Barcelona signed Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes and Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao on transfer deadline day, but both players must wait for their chance to shine at Camp Nou.

Fernandes will join Quique Setien's squad from Palmeiras in July after a €10million package was agreed for the 21-year-old, who has played for the Brazil Under-20 team.

Braga accepted a €31m offer from Barca for 20-year-old forward Trincao, and he will also formally join the Catalan club's ranks at the end of the season.

Both players have agreed five-year contracts, the Blaugrana announced, with Fernandes' contract including a €300m buy-out clause and Trincao's deal showing a €500m clause.

Braga will take Barca's 18-year-old striker Abel Ruiz on loan until the end of the season and then make the deal permanent for €8m, with the LaLiga club having a buy-back option.

Barca were not the only Spanish club busy in the market though, with Celta Vigo signing striker Fyodor Smolov on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow until the end of the season.

Atletico Madrid re-signed Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco, almost two years after he left to join Chinese side Dalian Yifang. The 26-year-old joined until the end of the season on loan.
 

STAYING PUT

Deadline day was as notable for the deals that looked to have fallen through as those that were completed.

Paris Saint-Germain ruled out allowing Edinson Cavani to leave, as a host of clubs fancied taking the Uruguayan off their hands, while Chelsea refused to let France striker Olivier Giroud depart Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham were among the clubs keen on Giroud, but Jose Mourinho looked like missing out on the striker he wanted to strengthen a front-line depleted by the loss of injured England captain Harry Kane.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said Gareth Bale would not be leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

Manchester United remained linked with Bournemouth forward Joshua King, but time was running out for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to add new faces to his Old Trafford squad.

United made one signing, but it was a low-profile deal as England Under-20 goalkeeper Nathan Bishop arrived from third-tier Southend United.

Arsenal brought in defender Cedric Soares on loan from Southampton.

In Scotland, champions Celtic shipped out Scotland international Lewis Morgan to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, who are part-owned by David Beckham.

Belgian side Genk allowed attacking midfielder Ianis Hagi, son of Romanian great Gheorghe Hagi, to join Scottish giants Rangers on loan.
 

KOUAME, DUNCAN IN

Serie A transfer activity was dominated by Fiorentina, who signed Ivorian forward Christian Kouame from Genoa, initially on loan. The deal will be made permanent at the end of the season.

They also brought in Ghanaian midfielder Alfred Duncan from Sassuolo in a similar deal, a loan with an obligation to buy.

Reports in Italy said Kevin-Prince Boateng was set to leave Fiorentina among the incomings, with Besiktas his destination. Turkish giants Besiktas also snapped up 18-year-old Croatian midfielder Ajdin Hasic from Dinamo Zagreb on permanent terms.

Atalanta agreed a loan deal with Nice, acquiring defender Adrien Tameze from the Ligue 1 outfit with a purchase option.

World Cup winner Steven Nzonzi cut short a season-long loan from Roma to Galatasaray, returning to his French homeland with Rennes on a six-month loan with an option for a further year.
 

HERTHA BUSY

In the Bundesliga, Emre Can left Juventus for Borussia Dortmund on Friday evening, initially on loan until the end of the campaign but with a €25m fee agreed for a potential permanent transfer.

Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin followed up Thursday's signing of Krzysztof Piatek by prising 20-year-old Brazilian winger Matheus Cunha from table-toppers RB Leipzig, for whom he scored nine goals in 52 games.

Hertha managing director Michael Preetz said on the club's website: "We wanted to increase the quantity and improve the quality up front, which we have been able to do with the Piatek and Cunha transfers."

Leipzig also offloaded Austrian midfielder Stefan Ilsanker to Eintracht Frankfurt. He spent four-and-a-half years at Leipzig, joining them in the second tier.

Werder Bremen signed striker Davie Selke on an 18-month loan from Hertha, the 25-year-old returning to the club where he began his professional career.

Neymar is reportedly preparing a fresh strategy in his bid to return to Barcelona.

The Paris Saint-Germain star was linked heavily with a move back to Camp Nou during the close season but ended up staying with the Ligue 1 giants.

However, Neymar seemingly still has his eyes set on a return to LaLiga's reigning champions.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR PREPARES FRESH BARCELONA RETURN BID

Neymar is preparing a legal strategy to return to Barcelona, according to Sport.

The 27-year-old wants to make the move and let FIFA impose the compensation he will have to pay to PSG to be released, the report says.

Neymar has scored nine goals in 12 games this season, having struggled with injuries.

