Gattuso: I need time to turn Napoli around

Newly-appointed Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso admits his players are struggling for confidence after losing 2-1 at home to Parma.

The former AC Milan boss was handed the reins at the Stadio San Paolo in midweek following the decision to sack Carlo Ancelotti.

Ancelotti left having failed to guide the Naples outfit to a win in seven previous Serie A matches, although he did sign off with a 4-0 Champions League triumph over Genk on Tuesday.

A return to domestic action, even with a new manager at the helm, brought about more disappointment for Napoli though as they slipped to a surprise loss.

Dejan Kulusevski gave the visitors a surprise lead early on before Arkadiusz Milik drew Napoli level in the second period. However, Gervinho finished off a fine counter-attack as Parma snatched all three points.

Napoli are now on their worst run of league form in 19 years and have find themselves in eighth, eight points off fourth-placed Cagliari.

Gattuso believes his players are low on confidence and is confident he can turn their season around given enough time.

"Napoli have potential and we need to start believing in ourselves again, getting the problems out of our heads," said Gattuso.

"This is a great team, made up of very good players, but it’s one of those moments and we are paying for it."

Not only did he suffer defeat in his first game in charge, Gattuso also saw one of his key players go off with an injury early on in the clash.

Kalidou Koulibaly made a mistake for Kulusevski's opener and then left the field with a thigh injury.

Sarri annoyed by Juve's complacency

Maurizio Sarri was far from impressed with the Juventus performance in the 3-1 win over Udinese in the Serie A on Sunday.

The Old Lady are temporarily back at the top of the Serie A table after leapfrogging Inter Milan by one point.

They took the lead after nine minutes following Cristiano Ronaldo's fierce strike from the edge of the box.

The Portuguese titan then doubled their advantage eight minutes before half time with a first time shot following a good through ball by Gonzalo Higuain.

Leonardo Bonucci effectively secured the game on the stroke of half time with a solid header.

However, Juve slackened off in the second half and in the dying embers of the contest, they were made to pay by losing their clean sheet.

Ignacio Pussetto handed Udinese, who are hovering just above the bottom three, a late consolation goal.

Speaking after the game, Sarri admitted his side lost control in the second half and he was unhappy with how the match ended.

"The last 20 minutes made me a little angry," Sarri told the press, "we had to do a lot better as a team.

"When 3-0 up the team was almost split in two, which shouldn't happen."

Juve have not been as dominant in the Serie A as in recent season due to the emergence of Antonio Conte's Inter Milan as serious title contenders.

The game was also notable for being Gianluigi Buffon's 646th in Serie A.

He is now just one game off Paolo Maldini’s record, while it was also Buffon's 700th league appearance including Serie B and the French Ligue 1.

Inter line up Darmian as alternative for Alonso

Reports suggest Inter Milan will move for Parma’s Matteo Darmian in January if Chelsea refuse to budge on their valuation of Marcos Alonso.

Antonio Conte has made signing a left-back a priority for January as he looks to ensure Inter are capable of keeping the pressure on Juventus.

It’s understood that Conte is looking to reunite with Alonso, who he signed from Fiorentina during his time in charge of Chelsea.

The Italian boss turned Alonso into a wing-back and he played a key role in helping the Blues win the Premier League in 2016-17.

However, he has fallen down the pecking order since Conte’s departure and it’s understood that Frank Lampard is willing to listen to offers in the region of 35million euros.

Inter are willing to match that price, which would also come with an outlay of five million euros per year in wages, but they are assessing other options.

Darmian has emerged as the back-up option after recently returning to Italy with Parma following an unsuccessful spell with Manchester United.

The 30-year-old is primarily a right-back but has also been deployed on the other side of defence and would offer Conte some versatility for a much cheaper fee.

He penned a four-year contract at Parma and, with three-and-a-half years still to run, that could prove to be a stumbling block.

The report states that Darmian was being considered for a summer 2020 bid but, as patience starts to wear thin with Chelsea, the process could be brought forward six months.

