Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and no closer to re-signing in the French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly holding onto hope of securing his services before the end of the transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL DREAMING OF MBAPPE

Real Madrid have not given up on signing Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Mbappe is into the final year of his PSG contract and while he has been tipped to make the move to Madrid, he has reportedly told friends he will remain in Paris.

However, LaLiga powerhouses Madrid – also linked with Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland – believe it is a strategy to secure a friendly exit from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are interested in Monaco defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, say reporters Sacha Tavolieri and Jonathan Shrager. United have also been linked with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who is reportedly wanted by PSG and Madrid.

- RB Leipzig star Marcel Sabitzer is interested in a move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich, claims Bild.

- Goal and widespread reports say Arsenal are close to signing Martin Odegaard from Madrid. Odegaard spent six months on loan at Arsenal last season.

Duvan Zapata is Inter's priority signing, according to Calciomercato. Despite signing Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries after Romelu Lukaku's, the Serie A champions are eyeing the Atlanta forward. Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, Joaquin Correa of Lazio, Torino forward Andrea Belotti and Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst are other options.

- Italian journalist Sara Meini reports Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit of Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic amid their struggle to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham. Atletico Madrid and Spurs have also been linked with Vlahovic.

Juventus are nearing a deal to re-sign Miralem Pjanic from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve, according to Di Marzio, are also listening to offers for Weston McKennie.

Lionel Messi has officially left Barcelona following Sunday's press conference and farewell.

Paris Saint-Germain have been widely linked with a move for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

The Argentina international admitted that a move to PSG was a possibility but said nothing was confirmed.

TOP STORY - MONDAY PSG MEDICAL FOR MESSI

Messi is scheduled to have a medical with PSG on Monday before he completes his free transfer move from Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

The Argentina international bid farewell to Barcelona on Sunday and the Parisians appear the frontrunners to sign him.

The report says PSG and Messi have almost agreed to all the final details of the contract, with ESPN claiming he will be unveiled at a special ceremony at the Eiffel Tower this week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter are targeting Anthony Martial as they look to replace Romelu Lukaku, who is expected to join Chelsea, reports The Sun. Manchester United are believed to be ready to sell him for £50million. Inter want Martial initially on a season-long loan.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Jose Mourinho's Roma are plotting a move to sign French striker Alexandre Lacazette from Arsenal. The stumbling block may be that Lacazette wants to play Champions League football, which Roma cannot offer this season.

- Arsenal are lining up a move for Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic if they cannot land Tammy Abraham from Chelsea, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. The Serbian scored 21 league goals for Fiorentina last term.

- Arsenal and Newcastle have agreed to a fee of £25m for English midfielder Joe Willock, claims Sky Sports. Willock spent the second half of last season on loan with the Magpies.

- The Sun claims that Southampton are trying to lure Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back to the club on loan from Liverpool.

 

Where will Lionel Messi land?

Barcelona's shock announcement of his departure set rumours flying.

Will it be Paris, Manchester or somewhere else?

 

TOP STORY - MESSI ON THE MARKET

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are rumoured to be the top suitors for Lionel Messi.

The French giants have already made contact with Messi's representatives, according to Fabrizio Romano, and are seen in many quarters as the favourites to land the Argentine forward.

It remains to be seen wherher PSG can take on Messi after making several major moves during the transfer window, while City may be in a similarly difficult situation after finalising their £100million deal for Jack Grealish on Thursday.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola may still be a possibility, though, especially if Tottenham refuse to engage in talks around a Harry Kane deal.

Major League Soccer could also be a possibility, though Messi is expected to remain in Europe for at least a few more years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have not given up on a move for Kieran Trippier, though they have not come close to Atletico Madrid's £34million demands for the England international, The Sun says.

- West Ham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, Fabrizio Romano reports, with the Serie A side eyeing Matija Nastasic of Schalke as a replacement.

