Kevin-Prince Boateng urged Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi to join Napoli as a tribute to club and Argentina great Diego Maradona.

Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure last month.

Napoli renamed their stadium to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in honour of the 1986 World Cup winner, who guided the Serie A side to their only Scudetto triumphs in 1987 and 1990 after arriving from Barca in 1984.

Messi removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with Maradona's famous number 10 after scoring in last month's 4-0 LaLiga rout of Osasuna.

But former Barca team-mate Boateng wants six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi – who has been heavily linked to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – to do more to pay tribute to his countryman.

"I often hear of the comparison between Messi and Maradona and therefore I'll make a proposal to Leo," Boateng, who now plays for Serie B outfit Monza alongside Mario Balotelli, told ESPN.

"He should go to Napoli after his contract with Barcelona expires. It would be great if he himself called [president Aurelio] De Laurentiis and said: 'I'm coming'.

"Even if they have retired the No 10 shirt, 'I would like to honour Maradona's No 10 and come and play for a year or two at Napoli', without thinking about money, just the heart.

"Maybe then he manages to win a championship and then it would be the apotheosis, a movie story.

"If I were him, I would think about it. By now, he has won everything at club level, closing in a legendary way would be incredible."

Watching Diego Maradona play was "the best thing in the world" for Cafu, who has described the late Argentina great as a genius.

The sporting world mourned the death of a legendary figure after Maradona died on November 25 at the age of 60.

He won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994 - including leading his country to World Cup glory in 1986 - and will forever be an icon at Napoli, having won the Serie A title twice while in Italy.

Cafu may have represented Brazil - Argentina's rivals - but is full of admiration for Maradona, whom he says sits on the same level as Pele when it comes to discussing the greatest of all time.

"He was one of the best ever, without any doubt," Cafu told Stats Perform News courtesy of Nissan.  

"There are only two best ever: Dieguito, as I called him, and Pele.  

"Football lost the magic of touching the ball. Dieguito cared for the football like you care for a child. He really joked with the football and the sport. 

"For us, fans and players, to watch him play was unbelievable, the best thing in the world. I remember a set-piece he took inside the box [against Juventus], he just caressed the ball and laid it in the goal. 

"Now our world is mourning not because we lost a player, but because we lost a football genius."

Pele himself described Maradona as a "true legend" in a heartfelt Instagram post following the news of his friend's passing last month.

"Many people loved to compare us all their lives. You were a genius that enchanted the world. A magician with the ball at his feet. A true legend. But above all that, for me, you will always be a great friend, with an even bigger heart," Pele wrote to accompany a picture of the pair.

"Today, I know that the world would be much better if we could compare each other less and start admiring each other more. So, I want to say that you are incomparable."

Napoli, meanwhile, now play at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, the name of the ground having been changed in honour of their former player.

Napoli's stadium has officially been renamed in honour of Diego Maradona, the Municipality of Naples announced on Friday. 

The sporting world was shaken last week when Argentina great Maradona – widely considered to be one of football's greatest ever players – died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure.

A World Cup winner with Argentina, Maradona enjoyed stunning success in Naples, where he guided Napoli to unprecedented Serie A glory in 1986-87, and then again in 1989-90. The Partenopei are yet to add to their only two Scudetto honours.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said last week it would be "right" to rename Stadio San Paolo after the Argentinian and the Naples city council on Friday unanimously approved a resolution that will change its name to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

The change still needs to be authorised by the Prefect of the Province of Naples, but that is expected to be a formality.

"With a resolution approved today, the stadium was named after Diego Armando Maradona," the Municipality said in a statement.

"Shortly before the executive committee meeting, the advisory commission for city toponymy had approved the proposal of the mayor, the councillor for toponymy Alessandra Clemente and the city council, naming the Stadio San Paolo after Diego Armando Maradona with the name Stadio Diego Armando Maradona."

Maradona won 91 caps for Argentina between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.

He started his career with Argentinos Juniors, before joining Boca Juniors and going on to play for Barcelona, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys, as well as Napoli, before returning to La Bombonera in 1995.

Maradona also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico before being appointed head coach by Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata last year.

He remained Gimnasia coach until his death.

Neymar has sparked speculation over Lionel Messi's future.

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar enjoyed a successful period alongside Messi at Barcelona before leaving in a world-record deal in 2017.

Now, Neymar wants to team up with Messi again.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, MESSI IN?

Paris Saint-Germain will have to sell Kylian Mbappe if they sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi has been linked with a move to Ligue 1 champions PSG after former Barca forward Neymar expressed his desire to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

If Manchester City target Messi arrives in the French capital, it could send Mbappe closer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has not ruled leaving the Spanish giants, reports El Transistor. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG, Juventus, Milan and Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino has been contacted by Madrid to replace under-fire head coach Zinedine Zidane, claims Sport. Pochettino, who has been out of work since he was sacked as Tottenham boss last year, has also been linked to United.

- Diario AS says Atletico Madrid are lining up a January bid for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has been frozen out since making it clear he will not re-sign with the Serie A side. Tottenham, Everton and Roma have also emerged as possible destinations.

Romelu Lukaku is on Pep Guardiola's shortlist of forwards at City but Inter insist the Belgian star is non-transferable, according to Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea's plan to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice rests on the success of off-season recruit Ben Chilwell.

Gennaro Gattuso has agreed a new contract with Serie A side Napoli, according to director Cristiano Giuntoli.

Gattuso, 42, is currently contracted to Napoli until the end of the season after replacing Carlo Ancelotti in December last year.

Since taking charge, former Milan boss Gattuso has guided Napoli to Coppa Italia glory in 2019-20 – the club's first piece of silverware since 2014.

Giuntoli was asked about Gattuso's future prior to Thursday's 1-1 Europa League draw at AZ.

"I know the lawyers are exchanging the contracts," Giuntoli told Sky Sport Italia.

"We have reached an agreement and the paperwork was written up this week. I don't think there will be any problems.

"Gattuso is a little more agitated on a daily basis than Carlo Ancelotti was, but that's just their personalities. They are both great professionals."

Napoli are fifth in Serie A this season, six points adrift of unbeaten leaders Milan after nine games.

Gattuso's Napoli make the trip to bottom side Crotone on Sunday.

 

Arsenal and Tottenham are reportedly lining up moves for Salzburg star Dominik Szoboszlai, while three Premier League giants are monitoring Ben White.

Szoboszlai, 20, has been linked with a move from Salzburg after starring for the Austrian club.

And several European heavyweights are eyeing the Hungary international.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL, TOTTENHAM PUSH FOR SZOBOSZLAI

Arsenal and Tottenham are ready to push to sign Salzburg star Szoboszlai, according to Eurosport.

But the report says RB Leipzig look likely to win the battle to sign the star, despite interest also coming from Milan and Atletico Madrid.

Contracted until 2022, an offer of around €20million will reportedly be enough.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea are monitoring Brighton and Hove Albion defender White, according to Sky Sports. Liverpool have also been linked with the 23-year-old previously.

- Eyeing a defender in January amid an injury crisis, Barcelona have two targets in the Premier League. Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger are among the players on Barca's list.

- After starring for Inter, Milan Skriniar is linked with a move. Football Insider reports Tottenham are still keeping tabs on the defender.

- Other Premier League giants could also be set for a transfer fight. The Daily Star reports Manchester United and Chelsea are facing a battle with Manchester City to sign Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria.

- Set to re-sign with Ajax, Nicolas Tagliafico could still be on the move. The Daily Mail reports the Manchester City and Leicester City target will still be allowed to leave the Eredivisie giants if a suitable offer arrives, despite re-signing.

- Catching the eye with Cagliari, Nahitan Nandez is being targeted by Roma and Napoli, according to CalcioMercato.

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso believes Inter are favourites to win Serie A this season, ahead of current leaders Milan and defending champions Juventus.

Milan – without a Scudetto since 2010-11 – top the table by five points through nine matchdays after defeating Fiorentina 2-0 on Sunday to remain unbeaten.

City rivals Inter and Sassuolo are five points off the pace, while Andrea Pirlo's Juve are fourth and a point further back, along with Napoli and Roma.

Gattuso considers Antonio Conte's Inter title favourites following Napoli's 4-0 rout of Roma on Sunday, telling Sky Sport Italia: "In my view, Inter are the team to beat.

"They combine quality with physical strength, they have so many options available and they are the favourites.

"Then there's Juventus, who are accustomed to being up there."

Napoli played their first Serie A match since the death of club great Diego Maradona on Wednesday and it was an emotional occasion at the Stadio San Paolo, where captain Lorenzo Insigne, Fabian Ruiz, all-time leading scorer Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano were on target.

The Partenopei equalled their largest margin of victory against Roma in Serie A, having also routed the capital club 4-0 in 1980 and 1971.

Napoli – who moved up to fifth position in Serie A, six points adrift of Milan – earned their fourth win from five games across all competitions.

Gattuso earned his 50th career victory as a coach in the Italian top flight, while becoming the first Napoli boss to win his first two Serie A encounters against Roma.

"We have to play with this intensity in every single game, with this atmosphere on the team bus, in the dressing room, throughout the match. Take nothing for granted," Gattuso said.

"What I liked was the attitude today. When there was an error from a team-mate, they helped each other out, applauded rather than telling them to go f*** themselves, that's what I like to see.

"Perhaps it's my fault, because in order to not stress the players out, I let things go, I go easy. Now I realise I can never let anything go and I can't afford to go easy on them. Times have changed.

"We know that with the fixture list as packed as it is, we can't always be at 100 per cent in every single game. But that's why mentality is so important, because it can allow you to push through difficulties, to keep going and raise the bar. I see the mentality as the issue here, we need to find the balance of playing good football, but as a team."

Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne said Diego Maradona's death hurts as the city suffers after the Serie A side donned Argentina-style shirts to honour the club great in their 4-0 rout of rivals Roma.

Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player who led Napoli to their only Scudetto honours in 1987 and 1990 – died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

After beating Rijeka in the Europa League on Thursday, Napoli played their first Serie A match since Maradona's passing on Sunday and it was an emotional occasion at the Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli sported a Maradona-themed jersey, which consisted of light blue and white stripes instead of the iconic all-blue shirt and it proved an inspirational strip as the Partenopei equalled their largest margin of victory against Roma in Serie A, having also routed the capital club 4-0 in 1980 and 1971.

Insigne – born and bred in Naples – opened the scoring with a free-kick on the half-hour mark before reaching for a Maradona shirt and kissing it as he celebrated.

Fabian Ruiz, Napoli's all-time leading goalscorer Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano were also on target.

"The atmosphere certainly gave us extra motivation, as we wanted to pay homage to our idol," Insigne, the only player since 2012-13 to score at least one goal and assist at least one in each of the past nine seasons, told Sky Sport Italia.

"It hurts and we cared more than ever tonight to put in a great performance for him and the city that is suffering."

Napoli moved up to fifth position in Serie A, six points adrift of unbeaten leaders Milan.

Gennaro Gattuso also earned his 50th career victory as a head coach in the Italian top flight, while becoming the first Napoli boss to win his first two Serie A encounters against Roma.

"There is a sense of sadness, but at this moment I think the city must also show common sense," Gattuso said. "I am seeing too many people going around without their masks.

"Maradona is a legend, everyone knows that, and I understand the desire to express that affection, but I hope from tomorrow the city will get back to being sensible, or we'll all pay the consequences later."

Napoli donned Argentina-style shirts as a tribute to Diego Maradona and thrashed Roma 4-0 on Sunday, in their first Serie A match since the death of the club's greatest player.

The light blue and white stripes were a departure from the team's usual all-blue jersey, and the Naples giants rose to the occasion to honour the player who helped the club win two Serie A titles.

Maradona, one of football's all-time greats, died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Although head coach of Argentinian side Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata at the time of his death, Maradona was more renowned for his playing career, during which he inspired his country to 1986 World Cup success and played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys.

As well as league title successes in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons, Maradona also helped Napoli win a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup crown, spending the peak years of his club career in Italy.

Napoli's players posed before the game at their Stadio San Paolo with a shirt bearing Maradona's name and his famous number 10, before goals from captain Lorenzo Insigne, Fabian Ruiz, all-time leading scorer Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano earned a sixth win in nine games this season.

