Europe's four biggest clubs want Morata & Pogba – Allegri

The Juve coach acknowledged that the star duo are wanted by the “four largest clubs in Europe” but says they must think only of Genoa on Sunday

Massimiliano Allegri understands why the likes of Alvaro Morata and Paul Pogba are being linked with Europe’s top clubs but says that the pair must now concentrate on helping Juventus get their their Serie A title bid back on track.

Morata was on target in Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Manchester City but has since had to deny reports he will return to Real Madrid at the end of the season – with the Spanish club retaining a buy-back clause on the striker after allowing him to join the Bianconeri last year.

Pogba, meanwhile, was heavily linked with a move to Barcelona in the close-season but not only did the midfielder remain in Turin, he was given Juve’s prestigious No.10 shirt following the departure of Carlos Tevez for Boca Juniors.

Before the win at City, neither Morata nor Pogba had done anything of note in Juve’s three preceding Serie A outings, with Allegri’s men having picked up just one point from their opening three fixtures.

Consequently, the Bianconeri boss is hoping that the pair can now combine to kick-start the club’s bid for a fifth successive Scudetto.

“It is clear that the value of the players has increased,” Allegri told reporters on Saturday.

“Pogba and Morata are extraordinary players and it is logical that they are in the sights of the four largest clubs in Europe.

“Tuesday represented an important success for our Champions League campaign. Starting off with an away triumph over the group favourites and a side tipped to win the competition outright is a good result for everyone.

“The league though is a different matter entirely. We’ve started badly in terms of results, despite decent performances against Udinese and Chievo, but we need to be realistic and look at the table.

“Genoa is a tough place to go to and they’re a very aggressive side to face. It’s one of those games that become crucial for your season as a whole.”

Indeed, with 16th-placed Juve already six points behind the runners-up for the past two seasons, Roma, and a further two adrift of the early pacesetters, Inter, the champions are in dire need of a win at the Luigi Ferraris.

Allegri is not pushing the panic button just yet but acknowledged that his side are no longer the title favourites.

“The championship is not compromised because there are a lot of games to come,” the former AC Milan coach added.

“We cannot talk about the Scudetto because we are less than eight games in. Right now, the favourites are Inter and Roma. We are realists and we will take it one step at a time.

“If we win against Genoa we go to four points, not 12 so we must begin by not conceding goals and winning.

“I do not know if it’s an advantage, you have to look at the table for now. We’re late, we face the championship game after game, we’ll see where we are at Christmas.”

Luis Enrique: Fifa won't allow Barcelona to sign Rafinha replacement

The Barca boss says the Catlans had already been told that their current transfer ban would prevent them from making any emergency signings

Luis Enrique has made it clear that Fifa will not allow Barcelona to sign a replacement for Rafinha outside of the transfer window.

The Brazil international sustained a season-ending injury in the 1-1 Champions League draw with Roma on Wednesday, leaving the Catalans short on numbers, given summer signings Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan are not eligible to play until January because of an existing transfer ban.

Fifa do cater for the possibility of clubs being able to bring players in outside the designated windows in the event of long-term injuries, but Luis Enrique stressed that Barcelona’s ban means that world football’s governing body will not let them bring in any new players until January.

“The club asked Fifa a few months ago whether we could sign new players if there were to be any long-term injuries and Fifa told us we would not be allowed to sign anyone,” the Barca coach said at a press conference.

“It is irrelevant what I think about it. The fact remains that the Fifa sanction prevents us from signing anyone.

“Rafinha’s injury is obviously sad news, but we have some good players and some very promising youngsters.”

Meanwhile, Dani Alves is on his way back after spending a few weeks on the sidelines due to a groin injury.

“Dani Alves is working well and training with the group. That’s the best news this week,” Luis Enrique added.

The Barcelona coach also had his say on Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s situation, after the German goalkeeper was criticised for being beaten by Alessandro Florenzi’s shot from the halfway line during the midweek visit to the Stadio Olimpico .

“Ter Stegen is calm among all the criticism,” he added. “Only the coach’s criticism should mean something to him and I am happy with him.”

Barcelona confirm Bartomeu & Rosell must prove innocence in Neymar case

Barcelona presidents past and present face charges for alleged tax fraud and now need to present proof of innocence in the next two weeks ahead of a probable trial later in 2015


GOALBy Ignasi Oliva & Ben Hayward 


Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and former club chief Sandro Rosell must present their defence to a court in the Catalan capital by the first week of October as they face charges in the Neymar case, the Catalan club have confirmed to Goal.

Bartomeu, who signed documents in the forward’s controversial transfer from Santos in the summer of 2013 as Barca’s sporting vice-president, is implicated along with Rosell, who resigned due to the scandal in January of last year.

Both men are charged with fiscal fraud to the tune of €13 million in the deal, which Barca initially claimed had cost the club €57m, with €40m of that paid to the player’s parents.

Bartomeu later revealed that the whole operation had in fact totalled €86.2m after taking over from Rosell and the Catalans are alleged to have evaded taxes which would have taken the deal to in excess of €100m.

Rosell and Bartomeu have already appeared in court, but now have until the first week of October to present proof of their innocence ahead of a trial – set to take place later this year unless they can prove they did nothing wrong in advance.

If found guilty, however, Rosell could face seven years in prison and a fine of €25m, with a possible two-year jail term and a €3.8m sanction for Bartomeu.

De Bruyne: Mourinho only spoke to me twice about Chelsea exit

The Belgium international, who rebuilt his reputation at Wolfsburg, has claimed that he was ostracised by the Portuguese at Stamford Bridge

Manchester City summer signing Kevin De Bruyne claims he only spoke to Jose Mourinho twice during his ill-fated final months under the Portuguese manager at Chelsea.

De Bruyne is desperate to prove himself in England with a reported fee of £55million hanging over his head at the Etihad, plus his previous struggles to make an impact at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium international has argued, though, that his critics forget that he first joined Chelsea at just 20 years of age, while he was at the club during the tenures of three separate managers – Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Mourinho – over just two years.

Now at City, De Bruyne insists he is a more mature individual, while he said a lack of communication gave him little chance under Mourinho.

“You can’t compare with me two years ago at Chelsea,” the 24-year-old said on Friday.

“It’s a different situation and I am a completely different person. I was younger and just didn’t play that much. I wasn’t even on the bench.

“I didn’t get any explanation. I only talked with him twice, Mourinho. That was before a game against Basel in November, where he said I was doing better and that I would get my chance.

“And then again one week before January, that’s the day I said I wanted to go out because, even if I was training better, I was not getting any minutes. So for me it was better to go.”

De Bruyne was sold to Wolfsburg and after an impressive season-and-a-half back in the Bundesliga – where he had previously played on loan from Chelsea at Werder Bremen – the versatile attacker earned a big-money move to City. He is thus relishing his second chance in the Premier League.

“You know there is going to be a lot of pressure,” he said.

“When I was coming here, the first thing I said to everyone was that when I get to England I will have to prove that I am a good player.

“I know everyone will talk about the money. It was the same in Belgium when I was with the national team for two weeks. They only talked about how much City paid to Wolfsburg, and how much I am going to earn.”

While De Bruyne concedes he was perhaps impatient for game-time at Chelsea, he said he may have played “too much” at Wolfsburg last term and is happy enough to be rotated by City manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The former Genk youth player is also happy to play out wide at City as he knows David Silva is Pellegrini’s main option in the role just behind star striker Sergio Aguero.

“Even though I played as No.10 a lot at Wolfsburg, I was the guy who was drifting out a lot to the sides. You have to be a little bit open-minded, not fixed on one position,” De Bruyne said.

“I’m not somebody who talks a lot with the coach. Of course, you want to know sometimes what he thinks and what you need to do, or what he thinks you need to do.

“That was maybe the biggest part that went wrong at Chelsea.”