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PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti won’t rule out a return to “my family” Milan and praises Fiorentina Coach Vincenzo Montella.
The former Chelsea boss spoke to the Corriere della Sera newspaper about his current situation in France.
“We changed our tactical system this season and Thiago Motta returned, but Marco Verratti remains an excellent signing,” said Ancelotti.
“There has been talk of me returning to Milan, but I have an excellent rapport with the club and they are my family, so...”
He is still keeping an eye on his old club and their attempts to rebuild.
“The 4-2 defeat to Roma was a heavy one and will be difficult to absorb, as Milan had been fighting back. Fortunately the Christmas break came at the right time.
“Stephan El Shaarawy is a modern player and, along with Mattia De Sciglio, he represents the future of the club.”
Many figures left San Siro in recent years, including Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“I think Gattuso is the most likely to make his return to Milan, as Rino is more than anyone still emotionally attached to the club.”
Ancelotti also cast his eye over the rest of the current Serie A landscape.
“Roma are a young and well-constructed team with great potential, but there is the unknown quantity of their lack of experience.
“Fiorentina are very impressive and I really like Montella. He has shown quality, capability and intelligence. I admire the way he presents himself, as he is always very calm and never tries to wind people up.
Massimiliano Allegri insists Milan “are on the right track” by rebuilding with youth and rues Robinho's potential departure.
“We are on the right track by focusing on youth,” the Coach told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
“We are building a new Milan, so this is an achievement that takes time and passion. The President is right to take this route, as nobody in the current Italian financial crisis can afford wages of €7m per season and stay within the Financial Fair Play rules.”
Losing so many big players has undoubtedly had an impact on performances and Allegri felt the pressure when results weren’t coming.
“I am happy with the number of points we have so far this season, even though we could’ve had a few more.
“I end the year aware that I adapted to different situations. Intelligence can also be seen in someone’s ability to deal with changing scenarios. In difficult moments I am calm and not clouded by anxiety. Perhaps I kept my job because I was good at reassuring the club...
“I told them we’d emerge from this situation and we are on the right track, although the game with Roma showed we are still not solid.
“I have a contract until 2014, but obviously I’m happy at Milan and would gladly stay for longer. The challenge of getting back to the top within two or three years is exciting.”
However, more top players are set to leave San Siro in January, as Alexandre Pato is on the verge of joining Corinthians and there’s a Brazilian bidding war for Robinho.
“Will I be more disappointed if Pato or Robinho leaves? They are different feelings. Pato has the potential to win the Ballon d’Or, but I understand he needs to find that confidence he lost amid all the injuries,” continued Allegri. “Robinho, ah what to say about Robinho? He is a player of a superior level.
“Am I convinced by Mario Balotelli? I don’t like talking about players in other teams. In any case, it’s a shame he still hasn’t shown his talent and I think he needs to hurry up, because you’re 30 before you know it.”
The Milan Coach concluded with a sideswipe at Juventus boss Antonio Conte.
“He is doing great work, but when I hear talk of ‘war through the media’ it feels like I’m in a videogame. Personally I don’t believe in wars and conspiracies. I speak to journalists even if they insult me. You never know, I might skip a Press conference and they’ll dock my wages...”
Bojan Krkic could be on his way back to Barcelona as his two-year loan spell in Italy draws to a close.
The 22-year-old is 18 months into his spell in Serie A, having spent one season at Roma, before being moved on to Milan this summer.
Massimiliano Allegri's side have a €14m option to make his stay on the peninsula permanent, but the player's father has claimed that a return to Spain cannot be ruled out.
“Bojan is in a privileged position,” he told Cope. “He belongs to two big clubs like Milan and Barca.
“But we cannot rule out a return to Barca. A lot can happen. The truth is that with Tito Vilanova he has always had a good relationship and mutual appreciation.”
Bojan, who had previously hinted that his original departure from Camp Nou was due to a difficult relationship between himself and then Coach Pep Guardiola, will return to the club when the Rossoneri face Barca in February in the Champions League.
“He would have preferred to avoid them in the Champions League and play against any other team.
“Any team facing Barcelona will do so as the inferior side.”
Amelia: Juventus will have ups and downs 30.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan seem to have moved ahead of Juventus in the race to sign former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
The Ivorian international has been heavily linked with a move to the Bianconeri recently, but Gazzetta dello Sport believe that the Old Lady have withdrawn for proceedings, leaving Massimiliano Allegri's men in pole-position.
The Milan-based paper claim that Adriano Galliani will negotiate with the striker in person once he gets back from Brazil, where he is currently overseeing the sales of Robinho and Alexandre Pato.
If Drogba does join, he will miss the first month of action due to African Cup of Nations requirements, but will be available for the Champions League campaign.
AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini blasted his old club for their dip in fortunes and reveals the offers he turned down. “They sold top players and lost the magic.”
The retired defender had been expected to take a job working within the Rossoneri camp after hanging up his boots in 2009, but has not returned to San Siro.
“I have done many things in football and was in this world for 31 years starting from the youth academy. There is a ‘risk’ I’ll be left out of the football world now, but I had such a strong bond with Milan that it is difficult to imagine myself with another club, even a European one,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.
“I have never considered being a Coach, because I saw the nomadic lifestyle my father Cesare had to go through in order to work. Plus I don’t see myself anywhere except Milan, so my chances of finding another coaching job in Italy would be close to zero.
“I don’t want to be a director because I don’t like politics. If I were to remain working in football, it would be in bringing my football knowledge. There are few who are 100 per cent competent, know about tactics, players and sports psychology. I am not interested in a role just for the prestige of it.”
It has long been suggested that Maldini won’t return to work for Milan because of his bad rapport with Vice-President Adriano Galliani.
“I was fortunate enough to be with Milan for 25 splendid years. When I arrived, I found a great foundation to build a great club. President Silvio Berlusconi arrived and taught us to think big, also of course with his investments. Arrigo Sacchi came and we had the mentality that we’d become the symbol of a style of football.
“It was something magical. Slowly, the magic was lost and Milan transformed into an absolutely normal club. That’s because Milan stopped transmitting that message and those who had written the history of the club stopped teaching their knowledge to the next generation. There is nobody in the current Milan set-up who wrote history, other than those in marginal roles,” added the 44-year-old.
“Look at Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, who had directors like Beckenbauer, Hoeness, Rummenigge, Butragueno, Gallego and Valdano. This magic can be carried on and taught by those who experienced and even created it. Milan had the magic for 25 years, but then lost it.
“It is difficult to evaluate the planning of this Milan side, as over the summer they released 12 players of great character and still didn’t expect a difficult start to the season. In all honesty, I can’t see what their plans are. Choosing certain players, even if they are on free transfers, look a world away from a specific plan.
“I’ll reveal to you that Leonardo wanted me at Milanello, even if I was just to stand there and show my presence. I told him there was no point in my turning up without a role. Galliani told me and Leo that a director of sport was no longer necessary in football, but I think there is a real need for one.
“Last year, Max Allegri called me and said he needed someone to keep an eye on him, to say whether he’d done something wrong tactically or in dealing with the locker room. He needed someone with the character to talk to the more important players in an authoritative manner. He thought that I, with my past, could do that.
“Anyway, I’d like to destroy this myth that I am ‘one of the family’ at Milan. They don’t particularly want me there. I feel bitter, but not just for me – also for everything we created together that has fallen apart. It’s the same sensation many of my ex-teammates have. I just want to give the magic back to Milan.
