Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca said the Serie A club do not want to sell star Nicolo Zaniolo amid growing transfer speculation.

Zaniolo has flourished in the Italian capital since joining Roma from Serie A rivals Inter in 2018, establishing himself as a key player for the Giallorossi and Italy.

But the attacking midfielder, who returned from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) earlier this month, has been linked with Premier League side Tottenham, former club Inter and Italian champions Juventus.

Fonseca, however, denied Roma are looking to cash in on the 21-year-old Italy international following his goalscoring display in Wednesday's 6-1 rout of lowly SPAL.

"We don't want to sell Zaniolo or [Lorenzo] Pellegrini," Fonseca told Sky Sport Italia post-game.

"They are important for the future of Roma."

Zaniolo came off the bench 11 minutes into the second half and scored a fine solo goal in the 90th minute as Roma netted six goals in a Serie A game away from home for the first time since 1935.

There has been talk Zaniolo is unhappy at Roma amid rumours of a falling out with Fonseca.

Prior to Wednesday's demolition, Zaniolo wrote via Instagram: "It's like when you fall in love. You feel good together, she brings out the best in you and you want to be seen with her.

"It's the same thing. Really, I love this shirt."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte said second position in the table is "just first for losers" after the Nerazzurri dropped behind Atalanta in Serie A.

Conte's stuttering Inter produced a toothless display as they were held to a 0-0 draw by visiting Fiorentina at San Siro on Wednesday.

Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez both hit the woodwork for Inter, who missed the chance to move above Atalanta into second place with three matches remaining.

Inter are one point adrift of high-flying Atalanta and seven behind leaders Juventus as the defending champions close in on a ninth successive Scudetto.

"Second place is meaningless in my eyes, it's just first for losers," Conte told Sky Sport Italia post-game.

"Some settle for that, but not me. I don't want my players to settle for that either."

"It was a good game, we played with the right intensity and passing moves, but were unlucky when hitting the woodwork twice," Conte said.

"I can't complain when the lads put in this desire and we even risked losing it at the end through our sheer desire to win. Fiorentina deserve credit for a very good defensive performance.

"When you drop points, there are always things that have gone wrong. We are trying to develop a killer instinct and I am happy if my players are disappointed at this draw, because that shows my work is bearing fruit.

"Every game is a test to prove that we are growing. I think this team hasn't reaped what it sowed this season, aside from securing a Champions League place with several rounds to spare."

Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez started on the bench against Fiorentina, with Conte preferring Lukaku and the in-form Sanchez up front.

Martinez struggled to make an impact following his introduction with 21 minutes remaining and Conte added: "We are talking about a 22-year-old who didn't really play much last season.

"He has made his mark this term, but still has a journey ahead of him, a growth process that he needs to go through. Lautaro is not the complete package yet.

"He can alternative positive and negative moments, as is natural for someone of his age. The rumours around him are insulting his intelligence and trying to stir up trouble, claiming he is thinking about another club."

Brescia's relegation from Serie A was confirmed after a 3-1 defeat away at fellow strugglers Lecce on Wednesday.

Daniele Dessena gave Brescia hope after Gianluca Lapadula's first-half double at Via del Mare, but Riccardo Saponara's 70th-minute goal ended any hopes of a comeback.

With Genoa defeating Sampdoria 2-1 in the Derby della Lanterna, Brescia were left 12 points adrift of safety with three games left.

It is the 13th time Brescia have been relegated to Serie B, more than any other team.

Lecce occupy the only remaining unconfirmed relegation spot but are only four points behind 17th-placed Genoa.

Brescia were promoted from Serie B as champions in 2018-19 but have returned to the second tier after a single season in the top flight.

Romelu Lukaku's wastefulness proved costly as Fiorentina claimed a 0-0 draw at San Siro to leave toothless Inter's Serie A title hopes hanging by a thread.

Lukaku could have had a first-half hat-trick on Wednesday but a combination of poor finishing and inspired Viola goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano left Inter frustrated time and again.

The Belgium striker and Alexis Sanchez hit the woodwork as Antonio Conte's side missed the chance to move above Atalanta into second place with three games to play.

Inter dominated the majority of the match but could not find a way past Terracciano and it should be only a matter of time before Juve celebrate another Scudetto.

Terracciano produced a sharp double save to prevent Martin Caceres scoring an own goal and deny Lukaku in a bright start for Inter.

Terracciano again showed sharp reflexes to tip Nicolo Barella's rasping long-range drive wide for a corner before Lukaku rose unmarked to head Christian Eriksen's inviting cross against the far post from point-blank range with rain lashing down.

Lukaku spurned another great chance when he was left unmarked again, drilling straight at the busy Terracciano from six yards out after the Nerazzurri lost Stefan de Vrij to a sprained knee in a frustrating first half.

Antonio Candreva showed Lukaku how it is done when he volleyed home, but the flag was correctly up for offside and Sanchez's strike was tipped onto the post by Terracciano as the opening goal remained elusive.

Lautaro Martinez came on with just over 20 minutes remaining, but only the alertness of Samir Handanovic to keep out a close-range effort from Pol Lirola stopped Fiorentina snatching all three points.

Reported Juventus and Milan target Gianluca Busio has been tipped for a "massive future" after his latest goal clinched Sporting Kansas City's progression at the MLS is Back Tournament.

Busio scored with a stunning late strike to seal a 2-0 Sporting KC win over rivals Real Salt Lake on Wednesday to ensure they will finish in the top two in Group C.

The 18-year-old's left-footed effort added to a scrappy first-minute opener from Johnny Russell.

Serie A's top clubs are said to be among the suitors for Busio and former Derby County forward Russell says the world is the teenager's oyster.

"Of course, he's got a massive future," Russell told a remote news conference. "Busio's one of the players who's been with us for a while, since probably like 15, so his development over that time has been great.

"Obviously, we want to hold on to him for as long as we can. But if he keeps showing signs of progression the way he has, he's got a huge future in this game."

Despite losing their tournament opener to Minnesota United, Sporting KC now have four wins from five matches in 2020 - including two regular season games prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

Goalkeeper Tim Melia is not getting carried away ahead of the knockout stage in Florida, however.

Asked if Sporting KC were among the tournament favourites, Melia said: "I don't think so. Our goal is just to continue to move forward.

"I think we just need to get a little bit better each game and I think we did that especially in this game. We handled the different phases of the game really well collectively as a group.

"Now we'll just build off each performance a little more and we want to keep going and keep going."

Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala can still work on improving their "incredible" partnership, according to Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri.

The attacking duo have been directly involved in a combined 17 goals in Juve's 10 matches since June's restart, with Ronaldo positioned on the left and Dybala through the middle.

Ronaldo linked up with Dybala for Juve's second goal in Monday's 2-1 win over Lazio, having earlier opened the scoring from the penalty spot to become the first player to net 50 times in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A.

But while Sarri has been encouraged by their partnership up top, he believes there is even more to come from the pair.

"It's evident we can play a lot better and have ample margin for improvement," Sarri said at a pre-match news conference on Wednesday when asked about Ronaldo and Dybala. 

"I don't see this difficulty in having top level players like Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala sharing the field, as they have already scored 51 goals between them in two seasons."

As well as breaking another record with his double against Lazio, Ronaldo drew level with Ciro Immobile at the top of the Serie A scoring charts with 30 goals.

But despting the title being within touching distance and the Champions League set to resume next month, Sarri sees no reason to give the Portugal international a breather.

"I spoke to him 10 minutes ago and he said he's in great shape," Sarri said.

"This is part of his strength - the ability to quickly recover both physical and emotional energy, setting his sights immediately on the next target. It allows him to push beyond fatigue.

"In Germany they have the problem of the season ending a month before the Champions League. We are still playing for the title and cannot think about anything else for now."

