Wojciech Szczesny

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Report: Sarri to be released from Chelsea contract

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Just two days after the Blues hoisted the Europa League crown, a report claims that Maurizio Sarri will be released from his Chelsea contract so he can leave Stamford Bridge and take the Juventus job.

The report comes from Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla, a correspondent for Italian television outlet SportItalia and independent journalist who is close to Sarri. According to Football Italia, Pedulla was the first on the scene when Sarri departed Napoli for Chelsea just one year ago and has a very good relationship with the current Blues boss.

Pedulla’s report states that Sarri’s agent Fali Ramadani has departed London with assurances from Chelsea brass that the Italian will be free to leave the club this summer without breaching his contract. Reportedly, Chelsea spoke with Ramadani nearly three weeks ago to begin discussions regarding Sarri’s departure independent of the outcome of the Europa League final.

Since, the report has been corroborated by notable Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, who additionally reports that Sarri himself met with Chelsea executive director Marina Granovskaia to reiterate his desire for a return to Italy.

Rumors have flown for weeks of Sarri’s departure this summer after a roller coaster season that saw the club finish third in the Premier League and win the Europa League title, while also reaching the League Cup final. Those outcomes on paper would have likely been acceptable for Sarri’s first year in charge had it not been for a few especially trying moments throughout the campaign that saw the Italian come under heavy fire.

The club lost three Premier League games in a six-match span through December, then dropped to Bournemouth, Arsenal, and Manchester City by a combined 12-0 sandwiched over a 5-0 win against Huddersfield Town, a perfect encapsulation of the range of emotions Chelsea felt this season. Sarri also made the controversial decision to move Player of the Year defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante from his natural position and use new signing Jorginho in that spot instead, to mixed success.

Sarri was often combative when faced with questions about his possible departure at press conferences in recent weeks, although it appears there was substance to those questions after all. Rumors have tabbed former Chelsea midfielder and current Derby County manager Frank Lampard as the favorite to take over should Sarri indeed leave, but nothing concrete has taken place in that regard publicly with Sarri’s future still in question.

With Massimilano Allegri leaving Juventus after securing the club’s 10th straight Serie A crown, Sarri appears to have seized the opportunity to return to his home country. The Juventus squad is in need of a serious overhaul, with a number of aging players weighing down the roster. 34-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo still seems to be at his goalscoring best, but Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Giorgio Chiellini, and Leonardo Bonucci are all north of 30 years old, with Miralem Pjanic and Wojciech Szczesny nearly there. The club has Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, Daniele Rugani, Rodrigo Betancur, and Emre Can all 25 years old or younger along with 19-year-old breakout star Moise Kean, but otherwise the youthful talent is severely lacking.

Continuing at Chelsea, however, would have come with its own baggage as well. The Blues are facing a FIFA-imposed transfer ban that is currently under appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Eden Hazard, the club’s star attacking player, is likely headed to Real Madrid this summer for a hefty fee, and pending the outcome of the CAS decision, the club could have lots of money to spend in the coming transfer fee. American winger Christian Pulisic has already officially joined the club after finishing out the season with Borussia Dortmund. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is also known for running through managers at a vicious pace, and Sarri may have wanted to work for someone with a less itchy trigger finger.

Alongside Sarri, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also returned home to Italy to take the Inter Milan job, with the AC Milan managerial position still open after the departure of Gennaro Gattuso.

Juventus goalkeeper Szczesny to have offseason knee surgery

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Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will undergo knee surgery this offseason, but he will be available for the final match of the season against Sampdoria, manager Massimiliano Allegri confirmed on Saturday.

The Polish international has been the first-choice goalkeeper for much of the year for Juve, but has occasionally ceded time to 26-year-old Mattia Perin.

Allegri said that Szczesny will need “keyhole surgery,” likely another term for an arthroscopy, lending belief that he is either struggling with a torn meniscus or just generally needs his knee cleaned out. Given that speculation, it’s unlikely the surgery will cause him to miss any time at the start of next season. The 29-year-old has been a warrior for most of his career, staying clear of serious injuries throughout his time with both Arsenal and Juventus.

Juve has already confirmed its ninth straight Serie A title, but the club has limped down the stretch of the season, without a win over its last four matches. Prior to the late-season slide, Szczesny had been the goalkeeper to secure the best results, with Perin between the sticks for both of Juve’s two losses on the year and Szczesny dropping just four points all season, but the Polish international has been the one in goal for the four-game slide that includes three draws and a loss.

