Juventus trio Arthur, Paulo Dybala and Weston McKennie have been left out by head coach Andrea Pirlo as punishment for their breach of coronavirus protocols.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reported that police were called to McKennie's home late on Wednesday to break up a social gathering, with such events forbidden under current social restrictions.

Arthur and Dybala were among those to attend, despite a nationwide curfew put in place amid the global health pandemic.

Ahead of Saturday's derby with Torino, Pirlo confirmed the three players would not be involved – and did not make it clear exactly when they will be considered again for first-team action.

"The three players involved in the episode are not called up for tomorrow's match and we will see when they will resume," the Juve boss told the media on Friday. "Having said that, let's talk about the derby.

"I took the decision not to call them, the club did the rest. This certainly wasn't the right time to have a dinner until late, both because it was two days away from a match and out of respect for those who respect the rules."

For Dybala, it is the latest setback in a difficult season. The forward has featured in just 11 Serie A games in 2020-21 and has been sidelined since the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Porto through injury.

The Argentina international issued an apology via Instagram on Friday having attended the gathering with his colleagues, adding: "I know that in such a difficult moment for the world with COVID it would've been better not to make a mistake, but I was wrong to stay out to dinner."

Pirlo is also without defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral after both tested positive for coronavirus during the international break.

It is hardly ideal for the reigning league champions as they desperately look to stay in the title race; Juve suffered a shock 1-0 home loss to Benevento last time out and trail leaders Inter by 10 points.

"Tomorrow is very important, we will speak to each other before the match in order to face it in the best possible way. The approach doesn't change, you play to win, always," Pirlo said.

"After defeats you have to get up and react as best you can. We are ready to do that, we will show great pride, we have champions and a great group who want to react."

Pirlo will have Alex Sandro available after he returned to training without any issues, while Danilo offers an option for Juve in either defence or midfield.

Torino have won only one of their past 29 Serie A derbies between the sides, though they too are in need of points as they sit precariously placed in 17th, just above the relegation zone.

Juve are unbeaten in their past 33 league fixtures against teams starting the matchday in the bottom four (W29 D4), their last defeat against such opposition coming back in May 2016 against Verona.

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has apologised for breaking coronavirus protocols by attending a get-together with a couple of his team-mates.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reported on Thursday that police were called to the house of Weston McKennie late on Wednesday to break up a party attended by up to 20 people.

Arthur is also alleged to have been in the Turin property and all three players are said to be facing large fines, and possibly a suspension, for attending the lockdown gathering.

Juventus have yet to officially comment on the reports, but Dybala took to Instagram on Thursday to confirm he was present.

"I know that in such a difficult moment for the world with COVID it would've been better not to make a mistake, but I was wrong to stay out to dinner," he said.

"It wasn't a party, but I was wrong anyway and I apologise."

Juventus announced earlier on Thursday that Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral have tested positive for COVID-19.

Andrea Pirlo wants Juventus to put the pressure on Inter as they aim to close the gap between themselves and the Serie A leaders this weekend.  

With a coronavirus outbreak at Inter forcing their game against Sassuolo to be postponed, Juve can move within seven points of the Nerazzurri with a home win over Benevento on Sunday - their final game before the international break.  

The reigning champions – who are looking to win the Scudetto for a 10th successive season – have won their last seven league games at the Allianz Stadium too, scoring at least two goals in each of those matches while conceding just three times.  

While they do have the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta to come later in the season, Juve's surprise Champions League exit to Porto in the last 16 leaves them with time to focus fully on league duties.  

"It's our duty to put pressure on Inter and we have to do it match after match, starting tomorrow," Pirlo told the media on Saturday.

"Our only goal now is to win as many points as possible, in order to put pressure on Inter and to make it all to play for in our game against them.

"I've spoken to the team, let's see where we are after each match, thinking towards the future. We must try to win as many games as we can.

"It will not only depend on us, but we must believe that we can always win. We are aware and convinced."

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.

Cristiano Ronaldo is more likely to return to Manchester United than Real Madrid, while Chelsea are desperate to land Erling Haaland.