Juventus are four points away from winning a ninth successive Scudetto and could secure top spot with victory over Udinese should Inter fail to beat Fiorentina on Wednesday.

Sarri is continuing to take the elongated campaign one match at a time, however, as he closes in on his first major honour in Italian football.

"I am a man of sport, which means that 'almost' is meaningless," he said. "We know that we need to pick up four points, which is difficult at the moment. 

"We've got to focus on one game at a time, think of Udinese, then of Sampdoria, stay in the moment and continue fully aware this is a tough period for everyone."

Asked about recent criticism aimed his way following a three-match winless run, the ex-Chelsea boss insisted he is not bothered about the opinions of others.

"I evidently get on someone's nerves! I'm not particularly interested," he said. 

"I know the difficulties we face daily and I think we've got more data on our side than those who express opinions."

Luka Modric insists Real Madrid always believed they would get back to winning trophies after Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.

The Portugal star departed Madrid for Turin in a €112million deal shortly after winning his fourth Champions League with Los Blancos and tasted Serie A glory in his first season in Italy.

Madrid went on to win the 2018 Club World Cup but otherwise endured a disappointing season, with Barcelona claiming the league title, Liverpool winning the Champions League and Valencia lifting the Copa del Rey.

However, with Zinedine Zidane installed as head coach again in March last year, Los Blancos emerged triumphant during the disrupted 2019-20 season to win the league title again.

Modric insists there was never a problem in terms of the team's ambition once Ronaldo had left for Juve.

"It's pointless discussing how important Ronaldo was for Real, but I must say we were not burdened by the fact he was no longer there in the sense that we weren't able to generate the same ambition," he told Sportske Novosti.

"We were convinced we'd continue to win trophies even without him because, regardless of the strength of the individual, the team is always above everything."

Eden Hazard joined Madrid from Chelsea last year for €100million in a deal seen by many as a means to fill the void left by Ronaldo on the left of the Madrid attack.

However, the Belgium international's first season in Spain has been blighted by injuries, and he only managed 14 league starts.

Modric, though, has advised Hazard to be patient when it comes to rediscovering his best form, just as he did after joining from Tottenham in 2012.

"I loved watching him at Chelsea. Since he came [to Madrid], he hasn't had any luck with his health. You could see how eager he was to play and show what he can do," Modric said.

"I went through those stages of high expectations and the process of adjusting, of the disruptive bad luck, so I told him he just has to be patient."

Gian Piero Gasperini has been given a one-match touchline ban, which will be served when Atalanta face Milan, after he was sent off against Bologna. 

The 62-year-old was dismissed following a heated exchange of words with opposite number Sinisa Mihajlovic in Tuesday's 1-0 win at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia. 

Mihajlovic escaped with only a booking and the Italian Football Federation confirmed in an official report that Gasperini's second yellow was issued for "vehemently protesting" the first one. 

He will now be suspended for Friday's trip to fifth-placed Milan, who will be without banned duo Ismael Bennacer and Theo Hernandez. 

Speaking after the Luis Muriel-inspired victory over Bologna, which lifted Atalanta into second, Gasperini attempted to play down his spat with Mihajlovic. 

"Let's move on immediately and talk about the match and Atalanta," he said at his post-match news conference.  

"It was a difficult match. We are always fair, and it wasn't me who had to be sent off." 

Juventus and Atletico Madrid have been told by Atalanta general manager Umberto Marino that it will take an offer of more than €50million to sign striker Duvan Zapata.

Colombia international Zapata has netted 17 Serie A goals this season for free-scoring Atalanta, who climbed into second place with Tuesday's 1-0 win over Bologna.

He has been strongly linked with a move to domestic rivals Juve and LaLiga side Atletico, with the latter rumoured to have had an opening offer of €50m knocked back.

However, Marino is holding out for a far bigger sum for a player who has netted 40 goals in two league campaigns with Atalanta since joining from Sampdoria.

