Europe's major leagues have been shut down due to coronavirus, but Cristiano Ronaldo is still making headlines.

Ronaldo was in the midst of his second season with Juventus before the 2019-20 campaign was postponed last month.

But there are ongoing doubts over Ronaldo's future in Turin.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO LINKED TO MADRID RETURN

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo misses Real Madrid and a reunion with his former club is not just a suggestion, according to Calciomercato.

Ronaldo is reportedly unhappy at Serie A champions Juve amid links to Paris Saint-Germain and another former team, Manchester United.

However, Calciomercato's report claims Ronaldo has eyes on Madrid but it will take a significant sum to prise the 35-year-old from Juve.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona have set their asking price for out-of-favour attacker Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich. The LaLiga champions want at least €80million (£70m) for the Brazilian. The likes of Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham have been linked.

- Diario AS says Borussia Dortmund are concerned about mounting speculation surrounding Madrid's interest in Erling Haaland. The Norwegian sensation only joined Dortmund in January.

Madrid are chasing Lille's midfield star Boubakary Soumare, according to Le10Sport. United and Liverpool have also been linked to the 21-year-old.

Juve are looking to complete a deal for Mauro Icardi, says Calciomercato. Icardi is on loan at PSG from Inter but the Argentina international wants to return to Italy.

Manchester City face an uphill battle trying to sign Raphael Varane. Defensa Central says Madrid are ready to turn down any bids for the Frenchman. According to Tuttosport, City have set their sights on three Inter players – Lautaro Martinez, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni. Martinez has been tipped to join Barca.

- Diario AS claims Barca are keeping tabs on Juve midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur. It comes as Marca says Atletico Madrid are leading the race to sign Ivan Rakitic from Barca.

Milan are eyeing three candidates should star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma leave the club, reports Calciomercato. Donnarumma has been linked to Chelsea, Madrid and PSG and Napoli's Alex Meret, Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso and Sporting CP's Luis Maximiano are being considered.

With football no closer to being resumed as the coronavirus pandemic continues, players across Europe's top-five leagues have lots of time to pore over their performances from this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of those ball-playing technicians: the pass-masters.

We have analysed nine key metrics for outfield players to play in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose passing could use some improvement. Those metrics are focused on the number of passes (overall, in a player's own half and their opponent's half), the accuracy of those passes, corners and crosses, and losing possession.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For instance, we have included overall accuracy percentages to give balance to the simple number of passes. A team's playmaker or set-piece taker, for example, is arguably more likely to have a larger number of misplaced passes than team-mates simply because he will be attempting more of them, and often in difficult areas.

It's also worth noting that the number of times possession has been lost excludes 'Hoofs' (which, by their nature, make losing the ball more common), while corner and crossing accuracy is taken only from those to attempt, on average, at least one per game.

That said, the below gives a good indication of some passing figures that need improvement - and there are one or two surprising names...

THE WORST PASSING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most passes failed: Robert Andrich (291)
Worst passing accuracy: Anthony Modeste (55.4 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Jamilu Collins (110)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Kai Proger (60.5 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Sebastian Andersson (215)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Anthony Modeste (42.1 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Filip Kostic (199)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Wendell (0 of 22)
Most times possession lost: Filip Kostic (616)

LALIGA:

Most passes failed: Leandro Cabrera (352)
Worst passing accuracy: Enric Gallego (48.6 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Pervis Estupinan (94)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Sergio Leon (57.1 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Joselu (283)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Leandro Cabrera (43.5 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Jesus Navas (134)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Karim Benzema (0 of 19)
Most times possession lost: Pervis Estupinan (534)

LIGUE 1:

Most passes failed: Issiaga Sylla (281)
Worst passing accuracy: Suk Hyun-jun (44.8 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Fabien Centonze (111)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Suk Hyun-jun (50 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Andy Delort (238)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half:  Suk Hyun-jun (44.4 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Mathieu Dossevi (142)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): M'Baye Niang (0 of 11)
Most times possession lost: Angel Di Maria (539)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most passes failed: Trent Alexander-Arnold (480)
Worst passing accuracy: Christian Benteke (52.4 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Cesar Azpilicueta (132)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Matej Vydra (50 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half:  Trent Alexander-Arnold (359)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Christian Benteke (48 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed:  Trent Alexander-Arnold (246)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Gabriel Martinelli (0 of 22)
Most times possession lost:  Trent Alexander-Arnold (867)

SERIE A:

