Serie A COVID protocol finalised, no vaccine mandate

The official Italian football COVID-19 protocol has been published, with nine players testing positive the cut-off point for a quarantine and no vaccine mandate.

The protocol has been agreed by the sporting authorities, the local health authorities (ASL) and the Government.

It means there should no longer be any dangerous cross-over of responsibility with the ASL over-ruling the football protocol.

The ASL can intervene to order a group into quarantine only if at least 35 per cent of the players have tested positive for COVID-19.

Because the Serie A squads are limited to 25 players, it has been decided that means nine players rather than eight.

Those who do test positive will be isolated and monitored.

The important development is that those considered high-risk close contacts must have a daily antigen test for at least five days and wear a FFP2 level mask at all times other than when taking part in the sporting activity.

It was believed the vaccination status would create different treatment, but that has now been removed from the protocol.

That means even those who have not been vaccinated will be given the same five-day testing process if they are close contacts.

All players must provide a negative antigen test, taken four hours before the match.

There had been fears a Government decree would mean unvaccinated players could not even enter the locker room after January 10 and therefore be excluded from taking part, but that has been scrapped.

It is hoped Serie A should have enough coverage, as 98 per cent of players were fully vaccinated in October 2021 and are having booster shots.

Sampdoria handed over to Giampaolo on Wednesday

Sampdoria caretaker manager Felice Tufano confirmed Marco Giampaolo is ready to start work tomorrow, but thanks the club for the opportunity to lead his team in the Coppa Italia against Juventus.

Roberto D’Aversa was fired yesterday, so youth team coach Tufano and member of staff Angelo Palombo took charge at the Allianz Juventus Stadium in Turin this evening.

It ended 4-1 for the hosts, with Juan Cuadrado’s free kick, a Daniele Rugani header, Paulo Dybala strike and Alvaro Morata penalty.

Andrea Conti had scored for Samp, with Kristoffer Askildsen threatening to make it 2-2 at one stage.

Coppa Italia | Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria: Holders dominate in Turin

“We had a pretty clear chance after our goal that could’ve put the game on a very different track, despite Juventus largely dominating the match,” Tufano said in his press conference.

“We tried our best, the lads worked hard and I thank them. In football a match can change with an incident, but unfortunately the third Juve goal knocked the wind out of our sails.

“On a personal level, it was a magnificent evening and I thank the club for giving me this opportunity. From tomorrow, I go back to my lads in the youth team, knowing I had an unforgettable night.”

Giampaolo will step in from tomorrow to take the Sampdoria job, as he first had to terminate his contract with Torino.

“We have to view the situation with optimism and not pessimism. From tomorrow the coach will dive in and start preparing the match with Spezia. We’ve got to roll our sleeves up and improve, seeking the results that have not arrived recently.”

Juventus had ‘right attitude’ for the Coppa Italia

Max Allegri’s assistant manager Marco Landucci saw ‘the right attitude’ from Juventus to crush Sampdoria 4-1 in the Coppa Italia and had a special dedication for Federico Chiesa.

The Old Lady ran riot in Turin with goals from Juan Cuadrado, Daniele Rugani, Paulo Dybala and an Alvaro Morata penalty.

Managerless Sampdoria got one back through Andrea Conti’s half-volley and had threatened to make it 2-2 with a Kristoffer Askildsen glancing header wide.

Coppa Italia | Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria: Holders dominate in Turin

Allegri was suspended, a ban going back to the last time he was on the Juventus bench in the Coppa Italia against Atalanta back in 2019, so for the second game running it was Landucci on the touchline.

“We put in a good performance, which wasn’t easy with so few people in the stadium. We had the right attitude, were fired up and it was very important that we go through to the next round, as the Coppa Italia is a great tournament. Everyone did very well,” the assistant manager told Sport Mediaset.

Dybala celebrated his goal this time and fired up the fans at the Allianz Juventus Stadium, then handed the penalty over to Morata.

“Paulo is doing very well, we are happy with his performances. He has been decisive the last few games, as he always should be. Unfortunately, we lost him for several games because of injury. Danilo made his comeback today with 60 minutes, we’ll be without Chiesa and dedicate the victory to him ahead of his knee surgery, as he’ll be stronger than before. We’re waiting for him.”

Chiesa will be out for at least six to eight months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

Juventus have a very tough run of fixtures coming up in Serie A, starting this weekend against Milan at San Siro, but what has changed from December?

“The attitude is crucial and we had many games with the right attitude, even missing key players. There are no easy games, we saw that we lost more points against the so-called smaller sides like Verona, Empoli and Udinese.

“The only thing that matters is hard work, attitude and desire. We are finding some consistency now, we need to speak with actions rather than words.

“Milan are a great team, it’ll be tough, but we’ll go there and play our game, as always.”

Juventus

Dybala celebrates Juventus goal, makes Morata gesture

Paulo Dybala seemed to put recent tension with Juventus behind him, celebrating a goal, urging fans to get on their feet and handing a penalty to Alvaro Morata.

The Argentina international caused controversy at the weekend against Udinese in Serie A when he broke the deadlock, but refused to celebrate, instead sending an icy glare towards the area of the stands where the Juve directors were seated.

After several days of speculation over his contract and future, Dybala came off the bench in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 tie against Sampdoria this evening.

He quickly found the net on a Manuel Locatelli assist and did not do the usual ‘gladiator mask’ gesture, but he did smile and celebrate with his teammates.

With arms outstretched, La Joya turned to the crowd in Turin and urged them to get on their feet to cheer.

Soon after, Juventus earned a penalty and Dybala picked up the ball, walked over to teammate Morata and handed it to him.

The Spaniard converted from the spot.