“I won more than anyone with this club and played more games than anyone, but I feel Milan have given me even more. I feel a debt of gratitude to Milan.”
Maldini also revealed he rejected big money moves from some of Europe’s top sides during his time at San Siro.
“Juventus wanted me, while Gianluca Vialli called me to Chelsea in 1996, but I preferred to stay with Milan to recover from a disastrous year. It was the right choice. Arsenal made an economic offer and there was also a request from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
“The truth is that most of these offers coincided with terrible seasons for Milan. It probably would’ve been easier to accept, but those of us in the foundations of the team took our responsibility and preferred to stay so we could turn the situation around.”
Lippi: 'AC Milan should sign Drogba' 29.12 ||webmaster
Marcello Lippi has recently faced Didier Drogba in China and urged Milan to make him an offer, as “he’d form a great partnership” with Stephan El Shaarawy.
The Ivory Coast international is currently training with Chelsea during the close season and could well leave Shanghai Shenhua.
“If Robinho and Alexandre Pato really are leaving Milan, then I’d see Drogba doing better for the Rossoneri than Juventus,” Lippi told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He played against my Guangzhou Evergrande recently and is still a beast. He really makes the difference on the field.
“Drogba would be a precious addition to the squad both in Serie A and the Champions League. In technical terms, he’d form a great partnership with El Shaarawy.”
However, as with the earlier interest from Juventus, Lippi does see one rather large obstacle.
“He didn’t choose to go to China by following his heart or making a footballing decision. It was purely for the money, as he earns €1m per month. Do you think he’d agree to halve his wages to come and play in Italy? I have my doubts.”
Lippi is still keeping a close eye on Serie A football from China and has been thoroughly impressed with Milan’s new star.
“El Shaarawy reminds me of Alessandro Del Piero. They both love to start from the left and cut in to seek goals with curling shots. He hasn’t got Del Piero’s quality yet, but is growing and could be even more explosive in attack.
“Juventus are the strongest side in Serie A. They might have a few problems in February when the Champions League commitments begin again, but with Antonio Conte they have rediscovered that attacking fury.
“This side could be compared to my Juve, but also those of Giovanni Trapattoni and Fabio Capello.”
Josip Ilicic's agent has failed to rule out whether his client could make a move to Milan in January.
Reports this morning suggested that the Palermo forward could replace Robinho at San Siro, and his representative has admitted that he has had no contact with the club, but did concede that the Slovenian international could play for any club in Europe.
“I have read those stories in the newspapers,” Amir Ruznic told calciomercato. “But I do not know anything about it.
“I have not been contacted by anyone, but I cannot rule out the fact that the two teams could be talking to each other.
“I have never doubted his qualities and have often said that if he continues to grow, he can aspire to any team in Europe.”
AC Milan to replace Robinho with Ilicic? 28.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan could look to replace Robinho with Palermo attacker Josip Ilicic, Gazzetta dello Sport believe.
The Brazilian forward is looking ever-closer to a move back to his homeland with former club Santos in pole-position to sign the 28-year-old.
And the Milan-based newspaper have claimed that the Rossoneri will look to fill the void left by the former Real Madrid man with the 24-year-old Slovenian international.
A fee of around €9m is likely to turn the Rosanero's head, with a the positive relationship between Palermo sporting director Pietro Lo Monaco and Massimiliano Allegri's side another reason that the move could be pushed through.
AC Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has flown out to Brazil to sell Alexandre Pato and Robinho. “The lads want to go home.”
The transfer guru had already stated he was going to travel to South America for negotiations, as Santos, Flamengo and Fluminense are interested in Robinho, while Corinthians have made a €15m offer for Pato.
“It’s a bit of a sad Christmas, but a defeat can happen and the game with Roma was rather unusual,” Galliani told Sky Sport Italia at the airport.
The Rossoneri were beaten 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome last night.
“Pato and Robinho? We’ll see how these two negotiations go. The lads want to go home to their own country.
“Which of the two is the simplest deal to work out? Nothing is ever simple.”
Galliani was also asked whether the money raised from these sales would enable Milan to make a concrete offer for Manchester City star Mario Balotelli.
“It’s difficult, above all in economic terms. We’ll see...”
Pato and Robinho 'asked to leave' 23.12 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri insisted he “did not see big mistakes” in the 4-2 defeat to Roma. “I think Milan played a good game.”
The Rossoneri were 4-0 down before snatching two late goals after Marquinhos had been sent off at the Stadio Olimpico.
“I think it was a strange game where we could’ve taken the lead and instead conceded from a corner. Then we could’ve equalised and they immediately doubled their advantage,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“We definitely have to improve our defending from set plays, while we were too disorganised and hasty in attack.
“After the break we were trying to get back into the game and conceded another two goals against the run of play, while the Roma goalkeeper had to perform quite a few tough saves.
“I think we need to improve in defence, but I did not see any big mistakes tonight. Maybe we weren’t aggressive enough on their counter-attacks, probably because we feared Roma’s forwards.
“Sometimes games go against you and we contributed to the result, but at the end of the day I think Milan played a good game. Roma deserve credit for making the most of the space we left and we know how dangerous Zdenek Zeman’s teams can be in these situations.”
Milan had been on a run of four consecutive victories, but are now five points adrift of Roma and eight off the Champions League spots.
“I think the Giallorossi are one of the best teams in Italy and I am amazed we are so close to them in the table,” insisted Allegri.
“We fought back to earn many points in the last 10 rounds. We’ll try to reach half-way on 30 points so that we can push hard in the second half of the season and close in on the top places.
“People think we go from the stars to the gutter in a millisecond, as don’t forget we went into this game with four wins and a draw against Napoli in six games. Of course we can do better and the club will certainly do something in the transfer window, but it’s not as if we were challenging for second place before this defeat.
“There has to be greater balance when talking about Milan, as this is a new and young side.”
Serie A: AS Roma 4:2 AC Milan - match report 22.12 ||webmaster
Roma tore Milan to shreds with Erik Lamela’s brace, although they still managed to leak two goals in the final minutes for a thrilling 4-2 victory.
These sides had disastrous starts to the season, but are finding their feet towards the Christmas break. It was also a head-to-head for position, as only two points separated them going into the weekend.
Bojan Krkic, Philippe Mexes and Marco Amelia returned to face their former club, but Alexandre Pato, Bakaye Traore and Nigel De Jong were injured. Kevin-Prince Boateng was in the trident as a ‘False Nine.’ Leandro Castan sat out a ban and Marquinhos was on the treatment table for the Giallorossi, who had Erik Lamela back from the start.
Roma last won this fixture in 2008, followed by three draws and last season’s 3-2 defeat. Zdenek Zeman’s men saw a run of four straight victories ended in controversial fashion by Chievo last week, while the Rossoneri were still on their four-game winning streak.
It took Stephan El Shaarawy 41 seconds to drill just wide, while Daniele De Rossi fired straight at Amelia after a strong run. Milan tried one backheel too many, sparking a Roma counter-attack that saw Amelia fly to palm the Pablo Daniel Osvaldo shot over the bar.
From that corner, Nicolas Burdisso was allowed a header into the bottom near corner, giving Roma the lead. It confirmed Milan’s weakness when defending from set plays.
El Shaarawy sprung the offside trap on a Robinho through ball and tried to dribble round the goalkeeper, but Mauro Goicoechea did brilliantly to stand his ground and push it off his feet.
