Paulo Dybala's time at Juventus ended in a way where neither party was ultimately happy with the outcome.

Despite his desire to stay, the Bianconeri were unwilling to keep the Argentina forward, allowing his contract to run down.

Reports suggest his next destination will not be in Serie A but in the Premier League, with a number of clubs showing interest.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED, ARSENAL AFTER DYBALA

Arsenal and Manchester United are set to engage in another transfer battle over Dybala, according to La Repubblica.

With the Premier League giants already in the race to sign Dybala's compatriot Lisandro Martinez from Ajax, it has been reported the two clubs have been in contact with his agent Jorge Antun.

The 28-year-old is available as a free agent with his contract at Juventus expiring this off-season, and a move to Inter stalling after Romelu Lukaku's transfer.

Reports suggest United are looking at Dybala as a replacement for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo, whose signing at Juventus coincidentally signalled the beginning of the end for the former in Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, United and Barcelona have reportedly agreed on a fee for Frenkie de Jong but are now in process of negotiating add-ons, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Bernardo Silva has told his agent he wants to go in the opposite direction and leave Manchester City for Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Chelsea are making progress in their attempts to sign Matthijs de Ligt after Juventus lowered their asking price, per CBS Sports.

- Leeds United have opened talks with RB Leipzig over midfielder Tyler Adams, The Sun is reporting.

Matthijs de Ligt "wants to leave" Juventus according to chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene, who defended the club's conduct over Paulo Dybala's departure.

De Ligt signed for Juve from Ajax in 2019 and has made 87 appearances in Serie A since then, but has struggled to find his feet in Italy, amid high expectations that came with an €85million price tag.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a move away from Serie A with Chelsea said to be interested in striking a deal, and Juventus are reportedly eyeing his transfer as a means to finance new signings.

In an interview with Tuttosport, Arrivabene conceded De Ligt himself is keen to leave Turin, but his departure will ultimately be a matter of satisfying all parties.

"De Ligt? Today it is impossible to keep a player who wants to leave," Arrivabene told Tuttosport. "But it is always a question of numbers, it is not that if one wants to go away you answer, 'Please, take a seat.'

"It is difficult to keep a player, but from the negotiation table all three have to get up satisfied."

Meanwhile, the 65-year-old executive defended Juve's actions that led to Dybala's departure after a protracted renegotiation that ultimately failed to materialise.

The breakdown in contract talks punctuated a tumultuous period between Juve and Dybala upon Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival, following a long-term injury layoff and near exit, with the Argentine breaking down in tears after his final home game for the club against Lazio.

Effectively telling Dybala he was not wanted after Dusan Vlahovic's signing in January, Arrivabene said no player is bigger than the club.

"There was an agreement, then there was the capital increase, we all took a break, of which the prosecutors were informed, and agreed to carry out evaluations within the board of directors," he said.

"We met again and we said that the terms had changed, because we wanted to move in a different way. So from a four-year contract with certain figures, which I would like to avoid mentioning to avoid further controversy, we moved on to another strategy. Also, everyone knows who arrived in January, don't they?

"I hope that Dybala will find the team and the satisfactions he deserves. From our point of view, things have a beginning and an end. Juventus is above everyone who have left a profound mark, but the Juventus name is more important."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is eager to bring in two attacking players this off-season following their third-place Premier League finish last term.

The club's new owners are set to back Tuchel's plans, with the Blues linked to Raheem Sterling, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Everton's Richarlison.

However, Chelsea could be set for their first splash of the window by signing a superstar from Elland Road.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO WIN RAPHINHA RACE

Chelsea are set to win the race to sign Leeds United's Brazilian forward Raphinha claims The Guardian.

Raphinha is being pursued by Arsenal and Barcelona along with the Blues, who are set to complete a £55million deal for the 25-year-old.

The winger is contracted with Leeds until 2024 and may follow Kalvin Phillips out of Elland Road with the England midfielder set to complete his move to Manchester City.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mail reports Chelsea are also interested in a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe claims that PSG's initial offer for the Slovakian was worth €50m.

- Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches is eager to join PSG from Lille according to Le Parisien, with a €10m offer on the table. Sanches has one year remaining on his contract.

- Univision reports that LAFC are not pursuing Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez amid speculation linking the Uruguayan with the MLS club after they recently landed Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.

- Milan are looking into swooping to sign Juventus' Paulo Dybala who has been heavily linked with Inter, claims RadioRadio.

- Liverpool's Divock Origi is set to join Milan on a four-year deal pending a medical as widely reported by the Italian media.

- Argentinean outlet Relevo reports that Angel Di Maria is set to sign a deal with Juventus on Wednesday, having left PSG as a free agent.

Paulo Dybala "must be seized" if there is an opportunity for Inter to sign the Juventus forward, according to former Nerazzurri striker Diego Milito.

The Argentina international, whose contract with the Bianconeri expires next week, has been strongly linked with a move to Inter, with talks reportedly ongoing.

Simone Inzaghi is eager to strengthen his side, having narrowly surrendered their Serie A crown to rivals Milan last season, with Romelu Lukaku reportedly on the brink of returning on loan from Chelsea.

Dybala scored 115 goals in 293 appearances across all competitions for Juventus, including 10 in the league last season, while winning five Scudettos, four Coppa Italia titles and reaching the 2016-17 Champions League final.

And Milito, who won the treble with Inter in the 2009-10 campaign, insists his former club should not pass up any chance to sign his compatriot as they look to regain the domestic crown next term.

 

"Everyone could use him," the former striker told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "If there is a chance, then he must be seized.

"He would be an asset in a team that is already complete.

“Dybala would be in the right club to reset and restart. And he wouldn't change leagues; he knows Serie A well, he wouldn't struggle.

"The team and the fans would welcome him, [and his] desire for revenge would make the difference."

Italy great Fabio Cannavaro has suggested former club Napoli should attempt to sign Paulo Dybala, while making a "sacrifice" to renew Kalidou Koulibaly's contract.

Dybala appears set to join Inter when his Juventus contract expires at the end of June, with Romelu Lukaku also reportedly close to joining Simone Inzaghi's side on loan.

Napoli supporters have grown frustrated with president Aurelio De Laurentiis, with the Partenopei said to be looking to reduce their wage bill, leaving the future of Dries Mertens and Koulibaly in doubt.

Lorenzo Insigne has already left for MLS side Toronto and Cannavaro, who started his career in Naples, urged Napoli to move for Dybala.

"If I were in De Laurentiis I would make a proposal to Dybala," the World Cup winner told Corriere dello Sport.

While Napoli are unlikely to be able to acquire the Argentina international, Cannavaro also says they must do all in their power to keep Koulibaly.

Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester United are reportedly interested in the centre-back, whose contract is set to expire in June 2023.

De Laurentiis conceded earlier in May that the Senegal international could not be forced into staying after Koulibaly had stated "we'll see what happens at the end of the season".

"Kalidou represents a pillar of a team that in recent years has always been lucky enough to be able to count on him: if I were in the club I would make a sacrifice to keep him, to renew," Cannavaro added. 

"Maybe he has demands that some other club could satisfy, but it is difficult to find players like him in that role: we must keep them close. 

"There is a shortage [of such players], you can find a midfielder or a forward."

Luciano Spalletti will be keen to keep Koulibaly after Napoli conceded the joint-fewest goals in Serie A (31) and kept the second-most clean sheets (16 – behind Milan, 18) in the 2021-22 campaign.

Simone Inzaghi has signed a contract extension with Inter, tying him to the club until June 2024. 

The 46-year-old took over from Antonio Conte in 2021 and impressed in his first season at the helm of the Nerazzurri, which followed the departures of key duo Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi.

And Inter confirmed on Tuesday that he had signed a new two-year deal.

Despite missing out on the Scudetto to local rivals Milan, Inzaghi did lead Inter to success in the Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia – requiring extra time to overcome Juventus on both occasions.

As Inter prepare for a bid to regain the Serie A title, the Nerazzurri have taken the decision to hand Inzaghi fresh terms.

Inter are hoping to build on Inzaghi's new deal by sealing a San Siro return for former talisman Lukaku, just one season after selling him to Chelsea for a reported €115million. 

Lukaku endured a tough first season after returning to Stamford Bridge and will hope to rediscover the form that encouraged Chelsea to make him their record signing if he completes his move back to Italy.

Across his two previous seasons at Inter, Lukaku scored 64 goals and supplied 17 assists – both team highs during that time frame. He also led the way in shots on target (132), chances created (133), aerial duels won (185) and dribbles completed (103).

