Kai Havertz's reported move from Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea should speed up, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set for a Milan stay.

Chelsea recorded a 2-0 win over Wolves on Sunday to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League and a spot in next season's Champions League.

That result should open the door for the arrival of Havertz – and soon.

 

TOP STORY – HAVERTZ TO CHELSEA SET TO SPEED UP

Chelsea's qualification for the Champions League should see a deal for Leverkusen star Havertz speed up, according to Sport Bild.

Leverkusen are in the Europa League last 16, but reportedly do not insist on keeping the Germany international for the rest of the tournament.

Havertz, 21, has scored 17 goals and provided nine assists in 43 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Coming out of contract at Milan, Ibrahimovic could be set to extend his stay. CalcioMercato reports the 38-year-old forward is open to accepting a deal worth around €4million, lower than his initial demand of €6m. The report also says Gianluigi Donnarumma, whose deal expires next year, could renew until 2023.

- What's next for Philippe Coutinho? The cover of Sport says the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona, is considering options to join Arsenal, Tottenham or Leicester City.

- Brescia star Sandro Tonali is linked with a big-money move. CalcioMercato says Inter have agreed terms with the Italy international midfielder and are nearing a €35m agreement with Brescia, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the 20-year-old.

- With Dejan Lovren reportedly set for an exit, Liverpool may have found a replacement. Sport Bild reports the Premier League champions have started talks with Schalke to sign 20-year-old centre-back Ozan Kabak.

- With uncertainty over Kepa Arrizabalaga's future at Chelsea, the Premier League club are said to be looking for a new goalkeeper. Voetbal International reports Chelsea and Leverkusen have strong interest in Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.

- Edinson Cavani may be close to deciding his future. Todofichajes reports the former Paris Saint-Germain striker is close to agreeing a deal with Benfica.

Maurizio Sarri labelled Juventus' ninth straight Serie A title success an "extraordinary feat".

Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, who also missed a penalty, and Federico Bernardeschi helped Juve to a 2-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday to clinch the league crown.

Sarri said Juve's dominance was incredible, hailing his players for winning Serie A after a break of more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It was one of the hardest [seasons] because of everything that's happened," the Juventus head coach told a news conference.

"If you think, we began our pre-season on July 6, and we won the title on July 26 the year after, that's pretty tough. Nobody can tell me that the 50, 60 days we weren't active because of lockdown, reading about thousands of deaths, has been a relaxing period.

"It's been an extremely hard season, a tough one – in sports, in football, in life, there is nothing that can be taken for granted, winning is always hard.

"Winning for two to three years is very hard. Winning for nine years, as some of these players have – I think – is an extraordinary feat."

Former Chelsea and Napoli boss Sarri, 61, became the oldest coach to win Serie A thanks to Juve's success.

The Italian joked about winning the title at his age, saying: "I, like all children, used to dream about winning the Scudetto.

"I didn't win it as a grown up, yet I did as an old man."

After Maurizio Sarri claimed his first league title with Serie A champions Juventus, Stats Perform News revisits an interview with former player Luca Tognozzi.

 

Maurizio Sarri's journey to the top of Italian football has been long and arduous.

Sarri's first foray into coaching came at the age of 31 via U.S.D Stia in 1990 while juggling work commitments – foreign currency trader by day, coach by night. That combination of banking and amateur football continued until he devoted himself to coaching in the early 2000s.

Years in the lower tiers of Italian football saw Sarri gain promotion with the likes of Sansovino, who he led to Coppa Italia Serie D glory in 2002-03, and Sangiovannese. There were also brief and forgettable stints in charge of Pescara, Arezzo, Avellino, Hellas Verona and Perugia.

It was not until 2014 that Sarri had his first taste of Serie A after guiding Empoli to promotion at the age of 55. A surprise move to Napoli followed 12 months later – the Naples-born coach, who grew up in Tuscany, an unpopular choice among fans and even club great Diego Maradona.

But Sarri revolutionised Napoli and Italian football with his attacking and free-flowing brand, earning admirers from far and wide. Head-hunted by Chelsea following two runners-up medals in Naples, Sarri was lured to Serie A champions Juventus after leading the Blues to Europa League glory in his one and only campaign at Stamford Bridge in 2018-19 for his first major title.