It was a wide open game and Roma doubled their advantage when Francesco Totti on the left flank curled a cross on to Osvaldo’s glancing header, as he once again rose above Mario Yepes.
The Giallorossi tore the Rossoneri defence to shreds and went 3-0 up by the half-hour. Kevin Constant’s poor clearance sparked a new move, so De Rossi put a wonderful disguised through ball to send Lamela through and the Argentine passed it over the stranded Amelia.
El Shaarawy had a shot charged down in the box, but Milan were simply stunned at the Stadio Olimpico.
Totti should’ve made it 4-0 straight after the restart, but his angled drive skimmed the base of the far post after Constant kept him onside.
Giampaolo Pazzini replaced Antonio Nocerino, returning Boateng to a deeper role. The visitors had more possession in this second half, but conceded a fourth when Federico Balzaretti floated a cross into the box for Lamela’s header from six yards.
Robinho forced Goicoechea into a flying save to palm away his curler, then Boateng’s follow-up was also smothered.
A Miralem Pjanic volley flashed wide, but Milan had a triple chance. Boateng’s first header was brilliantly parried by Goicoechea from point-blank range, his follow-up hit the post and substitute Bojan fired the rebound into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Bojan had the opportunity to get one back against his old club, but Goicoechea got fingertips to turn the angled drive just wide.
Pazzini blasted straight at the ‘keeper from distance, but Roma went down to 10 men after Marquinhos foolishly used his arm to block an El Shaarawy counter-attack and the referee saw it as a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Sulley Muntari was in the wall and received a Pjanic missile of a free kick right in the face, sending him down and in need of treatment.
Milan did get a look-in for the final minutes, as Goicoechea spilled a Muntari strike and brought down Pazzini on the rebound. The goalkeeper received a yellow card, though it seemed more of a scoring opportunity than the Marquinhos dismissal. Pazzini got back up to convert by firing it down the middle.
Incredibly, moments later the Rossoneri made it 4-2, as Bojan turned in from the tightest of angles and suddenly the home crowd and their 10-man side were nervous. However, the fightback just came too late to turn things around.
AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani is stunned to be facing Barcelona again, while confirming they “haven’t decided yet” on Robinho and Alexandre Pato.
The Rossoneri faced Barça in both the group stage and the Quarter-Finals of last season’s Champions League, but have drawn them again in the Second Round to be played in February.
“It’s incredible, we’ll be playing them six times in just over a year,” said Vice-President Galliani.
“Barcelona were assigned to us because the other teams could not face each other, so we were the default option. Barcelona play the best football in the world with the best players in the world. We’ll try and last season we made a good impression.”
Galliani is expected to fly out to Brazil this weekend for negotiations with Santos for Robinho and Corinthians for Pato.
“We won’t sign any more strikers, even if one of the current roster leaves. If both of them go, then we’ll see what we will do.
“We haven’t decided yet on Robinho and Pato, as it’s still only December. The Brazilian transfer session ends on April 15.
“Was the offer for Pato satisfying? We’ll see. Robinho wants to go back to Brazil because his family is there and it’s a personal choice. We received an offer from Santos which we rejected, but there has not been a second proposal yet.
“Brazilian football has grown on an economic level, as with sponsorship deals and pay-per-view television the clubs can afford more than they could in the past. We will speak with Pato and Robinho to decide what to do.
“For now Pato and Robinho are Milan players. Our books are balanced and we are even set to make a profit. Any potential Pato and Binho sales would go into the 2013 budget.”
The Vice-President also commented on rumours regarding Didier Drogba, Udinese’s Pablo Armero and a potential return from Botafogo for Clarence Seedorf.
“I won’t comment on the Drogba rumours. We have never considered Armero. Seedorf will continue playing in Brazil.”
Allegri: 'Barcelona best in the world' 20.12 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri feels Milan have drawn “the strongest team in the world” as they’ll face Barcelona in the Champions League.
The Rossoneri play the first leg at San Siro on February 20 and visit the Nou Camp on March 12 in the Second Round tie.
“We ended up with the strongest team in the world,” Allegri told Milan Channel.
“We’ll still try to get through this round, hoping to be luckier than we were last year.”
These sides already clashed last season in both the group stage (drawing 2-2 at the Nou Camp and losing 3-2 at home) and the Quarter-Finals, where they drew 0-0 at San Siro and Milan lost 3-1 in Spain.
“This must be the fifth or sixth time we’ve been paired with Barcelona in a draw,” sighed Milan director Umberto Gandini.
“Their visit has become almost a regular occurrence. We are growing and there is still time to improve, so we’ll give our best and see what the result is.
“We’re facing a side we know very well and they’ve had a few more problems than usual in the group stage this season. We hope that Milan can end this taboo and beat Barcelona.
“This is the biggest obstacle we could’ve drawn and it’ll be a test of the side’s maturity. We can win the Champions League, as Milan have already won it seven times.”
There was also a message for Barcelona Coach Tito Vilanova, who underwent surgery to remove a tumour this week.
“We are all close to Tito Vilanova, who is going through a difficult time, and hope he’ll be on the bench when we play Barcelona in February.”
Thiago Silva on Robinho & Pato future 20.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan were set to face a tricky last 16 tie after Malaga beat them to top spot in their section.
Barcelona and Milan faced each other four times in last year’s edition of the Champions League, with the Catalans and Rossoneri sharing a group stage before then crossing swords in 2011-12’s quarter-finals. Barca won two games and there were two draws.
Elsewhere Real Madrid, after facing Manchester City in the group stages, will take on Manchester United.
Arsenal will play Bayern Munich, while Carlo Ancelotti’s Paris Saint-Germain will fancy their chances against Valencia.
The first legs will take place on 12/13 and 19/20 February, with the second legs due to be played on 5/6 and 12/13 March.
AC Milan v Barcelona
Celtic v Juventus
Galatasaray v Schalke
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid v Manchester United
Valencia v Paris SG
Porto v Malaga
VIDEO: Hachim Mastour's Italy U-15 debut with goal 19.12 ||webmaster
Scorers: Nocerino 1 (M), Abbruscato og 51 (M), Terlizzi 57 (P), Jonathas og 79 (M), El Shaarawy 81 (M)
Antonio Nocerino scored after 35 seconds, but Milan ultimately beat Pescara 4-1 thanks to two own goals.
The Rossoneri were climbing up the table after three consecutive victories and expected to maintain their 100 per cent Serie A home record against Pescara. The Delfini’s confidence received a boost with last week’s win over Siena, though Manuele Blasi, Uros Cosic, Simone Romagnoli, Giuseppe Colucci and Emanuel Cascione missed out. Alexandre Pato, Daniele Bonera and Nigel De Jong were sidelined, but Riccardo Montolivo and Luca Antonini were again available. Marco Amelia was picked ahead of Christian Abbiati in goal.
There was a great atmosphere at San Siro, as Milan celebrate the 113th anniversary of their foundation.
The game had barely kicked off when the ball was already in the back of the net after 35 seconds. Montolivo’s through ball found Stephan El Shaarawy, who rolled across for Antonio Nocerino to tap in at the back post.
Amelia had to palm a Romulo Togni screamer round the base of the upright, then Giampaolo Pazzini redirected a Robinho shot over the bar. Mattia Perin did well to turn El Shaarawy’s effort round the post – the pair are friends thanks to their time together in the Genoa youth academy. Perin also controlled a Montolivo volley.
