Behrami makes Udinese switch

Seasoned Swiss international Valon Behrami has signed a two-year contract with Serie A side Udinese.

The 32-year-old midfielder, who joined the Hornets from Hamburg in 2015, has departed for an undisclosed fee, after 49 appearances in all competitions during his two seasons in England.

Udinese director general Franco Collavino revealed his delight at signing the former Lazio, West Ham, Fiorentina and Napoli man.

He said: "We closed the deal very quickly.

"Udinese wanted a player with these characteristics and with this experience in our league, Serie A, where Behrami wanted to go back to test himself.

"This is an important purchase for technical expertise, an investment for this season and the project we are pursuing."

A statement from Watford read: "Watford FC thanks Valon for his efforts at the club and wishes him well for the future."

Bacca joins Villarreal from Milan

Villarreal have completed the signing of striker Carlos Bacca from AC Milan on a season-long loan deal with an option to buy.

The 30-year-old Colombian has spent the last two seasons in Serie A,  where he scored 13 goals in 31 league appearances,  and returns to La Liga having previously played for Sevilla.

Bacca will be a like-for-like replacement for Roberto Soldado, who recently joined Fenerbahce, and leaves Milan after a busy transfer window that saw many arrivals at San Siro, including young Portuguese striker Andre Silva, who would have been above Bacca in the pecking order.

The Yellow Submarine, on their official website, described Baccas as a "renowned goal scorer", and he could be set to make his debut in their Liga opener away to Levante on Monday evening.

Sarri: Napoli must show we belong in CL

Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri is determined to reach the Champions League group stage ahead of Wednesday’s qualifier against Nice.

Now in his third season at the club, Sarri said that Naples should be represented in the competition as they prepare to host the first leg at Stadio San Paolo.

"We need to get through - we are representing a city worthy of the Champions League and we want to get them in there," Sarri said. 

"Our condition is decent, or as decent as it can be for an Italian side at this stage of the year. Facts show that it's a difficult moment for us Italian clubs, and now we got drawn against a strong team -  one who beat Ajax - who were in the Europa League final just a few months ago.

"This is an extremely difficult game for us, especially given the time of the year. We are not yet up to speed and we are already a side who tend to concede something, and this is a knockout game so we've got to be careful that we don't give anything away in this game."

The Serie A side were eliminated by eventual champions Real Madrid last season, and Italian forward Lorenzo Insigne is eager to get another go at Europe’s top clubs.

"Last year, both in the league and the Champions League, we proved we are a great team," Insigne said.

"We were beaten by Real Madrid, but I think we played a great game and showed we can hold our own at these levels. Now we want to prove again that we deserve to be in the Champions League."

Roma to loan out Nigeria U23 striker

Nigeria U23 international striker Umar Sadiq is reportedly set to depart Italian giants Roma for fellow Serie A club Torino on a one-season loan deal.

Sadiq played six league games and scored two goals for Roma in the 2015/16 season, but has spent much of his time out on loan, to Serie B outfit Spezia, as well as to his former club Bologna in Serie A.

According to a report from a respected source in Italy, Gianluca Di Marzio, the 20-year-old Sadiq is now on his way to Torino on another loan, with the possibility of a permanent move next season for €6m.

The Kaduna-born forward has been a regular for the Nigeria U23 side and was also part of the team which won bronze at the 2016 Olympics.

While Roma finished last season as runners-up Serie A champions Juventus, Torino claimed ninth position.

Bonucci: Juventus still team to beat

Milan centre-back Leonardo Bonucci believes Juventus are still favourites to claim the Serie A title, but backs Napoli to challenge them.

The Rossoneri have spent big in the transfer market, forking out €200m for new players, with Bonucci joining for €40m from the Old Lady.

Despite Milan's spending, newboy Bonucci still feels that his former club are the team to beat in the race for the Scudetto.

“Juve remain favourites and Napoli have a great chance of fighting for the Scudetto,” Bonucci told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“As we are now we’re still a step below both, but we mustn’t limit ourselves. After those two, I see Milan, Inter and Roma as equals.

“If Andrea Belotti or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrive? Belotti is someone who drags you forward, he’s such a hard worker.

“I don’t know if he’ll come, but whoever does come in has to be available for both phases.

“A top-class striker will make things easier in so many ways, it would be the perfect end to a stimulating and exciting transfer campaign.”

Immobile tears up after Super Cup win

Lazio striker Ciro Immobile was all choked up after his brace helped Lazio defeat Juventus in Sunday’s Italian Super Cup.

The Italian forward opened the scoring with a 32nd-minute penalty before doubling Lazio’s lead in the 54th minute of the 3-2 win at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

"I am struggling to keep a lid on my emotions right now," Immobile told Lazio Style Radio.

"I cried at the end of the game, because this team gave absolutely everything and the fans deserved this trophy. 

"As we saw last season, if the team plays like this, then I too benefit as a striker. I couldn’t believe it when I scored that header! Between Medhi Benatia and Giorgio Chiellini, who are both really strong in the air, and I don’t really score many headers.