- Arsenal have bid £17m for Lazio striker Joaquin Correa, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Juventus are interested in bringing back Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic on either a loan or a permanent deal, says Calciomercato.

- Roma are lining up a £21m bid for Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, says Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Crystal Palace are among multiple clubs hoping to lure Adam Armstrong from Blackburn, with the Daily Mail saying they are favoured ahead of Norwich City and Southampton.

Gennaro Gattuso admitted the circumstances that led to his failure to land the Tottenham job "hurt more than any defeat or dismissal".

It was reported a sustained online backlash from Spurs fans over the prospect of Gattuso, 43, succeeding Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach resulted in the club pulling the plug. 

The protests were, in part, down to the former Italy midfielder's controversial past comments on racism, women in football and same-sex marriage.

Tottenham subsequently appointed Nuno Espirito Santo as their new coach on June 30.

"It was a huge disappointment, but I wasn't described the way I am and there was nothing I could do," Gattuso told Il Messaggero.

"I am sorry I could not defend myself and explain that I am not the person they were talking about in England.

"I had to accept a story that hurts more than any defeat or dismissal, in a moment when we don't want to understand how dangerous the internet can be."

Gattuso left Napoli when the Serie A season ended in May and was named as Fiorentina boss a matter of days later, only to leave La Viola by mutual agreement on June 17 before his contract was due to commence.

He won 46 of his 81 games in charge of Napoli, giving him a win percentage of 56.8 – better than Rafael Benitez (52.7 per cent) and Carlo Ancelotti (52.1 per cent) but worse than Ottavio Bianchi (56.9 per cent) and Maurizio Sarri (66.2 per cent).

 

Gattuso felt he was the victim in an online campaign where he had no platform to respond to the claims – though he had no desire to create a social media account.

"Certain malice comes from Facebook or Twitter, where it is possible to give strength to any falsehood," he added.

"I don't have social media profiles and I don't want them.

"Why should I let them insult me for anything? I don't even have Instagram. 

"I don't understand, if I drink a bottle of wine, what's the point of taking a picture to let others know. It's my business."

Is Lionel Messi's future close to being resolved?

Messi is out of contract at Barcelona and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a move away.

But, if reports are to be believed, the superstar is on the verge of extending his Barca contract.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI SET TO RENEW AT CAMP NOU

Lionel Messi will renew his contract with Barcelona until 2023, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Messi is out of contract at Camp Nou and the superstar captain has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

But Messi is poised to re-sign, with an official deal reportedly only a matter of time.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are edging closer to signing long-time transfer target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, reports Bild.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid are set to rival Arsenal for Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak. The Sweden international appeals as a more affordable option compared to Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe.

- Inter star Achraf Hakimi is expected to join PSG, says Romano. Personal terms have reportedly been agreed until 2026. He has also been linked with Chelsea.

- Premier League champions City are willing to wait a year to sign a striker if they are unable to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham, according to ESPN. Kane has been linked with City, United, Chelsea, Madrid and Barca amid reports he wants to leave Spurs. With Tottenham unwilling to sell Kane, City are prepared to wait in the transfer market as they also eye Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter want to sign Barca full-back Jordi Alba, with the Serie A holders willing to offer three players – Milan Skriniar, Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

- Maurizio Sarri's Lazio are close to signing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, reports Sky Sport Italia.

West Ham have made a bid to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, says Sky Sport Italia. The Serbia international has previously been linked with Tottenham, United and Milan.

Gennaro Gattuso has left as head coach of Fiorentina just 23 days after being appointed.

The Serie A club confirmed on Thursday that the former Napoli boss had stepped down by mutual consent.

"The company immediately set to work to identify a technical choice that will guide the Viola team towards the results that Fiorentina and the city of Florence deserve," they said.

Gattuso, who took the Fiorentina job just two days after leaving Napoli, is reported to have had disagreements over the club's transfer plans.