Sarri's Juve appointment raised eyebrows last July, questions asked due to his Napoli links and philosophy – his approach in complete contrast to Bianconeri teams of years gone by. The 61-year-old, though, became the oldest head coach to win Serie A on Sunday as he celebrated his first league triumph following a 2-0 success at home to Sampdoria.

With nine years of domestic domination however, Sarri has been tasked with leading the Old Lady to Champions League success after five runners-up medals since their last triumph in 1996. Juve trail Ligue 1's Lyon 1-0 heading into next month's Champions League last-16 return leg following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Former midfielder Luca Tognozzi knows Sarri better than most. He was a favourite of the Italian veteran, following Sarri to Sansovino, Sangiovannese and Pescara.

"The chance and his decision to land to Juventus team I think he is the right person in the right place at the right time," Tognozzi told Stats Perform News. "He deserves this opportunity for several reasons:  the way with which his teams played in recent years, results he achieved always.

"I am sure his dedication to daily work, his wilfulness and his adaptability will immediately give his mark. He is in the most important Italian football team and will also have the opportunity to entertain his audience with his personal way of making his teams play to be able to fight to achieve great results.

"I think all this is the right reward, if you can say so, for a man and for a coach who too late he got a chance to be a trainer in a team that can be highly competitive in all European competition. I am very happy for him because he deserves all of this."

Tognozzi enjoyed success with Sarri at Sansovino, where the pair helped the club move up to Serie C2 from Serie D. Tognozzi then followed the coach to Sangiovannese in 2003 and promotion to Serie C1 was achieved.

"Sarri has always been Sarri," said the 42-year-old, who also played for Sarri at Pescara in 2005-06. "Certainly, over the years he has also had the capability and the smartness to evolve himself and his way to teach football.

"I feel very proud to have been one of his players. He was a fantastic football teacher for me. I had some fun life moments with him because he is a very ironic person [as almost all Tuscan people are] ... but I keep those moments for myself."

Tognozzi continued: "He is highly demanding because he believes in what he does and the way he teaches in a work methodology and he doesn't leave nothing to chance. This makes him a special person. He can be liked or not but in the football world where not always everything is so genuine, his passion and his determination is authentic.

"Football is his passion and Sarri is involved at 100 per cent in every little detail. He started from the amateurs up to the professionals, a long journey to arrive at the top. I think it may be a greatest satisfaction. At the same time, many experts should do mea culpa for their fast and superficial evaluations.

"Out of the field Mr. Sarri is a normal and simple person with whom you can talk about everything: from literature to story, from politics to music."

Cristiano Ronaldo dedicated Juventus' ninth successive Serie A title to the club's fans.

Ronaldo scored once, and missed a penalty, and Federico Bernardeschi netted in a 2-0 victory over a 10-man Sampdoria on Sunday to continue Juve's dominance in Italy.

Juve secured the league title with two games remaining, having returned to action last month following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Ronaldo, who moved onto 35 goals this season, was delighted and paid tribute to Juventus' fans.

"Done! Champions of Italy," he wrote on Instagram.  

"Delighted for the second consecutive championship and to continue building the history of this great and splendid club.

"This title is dedicated to all Juve fans, in particular to those who have suffered and are suffering from the pandemic that has taken us all by surprise by overturning the world.

"It was not easy! Your courage, your attitude and your determination were the strength we needed to face this tight final of the championship and fight to the end for this title that belongs to all of Italy. A big hug to you all! # stron9er #finoallafine."

Maurizio Sarri joked that Juventus must be really good if they claimed the Scudetto under the first-time Serie A-winning head coach as the champions maintained their stranglehold on Italian football.

Juve defeated Sampdoria 2-0 thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi on Sunday to clinch their ninth successive Serie A crown, a record run dating back to 2011-12.

Sarri – who replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the start of the season – became the oldest coach to win Serie A as the 61-year-old claimed his maiden league trophy, having only previously led Chelsea to Europa League glory last term.

Following a difficult first season in Turin, where his philosophy has been regularly questioned, former Chelsea and Napoli boss Sarri revelled in his achievement.

"I told them, if you won with me who has never won anything, you must be really good," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia when asked what he said to his players during the celebrations.

"The first day you come in, you see people, not just world-class players. As time passes, you get fond of them and the rapport goes from being strictly professional to personal too.

"The first day, I step into the locker room and know there are some top players. After a while, you walk in there knowing there are some great guys you can rely on too."