"He is worth much more than €50m. They have to raise their bid," Marino is quoted as saying by Sky Sport Italia.  

"But it is early to talk about it. We have to enjoy the Champions League and what remains of the season. 

"He is doing well in Bergamo and I am happy that great international teams are looking at him."

Lautaro Martinez vowed to continue "giving 110 per cent" for Inter and repay the confidence shown in him by Antonio Conte as speculation over a move to Barcelona gathers pace.

The Argentina international has been strongly tipped to swap San Siro for Camp Nou at the end of the season, two years after joining the Italian giants from Racing Club.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta has stressed Martinez is not for sale, with the forward's €111million (£98.8m) release clause expiring earlier this month.

And Martinez, who has formed an impressive partnership with Romelu Lukaku this season, has insisted he will give his all for the club as long as he remains an Inter player.

"I am a boy who always fights - for my goals, for those of the team, for the happiness of the fans," he told Inter's matchday programme ahead of Wednesday's clash with Fiorentina.

"I always try to give 110 per cent for this club, for all the people who love it, for the Inter shirt."

Martinez scored 16 goals in all competitions prior to the campaign being halted in March by the coronavirus pandemic but has netted only twice in 10 games since last month's restart.

Conte has repeatedly defended Martinez's form and the 22-year-old is grateful to have the full support of his head coach.

"Conte has given me confidence," he said. "That is a very important and fundamental thing, because he worked on the mentality of each of us.

"I really appreciate it, every day he makes us grow."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still waiting for Barcelona, while Manchester City could be set to sign an attacker.

Aubameyang's future at Arsenal is uncertain, with the star forward out of contract next year.

And the Gabon international seems to be biding his time.

 

TOP STORY – AUBAMEYANG WAITS FOR BARCELONA OFFER

Aubameyang is prepared to wait for an offer from Barcelona amid their apparent interest in Arsenal's top scorer, according to Sky Sport and Sport.

Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo reports the 31-year-old is considered an alternative if Barca cannot land Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

Aubameyang has scored 25 goals in 42 games for Arsenal this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Valencia attacker Ferran Torres looks like he has decided on his next move. Sport Bild reports the 20-year-old has agreed to join Manchester City over Borussia Dortmund. The report says the Bundesliga club considered Torres as a potential replacement for Jadon Sancho, who is linked with a move away.

- Following some less-than-convincing performances from Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea are apparently eyeing a goalkeeper this close season. The Manchester Evening News reports Chelsea are prepared to more than double Dean Henderson's Manchester United wages, with the shot-stopper having impressed on loan at Sheffield United this season. The Daily Mail says Henderson is set for talks with Manchester United next week.

- Atalanta star Duvan Zapata could be set for a move. CalcioMercato reports Juventus are interested in the striker, who it says was the subject of a €50million offer from a foreign club.

- Liverpool and Manchester City are reportedly interested in Sevilla defender Diego Carlos. Goal reports the LaLiga club have received two offers from England for the 27-year-old, although from which clubs remains unknown.

- Loris Karius seems set to make a permanent exit from Liverpool. Goal says the Premier League champions want €6.6m (£6m) for the goalkeeper amid interest from Marseille.

- Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is on track for a move from Southampton. The Telegraph reports Everton's bid of around £25m for the midfielder has been accepted, but Tottenham have also submitted an offer.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic still remains unsure about his Milan future with just three games remaining this season.

The star striker, 38, scored a brace as Milan beat a 10-man Sassuolo 2-1 in Serie A on Tuesday.

While Ibrahimovic is only contracted at Milan until the end of the season, the club announced on Tuesday an extension for head coach Stefano Pioli until 2022.

Ibrahimovic, speaking when still unaware of the Pioli announcement, said he was unsure about his future.

"I still have three games, still 10 days, nobody said anything to me and I don't expect anything else," he said, via Sky Sport Italia.