Most passes failed: Stefano Sabelli (324)
Worst passing accuracy: Lautaro Martinez (59.5 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Stefano Sabelli (94)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Stefano Sabelli (230)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Florian Aye (58.5 per cent)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Roberto Inglese (54 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Erick Pulgar (134)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Kevin Lasagna (0 from 13)
Most possession lost: Stefano Sabelli (494)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most passes failed: Trent Alexander-Arnold (480)
Worst passing accuracy: Suk Hyun-jun (44.8 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Cesar Azpilicueta (132)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Suk Hyun-jun and Matej Vydra (50 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Trent Alexander-Arnold (359)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Anthony Modeste (42.1 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Trent Alexander-Arnold (246)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Wendell and Gabriel Martinelli (0 of 22)
Most times possession lost: Trent Alexander-Arnold (867)

Parma's game against SPAL proceeded on Sunday despite confusion before kick-off, when it appeared Serie A could be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Players from both teams were in the tunnel at the Ennio Tardini but were ordered back into the changing rooms to await a final decision over whether the match would go ahead.

Kick-off was initially delayed by half an hour before being rescheduled for 13:45 local time (12:45 GMT), over an hour after the intended start time.

The incident came about as Italian authorities apparently considered whether all Serie A matches should be cancelled amid the ongoing spread of the virus in the country.

Speaking on Sunday, Italy's minister for sport Vincenzo Spadafora confirmed he was recommending an immediate halt to the top-flight season.

He said: "It makes no sense right now, as we ask citizens to make huge sacrifices to prevent the spread of the disease, to put at risk the health of players, referees, coaches and fans, who will surely gather together to watch the games, just to protect the interests that revolve around the sport.

"Other federations have wisely decided to suspend football for the next few days. I think it is the duty of the FIGC [the Italian Football Federation] president, Gabriele Gravina, to reflect again, without waiting for the first case of a Serie A player to be infected, before taking on this very serious responsibility."

Authorities had already ordered all sporting events to be played behind closed doors until at least the start of April to limit the risk of infection.

On Saturday, the Italian government locked down the northern region of Lombardy in an attempt to contain the proliferation of COVID-19, which has infected 5,883 people in the country and claimed 234 lives.

People face fines if they are caught entering or leaving the region unless they have a serious reason to do so. All public events, including weddings and funerals, have been banned.

Valencia's Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Atalanta is due to be played on Tuesday without fans present at Mestalla, while traditional pre-match media duties have been cancelled.

Speaking last week, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin insisted it is not the right time to consider "dark scenarios" such as postponing domestic and European competitions or the Euro 2020 finals this year.

"We are dealing with it and we are confident we can deal with it," Ceferin said. "You don't know how many big concerns we have: we have security concerns, political instability and one is also the virus.

"Let's try to be optimistic, not think about dark scenarios – there's time for that later."

Juventus versus Inter and Milan's match with Genoa have been scheduled for this Sunday, Serie A has confirmed.

Six games in Italy's top flight were postponed last weekend due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Along with the games featuring Juve, Inter, Milan and Genoa, matches between Parma and SPAL, Udinese and Fiorentina, and Sassuolo and Brescia were also called off.

Monday's meeting between Sampdoria and Hellas Verona was also cancelled.

Lega Serie A initially planned to move the matches to Wednesday, May 13, which forced the Coppa Italia final to be rescheduled for May 20.

However, it was confirmed on Friday that five of the matches are to take place on March 8, with Milan facing Genoa at 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT), while Juve against Inter is at 20:45 local time (19:45 GMT).

Sassuolo versus Brescia has been moved to Monday.

All the games are to be played behind closed doors following a government decree that said sporting events are to be played without fans present until April 3.

Champions Juve are second in the table, two points behind Lazio, who have played a game more.

Inter are six points behind Maurizio Sarri's side, although they have two games in hand on the leaders.

Juventus' derby d'Italia against Inter is among five Series A fixtures to be postponed this weekend due to ongoing fears over the spread of the coronavirus in Italy.

The matches were initially due to be played behind closed doors, as was the case with Inter's Europa League victory over Ludogorets at San Siro on Thursday.

But Lega Serie A revealed on Saturday that the clash in Turin, along with Milan v Genoa, Parma against SPAL and Sassuolo versus Brescia would not go ahead on Sunday.

Udinese's encounter with Fiorentina on Saturday has also been called off.

The matches will instead be played on May 13, with the Coppa Italia final pushed back a week to May 20.

Everyone wants a piece of Erling Haaland.

The Norwegian teenager has taken Europe by storm this season. First with Salzburg and now with Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland's exploits have reportedly alerted Real Madrid.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID MAKE CONTACT FOR HAALAND

Real Madrid have held talks with Borussia Dortmund over the signing of star striker Erling Haaland, according to Radio Marca.

Haaland has enjoyed a record-breaking start to life at Bundesliga outfit Dortmund after arriving from Salzburg in January, having turned down Manchester United.

But the 19-year-old's time with Dortmund could be brief as LaLiga giants Madrid reportedly circle amid their goalscoring woes.

 

ROUND-UP

- La Gazzetta Dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira claims Paris Saint-Germain are interested in Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. With veteran centre-back Thiago Silva out of contract at the end of the season and facing an uncertain future, Ligue 1 champions PSG are set to turn to Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham. Napoli are reportedly set to demand at least €100-110million.

Madrid are also reportedly interested in Koulibaly, while El Desmarque says Zinedine Zidane is tracking Inter defender Milan Skriniar.

Tottenham are monitoring Manchester United defender and Roma loanee Chris Smalling, reports Calciomercato. Roma want to sign Smalling permanently.

- According to Football Insider, City have identified Everton defender Mason Holgate as a primary transfer target. Pep Guardiola is determined to bolster his defensive options after an injury-plagued season.

- Inter forward Lautaro Martinez is wanted by LaLiga champions Barcelona but Madrid are ready to go head-to-head with their rivals for the Argentina star, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Milan are eyeing a move for Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul at season's end, reports Schira.

Italy prime minister Giuseppe Conte revealed all of Serie A's Week 26 fixtures, including the blockbuster showdown between Juventus and Inter, could be postponed due to coronavirus fears.

The outbreak of coronavirus in Italy forced four top-flight matches to be postponed over the weekend, including Sunday's clash between Scudetto hopefuls Inter and Sampdoria.

Italy's move came as part of preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 which originated in China, after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Now, upcoming fixtures across Italy's leagues are in doubt, with Serie A leaders Juve scheduled to host Inter in Turin on March 1.

"I don't think that in just one week we'd be able to slow down the contagion so much that we could resume sporting events," Conte told Rai.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation and will evaluate. We'll see the evolution of the contagion and evaluate postponing all next week's matches."

Juve are a point clear atop the table following Saturday's 2-1 victory away at bottom side SPAL.

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th career appearance with a goal, scoring in an 11th consecutive top-flight match – matching a feat previously achieved by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

In-form Lazio were also in action on Saturday and edged Genoa 3-2 to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games, while Inter are six points off the pace with a game in hand.

Inter returned to winning ways in Serie A as Romelu Lukaku scored twice in the second half to secure a 2-0 triumph away at lowly Udinese.

Antonio Conte's side had drawn their three previous league outings and, with leaders Juventus defeating Fiorentina 3-0 earlier on Sunday, appeared in danger of losing further ground in the title race.

However, after a scoreless first half, Lukaku's brace moved Inter back above Lazio and into second place, three points behind the reigning champions.  

January additions Christian Eriksen and Victor Moses were handed their full debuts by Conte while teenager Sebastiano Esposito filled in up front for the suspended Lautaro Martinez.

Yet the fresh faces failed to inspire, and it was Udinese who were the more threatening side in the first half. Seko Fofana fired into the side netting and Jens Stryger Larsen saw an on-target strike blocked by Ashley Young.

Lukaku had been on the periphery of proceedings before converting his first attempt of the game, his low, left-footed effort in the 64th minute going through the legs of Bram Nuytinck to beat Juan Musso.

The Belgian's second arrived from the penalty spot seven minutes later, Musso having been spectacularly up-ending Alexis Sanchez as the substitute attempted to skip beyond the advancing goalkeeper.

Kevin Lasagna twice dragged efforts wide in the closing stages as Udinese drew a blank, the hosts managing just one shot on target as they allowed Inter goalkeeper Daniele Padelli a comfortable outing while standing in for the injured Samir Handanovic.

Christian Eriksen's decision to choose Inter over a host of other European giants is proof the club are on the right track, according to head coach Antonio Conte.

Eriksen completed a move from Tottenham to Inter on Tuesday, becoming the Serie A club's third addition of the January window after Ashley Young and Victor Moses.

He was brought on as a substitute with 24 minutes remaining in Wednesday's Coppa Italia quarter-final and is in contention to make his first start in the Serie A visit to Udinese on Sunday.