His agent, Jorge Mendes, is said to have proposed signings such as Porto's Sergio Oliveira and Goncalo Guedes of Valencia, but Fiorentina's management wanted to explore more affordable options.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, former Lyon boss Rudi Garcia, ex-Leicester City coach Claudio Ranieri and Walter Mazzarri, most recently at Torino, are candidates to succeed Gattuso.

Fiorentina finished 13th last season, with just nine victories from 38 league games.

After 16 years, Sergio Ramos is moving on from Real Madrid.

The 35-year-old is far from finished, though, as his wage demands indicate.

His next club will have to meet high salary expectations. 

 

TOP STORY – BIG CLUBS IN MIX FOR RAMOS

Manchester City has been in contact with Ramos' representatives for some time, AS reported, and the Premier League champions should be able to handle the Spaniard's reported €12million annual salary demands. 

That number figures to limit the number of serious contenders to sign the superstar centre-back, with Manchester United also reportedly in the mix. 

Paris Saint-Germain could also turn to Ramos after failing to find a suitable replacement for Thiago Silva in central defence. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Bernardo Silva's agent has had talks with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid over a move to LaLiga for the Manchester City man, the Daily Mail says. 

- Juventus lead the race to sign Euro 2020 star Manuel Locatelli, Fabrizio Romano reports, with Sassuolo seeking a fee of around €40million (£34m). 

- Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri is Napoli's top target during this transfer window, Gazzetta dello Sport reports, with the Blues seeking a €15m (£13m) fee. 

- Everton face competition from Inter in their pursuit of PSV Eindhoven defender and Netherlands international Denzel Dumfries, according to Voetbal International. 

- Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma will join PSG on a five-year contract, Romano reports, adding that the 22-year-old goalkeeper is expected to undergo his medical Monday in Florence. 

- Brighton have agreed a £25m fee with Stuttgart for forward Nicolas Gonzalez, the Guardian reports, while Sky Sports says the Seagulls rejected Arsenal's £40m bid for England international Ben White

- Arsenal are also in pursuit of Porto winger Jesus Corona along with Sevilla and Fiorentina, according to the Daily Mail. 

Italy have been dealt a blow on the eve of Euro 2020, with Lorenzo Pellegrini set to missing out after sustaining an injury in training.

The Roma midfielder, who has been linked with Barcelona and Liverpool in recent weeks, was due to play in his first international tournament after being included in Roberto Mancini's squad.

He featured three times in qualifying, with Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Nicolo Barella the only central midfielders to play more games than him.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a solid season for the Giallorossi, his 13 goal involvements (seven scored, six assists) bettered by only eight midfielders – though among them were individuals who play in more advanced roles, such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Josip Ilicic.

 

Although he would ordinarily be considered a back-up for the Azzurri, his withdrawal comes as a considerable blow given Mancini is already without Stefano Sensi, and Verratti is a doubt for the Turkey clash.

Additionally, Pellegrini proved himself an able creator for Roma this term, his 65 key passes the sixth highest among Serie A midfielders.

But he will have to watch on with the rest of Italy's fans over the next month, with Mancini's side starting the tournament against Turkey on Friday.

"Unfortunately this damn thigh problem will not allow me to play this European Championship," he wrote on his official Instagram account.

"There is a lot of bitterness right now ... but it is now that we need to hug even more and cheer on this fantastic group of real men who will surely give their souls to every game from start to finish.

"I believe it. Come on guys, come on Italy. All together."

Italy confirmed they have asked UEFA for permission to replace him in the squad with technically gifted Fiorentina midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli, 24.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku headlined the list of Serie A's MVP winners for the 2020-21 season.

Ronaldo finished the campaign as the leading scorer in the competition, netting 29 times across 33 appearances for Juventus to be named the most valuable forward.

Lukaku ranked second in the scorer's list with 24 goals from 36 outings, though the Belgium striker did provide 11 assists compared to Ronaldo's tally of three as he was named "the best overall" MVP.