"There are things that we cannot control, but that seem strange to me, but we are doing great things.

"We play with great confidence and we believe in what we do."

Milan are unbeaten in 10 games since the season resumed last month, and are now fifth in the table.

Ibrahimovic, who has scored eight goals in 17 games this season, praised Milan's form.

"I'm working, I'm fine, the team is fine and doing good things," he said.

"When I arrived we are second or third in the standings, it means it is not bad."

Milan are in action again on Friday, when they host high-flying Atalanta.

Stefano Pioli believes Milan are building "something important" and is delighted to have extended his contract at the club. 

The Rossoneri confirmed on Tuesday that Pioli has signed a new deal that will run until June 2022. 

It had been expected that Ralf Rangnick would leave his role as head of sport and development at Red Bull to take over at San Siro as coach and sporting director, but those talks ultimately fell through. 

Pioli had been given public backing by players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic after inspiring a reversal in Milan's results, particularly since Serie A resumed in June. 

A 2-1 win at Sassuolo lifted Milan to fifth in the table and stretched their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions, with Atalanta the only team in Italy's top flight to have won more points since the turn of the year. 

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia after the match, Pioli said: "I'm very happy. I've known for a couple of days. Starting next season at such a prestigious club, with a team with a lot of quality and room to grow, is very important. 

"But our future is now. We have to think about the final three games. We can think about the future from August 3. 

"The club have been fair with me. In the individual interviews, they told me nothing was definitive. I was just focused because I knew the job we were doing. 

"If the league hadn't started again, we would have had many regrets. Since January 6, we've been third in the table, so there has been some growth. 

"I was hoping to be able to continue a job that's just beginning. There will be challenges, important expectations, a lot of pressure, but also a great desire to show that what we're doing is a good basis on which to build something important. 

"I was hoping for it, I really wanted it, and when I received the news, I was very happy."

Stefano Pioli will be staying in charge of Milan after signing a contract extension with the Serie A club.

It was expected Pioli would be replaced by Ralf Rangnick, who had been in talks with the Rossoneri about a deal that could have seen him become head coach and effectively sporting director.  

However, Rangnick's representative confirmed on Tuesday that talks had been called off because "it is not the right time at the moment and there is no momentum for working together". Marc Kosicke also pointed to "the good development and results under Pioli" as a reason for the move not taking place.

Milan later confirmed their current coach had agreed to a new contract that would keep him at San Siro until June 2022. 

"I am happy and proud of the trust I have received from AC Milan," Pioli said in a statement.

"I want to thank everyone, including our fans, who we are really missing at the stadium, but are always close and supportive. As I have said many times, our future is today: we must be focused and determined, be united and play as one. We are at the beginning of an extraordinary path. If we keep working this way, we will grow and be more and more competitive."

CEO Ivan Gazidis said: "Stefano has shown he can deliver the vision of football we have for our club - exciting, progressive and passionate.

"This is not a decision based on recent victories, but one based on how Stefano has built team spirit and unity of purpose, the way he has improved the performances of the individual players and the collective team, the way he has embraced our vision and the way he has represented himself and the club's values." 

Pioli had been publicly backed by players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as speculation continued he would be replaced by Rangnick, who was said to be keen on a dual role that would have seen technical director Paolo Maldini likely forced to leave the club. 

There are reports negotiations broke down because Rangnick, who leads Red Bull's sports and development section, was not prepared to accept a new proposal that would have seen him join as a director but with Pioli still in charge of the first team. 

Milan have enjoyed a strong run of form since the season resumed last month, their 2-1 win at Sassuolo on Tuesday making it 10 games unbeaten in all competitions.

The win lifted them to fifth in the Serie A table, a point above Roma and three above Napoli, having played a game more. 

It was also the ninth game in a row Milan had registered at least two goals, their best scoring run in the league since 1964. 

Stefano Pioli will be staying in charge of Milan after signing a contract extension with the Serie A club.

 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.