Lorenzo Insigne

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Italy suffers another injury as Insigne departs squad

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The injuries are piling up for the Italian national team ahead of European Championship qualifiers against Armenia and Finland this international break.

Lorenzo Insigne became the latest casualty as the Napoli attacker departed the squad with a muscular injury, the Italian national team announced Tuesday morning.

Insigne, who scored a brace in Napoli’s season-opening win over Fiorentina back on August 24, has been a regular in the Italian starting lineup, starting 10 of the country’s last 14 matches, with two of those misses due to injury. He even captained the side in a friendly against the Netherlands back in the summer of 2018 during the run-up to the World Cup which neither side qualified for.

He was injured in the dramatic 4-3 loss to Juventus over the weekend, withdrawn from the match at halftime, but still reported to the Italian national team camp hoping to push through.

Unable to shake off the injury, the 28-year-old joins Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia De Sciglio, and Bryan Cristante as players to recently withdraw from the squad due to injury. Chiellini’s torn ACL will leave him sidelined for much of – if not the entire – club season, while de Sciglio has been sidelined with a thigh injury that has ruled him out for at least 10 days.

While no replacement has yet been drawn in for Insigne, the other injured trio was replaced by Francesco Acerbi, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Sandro Tonali. Italy is currently top of Euro 2020 qualification Group J with a perfect 12 points through the first four matches.

Report: Hirving Lozano in advanced discussions with Napoli

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According to a report by notable Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Mexican attacker Hirving Lozano is in advanced discussions with Napoli, and the two sides have agreed to terms on a contract, with just his image rights to work out.

The report states that Lozano is on board with the move and the Italian club is ready to offer $56 million to his current Dutch side PSV Eindhoven as soon as the image rights issue is negotiated.

Di Marzio says that the current hang-up is regarding Lozano’s current sponsorship agreements, which total around $3.3 million.  The two sides are negotiating whether to increase his agreed-upon salary of $5 million per year and transfer his image rights to the club, or leave everything as-is and sell only any future sponsorship agreements to the Italian side.

The reported transfer fee is surprising given “Chucky” reportedly has a $40 million release clause in his contract, but it could be that he is a wanted man and the total is higher with the aim of remaining competitive. Tottenham is also reportedly interested along with Barcelona and Manchester United, and Lozano has gone public saying he hopes to play in the Premier League eventually, but Napoli’s offered total could potentially scare off the others.

Lozano is represented by famed agent Mino Raiola who has reportedly been in contact with Napoli since early May, but he is currently suspended by FIFA, so it’s likely that others are currently negotiating. It apparently took a bit of work to convince Lozano to join the Italian side as there is heavy competition for playing time up front at Napoli, with Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon, and Dries Mertens all racking up consistent minutes on the wing. Still, Callejon is 32 years old and coming off a season with just three goals in 2,652 Serie A minutes, both lows for his Napoli career.

The 23-year-old Mexican is currently on the shelf, missing the 2019 Gold Cup due to a knee injury suffered in an Eredivisie game late in the season. The injury could affect his sale price and delay a medical, but it’s not expected to affect his start of next season, as it was initially thought he would recover in time to participate in the summer’s international festivities.

Ronaldo may be tiring as Juve go on record march

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Cristiano Ronaldo is helping Juventus break records but it could be taking a toll on the Portugal star.

Ronaldo has started all but one of Juve’s 23 games this season, having missed only the first Champions League match against Young Boys through suspension following his first-ever red card in the competition.

The 33-year-old forward has scored 12 goals since leaving Real Madrid in the offseason, despite being the subject of a rape allegation in the United States.

Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. The Juve player has denied any wrongdoing.

[ MORE: Atlanta hires De Boer ]

Ronaldo’s form in front of goal has dipped in recent games, failing to score in open play in four matches although he did convert a penalty in the Turin derby on Dec. 15.

He went close on several occasions in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Roma and was denied by goalkeeper Robin Olsen. Ronaldo also produced some trademark fancy footwork to set up a goal for Douglas Costa that was ruled out following a video review.

However, the Portugal great looked tired at times and Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri has said he will give the five-time World Player of the Year a rest by sitting out one of the upcoming matches before the winter break, against Atalanta or Sampdoria.

Juve can afford to sideline him after the victory over Roma clinched the unofficial winter title with two matches to go before the halfway point of the season is reached.

Allegri’s side, seemingly unstoppable as it seeks an eighth successive Serie A title, has an eight-point lead over second-placed Napoli and a 16-point advantage over Inter Milan in third.

Juve has won 16 of 17 league matches, dropping points only in a surprise draw against Genoa.

The club’s haul of 49 points has broken its own Italian record and set a record for the top five leagues in Europe.

Still, Juve appears not to have hit top gear. It is traditionally stronger in the second half of the season and appeared to be conserving energy in its past three matches, winning each 1-0.

MISFIRING FORWARDS

Napoli’s top strikers have been misfiring.

Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens have seven Serie A goals apiece this season but neither has scored in five league matches since a 5-1 win over Empoli on Nov. 2.

Both hit the woodwork in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Spal when defender Raul Albiol was on target.

Another Napoli forward, Jose Callejon, has failed to score this season in 20 matches in all competitions.

Mertens was the club’s top marksman last term with 18 league goals.

PIATEK POWER

Genoa forward Krzysztof Piatek has regained his scoring touch.

He netted nine goals in his opening seven league matches, plus four in his first game for the club in the Italian Cup, but the Poland international then failed to hit the target in five games before breaking his drought last month.

Piatek struck again in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Atalanta to take his tally to six in as many matches in all competitions. However, he was dismayed that another effort was given as a Rafael Toloi own goal.

“I am very happy with the great Genoa victory,” he wrote on Instagram. “But I celebrated less because as soon I got to the locker room I heard the news that my first goal was an own goal. I feel that it is in every respect a double and that Serie A should go back on its decision.”

Piatek tops the scoring charts with 13 league goals, two more than Ronaldo. No player in Europe’s top leagues has netted more domestically.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Insigne’s 90th minute goal pushes Napoli past Liverpool

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  • Reds fail to put shot on target
  • Keita injured
  • Insigne scores 90′ winner

Liverpool saw its winless run hit three matches, as Lorenzo Insigne’s goal rewarded Napoli’s dominant day with a 1-0 UEFA Champions League win at the Stadio San Paulo.

Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens set up the winner, as Napoli went atop Group C with four points. Liverpool joins PSG on three points.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Lorenzo Insigne and Mohamed Salah had dangerous moments early, with Insigne’s long shot missing the far post by centimeters.

The first notable moment of the match was an injury, as Naby Keita crumpled to the turf with the ball nowhere near him. He pointed to his lower back and was driven off the field strapped down on a cart.

Alisson Becker slapped an Arkadiusz Milik blast over the bar after the half-hour mark, as Liverpool hoped for a win which would join a much more famous victory in the category of “rare triumphs over Carlo Ancelotti.”

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Becker was back in action during the early stages of the second half, again off a Milik shot that led to a corner.

Napoli took firm control for the first 20 minutes of the second frame, with Fabian Ruiz and Milik busy in attack. Milik was especially off the mark with his attempts.

Dries Mertens’ flying volley hit the cross bar in the 82nd minute, but the near misses ended in the 90th.

Napoli leaves it late to keep title hopes alive

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ROME (AP) Napoli scored twice in the final two minutes for a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday that kept the southern squad’s title hopes alive.

Arkadiusz Milik connected with a long pass from Lorenzo Insigne to head in the equalizer in the 89th. Amadou Diawara then quickly controlled the ball and sent a curling shot inside the far post for the winner in added time.

It was the first goal in 69 Serie A appearances for Diawara, a 20-year-old from Guinea who got a rare start in place of the suspended Jorginho.

[ VIDEO: Ronaldo, Griezmann score in derby ]

Napoli moved back within four points of Italian leader Juventus, which won 4-2 at Benevento on Saturday.

The leaders meet in two weeks.

Mariusz Stepinski had put Chievo ahead in the 73rd after being set up by Emanuele Giaccherini, who was loaned by Napoli in January.

Earlier, Dries Mertens had a penalty blocked by Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino, who has now saved three of his last four penalties.

Also, Napoli’s Lorenzo Tonelli hit the crossbar.

Napoli is aiming for its first Serie A title since Diego Maradona led the club to its only two championships in 1987 and 1990.

SIRIGU SAVES

In the lunchtime fixture, Torino beat visiting Inter Milan 1-0 with a first-half goal from Adem Ljajic and a strong performance from goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

Inter winger Ivan Perisic lost control and then involuntarily set up Lorenzo De Silvestri, who placed the ball at the far post for Ljajic to tap in.

Inter remained fourth, one point behind Roma.

Also, relegation-threatened Crotone beat Bologna 1-0 with an early goal from Simeon “Simy” Tochukwu Nwankwo. Hellas Verona, in penultimate place, defeated Cagliari 1-0 with a penalty from Romulo.

More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf