Romelu Lukaku is open to joining a Saudi Pro League club one year after rejecting Al-Hilal, as Chelsea look to get the striker off the books.

Chelsea re-signed Lukaku for an estimated £97.5million in 2021, but he has spent the last two seasons on loan at Inter and Roma after struggling at Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku scored 21 goals for Roma in 2023-24 and the Giallorossi are keen on keeping him at the Stadio Olimpico, but cannot match Chelsea's reported £37m asking price.

The Blues accepted an offer for Lukaku's services from Al-Hilal last year, when several big-name players swapped Europe's top leagues for the Saudi Pro League, but the Belgian rejected the move.

He is now more open to playing in the country after discussing the prospect with international team-mate Yannick Carrasco, who left Atletico Madrid for Al-Shabab last September.

Recalling his decision to turn Al-Hilal down, Lukaku told VTM: "It was really intense for two weeks. For two days in a row I thought, 'yes, I'm going', then, 'no, I'm not going'.

"I was scared for a moment, everyone only went there after I declined the offer.

"I have often spoken with Yannick about life there. He lives in a complex, but you really have everything there."

 

Lukaku, who is gearing up to represent Belgium at his sixth major tournament at Euro 2024, says patience will be required as he weighs up his next move.

"A lot of people like to talk, maybe because I don't have an agent, but I'll decide," he added. "I'm in control of my situation. 

"I'm going to make a choice and once I explain it, everyone will agree with me."

Lukaku scored 14 goals in just eight games in Euro 2024 qualifying, a record for a European Championship qualification campaign. Those goals came from just 29 shots, with the 31-year-old averaging a goal every 39 minutes.

He is also Belgium's all-time leading scorer at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), with 11 goals in 22 matches.

However, just two of those strikes have come in knockout games, against the United States in the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup and versus Italy in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

Paulo Dybala admits his omission from Argentina's squad for the upcoming Copa America was "a very tough blow", but fully respects the decision of head coach Lionel Scaloni.

The Roma forward was left out of the 29-player party for the tournament in the United States, where La Albiceleste will be defending the title they won three years ago.

Dybala enjoyed a productive 2023-24 season with Roma, scoring 16 goals in 39 appearances, though injury struggles did hamper his progress.

Nevertheless, the 30-year-old - who was part of his nation's 2022 World Cup triumph - was surprised not to be included.

"I felt like I did some good things this year," he told The Athletic. "I was confident about making the squad, so it was a very tough blow for me to take, because being part of the national team is one of the best things ever.

"But I also understand that it’s hard for our coach to choose. I respect his decision. I’ve got a great relationship with him, and he has certainly chosen the best for the team."

Dybala also spoke about his future with just one year remaining on his existing contract with Roma.

"Italy has given me everything," added Dybala, who has played in Serie A for 12 years having also had spells with Juventus and Palermo.

"It'd be hard to leave but, of course, you always have the curiosity and wonder how you'd do in leagues as good as LaLiga and the Premier League, where there are great teams and great players."

Argentina, who will play Chile, Peru and Canada in Group A at the Copa America, will complete their preparations for the tournament with friendlies against Ecuador on June 9 and Guatemala five days later.

Atalanta do not consider themselves favourites for Wednesday's Coppa Italia final against Juventus despite their strong form, says coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

Atalanta have enjoyed a fantastic season, reaching the Europa League final – where they will face unbeaten Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen on May 22 – and the Coppa Italia showpiece. 

La Dea are also in the driving seat to secure Italy's fifth Champions League place for next season, after Sunday's 2-1 home win over Roma took them three points clear of the Giallorossi with a game in hand.

On Wednesday, an out-of-form Juve side await Atalanta at the Stadio Olimpico, as Gasperini seeks his first trophy with the club he joined back in 2016.

"I think it's a bit much to suggest we'd be favourites against Juve. We are in good form, but it's difficult to tell playing every three days," Gasperini told DAZN on Sunday.

"Naturally, we go into this Coppa Italia final with great enthusiasm."

Atalanta's Milan loanee Charles De Ketelaere produced another fine performance against Roma, scoring twice inside 20 minutes.

With 13 goals and nine assists, he is one of three Atalanta players to record 22 goal involvements in all competitions this season, alongside Gianluca Scamacca (17 goals, five assists) and Teun Koopmeiners (15 goals, seven assists). 

Manchester City and Leverkusen (four apiece) are the only teams in Europe's top five leagues with more players with at least 22 direct goal involvements. 

"Everyone knew he could play, or Milan would not have made an investment like that. He deserves the credit, he was going all over the place, right, left and centre tonight," Gasperini said of De Ketelaere.