Paulo Dybala

Napoli favourites for Ajax defender Tagliafico

Although Barcelona and Olympique Marseille are interested, Napoli have reportedly made the only firm offer for Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico.

The Partenopei are looking for a centre-back after selling Kostas Manolas to Olympiakos, with Kalidou Koulibaly on Africa Cup of Nations duty for Senegal.

According to Tuttomercatoweb, Napoli are the only club to have made a formal proposal to Ajax for Tagliafico.

Barcelona and Marseille are also showing an interest, but the Ligue 1 club seems to have found their defender by officially signing Sead Kolasinac from Arsenal today.

Napoli want Tagliafico on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old has 36 senior appearances for Argentina and his Italian heritage means he has a local passport, so can register as an EU player.

His current contract with Ajax is due to expire in June 2023 and he has been in the Netherlands since January 2018, previously representing Banfield, Real Murcia and Independiente.

Gattuso, Maran, Nicola options for Genoa after Labbadia bails

After sacking Andriy Shevchenko and losing Bruno Labbadia, it’s reported Genoa are talking to Rolando Maran, Davide Nicola and even Gennaro Gattuso.

The Grifone started the campaign under Davide Ballardini and dismissed him in November, but Shevchenko lasted under two months before he too was given the boot.

Former Hertha Berlin manager Labbadia was meant to fly in today to sign the contract, but it seems he watched last night’s humiliating 6-0 Serie A defeat to Fiorentina and thought better of it.

Now Genoa’s new owners 777 Partners are scrambling around trying to find a new coach, as they slide towards potential relegation into Serie B.

Ballardini and Maran are still under contract with Genoa, as Maran was sacked in December 2020 and is still being paid until June 2022.

Nicola is another candidate for what would be a return, having already rescued Genoa from relegation from December 2019 to August 2020.

Sportitalia and Gazzetta dello Sport transfer expert Alfredo Pedullà maintains the club has also approached Gattuso to potentially take over at Marassi.

The 44-year-old was let go by Napoli in the summer and had signed for Fiorentina only to terminate their agreement by mutual consent two weeks later over transfer strategy disagreements.

Gattuso has also been linked with another relegation candidate, Salernitana, and could also be mentioned with regards to Everton after Rafa Benitez was dismissed.

Arrivabene keeps Dybala waiting, Martial too expensive for Juventus

Juventus director Maurizio Arrivabene insists Paulo Dybala is being treated the same way as every other player whose contract is running down, while they won’t get Anthony Martial from Manchester United ‘at those figures.’

The Coppa Italia Round of 16 tie with Sampdoria kicks off at 20.00 GMT.

You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens on the LIVEBLOG.

Coppa Italia Liveblog: Juventus vs. Sampdoria

Arrivabene’s comments about Dybala sparked controversy last week, with La Joya responding by not celebrating his goal against Udinese, instead glaring into the stands towards Arrivabene and Pavel Nedved.

So when the director arrived at Sport Mediaset for his pre-match interview, the question was natural.

“You always expect the team to play well and win, especially when playing on home turf,” said Arrivabene.

“Honestly, I saw a great Juventus move with an excellent Kean assist after Arthur move and Dybala finish. I was told afterwards about this incident, but I am not going to comment on the reactions of players. I was too busy celebrating the goal.”

Dybala said the meeting has been postponed by the club until at least next month, so why is it taking so long?

“I said previously that we would talk about it in February. It’s not just Dybala, there are also contracts to be discussed with Cuadrado, Perin, European Champion Bernardeschi and also De Sciglio. We already said there will be the time to talk to them all, including Dybala.

“I don’t think anyone will come in and try to sign them as free agents. We have an excellent rapport with them, they are very close to Juventus and we will calmly do what’s needed in February.

Arrivabene was also asked about a reported approach to Manchester United for Martial on loan.

“Not at those figures, no. We aren’t even going to discuss it at certain figures.”

It’s reported Manchester United want Juve to not only cover Martial’s salary for six months, but also pay a large fee to take the France international on loan.

Everton still see Roma boss Mourinho as first choice

Despite all evidence to the contrary, reports in England continue to maintain Everton believe Roma coach Jose Mourinho is first choice to replace Rafa Benitez.

The Premier League club sacked Benitez over the weekend and has for the moment appointed Duncan Ferguson as interim manager.

According to Sky Sports UK, Everton directors remain adamant that Mourinho is their first choice to take over on a permanent basis.

Mourinho correct to snub Everton’s offer

However, Mourinho only just joined Roma over the summer on a three-year contract and has not the slightest intention of walking away from the Stadio Olimpico already.

The Giallorossi are busy moulding the squad to his specifications, bringing in Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sergio Oliviera already in the January transfer window, with more moves expected.

Report Juventus ask Manchester United for Martial

There are reports in Italy that Juventus are in direct talks with Manchester United to take Anthony Martial on loan.

The Bianconeri interest in the wantaway striker is not new, but Tuttomercatoweb claims there has now been a meeting between the directors of the two clubs.

It would be a dry loan only for six months, so without an option to buy, and Juventus would cover his entire salary for the rest of this season.

However, Manchester United want to receive a large fee in order to loan out their player, something Juve do not seem prepared to pay.

There is also competition from Sevilla, who are determined to pick up Martial, but don’t have the same financial clout as the Old Lady.

France international Martial is an outcast at Old Trafford by now, with Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick claiming he was training separately because “didn’t want to be in the squad” against Aston Villa.

That was something Martial strongly denied and Rangnick today assured the matter was “resolved.”

The 26-year-old has two goals in 30 senior caps for France and made only 10 competitive appearances for Manchester United this season.

He was signed from AS Monaco in September 2015 for €60m.