Massimiliano Allegri called on Juventus to improve their calmness and clinical finishing as he conceded his team cannot compete with Serie A title contenders Milan, Inter and Napoli.

Juve dominated for large periods against Inter in the Derby d'Italia, but Hakan Calhanoglu's penalty practically ended the Bianconeri's hopes for a late Scudetto surge following a remarkable unbeaten streak.

With Allegri's side also crashing out at the Champions League last-16 stage to Villarreal, their hopes of silverware hang on their Coppa Italia run, where they hold a 1-0 first-leg semi-final advantage over Fiorentina.

Allegri urged his team to improve on Saturday when they visit Cagliari, who have lost 10 of their last 11 league meetings with Juve – failing to score in eight of those games.

"There is just one possible reaction. Play good games. Tomorrow's match will be very different from the one against Inter," Allegri told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"It's never easy to win in Cagliari and we must be prepared, knowing the opponents, and their moment. We must win games, that's the only thing we must think about.

"Our target is to finish in the top four. For now, we are there, but Roma are close [five points behind]. That's why we need a great performance tomorrow. We can take no risks, we need to adapt to the game.

"We played the best games against Atalanta, Villarreal and Inter at home, but we were not clinical enough. We need to improve and be more calm in those situations.

"I can understand errors in one or two games, but three is an important number and that's why we need to improve.

 

"I've analysed what I saw against Inter. I always think about what the team is doing. We deserve to be fourth. We need to work to improve and we can improve before the end of the season.

"We can work on the development of individual footballers and we have more time because we'll play one game per week, except the Coppa Italia semi-final with Fiorentina.

"I don't like compliments, otherwise, we become a team that is satisfied with compliments and finds excuses. I don't want excuses or compliments, I want victories."

Paulo Dybala will leave Turin when his contract expires at the end of the season but the Argentina international has continued to feature despite a breakdown in talks.

Allegri will hope his striker can deliver and remain committed to the cause against Cagliari, given Dybala has scored six of his eight goals in the league this season against teams in the lower half of the table.

"We have time to work during the week but at the same time, we have targets," he continued. 

"Every player in the team must give his contribution and help us reach a top-four finish, regardless of their future. We have five or six players with a contract expiring. Right now, we must focus on the pitch and on getting results.

"I think Juventus have created a lot in the last three or four months. We haven't scored much and we must be more efficient up front.

"Had we won against Inter, we would have had a small chance [to win the title], but now we need to focus on our target. We are fourth and we deserved so, when we were 10th, we deserve to be 10th. The rest doesn't count."

Paulo Dybala should have demanded a one-year contract to prove his worth to Juventus if he was happy in Turin, according to former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello.

Argentina international Dybala is set to see his time at the Allianz Stadium comes to its conclusion when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The forward has 113 goals across all competitions for Juve, ranking him third all-time among the club’s non-Italian scorers, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

Fellow Serie A competitors Inter and Premier League side Tottenham, managed by former Nerazzurri coach Antonio Conte, are reportedly among the favourites to secure Dybala's signature for the next campaign.

But Capello believes if the 28-year-old was settled at Juve then he should have pleaded with the club for another chance, while he heaped praise on Massimiliano Allegri's new star striker Dusan Vlahovic.

"I like Vlahovic, he has pace, physical strength and desire to improve," he told Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport. "He knows how to work for the team and stay inside the box.

"But Max [Allegri] is right when he says that he must learn how to play in a top club, managing the pressure and the different phases in a game.

"You can't question Dybala technically, but he has had some fitness issues. If he was happy in Turin, he should have challenged Juventus. Ask them for a one-year contract and show how much he's worth.

"The same goes for [Roma forward Nicolo] Zaniolo. He suffered two serious injuries and remained out for 18 months. He must rediscover self-confidence because he has the technical skills."

 

Capello also expressed his concern for the state of Italian football, with the Azzurri missing out on two straight World Cups and no Serie A side in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Roma and Atalanta are the only two Italian sides left in the Europa League, and former England manager Capello believes Italy are way behind their international competitors.

"Italian football is far behind the others. The ball doesn't move quickly, referees blow the whistle too often," he added. "They stop the play too frequently. Every challenge is a foul, so there is never intensity, our teams do not learn to keep up the pace.