Both forwards only netted one goal from outside the area and scored six penalties apiece, while Lukaku had a better shot conversion rate than Ronaldo – 25 per cent compared to 17.26 - as he helped Inter finish as champions.

 

Meanwhile, Gianluigi Donnarumma – whose future remains unclear as his contract at Milan nears an end – was selected as the top goalkeeper.

No other keeper played more games than the 22-year-old (37), while his tally of 14 clean sheets was level with Inter's Samir Handanovic for most in the league.

Cristian Romero was named as the best defender after a fine season with Atalanta, while Inter's Italy international Nicolo Barella scooped the midfield MVP honour.

Barella played 36 times for Antonio Conte's champions, scoring three goals and setting a further up seven. On average, he created 1.46 chances per 90 minutes.

There was also recognition for Dusan Vlahovic, named the best player under the age of 23 in Serie A after netting 21 league goals for Fiorentina.

Gennaro Gattuso will take over as Fiorentina's new head coach next season, their agreement coming just two days after his Napoli exit was confirmed.

Shortly after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona consigned Napoli to finishing fifth in Serie A, Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Gattuso's exit. 

Napoli went into the weekend in fourth position but were leapfrogged on the final day by Juventus, who were 4-1 winners at Bologna. 

Gattuso's contract was due to expire at the end of 2020-21 and Napoli's failure to reach the Champions League seemingly cost him an extension.

He won 46 of his 81 games as Napoli boss, giving him a win percentage of 56.8 – better than Rafael Benitez (52.7 per cent) and Carlo Ancelotti (52.1 per cent) but worse than Ottavio Bianchi (56.9 per cent) and Maurizio Sarri (66.2 per cent). 

Nevertheless, the former Italy midfielder has landed on his feet by securing a deal with Fiorentina, who had reportedly been interested in him for several months.

La Viola endured a difficult 2020-21.

Giuseppe Iachini started and finished the season as coach, finding himself sacked in November before being rehired four months later when his successor Cesare Prandelli suddenly resigned, citing struggles with a "period of profound distress which is preventing me from being who I really am".

Iachini saw out the remainder of the campaign as La Viola finished 13th in Serie A – only once since their first season back in the top flight in 2004-05 have they ended a season lower in the table (16th in 2018-19).

Robert Lewandowski may be contracted to Bayern Munich until 2023 but speculation is mounting about his future.

Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the Poland international, particularly if the Parisians lose Kylian Mbappe.

The agent of the Bundesliga record-breaker is reportedly putting pressure on Bayern to re-negotiate his current deal, fuelling the rumours of a switch.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA MAKE LEWANDOWSKI ENQUIRY

Chelsea have reached out to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to discuss a potential move for Robert Lewandowski, according to Sky Sport Germany.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea would face stiff competition from Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, in the event Lewandowski decides to leave Munich, where he has been based since 2014.

Chelsea have been linked with a big-money move for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, showcasing their financial strength which could be switched to Lewandowski should they miss out on the Norwegian.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester City have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Tottenham star Harry Kane reports the Daily Mail. Kane has reportedly asked to leave Spurs amid links with City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Chelsea are also interested in signing Atalanta's Ruslan Malinovskyi, claims The Sun. Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix is also a target for the Blues, reports Sky Germany.

- The Sun says David Beckham's MLS franchise Inter Miami are pursuing Arsenal attacker Willian, who is reportedly keen on the opportunity.

Frank Lampard is on Crystal Palace's radar as they plan for Roy Hodgson's successor, according to Talksport. Hodgson will leave the Premier League club at the end of the season.  

- Corriere dello Sport claims Gennaro Gattuso is ready to leave Napoli as Fiorentina circle and he wants club captain Lorenzo Insigne to join him.

Antonio Pirlo does not believe his bosses are happy with his efforts after Juventus were held to a 1-1 Serie A draw at Fiorentina.

