Luka Jovic labelled Cristiano Ronaldo as "the greatest of all time" and hopes to emulate the Portugal forward's achievements in Italy after leaving Real Madrid for Fiorentina.

Ronaldo ended a nine-year spell with Madrid in 2018 to join Juventus, where he won two Serie A titles in three seasons before returning to Manchester United ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Jovic has followed a similar path, leaving the Spanish capital to move to Fiorentina on a two-year deal as part of a free transfer that will see Madrid take half of any future fee the Viola receive.

While Ronaldo left having taken LaLiga by storm with Los Blancos, Jovic departs after a largely unsuccessful spell in which he scored just three goals in 36 league games.

Madrid paid €60million in 2019 for the Serbia international after he impressed for Eintracht Frankfurt, but Jovic is aiming to put the past behind him as he referenced Ronaldo as one of his idols.

"I am inspired by Cristiano, he is the greatest of all time and I hope I can do what he did in Italy," Jovic told reporters on Thursday.

Jovic will wear Ronaldo's iconic number seven shirt, though the Fiorentina signing insists it was "the only one available that I liked", and believes a different system with the Viola will help him thrive.

"I've never played in this competition, but I have experience in Europe and I think we have the qualities to go far," he added.

"I always played better with two strikers, but in Frankfurt we played with three and in Madrid also with one. I'm just saying that I have to help, the rest is the coach's job.

"I've been training all summer and I think I've come here fit – I just have a little calf problem that doesn't bother me."

Jovic will not be the only Serbia striker operating in Serie A, with international team-mate and former Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic playing up top for Juve.

Vlahovic and Dejan Stankovic share the record for the most goal scored by a Serbian in Serie A (51), but Jovic insists he will put international friendships aside with the Juve attacker now becoming a rival.

"Dusan did great in Italy and I will try to do the same," he continued. "In the national team we are team-mates and here rivals. He spoke to me greatly about the championship and about this club."

Luka Jovic's underwhelming Real Madrid career is over after Fiorentina confirmed the Serbian's arrival on a two-year deal.

Jovic cost Madrid €60million in 2019 after impressing for Eintracht Frankfurt, but his career has almost gone in reverse ever since.

He scored just two goals in 27 appearances during his first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, before then spending half of the 2020-21 campaign on loan in Frankfurt.

That spell was similarly unimpressive but he returned to Madrid for last season, scoring once in 19 games as Los Blancos won a LaLiga and Champions League double.

However, he now gets the opportunity for a clean break and the chance to re-establish himself away from the high-pressure environment of the Bernabeu.

The deal itself appears rather unusual as Madrid are said to have yielded Jovic on a free transfer but will still pay half of his wages for the next two years.

Jovic's Madrid contract was due to run until 2025, but seemingly part of the arrangement with the transfer would see the final year of his agreement nulled.

In 2024, when Jovic's Fiorentina contract expires, they will have the option to again sign him on a free transfer, though Madrid reportedly retain a percentage of any future transfer.

Madrid's statement read: "Real Madrid C. F. and ACF Fiorentina have agreed a deal for the transfer of Luka Jovic.

"Our club would like to express its gratitude for his work and dedication during his time at Real Madrid, where he has won one Champions League, two LaLiga titles and two Spanish Super Cups.

"Real Madrid wishes him and his family all the best in this new period of his life."

Luka Jovic admitted he was "tired" after scoring the winner in Serbia's 1-0 win over Sweden in the Nations League on Thursday.

Jovic scored the winning goal for the Orlovi at the Friends Arena just before half-time, driving home Strahinja Pavlovic's header back across the penalty area from Dusan Tadic's corner.

The 24-year-old striker put in a commendable performance over 77 minutes despite the lack of match minutes at club level, seeing 551 minutes across all competitions for Real Madrid this past season.

After the match, Jovic revealed his fatigue was different to that of his team-mates.

"Honestly, I'm tired after this match," Jovic told RTS. "I believe the others are too, it's a long season, they’ve played a lot of games.

"I haven't played a lot of games this season, which is also a problem, probably an even bigger one than theirs. We have to tighten up, play that one more game and suffer for those three points."

The Orlovi bounced back from their opening Nations League loss in Belgrade to Norway, moving to six points with the win over Sweden, after defeating Slovenia on Sunday.

Jovic asserted it was important win, keeping Serbia in contention for promotion to League A.