Lorenzo Pellegrini reduced the deficit for the visitors with a penalty after 66 minutes, but overall Atalanta were dominant.

While Gasperini was happy with the win, he did not enjoy the wastefulness of his side.

"I don't know if we've learned a lesson, other than we had so many scoring opportunities and did not aim properly, otherwise we would have killed it off a lot earlier," he said.

"Failing to win this match really would have caused us a lot of problems."

Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso said his team deserve to win all three trophies available to them this season after they qualified for the Europa League final by seeing off Roma on Thursday.

Leverkusen, who have already wrapped up the Bundesliga title and will contest the DFB-Pokal final on May 25, stretched their unbeaten run through all competitions this season to 49 matches, surpassing Benfica's long-standing European top-tier record set between 1963 and 1965.

Once again, they did it the hard way after two Leandro Paredes penalties wiped out their first-leg advantage, with a Gianluca Mancini own goal and a stoppage-time strike from Josip Stanisic completing a dramatic comeback.

Following their 4-2 aggregate victory, Roma will face Atalanta in the May 22 final in Dublin, after La Dea overcame Marseille 4-1 on aggregate in the other semi-final.

"We'll play two finals in a week as a result," Alonso said. "We showed great character today after their second goal. 

"I looked my players in the eye afterwards and saw that they wanted more.

"We still have the chance to win three titles, and my boys deserve all three titles."

Despite going 3-2 up on aggregate when Mancini put through his own net, Leverkusen refused to sit back as they looked to preserve their unbeaten record, which they did through Stanisic's 97th-minute strike.

Asked whether that goal was one of the biggest moments of his career, the Bayern Munich loanee said: "Definitely one of them. 

"We knew what was at stake, we really wanted to get to the final and I think you could see that over 90 minutes today.

"I don't think we would have cared in the end if we lost and still progressed because we really wanted to get to the final, but it's even nicer this way."

For Roma, the chance to reach a second straight Europa League final after last season's defeat by Sevilla on penalties slipped away in the dying minutes of the match.

"When you manage to get it back from 2-0 down and go close to the miracle, knowing nobody has ever beaten them this season, it hurts to see us concede a goal like that. It hurts," Roma boss Daniele De Rossi told Sky Sports Italia.

Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League final and stretched their remarkable unbeaten run to 49 games on Thursday, Josip Stanisic scoring seven minutes into stoppage time in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Roma.

Having won last week's first leg 2-0 in Italy, Leverkusen were strong favourites to advance to this month's final in Dublin, though two Leandro Paredes penalties left them facing up to the prospect of extra time.

Paredes halved Leverkusen's aggregate lead on the stroke of half-time after Jonathan Tah fouled Sardar Azmoun, then repeated the trick following a bizarre handball from Adam Hlozek shortly after the hour mark.

However, Roma's hearts were broken as goalkeeper Mile Svilar – who was otherwise outstanding – failed to claim a routine corner and it bounced in off the unfortunate Gianluca Mancini with eight minutes of the 90 remaining. 

Rather than sitting back at 2-1 up in the tie, Leverkusen chased a leveller in order to preserve their unbeaten record across all competitions this season.

It was yet another last-gasp effort that kept that record intact, with Stanisic firing into the bottom-left corner after being played through by Granit Xhaka.

Xabi Alonso's team are now unbeaten in 49 games in all competitions, breaking Benfica's previous European top-tier record of 48 matches, set between 1963 and 1965.

Leverkusen will face another Italian side in the showpiece game, after Atalanta crushed Marseille 3-0 in Bergamo to seal a 4-1 aggregate win in the other semi-final.

In-form striker Gianluca Scamacca had already rattled the crossbar when La Dea took the lead, with Ademola Lookman's strike deflecting in off the unfortunate Samuel Gigot. 

Lookman then turned provider as Atalanta stretched their advantage seven minutes after the break, teeing up Matteo Ruggeri for a rasping finish into the top-right corner.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men were able to add some gloss to the scoreline at the death, with El Bilal Toure's pinpoint finish giving Pau Lopez no chance to round off a dominant win. 

Bayer Leverkusen will use last campaign's Europa League loss against Roma as motivation to get the job done this time, so says Xabi Alonso.

Leverkusen were knocked out by Roma after a goalless draw in the second leg of the Europa League semis last season, losing the tie 1-0 on aggregate.

But a few things have changed since then with Alonso's side, who are now on an extraordinary 48-match unbeaten run this campaign, ending Bayern Munich's 11-year stranglehold on the Bundesliga title to secure their first trophy since 1993.