ROUND-UP

- Christian Eriksen is wanted by several European heavyweights. Inter have expressed an interest in the Tottenham midfielder, according to the Daily Mail. Manchester United, PSG and Juventus have also been linked to the Denmark international, who is out of contract at season's end.

- Staying at Spurs, Napoli and Ajax are preparing to move for Jan Vertonghen, according to The Telegraph. Vertonghen is also out of contract at the end of the season.

- After missing out on Dejan Kulusevski to Juventus, Inter are setting up to land two major transfers ahead of 2020-21. La Gazzetta dello Sport believes the Nerazzurri  will try to sign Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa and Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali.

- While they are eyeing Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal, Inter will try to make Stefano Sensi's move from Sassuolo a permanent one in January, reports CalcioMercato. Sensi arrived on loan in July last year with an option to buy at the end of the season.

- Daniel Sturridge could be set for a return to the Premier League. The Sun claims Aston Villa could be set to offer the former Liverpool forward, who is playing for Trabzonspor, a return to England.

How much will it take to retain the services of Kylian Mbappe?

Paris Saint-Germain are desperate to ward off Real Madrid, who want to bring Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu.

A huge contract offer is reportedly on the horizon in Paris.

 

TOP STORY – PSG READYING BUMPER NEW DEAL FOR MBAPPE

Paris Saint-Germain have offered superstar Kylian Mbappe a five-year contract worth €32million per year amid interest from Real Madrid, according to journalist Nicolo Schira.

LaLiga giants Madrid are reportedly ready to go all out for Mbappe at the end of the season – head coach Zinedine Zidane desperate to work with his fellow Frenchman.

Amid doubts over Neymar's future in Paris as LaLiga champions Barcelona continue to be linked with a reunion, PSG are desperate to hold onto Mbappe.

ROUND-UP

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has agreed to return to Milan, according to Sky Sport Italia and reports in Italy. A free agent since leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy, the 38-year-old has reportedly signed a six-month contract with the option of another year. Ibrahimovic spent two seasons previously playing for Milan from 2010 to 2012, winning the Scudetto.

- According to Calciomercato, Antonio Conte's Inter continue to dream of signing Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal, who wants to leave Camp Nou as soon as January.

- While Vidal could leave, Sport reports Barca are interested in signing Stefano Sensi. The Italian midfielder is on a season-long loan deal at Inter from Sassuolo.

- La Repubblica claims Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is valued at €105m amid links to Serie A champions Juventus and Inter.

- PSG forward Edinson Cavani will not force through a move to Atletico Madrid, says Mundo Deportivo. Cavani – out of contract at the end of the season – has reportedly agreed a deal to join Atletico, however, the veteran is unwilling to leave PSG on bad terms.

- The Evening Standard says Everton's Richarlison has been considered by United as they look to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku. Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland tops the list of United's attacking targets, however, he is also wanted by RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Juve.

Stefano Pioli acknowledged Milan's main focus has to be improving their proficiency in the final third after they were held to a goalless draw by Sassuolo.

Milan remain rooted in mid-table in Serie A following a wasteful display at San Siro on Sunday.

Theo Hernandez was unfortunate to have a first-half goal disallowed by the VAR, while substitute Rafael Leao hit the woodwork twice in quick succession late on.

Veteran Sassuolo goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo also made a string of impressive saves, but Pioli says his team must take responsibility for the missed opportunities.

"We could have had more pace and movement in the first half, but in the second, we had about nine or 10 shots on goal," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "We tried everything, and it just wasn't going to happen.

"Sassuolo are a good team - we knew they would cause us problems. Rafael Leao did well off the bench, everyone played with effort, but with a little bit of sharpness and precision, we could have brought home the points.

"We made some technical errors today that can prove very costly indeed at this level. We can do better. I think we lacked determination and the ability to finish our chances.

"Our players worked hard today - the fact we had 10 clear scoring opportunities means we put in a good performance 0 but our biggest limitation right now is that we have to create so many chances in order to get a goal. We need to score earlier."

Krzysztof Piatek scored in the 3-2 win over Bologna last time out but failed to have an impact on Sunday, and the striker was taken off late on having cut a frustrated figure throughout.

But Pioli believes the 24-year-old - who has four league goals this season - has not been helped by media pressure.

"Last week, the media said Piatek was our saviour; now, people are going to criticise again," Pioli said.

"They need to be more balanced overall in their evaluation. It’s not just him - everyone needs to do better."

