyeing Kylian Mbappe next year.

Mbappe, 22, has been heavily linked with the LaLiga giants with his contract at Paris Saint-Germain expiring in 2022.

Madrid may be looking to make a move in 2021.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CONFIDENT OVER MBAPPE IN 2021

Real Madrid are very confident of completing a deal for PSG star Mbappe next year, according to 90min.

Mbappe has developed into one of the world's best forwards at PSG, where he has scored 13 goals in 17 games this season.

The France international is admired by Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona may be active in January. Sport reports Ronald Koeman is insisting on signings to begin 2021, with Lyon star Memphis Depay said to be available for just €5million. It also says Barca will negotiate with Manchester City for Eric Garcia.

- Staying at Manchester City and the Premier League giants have been boosted by John Stones' form. The Telegraph reports the defender is poised for a contract extension, with his current deal running until 2022.

- Yves Bissouma is seemingly attracting plenty of interest after his form for Brighton and Hove Albion. The Daily Express reports Manchester United have joined the race for the midfielder, who has also been linked to Liverpool and Arsenal.

- Yet to play for Napoli this season, Arkadiusz Milik is set for an exit. CalcioMercato reports Tottenham have given up on trying to sign the striker, who is also apparently a target for Juventus, Inter and Roma.

Marcus Rashford is contracted to Manchester United until 2023.

But the Red Devils are still planning to renew Rashford's deal in Manchester.

Pay rise anyone?

 

TOP STORY – RASHFORD IN LINE FOR BUMPER DEAL

Manchester United are set to hand Marcus Rashford a lucrative new contract, according to the Daily Star.

Rashford has impressed on and off the pitch at Old Trafford since making his United debut in 2015.

The 23-year-old – contracted until 2023 – is in line to be rewarded with a bumper £300,000 deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga is edging closer to a transfer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid. The 18-year-old midfielder has also been linked to United and Paris Saint-Germain, but Madrid – also a possible destination for Juventus target Paul Pogba – are tipped to prise the Frenchman to the Spanish capital. 

Barcelona are willing to sell Philippe Coutinho, claims ARA. It comes amid the club's financial issues due to the coronavirus pandemic.

- Corriere dello Sport says Fiorentina want Napoli outcast and soon-to-be free agent Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has also been linked to Roma, Atletico Madrid and Juventus.

- Parma's Gervinho and Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul are among the players wanted by Inter, according to Tuttosport.

Manchester United are reportedly ready to challenge Chelsea for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

Rice, 21, has been linked heavily with a move to Stamford Bridge, but no deal came to fruition during the close season.

United are apparently ready to join the race for the England international.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO CHALLENGE CHELSEA FOR RICE

Manchester United could make a move for West Ham midfielder and Chelsea target Rice at season's end, according to the Daily Express.

The report says United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be a fan of Rice, who spent some of his childhood in Chelsea's academy.

Rice has played every minute of the Premier League campaign for West Ham so far.

ROUND-UP

- Struggling for game time at Liverpool, Divock Origi may be set for a January move. The Athletic reports the Premier League leaders are prepared to listen to offers for the forward at the beginning of 2021, with Wolves reportedly interested.

- Staying at Anfield, Asromalive.it reports Liverpool are interested in Roma defender Roger Ibanez, who is also linked to Paris Saint-Germain. Ibanez is on loan at the Giallorossi from Atalanta.

- Yet to play for Napoli this season, Arkadiusz Milik is expected to make an exit. Goal reports the Serie A side want €15million if the striker is to leave in January amid interest from rivals Juventus and LaLiga title hopefuls Atletico Madrid, with Milik coming out of contract at season's end.

- Manchester United are expected to see some exits in January. The Athletic reports Newcastle United are interested in a loan move for Marcos Rojo, while goalkeeper Sergio Romero is set for a departure to Spain.

Gennaro Gattuso complained that Italian referees were too "touchy" and should adopt the tolerance of Scottish officials after Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne was sent off in the 1-0 defeat to Inter.

The Napoli boss was fuming that Davide Massa dismissed Insigne for his objections to the awarding of a penalty that Romelu Lukaku converted in Wednesday's Serie A clash.

David Ospina brought down Matteo Darmian, and Insigne was quick to express his dismay at the decision, with Massa equally wasting no time in brandishing the red card.

"Only in Italy do I see referees showing the red for these things," said Gattuso.