Milan had penalty appeals for a potential handling offence, but the referee waved play on. Pescara were still in this game and after the restart Bjarnason’s header tested Amelia.
The Rossoneri were gifted their second goal, as Robinho’s cross was turned into his own net by a diving Elvis Abbruscato header.
Pescara got themselves back into the running, as a free kick was whipped into the box for Christian Terlizzi’s free header from seven yards.
It was almost 2-2 for the Delfini, who were only denied an equaliser by the base of the upright, as Amelia watched Antonio Balzano’s screamer whizz past him.
Pazzini had a free header from five yards, but completely missed contact with Nocerino’s cross, though Pescara were now pouring forward and Amelia caught Bjarnason’s fierce drive.
El Shaarawy’s splendid curler was deflected out for a corner by Terlizzi. From that set play, El Shaarawy’s corner was nodded into his own net by Jonathas – the second Pescara own goal of the day.
El Shaarawy did get his name on the scoresheet soon after, tapping in as Pazzini rolled across the six-yard box.
Milan: Amelia; De Sciglio, Zapata, Yepes, Constant; Montolivo, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Robinho (Boateng 61), Pazzini (Niang 82), El Shaarawy (Muntari 85)
Massimiliano Allegri trusts Robinho will “be professional” despite transfer stories, focuses on Pescara and warns Alexandre Pato won’t play again in 2012.
The Coach sat down for his Press conference this afternoon and was asked about their recent injury crisis.
“Daniele Bonera will have a fitness test today and resume full training on Tuesday. Sulley Muntari needs playing time, though his best form won’t be visible until January. Riccardo Montolivo has also recovered.
“Christian Abbiati is fine, but Marco Amelia will be in goal. Kevin-Prince Boateng had a knock in training and Philippe Mexes had flu yesterday, so we’ll see whether or not they start. As for Pato, we’ll talk about his return in the New Year. By January 6 he will be at the disposal of the squad.”
This is in contrast to what his agent said this week, claiming the Brazilian is 100 per cent recovered from his thigh problems.
“I am pleased that we are putting in good performances, although sometimes we fall asleep when it looks as if the game is safe. Tomorrow will be a very difficult game and we mustn’t under-estimate Pescara.
“I am very tied to the club due to my past there and I’m happy they are in Serie A. Vladimir Weiss is a good player and one to watch.”
Robinho has confirmed he misses Brazil and would like a return to Santos, although Milan are not prepared to release him for less than €10m.
“He is proving decisive again this season with assists and goals. He always puts in strong performances. We’ll see what happens in January, but I hope and believe that we won’t lose Robinho. He’ll show what a great professional he is,” noted Allegri.
“This season we have a new squad and I have adapted to the needs of the club. We are working with great enthusiasm and proving you can get results with young players. It makes me proud to see them grow and learn.
“This isn’t Year Zero for Milan so much as for Italian football. Many champions left and if someone like Clarence Seedorf or Gennaro Gattuso quits, you can’t find a replacement the next day.
“Will M’Baye Niang play tomorrow? It’s possible and I am not surprised he scored against Reggina, but we must give him time to grow.”
Niang on AC Milan and idol Ronaldo 15.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan’s new 17-year-old starlet M’Baye Niang dedicated his debut goal to the fans and revealed his hero is Inter legend Ronaldo.
The French teenager has so far been better known for his off the field antics than performances on it. He was fined for driving without a licence and banned from international duty with France after skipping out on an Under-21 training camp to go partying in Paris.
“I must first of all thank the fans and I dedicate the goal to them,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport after scoring in a 3-0 Coppa Italia victory over Reggina.
“The supporters encouraged me even before I stepped on to the field. As for my teammates, I was really struck by the mass hug I received. They were happy for me and you could tell.
“Last Saturday President Silvio Berlusconi took me to one side and encouraged me, saying the club really believed in me. It really made an impact.
“Milan have always shown great faith in my potential. I was honoured when Adriano Galliani came to pick me up in France with a private plane. I will repay them with action. I’ve been working to learn as much as possible, though the last four months have felt more like 18.”
Niang turns 18 next Wednesday and has a special request. “I’d love to score a goal against Pescara, assuming I play. In truth I’ll celebrate by going back to Paris for Christmas. My father visits often, but I want to be around my family again.”
Perhaps due to his early development and chaotic off the field lifestyle, Niang has been compared to Mario Balotelli.
“It is pleasing to be compared to Balotelli, as he is a great striker, but we’ve never met. My idol is Ronaldo, as I fell in love with football during the years he was at Inter. He is the ideal forward in terms of technique, power and speed.”
Berlusconi: 'AC Milan will be great again' 15.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi discussed Robinho, transfer strategy and promised in three years “we’ll get back to being protagonists in Italy and the world.”
The patron, who has announced he'll probably run for election as Italian Prime Minister again, was speaking at the launch of a new book marking the 113th anniversary of the club’s foundation.
“This is a transitional period and we had champions for 26 years, but must now have a little patience. We give ourselves three years to get back to being protagonists in Italy and the world,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“We are focusing on youth and have some excellent talents at the club now, like an extraordinary 15-year-old Hachim Mastour, who will be able to play in Serie A when he turns 16. Mbaye Niang is reminiscent of Mario Balotelli, even in the hairstyle...
“The papers keep going on about Balotelli, but I never dreamed of him and I don’t think he is in our list of objectives.”
Robinho has been repeatedly linked with a move to Santos, but Berlusconi insisted the matter is in the balance.
“We hope to convince Robinho to stay with us. He brings great joy to the locker room and we are all fond of him. He misses Brazil, but he’s not for sale.
“We are trying to strengthen the squad with the introduction of young champions, but I do hope a few big signings can be made.
“Nigel De Jong’s injury is a real shame, but we already have cover for him in midfield.”
Berlusconi has been making a habit this season of visiting the training ground before match day to fire up the squad.
“I do what I can to motivate the team and help them achieve their targets. I have always been a leader of men.”
Robinho will not leave, says father 14.12 ||webmaster
This was always going to be a transition year for AC Milan. The start they made to the season, though, was worse than anything anyone expected. At the mid-way point through the season, let’s look at what happened and see if we can make sense of it.
There’s no denying that Milan were an old men’s team and that some serious rebuilding needed to happen for them to return to the glory days of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Out went established but aging superstars like Alessandro Nesta, Mark van Bommel, Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso. Milan also showed it still had the financial acumen for getting rid of players at a profit, too, as it sold Zlatan ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to the newly wealthy and glory-hungry PSG.
With the money made on those two deals, Milan brought in strikers Giampaolo Pazzini from city rivals Inter, Bojan Krkic (on loan from Barcelona), and youngster M’Baye Niang from Caen. The squad was further strengthened by bringing in the likes of Nigel de Jong from Manchester City and Sulley Muntari from Inter.
The team looked good on paper and you’d have found short odds on any online betting site for the Rossoneri to make a strong run for the Scudetto. Yet the miserable start they made to the campaign was shocking. The team didn’t gel; often it seemed they didn’t even want to be playing. What went wrong?
The answer is straightforward. Milan chopped and changed the team too much, too quickly. They paid the price for hanging on to the oldsters too long and had to find replacement all at once instead of bringing in new faces over a few seasons.
In addition, you can’t simply replace strikers of Ibrahimovic’s and Cassano’s talents with the likes of Krkic and Pazzini and expect to get the same goal returns. Add to that the fact that Muntari has seen more time on the treatment table than the pitch and you’ve got the recipe for disaster that the first half of the season has been.