Dalbert: I would absolutely celebrate against Inter

Fiorentina defender Dalbert insists he doesn't see a problem celebrating if he scores against his parent club Inter Milan on Sunday.

The left-back is on a season-long loan from Inter but, unlike other players who have scored against the club that holds his registration, he insists he will celebrate if he finds the back of the net this weekend.

"Will I celebrate? Absolutely. It is a sign of respect towards Fiorentina, who believed in me, and the fans, who have always supported me," he told Corriere dello Sport.

Dalbert has impressed on loan in Serie A so far this season, making 13 starts out of a possible 15, and has provided four assists for La Viola during that time.

The 26-year-old believes he made the right decision to leave Inter in the summer in order to get regular first-team football, something which was not guaranteed at the San Siro.

He added: "Joining Fiorentina was the best choice I could have made."

The Brazilian has also backed under-pressure coach Vincenzo Montella and insists the Fiorentina squad are fully behind the boss.

He said: "We all rate him, he is a fantastic manager and a great person. On the pitch, I also run for him, like the rest of the team does."

Fiorentina are down in 13th place in Italy, with just 16 points on the board from their 15 games, and face a tough task getting anything off Inter when they visit this weekend, with Antonio Conte's side top of the table, two points clear of Juventus.

New Champions League format proposed

The European Clubs' Association has tabled a proposal to overhaul the Champions League format that would see the group stage transformed into a 32-team division.

The Daily Mail has reported that the European Clubs' Association has suggested a dramatic shake-up of football's premier European club competition.

Under the new proposed schedule, each club would play 10 matches against 10 different opponents with the top-eight sides qualifying for the round of 16.

The remaining 16 teams would then take part in a two-legged play-off to join them in the knockout phase.

Home-and-away matches would be scrapped in the initial group stage - and, according to the report, fixtures would be determined on the 32 qualifiers being divided into four pots based on their co-efficient.

It is claimed that the top eight will also be guaranteed automatic qualification for the following season's Champions League.

UEFA will take the final decision on any proposed new format.

Such a plan may spark fear among some that it could lead to the creation of a European Super League with the 32 clubs eventually split into two divisions and 16 home-and-away games.

The European Clubs' Association consists of 232 teams and was founded in 2008.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Everton, Leicester and Newcastle are among its members. Juventus' Andrea Agnelli is the organisation's chairman.

Napoli confirm Gattuso as new head coach

Napoli have appointed Gennaro Gattuso as their new head coach to fill the boots of Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked on Tuesday.

Gattuso has been out of work since leaving AC Milan at the end of the 2018/19 season, having failed to secure a Champions League finish, but he has now been named as Napoli's new chief.

The Partenopei made the surprise call to sack Ancelotti on Tuesday night just hours after he had led the Italian outfit to a 4-0 home victory over Genk in the Champions League, a result which confirmed their place in the last-16 stage of the competition.

It had been reported for a couple of weeks that all was not well with the former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid manager and his 19-month stint at the Stadio San Paolo has come to an end.

Ex-Italy international Gattuso, who has previously been in charge of Sion, Palermo, OFI Crete, Pisa and Milan Primavera, is looking forward to the challenge ahead and is confident of improving results.

"The objective is to recover points and gain useful positions," he said at a press conference. "We have to work well, recover points and get out of this delicate moment.

"Seeing Naples in this ranking creates embarrassment. This team has the potential to reach the first 4 places. I found a team aware of the difficult situation, which wants to do well. I had good feelings.

"I'm not afraid of anything. I am aware that I can work with highly trained people. I hope to make the results."

Gattuso's first game in charge of Napoli will be Saturday's Serie A clash at home to Parma, who have won their last two matches in all competitions.

Rumours of Serie A return are false - Praet

Leicester City attacking midfielder Dennis Praet has rubbished reports linking him with a move to Serie A outfit Fiorentina, insisting such claims are "false".

Fiorentina were linked with a move for Praet last month when Florence-based newspaper La Nazione claimed the club's general manager Joe Barone and sporting director Daniel Prade flew to London for talks.

The report went on to state that the purpose of the trip was to persuade Praet to join them on loan in January with a view to a permanent deal in the summer of 2020.

The Belgian's lack of game-time was mentioned in the story as a reason why he could be lured back to Italy.

Praet has appeared in 11 Premier League games so far this season, four as a starter, and was in Brendan Rodgers' line-up for the first time in over two months last weekend when Leicester beat Aston Villa 4-1 at Villa Park.

The 25-year-old registered his first goal contribution in that win with an assist for Jamie Vardy's second goal and he clearly feels he can force his way into the reckoning further over the next few weeks.

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Praet spoke about how he currently sees his future and his focus remains on being an important player for Leicester City:

"The rumours of my possible return to Italy in January are false," he said.

"I also read of a delegation of a club coming to see me but I am happy here in England. I am still not a regular starter of this squad but my goal is to become one soon. Who knows: it would be nice to come back to Sampdoria."

That last comment doesn't exactly seem likely to come true while Sampdoria are languishing in the bottom four of Serie A, however.

Napoli sack Ancelotti after Champions League win

Napoli wasted little time in parting ways with manager Carlo Ancelotti in the wake of Tuesday's 4-0 victory over Genk.

The Serie A outfit made the announcement shortly after they had qualified as Group E runners-up behind Liverpool.

"Napoli has taken the decision to part ways with first-team coach Carlo Ancelotti," a statement read.

"The friendship and mutual respect between the club, President Aurelio De Laurentiis and Carlo Ancelotti remain intact."

Although no reason has been given for Ancelotti's departure, Napoli's league form has been disappointing having not registered a Serie A win since October 19.

They lie in seventh place, 17 points adrift of leaders Inter Milan.

The 60-year-old former Chelsea boss was just 18 months into a three-year contract.

Conte: Inter will learn from Champions League exit

Inter Milan head coach Antonio Conte was disappointed to exit the Champions League at the group stage but believes it's a valuable experience for his players.

The Nerazzurri lost 2-1 to Barcelona at the San Siro on Tuesday night. Carles Perez put Barca in front and Romelu Lukaku levelled matters again, but Ansu Fati netted an 87th-minute winner for the Catalans.

Defeat means Inter have failed to qualify for the round of 16 while Barcelona progress as group winners.

"Watching that Ansu Fati goal is painful, as it killed us in every way. We were pushing, creating the chances to score and go 2-1 up," Conte said.

"I was also disappointed for the fans at San Siro, as they pushed us from start to finish and created a wonderful atmosphere. It should've ended differently.

"I think we deserved more in this group. Still I think it's all valuable experience. We have to raise our heads again."

Conte wants to see Inter throw everything at Barca

Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte has urged his players to leave everything out on the field when they clash with Barcelona in the Champions League.

Inter host a Barcelona side on Tuesday already through to the knockout phase and without rested superstar talisman Lionel Messi.

Inter will progress if they beat Barcelona or at least finish level on points with third-placed Borussia Dortmund, given the Italian team's superior head-to-head goal difference over the Germans.

"This is an important moment for us," Inter boss Conte told reporters at his pre-match press conference and reported by Inter's official website.

"If we rewind the clock and go back to the day of the draw, there was the realisation that we would be playing to qualify from a group that everybody described as difficult at home on the last match-day against Barcelona.

"It will be an important game, and we know that we can progress with a positive result. It is important for everyone - for the environment, the players, for me, too.

"Tomorrow, we should only think about ourselves and approaching the match in the right manner.

"Our objective is clear - to come off the pitch with no regrets having given everything, and also considering the fact that it might not be enough against a team like Barcelona.

"We are not thinking too much about Barcelona. They have a squad of 20-22 players, all of whom are very good.

"Their team is one of the best in the world. They aim to win all the competitions they are involved in every year.

"They will come here with a sense of calm in the knowledge that they've already secured first place. It's not necessarily an advantage for us. They could feel less pressure and play more freely."

Godin: Inter face tough Barcelona clash

Inter Milan defender Diego Godin believes the Serie A side must be at their best to get the better of Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The sides will meet at the San Siro, with the Catalans already safely through to the knockout stage of Europe's elite cub competition having taken 11 points from five games this term.

The Nerazzurri's progression is still very much up in the air as they are second in Group F but locked together on seven points with Borussia Dortmund.

With the Bundesliga outfit likely to beat basement club Slavia Prague in their final group encounter at the Westfalenstadion, Inter will need to take all three points from Barca to avoid slipping into the Europa League next year.

It would be easy for the La Liga giants to take their foot off the gas having already booked their spot in the last-16 but Godin does not see that happening and feels only a top Inter display will be good enough.

"Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, and always win at least one trophy every season," he told reporters. "We have to give our all in order to secure qualification, especially against a team that are used to going deep into the competition. It doesn’t make a difference that they have already qualified."

The Serie A outfit will come into the match after drawing 0-0 with Roma but Juventus's 3-1 loss to Lazio means Antonio Conte's side sit two points clear at the summit of the Italian top-flight standings.

Pioli urges Milan to keep working hard

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli is delighted with the signs of improvement he has seen from his players but insists there's still a long way to go.

Milan have had a tough start to the season and find themselves off the pace in the race for a top place in Serie A and Champions League football for next season.

However back-to-back victories have certainly boosted their chances and Pioli is delighted with the way his players are starting to take his ideas on board.

The Rossoneri boss, who was speaking after Sunday's 3-2 win away at Bologna, is taking nothing for granted though and says there is plenty more work ahead of them.

"There are still so many things that we have to do better," he said at his post-match press conference. "We have to make fewer mistakes, but the performances are improving and I'm happy. We have a lot to improve."

The appointment of Pioli raised one or two eyebrows, and following a slow start there were suggestions that he too could be heading for the exit door.

He has managed to turn things around though and if Milan can keep up their recent good run of form, a surge up the table could be on the cards.

They remain nine points behind Cagliari, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League place, and making up such a deficit is not beyond them.

Next up is a clash with Sassuolo at the San Siro and a third win on the bounce would give them another lift heading towards the turn of the year.

Skriniar disappointed by Inter's lack of goals

Inter defender Milan Skriniar lamented the team's inability to score in the goalless draw with Roma on Friday.

The result saw the Nerazzurri move a further point clear of Juventus at the top of the Serie A standings but the Old Lady could leapfrog them when they travel to Rome to take on Lazio on Saturday evening.

The game was overshadow by the controversial Corriere dello Sport headline regarding Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling in the build up to the match.

Inter's former Everton and Manchester United striker Lukaku did test visiting goalkeeper Antonio Mirante when the action got under way.

However, neither defence was breached and the home faithful were left disappointed that their heroes could not open up some daylight between themselves and Juve.

Skriniar shared their frustrations but felt he and his team-mates did enough to walk away with he spoils.

"We are a little disappointed as I thought we put in a good performance, created enough chances and should've won it, even if Roma are a good team," he told Sky Sport Italia. "I was not angry at the result, just disappointed, but these sensations are helpful in football."

It was the first match in all competitions in which Antonio Conte's side have failed to score this season and only the third Serie A game in 15 they have not won.

The San Siro outfit's next outing is the small matter of a Champions League clash with Barcelona on Tuesday - a game they are likely to have to win to avoid slipping into the Europa League next year.

Juve boss Sarri hints at Dybala departure

Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri has hinted at Paulo Dybala departing in the current transfer window as the Serie A giants need to "cut six players".

Dybala was heavily linked with a switch to Manchester United this month but remained with the Old Lady as the Premier League transfer window closed.

Tottenham's attempt to sign him collapsed due to image rights issues and it seemed as though he would remain with the Serie A champions.

However, Sarri has suggested the South American might be one of the players he has to jettison, with the European window still open until September 2.

"I could talk to him but if the market goes a certain way then what I say counts for nothing because in the end we need to cut six players," he said.

"This will also depend on who will receive huge market requests, it won't be just a matter of choice.

"Our Champions League roster will be made of 22 players, with three goalkeepers. This puts us in a difficult position. The market might force us to make choices we might not really want to make."

Bayern targeting Bale, Perisic and Mandzukic

Bayern Munich are reportedly preparing a number of transfer offers, with Gareth Bale, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic said to be on their wish list.

Bayern have been criticised for their lack of transfer activity in this window, but that could be about to change as rumours suggest that three deals are in the pipeline and could be pushed through sooner rather than later.

Perisic seems to be most imminent, with the Inter Milan forward sent to sign on loan with a view to a permanent deal.

Some reports have even claimed it will be done by Wednesday when he will begin training with the rest of the Bayern squad.

Former striker Mandzukic, currently with Juventus could also return as a new back-up striker is needed, while Bale could also sign if the latest reports are to be believed.

The winger remains at the Bernabeu for now after a move to China fell through, and it could stay that way unless a club like Bayern make a move.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane says both he and James Rodriguez, who was on loan at Real last season, remain in his squad, but that will change should Bayern make a move.

Friday's European results round-up

Romelu Lukaku and Serie A leading Inter Milan were held to a goalless draw by Chris Smalling's Roma on Friday, allowing Juventus a chance to retake top spot this weekend.

The build-up to the San Siro showdown was overshadowed by a controversial front page on Italian daily Corriere dello Sport on Thursday.

The newspaper was accused of fuelling racism after running the headline 'Black Friday' alongside pictures of Inter's Lukaku and Roma's Smalling.

The cover attracted widespread criticism, with on-loan Roma defender Smalling describing it as "wrong and highly insensitive" while his former Manchester United team-mate Lukaku called it the "dumbest of headlines".

The pair both started Friday's encounter, where Lukaku came close to netting early on with a shot that Roma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante parried away.

Neither side could find the breakthrough though as Inter saw their five-match winning streak in Serie A come to an end. They are now two points clear of reigning champions Juve, while Roma climbed up to fourth.

In LaLiga, Villarreal held Atletico Madrid to a goalless draw at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Joao Felix had the best of Atletico's chances as they recorded their eighth draw of the league season, with only 16 matches gone.

Diego Simeone's side are now five points behind joint leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid, with both yet to play this weekend.

In the Bundesliga, Eintracht Frankfurt came from two goals behind to force a 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin.

Goals from Dodi Lukebakio and Marko Grujic had seemingly put Hertha on course for their first win since October 4.

Frankfurt fought back, however, with Martin Hinteregger's strike reducing the deficit before Sebastian Rode struck the equaliser in the 86th minute.

In Ligue 1, Lyon stormed to a 4-0 win over Nimes, who had to play for more than 50 minutes with nine men.

Theo Valls was sent off in the fifth minute to leave Nimes struggling, and matters got worse for the home side when Memphis Depay converted from the spot in the 16th minute.

Nimes managed to contain Lyon for the rest of the first half, but Gaetan Paquiez was sent off in the 40th minute and the visitors took full advantage after the break with further goals from Depay, Houssem Aouar and Joachim Andersen.

In Friday's other Ligue 1 match, a Victor Osimhen goal gave Lille all three points in a 1-0 win over Brest.

Mertens 'would be very happy to play in the Premier League'

Napoli forward Dries Mertens is open to the idea of making a move to the Premier League, according to the player's agent, Federico Pastorello.

There is expected to be a clamour for the Belgium international’s signature over the coming months with the striker set to be out of contract with the Azzurri at the end of the season.

There appears to be little chance of Mertens extending his stay in Naples, especially after a reported falling out with owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Pastorello has been speaking about his player's future beyond the summer and the agent sees no reason why Mertens would not seriously consider a move to England.

"He is an amazing player," he told Sky Sports. "I think he will be soon the best scorer in the history of the club. He has proven himself in the Champions League because he scored in that competition and the national team. I think a player like that, out of contract is an amazing opportunity, even maybe for January.

"Every player really wants to play in the Premier League at least once. So I think he would be very happy to play in the Premier League. I know him very well tactically and technically and I think he can be a successful player for the Premier League."

Napoli, who are currently down in seventh place in the Serie A table, after next in league action on Saturday when they make the trip to Udinese.