"We have fallen behind, in every sense, but the main problem is that the best players no longer come to Italy, so there is no comparison with the best. 

"I don't learn anything if what should help me grow is of the same level as me, has my same knowledge, identical experiences"

Allegri acknowledged his reluctance to use young players in an interview on Friday, and the preference to utilise more experienced players is a problem thought to spread across the whole of the Italian game.

Capello expects no quick fixes as he cited the progression of other countries to learn from.

"Even eight. In Italy, everyone intervenes," he responded when asked if it would take five or six years to return Italy to the top of the footballing pyramid.

"As for youth sectors, those in charge should have a trip to Spain where they work on the technique, not on tactics."

Massimiliano Allegri remembers his maiden successes with Sassuolo and Milan more fondly than his triumphs with Juventus. 

Sassuolo made history under Allegri in 2007-08 when he led them to the Serie C title and promotion to the second tier for the first time.

He was poached by Cagliari and took over at Milan ahead of the 2010-11 season, guiding them to a first Scudetto in seven years. 

Allegri only added the Supercoppa Italiana before moving onto Juve in 2014. He steered the Bianconeri to five straight Serie A titles – the first four of which were domestic doubles thanks to successes in the Coppa Italia – and two Champions League finals, both of which ended in defeat. 

Despite the incredible record he possessed during his first stint at Juve, it is the triumphs in the earlier stages of his career that he remembers more prominently. 

"All the titles are beautiful, I cannot choose. The ones I remember the most are the Serie C title with Sassuolo and the first Serie A title with Milan," said Allegri. 

"The defeats, on the other hand, are all bad – some more than others because the question remains for you about whether you could have done something better." 

Juve endured a sluggish start to the season following Allegri's return to the helm and sit eight points adrift of leaders Milan with seven games to play. 

Allegri has come in for criticism for a lack of willingness to try out young players, an attitude many believe is widespread in Italy and a significant factor in their failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. 

The 54-year-old explained why he may seem reluctant to put his faith in youth. 

"For some years in Italy, there has been a tendency to consider youngsters to be champions after two or three games," he said. 

"But that is pushing them ahead of schedule – at 20 years old a footballer cannot have the maturity of a 28-year-old."

Barcelona have asserted they will not break the bank in pursuit of Erling Haaland, but they remain keen on a striker to help Xavi's rebuild.

Robert Lewandowski is seen as a potential option if does not extend his deal at Bayern Munich.

According to reports, Lewandowski is weighing up his options, as Barcelona prepare themselves for a possible move.

 

TOP STORY – DEST TO BE USED AS MAKEWEIGHT?

Sergino Dest will be added as a sweetener to get a potential deal for Bayern's Lewandowski to Barcelona over the line, Sport reports.

Bayern already made a transfer request during the previous off-season's transfer window for the 21-year-old United States international, who has struggled for consistent minutes since Xavi took over as coach in November.

While a combination of Ronald Araujo, Dani Alves and Oscar Mingueza have all filled in at right back this season, Dest has been increasingly viewed as expendable under Xavi's tenure.

Lewandowski's contract runs out in 2023, but a move at the end of this season is still on the cards. Barca could use Dest to partly subsidise what is sure to be a huge asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

– The agent of Chelsea and Germany forward Timo Werner has been in Italy meeting with representatives from MilanJuventus and Atalanta, according to Corriere dello Sport.

– Ajax and Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has agreed personal terms with Bayern Munich, per Bild.

– The Mirror is reporting senior figures at Inter are now more open to the idea of a return for Chelsea and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku.

– Villarreal and Netherlands winger Arnaut Danjuma is viewed by Liverpool as a potential replacement for Sadio Mane, Goal has reported, but the Reds are not expected to make a bid until 2023.

Juventus midfielder Manuel Locatelli faces up to a month out of action after the midfielder sustained a knee injury in the 1-0 loss against Inter on Sunday.

The Italy international, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, started in the Derby d'Italia but suffered a knock in the first half and was replaced by Denis Zakaria after just 34 minutes.

Bianconeri head coach Massimiliano Allegri appeared unworried by the damage to the 24-year-old after the match, but Juve provided another update on Monday.

