Transfer rumours overshadow Serie A restart
The resumption of the league after the Christmas break has gone almost unnoticed amid endless speculation over who is going where, topped by the long-running saga over the possible move of Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez to AC Milan.
AC Milan's Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato has been the subject of a possible big money move to Paris Saint-Germain, especially after the player complained last week of a "lack of communication" with coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Coincidentally, Milan met PSG in a friendly in Dubai on Wednesday, with Pato scoring the only goal.
"Before the game, I said hello to [PSG coach] Carlo Ancelotti, as was right and was to be expected," he told reporters. "Was my agent in Dubai? You know better than I do."
Milan said on their website that he "should stay" at the club but there was plenty more elsewhere to fuel the rumour mill.
New reports to surface on Thursday suggested that Juventus midfielder Fabio Quagliarella could be joining either Inter Milan or AS Roma and that Lazio were chasing Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic.
Roma's Chilean midfielder David Pizarro was expected to be moving on after he was reported to have stormed out of a training session on Wednesday. He was quickly being linked with Juventus.
As for the football itself, Genoa's new coach Pasquale Marino will make his debut after replacing Alberto Malesani, who was fired following a 6-1 loss at Napoli in the last match before Christmas, as they visit Cagliari.
Malesani was the 11th coaching victim of the Serie A season with two of them at Sunday's opponents.
Joint leaders AC Milan and Juventus, with 34 points from 16 games, are both away on Sunday, although the defending champions appear to have the more difficult job at Atalanta.
That match will feature a battle between the championship's two leading scorers, Atalanta's Argentine forward German Denis, with 12, and Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is one behind.
"The game is Atalanta versus Milan and not Denis versus Ibrahimovic," said former Napoli and Udinese striker Denis, playing down the personal duel.
Promoted Atalanta are 11th with 20 points despite having started the season with minus six as a punishment for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal in Serie B.
Juventus, who this week signed striker Marco Boriello from Roma, travel to Lecce.
Udinese, two points behind the leading pair, could make up ground as they host lowly Cesena and Lazio, a further two behind in fourth place, are at Siena on Saturday.
The biggest transfer coup so far has been Napoli's signing of 22-year-old forward Eduardo Vargas from Universidad de Chile, although he is unlikely to play at Palermo on Sunday.