Real favourites to sign Ruiz ahead of Barca

Real Madrid are reportedly leading the chase to sign Napoli's star midfielder Fabian Ruiz ahead of arch-rivals Barcelona.

Only one goal separates the two giants of Spanish football atop the La Liga standings, but Los Blancos are firmly in front when it comes to landing the 23-year-old.

The young Spain international has impressed in blue since joining Carlo Ancelotti's side in the summer of 2018 from Real Betis, in a deal said to be worth 30 million euros.

Ruiz has become an established member of Gli Azzurri's side this term, featuring nineteen times in all competitions, while he also notched his first goal for his country in November's 5-0 demolition of Romania, as Spain cruised towards the Euro 2020 finals.

And, with a summer move away from Italy on the cards, Real are in pole position to pick up the former Betico. Los Merengues are keen to add the promising youngster to their midfield arsenal, as they look to return to the heights that saw them win three consecutive Champions Leagues between 2016 and 2018.

However, if the capital club are to bring Ruiz to the Bernabeu, they will have to fend off interest from the Premier League, as Manchester City and Liverpool also look to secure the Spaniard's services.

Real and Barca are also said to be fighting it out over Metz defender Lenny Lacroix. The French club hold the sixteen-year-old in high regard and have wasted no time in throwing the France Under-17 international into first-team training.

As club legend Sergio Ramos nears the end of his career and rumours grow of an exit for France's World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti, Real's interest in Lacroix should come as little surprise.

But the youngster is turning heads across the continent. Bayern Munich have been tracking the centre-half's progress, while both Juventus and Barcelona have submitted offers.

Khedira ruled out for three months

Juventus have suffered a blow with the news that Sami Khedira will be sidelined for three months with a knee injury.

The midfielder has played a key role for the Bianconeri this season when making 17 appearances in Maurizio Sarri’s side, but a knee injury has stopped him in his tracks.

The German ace could not play during the 2-2 draw with Sassuolo at the weekend and Juve have now issued a statement to clarify the situation, and it’s not good news.

Serious ligament damage has been unearthed and, after he underwent a successful operation on Tuesday, he is looking at three months on the sidelines.

The former Real Madrid star is expected to make a full recovery, but in the meantime Juve are a key player down and have a decision to make regards a replacement.

The press have wasted no time in suggesting that a replacement will be brought in during the winter window and have thrown three names into the frame.

They include Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic, Paris Saint-Germain’s Leandro Paredes and Sandro Tonali from Brescia.

There is a big question mark over whether any of those clubs would be willing to sell midway through a season, particularly Brescia as far as Tonali is concerned.

Juve have a tough battle on their hands with Inter Milan for the Serie A title, and they can ill-afford injuries to key players, even with the squad they have at their disposal, and Sarri looks sure to strengthen.

Berardi set to leave Sassuolo for 'the right proposal'

Domenico Berardi has confirmed that he will look to leave Sassuolo at the end of the season 'if the right proposal arrives'.

The 24-year-old has spent his career so far with the Serie A side, scoring 73 goals in over 220 appearances in all competitions since making his debut in a Serie B clash against Cesena in August 2012.

Berardi almost joined Juventus in the past, but the Bianconeri opted against taking up their option to sign him with the mutual agreement of the player.

But the Italy international now appears ready to move on ahead of next season if an opportunity arises for him.

"I wasn't ready then, so that is why I decided to remain and I don't think I wasted that time," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Now I feel at ease with myself, especially as I am more of a complete player and I'm no longer such a hothead.

"My first career objective was to complete the maturation process and I feel that I've done that with Sassuolo.

"I find it difficult to change, but it no longer frightens me. I would do it.

"The next objective is to play in Europe, but it'd have to be at a club where I know I'd be used regularly, if not all the time. That is my priority."

When asked where he would like to go, the Inter fan added: "If an offer were to come, whether it was from Milan or any other club, I'd evaluate it.

"If I feel that it is the right proposal, one I have to grab, then this time I'll tell Sassuolo: I'm taking that chance."