Paulo Dybala

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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Montiel to Palace or West Ham, Coutinho to depart Barcelona

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River Plate is one of many clubs that could use this coming transfer window to earn a payday after taking losses in the coronavirus shutdown, and that could come at the benefit of one Premier League club.

West Ham is apparently one of a few teams after Argentine international Gonzalo Montiel who could fetch River Plate somewhere in the vicinity of $24 million. The right-back is a River Plate youth product who established himself as a regular for the club at just 20 years old and has spent the last three seasons earning significant minutes. Now 23, Montiel is a strong passer who can create for teammates with long-range deliveries.

Argentine publication Ole mentions that Spanish side Valencia has shown interest of late, but also states that West Ham made contact in January but was turned down by River Plate and the Hammers could be suitors again once the next window arrives. Montiel was also linked with Crystal Palace by Goal back in late March, while Argentine newspaper El Intransigente linked the player with Southampton. Palace and Saints both make sense as they are both looking to replace big-name departures of late, with Crystal Palace still yet to truly replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka while Southampton has not seen much from those brought in to take over for Cedric Soares.

Barcelona is reportedly ready to lower its asking price on Philippe Coutinho, with a bid of $86 million potentially workable for the Catalan club, according to a report by the Evening Standard.

Coutinho was extremely poor in his season-and-a-half at Barcelona, and while the Brazilian playmaker had upped his game on loan at Bayern Munich before the coronavirus shutdown, the purchase price on his loan deal is a whopping $130 million, which Bayern Munich is not willing to pay.

Barcelona is desperately in need of funds to support its summer business, with Lautaro Martinez and Neymar both heavily linked with the La Liga giants. It’s highly unlikely that both will be possible to acquire given both the team’s business of late and the coronavirus shutdown causing financial strain on clubs all over the world, and a significant sale may even be needed to get one of them over the line. Coutinho provides such a possibility, but with Barcelona not exactly in a position of strength given Coutinho’s lack of recent star power and the club’s need to sell, dropping the asking price is a highly likely eventuality.

The Evening Standard report mentions that Barcelona believes the Premier League is the “most likely possibility” for a Coutinho suitor given the league’s memories of his incredible spell at Liverpool just a few years ago.

Speaking of the Premier League, Manchester United was reportedly close to securing a marquee striker last summer before eventually sticking with Marcus Rashford up front. Speaking to Italian print publication Tuttosport on Wednesday, Romelu Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello said that the Belgian big man almost went to Juventus on a swap deal before Manchester United backed out of the transfer negotiations due to Dybala’s high wage demand. Eventually, Lukaku departed for Inter Milan where he settled in quickly and has contributed to a furious title challenge that just lost steam before the coronavirus shutdown.

Pastorello simply responded “It’s true” when asked if Dybala had been a focal point of Manchester United negotiations, but hedged his answer with, “Romelu, however, had always hoped to go to Inter because he was impressed by the affection of the Inter fans.”

Juventus confirm Dybala tests positive for coronavirus

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Juventus have confirmed that star playmaker Paulo Dybala has tested positive for coronavirus.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

The Serie A side now have three players who have COVID-19 with Dybala joining Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi in testing positive.

Juve released the following statement on Saturday as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain have flown home to Madeira and Argentina respectively to self-isolate.

“Paulo Dybala has undergone medical tests that revealed a positive result for Coronavirus-COVID19. He has been in voluntary home isolation since Wednesday 11 March. He will continue to be monitored, following the usual regime. He is well and is asymptomatic.”

In recent days Italy has overtaken China as the country with the most deaths during the coronavirus pandemic as several Serie A stars have tested positive as players from Juventus and Sampdoria have been impacted.

Dybala sent out the following message on social media on Saturday confirming he has coronavirus as he wanted to reassure people that he was doing fine, as was his girlfriend Oriana who has also tested positive for COVID-19.

“Hello everyone, I wanted to inform you that we have just received the results of the COVID-19 test and both Oriana and I tested positive. Fortunately we are in perfect condition. Thanks for your messages and greetings to all,” Dybala said.

Serie A roundup: Dybala, Ramsey strike against Inter, put Juventus back on top of Serie A

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Juventus’ complete performance against Inter Milan highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Juventus 2-0 Inter Milan

Aaron Ramsey and Paulo Dybala each scored, as Juventus ran past Inter Milan in front of an empty Allianz Stadium, which, like all other sporting events in Italy until April 3, was empty due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The victory sends the Old Lady back to the top of Serie A, giving them a one-point lead on second best Lazio and a nine-point lead on third-place Inter. Juventus are one of three Serie A teams with an active three-match winning streak.