Inter are also locked in talks to sign Paulo Dybala on a free transfer from Juventus, with chief executive Giuseppe Marotta admitting the Nerazzurri's interest in acquiring both attackers on Monday.

 

Lautaro Martinez remains "indispensable" to Inter, while the Nerazzurri are also continuing discussions with Romelu Lukaku to see if there is a chance to strike a deal.

That is the message from Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta, who spoke to Radio Anch'Io on Monday to provide an update on their transfer business.

Lukaku will reportedly return to Inter on loan less than a year after leaving Italy to re-sign for Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million transfer, having only scored eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances.

The striker fired Inter to Scudetto glory in 2020-21 and across his two-year spell, no Nerazzurri player scored more goals (64), provided more assists (17) or created as many chances (133) in all competitions.

Paulo Dybala also seems set to join Inter on a free transfer from Juventus as Marotta assured negotiations are ongoing to bring the attacking pair to Simone Inzaghi's side.

"It is difficult to give a precise answer. They are our targets but we must evaluate the finances," he said, as quoted by FCInternews.

"I cannot hide that we want these players, we want to sign them. If not, we will move on to other targets. 

"A single player is not important, what matters is the group and this is already a solid team."

When asked if Lukaku's loan would be confirmed on Monday, Lukaku responded: "Absolutely not. More generally, we want to create a competitive team while respecting [financial] sustainability.

"Lukaku is a viable signing but there are still some difficulties and we have to evaluate if there are the right conditions to do the deal."

Dybala and Lukaku could form a fearsome frontline with Lautaro Martinez as Inter look to reclaim the Serie A title from fierce rivals Milan.

Martinez was comfortably Inter's top league scorer in the 2021-22 season, with his 21 goals eight ahead of nearest challenger Edin Dzeko, and Marotta says it is vital to keep the Argentina international amid links to Chelsea and Tottenham.

"We have our targets, which means make money in the transfer market and contain salary costs," he added. 

"It is in our interest to keep a strong team because that is in the history of the club. We believe that Lautaro is indispensable to continue to pursue these objectives."

Dusan Vlahovic was not missed at Fiorentina after departing for Juventus in January, according to his former team-mate Nicolas Gonzalez.

Vlahovic scored 20 goals in 24 appearances for Vincenzo Italiano's side in the first half of last season, becoming one of European football's hottest properties and earning a reported €80million (£66.6m) move to Juve.

The Serbia international scored nine goals in 21 appearances for the Bianconeri following his big-money switch.

Vlahovic's decision to join rivals Juve sparked outrage at Fiorentina, who had already seen the likes of Federico Chiesa, Juan Cuadrado, Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri, move to Turin.

Gonzalez, who finished as Fiorentina's second-highest goalscorer after Vlahovic in the 2021-22 season with eight goals in all competitions, gave a frank answer when asked about the impact of the striker's departure.

"His absence was not felt," the winger told SportItalia. "Obviously he is a strong player, but the fans did not like his attitude. 

"He is a young boy who has a lot to learn."

 

Gonzalez has won 21 caps for Argentina, and featured from the bench during his 3-0 rout of Italy at Wembley earlier this month.

He hopes his international team-mate Angel Angel Di Maria, a reported target for Juve, will join him in Serie A.

 Gonzalez said: "I'd like to see him in Italy. He's a player I've always appreciated, and he could give a lot to Italian football."

The 24-year-old would also like to see Paulo Dybala stay in Italy, saying: "I'd like to see him at Inter with [Joaquin] Correa and Lautaro [Martinez]."

Inter cannot rely on building an attack with Romelu Lukaku, Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez as that would expose Simone Inzaghi's side in defence.

That is the message from Milan legend Arrigo Sacchi, who compared the strategy to the plans of Real Madrid in the early 2000s when they assembled a team of attacking superstars.

The Los Blancos star-studded line-up included the likes of David Beckham, Ronaldo Nazario, Raul, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, but they went six straight seasons without winning a Champions League knockout tie between 2004 and 2010.

Inter are looking to knock fierce rivals Milan off the Serie A summit, with Inzaghi attempting to bring Lukaku back on loan from Chelsea, while Dybala seems set to join the Nerazzurri on a free transfer.