 

 

Theo Hernandez had a goal harshly disallowed by VAR as Milan were held to a 0-0 draw by Sassuolo in their final home Serie A game of 2019.

In-form Hernandez thought he had scored his third goal in as many games just after the half-hour mark at San Siro on Sunday, only for VAR to rule it out for a handball from Franck Kessie.

Chasing a third successive league win for the first time since last season, Stefano Pioli's side piled on the pressure after the interval, only to be frustrated by some brilliant Gianluca Pegolo goalkeeping.

Substitute Rafael Leao twice beat Pegolo in the closing stages, but the crossbar and then the post came to Sassuolo's rescue.

Early in the game, Giacomo Bonaventura's effort forced Pegolo into an unconvincing save, but Sassuolo's goalkeeper reacted brilliantly to deny Kessie's follow-up.

After turning provider for a Hakan Calhanoglu chance, Hernandez thought he had put Milan ahead with a first-time strike which took a wicked deflection on its way through.

A VAR verdict, however, intervened when picking up what appeared to be Kessie's accidental handball.

A terrible back-pass then left Pegolo in no man's land prior to the break, yet Ismael Bennacer - after rounding the stranded goalkeeper - failed to apply the finish.

Jeremie Boga struck wide as Sassuolo caught Milan on the counter early in the second half, while Gianluigi Donnarumma had to keep out a stinging shot from Georgios Kyriakopoulos.

Bonaventura was denied by a brilliant Jeremy Toljan block, before Pegolo made an outstanding stop from Lucas Paqueta's close-range effort and kept out another Bonaventura attempt.

Veteran goalkeeper Pegolo was beaten late on, but Leao's curling strike cracked away off the bar before the substitute hit the right upright. There was still time for a final stop by Pegolo to deny Hernandez as Milan's efforts proved fruitless.

 

What does it mean? Milan entrenched in mid-table

It has been a frustrating season for Milan and, approaching the halfway stage, the Rossoneri sit 10th. Pioli will at least be able to take solace in the fact his side are only four points shy of eighth-placed Atalanta, though Milan will require a mighty upturn in form to make a push for the Champions League places.

Hernandez hitting his stride

Though he was unfortunate to have his goal ruled out, Milan's full-back put in another accomplished display in both defence and attack. If there is one bright mark from the Rossoneri's season so far, it is the form of the ex-Real Madrid youngster.

Piatek's struggles continue

Having netted from the spot against Bologna last time out, Piatek will have been hoping for an upturn in his fortunes, but he cut a frustrated figure in a lone striker role and was well contained by Sassuolo's defence.

What's next?

Atalanta are Milan's final opponents of 2019 on December 22, while Sassuolo face struggling Brescia on Wednesday before rounding off their year against Napoli.

Stefano Pioli has urged his Milan players to mark the club's 120th anniversary celebrations with a victory against Sassuolo on Sunday.

Previous Rossoneri stars will be in attendance at San Siro as Milan, who have won Serie A 18 times and the Champions League or European Cup on seven occasions, remember their fine history.

The glory days appear an awfully long time ago given Milan started this round of fixtures 10th in the table with a return of 20 points from 15 games.

Pioli's side have recorded back-to-back victories, though, and the head coach wants to make that three in a row on a special day for Milan.

"Tomorrow's celebrations are just a reminder to the players that this is not just any club," Pioli told a news conference.

"Tomorrow's game is very, very important; we get to honour a great history of this club, we have the chance to honour it if we play well and we win.

"I'm not interested in anything after tomorrow at the moment; I'm solely focused on the game tomorrow. We'll be facing a team that play very good football, they have very gifted players especially up front, and so we need to be at our best."

Pioli became Milan's third manager of 2019 when he was hired in October.

The club have not qualified for the Champions League since finishing third in 2012-13 and Pioli knows he faces a challenge to restore Milan to the previous heights.

"Milan – for Italian football, European football and world football – has been a top club," he added.

"For a very long time it was one of the best clubs in the world with a winning spirit and incredible play. A very well-organised club, Milan was an example to follow for everyone.

"Tomorrow's game will be very important on an important day, a lot of football coaches and players will be present.

"I hope to do well, but I don't know what I will be remembered for in the future. There are things I'd like to be remembered for, but this is not the right moment."

Mattia Caldara, who is yet to feature for Milan in Serie A since joining in 2018 due to a knee injury, has been named in the squad for Sunday's game.

Cristiano Ronaldo's next step is to rediscover his spark after proving he has improved physically in Juventus' 2-2 draw with Sassuolo, says head coach Maurizio Sarri.

The Portugal forward has been struggling with a knee problem, which saw him miss last weekend's contest with Atalanta before he was restored to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Prior to the international break, Ronaldo had been hauled off in wins over Lokomotiv Moscow and Milan despite Juve having been level at the time of his withdrawal.

Ronaldo netted a 68th-minute penalty at Allianz Stadium to earn a point against Sassuolo on Sunday, though, and Sarri was encouraged by what he saw.

"The feeling is that he has regained strength," Sarri told DAZN. "He is doing better in the final [moments].

"The next step will be to recover the brilliance."

Prior to Ronaldo's intervention, Juve appeared destined to pay the price for a lacklustre showing that saw Leonardo Bonucci's opener cancelled out as Sassuolo scored through Jeremie Boga and Francesco Caputo.

The second of those was a tame effort that squirmed through veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon after a rash clearance from Matthijs de Ligt.

"It was an incredible series of mistakes, from a bad back-pass to another that hit a Sassuolo player," Sarri added.

"When you aren't fully focused, a howler can happen."

Sassuolo were playing with teenage debutant Stefano Turati in goal and the 18-year-old put on a fine display in Turin.

After the game, Turati explained he had an important phone call to make.

"I honestly don't have the words! So many emotions, it all happened so quickly and I never expected this. It was an extraordinary sensation and an incredible day for me," he said.

"The save on Ronaldo was the most important for the game, with that free-kick, but the breakthrough for me was early on to stop their counter-attack.

"It was an honour to play against Gigi Buffon, as I used to watch him when I was growing up. I am so happy and shocked that I don’t even know what to say. The first thing I have to do now is call my mum!"

Lacklustre Juventus needed a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty to salvage a 2-2 home draw with Sassuolo that left the door ajar for Serie A title rivals Inter.

Maurizio Sarri's men were set to pay a hefty price for a poor performance until Paulo Dybala appeared off the bench and won a 68th-minute spot-kick, which Ronaldo duly converted.

Leonardo Bonucci had fired Juve into a 20th-minute lead but an almost immediate response from Jeremie Boga seem to send panicked shivers through the home side.

Francesco Caputo capitalised on dual defensive blunders to give Sassuolo the lead and, though Juve steadied enough to pinch a point, the result would have been appreciated by Inter, who had SPAL at home later on Sunday.

Coach Sarri heeded Emre Can's public plea for a start and the midfielder's first major act was to miscue a straightforward finish.

Gonzalo Higuain stabbed a tougher chance past the post before captain Bonucci set the example.

The centre-back's ambitious drive whistled past teenage debutant Stefano Turati in the Sassuolo goal and gave Juve a lead that lasted barely two minutes.

The equaliser arrived in style as Boga produced a divine dink over the onrushing Gianluigi Buffon after Caputo's pass had nutmegged Alex Sandro.

Italy great Buffon was beaten again within two minutes of the restart, this time from an entirely less glamorous finish.

Matthijs de Ligt's rash clearance was sent back into the box and Caputo's tame attempt squirmed through a red-faced Buffon.

Turati proved more assured as he acrobatically parried Ronaldo's free-kick, before Higuain and Can squandered gilt-edged opportunities.

Ronaldo had a goal correctly disallowed for offside but was not to be denied from the spot, the 34-year-old confidently converting after Filippo Romagna brought down Dybala.

Juve looked likely to go on and snatch a winner, but a Dybala shot that drew an excellent save from Turati and a Ronaldo header that looped wide proved the closest they came.

Maurizio Sarri hopes Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo wins his sixth Ballon d'Or, and he also tipped team-mate Paulo Dybala to be recognised as the world's best player in the future.

Ronaldo is up against fellow five-time winner Lionel Messi and Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk in the running for this year's gong, while Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is in contention to win the Kopa Trophy awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

After watching Ronaldo overcoming a persistent knee injury to play a full 90 minutes in Juve's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Sarri said he was impressed with the 34-year-old's recovery.

"Cristiano did well in the last game, even with some resistance," Sarri told reporters. "Now he just has to grow in terms of brilliance.

"I hope that Cristiano wins the Ballon d'Or, de Ligt the Kopa Trophy and that Dybala will one day be a future Ballon d’Or contender."

Serie A leaders Juventus play 14th-placed Sassuolo on Sunday, and Sarri said his deliberation over selecting two from Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala to play in attack is a welcome problem.

But the former Napoli and Chelsea coach warned his players against complacency as they go in search of a fifth consecutive Serie A victory, having beaten Atalanta 3-1 prior to the win over Atletico.

"Tomorrow's game is very dangerous," Sarri said of the Sassuolo clash. "We come into this fixture after two games that took away a lot of our mental energy.

"In addition, Sassuolo is a team that has done well, even on the road, and they have a young and strong coach who I respect a lot.

"Do I get a headache choosing who to play in attack? If anything, the opposition gets the headache.

"Emre Can may be an option for tomorrow. Alex Sandro took part in the full training session with the team yesterday. We need to see if he can play 90 minutes. 

"[Federico] Bernardeschi is doing well, he is a useful player to the team, who has great technical qualities, so we ask him to give more."

A new striker in January is a priority at Manchester United and reports suggest a familiar face could make a sensational return to England.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously said the club will be doing business after Christmas, with a striker still required following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his previous two matches, while Anthony Martial marked his return from injury with a goal against Norwich City last Sunday, but a surprising name could provide the answer to United's depth issues up top.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED MAKE CONTACT WITH IBRAHIMOVIC

Manchester United have made contact with former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to TuttoMercatoWeb.

Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals in MLS for LA Galaxy in 2019, but they were eliminated from the post-season after a 5-3 defeat to cross-town rivals LAFC in the Western Conference semi-finals last weekend.

Interest in the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain striker has increased since the end of LA Galaxy's season with the Swede still believing he can contribute at the highest level.

The 38-year-old is currently a free agent and scored 29 goals at Old Trafford in a brief spell with the club previously.

ROUND-UP

- One player who may create funds for Manchester United's January business is defender Chris Smalling, but Corriere dello Sport claim the Red Devils want double the €10 million price Roma are expecting to pay for him. 

- AS are reporting Edinson Cavani is weighing up his future at Paris Saint-Germain with Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami keeping tabs on the Uruguayan.

Stefano Sensi is currently on-loan at Inter Milan from Sassuolo, but Sport claim Sensi's agent is in Barcelona as speculation of a move to the Spanish champions grows.

- The Daily Mail claims Wolves will turn to Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes in January as they seek reinforcements to cover the injured Willy Boly.

- Chelsea are interested in signing Hertha Berlin winger Javairo Dilrosun when their transfer ban expires, according to Calciomercato.

- L'Equipe say Nantes are among several clubs showing interest in free agent forward Hatem Ben Arfa.

Rumours linking Paul Pogba to Real Madrid are refusing to go away.

Pogba – nursing an ankle injury which is set to keep him sidelined until December – wanted to leave Manchester United in the previous transfer window but a move did not materialise.

With the January window approaching, Madrid are eyeing the French star again.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID PLOTTING POGBA PURCHASE

Real Madrid are preparing to make a January bid for Manchester United star Paul Pogba, according to OK Diario.

Pogba was wanted by Madrid and former club Juventus in the previous window as he eyed an Old Trafford exit, yet United were unwilling to part with their prized asset.

But with Pogba reportedly set to make it clear he will not renew his United contract beyond 2021, Madrid are lining up a €150million (£129.5m) offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Another Frenchman is also reportedly high on Madrid's radar. AS reports the Spanish powerhouse are hoping to take advantage of a tense relationship between Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and head coach Thomas Tuchel. Madrid are determined to lure Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season.

- Linked with Madrid and LaLiga champions Barcelona, in-demand Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is also wanted by Premier League holders Manchester City. Gazzetta dello Sport claims City are set to make an approach for the Spain international.

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are interested in Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. The Argentina international has been linked with Barca after his agent previously revealed the club's interest in Martinez. Now, Ernesto Valverde's side are eyeing the in-form marksman – who has also reportedly attracted the attention of Manchester United – as Inter pursue Barca pair Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal.

United are prepared to meet Borussia Dortmund's demands for England sensation Jadon Sancho, reports the Mirror. Sancho has also been linked to Liverpool and Madrid.

Stefano Sensi's exploits at Inter have not gone unnoticed. On loan from Sassuolo with the option to buy, Sport says there is already contact between Barca, Inter and the player's agent.

Inter are unlikely to seek a January replacement for injured loanee Alexis Sanchez, according to chief executive Giuseppe Marotta.

The Chile forward underwent surgery in midweek after his injuring his left ankle on international duty.

Sanchez, 30, could be out for up to three months but Marotta believes Antonio Conte's squad is deep enough to handle his absence.

Inter did not miss the Manchester United misfit in Sunday's thrilling 4-3 victory over Sassuolo, secured courtesy of braces from Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

"The January market is available to the club but the strongest players aren't available for moves in that window," Marotta told DAZN.

"We'll be alert to examine any potential opportunities. We have a competitive squad. Obviously we'd be happier without the Sanchez injury but we're optimistic.

"When Alexis comes back the attacking set-up will remain unchanged."

Lukaku and Martinez starred as Inter ran riot for over 70 minutes at Mapei Stadium.

The visitors were three goals clear and cruising before Filip Djuricic poked in Sassuolo's second goal in the 74th minute.

Fellow substitute Jeremie Boga reduced the margin back to one and the Nerazzurri had to survive a nervy finish to secure their seventh win in eight Serie A matches.

Antonio Conte battled a fever before the game and left it to his assistant, Cristian Stellini, to explain the "blackout" that put three points in jeopardy.

"We lost the ball twice and they caught us by surprise when breaking quickly," he said.

"It was too easy for them to score. We've still got a long way to go and working on situations like this is the most important thing for us."

Stellini added: "Antonio is slightly worn out, he had a bit of a fever before the match. He gave his all so he could lead the team, as he always does over the course of the 90 minutes.

"Thankfully he wasn't kept away from the bench but he's feeling the effects again now."

Stellini said Stefano Sensi, who missed the match with a thigh injury, would be assessed on Monday ahead of the Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund.

Romelu Lukaku described Inter coach Antonio Conte as a team player after rushing to the bench to celebrate a goal with his boss in the Nerazzurri's 4-3 victory at Sassuolo.

Conte called for Lukaku to "train more" after Inter lost two consecutive matches going into the international break, and the former Manchester Untied striker underlined his commitment to meet his coach's demands after netting a brace at MAPEI Stadium.

After goals at either end in the opening 16 minutes, Lukaku struck twice to put Inter 3-1 up at half-time against Sassuolo and Lautaro Martinez added a fourth to ensure the hosts' late rally came to nothing.

Belgium international Lukaku, who scored twice in his country's win over San Marino 10 days earlier, told DAZN: "It ought to have been over at 4-1.

"We did everything right in the first half, should have scored more in the second. Once it goes to 3-1 and 4-1, it ought to be over.

"The positive we take is that we got the three points, but we need to defend better than that. I try to help the team throughout the game and am happy for the side, because it was very important to get this win."

Lukaku has scored five goals in eight Serie A appearances for Inter since joining the club for €65million in August.

He is almost half way to matching his league tally of 12 for Manchester United last season but wants to make further improvements to his game at his new club.

"Conte and I are both team players, so when I score a goal, I want to celebrate with everyone," said the 26-year-old.

"I am focused only on working and giving my best in every match.

"I'm fine, but I have to work even more to help the team throughout the game. But today I'm happy because the victory was important for the group. Now I just think about improving again."

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez combined brilliantly as Inter survived a late Sassuolo recovery to win 4-3 at Mapei Stadium on Sunday.

Defeat to Juventus before the international break shunted Antonio Conte's men down to second in Serie A but a superb performances from their front two trimmed the margin at the top back to a point.

Martinez made an early incision and Lukaku struck twice in seven minutes to establish a two-goal advantage at half-time, Domenico Berardi having fleetingly restored parity for the hosts.

The exceptional Martinez won the penalty for his strike partner's second and, in the 71st minute, dispatched a spot-kick of his own, although the visitors were made to fight for victory as substitutes Filip Djuricic and Jeremie Boga set up a grandstand finale.

 

Inter midfielder Stefano Sensi is set to miss out on a reunion with Sassuolo after suffering another injury to his right thigh.

The on-loan Italy international was being reintegrated into training ahead of this weekend's Serie A fixture when he reported a "small" problem, according to an Inter statement.

An MRI scan on Friday detected a strain in the same thigh he injured in the 2-1 loss to Juventus before the international break.

Sensi lasted until the 34th minute of that match and could now miss next week's crucial Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund, along with Sunday's trip to face the club he left in July.

"Today's tests revealed a strain to the psoas muscle," Inter's statement read. "His condition will be assessed in the next few days."

Sensi is on loan at Inter from Sassuolo but is widely expected to make the move permanent for a reported €25million fee at the end of the campaign.

The 24-year-old has been one of the key factors in the Nerazzurri's strong start under Antonio Conte, scoring three goals in seven league appearances.

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