Conte says Eriksen was courted by a number of other clubs, and he believes the Dane's decision to move to San Siro is evidence of Inter's status as one of Europe's most attractive propositions.

"Eriksen was a great coup for this club as he had so many options to choose from and he chose Inter," Conte told a media conference.

"That proves Inter are seen the right way and we are all working to ensure the brand maintains this lustre.

"Eriksen hasn't been playing very much lately for Spurs, but all told, he is in decent physical shape and is starting to get into our ideas of football.

"We talked to him a great deal, so he understands what we want from him and fortunately he is a quick learner."

Asked if the arrivals of Eriksen, Young and Moses will give Inter enough to win the Scudetto, Conte said: "Time will tell. I am happy to work with these players, but they still need to learn the style of football and the language.

"When the intensive period of the fixture list begins, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope there are no injuries.

"You all saw what happened in the first five months, as there were players forced to play every three days. I hope to have more options to choose and rotate."

Lautaro Martinez will miss the visit to Udinese as he starts a two-match ban, with Conte confirming 17-year-old Sebastiano Esposito or Alexis Sanchez will partner Romelu Lukaku in attack.

"Lautaro is a big miss, considering his strong rapport with Romelu Lukaku," Conte added. "It's an opportunity for those who haven't played as much to make the most of the situation. Either Sebastiano Esposito or Alexis Sanchez will start.

"Marcelo Brozovic had his first training session with us yesterday and is coming to Udine, then we'll evaluate his fitness there.

"I expect a tough game, as Udinese are a very physical side with strong quality too. It'll be a hard match, as they all are in Serie A."

Stefano Pioli said the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has "raised the level of training" at Milan, who are unbeaten in three Serie A matches with the 38-year-old striker involved.

The Rossoneri on Sunday beat Udinese 3-2 in an entertaining encounter at San Siro, where an error by Gianluigi Donnarumma allowed the visitors to take the lead after six minutes through Jens Stryger Larsen.

Second-half strikes from Ante Rebic and Theo Hernandez turned the game on its head before Kevin Lasagna's 85th-minute equaliser.

There was one final twist, though, as Rebic won it deep into stoppage time and Pioli revelled in a third successive victory, but warned Milan have plenty of room for improvement.

"I have to congratulate my players on their performance against the team that caused us a lot of problems," the Milan boss told DAZN.

"We still have to work a lot, because today we showed our quality but there were also moments of relaxation where we exposed to rival blows."

He added: "I asked my players that this week would be perfect and we succeeded, although it was hard.

"This should teach us that the match never ends. We will still work on efficiency."

Ante Rebić's first Rossonero brace and Theo's stunner clinch the win against Udinese Read more https://t.co/eo7djPvp3V

La prima doppietta rossonera di Rebić e la magia di Theo decidono #MilanUdinese  Scopri di più https://t.co/iY1DYC4enn#SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/B2LleqOJ2y

— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 19, 2020

Ibrahimovic played the full 90 minutes and Pioli was full of praise for the veteran striker's performance, as well as that of Rebic after he scored three minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute and struck again at the death.

"Ibra is an added value in our daily work," Pioli said of Ibrahimovic. "He raised the level of training.

"Rebic has been hoping for more opportunities, he always trains well, and after Christmas he returned very determined and willing.

"Everyone who wants to help the team will be given chances."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped Milan to a 3-2 victory over Udinese on Sunday to break yet another record.

Milan's success in Ibrahimovic's 222nd Serie A appearance made the veteran striker the fastest player to 150 wins in the Italian top flight in the three-points-for-a-win era - which started in 1994-95.

The 38-year-old was making only his third appearance since arriving at San Siro for his second spell at the club, as two goals from Ante Rebic and one from Theo Hernandez steered Milan to a third consecutive victory in all competitions.

Ibrahimovic has played for Juventus, Inter and Milan across the course of two decades in which he has won seven Scudettos, two of which were revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal.

He has achieved 150 wins in eight fewer matches than former Inter team-mate Esteban Cambiasso, and 10 fewer than Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne.

Substitute Ante Rebic completed a match-turning second-half double in the 93rd minute to earn Milan a rollercoaster 3-2 victory over Udinese in Serie A on Sunday.

The Croatian winger struck moments after his half-time introduction to cancel out Jens Stryger Larsen's early opener before Theo Hernandez volleyed in a brilliant second, only for Kevin Lasagna to head the visitors level in the 85th minute.