Ronaldo, 36, is out of contract at Juventus in 2022 and his future has again become a talking point.

Two of his former clubs, United and Madrid, have been linked with the Portugal star.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD RETURN MORE LIKELY THAN MADRID FOR RONALDO

A return to Manchester United is more likely than Real Madrid for Juventus star Ronaldo, according to Tuttosport.

The report says Madrid president Florentino Perez has not opened the door for a Ronaldo return, due to the club's interest in Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Ronaldo starred at United between 2003 and 2009 before shining in Madrid for nine seasons.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea look desperate to land Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. The Daily Star reports Chelsea are prepared to again do business with Haaland's agent, Mino Raiola, in a bid to sign the forward. Chelsea fell out with Raiola after Romelu Lukaku joined Manchester United over them in 2017.

- Could Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann be set to swap places? CalcioMercato reports there is an idea for Dybala to leave Juventus and join Barcelona, with Griezmann heading to Turin.

- Liverpool seem set to strengthen ahead of next season. Eurosport reports the Premier League champions are thinking about a move for Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge.

- Manchester United have reportedly received a transfer boost. The Sun reports Sevilla have lowered their asking price for defender Jules Kounde to around £50million (€58.4m).

Paulo Dybala is not at risk of surgery and Juventus are exploring options to get him back on the pitch as soon as possible, says head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Argentina forward Dybala sustained a knee injury in Juve's 3-1 win over Sassuolo on January 10 and was only expected to miss around two to three weeks.

Having now missed a more substantial period of time, Dybala was reportedly in Barcelona this week to get a second opinion on the issue.

An injury-hit campaign has restricted Dybala to just 16 appearances in all competitions for Juve this term, but Pirlo – who also said striker Alvaro Morata, contending with a virus, needs to rest until Sunday – said surgery is not being considered at this time.

"Alvaro Morata needs to rest until Sunday. As for Paulo Dybala, we will look for the best solution to get him back as soon as possible," Pirlo told a news conference previewing Saturday's Serie A contest with Hellas Verona.

"[Dybala] is not at risk of surgery. We will evaluate the fastest treatment to get him back into the group as soon as possible.

"He had a consultation and now we see what the best treatment can be. Unfortunately, the times have lengthened, and we have not been able to have him available."

Juve's clash with Verona is the first of five in the space of 16 days, including the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Porto, in which they will attempt to overturn a 2-1 deficit.

It is a crucial period for Pirlo's men given they trail leaders Inter by eight points in Serie A, albeit the Nerazzurri have played a game more.

"The Scudetto is one of our objectives and we have a duty to continue trying to achieve it," Pirlo added.

"We know that we have strong teams ahead of us, but we are Juventus and we have to keep fighting.

"There's a lot of matches close together but we will make it a virtue of necessity. We knew from the start that it would be like this. Plus, [there is] the re-arranged game with Napoli. We are in the middle of this cycle of matches; we will have to do our best.

"Only yesterday have we had a full day of training; the other sessions were mostly recovery, which was needed. We worked well, we will apply the finishing touches and [on Saturday] we will try to be great."

Alvaro Morata rates the "incredible" Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best players of all time and intends to tell his children he played alongside the Juventus forward.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in 18 games in his third season with Serie A champions Juve.

Morata returned to the Allianz Stadium from Atletico Madrid on an initial loan deal last September and has chipped in with four goals and five assists in 12 league outings.

The pair also spent time together at Real Madrid and Morata says it is a pleasure linking up with the Portugal captain once again.

"It's easy to play with him," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I've known him for some time. On some occasions when a normal person wouldn't score, he scores. 

"In Parma I gave him an assist that only he could see and understand. I understand his movements and what he likes to do. 

"I often take his men away by moving, and I think it helps him not to always have two or three players around him. It's a pleasure to play with him.

"He is still one of the best in football history. He's great, has incredible quality and he can play wherever he wants, whether it is as a number nine, 10 or 11. 

"I can only enjoy it every day, and I hope to support him for a long time to come.

"It's a pride for me. I grew up watching him and when I got here thinking about playing with him and [Paulo] Dybala thrilled me. 