There’s hope for the Rossoneri, though. They’ve made huge improvements in the past few weeks, sparked by the draw with Napoli and the win against Juventus. If I were to lay odds at an online betting site, I’d say the chances are good they’ll push for a top four finish. They’re also through to the next phase of the Champions League, and I wouldn’t bet against them going far in that competition, either.
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Coppa Italia: AC Milan 3:0 Reggina - goals/highlights 13.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan eventually ran out 3-0 winners with Mbaye Niang’s first goal for the club, but they found it harder than expected to end Reggina’s Coppa Italia dream.
The winner of this fixture goes on to face Juventus in the Quarter-Finals, so Massimiliano Allegri fielded a new trident attack, plus Luca Antonini and Rodney Strasser returning from injury. Reggina Coach Davide Dionigi and players Rodrigo Ely and Davide Facchin were all in the Milan youth academy.
The Serie B minnows eliminated Chievo in the last round and it took until the 15th minute for Facchin to be tested by Giampaolo Pazzini’s angled drive under a smattering of snow.
Reggina also threatened with Alessio Campagnacci blasting over relatively undisturbed. They did have the ball in the net when a free kick was volleyed in off the underside of the bar by Francesco Bombagi, but he was caught offside.
Facchin got down quickly to palm a Mario Yepes header off the line and smothered another Pazzini aerial effort.
The Rossoneri came out fighting for the second half and quickly took the lead. First Robinho’s attempt from a corner was cleared off the line, then as the move continued Yepes nodded into the top corner from an Urby Emanuelson cross.
Substitute Mbaye Niang shrugged off a challenge to force a save from Facchin and the goalkeeper was quick to smother at the feet of both Bojan Krkic and Emanuelson.
Facchin beat away an Ignazio Abate shot and needed a fine save to deny Pazzini’s volley. Bojan cut in for a strike deflected on to the side-netting. Sulley Ali Muntari made his comeback for the final 14 minutes, having snapped knee ligaments while playing beach soccer with friends over the summer.
Niang put qualification beyond doubt with his first goal in a Milan jersey. Emanuelson won back possession and rolled across the box for the teenage Frenchman kept his cool to sweep it past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Milan added a third goal moments later, as Pazzini gathered a Bojan through ball and smashed under the bar, though he did appear to be offside.
Facchin denied Emanuelson a fourth in the final minute and the 25-year-old goalkeeper certainly impressed his former club at San Siro.
AC Milan have officially sealed a commercial partnership with Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, who are coached by Marcello Lippi.
It was known that general manager Adriano Galliani held meetings with the side this week during their visit to Italy, but the deal has now been confirmed.
“Adriano Galliani was in fine spirits when he welcomed to president of Chinese club Ghuangzhou Evergrande, Liu Jong Zhuo,” read a statement.
“The commercial partnership between the two clubs was signed and sealed with a handshake and smiles all around. Galliani gifted the Chinese president a shirt with 8-Liu printed on the back.
“Ghuangzhou have won the last two league titles in China. Guangzhou Evergrande won the title in 2012 with 58 points, 5 more than Jiangsu Sainty. They won 17 games, drew five, lost five and scored 51 compared to 29 conceded.”
There are rumours this partnership could see a Chinese player loaned to Milan in January and the exchange of youth academy prospects.
Robinho agent shoots down Santos 12.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan are reported to have rejected Santos’ first bid for Brazilian striker Robinho, believed to be holding out for an amount to then spend elsewhere.
The Rossoneri were confirmed by Robinho’s former club Santos as in negotiations to transfer the No 7 this January, with the club’s President Luis Alvaro Ribeiro saying that an offer had already been made.
The player has also stated that ‘several clubs’ are in talks with his current employers over a proposed mid-season switch.
Whilst some sections of the Italian media report this as being accepted by Milan, the Gazzetta dello Sport are running the line that the San Siro outfit have rejected it as being too low.
Specifically, it is believed that in trying to catch Robinho for a third stint with them, Santos have offered between €5m and €6m.
However, the Rossoneri, whose President Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly keen to keep hold of Robinho if possible, are pushing for a €10m fee, in order to then fund a move for PSV Eindhoven’s defensive midfielder Kevin Strootman.
Strootman is seen as the Serie A side’s first choice replacement for Nigel de Jong, who is confirmed as facing at least six months out of action after surgery on his Achilles tendon injury.
Gennaro Gattuso has once more reflected on why he left Milan and has apologised for an earlier outburst aimed at the club.
The midfielder left San Siro this summer after more than a decade in the Rossoneri’s midfield and sat down this week with Guerin Sportivo to reflect on his decision.
“I love Milan. It was a dream that lasted for 13 years. I consider myself an ultra who had the privilege of lifting the European Cup, to wear the captain’s armband and become sixth in the club’s all-time appearances in the field,” he enthused.
“Why am I no longer there? I had a great relationship with the club that I will always be grateful for, but I wanted to keep playing. They made me feel important, but in a different role from that which I wanted.”
This was widely believed to be in a coaching capacity. The midfielder has also previously alluded to a difficult relationship with Coach Massimiliano Allegri as another reason for his departure.
“I have a great relationship with Max. We were teammates, we won a championship together, but when you hear certain words, you find it difficult to digest.
“I have a character that has seen me make many mistakes, but has also allowed me to do a lot of good things, because I am stubborn and proud.
“When I feel I am a failure, I can take it and I will go. I will decide with my family, who love me. I need to feel enthusiastic, wanted for what I can do. This was not possible, so I decided to remove myself from the disruption.
“Do I regret anything? I have not yet left Milan. I feel them inside. During these months I have avoided going home to say goodbye to the people that I love, but only because pandemonium would break out in the papers.
“However, the sentiments spoken about me are nice and respectful, they make me realise that I made the right decision and that it pays to be passionate about the work.”
Gattuso also wanted to make clear on a recent outburst where he described the Milan dressing room last season as ‘anarchy’.
“I was speaking from the heart, but I was wrong. You cannot criticise just because you see dynamics that do not respond to your own code. Ancelotti was right when he told me ‘You’ll see Rino, the players are not all alike, no horse runs like another’.
“Now I understand. The error is in expecting the generation after you to be the same as yours. I did not like the haircut of El Shaarawy’s, nor his eyebrows.
“Maybe now they miss my slaps, but I repeat, I was wrong. He is indeed proving to be a phenomenon.”
Nainggolan or Strootman to AC Milan? 11.12 ||webmaster
Despite Adriano Galliani’s belief to the contrary, reports today suggest Milan will be making a move to replace Nigel de Jong in January.
The Dutch midfielder is facing a lengthy spell out of action for the Rossoneri, after damaging his Achilles tendon.
Facing the prospect of immediate surgery after consultation due on Tuesday, De Jong is set to be replaced in the winter transfer market.
Corriere dello Sport believe that Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman are the initial targets identified.
Strootman is seen as similar in playing style to Mark van Bommel, whilst Belgian and former Juventus target Nainggolan is believed to be of particular preference to Coach Massimo Allegri.
However, a major barrier to making a move for either player is seen in their cash values. PSV are understood to be asking for no less than €20m for their midfielder, whilst Cagliari were reportedly steadfast a year ago in dealing with Juve’s offers for Nainggolan.
Adriano Galliani has sworn three times that Stephan El Shaarawy is going nowhere in January, and also dismissed any move to replace Nigel de Jong.
El Shaarawy has caught the attention during the first half of the season with his form for the Rossoneri, but according to Vice-President Galliani, will not be offered as bait to Manchester City, in exchange for Mario Balotelli.
“I swear, I swear, I swear that El Shaarway will stay with Milan,” commented Galliani to reporters at a charity event late last night.
“We will keep him and make up for the absence of De Jong with those we have in the squad.”
This is in direct contradiction to President Silvio Berlusconi’s earlier assertion that the club will be moving in the January market to replace the former City midfielder.
The suggestion of a move for Roma’s Daniele De Rossi was one put to Galliani.
“De Rossi and Sissoko? No, let’s stay the way we are. De Rossi is impossible.
“Berlusconi will absolutely be at Milanello on Saturday ahead of the team’s next game.
Nocerino would like Balotelli to join AC Milan 11.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo has wished teammate Nigel De Jong a speedy recovery after snapping his Achilles tendon yesterday.
The Dutch international was stretchered off in the Rossoneri's 4-2 win at Torino on Sunday, and the 27-year-old has admitted that he was delighted with the win, but not with his friend's long-term absence.
“It was really enjoyable going away from home and scoring four goals, “he told Milan's official website.
“Especially at a difficult place like Torino. We were all happy with the win, but sad for Nigel and the injury he suffered.
“I want to wish Nigel good luck – I hope he is back playing for us soon.”
The San Siro side have suggested that De Jong's injury could see him miss the rest of the season, whilst President Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that they will look to replace the former Manchester City man in January.
Barbara Berlusconi talks AC Milan 10.12 ||webmaster
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini blasted Mario Balotelli today, increasing reports he could join Milan “He has to think about his job.”
The Italian international started today’s 3-2 Manchester Derby defeat to United, but was substituted five minutes into the second half.
“I love Mario as a guy and a player, but it is important for him to start to think about his job,” slammed Mancini.
“He has everything to play well but he can't continue to play like today. We want more from Mario because he has everything. He has top quality.
“When you have a player of this quality you can’t understand that he could continue to throw this out of the window. This is incredible.
“I saw a player like this in my life with fantastic quality but in the end they did nothing. I don't want Mario to finish like this player because it’s not good for him.
“I wanted to see if Mario did well at the start of the second half, but after the five minutes he played I saw that he was playing like in the first half.”
Milan President Silvio Berlusconi stated this weekend that Balotelli was “too expensive” at a reported £28m price-tag but the Rossoneri are ready to swoop if the situation between player and club becomes untenable.
Mancini hinted with his comments that Manchester City are fast running out of patience with SuperMario, who is a self-confessed Rossoneri supporter.
Massimiliano Allegri cannot entirely celebrate Milan’s victory in Turin, as he confirms “Nigel De Jong will be out for the rest of the season.”
The Rossoneri were already in the middle of an injury crisis when fighting back to beat Torino 4-2.
“We did well to earn a great victory. Perhaps in the first half we could’ve done more in terms of technique and pace, but the lads still created a lot and I am satisfied with their performance,” said the Coach.
“We are slowly growing and improving. It’s just a terrible shame about De Jong, who will be out for the rest of the season, and of course all the lads dedicate the win to him.”
De Jong limped off after 22 minutes and has been diagnosed with a torn Achilles tendon, which will keep him out for five to six months.
“We controlled the ball well today, but didn’t push forward with through runs enough. We were static and that is why we went behind.
“Giampaolo Pazzini played well, his presence was felt in the air and we needed his physicality against Torino.”
De Jong’s injury will force Milan back on the market, but meanwhile the transfer gossip continues to link them with Mario Balotelli and Javier Pastore.
“We’ll see what to do about De Jong’s role in January, but we do have Sulley Muntari, Massimo Ambrosini and Mathieu Flamini.
“Who would I choose between Balotelli and Pastore? They are both excellent players, but one belongs to Manchester City and the other to PSG.”
AC Milan gifted Torino the opener, but fought back in an exciting 4-2 victory at the Olimpico and lost Nigel De Jong to injury.
The Rossoneri were finding their feet again with two consecutive Serie A victories and were through to the Champions League knockouts, but Max Allegri had a bit of an injury crisis to deal with. Kevin-Prince Boateng was suspended with Riccardo Montolivo, Alexandre Pato, Kevin Constant, Daniele Bonera and Francesco Acerbi unavailable, so he broke out the 4-3-3 system. Toro were smarting from their 3-0 Turin Derby hammering, though affected by Kamil Glik’s early red card. He was naturally suspended for this game.
Milan hadn’t visited the Granata in Serie A since a 2-2 draw in November 2008, while they were unbeaten here since a 1-0 loss in November 2001.
Mario Alberto Santana flashed a snapshot wide in the opening 70 seconds and Angelo Ogbonna risked an own goal on Ignazio Abate’s cross.
Pazzini nodded Mattia De Sciglio’s cross over and on the counter Amelia had to rush off his line to smother at the feet of Riccardo Meggiorini following a Mario Yepes error. Pazzini sprung the offside trap and pulled back from the by-line for El Shaarawy to fire over, though replays show the flag should’ve been raised.
Milan’s injury crisis deteriorated, as Nigel De Jong limped off after just 22 minutes, making way for Massimo Ambrosini. Initial reports were very bad, suggesting damage to the Achilles tendon.
Torino took the lead thanks to an absolute howler from Antonio Nocerino. His dreadful backpass from the centre-circle was straight at Santana, who dribbled all the way into the box and round Amelia to slip into an empty net.
Milan managed to equalise with a fine goal from Robinho, who ran down the left side of the box, but back past Valerio Di Cesare and smashed across Jean-Francois Gillet with his left toe from a very tight angle.
The Rossoneri completed their comeback after the break, as El Shaarawy ran away from defenders and his cross was only palmed away by Gillet into the path of Nocerino. The midfielder was ready to nod in, making up for his first half howler.
Ignazio Abate was booked for taking down Rolando Bianchi on the counter-attack, but the Torino striker had wanted a straight red.
Pazzini further extended the advantage to 3-1 when clattering into Salvatore Masiello from behind to win back possession in the box and place an angled drive across Gillet, but Toro were furious at the foul.
A Valter Birsa long-range strike was deflected just past the post, while Urby Emanuelson went even closer with a swerving effort from the edge of the box that landed on the crossbar.
Moments later Milan rattled the woodwork again, as Pazzini nodded a De Sciglio cross on to the upright.
El Shaarawy consolidated his Capocannoniere status, though it was a gift as Gillet fumbled an easy low cross and the Little Pharaoh only had to tap in from six yards.
Toro did get one back with Rolando Bianchi’s looping header on a Birsa cross from the right. The Granata kept pushing for pride and Amelia cleared a Birsa header off the line.
Torino Coach Giampiero Ventura warns his team “are working to become more clinical” against Milan this afternoon.
The Rossoneri visit the Stadio Olimpico in Turin against a Granata side that is eager to make up for their 3-0 derby defeat.
“Milan are coming here with great conviction, because now they are getting results and going through a positive period of form,” said Ventura.
“Our strength is in the team unit, so there are players able to stand in for the suspended Kamil Glik.
“Torino’s objectives have to be securing another year in Serie A. We cannot go into the campaign thinking it’ll be a walk in the park.