However, the Rossoneri were not to be denied a thrilling come-from-behind win and they had Rebic to thank for a second successive league victory, the 26-year-old keeping his cool to convert in a crowded box deep into added time.

The result at least momentarily lifts Milan up to eighth and gives Stefano Pioli increased hope of leading the team to Europa League qualification.

Maurizio Sarri described Gonzalo Higuain's opener that set Juventus on course for a 4-0 win over Udinese as a goal of "rare beauty".

Juventus marched through to the Coppa Italia quarter-finals with their emphatic victory, which was achieved without the unwell Cristiano Ronaldo.

While Ronaldo contended with a bout of sinusitis, his Juventus team-mates ensured there would be no slip-ups at the Allianz Stadium.

And it was a glorious effort that set them on their way, Higuain ending a quickfire five-pass interaction with fellow Argentinian Paulo Dybala by burying the ball past Brazilian keeper Nicolas.

"The knockout fixtures are always an unknown factor, but the feeling in training was that the team was brilliant, so I expected a great performance, and, in fact, we had a good match," Sarri said.

"The first goal is of rare beauty, with trade [of passes] at full speed."

Sarri added, quoted on the Juventus website: "Our team has great potential, sometimes it gives the feeling of being able to do more, but we are growing.

"Ronaldo was not present because for a couple of days he had a bit of sinusitis and today he felt some shivers, so we prefer to keep him rested given the cold evening.

"Is it Sarri's Juve? No, it's Cristiano's, Dybala's, Higuain's Juve... I'm trying to put something of my own in it, but you have to respect the characteristics of the players."

Dybala added two goals, including a penalty, while Douglas Costa also slotted away a spot-kick as Juventus dominated and might have won by a greater margin.

"It was an important game," Higuain said. "We wanted to pass the round because we want to win the Coppa Italia."

Juventus made light of the absence of a sick Cristiano Ronaldo as their Argentinian connection dazzled in a 4-0 Coppa Italia win over Udinese.

The onset of sinusitis on Wednesday afternoon meant Ronaldo sat out this last-16 tie, but Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala put the game beyond Udinese before the hour mark.

And an outstading five-pass exchange between the Juve strike pair set the tone for the one-sided cup tie, with Higuain netting the 16th-minute opener.

Dybala slotted a penalty 10 minutes later, then struck a sublime third goal in the early stages of the second half.

The former Palermo man would have been on for a hat-trick had he taken the second penalty awarded to Juventus just after the hour. Instead, Douglas Costa took responsibility, safely finding the right corner.

If it had come as a blow to coach Maurizio Sarri to lose Ronaldo so close to kick-off, the former Chelsea boss would have been delighted by the response of his healthy players.

Lazio last year ended Juventus' run of four consecutive Coppa Italia triumphs, when a surprising 3-0 thumping by Atalanta in the quarter-finals concluded Juve's quest.

This time Juve will tackle Parma or Roma in the last eight.

Higuain gave Juventus the lead in style, trading a succession of passes with Dybala on the edge of the Udinese penalty area before being played through by his fellow Argentinian to fire into the left corner.

Udinese appealed for offside, but Higuain had timed his run perfectly and the striker's finish was emphatic.

Dybala stayed cool from the spot after Federico Bernardeschi was tripped by goalkeeper Nicolas, and it was looking like a long night for Udinese.

A VAR offside ruling denied Higuain, after he tucked home when Matthijs de Ligt's shot was parried out, but there was no doubt Juventus had a third when the ball next hit the back of the net.

Higuain fed his compatriot on the right corner of the penalty area, and although Nicolas got a touch to Dybala's shot, it arced in such a way that he had little hope of keeping it out.

Juventus were awarded their second penalty when Bram Nuytinck blocked Daniele Rugani's shot with his hands, and they were home and dry when Douglas Costa put the ball beyond Nicolas.

Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out of Juventus' Coppa Italia clash with Udinese on Wednesday after falling ill.

Juventus announced the former Real Madrid forward would miss the last-16 match, dealing a blow to boss Maurizio Sarri ahead of kick-off.

The club issued a statement on Twitter that read: "Cristiano Ronaldo was struck by a bout of sinusitis this afternoon and will not be present at the Allianz Stadium for tonight's match."

The omens were still good for Juventus heading into the tie, with Sarri's men having won their past five matches against Udinese across all competitions.

Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala started in attack in the absence of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Ronaldo began the new year with a hat-trick against Cagliari in Serie A, before his penalty on Sunday in a 2-1 win against Roma helped Juventus replace Inter at the top of the table.

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