Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni claimed Lautaro Martinez and Paulo Dybala are the future of the national team ahead of Wednesday’s friendly with Germany.

Scaloni confirmed his starting lineup for the international in Dortmund and named the pair to start up front in the absence of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and a host of players from River Plate and Bocas Juniors, who have been withdrawn due to Copa Libertadores commitments later this month. 

The 41-year-old is looking to integrate fresh names into the team ahead of back-to-back Copa America’s and the start of 2022 World Cup qualifying next year.

In-form Martinez and Dybala both scored in Sunday’s top-of-the-table Derby D’Italia as Juventus defeated Inter Milan 2-1, and Scaloni is excited to seeing the pair link-up for their country.

"I think they will be called up to the Argentina National Team for many years and in this change and re-structuring, they are the ones who should hold the flag up high," he told reporters. "They are good friends and more importantly the future of this shirt. Last Sunday’s game was very good and we hope they play well together (on Wednesday).

"They (Germany) have great players that are out due to injury but we do as well and they are just as important as their players. It’s a challenge and many of them who will go out tomorrow will find out if they are capable of playing.

"I believe this is the last step in finalising our squad and seeing who we have.”

Argentina’s friendly with Germany is the first of two European-based friendlies for La Albiceleste with a fixture to come against Ecuador at the Elche’s Martinez Valero Stadium on Sunday.

Paulo Dybala is delighted to be part of a vibrant Juventus attack under Maurizio Sarri after it looked like he could be on his way out of the club.

Dybala starred in Sunday's 2-1 win over Inter at San Siro, opening the scoring as the reigning champions returned to a familiar position at the top of Serie A.

It appeared unlikely that the Argentina forward would have such a prominent role after a close season when he was linked to Manchester United, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

"I have not experienced an easy summer," the 25-year-old told Tuttosport. "Obviously hearing your name with every team you don't want to go to is not a nice thing, but this is football.

"Before the market started I had already done an interview in which I said I wanted to stay in Turin, then I never spoke again, not even at the Copa America. 

"I think it's more important to talk on the field, with facts. You never know how the market goes until the last day, but I wanted to stay here, I wanted to continue my career at Juventus. 

"I think I can still give so much to this shirt and I'm very happy with what I showed against Inter."

Dybala lined up alongside Cristiano Ronaldo up front in the Derby d'Italia, with Federico Bernardeschi behind them at the tip of a midfield diamond – a role that has also been filled by Aaron Ramsey during recent outings.

Gonzalo Higuain then came off the bench to score the winner and Dybala reported life is good under Sarri for Juve's assortment of attackers – arguably more so than under Massimiliano Allegri.

"They are different as a way of playing and you can already see that," he added.

"With Allegri we have done many things, but I think Sarri is a little more offensive and you can already see that he plays more [offensively] than Allegri's idea.

"To prove it [can be successful], we have to wait for what will happen. With Sarri it is so offensive, so it's easier for us attackers."

Gonzalo Higuain sent Juventus top of Serie A - and handed Antonio Conte his first league defeat as Inter boss - as the reigning champions secured a 2-1 victory at San Siro.

Higuain started on the bench but the experienced striker once more came up with the goods for Maurizio Sarri, who he has played under at Napoli and Chelsea, guiding home the winner 10 minutes from time.

Paulo Dybala was deployed in the first XI at his compatriot's expense and took just four minutes to break the Derby d'Italia deadlock, but Lautaro Martinez equalised from the penalty spot after a handball by Matthijs de Ligt.

Although Inter rattled the post through a deflected Matias Vecino shot, a sweeping Juve move ended with Rodrigo Bentancur teeing up fellow replacement Higuain to ensure the Bianconeri remain the only unbeaten side in Italy's top tier.

Maurizio Sarri is reluctant to commit to the idea of starting with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala in the same Juventus line-up as he fears upsetting the balance of the team.

Juve were in cruise control in Tuesday's Champions League Group D encounter against Bayer Leverkusen as Higuain and Ronaldo goals sandwiched Federico Bernardeschi's effort in a 3-0 win at Allianz Stadium.

The goalscoring trio lined up alongside one another in Juve's attacking triumvirate, while Dybala replaced Higuain in the 83rd minute and teed up Ronaldo for his goal.