“This will be a tough game, but we are working to fix our mistakes and become more clinical. We have regrets from the last two games, dropping points to Fiorentina in the last six minutes and not being able to play with 11 men against Juventus. Hopefully we won’t be left with regrets again.
“Our approach may well depend on how Milan are set up. We will see and adapt.”
Torino squad for Milan: Agostini, Basha, Bianchi, Birsa, Brighi, Cerci, D'Ambrosio, Darmian, Di Cesare, Gazzi, Gillet, Gomis, Masiello, Meggiorini, Ogbonna, Rodriguez, Sansone, Santana, Sgrigna, Stevanovic, Suciu, Verdi, Vives
Serie A: Torino vs. AC Milan - squad 8.12 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri admits he has an injury crisis on his hands as Milan take on Torino, but is confident “we’ll be in a great position come February.”
The Rossoneri visit Torino on Sunday afternoon and have a lengthy absentee list, as Riccardo Montolivo, Kevin Constant, Alexandre Pato, Djamel Mesbah and Daniele Bonera are injured with Kevin-Prince Boateng suspended.
“It’s a pity, as Montolivo had been doing well recently, while Boateng and Constant were improving. I guess another three will have to play,” shrugged the Coach in his Press conference.
“Can it be Giampaolo Pazzini’s game? Either he or Bojan will start. I am happy with Pazzini’s performances, as he has contributed to the team, but he does need to score.
“Ignazio Abate and Luca Antonini have recovered, Sulley Muntari is close to a comeback and Daniele Bonera will resume training tomorrow. Montolivo and Constant will be back against Pescara.
“Pato still has pain and a bruise in his knee that isn’t being absorbed, so we’ll see his condition next week. Marco Amelia could be in goal again tomorrow, as he is doing well.
“This isn’t the right time to talk about the transfer market. I will only say that there are 32 players in the squad, which is too many.”
Milan are among the clubs who have been linked with an offer for Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna.
“He is a good player, but I don’t like talking about those who belong to other clubs,” noted Allegri.
“Torino are organised and play good football. We are ready for this game, but know it is going to be very tough. What tactic will we use? 4-3-and then we’ll see.”
The Rossoneri progressed to the Champions League knockouts in second place and Allegri hopes things will change by the time those ties come round.
“There are three months to go and now we must focus on Serie A. I am sure we’ll be in a great position come February.”
Ancelotti: 'I want PSG - AC Milan Final' 8.12 ||webmaster
PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti has a very special dream for the Champions League Final: “I’d love to face Milan.”
The former Rossoneri Coach won the trophy twice at San Siro and his Paris Saint-Germain have impressed in the group phase.
“Milan are in a transitional phase, but have made the most out of talents like Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia De Sciglio,” Ancelotti told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I hope I won’t draw them in the Round of 16, but I’d love to face Milan in the Final. That is not a dream, either.
“In Serie A Juventus are a step above, though I see Napoli as the team best equipped to challenge them. Inter have changed too much for a title push this season.”
While PSG have impressed in the Champions League, they have stuttered in Ligue 1 and are falling off the title pace.
“No, I am not happy with the way the season is going and neither are the club owners, although they did reassure me. There are so many expectations around PSG and consequently rumours too, but rumours do not always point to the truth.
“I have a strong rapport with Leonardo and never feared I would be sacked. We’ve lacked group spirit so far, but that’s normal considering there are 15 new players. The project is ambitious, PSG have history and it would be wonderful for me to help them win something.”
After signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, PSG have been linked with a January swoop for Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi.
“There will be no further arrivals in January other than Lucas Moura.”
Manchester City set £ 28 mil Balotelli price-tag 8.12 ||webmaster
Italian media claim Manchester City set Mario Balotelli’s price-tag at €35m, so Milan are intercepting Inter’s bid for PSG man Javier Pastore instead.
The Rossoneri have made it clear they want to bring SuperMario back to Serie A after his struggles to settle with Roberto Mancini’s side.
According to the Italian newspapers this morning, Manchester City have set the price-tag at somewhere between €35m and €40m for a January move (between £28m and £32m) – altogether too much for President Silvio Berlusconi.
The only way to raise funds would be to sell Robinho to a Brazilian side for €12m, as he has offers from Santos, Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro and Flamengo.
With this in mind, La Gazzetta dello Sport suggests Milan are changing tack and have contacted the agent of PSG trequartista Pastore.
The former Palermo star has been deeply disappointing in Paris and heavily linked with a January switch to Inter.
However, La Gazzetta dello Sport claims general manager Adriano Galliani met with agent Marcelo Simonian two days ago to discuss the possibility of taking Pastore on loan in January to help him regain his form.
The Gazzetta dello Sport is today suggesting that Milan, Inter and Juventus are all thinking about making a bid for Mario Balotelli.
Despite his agent making it clear this week that no Italian clubs would be able to afford the Manchester City man in the current climate, the Gazzetta insists the three big Serie A outfits all want him.
Milan have been open admirers of the Italian international and President Silvio Berlusconi insisted on Tuesday that netting the forward was no dream.
Inter, meanwhile, are believed to have a buy-back option which was agreed when they sold the player to City in the summer of 2010.
The 22-year-old is also seemingly on the radar of Italian champions Juventus who continue to look for a ‘top player’ in attack.
Juve are hoping that their developing relationship with agent Mino Raiola, who also represents Paul Pogba, could help.
Balotelli joined City at a cost of €22m. His valuation today could be around 50 per cent higher than that figure.
2016 Champions League final at San Siro? 6.12 ||webmaster
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has admitted that he would like to face Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Blaugrana defender has claimed that he does not care who they play in the knockout stages, after they qualified top of Group G with a 0-0 draw against Benfica yesterday.
But the 34-year-old did concede that the Rossoneri are always a team that catches his eye.
“We do not care who our next rival is,” he told a Press conference. “However, you know that I like to play against Milan.
“They are a team that I admire.”
Barca played Massimiliano Allegri's side four times in last season's Champions League, meeting twice in the group stages and again in the quarter-finals, where the Spanish side went through 3-1 on aggregate.
Mathieu Flamini’s contract with Milan expires at the end of the season, so he has left the door open for a January move to Olympique Marseille.
“There are various options for my future, which is why there is so much talk,” the French midfielder told L’Equipe.
“Right now I am at Milan and what counts is finishing the first half of the season in the best way possible. Marseille? For now I am here, then we’ll see...”
The former Arsenal man has barely featured for the Rossoneri due to a series of injuries and was never particularly high up the pecking order.
He started Tuesday’s Champions League 1-0 defeat to Zenit, a meaningless game as Milan had already qualified.
“It is always a pleasure to start a match. In a career there can be difficult moments, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint and I have no intention of pulling back. I remain concentrated so I can prove the Coach can count on me.”
Balotelli too pricey for AC Milan 5.12 ||webmaster
Mathieu Flamini was “disappointed” with Milan’s home defeat to Zenit, “as we dominated the game.”
Their Champions League spot in the knockouts was already secure, but the 1-0 loss at San Siro means they finish Group C with only two points from three home fixtures.
“We took the initiative and created many scoring opportunities. They defended well and didn’t allow us anything,” said the French midfielder.
“The President told us this was an important game and we wanted to win, but were unable to do so.
“We are disappointed because we dominated the game and instead they punished us with their only first half chance. After the goal they clammed up and we couldn’t find the space to score despite so many efforts.”