They are also a step closer to a treble, having beaten Roma 2-0 away in the first leg last week and reaching the DFB-Cup final against Kaiserslautern.

"We haven't forget (forgotten) last season, we felt it. We need to use this energy and hopeful we can celebrate at the end. We will put all of our focus on the full 90 minutes. We want to deserve our win and make the final in Dublin," Alonso told reporters.

The Spaniard, however, said Leverkusen will have to be on their toes despite their advantage as he believes Roma will continue to be dangerous opponents under manager Daniele De Rossi, who replaced Jose Mourinho in January.

"A second leg is always a dangerous situation no matter the result before," Alonso said.

"We are preparing to play well with good motivation and at our own game. We want to be aggressive, control and defend well as a team.

"We are expecting Roma to come with the hope of qualifying."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri admitted to having regrets after the Bianconeri missed the chance to close the gap to second-placed Milan in Sunday's Serie A draw with Roma. 

Romelu Lukaku put Roma ahead early on at the Stadio Olimpico but Bremer's header dragged Juventus level before the break, as two teams vying for a top-five finish cancelled each other out.

Juventus have now won just two of their last 14 league games, and Allegri reacted to the final whistle on Sunday by storming off the bench and throwing his jacket to the ground in frustration.

Speaking to DAZN after the game, Allegri said: "There are regrets, naturally we could've done better during this period, but football is vicious like that, sometimes it just doesn't go your way.

"We risked losing a game that we were in a position to win at the start of the second half."

Despite four consecutive Serie A draws, Juventus remain six points clear of fifth-placed Roma and nine ahead of Atalanta in sixth – though La Dea have two games in hand.

With Italy guaranteed five Champions League qualification places for next season, they remain in a strong position to return to Europe's premier club competition, while they are also due to face Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final on May 15.

"The important thing now is to concentrate on the next game, as that is the match point for the Champions League, then we have the Coppa Italia final," Allegri said.

"The club will evaluate at the end of the season, naturally there are some solid foundations for Juve, but we were missing players like [Paul] Pogba, [Nicolo] Fagioli and of course [Federico] Chiesa was on and off."

Despite Juventus enjoying a broadly positive campaign after finishing seventh in 2022-23, when they were hampered by a 10-point deduction after an investigation into their historical financial dealings, Allegri's position has been called into question lately.

Asked about his own future, he said: "I don't know, you'd have to ask the club. 

"The important thing is for us to focus on the Coppa Italia final and hopefully, we’ll come back here with the Champions League already achieved."

Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw at Roma on Sunday, missing the chance to close in on Milan in second place in Serie A.

Roma took the lead after 15 minutes when Romelu Lukaku found himself in the perfect position to tap in the rebound from a Bryan Cristante shot.

Bremer levelled with a header for Juventus just after the half-hour mark when Federico Chiesa picked him out inside the box from a corner.

Both sides had chances to find a winner in the final minutes, with Roma keeper Mile Svilar making a fingertip save to push Manuel Locatelli's volley over the bar.

Third-placed Juventus have 66 points, five fewer than Milan, who drew 3-3 with Genoa earlier on Sunday. Roma are fifth with 60 points.

Data Debrief: Leading from the back

Since scoring his first Serie A goal in the 2019-20 season, Bremer is the defender with the most headed goals in the Big-5 European leagues, netting 13 in total. Each of his last seven goals have been headers.

His goal was enough to earn Juventus a point today, but it means that they have drawn each of their last four in the competition - a first since February-March 2012 under Antonio Conte.

Daniele De Rossi acknowledged his Roma team may be tired, but he insisted they must not allow themselves to be embarrassed. 

Roma fought back to draw 2-2 with last season's Serie A champions Napoli in a pulsating fixture on Sunday.

Tammy Abraham's late header secured a point for De Rossi's team, who took the lead through Paulo Dybala's penalty before going behind to goals from Matias Olivera and Victor Osimhen.

With Serie A set to have five teams in the Champions League next season, Roma occupy fifth spot with four matches remaining, but sixth-placed Atalanta are just two points behind with a game in hand.

There is also the small matter of a Europa League semi-final against Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen on the cards over the coming weeks, and De Rossi set the stall out.

"We drew, it is not a result to throw away, but it is not the result or the performance that we wanted," Roma coach Daniele De Rossi told Sky Sports Italia.

"At times you can steal the ball off Napoli, but we then gave it back again too many times. Napoli had a lot of chances in the first half, we did better in the second, but we have to do better.

"Look, we are tired, but we cannot start thinking that we’re tired and that means we can be embarrassed in the final few weeks of the season."