Lukaku fired Inter to Scudetto glory in 2020-21 and across his two-year spell, no Nerazzurri player scored more goals (64), provided more assists (17) or created as many chances (133) in all competitions.

Martinez was comfortably Inter's top Serie A scorer in the 2021-22 campaign, with his 21 goals eight ahead of nearest challenger Edin Dzeko, while Dybala scored the most league goals for Juventus (10).

Combining the trio may lead to additional firepower for Inzaghi, but Sacchi insists Inter must focus on balance as opposed to attacking riches.

"You don't make teams with statues," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I was at Real Madrid as director of football [in 2004-05] and they asked me to coach. Do you know what the attack was?

"Beckham, Raul, Ronaldo, Zidane, Figo. On the bench, we had [Fernando] Morientes and [Michael] Owen. It wasn't a team, it was a film but it lacked the plot.

"So I thanked the president but said no. To protect the defence we would have needed two defensive players with bullet-proof vests. Teams always need balance."

Sacchi also believes Lukaku, Martinez and Dybala would be unwilling to do the defensive work to help those behind them.

"You need a full team who are always active – in attack and in defence. You need to move, take part in the action, play together," he added.

"Then you can consider winning the ball back quickly when the opposition has it. If you give up three players to the opposition, it means there are only eight in defence rather than 11.

"The willingness and physical characteristics of the player are fundamental. I don't believe, but I could be wrong, that Lukaku, Martinez and Dybala have these qualities."

Inter vice president Javier Zanetti expressed his admiration for Paulo Dybala as he confirmed the Nerazzurri are in continued talks with the striker.

Dybala will depart Juventus when his contract expires at the end of June, ending a seven-season stay with the Bianconeri, and Inter are among the frontrunners for the forward.

A host of Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Tottenham, are also said to be interested in the Argentina international.

Reports in Italy suggest Dybala has already agreed terms with Simone Inzaghi's side, with the Juve star trading Turin for rivals Inter, who narrowly missed out on Scudetto success to neighbours Milan.

The 28-year-old would join – or replace – Argentina team-mate Lautaro Martinez, with Chelsea reportedly interested in signing the Inter striker.

While Nerazzurri great Zanetti would not confirm whether an agreement was already in place, he suggested talks are ongoing as he hailed Dybala.

"We are in talks," he told D-Sports Radio, as quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I admire Paulo and I wish him the best for his career.

"Dybala is a great player and will surely represent us [Argentina] at the World Cup.

"Inter have always had a lot of South Americans in their team, especially Argentineans. Now we have Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa. The club have faith in the Argentineans."

There has not been a lot of movement among Inter's defensive stocks in recent years, with Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni providing continuity in front of Samir Handanovic.

Skriniar appears set to leave this off-season, however, after five years at the club.

The Nerazzurri are reportedly well-prepared in what looks set to be an active transfer window for them.

 

TOP STORY – INTER PLAN FOR SKRINIAR EXIT AS PSG MOVE NEARS

Inter have identified who they would want to replace Skriniar in the event he departs for PSG, according to Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport.

Gleison Bremer and Nikola Milenkovic are viewed as possible replacements for the 27-year-old Slovakia international, as his move to Ligue 1 appears increasingly likely.

Skriniar's priority is to remain with Inter, where he has been since 2017 after signing from Sampdoria, but would not stand against a move to PSG if it helped Inter financially.

Bremer has reportedly already agreed personal terms with the Nerazzurri, while Milenkovic's agent met with club representatives this week.

ROUND-UP

Roma and Lazio are both keen to sign Napoli forward Dries Mertens, whose contract expires this off-season, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Denzel Dumfries is open to leaving Inter in order to join Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, the Daily Mail reports.

– Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri are set to sign Paulo Dybala on a three-year deal with his contract at Juventus expiring, per Goal.

– Bild claims that Jonjoe Kenny has committed to joining Hertha Berlin on a free transfer from Everton.

The seemingly never-ending 2021-22 season may be ongoing, with a number of big international fixtures still to be played this month, but plenty of focus is already on the next campaign.

This month's conclusion will mark the end of an era for many players as their contracts come to an end – though for some it will provide a much-needed opportunity to begin a new chapter elsewhere.

For others, becoming a free agent simply provides more bargaining power when negotiating fresh terms with their current employers, at a time when most clubs cannot spend as frivolously on new players as they once could.

