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Transfer rumor roundup: Koulibaly to Man Utd, Pulisic to Chelsea

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International breaks seem to ratchet up transfer talk, as players are free from their clubs but not from reporters’ microphones.

Whether on or off the record, stories seem to break with more regularity during these periods. This week is no exception.

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The Daily Record says Manchester United is being urged to make a big defensive buy from Napoli, with Jose Mourinho wanting to count Kalidou Koulibaly amongst his ranks.

Koulibaly has played every Serie A minute for Napoli this season, and chipped in with five goals in playing more than 3000 minutes last season. He has 29 caps for Senegal, and it’s difficult to believe the Neapolitan side would sell him for less than a defender transfer record.

And while Mourinho has been reported to admire the potential of Eric Bailly, he’s not using him right now and the Ivorian may want out sooner rather than later. Purchased from Villarreal for approximately $38 million, Spurs and Arsenal are both being linked with an equal money move for Bailly.

Mourinho would probably trade Bailly for Alderweireld, but Ed Woodward is unlikely to sanction the age sacrifice.

Newcastle is also being tipped with a move for a Serie A player, though this player has not been in the league too long.

Twenty-three year-old Genoa attacker Krzysztof Piątek is the man Newcastle hopes can revive its attack. He cost less than $5 million in the summer, and The Chronicle says Genoa would expect a profit of around $15m.

Piatek and Koulibaly (Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images)

And how about Christian Pulisic? The Daily Mail says that Chelsea is going to push to get the move through the door in January, with the threat of a transfer ban looming over Stamford Bridge.

The report says the price may be dropping as Pulisic is now within a season-and-a-half of his contract’s expiry, and Borussia Dortmund having Jadon Sancho to fill Pulisic’s spot if needed.

Finally, longtime Swans defender Angel Rangel could be heading to MLS, according to Football.London, with his current contract at QPR only running through January. DC United and NYCFC are the teams reportedly dueling for his signature alongside Championship clubs Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, and his current club.

Serie A: Napoli fight back to win, stay close to Juventus

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MILAN (AP) In a match which had to be suspended for nearly 15 minutes because of rain, Napoli almost saw its Serie A title hopes washed away.

Napoli fought back from a goal down and needed a late own goal to win at Genoa 2-1 on Saturday and keep within sight of leader Juventus.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side cut the gap to three points to Juventus, which visits AC Milan on Sunday.

Inter Milan can move back level on points with a win at Atalanta, also on Sunday.

Genoa was the only team to have taken points off Juventus in Serie A but came into the match having lost at Inter 5-0 last weekend.

Lorenzo Insigne hit the post for Napoli early on but it was Genoa which took a surprise lead in the 20th minute when Christian Kouame headed in Romulo’s cross.

It was raining heavily in Genoa and the match was halted in the 59th minute for about 13 minutes until the rain stopped and the pitch could be partly drained.

Napoli leveled shortly after play resumed, thanks to its two halftime substitutes. Mertens flicked on Allan‘s pass for Fabian Ruiz to slot past Ionut Radu.

And Napoli completed its comeback four minutes from time when Genoa defender Davide Biraschi deflected Mario Rui’s free kick into his own net.

Serie A: Mertens bags hat trick, Napoli close gap to Juventus

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Napoli find themselves just three points back of Juventus, who are yet to play this weekend, after a 5-1 demolition of Empoli on Friday.

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Dries Mertens led the five-goal charge with a hat trick, taking his tally to seven league goals on the season. Mertens was the unrivaled star of Napoli’s failed title challenge last season, and still he managed only 18 goals over the entire season.

Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring in just the ninth minute, an expert finish tucked just inside the far post, followed by Mertens’ first of the game in the 38th. The Belgian drove through the heart of midfield before unleashing a stinging strike into the bottom corner from 22 yards out.

Empoli pulled a goal back through Francesco Caputo just before the hour mark, but Mertens quickly restored Napoli’s two-goal lead with his best effort of the day. Arriving late to the top of the penalty area, Jose Callejon’s cut-back ball found Mertens who applied a powerful, but precise, looping shot over the goalkeeper’s head and into the inside netting.

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Arkadiusz Milik made it 4-1 with a first-time finish in the 90th minute, and Mertens picked up the game ball two minutes later, when he rounded the goalkeeper nearly 30 yards from goal and rolled the ball into the empty net.

The 31-year-old is capable of this kind of performance anytime he takes the field for Napoli. Had he broken out in such a big way a bit earlier in his career — say, 24 or 25, instead of 28 or 29 — he would have undoubtedly found himself in the Premier League. Alas, he’s carved out a plenty brilliant career for himself near the top of Serie A, with the occasional deep run in the Champions League to showcase his talents to the wider world.

This weekend’s Serie A schedule

Saturday

Inter Milan vs. Genoa — 10 a.m. ET
Fiorentina vs. Roma — 1 p.m. ET
Juventus vs. Cagliari — 3:30 p.m. ET

Sunday

Lazio vs. SPAL — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Parma vs. Frosinone — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Bologna vs. Atalanta — 12 p.m. ET
Udinese vs. AC Milan — 2:30 p.m. ET

Serie A: Mertens scores late to rescue Napoli against Roma

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MILAN (AP) Dries Mertens can’t stop scoring for club and country and was disappointed to be dropped to the bench for Napoli’s game against Roma on Sunday.