"It was a very important victory for us," Jovic said. "We kind of broke back because we lost the first game in Belgrade.

"I think we played a good game, in a fight, against a quality opponent. We are going to Ljubljana to try to take three points."

Toni Kroos future at the Santiago Bernabeu has suddenly become precarious, with the relationship between the player and Real Madrid disintegrating.

The 32-year-old's dramatic drop in form has called into question whether he will see out his contract, which expires at the end of next season in 2023.

With that in mind, there are reports Real Madrid will look to both replace him and bolster their midfield in the same transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE POGBA AND TCHOUAMENI FOR KROOS

Real Madrid are seeking to replace Toni Kroos and strengthen their midfield, with the intent to sign both Paul Pogba and Aurelien Tchouameni, El Nacional is reporting.

The highly rated Tchouameni has long been a transfer target for Madrid, while the expiration of Pogba's contract at the end of this season makes them both attainable.

Kroos' position in Real Madrid's starting midfield has become vulnerable with the form of Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde, while this transpires amid the backdrop of Luka Modric's contract extension. 

It was reported that Kroos sought to extend for another season and retire in 2024, but that possibility now seems unlikely.

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- Bayern Munich are eyeing Luka Jovic as a potential replacement in the event of Robert Lewandowski's departure for Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants to sign outgoing Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala, according to the Corriere dello Sport.

- The Red Devils have also indicated to Napoli they are willing to pay £84million (€99.8m) for striker Victor Osimhen, La Repubblica reports.

- Arsenal have expressed interest in signing Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, per Football Insider.

Franck Kessie will not stay in Serie A, but instead will be forming part of Xavi's rebuild at Barcelona.

After a long contract saga at Milan, the Ivorian midfielder will reportedly leave the Serie A title contenders at the end of the season on a free transfer.

The 25-year-old will be the last player to leave from Milan's notorious splurge of 2017, which saw the club nearly break the €200million mark on over 10 players.

TOP STORY – KESSIE SET FOR BARCELONA MOVE 

Those who have followed Franck Kessie's contract situation with Milan will be aware a €6.5million salary was his reported benchmark. Milan have been reticent to pay that figure gross, but Barcelona are said to be willing to pay it net.

Protracted contract renegotiations between Kessie and Milan have failed to come to a resolution, and while  Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali become more central to Stefano Pioli's plans, letting Kessie go has seen increased scope.

According to the Guardian, Kessie will leave the Rossoneri at the end of the season on a Bosman and join Barcelona with a contract that will last until 2026.

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- According to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus are preparing a substantial package to lure 29-year-old Mohamed Salah away from Liverpool.

- Having started on the bench with Karim Benzema injured in El Clasico, Luka Jovic is not considered as a requirement going forward at Real Madrid and will leave the club in the summer, as reported by Marca.

- Brazilian winger Raphinha has rejected Leeds United's first approach over a new contract, per UOL.

- Former Manchester United and Netherlands striker Ruud van Nistelrooy is tipped as the frontrunner to take over as coach at another former club of his, PSV, according to the Mirror.

Anthony Martial has made no secret of his desire to leave Manchester United in the January window – and the France international appears to have been granted his wish.

Restricted to just four starts in all competitions this season, Martial has very much been on the periphery at United in what is his seventh campaign at the club.

However, there are no shortage of suitors for Martial and it looks increasingly likely that the 26-year-old will spend the remainder of the campaign away from Old Trafford.


TOP STORY – SECOND TIME LUCKY FOR SEVILLA

Sevilla had a loan bid for Martial rejected earlier this month, but Goal reports that the issues have been ironed out and the out-of-favour forward is now set to undergo a medical.

Juventus are said to have been among a number of other European sides in the running to sign Martial, but Sevilla were always his preferred destination.

The LaLiga club are expected to pay a loan fee for the former Monaco man, potentially as much as €5.96million (£5m), while the player himself will accept a cut in wages.


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– After growing frustrated in their attempt to sign Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina, The Sun reports that Arsenal may now instead go after Real Madrid's Luka Jovic this month.

– Calciomercato claims that Serie A leaders Inter are close to strengthening their squad with the addition of striker Felipe Caicedo from Genoa.

Watford are set to move quickly on the back of sacking head coach Claudio Ranieri by bringing in Roy Hodgson as early as Tuesday, according to Sky Sports.

