Van Basten hurting over Milan struggles

Marco Van Basten says it hurts to see AC Milan struggling to recapture the glory days that made the club a force to be reckoned with in Italy and Europe.

Van Basten was part of the all-conquering Milan side that won three Serie A titles and two European cups between 1987 and 1995.

The Rossoneri have not won the Serie A title since the 2010/11 season and have also struggled to qualify for the Uefa Champions League in recent years.

Van Basten told Gazzetta dello Sport: "With respect to my time there, things have changed a lot at Milan and I'm sorry to see that.

"My Milan was Italian, with Silvio Berlusconi, the three of us from Netherlands and a very good squad.

"Now the owner is Chinese, I don't even know who he is, and the team isn't that of 30 years ago.

"Unfortunately, the level has dropped a lot and there's the risk of being out of European competitions.

"It hurts me to think that Milan and Inter were the Real Madrid and Atletico of today."

The former Dutch striker said the Milan side he played was more like the Real Madrid side that has won three Champions League titles in a row.

"Milan like Madrid? Yes, we were dominant and won the Champions League, plus we did nice things in the UEFA Cup," he said.

"Now we're the metaphor of the crisis in Italian football. Why? Others have more money and are better organised, simple."

Zola downplays Chelsea return

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has downplayed reports that will return to his former club to be part of Maurizio Sarri's backroom staff.

Reports in England and Italy have said Sarri's agent is in London to finalise a deal that will see the former Napoli manager replace Antonio Conte as the new Chelsea boss.

Zola made over 200 appearances during his time as a player for Chelsea and according to the reports, Sarri wants his countryman to be part of his backroom staff as he understands the culture of the club better.

Sarri is in the hunt for a new job after he was sacked by Napoli and replaced by former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti.

However, Zola who is in South Africa working as pundit for SuperSport for the 2018 World Cup, said he is not aware of the developments at his former club.

Zola told Supersport:"There is a lot of rumours about me at the moment and nothing has happened. And we'll see what happens in the future.

"I don't know. I was afraid you were going to ask me this. Really, I don't know.

"But honestly, at the moment it is only talking. Nothing is decided."

Hamsik undecided over Napoli future

Marek Hamsik's father says there is a big possibility that the midfielder will quit Napoli to continue with his career in China.

Azzurri president Aurelio De Laurentiis recently admitted he is unsure about the future of the club captain, who has been heavily linked with a move to the Far East.

The Slovakia international also confessed to new Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti that he is tempted by a switch to the Chinese Super League.

Hamsik still has two years left on his contract at the Stadio San Paolo his father, Richard, stated that the 30-year-old faces a tough decision before the new season starts.

"Marek needs to rest because the summer is very likely to be turbulent," Hamsik senior told the Slovakian press.

"He could leave Napoli after so many years and go to China. At the moment, everything is still in the development stage.

"He's talking about it, but Marek still has a contract that binds him to Napoli. Farewell percentages? Sixty percent that he'll go to China, but that's just my opinion."

Agent: Jorginho deal could be done soon

Jorginho's agent says they are hopeful that Napoli and Manchester City can reach an agreement soon, with a five-year deal awaiting the midfielder at the Etihad Stadium.

The two clubs remain locked in negotiations as City boss Pep Guardiola looks to bolster his squad for their Premier League title defence next season.

Azzurri president Aurelio De Laurentiis said last week that talks had progressed since he rejected a €50 million bid from the champions of England.

The fee appears to be the main sticking point, with Jorginho having already agreed personal terms to join the Citizens, and Joao Santos insists his client wants the transfer to happen.

"Jorginho is obviously willing to go to City, we're waiting for the agreement between the clubs. There's a five-year contract ready," Santos told Radio Kiss Kiss.

"If the agreement doesn't arrive then obviously he'll make himself available for Napoli. With the World Cup, negotiations have slowed down a bit but we hope the deal can be defined soon."

Di Francesco rewarded with Roma extension

Roma head coach Eusebio Di Francesco is targeting even bigger things next season after being handed a new contract through to 2020.

Di Francesco has done an impressive job since replacing Luciano Spalletti at the Stadio Olimpico in 2017, guiding the Giallorossi to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 34 years.

They finished third in Serie A, although some 18 points adrift of champions Juventus, but the club's board feel they remain in good hands.

Di Francesco is looking to provide the fans with more exciting times in the new campaign as reward for the continued faith being shown in him.

"I am extremely pleased to be able to continue to this adventure with Roma and our great fans," the 48-year-old told the club's official website.

"The confidence that the president and the directors have always shown in me makes me very proud, and I hope to repay them all next season with a campaign even more exciting than our last."

Roma president Jim Pallotta added: "Last summer, when we appointed Eusebio, I went on record as saying that we wanted someone who could come in and get the very best out of our first-team players and also help bring through some of our great young talent.

"I think it's clear that he achieved both those objectives in his first season here as coach. It's important to have the continuity and stability that Eusebio brings to the project and the contract extension that he has signed is testament to our belief in his abilities to take Roma forward."

Sporting director Monchi said: "The renewal once again demonstrates the great confidence and belief we have always had in our coach. We are all convinced that together we can aim for new heights and achieve our objectives."

Immobile: I am a little too bitter

Italy striker Ciro Immobile has admitted that it still hurts that the Azzurri are not at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 after a playoff defeat to Sweden and Immobile said he is still bitter that his country is not among the countries playing at the global showpiece.

The disappointment for Italy also led to the sacking of then Azzurri boss Gian Piero Ventura, who has since been replaced by Roberto Mancini.

Immobile, who was the Serie A joint top goal scorer, said he was looking forward to taking his good goalscoring form of the 2017/18 season with Lazio to the World Cup in Russia.

The Lazio forward said he is cheering on Brazil in the absence of his country at the global showpiece.

Immobile told Mediaset: "I am a little too bitter to watch all of it, so I'm following it without much enthusiasm.

"I would really love to be there right now and not on vacation. In any case, I'm cheering on Brazil."

De Laurentiis gives updates on Napoli transfers

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis says the club are close to signing Fabian Ruiz and Stefan Lainer from Real Betis and RB Salzburg respectively.

Ruiz has been identified as a long-term replacement for Manchester City-bound Jorginho, with De Laurentiis confirming talks with Premier League champions are at an advanced stage.

He also stated there is a possibility that Marek Hamsik could leave and the Azzurri will need to make new signings to fill the void left by their star players.

The Naples outfit are also in a hunt for a new goalkeeper as they have lost the services of Pepe Reina, who has joined Milan on a free transfer.

De Laurentiis told Corriere dello Sport: "We are just waiting for Fabian Ruiz to give the all-clear, which could be at any moment. I won't deny we met Lainer the other day in Milan and are in the middle of a good chat.

"I speak to Carlo Ancelotti every day and he never made demands. He is sure of himself and only when needed will show he can raise an iron fist too. He is a leader.

"We need to sign two goalkeepers, a full-back who knows how to defend, and if Jorginho and Marek Hamsik leave, then two midfielders too.

"Hamsik had dinner at my house with his agent and they told me I would be contacted by a Chinese club. So far, nobody has called me.

"I have to take precautions, which are indispensable for a club, and find suitable replacements. In any case, Hamsik put himself in this situation, I certainly didn't push him."

De Laurentiis said he recently spoke to City and is confident they will reach an agreement soon.

He added: "I spoke to Manchester City directors again on Thursday about Jorginho, but now (director of sport Cristiano) Giuntoli is holding the talks.

"We have to reach an agreement; I gave my indications and took a step towards the English club. In these situations, if one takes a step forward, the other ought to as well. I will say there is a more than concrete possibility we'll soon reach an agreement."

Torchia: Daniele has never been offered to anyone

Daniele Rugani agent has rubbished reports that his client could be on his way to Chelsea or Lazio, saying no team has made an offer as yet.

Reports had suggested that Rugani will reunite with his former boss, Maurizio Sarri, if he replaces Antonio Conte at Chelsea.