The Belgium international gave the perfect response with a last-minute equalizer to rescue a 1-1 draw. It was Mertens’ fourth goal in as many matches for club and country.

“I would have preferred to start from the beginning especially in a match like this. This is a really eagerly awaited match here at Napoli and I was disappointed, it’s a shame,” Mertens said.

Napoli remained second but is now six points behind leader Juventus, which is chasing a record-extending eighth Serie A title.

Inter Milan can move level on points with Napoli if it wins at fourth-placed Lazio on Monday.

“It’s a shame we didn’t win because it would have been important to pick up the three points,” a visibly dejected Mertens said. “There was a good reaction after we went behind, but we need to do more.”

Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti has rotated his squad significantly more than predecessor Maurizio Sarri and he did so again following the midweek draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

“If I put someone on the bench and he’s happy, I would get angry. I’ll talk to him (Mertens),” Ancelotti said.

Napoli dominated but it was Roma which took the lead in the 14th minute. Cengiz Under pulled the ball back and Edin Dzeko couldn’t control it but it came through to Stephan El Shaarawy, who fired in off the inside of the left post.

Despite having the best chances, Napoli almost found itself 2-0 down 10 minutes from halftime but defender Raul Albiol headed Dzeko’s effort off the line after the Roma forward had rounded goalkeeper David Ospina.

There was a blow for Roma shortly before the break as it lost captain Daniele De Rossi to injury.

Napoli continued to attack after the break and Jose Callejon hit the post, while it also had two goals ruled out for offside late on.

Just as it seemed as if Roma would leave with all three points, Napoli leveled in the final minute. A cross was miskicked by Callejon but came to Mertens, who fired in for his third goal in as many matches.

A stunning strike from Suso saw AC Milan put a miserable week behind it to beat Sampdoria 3-2.

The Spain forward struck shortly after the hour mark, racing down the right and cutting in before curling the ball into the far bottom corner.

Sampdoria had the meanest defense in the league, having let in just four goals in its previous nine matches but it conceded three against Milan.

Patrick Cutrone scored Milan’s opener – which was set up by Suso – and assisted the other for Gonzalo Higuain. Former Milan midfielder Riccardo Saponara also had a goal and an assist for Sampdoria.

Milan came into the game after back-to-back defeats against Inter Milan in Serie A and Real Betis in the Europa League, and was languishing in the second half of the standings.

Serie A: Ronaldo scores but Juve’s perfect start is ruined

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MILAN (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to net 400 goals across Europe’s top five leagues.

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It wasn’t enough on Saturday to maintain Juventus’ perfect start to the season.

Ronaldo, who has been accused of rape in a civil lawsuit in the United States, scored in the 1-1 draw against Genoa. It was his fifth Serie A goal in nine matches.

Ronaldo has 311 goals in La Liga for Real Madrid, and 84 in the English Premier League for Manchester United.

Juventus won all of its previous 10 matches across Serie A and the Champions League. Though Juve’s lead in Italy was cut to four points after Napoli won at Udinese 3-0, coach Massimiliano Allegri believed this result would help his side for arguably its toughest test yet, Manchester United on Tuesday in Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford.

“We drifted out of the game after a good start to the second half and, instead of making it 2-0, we let them make it 1-1,” Allegri said. “This isn’t good, because it’s with matches like this that titles are lost. After 10 minutes of the second half we were already thinking about Manchester. We needed to have more focus.

“But it’s a draw that serves us well. It’ll get our feet back to earth and help us understand that, to win matches, you need sacrifice and hard work.”

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Kathryn Mayorga filed a lawsuit last month in Nevada state claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police also reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo had last weekend off while Juventus was idle during the international break. Normally the star of his national team, he was left off Portugal’s squad.

Less than 20 minutes in on Saturday, he scored. There was a miscommunication between Genoa goalkeeper Ionut Radu and his defender on Joao Cancelo’s cross from the left, allowing Ronaldo a simple tap-in at the far post.

Genoa’s first goal at Juventus since January 2013 came from Daniel Bessa with a header in the 67th minute.

It was a memorable first match back in charge for Ivan Juric, who returned to Genoa for his third spell as coach.


The substitutes made the difference at Udinese.

Fabian Ruiz replaced the injured Simone Verdi in the opening minutes and the midfielder scored his first Napoli goal in the 13th, curling a stunning 20-yard strike into the top right corner.

Dries Mertens doubled Napoli’s lead from the spot eight minutes from time after Udinese substitute Nicholas Opoku handled Jose Callejon’s effort.

There was still time for Marko Rog to score, just 40 seconds after coming off the bench.

Napoli visits Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Roma fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to 10-man Spal, which won at the Stadio Olimpico for the first time in Serie A in 53 years.

Roma went into the international break with four straight wins in all competitions while Spal had lost its last four.

However, the visitors took the lead shortly before halftime when Andrea Petagna converted a penalty after Manuel Lazzari was fouled by Luca Pellegrini.

Spal doubled its advantage 11 minutes after the break as Kevin Bonifazi headed in a corner at the near post.

Spal goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic – the younger brother of Lazio midfielder Sergej – did brilliantly to fingertip Pellegrini’s effort onto the bar but swiftly went from hero to villain.

Milinkovic-Savic was booked for time-wasting and he received a second yellow card seconds later for petulantly throwing the ball away, leaving Spal with 10 men for the final 15 minutes.

However, it clung on for its first win at Roma in the top flight since 1965.

Roma hosts CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday.