Perez: We granted Ronaldo his wish

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez says Los Blancos allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to join Juventus because the Portugal captain wanted to leave.

Perez described the Portuguese superstar as the club's second greatest player after Alfredo Di Stefano and also stated that the Santiago Bernabeu will always be his home.

The 33-year old left Madrid for the Old Lady of Turin in a big money move in the off season, to end a successful nine-year spell with the Spanish giants.

"The release clauses that Real Madrid set for our players are to be dissuading," Perez told club delegates, as reported by OK Diario.

"The most profitable sale this year was that of Cristiano. He wanted to leave for personal reasons, and when everyone is converging on one solution you come to an agreement.

"No-one offered Real Madrid more than Juventus' €100m. We can't do anything but thank Ronaldo for all he did with this shirt.

"He's the best ever after (Alfredo) Di Stefano and this will always be his home."

Gattuso: Higuain must not become predictable

Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso says Gonzalo Higuain should avoid becoming too predictable with his movement, despite scoring the winning goal against Dudelange.

The former Napoli striker produced the only goal of the game as the Rossoneri beat their Luxembourger hosts 1-0 in Group F of the Europa League on Thursday night.

Even though Higuain scored the winner, Gattuso still had some advice for the former Juventus star regarding his movement off the ball.

"We're all happy when we win, not just Gonzalo," Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia. "Today he did well.

"He could also have scored more goals, but it's important for us to get and bring many men into the area.

"Lately he tends to peel away towards the penalty spot, but I would also like him to go to front and back posts.

"With Napoli he did that. He must change a bit, otherwise the other teams will notice him."

Gattuso: Dudelange have played that can hurt us

Gennaro Gattuso says AC Milan can't afford to underestimate Luxembourg National Division Champions Dudelange.

The Serie A side take on their less illustrious opponents in the first match of their 2018/19 Europa League campaign at Stade Josy Barthel on Thursday.

And having seen Dudelange defeat a number of more recognised teams to make it to this group stage, Gattuso knows his side will have to perform at a high level to engineer a result.

Speaking ahead of the game, Gattuso was reported on FourFourTwo as saying: "They deserved to make it to the group stages having beaten CFR Cluj and Legia Warsaw.

"On paper, we are surely the stronger side, but the match starts from 0-0. They play in a 4-4-2 and have players who can trouble us, [Daniel] Sinani to name one. They are a solid group and their coach is well-prepared.

"The impossible can become possible, we know what we are facing. We respect them a lot and may the best team win. We are used to playing in bigger stadiums but it doesn't mean that playing in smaller ones is not fascinating."

Dudelange are coached by German boss Dino Toppmoller while the club's stadium holds roughly 8000 people.

Gattuso added: "AC Milan are a glorious club and we know we have everything to lose by playing against Dudelange. We must be prepared and respect our opponents. It's a matter of mentality and desire to win."

Ronaldo sees red in Juve win

Cristiano Ronaldo saw red in controversial fashion in Spain on Wednesday as his Champions League debut for Juventus ended in tears.

The sending off did little to upset the Italian champions’ rhythm though as the 10 men went on to seal a 2-0 win over Valencia at the Mestalla thanks to two penalties from Miralem Pjanic.

The Portuguese striker was dismissed in the 29th minute after a tussle with Jeison Murillo during which he appeared to pull the centre-back's hair,

The touchline official signalled for an offence and after consulting with his assistant German referee Felix Brych pulled out the red card.

A stunned Ronaldo, who was back in Spain for the first time since his summer move to Juve, left the pitch in tears.

It was the 11th red card of his career, but his first in 154 Champions League appearances and came just days after the 33-year-old had scored his first two goals for Juventus at the weekend in a 2-1 win over Sassuolo in Serie A.

After the game, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri said he was disappointed with the decision and said it was further proof of the need for VAR.

"I can only say that VAR would've helped the referee in this decision," Allegri said.

"Going down to 10 men in the Champions League for an incident like that is disappointing. We risked losing with this and we'll miss him for the next games too."

Ronaldo will miss Juventus' next match in the competition against Young Boys on October 2, and could miss a return to Manchester United three weeks later if his ban is set at two matches.

Pjanic puzzled by Ronaldo red

Miralem Pjanic was left bewildered by the "absurd" decision that saw Cristiano Ronaldo red carded in Juventus' 2-0 Champions League defeat of Valencia on Wednesday night.