– Goal suggest that Bayern Munich are targeting Chelsea's Andreas Christensen on a free transfer after Niklas Sule turned down the offer of a new contract in Bavaria.

Manchester City are increasingly confident of wrapping up a deal for Julian Alvarez. However, the Daily Mail reports that the striker will initially remain on loan with River Plate.

Newcastle United have made a fresh approach for Man Utd winger Jesse Lingard, according to The Telegraph. The Magpies are happy to pay a £6m loan fee.

Liverpool are in the market to add depth and quality to their midfield.

The Reds are currently second in the Premier League, after four straight wins.

Liverpool have scored a Premier League-high 44 goals in 15 games.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL CHASING FABIAN RUIZ

Liverpool want to sign Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz next off-season to bolster their midfield, reports Fichajes.

The Reds view the 25-year-old as an ideal player on an upward trajectory in his career.

Georginio Wijnaldum exited Liverpool for Paris Saint-Germain last off-season with no obvious replacement added.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fichajes reports that Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Ajax's Argentinean left-back Nicolas Tagliafico.

- Milan are interested in Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic and Real Madrid's Luka Jovic as they look to add depth to their squad reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Inter are tracking FC Zurich's 20-year-old Switzerland international defender Becir Omeragic claims Calciomercato.

- The Athletic reports that Southampton will sign ex-Chelsea and Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero as emergency cover. Caballero, 40, is a free agent.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted there is still a long way to go in the LaLiga title race after Los Blancos moved eight points clear ahead of next week's derby.

Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic scored in the second half as leaders Madrid defeated Real Sociedad 2-0 away from home on Saturday.

After defending champions Atletico Madrid were stunned 2-1 by Real Mallorca earlier on Saturday, Ancelotti's men are now 10 points above their city rivals heading into the December 12 derby.

However, Ancelotti knows there is still plenty to play for after 16 rounds, with Atletico boasting a game in hand, while Sevilla – who have also played a match less – sit second in the standings.

"I think it was just a good day for us," Ancelotti told reporters. "The league continues and results have shown that we still know there are a lot of teams that are competing at a high level in this league, but they are very even matches, we're competing at a good level as well.

"Hopefully we can continue. And as for Karim [Benzema], he had a bit of pain early on in the game and he didn't want to aggravate any possible injury, so we opted to replace him. We'll see how he feels in the next few days, but I don't think he'll be able to play on Tuesday, but he could be fit for Sunday."

Pressed on people labelling Madrid champions already and whether it is exaggerated, Ancelotti replied: "Yes, because we are a team that's fighting for the league title and we are first.

"We're playing well, but it's far from over, and I do think we're playing well and we have another big exam in three days time. 

"So today's game is a good performance, but we have to work well in our next fixture. I'm thinking about our next game against Inter [in the Champions League]."

 

Madrid will welcome city rivals Atletico to the Santiago Bernabeu in their next league fixture and Ancelotti added: "We are confident because it's a special game as well, because a derby is always a special game, and in these kind of games there are no favourites.

"So we're going to show our quality against their quality. I think it's going to be a great game, a complicated game as well. And we'll see what happens."

Madrid are the first team from Europe's top five leagues to have two different players with 10 or more league goals this season – Karim Benzema 12 and Vinicius 10.

Vinicius scored the earliest second-half LaLiga goal (46:47) for Madrid away from home since December 2010, when Angel Di Maria netted at Real Zaragoza (46:36) thanks to an assist from Xabi Alonso, the current Real Sociedad B manager.

Meanwhile, Jovic – who replaced the injured Benzema – was also impressive after teeing up Vinicius' opener before scoring a goal of his own.

The last time Jovic had a goal and an assist in the same league game was for Eintracht Frankfurt against Hannover in the Bundesliga in February 2019.

It also meant the Serbia international forward scored and assisted in the same game for the first time in all competitions (41 appearances) and was involved in the same number of goals than in his previous 22 games (one goal and one assist in 462 minutes).

Madrid midfielder Luka Modric praised Jovic, saying: "He put in a very good performance. He provided an assist and scored after having gone a long time without playing. He showed that we can count on him. We're very pleased with his performance and his goal."

Karim Benzema is a doubt for Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Italian champions Inter on Tuesday but could be fit for their derby with Atletico Madrid.

The France striker limped out in the 17th minute of Madrid's 2-0 win over Real Sociedad on Saturday clutching his hamstring and grimacing before he was replaced by Luka Jovic.