"They are players of a higher level. We have an excellent relationship even off the pitch. I will tell my children that I played with them."

Juventus travel to second-placed Inter on Sunday aiming to bridge a four-point gap to their opponents, whom they have a game in hand over.

As well as pitting together two Italian giants, it will also be a clash between Serie A's two highest scorers this season - Ronaldo (15) and Romelu Lukaku (12).

The 27 goals the pair have netted between them is more than 12 Serie A clubs have netted in total this season.

Morata is looking forward to coming up against another of his former colleagues in Lukaku and hopes to swap shirts with the prolific striker after the match at San Siro.

"Romelu is one of the best strikers in the world, he is complete," the Spaniard said. "He is also a great person, someone I like to see play. 

"At the end of the match I will ask him for the shirt as a souvenir. We will try to stop him on the field, even if it will be difficult. 

"Lautaro [Martinez] is a more versatile player, but Lukaku does things where you can't stop him."

Sunday's Derby d'Italia clash will be the 175th in Serie A history, with Juve's 84 victories in this fixture the most for a team against a single opponent in the Italian top flight.

Paulo Dybala could be out for almost three weeks after suffering a knee injury against Sassuolo on Sunday, Juventus have confirmed.

The Argentina international was replaced by Dejan Kulusevski in the 43rd minute of Juve's 3-1 Serie A win at the Allianz Stadium.

The club confirmed on Monday he has suffered a "low-grade lesion of the medial collateral ligament" in his left knee and will be out of action for "approximately 15-20 days".

The 27-year-old looks certain to miss the Coppa Italia clash with Genoa on Wednesday, the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli next week and Serie A games versus Inter and Bologna. He could also miss another league game against Sampdoria on January 30.

Juve's only Serie A defeat this season came when Dybala was not in the side. Their win ratio without him is 40 per cent compared to 63.6 per when he features.

When going back to the start of the 2019-20 campaign, Juve have lost as many times in the 10 league games without Dybala (four) as they have in the 44 in which he has taken part – their win percentage sliding from 72.7 to 30 in his absence.

Juve also confirmed Weston McKennie and Federico Chiesa underwent tests on Monday, which revealed neither player is suffering from a serious injury.

Andrea Pirlo claimed his players showed they possess the "Juventus DNA" to keep fighting until the end of games this season.

Juve were far from their best in a scrappy Serie A clash with Sassuolo on Sunday and with nine minutes remaining were drawing 1-1 after Gregoire Defrel cancelled out Danilo's opener.

But late goals from Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the win for the defending champions against a Sassuolo side who played the entire second half with 10 men.

Ramsey has been involved in three goals in his past five Serie A appearances (one goal, two assists) while Ronaldo's strike ensured he has reached at least 15 league goals in his past 15 seasons.

The win helped the Bianconeri notch three consecutive victories in Serie A for the first time since July 2020 as they moved to within seven points of leaders Milan with a game in hand.

"We can improve our quality, we can play better or worse, but the determination is an element that must never be lacking," Pirlo told a post-match media conference.

"It has to be in the Juventus DNA, the determination and desire to push until the last minute.

"It was important for us to give a sense of consistency by winning this evening, otherwise the win at Milan on Wednesday wouldn't mean anything.

"We were a little sluggish at times this evening, but we became a little less organised and more determined, so we showed the hunger required to win the game.

"We are Juventus and therefore have the pressure on us to win every game. We have to face every match as if it's a final, then we'll see where we are closer to the end of the season.

"These games are fascinating to play for everyone, they inevitably raise the concentration levels and the tension too.

"If we don't play every game with the right concentration and determination, we will struggle."

Juve head coach Pirlo also said the club will assess injuries sustained by Paulo Dybala and Weston McKennie.

The pair both limped out in the first half against Sassuolo and are doubts for Juve's midweek Coppa Italia clash with Genoa.

He added: "Dybala had a knock to the collateral ligament on the inside of his knee. We'll evaluate it over the next few days and hope it's nothing serious.

"McKennie already had a slight muscular problem yesterday and he felt it again after the back-heel flick, so he stopped."