Dusan Vlahovic gave the relegation-threatened Viola a deserved first-half lead from the penalty spot at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday after Adrien Rabiot handled in the area.

Bianconeri head coach Pirlo reacted to a lacklustre display in the opening 45 minutes by replacing Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala with Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski, changing the formation after starting with three at the back.

Morata made an instant impact, equalising with a sublime left-foot finish just 31 seconds after coming on, but the champions failed to go on and secure three precious points.

Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici stated ahead of the game that Pirlo's job would be safe if they finished in the top four, but fifth-placed Napoli can join them on 66 points with five games to play by beating Torino on Monday.

Pirlo says he is learning on the job but knows he has fallen short of expectations in his first season at the helm.

He told Sky Italia: "The initial expectations [when he took charge] were different and I don't think I did the job as intended.

"Every game that passes you learn something but I'm not happy and I don't think the club is either."

Morata's sublime strike was Juve's only shot on target and Pirlo says their first-half performance was not good enough.

"There was a very bad first half that had to be faced in a different way. It was fundamental for the Champions League race. In the second half we were better." said the former Italy playmaker.

"We decided to put Morata on to change pace and that happened. We had to deal with it in another way. The three-man defence didn't go well, we had tried one thing and another happened. We changed it and it was better."

Alvaro Morata scored just 31 seconds after coming on as a substitute but Champions League hopefuls Juventus had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.

Dusan Vlahovic scored his 17th Serie A goal of the season with a first-half penalty to put the relegation-threatened Viola in front at Stadio Artemio Franchi, after Adrien Rabiot handled in the area.

Juve boss Andrea Pirlo made a double substitution at the break and it was Morata, one of the two introduced, who levelled with a stunning strike in the first minute of the second half.

The reigning champions were unable to secure a Sunday afternoon victory that would have moved them into second place and fifth-placed Napoli had the chance to join them on 66 points if they beat Torino on Monday.

Fiorentina made a promising start and Wojciech Szczesny raced out sharply to deny number Vlahovic after Franck Ribery played the striker in.

Juve had a huge stroke of luck when a deflected long-range drive from Erick Pulgar struck the post and bounced into the arms of Szczesny, but Vlahovic gave the Viola a deserved lead just before the half-hour mark.

Referee Davide Massa pointed to the spot following a check on the pitchside monitor, with the ball having struck Rabiot's arm as he jumped to try and head clear, and Vlahovic made the midfielder pay with a cheeky 'Panenka' penalty.

Aaron Ramsey missed a good opportunity to equalise late in the first half when Fiorentina were opened up by a slick move and the Wales international poked wide at full stretch with only Bartlomiej Dragowski to beat.

Pirlo reverted from a three-man defensive set-up to a back four for the second half, with Morata replacing Leonardo Bonucci and Dejan Kulusevski on for Paulo Dybala.

Morata made an instant impact, getting on the end of a ball down the right channel and cutting inside sharply before picking out the far corner of the net with a sublime left-footed finish.

Juve looked a different side after the break and Nikola Milenkovic nodded clear to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from tapping in Giorgio Chiellini's header across goal.

Ronaldo failed to head home a brilliant cross from Kulusevski six minutes from time as Juve dropped points in the battle for a top-four finish.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips as Europe's elite queue up to get their hands on Borussia Dortmund's prized asset. 

From Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona and Manchester United, to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich - there is no shortage of interest in the Norwegian sensation.

"I don't think there's a sports director or trainer in the world who would say 'not interested'," Haaland's agent Mino Raiola told BBC Sport in February. "It's like saying: 'Is there a Formula 1 team who would not be interested in having Lewis Hamilton?'"

The issue is, only a handful of clubs – in a coronavirus-impacted transfer market – could realistically afford to prise the €180m-rated Haaland from Dortmund, where the 20-year-old is contracted until 2024 and his reported €75m release clause does not come into effect until 2022.