Scans have confirmed a problem in the ligament of Locatelli's right knee that is estimated to keep him out for a month, which means he will likely miss Serie A clashes with Cagliari, Bologna, Sassuolo and Venezia.

Locatelli will also be absent for the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on April 20 against Fiorentina, who lost the first meeting 1-0, as Juve look to defend their title.

He has played an integral role this season for Allegri's side, who sit fourth in Serie A after their 16-game league unbeaten run ended against Inter.

Indeed, only Alvaro Morata (30) has featured in more top-flight games than Locatelli for Juve this campaign (29), while Juan Cuadrado (1,283) and Matthijs de Ligt (1,317) are the only players to complete more passes than him (1,141).

Locatelli has won 15 of the Serie A games he has appeared in this term, with De Ligt, Morata, Cuadrado and Moise Kean (all 16) the only players to boast better returns.

Juve will be hoping that Zakaria, Adrien Rabiot and Arthur can step up in Locatelli's absence when they visit Cagliari on Saturday.

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi insists his team will continue to chase Milan and Napoli for the Serie A title after an important 1-0 win at Juventus on Sunday.

A first-half Hakan Calhanoglu penalty was enough for victory in the Derby d'Italia as Inter moved within three points of the top two in the race for the Scudetto.

Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus side will consider themselves unfortunate to have lost, having had 22 shots to the Nerazzurri's five, while the winning goal was the only effort Inter managed on target all game.

Speaking to DAZN after the win, Inzaghi said: "We can chase Milan and Napoli. We have lost some points that we will try to earn in the last eight games from now to the end. It is still very long, [Milan and Napoli] are the favourites, but some will say that it is us."

The former Lazio head coach also insisted there was no controversy about the winning penalty when Calhanoglu's first effort had been saved but the rebound bundled into the net.

The referee initially disallowed the goal and awarded Juve a free-kick, only to then ask for the penalty to be retaken after it emerged Matthijs de Ligt encroached into the box before the first was taken, and Calhanoglu made no mistake at the second time of asking.

"The penalty kick was there, it was already a goal on the rebound and it shouldn't have been repeated," Inzaghi said.

 

Inzaghi also revealed Inter have offered him an extension on his contract, despite rumours he was under pressure after recent results, but added that he will not engage in discussions until the end of the current campaign.

"I have a two-year contract that the club asked me to extend," he said. "I asked to wait until the end [of the season] because contracts are worth what they are worth.

"I feel the trust of the club, of the fans. I'm very happy with what has been done. We had so much fun for seven months and then some criticisms came out. We have been in football for 30 years and we know which criticisms are constructive and which are artfully created."

Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri conceded his side's Serie A title chances had evaporated after their 1-0 home loss against Inter.

The home side controlled the majority of the contest, finishing with 23 shots compared to just five from Inter, but were unable to find the back of the net.

The decisive goal was drenched in controversy as Hakan Calhanoglu's penalty was saved in first-half stoppage time, with the rebound being scrambled in, before VAR and the referee decided other players had entered the box too early, leading to the penalty being retaken.

Calhanoglu made no mistake the second time around, slamming his shot into the bottom-left corner for what ended up being the match-winner.

Speaking to DAZN after the loss, Allegri said the result marked the end of Juventus' hopes of competing for this year's Scudetto.

"From now on we can say that Juventus are definitively cut off from the Scudetto," he said. 

"Now we have to score as many points as possible for fourth place, and then prepare to get off to a good start next year to win the championship. 

"We got off to a bad start, and we have recovered many points, but in the decisive matches the [results] have condemned us."

Despite the bleak outlook, Allegri was complimentary of his side.

"[It was] a good match – a good performance – we created a lot, and shot a lot on goal," he said.

"Too bad for the defeat, [but] there is room for improvement. 

"We have to see the glass half full – the boys have grown up and we have become an important team. We have to work on the technical improvement of the team and try to score as many points as possible… Roma are only five points [behind us]."

Despite Inter now sitting in third place, trailing both AC Milan and Napoli by three points, Allegri declared the Nerazzurri the favourites from here.

"I think Inter are favourites – [they have] the simplest schedule of Milan and Napoli," he said.

"For [Inter] it was an important obstacle to win here, now they will play it all the way and remain the favourites."

Inter kept alive their Serie A title hopes with a 1-0 Derby d'Italia win over Juventus at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Simone Inzaghi's side were second best in the first half, yet they went ahead moments before the interval courtesy of Hakan Calhanoglu's twice-taken penalty.

Juve huffed and puffed in the second half but they were unable to find the leveller that would have stretched their unbeaten run in the Italian top flight to 17 games.

The result meant Inter remain in third, three points behind leaders Milan, while Massimiliano Allegri's Juve stay in fourth, seven points behind the Rossoneri having played a game more.

Juve started at a breakneck pace, and they almost went ahead in the ninth minute when Giorgio Chiellini diverted Samir Handanovic's dismal punch onto the crossbar from close range.

Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado went close from distance soon after, while Alvaro Morata headed across the face of goal from a promising position.

Despite Juve's dominance, Inter went in at the break ahead in dramatic circumstances.

Wojciech Szczesny kept out Calhanoglu's initial spot-kick after Morata had clipped Denzel Dumfries, yet the ball ended up in the back of the net following an almighty scramble.

Referee Massimiliano Irrati chalked that off, though, after a Juve player had stepped into the area too early, with Calhanoglu making no mistake from 12 yards at the second time of asking.

Dusan Vlahovic whipped wide after a smart turn shortly after the hour mark, before substitute Denis Zakaria thumped the post as Juve's unbeaten run ended with a whimper. 

What does it mean? Inter's smash and grab

This was only Inter's second away victory over Juventus in their past 16 attempts across all competitions, and there is little doubt they rode their luck.

A dominant Juve finished the game having had 23 shots, while the Nerazzurri managed a mere five, with just one on target. That was the one that mattered, though.

Brozovic puts in a shift

Marcelo Brozovic was solid as a rock at the heart of Inter's midfield. The Croatia international had more touches 74 than any Inter player, while his seven tackles was two more than anyone else on the pitch.

Martinez shackled

Lautaro Martinez is Inter's top scorer in Serie A this season, but he did not have a sniff here. The Argentina international failed to have a single shot before he was replaced by Joaquin Correa in the 59th minute, while he might consider himself fortunate to have avoided a second yellow card for a late challenge on Chiellini.

What's next?

Both sides are next in action on Saturday when Juve visit Cagliari and Inter host Hellas Verona.

Stefano Pioli says Milan are ready to approach the final eight Serie A games with "energy, strength and motivation" as they battle to end an 11-year title drought.

The Rossoneri have not won the Scudetto since 2011, but they are three points clear of second-placed Napoli with seven weeks of the season remaining.

Rivals Inter are six points adrift of Milan – albeit with a game in hand – after faltering before the international break, and the defending champions face a tough Derby d'Italia clash with in-form Juventus on Sunday.

Leaders Milan go into a San Siro meeting with Bologna on Monday looking to extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches in all competitions and secure a fourth consecutive victory.

Head coach Pioli is backing his players to maintain the high standards they have set with so much at stake.

He said: "I know that I have a responsible team and that the boys are aware of how well they are playing right now. They are doing everything possible to keep up the level of football and their focus.

"We can't let ourselves be influenced by results elsewhere; we need energy for our own games. We don't want to back out and we'll approach these final eight games with energy, strength and motivation."

And Pioli says it is of no importance that the other title contenders will already have played before his side take on Bologna.

He added: "I don't think that the break will have changed the balance. The schedule is tough for every team because we're talking about highly motivated teams with a lot of quality. I'm certain that the team is ready both mentally and physically.

"Playing first or after the others? That doesn't matter. We just need to focus on ourselves and our own performance. Knowing how the teams around us have got on this weekend won't change how we prepare. It doesn't matter what the others do, we need to think about what we are doing."

Asked how he would view Inter's trip to Juve, the coach said: "I will certainly watch it, but I will be very detached because it matters what we do tomorrow and no longer so much what others do.

"The team doesn't have to be influenced by today's [Sunday's] results. What matters is trying to win our game, and we know how to do it."

Pioli revealed striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fit to face Bologna, who Milan have beaten 11 times and drawn with once in the past 12 games between the two clubs.

The Rossoneri boss says Ibrahimovic has a key role to play in Milan's quest to be crowned champions, whether that be as a starter or off the bench.

He said: "It's not important whether you start or come on part way through, what matters is making a contribution to the team.

"Ibra will need to help the team – as he always does – to try to get the best out of them. It's his aim, and he has always done so – it's his motivation."

Paulo Dybala is coming to the end of his Juventus career, but Massimiliano Allegri will throw the Argentina forward into Sunday's Derby d'Italia regardless.

It could be Inter that Dybala plays for next season, as they reportedly court the 28-year-old who is entering the final months of his Juventus contract.

But this weekend the Nerazzurri will be the opposition as Dybala looks to help Juventus continue their surge up the table.

Victory at the Allianz Stadium would lift Juventus above faltering Inter and into third place, with the Scudetto perhaps not entirely off the table, despite Allegri's protestations they are not part of the title battle.

Amid intrigue over whether Dybala could miss out, Allegri backed him to make an impact in the biggest match of the weekend's Serie A schedule.

"Dybala will start the game," Allegri told a news conference on Saturday.

Talks over a new contract for Dybala broke down in March, meaning he can leave on a free transfer, and Allegri said Juventus agreed that outcome would be for the best.

"We are in agreement with the club on everything," Allegri said. "There is always a unity of purpose to move forward. The choices are made together.

"When we talk, I present my ideas and the company its own, and then in the end we always find unity of purpose to plan. We plan everything together.

"I don't think it's the first case of a player changing clubs. Right now, we need to be focused for the season finale."

Dybala has scored a modest three goals in his 10 previous Serie A games against Inter.

Allegri smarted at the mention of speculation over a possible move for Dybala to Inter, and for Paul Pogba to Juventus. Like Dybala, Manchester United's Pogba, a former Juve star, will be a free agent come the end of June.

"Dybala at Inter and Pogba at Juve? I don't do my own transfer market, let alone those of others," Allegri said, quoted by Gazzetta Dello Sport.

Inter looked strong favourites for the Serie A title earlier in the year but have taken only 11 points from their last nine Serie A games (W2 D5 L2), while Juventus have taken 21 points in the same stretch to hurtle into a strong fourth spot, closing in on the top three.

A 1-1 draw at San Siro when these teams met in the league in October was followed in January by Inter edging Juve 2-1 in the Supercoppa Italiana.

"It's not easy to say who is favourite in the Derby d'Italia," Allegri said. "We have been following our path steadily, and we are ready to face Inter... maybe it's our turn to win this fixture.

"Inter, together with Milan and Napoli, are one of three candidates for the Scudetto. As for Juventus, we need to keep our focus on fourth place. That's the position we are in right now but Atalanta are breathing down our necks. Our aim is to qualify for the Champions League next season."

Allegri's Juventus have recently pulled clear of Atalanta, who headed into the weekend nine points adrift of the Turin giants, albeit with one game in hand. This has come about due to Juventus having the longest current unbeaten run in Serie A – a stretch of 16 games (W11 D5).

Simone Inzaghi wants Inter to take their "anger" out on Juventus when they do battle in the Derby d’Italia at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri have slipped from the top of the table to third after winning just one of their past seven Serie A games.

Inter are six points behind leaders Milan with a game in hand and in-form Juve will move above the champions if they win the derby in Turin.

Head coach Inzaghi expects his side to show what they are made of in such a huge game after the international break.

He told reporters on Saturday: "We have only been back in full training for two days. Yesterday we trained well, we need anger, but also character.

"We know that in the last seven games we have lost points and results, rather than performances. Tomorrow we have to play a great match, of personality and character, against an opponent of great value and in a difficult stadium."

While Inter have lost their way, Juve are unbeaten in 16 Serie A matches.

Yet Inzaghi sees the game as the perfect opportunity for Inter to make a statement and silence their critics.

"It will be a very important match, there could not have been a better match at the moment to give a strong signal." the former Lazio boss said.

He added: "I think that criticism is part of our profession and must be accepted. I can distinguish the constructive ones that help to grow and mature, from those built with art that I don't take into consideration."