However, while the idea of Ronaldo, Higuain and Dybala in a front three is an exciting one, head coach Sarri is erring on the side of caution.

"If I am sitting in a bar, it seems like a good idea to me too. If I am on the bench, then I have to take the balance of the side into consideration," he told Sky Sport Italia in quotes translated by Football Italia.

"If the team in future finds a great deal of balance, then we can try it, but right now that seems premature."

Bernardeschi staked his own claim for regular starts with an impressive performance against Leverkusen and his efforts in training have caught Sarri's eye.

"I liked the way Bernardeschi trained over the last few days, Aaron Ramsey needed a rest, and we knew his pace would be of use," he added.

"It was difficult, as Bayer love possession and they are not easy to face, so they took a lot of energy out of us in the first half. After the break, they slowed down a little and we took control."

Opposing boss Peter Bosz conceded Juve were good value for the win, but felt the game swung on a poor headed clearance by Jonathan Tah from which Higuain brilliantly controlled and rifled home the opener.

"We had a clear defeat. We did well in the first half but we were not able to create chances and made the mistake that led us to the goal," he said. 

"It is the difference between those who have experience in the Champions League and those who are building [in] it.

"This is the demonstration of challenging a team like Juventus."

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri is reluctant to start Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain in a star-studded front line.

Higuain looked set to leave Juve in the close-season but, having worked under Sarri at both Napoli and Chelsea, the 31-year-old has been given a prime role in the squad so far this term.

The striker has featured in five of Juve's six Serie A games this season, making four starts, though he has only managed one goal – scoring in a 4-3 win over his and Sarri's former club Napoli in August.

Ronaldo and Dybala were preferred for Saturday's meeting with SPAL, with the latter teeing up his strike partner for a late goal in a routine 2-0 victory.

However, the duo had struggled to link up to much effect before Ronaldo's headed effort, Dybala having picked out his team-mate only once in the first half as Juve failed to make their dominance count for more than Miralem Pjanic's stunner.

Despite his side having displayed some wasteful finishing in recent weeks, Sarri has no plans to throw his three star forwards onto the pitch from the start of games just yet.

"Playing Cristiano, Dybala and Higuain all together from the start is an interesting suggestion," Sarri told a news conference ahead of Juve's Champions League match with Bayer Leverkusen.

"But we are not yet ready for the level of balance required. For now we could only try this solution for parts of the match.

"It's a fascinating hypothesis but you have to see everything. For those watching it is beautiful, [but] we must evaluate everything."

Complicating matters further for Sarri has been the introduction of Aaron Ramsey, who has recovered from the injury that saw him miss a chunk of his final season at Arsenal.

Having made his bow as a substitute in Juve's opening Champions League fixture against Atletico Madrid, Ramsey has started the last three Serie A games, marking his full debut with a goal in the 2-1 victory over Hellas Verona.

The speed at which Ramsey has overcome his injury problems has surprised Sarri, though Juve's boss sees plenty of potential for improvement from the Wales international.

"Ramsey has surprised me in his recovery from injury, and he was included very quickly in the team," Sarri added.

"I believe, however, he still has a lot of room to improve. I see a great level of application during training, which gives me hope.

"In the last two games, the ease of dribbling has increased. Now we need to speed it up and improve our scoring."

Cristiano Ronaldo is fit to face SPAL after an adductor injury and could be played in tandem with Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, according to coach Maurizio Sarri.

Ronaldo missed Tuesday's slender 2-1 win at Brescia due to the injury, having scored the winner from the spot three days earlier against Hellas Verona.

Higuain and Dybala led the line in Ronaldo's absence, and Sarri could resist dropping one of them in order to fit last season's top-scorer back into the starting XI.

He sees no problem in playing all three together, with Juve yet to win by more than one goal across all competitions this term.

"Yes, Ronaldo can play and he can coexist with Higuain and Dybala," Sarri told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

"Higuain is a guy with great technical skill, Dybala is technically super fine and Ronaldo is a champion.

"I think they can therefore coexist in pairs and in certain phases of the game even in a three."

Adrien Rabiot made his first start for Juve in the win over Brescia and Sarri's post-match comments were interpreted as criticism by some, with the coach suggesting he expects more from the Frenchman.