It has also been reported that Juventus are willing to use the defender in a swap deal to get Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio.

Rugani's agent Davide Torchia stated that his recent meeting with Juventus director of sport, Fabio Paratici, had nothing to do with his client leaving the Serie A champions.

Torchia told Sport Italia: "I know that nobody will believe me, but I met with Paratici because it was already scheduled. I didn't know there was going to be this storm the day before.

"We talked about how to improve the player and what to do going forward, but we didn't set up any negotiations.

"Absolutely not, Daniele has never been offered to anyone, let alone Lazio. We can't say for sure in life that the player is off the market completely, but we can confirm no formal offers have arrived.

"He is happy to be there and Juve are happy with him. It was purely a coincidence we had this meeting after those reports. I can assure you we did not talk about Chelsea."

Allegri: I turned down Real Madrid job

Massimiliano Allegri has revealed that he was approached by Real Madrid, before the La Liga giants appointed Julen Lopetegui as manager.

Allegri was one of the names linked with the Real vacancy after Zinedine Zidane announced last month that he was stepping down at the Bernabeu following three successive Champions League titles.

The Juventus boss has confirmed that he did hold discussions with Real president Florentino Perez, but he decided to continue remain in Italy, where he has won four back-to-back Serie A titles.

Real subsequently announced that Lopetegui will take charge this season, which led the Spanish football association to dismiss him from the national team job.

"I said 'no' to Real Madrid. I did it on the phone to Florentino Perez because I had given my word to [Juventus] president (Andrea) Agnelli,” said Allegri.

"I thanked Florentino for the offer, but said I couldn't accept it out of the respect I owed to Juventus."

Inzaghi handed Bologna reins

Filippo Inzaghi has returned to Serie A after being appointed Bologna's new head coach, replacing Roberto Donadoni on a two-year contract.

Donadoni spent just under three seasons in charge of the Rossoblu, who finished in the bottom half of the table on each occasion.

Inzaghi succeeds his compatriot after an impressive two-year spell at Venezia; he guided the Venice outfit to Serie B in 2016/17 and also won the Coppa Italia Lega Pro before reaching the play-off semi-finals last term.

The 44-year-old cut his teeth with Milan's Primavera team after calling time on his playing career at the San Siro in 2012. He was promoted to the first-team role for the 2014/15 campaign, but was relieved of his duties 12 months later.

"Bologna FC 1909 reports that it has entrusted the technical guidance of the first team to Filippo Inzaghi , who has signed a contract until 30 June 2020," read a statement from the club.

"The presentation of the new coach is scheduled for tomorrow at 11 am in the press room of the stadium Dall 'Ara."

Zanetti: Icardi is a crucial part of Inter

Inter Milan vice-president Javier Zanetti insists in-demand striker Mauro Icardi is happy at the Serie A club, despite ongoing reports of his potential exit.

The 25-year-old has been linked with a move to league rivals Juventus, who have won seven consecutive Serie A titles and are looking to make a push for the UEFA Champions League again next season.

Icardi has caught their eye with his impressive goalscoring form for the Nerazzurri. The Argentine has amassed 107 goals and 23 assists in only 182 appearances for Inter across all competitions since joining the club in 2013.

However, Zanetti is optimistic that the club captain will continue his career at the San Siro, where his current contract still has three years left to run.

"Icardi is very important for us. He is our captain," the 44-year-old told Italia 1.

"We have always said we want him to stay. There are no problems and he is happy to be in Milan."

Marotta: We are optimistic on Can

Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta reckons the Serie A champions are close to finalizing a deal to bring Emre Can to their club.

Can is a long time target for Juventus and Marotta is confident the two parties will reach an agreement soon having confirmed that they have already started negotiations with his representatives.

The midfielder will be out of contract at Liverpool by the end of June and is expected to join the Serie A champions on a free transfer.

Juventus have already signed goalkeeper Mattia Perin from Genoa and are expected to make few more big signings before the new season starts.

The club also recently announced that they have signed Douglas Costa on a permanent deal from Bayern Munich, having joined the club last season on a loan deal.

Marotta told reporters in Milan: "We're optimistic on Emre Can.

"We can say that the contact with his representatives has started and are going well. We hope we can reach a conclusion in 10 days."

Asamoah: My next destination will be known soon

Ghana international Kwadwo Asamoah says he is edging closer to finding a new home as his contract with Juventus draws to the end.

The 29-year-old, who can operate in midfield or defence, has been linked with a move to Serie A rivals Inter Milan when his deal in Turin runs out at the end June.

Asamoah admitted to enjoying his football at the Juventus Stadium, but feels the time is right to begin a new chapter in his career.

However, he was not prepared to discuss his next destination following reports that he has already agreed terms with the Nerazzurri.

"Football rumour is something that happens all the time, as a player, teams will approach you, try to make moves but we are still on it," Asamoah told Citi FM in Ghana.

"I'm not staying at Juventus because I've already made a statement and said my goodbye. Probably, the team that I will be joining will be announced very soon.

"I spent six good years with Juventus - each came with great achievement and trophies. I'm so happy; not every player would have that opportunity to win trophies every year.

"I'm grateful to be part of everything that we did with this great club."

Kluivert arrives at Roma for medical

Justin Kluivert is close to completing a move to Roma after jetting into Italy to undergo a medical with the Serie A club.

The talented 19-year-old Ajax winger, who was a transfer target for Manchester United, initially looked ready to sign a new deal with the Eredivisie side after scoring 11 goals last season.

He was advised by father Patrick to remain in the Netherlands for one more season.

But after feeling betrayed by the club, who have since denied they were looking to sell him to Tottenham Hotspur behind his back, the one-capped Dutch international has decided to move on.

Kluivert landed in Rome on Monday evening and is expected to seal a 15.8m pound deal.

Speaking recently about leaving, the young attacker said: "I'm not renewing my contract at Ajax. Too much has happened. The decreasing morale, lack of confidence, trying to sell me to Tottenham without me knowing.

"I heard about that at the last minute. That says nothing about Ajax, but about the people in the club. They do what they want. I get that feeling again: they do what they want.

"My plan was to stay, but a lot has happened lately. The fans think that it's only about money, while everyone knows I had it good. I was not waiting for money at all. Football is important. I want to develop myself."

Ajax responded though by explaining to Volksrant: "In the conversations with Spurs about [Davinson] Sanchez there was a lateral discussion about Justin.

"Spurs' proposal was that he would then play in Amsterdam for another two years and that he would then go to Spurs.

"We did not go further on that, because we wanted to renew the contract with Justin. Just like we want to."

Kluivert made his Ajax debut in January 2017, having come through the academy. He has represented his country at all age groups, making his senior debut in a 3-0 win over Portugal in March 2018.

Ancelotti: I want to build on Sarri groundwork

Carlo Ancelotti has vowed to make only a small number of changes at Napoli as he feels Maurizio Sarri laid a good foundation for him to hit the ground running.

Napoli finished the 2017/18 season as runners-up to Juventus having reached a massive 91 points.

The veteran Italian manager replaced sacked Sarri and the club is hopeful that they have the right man to end the long wait for the Serie A title having come close in the previous season.

Ancelotti is back managing in Italy after enjoying successful spells in charge of the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

The new Napoli manager feels there is no reason for him to make a lot of changes to the playing personnel as Sarri laid a good foundation at the club in the last two seasons.

Ancelotti told reporters: "I expect to do my best.

"I know the atmosphere and the Napoli fans very well, because I was an opponent when Diego Maradona was playing there.

"It's a team that has done well over the last two years and I want to build on that."

Torreira and Praet not leaving on the cheap

Sampdoria insist they will not be bullied into selling Lucas Torreira or Dennis Praet for anything less than their respective release clauses.

Both players caught the eye this past season as they continued to excel under La Samp head coach Marco Giampaolo since his arrival in 2016.

Holding midfielder Torreira featured 36 times in the league for Giampaolo's side during the 2017/18 campaign, registering four goals and one assist, while attacking midfielder Praet contributed one goal and three assists in 32 outings.

Napoli have been credited with an interest in the duo, who are also reported targets for new Arsenal boss Unai Emery, and Sampdoria sporting director Carlo Osti is adamant there will be no cut-price deals done.

"Torreira has a €25m release clause. Everyone knows that. Anyone who wants him will have to pay that," Osti told Rai Sport.

"Praet is one of the most complete midfielders in Italy at the moment. He is a blend of quality and hard work.

"He also has a clause, of €26m. The same speech applies to him."

Alisson wants future resolved before World Cup

Alisson Becker has given a hint that he could be edging closer to leaving Roma, saying he wants his future resolved before the World Cup gets underway.

The highly-rated shotstopper has been strongly linked with a switch to Liverpool and Real Madrid.

After playing for Brazil in the 3-0 win over Austria on Sunday, he told reporters he is working on possibilities with Roma and wants his future settled before the World Cup gets under way in Russia.

Alisson joined Roma from Brazilian side Internacional in 2016.

The Roma goalkeeper is part of the Brazil squad that has been impressive in their warm-up matches ahead of the global showpiece in Russia.

He told UOL Esporte:"What I want to do is get everything worked out before the World Cup.

"To be honest, I left the responsibility for all the negotiations to my agent. If it's not resolved before the first game against Switzerland, then it'll have to wait until after the World Cup.

"My thoughts are 100 per cent focused on the Brazil team.

"There are some possibilities and we are working on all of them, together with Roma, always respecting the club. We'll see if anything happens this week."

Bonucci aiming to help Milan build

Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci has moved to dispel rumours about a potential move to the Premier League ahead of the new season.

The Italy international joined the Rossoneri in a shock transfer from Juventus last year, but he's reportedly looking for an exit just 12 months on.

Manchester United have been linked with a swoop as they search for more dependable options in defence, and Bonucci would see a return to Champions League nights.

However, the 31-year-old centre-back is content to feature in the Europa League for the second year running, after Gennaro Guttuso's side reached the round of 16 during the 2017/18 campaign.

Bonucci remains committed to the rebuilding project at Milan and has targeted a return to Europe's elite club competition with his current employers.

"There is no problem whatsoever [at Milan]," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I hope these rumours will be put to bed so we can build something important.

"We're aiming to return to the Champions League and to compete for big objectives."

Napoli: Jorginho move to City imminent

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed that Manchester City are edging closer to the signing of Jorginho, with just the transfer fee a sticking point.

The Premier League champions have made the 26-year-old midfielder a priority target in the off-season, although they've come up short in the Azzurri's valuation of Jorginho thus far.

According to De Laurentiis, the Citizens recently failed with a €50 million bid, but he admitted that negotiations are nearing a successful conclusion.

The Brazil-born Italy international registered two goals and four assists in 33 Serie A appearances this past season to help the Naples outfit finish runners-up to Italian champions Juventus.

"I think the deal can be done in the next few days," De Laurentiis told Sun Sport. "Everything is possible as we have a good relationship with Manchester City and their people but we must negotiate.

"We are still not in agreement over the price for the player, but we'll be near to the conclusion as they made an effort in the last few days."

Milinkovic-Savic delays future plans

Lazio's highly-rated midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic says he will make a decision on his future after competing for Serbia at the 2018 Russia World Cup.

The 23-year-old former Genk man is a target for Premier League runners-up Manchester United.

A number of clubs have attempted to sign their transfer targets prior to the tournament kicking off, but Sergej Milinkovic-Savic says his focus is with his national team.

Serbia are in Group E with Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica.

After helping his country beat Bolivia in an international warm-up match, Milinkovic-Savic said: "I am trying to remain concentrated, even though every day I read something new about me.

“Obviously, I feel pressure on me and know that I’ll have to live with this situation throughout the World Cup.

“It’s the same pressure as when I play for Lazio, so I am accustomed to it.

“I will decide where to continue my career after the World Cup. There’s a very good atmosphere among the squad and it feels like I’ve been here for years. I can’t wait to start the tournament.”