"It has a special feeling, of course. It's difficult to win, it becomes even more complicated to keep winning, as taking something for granted in sport is one of the biggest lies in the world," Sarri said.

"It was not a walk in the park. It was long, difficult, stressful, and this squad deserves a lot of credit for continuing to find the hunger and determination to keep going after eight wins in a row.

"I left the field because I was trying to avoid getting a bucket of water thrown over me, as it was obviously on its way, but I didn't manage to get away."

It has not been easy for Sarri and Juventus during their first season together at Allianz Stadium amid reports of unrest following Allegri's departure.

Sarri's future has dominated headlines – speculation intensifying after Juve failed to wrap up the Scudetto on Thursday following a shock 2-1 defeat to Udinese.

Juve also trail Lyon 1-0 as they prepare for next month's return leg of the Champions League last-16 tie following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Sarri added: "There were tactical difficulties, trying to get all these very strong players and their various characteristics to work together. That was not something to be taken for granted, as we saw in previous years, because [Paulo] Dybala and Ronaldo didn't really start together very often.

"They are world class, but it's not easy to get them to work together with their characteristics. With a lot of work, I think we managed it."

"Ronaldo and Dybala make the difference on the field, so clearly they deserve a lot of credit, but the club behind them is every bit as important," he continued. "We have a president and directors who attend training every day, are there to exchange ideas, see if you need anything and put petrol in the tank of this team. The club are a big part of why they were able to win for so many years. They back you even when you lose.

“In terms of organisation, Juventus are at the top of European football. I could not have asked for anything more. Obviously, it takes a while to settle in, understand the approach, the way things work here, then after a while you can start trying to tweak a few things.

"You can't just walk straight into a club that has won for eight years in a row and immediately try to order changes. That wouldn't be very intelligent."

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci conceded the club's 2019-20 Scudetto was the most difficult of the nine successive Serie A titles as they struggled to understand Maurizio Sarri's philosophy.

Juve maintained their stranglehold on Serie A by clinching yet another league title thanks to a 2-0 win over Sampdoria at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi were on target for Juve, who extended their record Serie A run, which dates back to 2011-12, with two matches remaining.

Sarri became the oldest head coach to win Serie A as the 61-year-old claimed his maiden league trophy, but it has been far from smooth sailing for the former Chelsea and Napoli boss during his first campaign in Turin.

There have been question marks over Sarri's methods amid reports of a falling out with superstar Ronaldo, while Juve have stuttered towards the Scudetto following their failure to wrap up the trophy on Thursday following a 2-1 loss to Udinese.

Bonucci revelled in Juve's glory but highlighted the difficulties under Sarri, telling Sky Sport Italia: "It was the most beautiful title, because it was the most difficult.

"We started a new era, a new philosophy, ran into so many difficulties, but we continued to give our all throughout, even when there were so many slip-ups."

"It was so complicated outside the field too, the world changed in three months," added veteran Italy centre-back Bonucci, who discussed the impact of coronavirus after Serie A was postponed for three months before returning in June. "We had to get our minds back on it, but we did it. We wanted it, we suffered.

"I have no words. We gave everything to ensure that we would do this for us, for the club, for the fans who cheered us on from home, or from heaven. We wanted to celebrate with those who weren't able to be here with us. When you wear this jersey, you cannot hold back. It has been an intense year.

"We struggled at times to interpret the coach's philosophy, but we remained a team, we worked as great men more than great players. Now we'll try to rest over the next 10 days and then prepare for the next challenge."

Juventus are "well advanced" in contract talks with Paulo Dybala, according to chief football officer Fabio Paratici.

Dybala, 26, is out of contract in 2022, but has been linked with a renewal in Turin after enjoying an impressive season.

Paratici confirmed talks with Dybala were in progress and a fair way down the track, with the playmaker set to stay at Juve.

"We often speak with his entourage and we are moving forward, despite all the difficulties related to the commitments and the movement due to the games that are played every three days," he told Sky Sport.

"Even in this period, we are talking quite frequently and we are well advanced."

Juve clinched a ninth successive Serie A title on Sunday thanks to a 2-0 victory over Sampdoria.

Paratici was full of praise for coach Maurizio Sarri, who secured the league crown in his first season in charge.

"Sarri has made an incredible climb in his career and he's in the place he deserves to be," he said.

"He is certainly one of the protagonists of our season."