But Sarri insists he was not being critical of the 24-year-old, rather realistic having not featured in a competitive match since December last year.

When asked if he was unsatisfied by Rabiot's display, Sarri hit back: "I didn't say that.

"Surely he can do much more. In 2019, Rabiot has never played, so we need to be patient without expecting everything right away.

"He has good qualities, even in physical terms. He has good strength and is technically strong. He must be supported and must get used to our football."

Maurizio Sarri admitted Juventus must improve defensively despite the champions moving to the top of Serie A with victory over Brescia.

Juve came from behind to win 2-1 at newly promoted Brescia on Tuesday as they climbed above rivals Inter, who have played a game less, at the summit.

Alfredo Donnarumma had given Brescia an early lead before a Jhon Chancellor own goal and superb striker from Miralem Pjanic transformed the contest on what was Mario Balotelli's debut for Juve's opponents.

Juve achieved the result without superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who was left out as a precautionary measure with an adductor problem.

While there were plenty of positives for Sarri to take, the former Chelsea head coach conceded there remains work to be done, particularly in a defence which has now conceded five times in their opening five league matches.

"We improved our passing with the 4-3-1-2 formation played," Sarri told DAZN. "I saw some steps forward in the chances created.

"We need to improve the defence. Which formation will we use? We can use both solutions. We struggle with offensive wingers at this time while we have a lot of quality midfielders so it seemed obvious to try this formation.

"Then, if a month from now the wingers find their form, we can evaluate the options, but the team must be prepared with both formations."

Asked about the performances of defender Matthijs de Ligt, a €75million close-season arrival, Sarri added: "He's improving a lot, he needs time."

Sarri was impressed with the performance of out-of-favour attacker Paulo Dybala, who played a part in both goals for his team 

"Dybala had a good match both offensively and defensively," Sarri said. "He was excellent with quick passes and he left the pitch hurting. We hope he can recuperate for the next game [SPAL on Saturday]."

If losing your manager was bad enough, imagine losing your star defender?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and centre-back Virgil van Dijk are attracting some serious interest from across Europe.

Now, LaLiga's powerhouse duo are reportedly eyeing the Reds pair.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID WANT KLOPP AND VAN DIJK

According to AS, LaLiga champions Barcelona and rivals Real Madrid are set to go head-to-head to try to prise Klopp and Van Dijk from Liverpool.

Klopp and Van Dijk helped lead Liverpool to Champions League glory last season, while the Reds are challenging for Premier League honours this term having narrowly missed out to Manchester City in 2018-19.

With Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde and Madrid counterpart Zinedine Zidane under some early pressure in Spain, Klopp and Van Dijk are reportedly "two priorities" for both clubs.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid have the budget to sign Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season, reports AS. Madrid's financial accounts have been revealed, with €156million in liquid assets at their disposal, as well as €285m in credit. Los Blancos are reportedly planning to persuade the France forward, who is contracted until 2022, not to re-sign in the French capital in an effort to force the club's hand.

Lionel Messi to MLS? There has been talk about Messi and David Beckham's incoming franchise Inter Miami following a report claiming a delegation had been sent out to open negotiations for the Barcelona captain. However, Goal says Messi has had no contact with Beckham's Miami.

Manchester United are trying everything to re-sign star goalkeeper David de Gea. According to the Times, United have offered De Gea a new contract with no wage drop if the Red Devils do not qualify for the Champions League. The Spain international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, reportedly has a four-year deal on the table worth £13.5m a season.

- Staying at Old Trafford, and Record and O Jogo both report United are back in for Benfica star Ruben Dias. The 22-year-old defender was linked to the Manchester club before the transfer window closed. Now reports claim a United official was in attendance for Benfica's 2-0 win over Gil Vicente.

Inter are hoping to sign Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund, according to Calciomercato.com. Gotze's contract expires at the end of the season and Antonio Conte's Inter are eyeing the Germany attacker on a free transfer.

- Velez Sarsfield's Thiago Almada is still on the radar of Manchester City, says Record. City had a bid rejected during the transfer window but Pep Guardiola's side remain keen on the 18-year-old.

Christian Eriksen – the name that will not go away, even with the transfer window closed.