Inter duo Marcelo Brozovic and Stefan de Vrij will be assessed after training on Saturday, having been sidelined by calf injuries.

The Nerazzurri have won only one of their past 15 away meetings with Juve in all competitions, that solitary victory coming back in November 2012.

It wasn't so long ago that voicing the idea of Juventus challenging for the Scudetto this season would have seen you laughed out of the room.

Yet, remarkably, they could potentially end the weekend just four points off the summit, and a victory over defending champions Inter would be a decent barometer of just how emphatic their late push is going to be.

Serie A's standout match this week is undoubtedly the Derby d'Italia between Juve and Inter in Turin, with Italy's top flight essentially establishing a pretty firm top four ahead of the international break.

But Massimiliano Allegri's Juve surely won't be content with just settling for fourth spot, and a win on Sunday will show they mean business.

A bedrock for improvement

Even if Juve do end up winning Serie A, Allegri will still have to contend with plenty of critics given their shock Champions League exit to Villarreal.

However, there's little doubt he has presided over a significant improvement since Andrea Pirlo's exit, even if the Old Lady remains more functional than fun.

 

The most notable aspect of their improved form is Juve's unbeaten streak. They have not lost any of their previous 16 league games, making them only one of two teams across the big five leagues to not suffer a domestic defeat in the past four months, the other being Sevilla in LaLiga.

The omens are good for Inter's visit as well: the Nerazzurri have won just once in 15 trips to Juve and that came way back in November 2012.
 

Timely break

Simone Inzaghi must have been concerned about Inter's form prior to the international break, which seemingly came at a good time for them.

Over their previous nine Serie A matches, Inter have gained just 11 points and won only two matches – sure, victory on Sunday and another in their game in hand will put them within three points of the summit, but that previous run is hardly a hallmark of champions.

By comparison, Juve have hit the accelerator at arguably the perfect time. Over the same period, Allegri's men have taken 21 points.

The Bianconeri have rocketed into contention by finding consistency when, for the most part, the top three have wobbled, and if they continue their run, Juventus will be hard to ignore in the title race.

Juve, beware!

For all of their recent woes, Inter of course remain a dangerous opponent with a particularly threatening tail.

That's to say Inter do have a habit of finishing strong and not knowing when they're beaten.

In Serie A this season, Inter's 19 points won from losing positions is more than any other team, while they have scored 22 times in the final 30 minutes of games – that's a joint-high with Atalanta, Lazio and Hellas Verona.

Juve ought to heed such a warning – don't get complacent with a slender lead in the latter stages.
 

A tight affair?

While Inter are the league's top scorers with 62 goals, there's reason to suggest this won't be an unrelenting goalfest… *cue eight-goal thriller*.

These are two of the league's best three defences, while no team has kept more clean sheets than Juve's 13 this term.

 

On top of that, Juve have proven rather miserly when it comes to allowing goalscoring situations, with their average of 3.1 shots on target concede per 90 minutes being bettered only by Torino.

Inter aren't much worse in that respect, with their average at 3.6 – that's the sixth best in Serie A. Of course, a clinical display in that regard could still lead to plenty of goals, but clearly if there's any area both of these sides have excelled in domestically this term, it's defensively.

 

Dusan Vlahovic joins Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland as "the best players of their generation", according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri signed Serbia international Vlahovic from Fiorentina in January in a transfer initially worth €70million, and the striker has managed four goals in his first seven Serie A games for his new club.

The former Viola star also netted 33 times in the league in 2021, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most scored in the Italian top flight during a calendar year.

Indeed, his 21-goal league haul last season was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25), and he has carried that form into the new campaign as well.

Vlahovic has registered 21 goals across appearances for Juve and Fiorentina in Serie A this season, making him the league's joint-top scorer – level with Ciro Immobile – while only Robert Lewandowski (31) and Karim Benzema (22) have scored more in Europe's top-five leagues.

Haaland, who has been limited by injuries at Borussia Dortmund, is ninth in the same list with 16 Bundesliga goals, striking once every 81 minutes on average, while Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe is 11th with 15 to his name in the French top flight.

Allegri hailed the youthful trio as he expressed his excitement to see Vlahovic develop more.