While some big-name freebies have already moved clubs, and others are reported to have signed pre-contract agreements elsewhere – such as Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen at Barcelona – others remain on the market.

Here, Stats Perform picks out some of those who are on the lookout for a new club.


Player: Paul Pogba
Current club: Manchester United
Rumoured suitors: Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain

United last week announced the departures of six players, with Juan Mata, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Pogba among them. While the first three of those will undoubtedly be of interest to teams across the continent, Pogba is arguably the most in-demand free agent around.

Juventus reportedly lead the way for the France international, who won eight trophies in four seasons with the Serie A giants prior to rejoining United in 2016. Whichever side of the divide you stand – that Pogba has too often been used out of position or is just simply not good enough – there is no denying his second spell at Old Trafford has not gone to plan.

Still, with 67 goals and assists in the Premier League since the start of 2016-17, United are waving goodbye to a player who has been involved in 17.5 per cent of their goals across that period – only Marcus Rashford (21.9 per cent) has directly contributed to more.

 

Player: Gareth Bale
Current club: Real Madrid
Rumoured suitors: Cardiff City, Getafe, MLS clubs

As the winner of 16 trophies across nine seasons at Madrid – one of those spent on loan at Tottenham – and still aged just 32, you would imagine Bale would have the pick of the world's top clubs to choose from in the upcoming transfer window.

But that is not quite the case, with hometown club Cardiff City and Madrid-based Getafe now considered the two favourites to land the Wales international. That does come with a caveat of sorts, though, as Bale's main focus is on entering November's World Cup with Wales in peak fitness, rather than adding to his trophy collection.

The forward has had a number of injury setbacks in recent years but, wherever he plies his trade next season, he will want to play more football than he did in 2021-22 when available. He featured in just seven of Madrid's 56 matches, totalling 290 minutes on the field, and started only four of those – seven per cent of all minutes Madrid played.

 

Player: Ousmane Dembele
Current club: Barcelona
Rumoured suitors: Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool

Barcelona were eager to get Dembele off their books in January, so much so that director of football Mateu Alemany publicly told the France international to find a new club "immediately". Five months on, after a strong second half to the 2021-22 season, Barca would like nothing more than to retain Dembele's services.

The former Borussia Dortmund attacker assisted 11 LaLiga goals between the start of 2022 and the end of the season, a tally that no other player across Europe's top five leagues could match, with Lionel Messi next best on 10 with PSG in Ligue 1.

Re-signing Messi has been touted, but that seems fanciful a year on from his emotional exit, so Barca may well focus on tying Dembele down to a new deal before PSG – who also have another ex-Barcelona favourite in Neymar on their books – add to a star-studded frontline.

 

Player: Paulo Dybala
Current club: Juventus
Rumoured suitors: Arsenal, Tottenham, Barcelona

Juventus are coming off the back of their first trophyless season in a decade, and with it comes the end of an era in many ways as Giorgio Chiellini is departing after 18 years in Turin, while Federico Bernardeschi is also on his way out and seemingly set for Napoli.

However, the name on everyone's lips right now is Dybala's, even if the Argentina international has not fully lived up to the admittedly huge hype following his arrival at Juve from Palermo in a €40million transfer seven years ago.

Dybala can still be pleased enough with his goalscoring return at the Allianz Stadium, having netted 115 goals in 293 appearances in all competitions, making him the club's third-highest foreign goalscorer of all time behind David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

 

Player: Angel Di Maria 
Current club: Paris Saint-Germain
Rumoured suitors: Juventus, Barcelona

Di Maria signed off from PSG in the near-perfect manner with a goal and an assist in his final game for the club against Metz last month, though his importance clearly diminished following the arrival of Messi as he started just 19 Ligue 1 games last term, down from 23 in the two previous campaigns.

That performance against Metz, albeit in a dead-rubber, highlighted Di Maria's quality when used and it is perhaps little surprise that some big-name clubs are interested. A move to Juventus seemed a certainty not so long ago, but Barcelona are supposedly now the frontrunners for the 34-year-old.

Di Maria is not the only South American attacker available to sign on a free next month, either, as the aforementioned Cavani and Uruguay international team-mate Luis Suarez are also on the lookout for a new club following their exits from United and Atletico Madrid respectively.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini promised changes after a difficult few months for the Azzurri was compounded by a crushing defeat to Argentina in Wednesday's Finalissima.

Argentina were comprehensive 3-0 winners at Wembley, as the CONMEBOL/UEFA 'Cup of Champions' was revived for the first time since 1993.

Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala got the goals as Lionel Messi pulled the strings, but in truth Italy were fortunate to only lose 3-0 against a hugely impressive Albiceleste.

It was only Italy's second match since their shock World Cup qualifying defeat to North Macedonia in March, with that loss preventing them from reaching Qatar 2022.

Despite the Azzurri winning Euro 2020 less than a year ago, Mancini is already looking to instigate something of a rebuild.

But he was keen to pay tribute to those who have played a key role over the past four years.

"In the first half we made two mistakes on their two goals, then they were better at keeping the ball," Mancini is quoted as saying by Sky Italia.

"They were better than us, but I must say thanks to these guys who have played in these four years.

"There is regret for the lack of qualification for the World Cup, and tonight's match was initially balanced, then they had superior quality to us.

"After this match we had in mind to change several things and we will do it. We need to find the players, put together a team that will suffer at the beginning and that in the future will be able to give us joy."

Clearly, the attack will be Mancini's primary focus in any rebuild as he rued a lack of threat going forward.

"We have great difficulty scoring at the moment, and we have to work a lot knowing that it will not be so simple and it will take time [to overcome their issues]," he continued.

"After the European Championship we struggled to score and we have to find solutions in this sense and try to be fast, but it will not be easy to put together a team that gives us short-term satisfaction even if there are good guys. We will have to make as few mistakes as possible.

"I have optimism. I like to work and train. It's true that we lost against a great Argentina team, but we must know that there will also be these moments and we must make sure that the youngest players learn quickly."

Italy now turn their attention to the Nations League. They face Germany on Saturday and again on June 14 – matches against Hungary and England are sandwiched in between.

Argentina's impressive 3-0 Finalissima win over Italy saw La Albiceleste set a national new record of 32 matches unbeaten.

Lionel Scaloni's men were sensational at Wembley, producing a dominant and rampant performance that could have seen them claim an even more one-sided victory.

Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala got the goals, while Lionel Messi pulled the strings as Argentina made something of a statement less than six months before the World Cup.

Argentina's last defeat was a 2-0 loss to bitter rivals Brazil in the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa America, but they got their revenge in the final last year, beating the Selecao 1-0 at the Maracana to clinch their first title in 28 years.

Their 32 games unbeaten is a new record for official games, though Argentina did go 33 matches without defeat under Alfio Basile – that run included two fixtures not recognised by FIFA as they were against the Rest of America and the Rest of World in 1991.

Argentina's streak is the longest currently intact in international football and leaves them just five adrift of the all-time record set by Italy themselves last year.

Argentina made an early statement of intent ahead of the World Cup with an impressively dominant 3-0 win over Italy to win the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima at Wembley.

Although Italy failed to qualify for Qatar 2022, few would have expected the European champions to be so stunningly outclassed by the Copa America 2021 winners.

Much of the pre-game focus was on Giorgio Chiellini, but the last game of his distinguished international career ended at half-time with Argentina deservedly 2-0 up thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria.

Italy somehow prevented the inspired Lionel Messi and Di Maria adding more gloss to the scoreline, but Paulo Dybala finally got their third with the last kick of the game.

A brilliant intervention by Cristian Romero had earlier denied Andrea Belotti a simple finish in the 20th minute, with the striker then seeing a looping header saved by Emiliano Martinez a few moments later.

But Argentina soon took charge.

Messi wonderfully turned away from Giovanni Di Lorenzo and held him off before passing across goal for Martinez to tap home.

The Inter forward then turned provider on the stroke of half-time, spinning Leonardo Bonucci and feeding Di Maria, who lifted an audacious chip over the helpless Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Roberto Mancini made three changes at the break but if anything Argentina only became more dominant – Donnarumma desperately scurried back to stop a Bonucci back-pass going in, before importantly denying the excellent Di Maria twice.

Giovani Lo Celso then missed an open goal – albeit from a slightly tight angle – after great work by Messi, who subsequently tested Donnarumma twice.

But Donnarumma was eventually beaten again at the end, substitute Dybala finding the bottom-right corner after a solo Messi run terrified the Italy defence.

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