Eriksen wanted to leave Tottenham for a new challenge as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Inter reportedly circled.

A move did not materialise, much to his disappointment, but a transfer could be on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID LOOK TO ERIKSEN AMID POGBA DOUBTS

Sky Sports News claims Real Madrid will make a move for Tottenham star Christian Eriksen at the end of the season if Paul Pogba extends his Manchester United deal.

Zinedine Zidane has made no secret of his desire to reinforce his midfield, with Tottenham's Eriksen, Pogba and Ajax sensation Donny van de Beek linked to the Santiago Bernabeu.

While Los Blancos remain keen on Pogba, they are eyeing a move for Eriksen – whose contract expires at the end of the campaign.

 

ROUND-UP:

- According to Tuttosport, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham are set to go head-to-head for Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala in January. Both clubs were reportedly interested in signing Dybala prior to the transfer deadline, and with Dybala set to struggle for regular game time PSG and Spurs are poised to fight it out.

- Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is close to finally signing a new £290,000-a-week contract at Old Trafford, claims The Guardian.

Inter are keeping tabs on Borussia Dortmund attacker Mario Gotze, says Welt. Gotze is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations over a new deal are reportedly not progressing.

- The Serie A side, meanwhile, will not sell star defender Milan Skriniar in January. That is according to Tuttosport amid growing speculation Manchester City are targeting the Inter centre-back.

- According to Sky Sports News, Wolves are still interested in signing AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie. Wolves tried to prise Kessie from Milan before the transfer window shut, but the 22-year-old knocked back the move.

Arsenal could make another attempt to sign Belgium international Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, reports The Sun. The Gunners have long been linked with Carrasco and Dalian's supposed interest in Napoli star Dries Mertens could make a deal possible.

Virgil van Dijk is set to remain with Liverpool until the end of 2025.

Netherlands international Van Dijk, 28, headed to Anfield from Southampton for a reported £75million in January 2018, signing a deal until 2023.

But the superstar centre-back is rumoured to be ready to recommit to the reigning European champions.

 

TOP STORY – VAN DIJK AGREES SIX-YEAR LIVERPOOL DEAL

Van Dijk has agreed a new contract with Liverpool, according to the Mirror.

The defender will earn close to £200,000 per week with his new deal, up from his current £125,000 per week wages, the report says.

It comes just a month after Van Dijk lost his title as the world's most expensive defender when Manchester United signed Harry Maguire from Leicester City for a reported £80m.

ROUND-UP

- David de Gea could be set to leave Manchester United. Coming out of contract at the end of the season, the goalkeeper has told friends he is willing to turn down a deal from the Premier League club, according to The Sun. The Express reports Serie A giants Juventus want to sign De Gea on a free transfer at the end of the season.

- Paulo Dybala almost left Juventus in the close season and the playmaker is set to be at the centre of talk again in January. Paris Saint-Germain want to beat Tottenham to the signing of Dybala when the transfer window reopens, according to the Express.

- Edwin van der Sar could be set for a return to Old Trafford. The Mirror reports the former Netherlands goalkeeper and Ajax chief executive is on Manchester United's list as they search for a director of football.

- Staying at Old Trafford, Manchester United's stars are happy Alexis Sanchez has left on loan to Inter, according to The Sun.

- After the emergence of 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati, Barcelona have set up a plan to look after the teenager. Sport reports the LaLiga champions consider Fati a first-team player and want to protect him as he gains plenty of attention.

Maurizio Sarri could return to the dugout ahead of schedule when Juventus host his former employers Napoli on Saturday.

The ex-Chelsea boss skipped last weekend's season-opening win at Parma after being diagnosed with pneumonia earlier this month.

Juve gave Sarri until after the international break to recuperate but his assistant, Giovanni Martusciello, claimed the 60-year-old is keen to get back to work before his squad disassembles.

"He is good. Sarri has always been present at the club even without directing training," Martusciello told reporters on Friday.

"We have the final training session in the afternoon and then we will see if he is able to make it tomorrow.

"I would like him to be on the bench because he is the Juventus coach and it is right that he participates in this occasion.

"If he does not make it we will certainly find a solution accordingly."

Sarri coached Napoli for three seasons, guiding the club to two second-place finishes behind the Bianconeri.

One of his stars at Stadio San Paolo, Gonzalo Higuain, has been given the chance to resurrect his Juve career this season and started the 1-0 defeat of Parma.

The striker's inclusion came at the expense of Paolo Dybala, the subject of persistent transfer speculation throughout the transfer window.

Martusciello admitted the Argentina international was frustrated by his omission but insisted his attitude is not in question.

"Dybala is an extraordinary player," he said.

"He is focused despite all the talk. He is very motivated and a level-headed person. Not playing from the beginning upset him but it is part of the rules to be respected: you play with 11 and we have a squad of 27.

"They are all of an equal level except for Ronaldo, so you have to make specific choices. We are happy to have selection problems."

Some major European clubs have only a week left to add to their squads with the transfer window for much of the continent set to close on September 2.

Lots of big moves have already been completed with players including Eden Hazard, Joao Felix, Antoine Griezmann, Nicolas Pepe and Harry Maguire swapping teams for huge fees.

But the last week of the window tends to be when clubs kick into gear, with one super-sized deal potentially setting off a chain reaction.

Who are the stars still in the middle of transfer sagas? Omnisport picks out a few names to keep an eye on in the coming days.


ALEXIS SANCHEZ

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have decided there is no place in his Manchester United squad for Sanchez, who is being strongly linked with a loan move to Inter. That would see him reunite with another player who found himself on the fringes at Old Trafford in Romelu Lukaku, who has reportedly been encouraging the Chile international to join him at San Siro. Sanchez's wages – said to be as high as £500,000 a week – are likely to pose a problem for any deal, though.

NEYMAR

Injuries to Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe have complicated matters for Paris Saint-Germain's wantaway superstar Neymar. A return to Barcelona has been mooted for the 27-year-old, who left Camp Nou in 2017 for a world record €222million, but the Catalans have reportedly seen a number of cash-plus-players offers rejected. LaLiga rivals Real Madrid have long been linked with Neymar too, though their capture of Hazard means they have already added one world-class talent who prefers to operate from the left flank. It has been suggested a loan move might now be the Brazilian's best chance of securing the departure from PSG that sporting director Leonardo has confirmed he wants.

PAUL POGBA

Pogba was United's top scorer in the Premier League last term but his season ended with a confrontation with supporters after the final game of the campaign, a home loss to Cardiff City. The Frenchman confirmed in June he was seeking a "new challenge" but is yet to get a move away. Pogba, who was targeted by racist abuse after failing to convert a penalty in a draw at Wolves last Monday, is reportedly wanted at Madrid by Zinedine Zidane. But time is running out to do that deal, especially as United are unable to secure a replacement as the Premier League's window has already closed.


CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

Mauricio Pochettino has only started Eriksen in one of Tottenham's three Premier League games this term amid continued speculation over his future. Like Pogba, Eriksen is on record as saying he wants to move on, but his position is even more perilous for Spurs as the Denmark midfielder is in the final year of his contract. Chairman Daniel Levy is known for his brinksmanship, so this deal could go right down to the wire. Eriksen is believed to be Madrid's back-up option should they fail to land Pogba.


PAULO DYBALA

One of the players in the Neymar chain is Dybala, who was an unused substitute as Juventus started their Serie A title defence with a 1-0 win at Parma on Saturday. Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival in Turin last year was always likely to be bad news for someone – and it was Dybala who suffered the most. The Argentina attacker is still regarded as one of world football's brightest lights, but at 25 he cannot afford another season on the periphery. Tottenham almost signed Dybala but the deal was understood to have collapsed amid problems with his image rights, while United reportedly pulled out over his wage demands. Should Neymar leave Paris, Dybala is said to be top of PSG's list and, with Juve needing to cut a bloated squad, he would likely be allowed to leave if the price was right.


LUKA JOVIC

Madrid also have too many players and, despite the Serbia striker only recently joining from Eintracht Frankfurt, Jovic may be allowed to leave - even if his departure is a loan move. Jovic's goals were instrumental in Eintracht's run to the Europa League semi-finals but Zidane is seemingly not a fan of the 21-year-old. Jovic has said he will not be leaving but, if the right club comes in, Madrid could be persuaded to let him go.