Berlusconi: 'Balotelli not a dream' 4.12 ||webmaster
Luciano Spalletti’s Zenit earned a 1-0 win at San Siro to reach the Europa League, but already-qualified Milan couldn’t make their chances count.
It is only Zenit’s second ever away victory in the Champions League, the other being at BATE Borisov in 2008-09, while Max Allegri’s men end the group phase with just two points from three home games.
The Rossoneri were already qualified, so rotated the squad with Djamel Mesbah, Cristian Zapata, Mathieu Flamini and Giampaolo Pazzini getting rare starts. Philippe Mexes was suspended, joining the injured Kevin Constant, Luca Antonini and Alexandre Pato. Luciano Spalletti’s Zenit missed Vladimir Bystrov and Domenico Criscito, but needed a result to reach the Europa League ahead of Anderlecht.
After just four minutes Milan were denied an evident penalty, as Bruno Alves flattened Pazzini from behind, but the referee waved play on.
Sergei Semak blasted over from distance, while Zapata did well to rush back and rob Hulk on the counter-attack with a clean tackle in the box.
Pazzini’s glancing header on a corner fell to Zapata, who at full stretch couldn’t keep it down. Mattia De Sciglio put in a series of excellent crosses from the right, but the strikers were unable to make the most of them.
Instead, Zenit took the lead with their first chance of the game after 35 minutes. Danny burst into the box and his pull-back wasn’t cleared properly, so he got back on it to steer a low angled drive into the far bottom corner.
Bojan attempted an overhead kick that whistled wide and Vyacheslav Malafeev had his gloves stung by a fierce Flamini snapshot.
In first half stoppages, a free kick whipped across the face of goal, where Pazzini only got a glancing header.
It should’ve been 1-1 after the restart when Kevin-Prince Boateng ran down the right and saw his strike denied by Malafeev’s outstretched foot, then Aleksandr Anyukov made a desperate clearance to stop Urby Emanuelson getting the tap-in.
Pazzini nodded a cross off target and Robinho was introduced for defender Mesbah to give a greater attacking threat. Boateng ballooned over the bar, but Bojan had a great chance when he ran on to a Robinho through ball and was crucially tackled by Tomas Hubocan as he was about to pull the trigger, the loose ball flashing past Pazzini.
Francesco Acerbi almost scored the strangest of goals, as a clearance thumped him in the crotch and ricocheted back into the arms of goalkeeper Malafeev.
Milan were dominating in the second half, but struggling to turn the pressure into goals, so top scorer Stephan El Shaarawy was thrown on for the final 10 minutes. Hulk was also substituted by Zenit and vented his anger at Spalletti, refusing to shake his hand and shouting. The Coach wagged his finger at the fiery striker.
Robinho’s curler was inches wide of the far post, as was El Shaarawy’s daisy-cutter on the turn. Milan gave 17-year-old Andrea Petagna his debut in stoppages and Acerbi had to stop Maksim Kanunnikov going clear on the counter.
There was chaos at the 93rd minute when three Zenit players lined up to finish another counter, but desperate blocks and a Christian Abbiati save on Kanunnikov denied the Russians a second goal.
AC Milan 0-1 Zenit
Scorers: Danny 35 (Z)
Milan: Abbiati; De Sciglio, Acerbi, Mesbah (Robinho 65), Zapata; Flamini (El Shaarawy 80), Ambrosini, Emanuelson; Boateng, Bojan (Petagna 91); Pazzini
Zenit: Malafeev; Anyukov, Bruno Alves, Lombaerts, Hubocan; Witsel, Denisov, Shirokov (Kanunnikov 88); Semak (Lumb 91), Hulk (Zyryanov 80), Danny
Ref: Chapron (FRA)
Berlusconi makes training ground visit 4.12 ||webmaster
AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has been at the club's training ground to voice his support for the team.
The Rossoneri owner has been a regular at Milanello over the past few weeks, with defender Luca Antonini claiming that the 76-year-old's inspiring words spurred them on to a victory against Juventus last month.
And the former Italian Prime Minister has been there again today, arriving at 10.00 GMT, as the San Siro side play Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League, and Torino in Serie A.
AC Milan defender Mario Yepes has claimed that the team will 'honour the shirt' as they face Zenit St Petersburg in a Champions League dead-rubber.
The Rossoneri will play the Russian champions at San Siro on Tuesday, with both sides already certain of their fate in the competition.
Massimiliano Allegri's side are guaranteed to finish second in Group C, whilst Luciano Spalletti's men cannot qualify whatever the circumstances.
But the Colombian centre-back has claimed that the squad will still take the match seriously.
“Tomorrow we will honour the Milan shirt and this competition,” he told a Press conference. “Even if we have already qualified for the next round.
“Zenit are led by a great Coach and began this journey perfectly capable of going through. That hasn't happened, but with a good result they could make the Europa league, so we will have to work hard to beat them.
“There is a different spirit in our team than there was a few weeks ago, and that is an important factor.”
Mario Balotelli has emerged as the sensational Milan transfer target for January, although he has to ‘break it off’ with Manchester City first.
President Silvio Berlusconi and his CEO Adriano Galliani have never disguised they have a soft spot for SuperMario, who is a self-confessed Rossoneri supporter.
According to both the Corriere dello Sport and Tuttosport this morning, Berlusconi has set his sights on a January swoop for the troubled hitman.
Seeing Balotelli combine brilliantly with Stephan El Shaarawy for Italy, the club is eager to revive that rapport on a weekly basis.
However, as Berlusconi warned a few days ago, “top strikers are hard to get in the current economic crisis. We’d need them to make the situation with their clubs unsustainable first, like Ronaldinho did with Barcelona.”
It was an open invite for Balotelli to break it off with Manchester City, where he has already run into problems with the club hierarchy and manager Roberto Mancini, as he was dropped for a lengthy spell due to his attitude in training.
During a Press conference this week, Mancini insisted there were no plans to sell Balotelli in January.
Inter have also been linked with a bid for the 22-year-old, but it is highly unlikely he would return to the Nerazzurri.
Catania rage at refs after AC Milan win 1.12 ||webmaster
Catania Coach Rolando Maran and director Sergio Gasparin vented their fury after Milan’s controversial victory. “The psychological weakness for big clubs is evident.”
The Elefantini had taken the lead last night, but Stephan El Shaarawy equalised when clearly offside after Pablo Barrientos saw red and the Rossoneri eventually won 3-1.
“Those two incidents changed the game,” said Maran. “Before the dismissal we had not allowed anything to Milan and were able to interrupt all their moves. We were playing the match we wanted to and had prepared for all week.
“Unfortunately at Catania we are getting accustomed to certain things and it’s not a good habit to have. We are bitter about the result, because we wanted to get back on track after the Derby defeat, but at least I saw us work as a team again.”
There have been several controversial incidents at the Stadio Massimino this season, as Juventus also won here with an offside goal and a perfectly good Catania strike disallowed.
“When we play against a big club, it almost seems as if an offside goal is the rule,” snapped director Gasparin.
“We lost to Inter at San Siro with Andrea Stramaccioni admitting we deserved a penalty. Against Juventus and Milan we all know what happened.
“The psychological weakness of referees towards big clubs is evident. The errors of the assistants are even worse, as this El Shaarawy goal and the Juve one were pretty easy to spot. Evidently the offside flag weighs heavily in their hands when the big sides are playing.”
Serie A: Catania 1:3 AC Milan - goals/highlights 1.12 ||webmaster