Roma host Leverkusen on Thursday before taking on Juventus on May 5, with a crunch clash against Atalanta – who are also into the Europa League semi-finals – set to follow after the away leg against Xabi Alonso's team.

Key to a successful end to the campaign for Roma will be keeping Dybala fit. The Argentine has been involved in the joint-most goals (12) in Serie A since the turn of the year, scoring nine and setting up three, level with Juve's Dusan Vlahovic.

A wasteful Napoli were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Roma in Serie A, with a late Tammy Abraham header securing a point for the visitors.

The visitors took the lead from the penalty spot a minute before the hour mark, with Paulo Dybala converting after Juan Jesus fouled Sardar Amzoun.

However, Napoli equalised six minutes later through Matias Olivera's deflected shot, and completed the turnaround with their own penalty six minutes from time as Victor Osimhen tucked away after Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was felled by Renato Sanches.

The hosts could not hold on, though, and were pegged back with two minutes to go. Substitute Abraham's header from a corner was eventually awarded following a VAR review after he had initially been ruled offside.

Data debrief

Napoli remain eighth in the Serie A table on 50 points, the exact amount they had registered after their opening 19 games of last season.

Though his penalty was not enough to earn Roma victory, Dybala continued his impressive start to 2024, during which he has been involved in the joint-most goals in Serie A with 12 (nine goals, three assists).

Roma’s 10 men held out to see off Serie A rivals AC Milan 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico and secure a place in the Europa League semi-finals.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, early goals from Gianluca Mancini and Paulo Dybala put the Giallorossi firmly in control of the tie.

Roma defender Zeki Celik was shown a straight red card after 31 minutes for sliding in on Rafael Leao, but AC Milan could not make their advantage count despite a late consolation goal from Matteo Gabbia.

Ahead of the match, Roma had confirmed head coach Daniele De Rossi would remain in charge for “the foreseeable future”, the former midfielder having overseen an upturn in fortunes since taking over in January after Jose Mourinho was sacked.

Mancini – whose goal had settled the first leg at the San Siro – opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini collected the ball just outside the box and curled a shot against the far post. Mancini was first to the rebound, knocking it in from 10 yards.

AC Milan went in search of a way back as Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s angled drive bounced up off the ground and deflected onto the crossbar.

Roma doubled their lead in the 22nd minute.

Romelu Lukaku showed great strength to barge past Gabbia and into the left side of the penalty area. Although the Milan defender recovered to stab Lukaku’s cross away, the ball fell to Dybala, who curled it into the far bottom corner.

Belgian forward Lukaku then sustained an injury and was replaced by Tammy Abraham in the 29th minute.

Roma found themselves down to 10 men just after the half-hour mark when Celik slid in on Leao as the Portuguese forward sprinted away down the left and was shown a straight red card by Polish referee Szymon Marciniak.

The visitors were soon claiming a penalty when the ball bounced around a crowded penalty area and looked to have hit Mancini on the hand.

However, after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, the referee ruled the ball had struck Olivier Giroud’s hand first.

Dybala was also forced off through injury just before half-time, with Diego Llorente coming on.

Roma, who have climbed from ninth to fifth in Serie A under De Rossi, were content to allow Milan plenty of possession but without really stretching the home defensive line.

The Giallorossi looked to hit Milan on the counter, with Leonardo Spinazzola played clear down the left but his low angled drive was pushed away by Mike Maignan.

On the hour, Leao then cut inside to pull the ball back for Luka Jovic but his shot from 10 yards was straight at Roma goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

Roma winger Stephan El Shaarawy got away down the right and sent in a cross which Abraham first tried to flick goalwards with a backheel – and then blazed the loose ball over.

Milan continued to struggle to down Roma before eventually scoring a late consolation when defender Gabbia headed in from Leao’s cross with five minutes left.

In stoppage time, Milan defender Theo Hernandez was initially sent off for a foul on El Shaarawy – only for the referee to overturn his decision after taking another look on the monitor and show a yellow card instead.

Roma have confirmed that head coach Daniele De Rossi will remain in charge of the club for “the foreseeable future”.

De Rossi, 40, who spent 18 years as a player with the Giallorossi, was appointed in January after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Roma have climbed from ninth to fifth in Serie A under the 40-year-old, who initially signed a short-term deal until June.

In a statement on the club’s website, Roma owners Dan and Ryan Friedkin said: “After meeting yesterday afternoon with Daniele De Rossi, we are delighted to announce he will continue as head coach of AS Roma after this season and for the foreseeable future.

“In his short tenure as head coach, the positive impact that his leadership has brought to the entire club has told its own story.