GARETH BALE

The relationship between Zidane and Bale seemed to be beyond repair, especially as the Madrid coach said during a pre-season tour that it would be best if the Wales star left the club. But after a move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning fell through, Bale has been reintegrated at the Santiago Bernabeu and has started their two LaLiga games this season. It is not out of the question that Bale could still leave in the next week, but his future seems to be in the Spanish capital - at least for now.


JAMES RODRIGUEZ

Similarly to Bale, James has been selected by Zidane in the new LaLiga season after apparently being outcast at Madrid. The Colombia playmaker spent the past two years on loan with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and was strongly being linked with a move to Atletico Madrid before Diego Simeone's side thrashed their cross-city rivals 7-3 in a pre-season game in the United States. Carlo Ancelotti - who coached the 28-year-old at Madrid and Bayern - has also confirmed James is a target for Napoli, but the Serie A side have been unable to make that deal happen. A calf injury sustained on Saturday could also throw a spanner in the works for James.

Paulo Dybala's agent insists he is not to blame for the collapse of the Argentina forward's proposed move to Manchester United.

The Juventus star looked to be close to an exit this month as the Old Lady attempted to prise Romelu Lukaku away from United, reportedly offering Dybala as part of the deal.

While a breakthrough initially appeared possible, media reports began to shed light on various apparent issues in the negotiations.

Uncertainty over Dybala's image rights was one reported stumbling block, while it was also claimed his agent – Jorge Antun – had demanded an exorbitant €15million commission to get the deal over the line.

Ultimately United and Juve failed reach an agreement and Lukaku joined Inter, but Antun insists the breakdown in discussions was not because of him.

"Yes, I talked to the English club," Antun told Tuttosport. "But the commission stories are untrue. There were just issues between the clubs."

Rumours of Dybala leaving have been prominent ever since Maurizio Sarri's appointment as Juve's head coach, with the former Napoli boss reportedly viewing him as expendable due to tactical reasons, claims backed up by him being an unused substitute in Saturday's 1-0 win at Parma.

The latest club to emerge as a potential destination is Paris Saint-Germain and, although Antun accepts things can change very quickly, he claims he is not preparing for any imminent talks in the French capital.

"No, I don't have any plans [to go to Paris]," he said. "Paulo must enjoy the moment with Juventus. What will happen in the future, I don't know."

Juventus assistant Giovanni Martusciello said Maurizio Sarri was "very happy" with Saturday's win over Parma after speaking to the absent head coach before, during and after the Serie A opener.

Sarri was not in the dugout as eight-time reigning Serie A champions Juventus kicked off their title defence with a 1-0 victory at Parma thanks to Giorgio Chiellini.

Martusciello took charge of the match as Sarri recovers from pneumonia – the former Chelsea boss also set to miss the clash against Napoli.

After the match, Martusciello told reporters: "We spoke to Sarri many times in the morning.

"Clearly for him it's quite difficult to stay away from the team and therefore he wanted to know whatever was happening, the conditions of the lads, how they were living the beginning of the league.

"And we also spoke to him before the game, during the break and at the end of the game. He was very happy for the result, but a bit angry as well because he is a perfectionist.

"When something doesn't go in the direction he wants, clearly he gets a bit angry. He was happy of what the lads did in the first half and above all he was super happy of how the team dealt with the moment of suffering in the game.

"I mean that when Parma played more aggressively, and we were struggling physically, the team resisted among the difficulties and that's not a trait of many teams."

Gonzalo Higuain started for Juve against Parma, with reported Paris Saint-Germain target Paulo Dybala named on the bench.

Higuain – whose Juve future looked bleak following unsuccessful loan spells at AC Milan and Chelsea in 2018-19 – played 83 minutes, while Dybala was an unused substitute.

"Let's say that we made a clear consideration: to avoid putting players - in this context, first game against a very well organised team like Parma - to put players where they were used to play, in their usual roles," Martusciello said. "The choice about Higuain and Dybala goes in that direction.

"This aspect, a player that is born as a central striker, and so we went in that direction. That doesn't mean that in the future Dybala won't be the central striker. Here we have to deal with many top players, we have to make choices and those choices are part of the coach's job and we have to put 11 on the pitch. But today's choice was only inspired by a 'solidity of habits'."

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