Step forward, Dusan Vlahovic.

A revelation for relegation-threatened Fiorentina in 2020-21, the powerful but nimble left-footed Serbia international has emerged as a cheaper alternative in a Haaland-dominated market. Vlahovic's 16 league goals this season have reportedly caught the eye of a host of top European clubs, ready to upgrade their forward line in the next window.

Present, not the future

Vlahovic has been destined for the top, the player says so himself.

"I am a Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Belgrade, I will play for the strongest clubs," is what former Fiorentina forward Valeri Bojinov recalled being told by Vlahovic in an interview with Transfermarkt earlier this year.

There have always been high expectations for Vlahovic – the youngest debutant in Partizan Belgrade's history after making his debut aged 16, while he became the youngest goalscorer in the club's 75-year history that season – but he is more than just the future, he is the here and now.

In a struggling Fiorentina side fighting to preserve their top-flight status, Vlahovic has been a shining light. The 21-year-old's tally of 16 goals in 31 appearances this season only behind Haaland (23 in 25) for most goals by players aged under 22 in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.

 

Vlahovic is the first Fiorentina player to score 16 goals in a single top-flight campaign since Giuseppe Rossi in 2013-14, the first player born after the year 2000 to reach 20 Serie A goals and one of just four players born post-2000 to net 20 career goals in Europe's top-five leagues. He also became the first Fiorentina player to score a first-half Serie A hat-trick since Kurt Hamrin in 1964 after his treble against Benevento in March.

Vlahovic has 22 goals in 71 Italian top-flight appearances, one more goal than Juventus' Paulo Dybala (21) from one game less (72) before the age of 22, though Alexandre Pato bagged 50 goals in 102 Serie A games and Bojinov tallied 22 goals in 86 league matches in Italy before celebrating his 22nd birthday – it did not exactly go according to plan for the latter pair.

The average non-penalty shot conversion rate in Serie A this season is 11.1 per cent and Vlahovic has performed comfortably above this average, by converting 17.6 per cent of his shots – in line with the quality of chances he has been given, with his expected goals (xG) per non-penalty shot at 0.173. 

Being able to sustain this over a longer period will reveal more about the qualities he possesses as a forward, but the Belgrade-born sensation is on the right track.

 

Smarter and wiser

There were signs of promise in 2019-20, but Vlahovic's form was patchy with six goals in total.

Expected to hit the ground running this term, Vlahovic had a dismal return of just one goal from his first 10 appearances of the season. Despite growing pressure, he kept the faith thanks to some advice from star team-mate Franck Ribery.

"When I was down, he spoke to me and told me to never give up," Vlahovic said. "That’s how I understood what it means to be a champion on the pitch and in life."

Starting to realise his enormous potential, Vlahovic made his senior international debut in October last year and scored his second goal for Serbia in March's World Cup qualifier against Ireland – his improvement is clear to see.

In 2020-21, the average quality of his shots is 0.17 xG, not far off being double what it was in 2019-20 (0.10). Now finding more intelligent shooting positions his shot conversion rate has unsurprisingly jumped from 7.8 per cent to 17.6 per cent across the two seasons. 

Being able to produce shots from wiser positions on the pitch is a sought-after skill and the 21-year-old has excelled in 2020-21. Of the 13 players to have scored at least 10 non-penalty goals in Serie A this season, only Simy (0.21 xG) and Romelu Lukaku (0.20 xG) have averaged better quality shots from open play than Vlahovic.

More than meets the eye

Standing six feet and three inches, Vlahovic is a towering presence on the field. Powerful and quick but technically astute and comfortable with the ball at his feet – trademark Balkan traits.

Vlahovic has been involved in the second-most aerial duels in Serie A this season – 206, behind only Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby. For his stature, it is surprising to discover he has only won 42 per cent of those duels, among the lowest of players to be involved in at least 100 aerials this season in Italy's top-flight.