After a standstill during the first 45 minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo touch inside the box found a opportune Ramsey, who belted the ball into the back of the net. It’s the Wales international’s second goal in back-to-back Serie A bouts, and Maurizio Sarri is happy with his effectiveness.

“He [Ramsey] maintains that he needs to see more of the pitch in front of him, or he gets a little lost,” said the Juve coach. “He is doing well in this role, although in fairness he’s also in much better physical condition now than he was when playing as a trequartista.”

For a team that dominated the league during the first half of the season, not all is well for Antonio Conte and Inter, losers of their last two league matches. The Italian was quick to mention that his players must grown from such defeats, quickly.

“We tried to stay in their slipstream, but must learn from defeat and take the lessons of comparison to grow in terms of character, quality and strength,” he said.

“It’s a loss that must help us to grow and understand how far away we are,” he added. “It certainly shouldn’t make us distraught, as we knew there was a gap and we lost both meetings with them. The results speak clearly, they won two and we got zero points.”

With a win in hand, Juventus steer their attention towards Friday’s match against Bologna, while Inter host Getafe in Europa League’s Round of 16 action.

Elsewhere in Serie A 

Parma 0-1 Spal

Sampdoria 2-1 Hellas Verona

AC Milan 1-2 Genoa

Udinese 0-0 Fiorentina 

Serie A roundup: Ronaldo sets record with brace in Juventus win over Parma (video)

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s two-goal performance against Parma highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Juventus 2-1 Parma

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals as Juventus edged visiting Parma 2-1, going four points clear of Inter Milan, who drew with Lecce on Sunday.

Ronaldo opened the scoring at Allianz Stadium in the 43rd minute and added his second in the 58th minute, extending his scoring mark to seven straight games – the first Juventus player to reach that mark since Frenchman David Trezeguet in late 2005.

With the double to count for, the Portuguese sees his overall count move up to 16 goals this season, seven behind Serie A’s leading scorer Ciro Immobile, who has put together an extraordinary season.

Surpassing the 15-goal mark, Ronaldo becomes the only player within top five European leagues to at least score 15 goals in each of the last 14 campaigns. A big boost for the 34-year-old recent form has been Paulo Dybala, who provided the assist for the match-winning goal.

After a slow start this season, questions were asked about the chemistry between Ronaldo and the Argentine. But as Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri noted after Sunday’s game, Ronaldo is unlike others: he can create a world of trouble, but manage to resolve it all on his own.

“You have a world class player who might cause you a few problems every now and then, but can also resolve 100 of them,” Sarri said about Ronaldo after Juventus’ victory. “So you have to take him into account and work around his characteristics.”

Juventus will hope Ronaldo remains on what has been his best form this season as they host AS Roma in the Coppa Italia quarterfinal on Wednesday. For Parma, the campaign that is to crack the top six resumes on Sunday against Udinese.

Elsewhere

Milan 3-2 Udinese

Lecce 1-1 Inter Milan

Brescia 2-2 Cagliari 

Bologna 1-1 Verona

Genoa 1-3 AS Roma

Lazio beats Juventus 3-1 to win Italian Super Cup in Riyadh

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) Lazio beat Juventus 3-1 on Sunday to win the Italian Super Cup for a fifth time amid a background of protests and political outrage at the game being held in Saudi Arabia.

Senad Lulic scored in the 73rd minute for Lazio after Juve’s Paulo Dybala had canceled out Luis Alberto‘s opener at Riyadh’s King Saud University Stadium.

Danilo Cataldi sealed the result in stoppage time with a free kick. That was conceded by Juventus midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur, who was shown a second yellow card and sent off.

It was the second time in three years that Lazio had beaten Juventus in the Super Cup. The capital side had also won 3-1 when the two clubs met in Serie A two weeks ago in what was Maurizio Sarri‘s only previous defeat as Juventus coach.

Amnesty International and the journalists union for Italian state TV RAI had written a joint letter to the presidents of Juventus and Lazio. The letter asked the clubs not to play the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia because of the country’s human rights record.

Italian politicians and human rights activists also objected to last season’s game being played in Saudi Arabia, citing the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The Italian league has a contract with Saudi Arabia to play three Super Cups in the country over five years and – just like last year – the match went ahead.

Lazio took the lead in the 16th minute when Lulic crossed for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic at the back post, and he cut it back for Luis Alberto to fire into the roof of the net.

Sarri had again started with the superstar trident of Cristiano Ronaldo, Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain and the first two combined for the equalizer on the stroke of halftime.

Dybala turned in the rebound from close range after Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha could only parry Ronaldo’s effort.

But Lazio captain Lulic helped to win the match with a splendid volley at the back post after Marco Parolo had nodded on Manuel Lazzari’s cross.

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