Dybala came off against Sampdoria due to a suspected thigh injury in a worry ahead of the Champions League resuming next month.

Another season, another Scudetto for Juventus.

The bulldozing Bianconeri have won Serie A for a ninth year in succession following their 2-0 victory over Sampdoria on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi scored the goals that clinched the championship for Juve following a run of just one win in their previous five games.

Although it may not have been a vintage Juve season they still extended their record run of consecutive titles.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the stats behind their ongoing dominance.

 

Days of glory

The first title in this incredible run was secured on May 6, 2012.

By defeating Sampdoria, they clinched number nine three days after they celebrated their 3,000th consecutive day as Italian champions.

A record for Sarri

Antonio Conte led Juve to their first three titles in this run and Massimiliano Allegri extended it by a further five.

Maurizio Sarri kept the tradition going in his first season at the helm, earning his first major trophy in Italian football.

By topping Serie A aged 61, he surpassed Nils Liedholm (60 years and 219 days) to become the oldest coach to win a Scudetto.

Not as solid

Sarri was appointed to bring a more expansive approach to Turin and their defence has seemingly suffered as a result.

Juve have already conceded 38 goals, becoming the first team to win the title while shipping that many since Milan let in the same amount in their triumphant 1961-62 season.

Veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini is the only player to have made at least one appearance in each of Juve's past nine Serie A title successes, with Gianluigi Buffon the only player in history to have won more Scudetti.

In the season he surpassed Paolo Maldini at the top of the all-time Serie A appearances list, Buffon, who has been back-up to Wojciech Szczesny since returning from Paris Saint-Germain, won the league for an incredible 10th time.

Ronaldo rolls on

Juve's continued success owes a lot to the incredible goalscoring feats of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner may be 35 but his prolific nature does not appear to be waning; this season he became the first player in history to score at least 50 goals in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

Ronaldo was also the fastest to 50 goals among players to have debuted since 1994-95, hitting the milestone in just 61 appearances with a double against Lazio on Monday.

That brace also moved the Portugal captain onto 30 goals for the season, a tally he stretched to 31 against Samp, making him just the third Juve star to reach that mark in a single top-flight campaign, following in the footsteps of Felice Borel (32 in 1933-34) and John Hansen (30 in 1951-52).

Cristiano Ronaldo's 31st Serie A goal of the season and Federico Bernardeschi's second-half effort delivered a ninth successive Scudetto for Juventus as they defeated Sampdoria 2-0.

Juve knew three points would clinch another title but, having won just one of their previous five games, they needed a moment of magic from their talisman in first-half stoppage time to set them on their way.

Ronaldo swept home following a well-worked Miralem Pjanic free-kick for his 10th goal since the league resumed - making him the most prolific player across Europe's top five leagues following the coronavirus-enforced break - and it was an unlikely source who wrapped up the triumph as Bernardeschi scored his first Serie A goal since September 2018.

Juve's night of celebration was only slightly spoiled by injuries to Danilo, Paulo Dybala and Matthijs de Ligt, while Ronaldo slammed a late penalty against the crossbar to miss out on equalling a club record.

Injuries, rather than chances, were the story early on as Samp's Julian Chabot and Juve's Danilo were forced off before Dybala made way too.

Danilo's replacement Bernardeschi forced Emil Audero into a save, but he then failed to hit the target with a set-piece, leading to Juve getting creative from their next dead-ball situation near goal.

Pjanic eschewed a shot, instead squaring for Ronaldo, whose first-time effort found its way into the bottom corner of the net to give Juve a half-time advantage.

Samp threatened a comeback, though, as Mehdi Leris and Lorenzo Tonelli both missed the target either side of a Gaston Ramirez free-kick that Wojciech Szczesny had to claw out.

However, Maurizio Sarri's men could breathe easier when Bernardeschi followed up Ronaldo's saved effort in the 67th minute to score a long-overdue goal.

Any slim hopes Samp had were extinguished when Morten Thorsby received a 77th-minute red card for a second caution following a lunge on Pjanic, with De Ligt then swiftly removed having seemingly sustained a knock in an earlier challenge.

Ronaldo could have added an 89th-minute exclamation point when Fabio Depaoli brought down Alex Sandro in the box, but the Portugal great's effort came back off the woodwork.

 

What does it mean? Attention turns to Champions League as Juve limp over the line

This Scudetto triumph should have been sealed weeks ago but Juve can finally celebrate again thanks to this victory, while Inter, Lazio and Atalanta will rue their late-season stumbles.