"You're not sent off in the same situation in England. I'm not making it up: I played in Scotland in the past and I still follow their football today. The captain of a team there can't be sent off for a 'f*** off' to the referee for a dubious penalty.

"This means that the referee is touchy, and if you are then you can't do this job."

The former Rangers midfielder added: "Anyone who has played football knows there is a lot at stake in a match like Inter-Napoli, and a word can slip out. Only in Italy it [red cards in these situations] happens and it is not right, because games are changed in this way.

"The players have to calm down, but you must also understand that a 'f*** off' after a penalty can happen. In my opinion, a referee must have the intelligence and the tact to understand that.

"If there's a red card for every word too many, then everyone should always be sent off."

Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia that he accepts referees have a "very difficult" job, saying he also had to face swearing from his players in training.

He added: "I'm just saying that, in such an important game, a European referee with experience cannot be touchy."

Antonio Conte was proud of Inter for grinding out an "ugly" 1-0 victory over Napoli in Serie A at San Siro on Wednesday.

Roberto Gagliardini's weak header was the only effort on target during the first half of a dour league encounter, with Inter only taking the lead when Romelu Lukaku converted a 73rd-minute penalty after David Ospina fouled Matteo Darmian.

That was the only other shot on target the Nerazzurri mustered across the entire game midweek, while Napoli – who had captain Lorenzo Insigne sent off for dissent after referee Davide Massa pointed to the spot – did not draw a save from Samir Handanovic until the 69th minute.

"The match was very tactical, the teams played with a lot of respect and it wasn't a great match, but it is an important victory against a rival. They are points that are worth twice as much," head coach Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"These are games that are difficult because you can win them but also lose them. Napoli are an excellent team with great organisation.

"[Gennaro] Gattuso is right when he says that we coaches tactically made it ugly. We had already faced each other several times and we worked to make each other's attacks sterile.

"These are games that you have to win and when you do you put it in your pocket and you are happy."

Inter goalkeeper Handanovic did well to keep out Matteo Politano and Giovanni Di Lorenzo as 10-man Napoli pushed for an equaliser in the final 10 minutes.

Napoli's Andrea Petagna rattled the post in stoppage time as the visitors came up short in their attempt to secure a share of the spoils in Milan.

Conte admitted Inter had not had to cling on for the three points but was pleased they managed to do so, making them the first team to keep four successive home clean sheets against Napoli since Catania put together a run of six from 1961 to 2008.

"The team felt the importance and weight that these games carry [in the closing stages]," said Conte.

"Bringing these matches home is important for mental growth. We must learn to suffer and cope with these situations.

"We would prefer to suffer less, but winning against such strong teams is a good sign."

Inter are second and within a point of city rivals Milan, who have drawn back-to-back matches.

Inter closed the gap at the top of Serie A as Romelu Lukaku's penalty sealed a dour 1-0 victory over 10-man Napoli at San Siro on Wednesday.

With local rivals Milan held to a 2-2 draw at Genoa, the Nerazzurri reduced the league leaders' advantage in the standings to one point thanks to Lukaku's 73rd-minute spot-kick.

A rash challenge from David Ospina enabled the Belgium striker to wrap up a fifth straight league win for Inter, and with Lorenzo Insigne seeing red for dissent there appeared to be no way back for Napoli.

Inter struggled to close the game out, though, with Samir Handanovic making two important saves before the post stopped Andrea Petagna earning a share of the spoils for Napoli.

Napoli were dealt an early blow when Dries Mertens appeared to tweak his ankle while digging out a cross before the ball ran out of play and had to be replaced by Petagna in the 16th minute.

Lautaro Martinez almost added to their woes within 30 seconds but his shot on the spin skidded wide after Kalidou Koulibaly's wayward pass enabled Nicolo Barella to feed the striker.

Napoli enjoyed the lion's share of possession but chances were few and far between, with Piotr Zielinski volleying wide and Roberto Gagliardini producing the only effort on target before the break with a tame header.

Hirving Lozano volleyed over after controlling a brilliant pass from Insigne, who forced Handanovic to make his first save of the game with an improvised flick in the 69th minute.

The game turned in Inter's favour when Ospina was deemed to have fouled Matteo Darmian in the box and Insigne's protests resulted in him being sent off.

Lukaku tucked the penalty into the bottom-left corner but Inter needed Handanovic and a slice of luck to ensure they did not throw the win away late on.

Handanovic kept out Matteo Politano – on loan at Napoli from Inter – and Giovanni Di Lorenzo before Petagna found the base of the upright in the 92nd minute.