You would also expect a healthy portion of Vlahovic's goals to come in the air, but this is not the case. Only one of his 16 goals have come from a header, this despite attempting the second most headed efforts in Serie A (17) and just three of these have been on target (18 per cent).

There is more to him than meets the eye, just look at his stunning stoppage-time equaliser against Inter last season – starting with his back to goal in his own half, he left Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij scrambling before producing a clinical shot across Samir Handanovic. Vlahovic's control, awareness, speed and finishing on display for all to see in Florence.

Or there is the Turin example seen in December, Vlahovic splitting Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci and leaving the Juventus pair in his wake as he expertly scooped the ball over the onrushing Wojciech Szczesny.

Fiorentina's Vlahovic is only involved in 25 per cent of shot-ending sequences for the Viola, with just one in four of their open-play shots involving him either as someone in the passing build-up for the shot, the assister of the shot or the player to take the shot. When Vlahovic is involved, he is usually the end of the chain.

Compare this to Haaland, the Norway international is far more involved in the build-up or as the provider than Vlahovic and it is the same story with the Serie A's top two goalscorers, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Inter's Romelu Lukaku.

Haaland is much more of a box player than Vlahovic – 24.5 per cent of the former's touches are in the penalty area, with 12.1 per cent shots. If you compare that to his Fiorentina counterpart, whose 15.2 per cent of touches are in the box and just 7.6 per cent are shots.

 

"I watch him and I try to understand his finishing and how he moves," Vlahovic, whose has scored a lot of his goals from central areas, told La Repubblica of Haaland. "Then, I focus on my strong points and my weaknesses. It may be presumptuous, but with commitment, I can get there too."

While not yet as clinical, Vlahovic is confident he can reach the same level as Haaland and there are not too many reasons to doubt him.

Erling Haaland might be too expensive a purchase for some of football's richest clubs. 

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is on everyone's wish list.

The question is who will be willing to meet his reported demands?

 

TOP STORY - LALIGA GIANTS PRICED OUT OF HAALAND MOVE?

Haaland's apparent desire for a €35million annual salary has the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid thinking twice about a potential move, Goal reported. 

The prolific 20-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, has held informal discussions with both LaLiga stalwarts but the sides did not get into specifics about finances. 

For now it appears Barca and Madrid are content to wait it out and see how Haaland's market unfolds. 

That is not the case for another potential suitor. According to Goal, an unnamed English club that made inquiries about the Leeds-born striker earlier this year has backed away from talks due to that salary figure. 

The mystery team is not Chelsea, who consider Haaland their top target according to an Evening Standard report. 

 

ROUND-UP

- While the Blues can hope to land the high-flying Norwegian, Timo Werner may be on the way out. Though the Evening Standard reports Chelsea have not yet seriously discussed selling him, it is not clear how he fits into the Blues' strike force at the moment.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract with AC Milan this summer and has had talks with Juventus, per La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Manchester United have coveted Nikola Milenkovic and may be ready to make a move for the Fiorentina defender, though The Sun says United would not be interested at the rumoured £38m fee. 

- United also want Edinson Cavani to have another season at Old Trafford, but at age 34 he might want to move closer to home. Boca Juniors would offer him a two-year deal, says Fabrizio Romano. 

- Watford are prepared to bring Ashley Young back to the club should they return to the Premier League next season, the Daily Mail says. Young's contract with Inter is expiring.

- After a loan spell with Paris Saint-GermainAlessandro Florenzi could be in line to play in Italy with Inter next season rather than returning to Roma, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported. 

- Luis Suarez appears likely to remain with Atletico Madrid, but there is a possibility he could rekindle last year's reported talks with David Beckham's Inter Miami. The American side's interest in the Uruguayan "has not stopped," according to Mundo Deportivo. 

- One player not headed anywhere is Karim Benzema, who Marca reports will sign to remain with Real Madrid through 2023.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.