Juventus' focus will now be on the Champions League - and ending a 24-year wait to win that prestigious trophy - and they must overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg against Lyon, a task that will be harder if Dybala and De Ligt are missing.

Ronaldo continues red-hot form

Juve's form may have been patchy since the resumption, but 35-year-old Ronaldo has found another gear, stepping up when his team needed him most here.

He has scored 10 in 10 Serie A matches following lockdown, though he would have equalled Felice Borel's record Serie A haul for Juventus of 32 goals in a season had he not missed from the spot late on.

Torrid Tonelli

It was Tonelli's foul on Adrien Rabiot that resulted in the free-kick from which Juventus scored their opener.

Then, having missed a good chance to level when heading wide from a corner, he was caught in possession leading to the crucial second goal.

What's next?

With the Scudetto wrapped up, Ronaldo and others may be rested for the final Serie A fixtures against Cagliari and Roma next week before the Bianconeri resume their Champions League campaign against Lyon in 12 days' time. Sampdoria host Milan on Wednesday before rounding out the campaign at Brescia.

It was not always straightforward, but Juventus are Serie A champions with two games to spare.

In a run stretching back to 2011-12, Juve have now won nine consecutive Scudetti, with Sunday's 2-0 win against Sampdoria sealing glory this time.

Fittingly, a moment of magic from Cristiano Ronaldo set Juventus on their way to the title-clinching victory, his strike just before half-time settling the nerves.

Maurizio Sarri replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the helm of the Turin giants for 2019-20 and there have been teething problems.

Nevertheless, as these key games demonstrated, a willingness to fight back from behind and a lethal forward line separated them from the competition once more.

Juventus 4-3 Napoli (August 31)

The second weekend of the season saw Sarri tasked with taking down his former employers, with whom he memorably ran Juve so close in 2017-18. A debut goal from Danilo was quickly followed by Gonzalo Higuain crashing home, and Cristiano Ronaldo made it 3-0 shortly after the hour.

Game over, right? Wrong. Kostas Manolas headed in Mario Rui's 66th-minute cross, with Piotr Zielinski the provider for Hirving Lozano two minutes later. Giovanni Di Lorenzo scrambled home to seemingly complete an astonishing comeback nine minutes from the end, only for Kalidou Koulibaly to put through his own goal in stoppage time.

Inter 1-2 Juventus (October 6)

Antonio Conte started Juve's dominant streak nine years ago and he arrived at San Siro this term with similar intentions for his new club. Inter had six wins from six when they welcomed the champions to Milan.

Paulo Dybala thrashed a fourth-minute opener across Samir Handanovic and Ronaldo rattled the crossbar before Matthijs de Ligt was penalised for handball and Lautaro Martinez levelled from the spot. A high-quality contest remained all square until 10 minutes from time, when Higuain coolly converted Rodrigo Bentancur's pass for a finely constructed winner.

Atalanta 1-3 Juventus (November 23)

Robin Gosens nodded Gian Piero Gasperini's effervescent Atalanta side ahead in the 56th minute, Musa Barrow having erred from the penalty spot before half-time, and Atalanta held firm until Juventus turned the game on its head in the final quarter of an hour.

Higuain hit a brace before compatriot Dybala completed the scoring – securing a victory that would only appear more important after lockdown as Atalanta stormed up the table.

Juventus 2-0 Inter (March 8)

The new normal arrived at the Allianz Stadium for the Bianconeri's final game before the shutdown as the Derby d'Italia took place behind closed doors.

Juve had lost 1-0 to Lyon in the Champions League last 16 in the previous match – a deficit they will finally have the chance to try to overturn on August 7 – but put in a controlled performance to move nine points clear of Conte's men. Aaron Ramsey pounced for the opener and Dybala gave a timely demonstration of his class once more midway through the second half.

Atalanta 3-2 Lazio (June 24)

If beating Inter seemingly ruled the Nerazzurri out of the title race, Lazio were hot on Juve's heels. Simone Inzaghi's team beat the Old Lady 3-1 in both Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana in December and entered lockdown a point behind them at the summit. In their first game back, a Marten de Roon own goal and an excellent Sergej Milinkovic-Savic strike had them 2-0 up inside 11 minutes.

But Atalanta were typically relentless, with Gosens heading in before the break and a Ruslan Malinovskiy piledriver levelling matters. Lazio had long been on the ropes by the time Jose Luis Palomino snatched the points in the 80th minute. The team who had looked like being Juve's main rivals would never properly recover.

Juventus 2-1 Lazio (July 20)

Lazio's implosion was not immediate, as they scraped wins over Fiorentina and Torino on the back of their collapse in Bergamo. However, they had taken one point from the past 12 on offer by the time they travelled to face Juve.

Not that Sarri's side had fared much better, with a 4-2 loss from being 2-0 up at Milan and unhelpfully action-packed draws with Atalanta and Sassuolo leaving them staggering towards the finish line.

Cue Ronaldo, who converted a 51st-minute penalty and tapped in from Dybala's pass shortly afterwards. Ciro Immobile reduced the deficit with a spot-kick of his own, but Juve were on the brink - even if there was time for one more wobble in a 2-1 loss at Udinese.

Juventus clinched their ninth Serie A title in a row by defeating Sampdoria 2-0 at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

The Bianconeri extended their record run, which stretches back to 2011-12, thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi.

Maurizio Sarri's side have wobbled over recent weeks, failing to wrap things up on Thursday when they went down to a 2-1 defeat at Udinese. 

It meant they had only one win from five as they prepared to entertain Sampdoria, with Inter's 3-0 victory over Genoa on Saturday having closed the gap at the summit to four points. 

The Scudetto represents Sarri's first major honour in Italian football, while at 61 he has also become the oldest coach to win Serie A. 

Juve were just one point clear of Lazio prior to the shutdown in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, but four straight victories upon the resumption helped them build a commanding lead – breathing space that came in handy more recently. 

Cristiano Ronaldo played a key role in the triumph. He reached 50 career Serie A goals in just 61 games, while also becoming the first man to score 30 in a league campaign for Juventus since John Hansen in 1951-52. 

Paulo Dybala was forced off injured in Juventus' Serie A clash against Sampdoria on Sunday, causing Maurizio Sarri some concern ahead of the Champions League resumption.

The Argentina forward was clutching the top of his left thigh as he made way for Gonzalo Higuain five minutes before half-time.

Coach Sarri had already been forced into one change, with Danilo coming off following a clash of heads with Gaston Ramirez.

Juve, who were looking to seal a ninth successive Serie A title with a win over Samp, face Cagliari and Roma next week before hosting Lyon in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on August 7.

Sarri's side will need to overcome a first-leg deficit after losing 1-0 in France back in February.

Cristiano Ronaldo's stoppage-time strike gave them a 1-0 lead at half-time against Sampdoria.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu expects Lionel Messi to stay at the club but appears doubtful of deals for Neymar or Lautaro Martinez.

Messi's frustrated outburst after Barca lost the LaLiga title race to Real Madrid prompted speculation he could look to leave the club when his contract expires next year.

It has also been suggested the Argentina star has a tense relationship with Bartomeu, having previously criticised unnamed members of the board for a perceived lack of support for the players.

Bartomeu, though, is not worried about the future of the club captain.

"Messi has said many times that he wants to retire here and I have no doubt that he will renew," he told Mundo Deportivo.

Bartomeu is more sceptical about Barca's transfer plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Barca players agreed to a 70 per cent pay cut in March and volunteered to make contributions to help club staff take home a full salary during the height of Spain's 'state of alarm'.

The Catalans have nonetheless been hit hard by the crisis, meaning any transfers before next season are almost certain to involve player exchanges or require sales first.

With that in mind, Bartomeu appears pessimistic about bringing Neymar back to the club from Paris Saint-Germain or landing Inter striker Martinez, their top target.

"Now, we're making decisions and the players, if they don't come in an exchange, it's very difficult for them to come," he said when asked about Neymar.

On Martinez, he added: "Yes, we have spoken with Inter but now the issue is on hold."

However, Bartomeu believes the squad is already looking promising given a number of players are due to arrive in the coming weeks.

"We already have seven new players," he said. "We have bet on Trincao, Pedrito and Matheus [Fernandes] for the future, and they will have first-team numbers alongside [Ronald] Araujo, Riqui [Puig] and Ansu [Fati]. [Miralem] Pjanic will integrate from the beginning."

For now, Bartomeu's priority is extending the contract of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, which expires in 2022, even though he accepts the Germany international is unlikely to earn a substantial pay rise.

"For me, it's Marc-Andre ter Stegen," he said when asked about the most important renewal. "Not only for the quality of keeper but for his personality as a player, his way of being. He's a pillar for the dressing room and the future.

"He's very young for a goalkeeper and he's already among the elite. And at 28, he's one of the three best in the world.

"He understands what's happening in society and he knows that, given the decrease in income for clubs like Barca, he has to adjust his salary. All the players are doing that and we're working on it.

"I don't get into figures. I say that they adapt their salaries to the level of income that the club has right now and will have in future."

On the future of striker Luis Suarez, he added: "Luis has a contract that, based on the number of games he plays. It automatically renews for the 2021-22 season."

What does the future hold for Quique Setien at Camp Nou?

Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde in January, however, the ex-Real Betis head coach saw Barcelona dethroned as LaLiga champions by bitter rivals Real Madrid.

After leading Leeds United back to the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa is reportedly wanted by countryman Lionel Messi.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI URGES BARCA TO SIGN BIELSA

Lionel Messi has called for Barcelona to replace Quique Setien with Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, according to The Sun.

Bielsa guided Leeds to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, ending the club's 16-year exile from England's top flight.

Now, superstar captain Messi – who is reportedly unhappy with Setien at Camp Nou – wants the dethroned LaLiga giants to bring the former Argentina and Athletic Bilbao head coach to Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- Leicester City star James Maddison has agreed a contract extension at King Power Stadium, according to The Sun. Maddison has reportedly committed himself to Leicester until 2025 following previous links to Manchester United.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter are eyeing Barcelona's Junior Firpo if they are unable to sign Emerson Palmieri from Chelsea.

Tottenham are leading the chase to sign forward Callum Wilson if Bournemouth are relegated from the Premier League, says The Sun.

- Calciomercato reports Milan and Napoli are considering moves for Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai. The 19-year-old has been linked to the likes of Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid.

Roma are considering a contract renewal for star Nicolo Zaniolo, according to Calciomercato. Zaniolo – who arrived from Inter in 2018 – has found his future in doubt amid talk of a falling out with head coach Paulo Fonseca and others. An Inter return has been touted, while Juventus are also reportedly interested.

- United are seriously targeting Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes. Le10 Sport claims the Red Devils are making a last-minute attempt to sign Gabriel, who has been linked to Napoli among others.

- Kicker reports PSG are targeting Hertha Berlin attacker Matheus Cunha. Inter are also believed to be eyeing the Brazilian.

- Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman is on a shortlist of players United are eyeing on loan should they miss out on Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, says Sky Sports News. Bayern, however, have no intention of parting with Coman. Liverpool and Real Madrid have also been credited with interest in Sancho.

Victor Osimhen can surpass the impact made by Diego Maradona at Napoli, according to Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick.

Osimhen is reportedly poised to leave Ligue 1 outfit Lille for Serie A's Napoli in a transfer believed to be worth an initial €60million.

The 21-year-old Nigeria star scored 13 Ligue 1 goals in his first season with Lille, and 18 across all competitions in 2019-20.

Pinnick heaped praise on Osimhen, talking up his ability to break records initially set by Argentine great Maradona – who led Napoli to two Serie A titles, the UEFA Cup, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during his time in Naples.

"I think Victor Osimhen is an excellent signing for Napoli," Pinnick told Radio Kiss Kiss. "I've followed them from when they had Diego Armando Maradona. Naples is a proud city and also in football terms.

"Osimhen's a source of pride of African football. He's someone who is disciplined but focused on objectives, and if he wants something, he knows how to get it.

"He made the right decision for his career. I already believe he’ll receive the right support from the club and its fans. Napoli are the right club for him to achieve important results, and Osimhen will always give his best.

"I'll say it now: Victor will do everything possible to match and even break the records set by a legend like Maradona."

"I talked to Victor just a few minutes ago: he's very excited about his new experience and new club," he added. "Napoli are a big name in world football. It'll be a new challenge for him and he told me: 'President, I'll make Naples proud'.

"If he gets the right support, I guarantee he'll stick to his word and make you all proud. Believe in him and he'll help the team achieve their objectives.

"I'll come to Naples next season to watch some of their games. Osimhen is young and could stay at Napoli for a long time.

"As I already said, he'll be playing for a great team and his quality justifies the investment made by Napoli, who believe in Victor's huge potential."

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