Andrea Pirlo hailed the spirit in his Juventus team after they defeated Serie A leaders Milan 3-1 to continue their revival but said he is ignoring results of the teams above them.

The Bianconeri made it three wins from four league matches as Federico Chiesa scored a brace and Weston McKennie netted at San Siro as Milan's 27-match unbeaten run in Serie A was ended.

The result moved Juventus up to fourth in the table, seven points behind Milan with a game in hand, on a night when second-placed Inter lost 2-1 at Sampdoria.

"It was important for us," Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia, reflecting on the result.

"We weren't interested in the results of the teams above us, as we were concentrated on our own progress.

"We'll see in a few months where we are.

"The important thing was this spirit of a team that wants to be in control, especially against the Serie A leaders on their own turf."

Pirlo picked out Chiesa for praise after he took his Juventus goal tally to five since joining on a two-year loan from Fiorentina in October 2020.

The Juve head coach said dynamic attacking performances were the reason they agreed a potential deal to pay Fiorentina up to €50million (£45.3m) for Chiesa when his loan expires.

"We signed him so he could take men on in the final third," said Pirlo, who deployed Chiesa on the right wing behind a front pairing of Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"His position might change, but his role does not."

Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci echoed his coach's call to ignore the results of teams around them, saying his team-mates are focused on Sunday's clash with in-form Sassuolo.

"Our objective is now to beat Sassuolo, that is all," said Bonucci.

"We have to get a run of victories to become more credible and even more of a team."

Copious injuries, late positive COVID-19 tests and a suspension; a highly anticipated clash between Serie A leaders Milan and defending champions Juventus at San Siro on Wednesday threatened to seriously underwhelm.

There was no Alvaro Morata for the Juve, while full-backs Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado were forced to sit out after returning positive coronavirus results.

Milan were without star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and their midfield was decimated by the absences of Sandro Tonali (suspension), Ismael Bennacer (injury) and Rade Krunic (coronavirus). The dire situation forced Stefano Pioli to start right-back Davide Calabria alongside Franck Kessie in the central pivot.

Yet despite the difficulties faced by both teams, a thriller was served up in Milan, and Federico Chiesa took centre stage as Milan's unbeaten streak in Serie A was ended at 27 by a 3-1 loss to Juve.

ACT ONE

The last time Milan held a superior position to Juve heading into a meeting of the sides was in November 2015, and on that occasion the Bianconeri emerged triumphant thanks to a goal from Paulo Dybala.

While the Argentina international, who has been struggling for consistency and dealing with a fever, was not the man to open the scoring on this occasion, he still played a pivotal role.

After drifting across the pitch to offer support to Chiesa, he held up a pass from the winger before returning it by dragging the ball back behind his standing leg and flicking it around Alessio Romagnoli.

It was weighted perfectly for Chiesa's dart into the box, which was not tracked adequately by Theo Hernandez, and he drilled a shot across Gianluigi Donnarumma into the bottom-left corner.

ACT TWO

A thoroughly entertaining first half saw Juve control possession but Milan get more shots away. There were 21 in total during the opening 45 minutes, 12 for the Rossoneri and nine for Juve, a number only two Serie A games this season have exceeded (Sassuolo v Cagliari – 22, Cagliari v Napoli – 23).

Wojciech Szczesny kept out Samu Castillejo, Rafael Leao and Hakan Calhanoglu, as well as stopping Aaron Ramsey from scoring what would have been an incredible own goal, before he was finally beaten by the unlikely source of Calabria.

Juve did not appear happy the goal was allowed to stand, with Calhanoglu putting in a contentious challenge on Adrien Rabiot to launch the counter-attack from which Leao fed Calabria to guide a fine finish into the top-right corner.

It ensured Milan found the back of the net for a 36th consecutive Serie A game – a run only bettered by Juve (43 in 2014 and 44 in 2017) – with Leao involved in an eighth goal in 12 league appearances this season, one more than he managed across the entirety of the previous campaign.

ACT THREE

Unsurprisingly the game was far less open after the interval, but Chiesa was able to separate the teams once more.