Naples-born Insigne – the only player since 2012-13 to score at least one goal and assist at least one in each of the last nine seasons – reached for a Maradona shirt after scoring the opener, making a point of kissing it as he showed his emotion.

The three points nudged Napoli up to fifth position in Serie A – six points adrift of leaders Milan – after equalling their record of goals scored against Roma in a Serie A match, having also routed the capital club 4-0 in 1980 and 1971.

Gennaro Gattuso also earned his 50th career victory as a head coach, while becoming the first Napoli boss to win his first two Serie a encounters against Roma.

Napoli had earlier announced they and shirt manufacturers Kappa had been working on a Maradona-themed shirt for a year, in the hope the man who has remained an iconic figure in Naples would be able to see it.

That was not to be, but Napoli said the shirt would "have an even greater significance than initially intended".

The Roma game was Napoli's second fixture since Maradona's death. On Thursday, their players took to the pitch in jerseys emblazoned with Maradona's name and shirt number before beating Rijeka 2-0 in the Europa League.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis indicated in the wake of Maradona's death that the Stadio San Paolo would be renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Napoli will on Sunday unveil a new fourth kit that pays tribute to Diego Maradona, four days on from the club legend's death.

Maradona, one of football's all-time greats, died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Although coach of Argentinian side Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata at the time of his death, Maradona was more renowned for his remarkable playing career, during which he inspired his country to 1986 World Cup success and also played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla.

But it was his time in Naples that is remembered as his prime, as he helped them to two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup crown.

Napoli's current team all took to the pitch in jerseys emblazoned with Maradona's name and iconic number 10 on the back before Thursday's 2-0 Europa League win over Rijeka at Stadio San Paolo, which is set to be renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

The club's tributes to their greatest ever player do not stop there, as they confirmed on Sunday that a new strip inspired by Maradona and Argentina – which was conceived last year – is set to be revealed and worn against Roma later in the day.

A statement read: "A year ago, together with Kappa, we thought of designing a special jersey that echoes Diego Maradona, his beloved Argentina and the close-knit bond with the people of Naples.

"Our hope was that Diego would be able to see it, perhaps even wear it and share in our excitement about it.

"It was agreed that the new kit would be unveiled on matchday nine of the Serie A campaign, during the match between SSC Napoli and Roma.

"The jersey that the players will don tonight will have an even greater significance than initially intended."

Napoli have not provided any further detail regarding the kit's aesthetics, however graphics accompanying their statement showed prominent blue-and-white stripes, as famously worn by Argentina.

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata won their first match since the death of head coach and football legend Diego Maradona.

Argentina and Napoli great Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Maradona was buried in a private funeral at the Jardines de Bella Vista cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires after thousands gathered on the streets of the capital to mourn the 1986 World Cup winner on Thursday.

Gimnasia were the first team Maradona had led in his homeland since the mid-1990s after taking charge of the Liga Profesional club last year.

On Saturday, Gimnasia defeated Velez Sarsfield 1-0 away from home on an emotional night.

Maximiliano Coronel's 22nd-minute goal settled the contest in Buenos Aires, where Gimnasia ended a three-match winless streak.

With the victory, Gimnasia surpassed Velez atop Group Six on goal difference through five matchdays.

The win came after Maradona's coaching staff resigned following his death.

Sebastian Mendez – Maradona's assistant coach – had taken over on an interim basis after the former Barcelona attacker was hospitalised earlier this month.

Maradona was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago following brain surgery, having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma after being admitted to hospital due to concerns over anaemia and dehydration.

The captain and inspiration behind Argentina's World Cup success in 1986 before going on to coach his country at the 2010 showpiece, Maradona had been hospitalised just days after turning 60.

Maradona – who also had stints in charge of Textil Mandiyu, Racing Club, Al-Wasl, Fujairah and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico – appeared in a fragile state when he briefly made an appearance as his Gimnasia side played a match on the evening of his birthday last month.

"Club Esgrima y La Plata announces with great regret that the coaching staff that accompanied Diego Armando Maradona has decided to resign from their respective positions, irrevocably," a statement read.

"This is a decision that our club understands and one that demonstrates the human quality of the entire work group that Diego Maradona had formed, and that had been developing their work so well.