Is Lionel Messi set to swap Spain for France?

Paris Saint-Germain have been among the clubs linked with Messi.

And rumours suggest PSG believe they will land the Barcelona superstar.

 

TOP STORY – PSG POISED TO SIGN MESSI?

Paris Saint-Germain are preparing to announce the signing of Lionel Messi, according to FootballTransfers.

Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season, tried to leave Barcelona at the start of 2020-21 but the six-time Ballon d'Or winner opted to remain at Camp Nou.

Now, Ligue 1 champions PSG are growing increasingly confident of luring Messi to Paris on a free transfer, having told their stores around the French capital to brace themselves for a high demand of shirt sales.

The Daily Star, however, claims Pep Guardiola's Manchester City remain optimistic of signing Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

- Premier League champions Liverpool are set to offer star defender Virgil van Dijk a new blockbuster five-year contract, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Bayern Munich are in pole position to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano but the Bundesliga champions are still undecided on outlaying such a significant sum amid the coronavirus pandemic, says Sport Bild. Upamecano has been heavily linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

- According to Corriere della Sera, Inter and Milan are the main contenders to sign Atalanta star Papu Gomez. The captain and Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini have fallen out, leading to widespread reports Gomez will leave in January. Inter are the favourites to sign Gomez as they could reportedly offer Christian Eriksen in exchange. The likes of PSG, Lazio and Napoli have also emerged as possible destinations.

Hakan Calhanoglu is set to stay at Milan, reports Calciomercato. United have been linked with a move for the soon-to-be free agent.

- Romano says Sergio Ramos is likely to continue at Madrid beyond the 2020-21 season. Los Blancos captain Ramos is nearing the end of his contract, leading to links with the likes of PSG, Juventus and United.

Antonio Conte was the coach who started Juventus' title-winning streak and as Inter boss he is determined to bring an end to the reign of the Turin giants.

However, Conte knows the will and planning on his part is not enough, and the onus falls on his team to beat direct rivals such as Napoli, who visit San Siro on Wednesday.

Seeing off such opponents could begin to tip the balance in Inter's favour, with the Nerazzurri prominent contenders to deny Juventus a 10th consecutive Serie A crown.

Inter sit second, with Napoli third, going into their midweek tussle, both keen to keep pace with early pace-setters Milan and stay ahead of fourth-placed Juve, who have yet to be beaten.

"Head-to-head matches are very important for the standings and from a mental point of view," Conte said at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"Every game, even against teams that are not fighting to win or for a place in the cups, is still difficult. Winning head to head gives you more certainty and helps you feel stronger."

Assessing talk of Inter now almost needing to win the Scudetto, Conte pointed to the difficulty teams have had in dethroning Juventus over seasons gone by.

He led Juve unbeaten through the 2011-12 Serie A season as they began their dominance, helming the tirst three championships, and current head coach Andrea Pirlo has seen them put together six wins and five draws in their opening 11 games of this term.

Conte knows Juventus being present in a title race makes every other team's task all the more difficult, particularly being acutely aware so many see Inter's time as having arrived.

"If I hear of an 'almost obligation', it makes me smile," Conte said. "We all start with the ambition to be a protagonist and at least on my part there is always the intention of trying to win, but having said that, only one team wins and in the last nine years it has always been the same team."

Looking at Napoli, a team who under Gennaro Gattuso's leadership have taken a leap forward this season, Conte said: "It is a demanding challenge against a team who have the same ambitions as us. The result will be a gauge on which to make certain assessments."

Napoli have been a forward-looking team under former Italy midfielder Gattuso, who took the reins last December.

His first year has shown that he wants his team to attack, with their average of 17.4 shots per game during his tenure only beaten by Manchester City (17.5) in the top five European leagues.

Yet Napoli have not found the net in their last three away games against Inter in Serie A. The last team to keep a clean sheet in four consecutive home games against Napoli were Catania, whose feat stretched to six games and spanned from 1961 to 2008.

Inter did the double over Napoli in Serie A last season, with Conte bidding to become the club's first boss to win each of his three first league games against the Naples side since Alfredo Foni from 1952 to 1953.

Inter appear likely to be without Alexis Sanchez, however, due to an adductor muscle problem, and Arturo Vidal is another unlikely starter as he battles to overcome a thigh strain.

Wing-back Achraf Hakimi has a minor knock but could be involved, with Conte saying: "Of the three, he is the one I am most open to."

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