"The staff and the Coach worked so well to prepare us for this game and we interpreted it perfectly. It was an exceptional performance from everyone.

"Tonight we sent an important signal and want to knock down that taboo about teams in their second season."

Immobile’s brace was cancelled out by Juve striker Paulo Dybala, who brought the scores level with a fantastic free kick and 90th-minute penalty, before Alessandro Murgia won the tie late in added time.

Dybala slams Juve's 'small-team mentality'

Juventus striker Paulo Dybala has slammed this team’s mentality in their Italian Super Cup defeat to Lazio.

The Argentinian striker pulled Juve level with a 91st-minute penalty five minutes after also netting a lovely free kick.

An earlier brace from Ciro Immobile had put Lazio two goals ahead, and Alessandro Murgia then capitalized on some great wing play from Jordan Lukaku to win the tie in the third minute of added time.

"It’s a game we deserved to lose and Lazio comfortably deserved to win, even if we had come close to turning it around," Dybala told JTV.

"If we had gone to extra time, our chances of winning would’ve changed, but the performance we put in was not much to shout about. The result showed that they deserved the victory.

"The first 10-15 minutes were really good because we were attacking, we were aggressive towards Lazio and had the chances to score goals. We can’t just change attitude like that and play 50-60 minutes with that mentality.

"We have to turn over a new leaf, think of the next match and be aware that we must become more mature, because what we saw tonight was a small-team mentality.

"We want to change attitude straight away, because this isn’t the real Juve and we know that. We must be more mature and train this week to be ready for a very important game against Cagliari.

"Personally, I cannot be happy with my performance. Even if I scored two goals, I didn’t play well and I think I’ll have to work twice as hard this week too, because we’ve got to start the Serie A season strong against Cagliari."

Lazio are Supercoppa champions

Lazio held on for a 3-2 win over Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night to be crowned 2017 Supercoppa Italiana champions.

The home side attacked first through Juan Cuadrado, who's low shot was well saved before Paulo Dybala's fourth minute attempt was also kept out by Thoma Strakosha.

Gonzalo Higuaín fired wide before a couple of missed chances for Lazio as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was off-target alongside Luis Alberto.

Ciro Immobile never looked like missing from the spot in the 32nd minute though after Gianluigi Buffon had upended the goalscorer in the box.

Lazio continued to attack throughout the first half but had to wait until the 54th minute for Immobile to head home a second from a good Marco Parolo delivery.

The Juve attack were guilty of wasting numerous chances in front of goal before Dybala found the bottom corner of Strakosha's net with an 85th minute free-kick.

Dybala then buried his own penalty, with 91 minutes on the clock after Adam Marusic had agonisingly brought down Alex Sandro.

But Alessandro Murgia stunned the home support two mintes later when he picked up a Jordan Lukaku pass just outside the box and fired home past a despairing Buffon for a dramatic late win.

Roma won't up the offer for Mahrez

Roma sporting director Monchi says the Serie A side will not raise their club-record bid for Riyad Mahrez after being turned down three times by Leicester.
An offer of £31.8m was reportedly most recently rejected by the Foxes for their Algerian attacker, who has been looking for a new challenge away from the King Power Stadium.
Just last week Monchi remained confident of sealing a deal for the former Le Havre man, but he has since declared that any deal now is up to Leicester, although it is unlikely to happen with Mahrez playing in the 4-3 defeat to Arsenal on Friday.
He said: "In the last press conference I said we had bid what we believe to be a fair offer, which is also the biggest in the club's history.
"We won't bid again. We've conducted ourselves in the right way by talking to Leicester City. Now the ball is in their court.
"We're waiting for an answer. We're working on other options but we're relaxed given our squad is 90% complete."

Spalletti: Kondogbia's been given 'bad advice'

Luciano Spalletti has again slammed Valencia target Geoffrey Kondogbia, saying that the player's behaviour is at odds with the person he's come to know at the San Siro.

Speaking to reporters after his side's 1 - 0 friendly win over Real Betis on Saturday, the former Roma boss had strong words for debutant left-back Dalbert, whom he felt had a less-than-spectacular debut after his €20m move from OGC Nice.

“He is young, he wants to immediately make an impact and show his qualities," Spalletti said. "But he got the first two or three moves wrong and then lost his confidence, misplacing passes and feeling less free to play his game. He should relax and focus. He did well defensively.

“We need to improve our passing and possession, as when we did win it back, there were spaces that we didn’t take advantage of. There were a few errors that I don’t expect from my team," he added.

However, the Italian saved the bulk of his ire for the wantaway Kondogbia, who withdrew from training on Friday after news broke that La Liga club Valencia were planning on making an offer for his services along with that of Jeison Murillo.

“Kondogbia has been very disappointing and his behaviour does not reflect the person we know. He is damaging himself with this behaviour," the veteran coach stated.

“He wants to go to Valencia on loan and save a bit on his wages, but he wants it too easy. When there is something you don’t agree on, you find a middle ground. Considering the money spent on him, it’s difficult.

“In my view, Kondogbia was given some bad advice, as this sort of attitude is just not part of his personality," Spalletti added.