Again it was Dybala leading the supporting cast, spotting his team-mate in space on the right and drilling a pass across for him to attack Hernandez once more.

Just as in the first half, Chiesa's feet proved too quick as he shifted the ball to his left and threaded a curling shot between Hernandez and Romagnoli and into the bottom-left corner. It was his sixth goal involvement (three scored, three assisted) against Milan in Serie A, which is more than he has managed against any other side.

The 23-year-old is proving himself to be a man for the big occasion. Since the start of last season, he has been thoroughly impressive against the best teams in the league. In that time, he has had a hand in three goals against Milan (two scored, one assisted) and Atalanta (two scored, one assisted) and also scored in meetings with Inter, Napoli and Lazio.

THE UNDERSTUDIES

While Cristiano Ronaldo was arguably the quietest of Juve's forward-thinking players, Chiesa made way for Dejan Kulusevski a minute after his goal, as Weston McKennie entered for Dybala.

The pair combined to put the game to bed in the 76th minute, McKennie sweeping in after a fine run down the right from Kulusevski.

The sole consolation for the Rossoneri was that they remained top of the league due to Inter's defeat to Sampdoria earlier on Tuesday, but Chiesa's blockbuster display proved Juve will not be content with solely being extras in the title race this season.

Andrea Pirlo revealed Juventus were "feeling the fear" from their heavy defeat to Fiorentina before the mid-season break in the early stages of their 4-1 win over Udinese on Sunday. 

Juve suffered a humiliating 3-0 home loss to La Viola in December – their first in the league this season – but the champions bounced back to winning ways in style at the Allianz Stadium. 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored either side of Federico Chiesa's cool finish – the 15th consecutive season the Portugal star has scored 20 goals for club and country – before Udinese's Marvin Zeegelaar and Paulo Dybala exchanged goals in the closing stages. 

The result ensured Juve avoided going three consecutive home games without a win for the first time since 2015-16, and Pirlo conceded the defeat to Fiorentina last time out was on his players' minds early on.

"It wasn't the best Juventus, as we were coming off a bad defeat to Fiorentina, so started quite timid and nervous, especially when their forwards ran towards us. We gained more confidence as it went on," Pirlo told DAZN.

"I was not satisfied with the initial approach to the game, as we were still feeling the fear of our last defeat to Fiorentina. The timing of the movements weren't right, especially on the wings.

"We knew that Udinese would try to sit back, counter and wait for our mistakes, but we did well with the preventative marking to ensure they couldn't do that."

Dybala's late goal was just his second in Serie A this season and came after a game in which he lost possession 21 times – seven more than any other Juve player.

Despite his wastefulness with the ball, Pirlo was pleased with the Argentina international's contribution and believes his goal was the result of the forward's improved fitness. 

"We need Dybala, he needs us," the Juve boss added. "He worked very well during the week in training. We could tell during the match that he was in better physical condition and we kept him on to the end because we hoped he would score that goal."

The result could have been different had Rodrigo De Paul's 10th-minute strike not been ruled out following a VAR check for a handball earlier in the move. 

And Rodrigo Bentancur, who laid on Ronaldo's second, acknowledged Juve need to start games with more of a spring in their step, starting with their visit to leaders Milan on Wednesday. 

"We didn't start with the right mentality and conceded that goal, which fortunately was disallowed for handball," Bentancur said. 

"We did better after the break, deserved the victory, but again the mentality dropped at the end to concede that goal.

"I think we need to keep that concentration throughout the 90 minutes. We allowed Udinese too many chances and that should not happen.

"I don't mind if I score goals or not. I provided an assist tonight and that's as good as a goal, because I am helping the team.

"This was a victory we wanted and fought hard for. Now we have a couple of days to rest and prepare for Milan."

Kylian Mbappe's potential move to Real Madrid from Paris Saint-Germain is in doubt.

Mbappe, 22, has been heavily linked with a switch to Madrid after starring for PSG, where he is contracted until 2022.