Allegri also announced that Cristiano Ronaldo will be held out of the season finale on Sunday and will not make the trip with the squad for the road game, instead resting for international duty this summer. “It is right for others to play now,” Allegri said.

“After that, we can all go to the beach, I’ve been told to put sun cream on my head. Now let’s go for a drink,” Allegri said, joking about his extremely short hair to end the press conference.

Serie A: Ronaldo pegs back Inter, Roma into top four

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Inter dominated the first half, but Cristiano Ronaldo struck just past the hour mark and gave Juventus a 1-1 draw at Inter that prevented the hosts from truly pulling away from the Champions League muck.

Juventus, having already confirmed the Italian title last weekend, was held to just one shot on target through the first half. On the other end, Radja Nainggolan struck a beautiful goal to to pen the scoring, a blistering hit from outside the top right corner of the box that left Wojciech Szczesny late to react.

That had Inter in the lead, with a win set to push them six points above fourth-placed Roma, into a great spot leaving the Champions League race well behind them. Instead, Ronaldo played a one-two with Paulo Dybala and found space in the box to slot home the equalizer from near the penalty spot. That confirmed the 1-1 final scoreline, pushing Inter just four points above Roma and leaving with AC Milan with the opportunity to pull within three of Inter with a win Sunday.

AS Roma moved into the top four – at least for now – with a convincing 3-0 win against Cagliari in the Italian capital. The home side got revenge for the reverse fixture that featured a two-goal comeback by Cagliari despite being down two men. This time around, Roma went up 2-0 inside the opening 10 minutes on goals from Federico Fazio and Javier Pastore, and Aleksandr Kolarov finished it off late. The win moves them up to 58 points, good to move past AC Milan into fourth. AC Milan still has to take the field tomorrow at Torino, but any slip would see Roma gain the advantage for the final Champions League spot.

Finally, Bologna topped Empoli 3-1 at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara to keep the visitors in serious relegation trouble. Empoli had a 1-0 lead at halftime, but Roberto Soriano, Riccardo Orsolini, and Nicola Sansone all scored throughout the second half to send the home side on its way. That left Empoli in the final relegation position, four points back of 17th placed Udinese.

Ajax continues dream run with upset of Ronaldo’s Juve (video)

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  • Ronaldo gives Juve lead after 1-1 first leg
  • Van der Beek levels before halftime
  • De Ligt flicks home headed winner
  • Ajax will meet Man City-Spurs winner in semis

Matthijs De Ligt and Donny van der Beek scored as upstart Ajax continues to recall its glory days, outlasting Juventus 2-1 in Turin to claim a 3-2 aggregate win in a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Ajax, who had a slight advantage after a 1-1 first leg.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ajax proved a game foe, though Juventus went ahead early through one of the competition’s all-time giants.

Ronaldo took advantage of a collision between Ajax players to nod home from a corner kick, and Juve led 1-0 before the half-hour mark.

Van der Beek was right place, right time within five minutes of the opener to deadlock the leg and tie with a finish past Wojciech Szczesny.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

And like the first leg, Ajax was the better bet to score the second goal. This time, the Dutch legends did just that.

De Ligt hammered a header home off a corner kick to give Ajax a lead with 23 minutes to play in regulation.

Ajax was denied a goal for offside when Hakim Ziyech curled a shot around Szczesny, and VAR backed up the linesman.

Then Ronaldo was saved at the other end.

Ronaldo, Juve get away goal, draw Ajax (video)

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  • Ronaldo puts Juve ahead (video)
  • Neres levels just after halftime
  • Ajax out-attempts Juve 18-7

Cristiano Ronaldo and David Neres traded goals as Juventus was fortunate to escape the Amsterdam Arena with a 1-1 draw against Ajax in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

The second leg is Tuesday in Turin.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The shots and chances were even in the first half, Ajax putting the first two on target including a fine curler from Dusan Tadic that was pushed over the bar by Wojciech Szczesny.

Juve’s Federico Bernardeschi hit wide following a Cristiano Ronaldo knockdown in the 37th.

Ronaldo, instead, did the darn thing himself just before halftime, leaping forward to nod a long Joao Cancelo cross past Andre Onana.

Ajax tied the score just after halftime, and we mean just, as Neres spun this 46th minute ball past Szczesny.