"He is a young player with not much international experience. But he has quality. He wants and can improve. He has time to do it," Allegri said of Vlahovic in an interview with GQ, as quoted by CalcioMercato.

"He is ruthless in front of the goal and Juventus made an important signing. He, Mbappe and Haaland are the best players of their generation."

While there were expectations that Vlahovic's arrival may knock Alvaro Morata down the pecking order of Juve strikers, Allegri reiterated that the Spain international remains integral to his plans in Turin.

"I called him that night [when Juve signed Vlahovic] to tell him: 'You are going nowhere, with him, you will become even more important,' and that's what happened," Allegri added on Morata.

"It's crazy to question Morata. He can't be at his best if he is asked to do things that he can't. But he's always been available playing in a position which is not exactly the best one for him."

Allegri will be hoping for Morata and Vlahovic to link-up once more when Juve, who are fourth in Serie A and seven points adrift of leaders Milan, host Inter on Sunday.

Massimiliano Allegri has revealed he signed an agreement to become Real Madrid head coach before opting to return to Juventus.

The Italian guided the Bianconeri to two Champions League finals, in 2015 and 2017, while winning 11 trophies during his five-season stay, including five straight Serie A titles and four consecutive Coppa Italias.

However, Allegri was dismissed by Juve president Andrea Agnelli at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, with a quarter-final Champions League exit to Ajax defining the season in which they signed Cristiano Ronaldo as a failure.

Spells with Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo yielded unsuccessful returns for Juve, who brought back Allegri at the start of this season, but the 54-year-old almost became the Madrid boss.

"I had already signed with [Madrid] last summer, but I called the president [Florentino Perez] to tell him that I would not go because I had chosen Juventus," Allegri said in an interview with GC, as quoted by CalcioMercato. "He thanked me. When they called me in May, I had no doubts.

"I have no regrets, it would have been a great professionally: Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid… but you can't have everything in life. I am proud to have coached Milan for four years and to be at Juventus now.

"I rejected Real Madrid twice. The first time I was in talks to extend with Juventus. I told Florentino that I had already given my word to Agnelli."

Allegri did not take up a managerial role between his exit and return to Juve, and believes he made the right decision to come back at the time he did.

"It was the right time. I could have returned earlier, but I didn't do it because of personal reasons," he added.

"My mother died in 2018, so I didn't want to go too far away. I remained close to my son Giorgio and my father, who was severely affected by the death of my mum. He still lives in Livorno.

"I decided to return to Juventus because I have a strong bond with the club and the owners, but also to stay closer to my son, who lives in Turin with his mother. I like to be close to my loved ones."

The Juve head coach will be hoping his side, who are fourth in the league and seven points adrift of leaders Milan, can continue their strong run of form when they host Inter on Sunday.

Despite inking a new sponsorship deal with Spotify, improving on Barcelona's rejuvenation under Xavi will not force the club to spend unsustainably.

Xavi's side have made positive strides, finding form and re-establishing the club's identity, creating scope for Barcelona to become a destination for players.

The front three seems likely to transform under Xavi coming into next season, with the respective statuses of Memphis Depay, Ousmane Dembele, Adama Traore and Antoine Griezmann uncertain. However, the question of cost lingers.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA RENEW RAPHINHA OFFER

Barcelona's interest in Raphinha is being translated into offers for the Brazilian winger, but Sport reports the Premier League do not at present have a financial need to sell.

According to the Barcelona sports daily, Leeds turned down an initial offer of €35million (£30m), prompting the Blaugrana to increase to €40million (£34m) plus €10m (£8m) in options.

If Leeds suffer relegation, however, the release clause for the 25-year-old would be reduced to €25m (£21m).

It is also reported Barca would not necessarily be in a hurry, with Leeds currently 16th in the Premier League, while they could lean on Raphinha's agent and former Champions League winner, Deco.

ROUND-UP

– Paul Pogba will need to take a significant pay cut if he wants to join Juventus from Manchester United, per Calciomercato.

Real Madrid have identified Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham , despite his links with a move to Liverpool, according to reports in Bild.

– The Times have reported Brentford want to extend the six-month deal for 30-year-old Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen.

– If Erik ten Hag takes over as Manchester United manager, he is keen on signing Brazilian winger Antony from Ajax, per The Telegraph.

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