But with Thomas Tuchel reportedly sacked as coach, Mbappe moving to the Spanish capital may be unlikely.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE'S MOVE TO MADRID IN DOUBT

Mbappe's move to Real Madrid from PSG is in doubt after Tuchel's reported sacking, according to AS.

The departure of Tuchel, who is expected to be replaced by Mauricio Pochettino, adds another obstacle to Madrid's bid to land the France international next year, the report says.

Mbappe has scored 14 goals in 18 games for PSG this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- The expected arrival of Pochettino could lead to signings for PSG. The Sun reports the former Tottenham boss is set to make out-of-favour Spurs playmaker Dele Alli his first transfer target.

- PSG are seemingly considering their creative options. CalcioMercato says the Ligue 1 giants may target Juventus forward Paulo Dybala.

- Antonio Rudiger is linked with a move from Chelsea. However, Bild reports the defender will wait until after matches against Arsenal and Aston Villa to make a decision on his future.

- With Kieran Trippier banned, Atletico Madrid are looking at their options. The Daily Mail reports the LaLiga outfit are considering a loan move for Arsenal right-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Andrea Pirlo expects to have Paulo Dybala available again as Juventus bring the curtain down on 2020 at home to Fiorentina on Tuesday.

Dybala, who has been the subject of transfer speculation amid tricky contract negotiations, missed Saturday's big 4-0 win at Parma due to a thigh injury.

The Argentina international has started only five games in Serie A this term, making eight appearances in the competition in total.

His production when on the pitch has also been underwhelming, with one goal from 23 shots while failing to register an assist despite creating 14 chances.

But Pirlo talked up the forward's talents at the weekend and was optimistic he would return against Fiorentina, with encouraging news following on Monday.

"Someone is better: Paulo trained a bit with the team today," Pirlo told Juventus TV. "He is better and I think he can come with us for the match tomorrow.

"[Merih] Demiral is better, too, but Arthur is not available, because he still feels pain where he took the blow against Atalanta."

Juve are one of only two teams in Europe's 'top five' leagues without defeat this season, although they trail Serie A leaders Milan - the other unbeaten side - by four points having drawn six times.

The Bianconeri have not registered back-to-back clean sheets since June - drawing 1-1 with Atalanta before the Parma game - and Pirlo wants to see a more consistent level of performance.

"We are growing rapidly, but it is important to have consistency in the games and the victories," he said. "Only with this can you go on and improve.

"We are doing well and we are improving game after game, but we still have great room for improvement."

Opponents Fiorentina are winless in eight in Serie A, but Pirlo considers the strugglers "a very good team" with "a great class player" in Franck Ribery.

The Juve coach is also familiar with his opposite number, having played under Cesare Prandelli - appointed in November and still waiting on a first victory - with the Italy national team.

"I had a lot of good times with him," Pirlo said. "We had a great European Championship [in 2012], losing the final against Spain.

"He is a kind-hearted person who I had the pleasure of working with for several years, including a World Cup, a Confederations Cup.

"So, I see him again with great pleasure and he deserves something more on the pitch right now."

Pirlo added: "We will have to be careful because it is the last game of 2020 and we need to finish in the best way."

Juve are the side against which Fiorentina have lost the most games (78) and conceded the most goals (266) in Serie A.

Andrea Pirlo insisted Paulo Dybala was important to him amid continued speculation about the Juventus playmaker's future.

Dybala, 27, is again linked with a move away from the Serie A champions despite expectations he would extend his stay at Juve, where he is contracted until 2022.

The Argentina international, who has been linked to Manchester United, missed Saturday's 4-0 win over Parma due to a thigh injury.

Asked if Dybala was important to him, Juve coach Pirlo told reporters: "Absolutely. Champions like him are always fundamental in strong teams."

Pirlo is hopeful Dybala may return as soon as Tuesday, when Juventus host Fiorentina.

"I train all the players. Dybala is one of them. He behaviour is great," he said.

"Unfortunately, he's got this little injury, and yesterday he tried to force it, but he was worried he would hurt himself even more. We hope to have him back on Tuesday."

Juve are third in the Serie A table, a point behind leaders Milan, who visit Sassuolo on Sunday.

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