Pjanic was the hero of the night as he netted two penalties for the Italian giants, either side of the half time break - with Ronaldo dismissed as early as the 29th minute.

There was a third penalty late in the game at the other end of the field, but Wojciech Szczesny denied Dani Parejo to maintain a clean sheet.

After the match, Pjanic told the club's official website: "Football is a strange game. We could have been 4-0 up after the opening period, then came that absurd sending off.

"It was like the Lyon game. We dug deep and found the spirit we needed to take us all the way to the final. That’s what we need to do again."

Szczesny added: "It was a good reaction from the team. It wasn’t an easy game, but we kept it compact and stayed organised.

"It wasn’t easy after we went down to ten men, but everyone did a great job. The wide players were excellent and [Mario] Mandzukic covered so much ground. It was a reaction worthy of champions."

Ronaldo will wait to discover if the red card is upheld, meaning he could miss facing former side Manchester United, as well a game against BSC Young Boys.

Allegri hails focused and vibrant Juve

Massimiliano Allegri has praised the defensive solidity of his Juventus side following their 2-0 Champions League defeat of Valencia at the Mestalla on Wednesday night.

Two converted penalties from Miralem Pjanic either side of the half-time break secured all three points to put Juve second in Group H behind Manchester United, who beat BSC Young Boys 3-0.

It was by no means a straight-forward win, with Cristiano Ronaldo dismissed with a straight red on just 29 minutes.

Wojciech Szczesny was excellent in goal though and made sure of the clean sheet as he kept out Dani Parejo's 96th minute penalty.

After the game Allegri told the club's official website: "It was like two different games – we played football when we needed to and defended well at times too.

"This gives us the best possible start, but we can’t let up now."

He added: "We play away on Sunday and then we face Napoli and will need to beat Young Boys. Tonight we were able to dictate the play, get ourselves into the lead and then manage the game well without giving away chances. It’s definitely been a useful test.

"We worked hard and we managed not to concede, which is great news. You’re unlikely to concede goals when you’re as focused as we were tonight, plus we’re also becoming more vibrant going forward."

Allegri also felt the sending off of Ronaldo was harsh and says the use of VAR would probably have provided a different outcome.

"The Cristiano sending off is one of those examples of how VAR helps the referees," the Italian manager explained.

"Things could have got complicated for us, having been reduced to ten men for a red card that was non-existent, but thankfully that wasn’t the case.

"He was upset and he needs time to calm down. He needs to rise above it and focus on Sunday, even if these things leave a bitter taste in the mouth."

Monchi pays no attention to Barca rumours

Roma sporting director Monchi has poured cold water on 'nonsensical' speculation that Barcelona are set to bring him back to Spain.

The 49-year-old left his homeland in 2017 to take up a post at Stadio Olimpico after spending his entire career with Sevilla, first as a player before moving to an upstairs role.

Los Rojiblancos won 11 trophies during Monchi's tenure as director of football, including three successive Europa League titles, and he continues to be linked with Europe's elite clubs.

The Spaniard is a reported target for Barca, while Manchester United are also looking to secure his services, but he remains committed to the Giallorossi.

"I'm not thinking of going back because I'm happy where I am," Monchi told Cadena COPE. "I don't pay attention to things that don't make sense, like an offer from Barca.

"I am about the present. I don't worry about anything other than the day to day and I still have years left on my contract with Roma."

Ancelotti slams professionals time wasters

Carlo Ancelotti was unimpressed with Red Star Belgrade's time-wasting tactics that he felt contributed to Napoli's goalless draw in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The visitors to Stadion Rajko Mitic enjoyed 66 per cent of the possession and had nine shots on target to Red Star's three, hitting the crossbar twice, but were stifled by the Serbian side and ultimately had to settle for a draw.

The result left the Serie A side third in Group C after Liverpool beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 at Anfield.

After his side's game, Ancelotti told Sky Sport Italy that towards the end of the game the home side's tactics were in full force.

He said: "It was inevitable that the last 15 minutes would be different.

"They are professionals at time wasting and diving. They play tight and they are always looking for a foul.

"But that's not the problem. We should have scored earlier.

"It was close, we just lacked the final spark. We made little mistakes in passing and shooting. We were unlucky too."

He added: "We didn't win an important game, but we shouldn't be so negative.

"There are still five games to go and we can beat anyone. We didn’t score, it's a pity, but we were very close."

Costa hit with four-match ban

Douglas Costa will miss four Serie A games for Juventus after being banned for spitting at Federico Di Francesco.

The 28-year-old Brazilian was involved in a scuffle with the Sassuolo player for which he was yellow carded, before being sent off with the use of VAR, after TV replays showed him spitting in Di Francesco's face.

The £35.2m signing from Bayern Munich will miss league games with Frosinone, Bologna, Napoli and Udinese but can play in the Champions League clash with Valencia on Wednesday.

Costa used his Instagram account to apologise for the incident, saying: "I want to apologise to all the Juventus fans for this over the top reaction I had during today’s game.

"I also apologise to my teammates, who are always by my side, in good and bad times. It was ugly, I am aware of that and I apologise to everyone for that.

"I want to make clear that this isolated conduct has nothing to do with what I’ve shown throughout my career.”

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri added: "He's apologised, he'll pay with a four-match ban and he'll show with fair play on the pitch that this was an isolated incident."

Spalletti: Comeback win boosts Inter's belief

Inter manager Luciano Spalletti says the way his side came back from a goal down to beat Tottenham 2-1 on Tuesday bodes well for the future.

The Italian outfit hosted Mauricio Pochettino's charges at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in their opening Group B clash of the UEFA Champions League.

The Nerazzurri were trailing Spurs until in the 85th minute, after Christian Eriksen had given the visitors the lead, but Mauri Icardi then struck the equaliser with a stunning volley before a dramatic stoppage-time winner from Matias Vecino gave the Serie A side the three points at the death.

Spalletti was delighted with the way his team kept pushing for the win and believes it is a great confidence boost for the rest of the season.

He told Sky Sports: "The fact we have overturned the result, scoring in the final minutes, gives us more satisfaction. This result leaves us with a different conviction regarding the work we are doing going forward.

"Unlocking players like Icardi becomes fundamental and he has also helped himself by not playing in all of the last matches. This has served us well."

Spalletti also saw room for improvement, adding: "We missed the link-up between Icardi and Nainggolan. Sometimes they were far away from the attacks.

"Mauro likes to go beyond the defensive line, while Radja is not in optimal condition given the long absence. We must also avoid losing the ball in a naive way after having intercepted it."

De Laurentiis has another dig at Sarri

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has taken another swipe at recently departed coach Maurizio Sarri, claiming that he was "always getting sacked".

Sarri left Napoli for Chelsea after three top three finishes in Serie A in as many seasons. However, he failed to deliver a trophy to the Partenopei.

De Laurentiis, who had previously revealed his disappointment at Sarri's lack of silverware, has criticised him once again, comparing him unfavourably to Carlo Ancelotti, who took charge ahead of this season.

"I'm always close to the team, also because I chose Ancelotti and I'm responsible, like I was with Sarri," De Laurentiis told reporters.

"This time, however, I feel calmer. Sarri's doing very well, but he's suffered many defeats in his life and he was always getting sacked.

"A person stiffened in his human relationships came out of those experiences."

Sarri has got life at Chelsea off to a magnificent start, winning his opening five Premier League games. The Blues lead Liverpool on goal difference at the top of the table.

Napoli, meanwhile, sit third in Serie A with nine points from four games -- the only blip in their campaign to date coming in a 3-0 defeat to Sampdoria.

Ronaldo’s goals overshadowed by Costa spit

Cristiano Ronaldo finally broke his duck for Juventus on Sunday, bagging both goals in a 2-1 win over Sassuolo.

The Portuguese star was on target for the Serie A champions with two second-half goals, the first a 50th-minute tap-in followed by a low drive 15 minutes later, as Juventus maintained their perfect start to the Serie A season with a fourth win in four games.

Sassuolo’s Senegalese forward Khouma Babacar headed in a late goal for the visitors, but it wasn’t enough.

The joy of Ronaldo getting off the mark was overshadowed by the sending off of Douglas Costa late on.

The Brazilian was red-carded and will probably face a lengthy ban after spitting into the face of Sassuolo’s Frederico Di Francesco.

The two had been involved in a running feud during the game, and came together while challenging for a loose ball, going went head-to-head before Costa spat in his opponent’s face from close range.

The Juve star was red-carded after a VAR review, leaving boss Massimiliano Allegri furious.

“Even if he was fouled, these episodes must not happen,” Allegri said.

“We mustn’t fall for provocation. The game was winding down, we had it in the bag and, instead, we stopped playing as a team, everyone wanted to dribble a bit. Then the other team gets back into the game, some players get irritated and that sort of thing happens.

“It’s only right that [Costa] is fined and he certainly will be. I was surprised by his reaction. We have suffered a goal, a red card and a suspension which will be long.”

Allegri, meanwhile, said he knew was happy for Ronaldo to get a goal at last.

"You just had to see the first three games and how close Ronaldo went to scoring," said the Juve coach.

"I think he rushed a couple of chances today ?- it looked like he was absolutely desperate to score.

"Football has a way of evening things out and that was the story of the first goal, with the ball bouncing off the post and sitting up for him. The second goal was brilliant. I'm happy for him."

Gattuso: Milan were 'embarrassing' at times

AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso slammed his team for their performance after drawing 1-1 with Cagliari in the Serie A on Sunday.

The Rossoneri came into the game as favourites but made a poor start to the clash and conceded in the fourth minute when Joao Pedro found the back of the net for the hosts.

Gonzalo Higuain equalised 10 minutes into the second half, but the visitors were unable to find the winner and had to settle for a point.

Milan are down in 14th position in the standings with only one win from their first three league games.

"The start we have had is a problem that we have to solve," Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.

"The first 20 minutes were embarrassing. If you go down 2-0 in this game we cannot recover it anymore.

"We did a lot of good, but in those 20 minutes it was a very bad game on the mental level, tactical, over everything.

"I did not see any offensive assertion in the first half hour, that's not good enough. [But] the road is still long."

Report: Secret clause in Ronaldo's Juve contract revealed

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly has a clause in his contract which guarantees him a five million euros bonus if he scores a goal a game.

Ronaldo joined the Italian giants after a record-breaking spell with Real Madrid where he became the side's all-time leading scorer, and won the UEFA Champions League on three occasions.

Bianconeri signed the 33-year-old for 100 million euros although he is yet to open his account for the outfit from Turin.

Spanish news provider Don Balon report that the clause is present in the player's contract, and he would have to start scoring goals soon to win his incentive.

The publication said: "A GOAL PER GAME CLAUSE - If Cristiano Ronaldo is to score an average of a goal per game this season, then a "special" clause will be unlocked.

"In this scenario, Ronaldo would receive an additional 5 million euros in salary money.

"The Portuguese legend hasn't scored a goal yet for the bianconeri but he still has a lot of time to recuperate and he has been playing well."

Caldara not used to Milan's four-man defence yet

AC Milan defender Mattia Caldara says he has not featured for the club yet this season because he is still getting to grips with manager Gennaro Gattuso's tactics.

The 24-year-old centre-back joined the Rossoneri from Juventus last month for a transfer fee of 35 million euros.

Caldara was out on loan at Atalanta last season, where they predominantly employed a three-man defence, and he admits he is struggling to adjust to Milan's four-man defensive setup.

"I haven't found anything strange," he told Sport Mediaset.

"However, getting used to a four-man defence, with concepts completely different to those I had in Bergamo, isn't easy.

"I've been at Milanello for a month and I understand what the coach wants. In every training session, I try to give more than what he asks of me and I hope to be ready as soon as possible.

"Certainly you come out less in a back four. It's more of a job than a department. You work a lot more on your market and you never have to break the line.

"I have to understand when the time is to break it and when I need to follow the other three, to play the offside trap or not.

"Gattuso is very upfront with me. He talks to me often and tells me what he wants me to do.

"Our relationship is very good. Talking helps players a lot. I'm working hard, he's very demanding and I'll have to improve every day."

Chievo hit with points deduction

Chievo could pay the price for falsifying accounts after being docked three points by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), effective immediately in Serie A.

The Flying Donkeys were found guilty of misleading Italian football's governing body over their transfer dealings with Cesena in order to meet the league's registration rules.

Chievo president Luca Campedelli has received a three-month ban for his part in the matter, while the club were hit with a €200,000 fine.

Lorenzo D'Anna's side were already at the foot of the table after taking just one point from their opening three top-flight encounters, and they travel to Roma on Sunday looking to get back into positive figures after the deduction.

"The Tribunale Federale Nazionale - disciplinary section - chaired by Cesare Mastrocola has accepted the referral of the prosecutor, sanctioning Chievo Verona with a three-point deduction in the table, to be taken in the current season, and a fine of €200,000," a statement from the FIGC read.

"The TFN has also sanctioned the president of the club, Luca Campedelli, with a three-month ban, as well as a one-month-and-15-days ban for the advisors Piero Campedelli, Giuseppe Campedelli, Michele Cordioli and Antonio Cordioli.

"The Tribunale decided that it should not proceed with the case against Cesena due to the revocation of their affiliation, sanctioning Guido Aldini and Samuele Mariotti to one month and 15 days."

De Vrij: Mbappe, not Ronaldo, the best I've faced

Inter Milan defender Stefan de Vrij placed Kylian Mbappe above Cristiano Ronaldo when asked to name the best attacker he had faced.

De Vrij represented Feyenoord and Lazio before his recent move to Inter, also starring for the Dutch national team. It was while playing for the Oranje that he got a taste of what it was like to defend against Ronaldo.

Four years later, he finds himself in the same league as the Portuguese superstar -- something which he did not expect.

"I confess, at first I did not believe he was coming to Italy," de Vrij told Corriere dello Sport.

"But when they [the media] kept saying it, then I started to take note. For Italian football, his arrival in Serie A was positive because it gives a great boost to the whole competition.

"I played against him with the national team in a friendly against Portugal before the 2014 World Cup. It finished 1-1 and he scored on a corner."

However, when asked who the best attacker he had played against was, de Vrij responded: "That's Mbappe."

The Inter defender was spared the challenge of facing Mbappe on Sunday, as the Paris Saint-Germain starlet netted during France's 2-1 UEFA Nations League win over the Netherlands while the 26-year-old was on the bench.

Sevilla want Silva on permanent deal

Sevilla sporting director Joaquin Caparros says the Andalusians want to sign Andre Silva on a permanent deal from AC Milan after his impressive start in Spain.

The Spanish side signed the 22-year-old striker on a season-long loan in the off-season and have an option to make the move permanent for a fee around €30m.

The Portugal forward hit the ground running in Spain and netted a hat-trick in his debut in the 4-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano in August.

He moved to La Liga after a difficult first year in the Serie A, having managed ten goals in 40 appearances for Milan.

"We have a right of redemption and we hope to exercise it," Caparros told Estadio Deportivo.

"It doesn't matter how much we have to pay, the price of a player depends on how he performs."

Biglia angling for new Milan deal

Lucas Biglia says he is enjoying his football with AC Milan and is keen to sign a new contract.

The 32-yeer-old Argentina international midfielder has become an integral player for Gennaro Gattuso after struggling for game time under Vincenzo Montella last term.

Having been signed in 2017 from Lazio after a number of seasons in Belgium with Anderlecht, Biglia is in the final two years of his current deal.

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, he said: "I'd like to renew. I feel good.

"I've adapted after a hard year. I also feel good with my team-mates, who trust me. The relationship with the coach is the best. I do what he asks of me, for the team."

Biglia suffered a back injury at the end of last season and admits he still has some recovery to go through, but that has not stopped him from playing.

"I'm not at 100 per cent. I need to play matches. Let me play more games and you'll see the best Biglia. I'm training hard to reach top condition as soon as possible," the player added.

 

Dybala: I'm lucky to play with Ronaldo, Messi

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala says he is lucky to be playing alongside the iconic duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The 24-year old has been playing with Messi for Argentina over the past three years and recently became a teammate of Ronaldo at club level, after the Portuguese superstar joined Juve from Real Madrid.

Dybala was speaking with the media after playing for his country in the goalless draw against Colombia on Tuesday.

"Cristiano Ronaldo's a great player," Dybala told journalists in Argentina.

"I'm lucky to play with Lionel Messi for Argentina and for some time, I've been playing with CR7 for Juventus too.

"Now I have to get myself ready for the next game. We also have the Champions League against Valencia on Wednesday, so we must work to be ready.

"Every game is difficult, so we have to do our best to win them. There's a long way to until the end of the season."