Daniele Rugani

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UCL Wednesday preview: Barca wary of Man Utd size

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If Manchester United is to get past Barcelona, the likely victim on multiple levels will be Lionel Messi.

The Argentine megastar gets fouled in every match, and that’s certain to happen on Wednesday at Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League.

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But Barcelona center back Gerard Pique and manager Ernesto Valverde is concerned about another kind of physical play, and that’s when Barcelona is taken out of the run of play.

“We have to be on our guard and look out for set pieces like corners, and crosses into the box,” Valverde said. “They are an English side, so they are strong, tall and will take advantage of opportunities. We have to try and avoid those situations and if we are on our game and we are focused, we can try to stop them.”

Pique is a former Manchester United youngster and is happy to be going back to Old Trafford and matching wits with one of his former teammates: Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“I was 17 and he was one of the veterans. He had problems with injuries but you could see his quality in training. I’m glad to see him doing well as coach at Old Trafford and it will be a tough content but we hope we can win,” he said.

The other match sees further Manchester United connections, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus head to upstart Ajax.

Ronaldo will be start for The Old Lady, but Ajax will need to be wary of in-form Moise Kean and the solid play of youngster Daniele Rugani.

“We are all happy that he’s with us for tomorrow night’s game as he’s a very important player,” Rugani said. “I’m in a team of champions here and I’m very happy.”

To come full circle, there’s a Barcelona connection with Ajax; If you’re watching that match, be sure to keep a close eye on Frenkie de Jong before the Dutch youngster makes his big move to the Camp Nou this summer. He’s special.

Defender Rugani extends contract at Juventus to 2023

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus defender Daniele Rugani has extended his contract with the Serie A club to 2023.

Juventus announced the deal in a statement on its website on Thursday.

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Rugani joined Juve’s youth team from Empoli but spent his first two years as a professional back at Empoli before being recalled by the Bianconeri for the start of the 2015-16 season.

The 24-year-old Rugani has made 81 appearances for Juventus in all competitions and helped it to three Serie A titles, three Italian Cups, and two Italian Super Cups.

Rugani has also made seven appearances for Italy.

Juve wins again, AC Milan cruises while waiting on Higuain replacement

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Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty, but that didn’t stop Juventus from taking another step toward another scudetto.

Paulo Dybala assisted two goals as Juve kept its unbeaten Serie A season in tact with a 3-0 win over Chievo Verona on Monday.

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Douglas Costa, Emre Can, and Daniele Rugani scored as Juventus stayed nine points clear of second place Napoli.

It was one of two Serie A matches on Monday, with AC Milan winning the other to pull back ahead of AS Roma and into fourth place.

Suso and Fabio Borini netted as Milan won 2-0 at Genoa with Gonzalo Higuain out of the 18 ahead of a reported move to Chelsea. Higuain is reportedly waiting for Milan to find his replacement, and the club hopes it’ll be Krzysztof Piatek.

Genoa’s general director Giorgio Perinetti has told Italian radio a meeting over Poland international Piatek, 23, will take place after today’s game and a conclusion is expected one way or another within 48 hours.

Both Juve and Milan face tests next weekend, with the leaders off to Lazio and Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan tangling with Napoli at the San Siro.

Monday transfer rumor roundup: Biglia to Liverpool, Michy to Magpies

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With injuries mounting and clubs finding themselves in either surprising contention or relegation danger, the rumor mill’s been acting up a bit earlier than usual.

Given the relative nothing that goes down in January, it feels things might have a bit more life in 2016. With a wide-open Premier League at both the top and bottom end, England is no exception.

Express says that Southampton is “desperate” to get a new contract for Sadio Mane. Chelsea and Manchester United have long been-linked with Mane, but it’s difficult to imagine the 23-year-old wouldn’t have many more suitors if he became available for transfer.

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Is Newcastle United going to turn to Belgian international striker Michy Batshuayi in the hopes of saving its Premier League life? The Marseille man is well-regarded and has nine goals this season. His price tag is said to near $50 million, but Express says $33 mil could do the trick. He has two goals in two caps for Belgium, and Express also claims Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs want the near 6-footer.

And since it’s not a Newcastle transfer note without multiple French ideas for the club, come January oft-rumored goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu of PSG could be Tim Krul’s replacement for the rest of the campaign.

during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and US Citta di Palermo at Stadio Olimpico on November 22, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
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Spanish site Fichajes claims that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could turn to Serie A for veteran midfielder Lucas Biglia, but says the Lazio man is also wanted by Manchester United. The 38-times capped Argentine scored against Colombia last week.

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Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini is the latest to say Andrea Pirlo isn’t coming back to Italy this winter. No surprise considering Pirlo said the same thing.

Staying in Italy, Gazzetta says both Manchester United and Arsenal are seeking the signature of young Juventus back liner Daniele Rugani. The 6-foot-2 center back can’t find playing time in Turin after moving from Empoli in the summer.

Mesut Ozil is set to sign a new deal with Arsenal, according to Soccerlens. And Marc Pugh has a new deal at Bournemouth.