"The 'Tripero' people thanks you with all their hearts for the work done, the effort and the commitment shown.

"Diego Maradona's era and his work team are already an important part of the history of our club. Diego left as one more 'Tripero', as did all of you."

Play was stopped in the 10th minute of the Serie A clash between Benevento and Juventus as players and coaching staff from both teams paid tribute to Diego Maradona. 

Argentina great Maradona, who lit up the Italian top flight during seven seasons with Napoli, died of natural causes at the age of 60 on Wednesday. 

Tributes have been paid across the sporting world this week, with a minute's silence being held ahead of each Serie A game, during which players will wear black armbands. 

An image of Maradona is also being shown on stadium screens in the 10th minute of each fixture, marking the shirt number he wore, along with a "Ciao Diego" message.

Benevento and Juve players, including Argentina international Paulo Dybala, went a step further with their tributes as play came to a standstill on Saturday for those present to applaud arguably the greatest ever footballer. 

Maradona led Napoli to league titles in 1987 and 1990 and the club plan to rename their San Paolo home in his honour.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists Diego Maradona's off-pitch controversies should not take away from fans remembering a man who became a "symbol" of the game.

Maradona passed away aged 60 on Wednesday, with reports suggesting he died from a heart attack.

The Argentina great – a star for Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli during an illustrious playing career – had undergone a brain operation earlier this month.

Ibrahimovic joined in paying tribute to Maradona following the news of his death, writing in a post on his official Instagram account: "Maradona is not dead he is immortal. God gave the world the best gifted football player of all times [sic]. He will live forever and ever."

Maradona had well-documented issues off the field, but Ibrahimovic is adamant he will be remembered for his achievements on it.

"I'm so sorry, because for me Maradona is more than football," Milan's talisman told Sky Italia.

"He has become a religion for many and I was lucky enough to know him and talk to him.

"He is a symbol of what he has done on the pitch. I always judge him for what he did on the pitch; what he did outside, in my opinion, is his problem and not ours. 

"We must remember him for what he did as a footballer and in my opinion, he will be remembered forever. When you see number 10, who do you think about? Maradona. 

"It is a symbol, even today there are those who choose that number for him."

Ibrahimovic believes Maradona – whose death has resulted in a three-day period of mourning in Argentina – "did everything with his heart", something which sets him apart as a unique talent.

"As a person, he did everything with his heart, there were no other motives or thoughts. I don't know if that's the right thing, but that's why the whole world loved him," Ibrahimovic said.

"He was always himself. In today's football, everyone tries to be perfect, but to grow and learn you have to make mistakes. 

"Maradona always did everything with his heart and will always remain number one."

New Zealand presented a signed All Blacks jersey with Diego Maradona's name on the back before Saturday's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina.

Skipper Sam Cane laid the shirt, which bore the number 10, in the middle of the pitch before the hosts' traditional haka ahead of the match in Newcastle.

It was a touching tribute following the Argentinian legend's death on Wednesday at the age of 60.

Maradona attended numerous Pumas matches and was in England to follow the team's fortunes at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

His passing marked a three-day period of mourning in his home country, where Maradona was held in the highest esteem.

Tributes have poured in from the world of sport and beyond, with many insisting Maradona – who inspired Argentina to glory at the 1986 World Cup – was the greatest player of all time.

Frank Lampard described the late Diego Maradona as a "footballing god" as he revealed the Argentina legend made him fall in love with the sport.

Albiceleste and Napoli great Maradona died this week, aged 60.

Argentina entered three days of mourning, while the city of Naples had a similar response to the passing of one of the greatest footballers of all time.

His death has also prompted tributes from further afield, including reverence from other big names in the game.

Chelsea coach Lampard discussed his feelings towards Maradona prior to this weekend's game against Tottenham, adding he had forgiven the controversial 'Hand of God' goal that helped eliminate England from the 1986 World Cup.

"Diego Maradona was my idol growing up," Lampard told reporters. "I was born into a football family, but he was the player on the world stage who made me fall in love with the game.

"I wasn't even put off by the 'Hand of God'. I was as an England fan, but I got over it as I grew up.

"I was fortunate enough to meet him briefly; he was a footballing god. It is very sad he's not with us."

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