When asked about the injury Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested he would not be fit to face Inter at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid have already qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League but must avoid defeat to go through as winners of Group D.

That task will be made more difficult without Benzema who leads the goals (12) and assists (seven) charts in LaLiga and has scored five goals in the Champions League.

Ancelotti's side also host rivals and defending champions Atletico, who they have a 10-point advantage over, next weekend.

"The Benzema thing doesn't seem serious at all. But I don't think it will be available for Tuesday," Ancelotti told a media conference.

"Karim has had a problem, it bothered him a little and it don't I think it will be for Tuesday but maybe for Sunday, yes."

Benzema's replacement Jovic scored his first LaLiga goal of the season against Sociedad, and provided the assist for Vinicius Junior's opening goal.

It meant he scored and assisted in the same game for the first time in all competitions (41 appearances) and was involved in the same number of goals than in his previous 22 games (one goal and one assist in 462 minutes).

"For me, Jovic is a good striker," Ancelotti said.

"He is a very strong striker, he uses the ball very well. His first goal play is very much his style and I want to congratulate him. 

"Enjoy and take advantage of the opportunity. I congratulate him because he doesn't play a lot and he deserved to play. And there are others who deserve to play and this is my biggest problem."

Madrid defender Eder Militao made 10 clearances against Sociedad (nine headed clearances), the most by a player for Los Blancos in a match this season in all competitions.

Ancelotti hailed his partnership with David Alaba as one which brings the best out of both players.

"The quality of the two is extraordinary," he said.

"They are different. Militao is very strong, incredible, and Alaba adapts very well. They understand each other very well and complement each other very well."

Vinicius Junior capped a dazzling display with a goal as Real Madrid claimed a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad to restore their eight-point cushion at the top of LaLiga.

Brazil forward Vinicius opening the scoring two minutes after half-time following a fine piece of individual skill and some neat interplay with Luka Jovic.

It made the 21-year-old the first player born in 2000 or later to reach double figures for goals in a single LaLiga season.

Jovic added a second with his first goal of the season when he bravely headed in from close range. Madrid are comfortably ahead of second-placed Sevilla and have a 10-point advantage over defending champions Atletico Madrid who are down in fourth.

Sociedad began with intent, although Madrid had the best early chance when Vinicius saw his shot from the edge of the box saved by Alex Remiro.

Shortly afterwards Alexander Isak got his head on the end of Diego Rico's teasing delivery but Eder Militao was well positioned to clear the danger.

Madrid were dealt a blow in the 17th minute when striker and captain Karim Benzema limped out clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Jovic.

Isak fired wide from a good position before the break while the lively Vinicius and Rodrygo were both kept at bay by Sociedad goalkeeper Remiro.

Vinicius looked Madrid's most likely source of a goal and delivered moments after half-time when he jinked in from the left flank, exchanged passes with Jovic, and struck a low shot into the left corner.

Jovic reacted quickest to nod in Casemiro's knockdown in the box from a Toni Kroos corner 10 minutes later to increase Madrid's advantage.

Sociedad found it difficult to break down Carlo Ancelotti's side in the remainder of the game as Madrid chalked up their seventh league away win of the season.

Vinicius Junior has been in dazzling form for Real Madrid.

Previously linked with Paris Saint-Germain as part of a possible deal to bring Kylian Mbappe to the Spanish capital, Vinicius has established himself under Carlo Ancelotti.

Now, a bumper contract is on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – VINICIUS SET FOR NEW DEAL

Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior is set to hold contract talks with the LaLiga giants, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Vinicius is contracted to Madrid until 2025 but Los Blancos are determined to offer the Brazil international fresh terms.

The 21-year-old has been in red-hot form at the Santiago Bernabeu this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- El Nacional reports Barcelona are targeting Beijing Guoan striker Cedric Bakambu as a short-term replacement for sidelined star Sergio Aguero, who is facing at least three months out due to a potential heart condition.

Luka Jovic is eager to leave Madrid in January, says Defensa Central. The Serbia international has been linked with former club Eintracht Frankfurt, Inter, Milan, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Manchester United have rejected the chance to sign struggling Madrid star Eden Hazard, claims the Daily Mail. Hazard has also been reportedly snubbed by Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Newcastle United.

Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of time at Old Trafford?

Manchester United are already five points off the pace in the Premier League and pressure is mounting.

United, though, are believed to be firmly in favour of sticking with their manager.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER WANTED AT THE WHEEL

Manchester United are still backing under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

United slumped to a 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City at the weekend, which has left the Red Devils with just two wins from their past seven games across all competitions.

As pressure mounts on Solskjaer, United still reportedly have faith in the Norwegian amid links with the likes of Antonio Conte, Zinedine Zidane and Erik ten Hag.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Serie A champions Inter are ready to battle Arsenal for Madrid forward Luka Jovic. The Serbia international has struggled for form and fitness in the Spanish capital.

PSG want to swap Mauro Icardi for Barcelona's Sergio Aguero, claims El Nacional. The reports says Lionel Messi wants to reunite with countryman Aguero, who left Manchester City for Barca, only for Messi to join PSG.

- Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel, Denis Zakaria of Borussia Monchengladbach and Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch are among Juventus' transfer targets as they look to add options in midfield, per Tuttosport. Tchouameni has also been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United, Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City, while Roma have been eyeing Zakaria.

Youri Tielemans has not yet committed his long-term future to Leicester City.

Tielemans is only contracted with the Foxes until the end of the 2022-23 season.

And Leicester may consider selling their FA Cup final hero at the end of this season if they cannot strike a new deal.

 

TOP STORY – SPANISH GIANTS KEEN ON TIELEMANS

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are circling for Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, reports The Athletic.

The 24-year-old Belgium international publicly said he is "keeping his options open" as he negotiates a new Leicester deal.

Barcelona and Madrid would be interested in Tielemans, who has also been linked with Liverpool, should he become available next off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider reports Tottenham are still planning to sell Dele Alli, although they will wait until the end of this season. Spurs are hoping Alli's value will rise throughout the season to land a significant transfer fee.

– Everton are considering moves for Real Madrid pair Isco and Luka Jovic in January on six-month loan deals, according to Defensa Central.

– Liverpool are keeping an eye on Porto's Colombian star Luis Diaz, reports The Independent, with the two sides having met in the Champions League on Tuesday.

– Juventus have joined Chelsea in showing interest in Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, claims the Daily Mail.

– Newcastle attacker Allan Saint-Maximin has interest from Chelsea and Liverpool, according to the Express.

Manchester United are in the market for a midfielder. 

With a long-rumoured target looking unlikely, United are shifting their gaze from one England midfielder to another. 

Could they prise another up-and-coming star from Leeds United? 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SHIFT SIGHTS TO PHILLIPS

Kalvin Phillips is Manchester United's latest target in an effort to shore up the midfield, the Daily Star reports. 

The Leeds star has gained favour at Old Trafford as United have given up hopes of adding West Ham's Declan Rice thanks to his reported £90million price tag.

Phillips, 25, is under contract at Elland Road through 2024 and reportedly is valued at £60m. 

 

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are still in pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt and are prepared to offer Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Memphis Depay to Juventus in a deal for the Netherlands defender, who is valued at €75m, according to Calciomercato.

– Franck Kessie has turned down Milan's latest contract offer and is eyeing a move to the Premier League, 90min reports, with United and Liverpool said to be interested. 

– Juan Mata is considering a move away from Old Trafford in January due to a lack of playing time this season, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

– Everton are considering loan deals with Real Madrid for Isco and Luka Jovic, claims Defensa Central.

– West Brom teen Reyes Cleary is drawing attention from Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim, says the Daily Mail. 

– Steven Nzonzi is nearing a move from Roma to Al Rayyan, Calciomercato reports. 

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund and Norway sensation.

If Haaland leaves Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit have a replacement in mind.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND OUT, CHIESA IN AT BVB?

Borussia Dortmund see Juventus forward Federico Chiesa as a replacement for in-demand star Erling Haaland, according to Calciomercato.

Haaland is tipped to leave Dortmund at the end of the season amid links with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

Should Haaland depart, Dortmund are eyeing Juve and Italy star Chiesa, who has previously caught the attention of Chelsea and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Juve, Inter and Milan are interested in Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who has been linked with a January exit.

- A contract extension for Liverpool's Naby Keita is not as close as previously thought, claims Bild. It comes as Liverpool reportedly eye Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham.

Tottenham will make a January move for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato. The Serbia international forward has also been linked with City, Arsenal, Juve and Atletico Madrid.

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