Napoli striker Victor Osimhen is due to return to Italy next week to continue his recovery from injury as speculation intensifies over his future with the Serie A champions.
Osimhen, who finished eighth in this year’s Ballon d’Or voting, has made no secret of his “dream” of playing in the Premier League, with Chelsea and Manchester United reportedly pursuing the Nigerian.
The 24-year-old has been out since picking up a hamstring injury on international duty in a friendly against Saudi Arabia on October 13.
He was granted permission to travel to Nigeria to resolve personal issues but is expected to rejoin the team soon with a view to regaining full fitness by the end of the month.
“Victor has had a leave of absence, he will be with us next week. From a clinical point of view, the doctors will give me details on his condition,” Napoli coach Rudi Garcia said Friday.
“I am interested in all my men but especially in regards to when I’ll have them available because that’s my role and my main job.”
Napoli are seven points adrift of leaders Inter Milan after an unconvincing start to the season but will fancy their chances on Saturday against bottom side and regional rivals Salernitana, now coached by former Italy international Filippo Inzaghi.
Inter face a tricky test away to Atalanta ahead of Wednesday’s game at Salzburg, where a victory would send them through to the Champions League last 16.
Juventus have gone five games without conceding following their only loss of the campaign, a 4-2 defeat at Sassuolo in September, to climb into second.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side go to Fiorentina on Sunday hunting a fifth win in six for a team shorn of European commitments this season.
AC Milan will hope the visit of winless Udinese can help them get back on track before a crucial Champions League game at home to Paris Saint-Germain.
Milan have slid from the top of Serie A after losing to Juventus and then letting slip a two-goal lead in their draw in Naples last weekend.
They have yet to win in three European matches but could put themselves right back in the mix by beating PSG on Tuesday at the San Siro.
One to watch: Matias Soule
The Argentine winger has impressed mightily since joining Frosinone on loan in August, helping last season’s Serie B champions make a solid start in what is only their third ever appearance in the top flight.
The 20-year-old has scored five times in his five past matches, including a brace in last weekend’s gut-wrenching 4-3 loss at Cagliari when Frosinone threw away a three-goal lead inside the final 20 minutes.
An Argentina youth international who played at this year’s under-20 World Cup, Soule’s form has led to speculation he could be recalled by his parent club Juventus in January.
He has also reportedly told Italy boss Luciano Spalletti he plans to stick with Argentina despite being qualified to play for the Azzurri as well.
3 – Iceland’s Albert Gudmundsson has scored the opening goal of a game three times this season for Genoa. He also grabbed an extra-time winner in the Coppa Italia midweek against Reggiana.
5 – Monza are unbeaten at home in five games this term. Only Juventus and Atalanta have also yet to lose at home.
9 – Bologna are unbeaten in nine games, the club’s longest such run since November 2008-January 2009 when the late Sinisa Mihajlovic was coach.
Serie A Fixtures (all times GMT)
Bologna v Lazio (1945)
Salernitana v Napoli (1400), Atalanta v Inter Milan (1700), AC Milan v Udinese (1945)
Hellas Verona v Monza (1130), Cagliari v Genoa (1400), Roma v Lecce (1700), Fiorentina v Juventus (1845)
Frosinone v Empoli (1730), Torino v Sassuolo (1945)