“Daniele leads with respect and courage, while his strength and deep-rooted belief in the club are truly aligned with Roma’s values, city and unparalleled fans.

“We will continue to work together as hard as we possibly can to deliver a future that AS Roma’s fans deserve.

“We couldn’t be happier to build a long-term project with Daniele.

“Further details to follow in the coming days.”

Rafael Leao is determined to silence his critics when AC Milan seek to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Roma.

Leao came in for criticism after last week’s first match, but showed a much better version of himself as Milan fought back from two goals down to take a 3-3 draw at relegation-battling Sassuolo on Sunday.

The 24-year-old forward, who scored Milan’s first goal, recognises he needs to bring more consistency to his game.

“I hope to help my team,” Leao told Milan TV.

“If I don’t score a goal, I hope to play well and win. This is the most important thing, to move forward.

“After the first leg, where I didn’t do very well, I was disappointed and with Sassuolo I wanted to give the right answer. If I make a mistake, I always try to come back even stronger, to learn from my mistakes.

“I found the joy of doing well and helping my team-mates. I want to play better now. We know the comeback is possible. We have to start strong, try to score in the first few minutes and then play like a final.”

Goalkeeper Mike Maignan is expected to return in goal after sitting out Sunday’s match as a precaution, but Simon Kjaer is a doubt after suffering a muscle injury in that match. Both he and fellow defender Pierre Kalulu missed training on Wednesday.

Gianluca Mancini struck in the 17th minute as Roma took an impressive 1-0 victory at the San Siro last week, carrying on their good form since Daniele De Rossi replaced Jose Mourinho in the hotseat.

The 2022 Europa Conference League champions came ever so close to making it back-to-back titles after they were defeated on penalties in last year’s Europa League showpiece and are 90 minutes away from another semi-final.

But De Rossi knows AC Milan are far from beaten as they prepare for the second leg in Rome.

As quoted on romapress.net, he said: “Milan? They will fight with everything they have. This is their last resort, they want to win and achieve one of their objectives for the season. It will be difficult.

“There are characteristics of the opponent that must always be respected and you need to think about the opponent’s coach’s moves. The first leg with Milan was quite balanced, perhaps it went a little better for us. Milan won’t change their tactics too much, but we must not overthink our own gameplan.

“We will prepare the match to win it, to try to score a goal which would be a blow for them even if it might not be decisive.

“Milan are a very strong team, they are better than us, but in the first leg we showed that we are not that much inferior and I told my team that we can play for it. We are one step away from an important milestone such as a European semi-final.”

Roma defender Evan Ndicka is recovering in hospital after collapsing on the pitch during Sunday’s Serie A clash with Udinese.

The game at the Bluenergy Stadium was abandoned after 72 minutes with the score at 1-1 after the 24-year-old Ivory Coast international went down off the ball.

Ndicka was carried off on a stretcher after undergoing treatment on the pitch, but Roma later confirmed that the former Auxerre and Eintracht Frankfurt player was “feeling better” and “in good spirits” after being taken to hospital for checks.

A statement on Roma’s official X account read: “The squad went to visit Ndicka at the hospital. Evan is feeling better and is in good spirits.

“He will remain in the hospital for further observations. Forza Evan!”

Medics rushed to Ndicka’s assistance after his collapse and the decision was taken not to resume the fixture as he headed for hospital.

Roma posted: “Following the on-field medical emergency involving Evan Ndicka, the match between Udinese and Roma has been suspended.

“The player is conscious and has been taken to hospital for further checks. Forza Evan, we are all with you!”

Udinese said in a post: “We are with you, Ndicka.”

Roberto Pereyra had given the home side the lead before the break, but Romelu Lukaku made it 1-1 with 64 minutes gone.

Sunday’s Serie A clash between Udinese and Roma was abandoned after Ivory Coast international Evan Ndicka collapsed on the pitch.

The 24-year-old Roma defender went down off the ball with 72 minutes played at the Bluenergy Stadium and was carried off on a stretcher after treatment.

His club later confirmed that the former Auxerre and Eintracht Frankfurt player was conscious and had been taken to hospital for checks.

A statement on Roma’s official X – formerly Twitter – account read: “Following the on-field medical emergency involving Evan Ndicka, the match between Udinese and Roma has been suspended.

“The player is conscious and has been taken to hospital for further checks. Forza Evan, we are all with you!”

Udinese tweeted simply: “We are with you, Ndicka.”

Roberto Pereyra had given the home side the lead before the break, but Romelu Lukaku made it 1-1 with 64 minutes gone.

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