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Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has suggested that Serie A should be suspended for two to three years, in reaction to the latest match-fixing scandal.
Several players were arrested on Monday as part of police raids across the country and homes and offices searched as the investigations into a betting probe in the peninsula accelerates.
When asked his opinion on the scandal that has hit Italy’s Euro 2012 preparations, Monti offered a drastic solution.
“It's particularly sad when a world which should be an expression of the highest values - sport, youth, competition, fairness turns out to be a mass of foul play, falsehood and demagoguery,” the 69-year-old told reporters on a trip to Poland, one of the co-hosts for this summer’s UEFA tournament.
“I’m not making a proposal, much less one that comes from government, but it is a desire that sometimes - even though I was very passionate about football so many years ago - I feel inside me - if it would help, then for two or three years it might be an idea to have a total suspension of the game.”
Thiago Silva has joined Zlatan Ibrahimovic in demanding new signings. “To win, Milan need quality reinforcements.”
Ibra raised eyebrows this week on international duty in Sweden when he stated the Rossoneri had “no money” to buy the five top players they need this summer.
Riccardo Montolivo and Bakaye Traoré have arrived, but they were free transfers from Fiorentina and Nancy.
“Ibra and I want the same thing, which is for Milan to win,” the Brazilian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“This season it was so-so, therefore to win we need quality reinforcements...”
However, the defender linked with Manchester City and Barcelona has shot down transfer rumours.
“This club is my home. I feel great and have been embraced here. Adriano Galliani said it clearly: ‘You are not for sale, you’re not leaving here.’
“I was pleased to have it confirmed that I am fundamental for this team. I want to stay here and I dream of becoming a ‘bandiera’ for the club like Alessandro Nesta was. I don’t see where the problem is...
“Before going on international duty with Brazil, I spoke to Galliani. He made me feel important and told me to relax on my future. I am perfectly relaxed.
“Could I become captain one day? It would be fantastic and I’d be ready for that.”
Thiago Silva missed the last two months of the season due to muscular problems, but has recovered and played in a friendly against Denmark.
“I am in good shape and played well. I couldn’t wait to get back on to the field. The injury was my fault, as the Coach and fitness staff did not rush my recovery. I wanted to play against Roma at all costs, despite the fact I was not in the best condition, and I hurt myself badly.
“Going back, I would not make the same decision and maybe our season might’ve been different.”
Many look to losing Thiago Silva as the key moment in Milan’s season, as they were without their star defender in the Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona and the closing stages of the Scudetto race.
“To say I have regrets is an understatement. I am still furious at how things went and ask myself how it was possible to lose a Scudetto that way. We had a four-point advantage and finished up four points behind Juventus.
“We’ll make up for it next season. Right now I want to win the Olympics with Brazil, then the Champions League would be the ultimate.”
Muntari 'with AC Milan for two years' 26.5 ||webmaster
Sulley Ali Muntari has a deal to stay “with Milan for the next two years,” said his agent. “The contract is a pure formality.”
The midfielder arrived in January on loan from rivals Inter and immediately settled in, even scoring some rare goals.
“Muntari will continue together with Milan for the next two years,” Federico Pastorello told MilanNews.
“The renewal is a pure formality and there will be no problems. Milan will make the announcement soon. The lad was able to talk to Vice-President Adriano Galliani before the end of the season, so he was reassured.
“When I was given the mandate to sell the player, I spoke to the lad and realised he wanted to gain experience and have satisfying moments after the problems he had with Inter.
“In that sense Galliani realised the good opportunity that was falling into his lap. He thought that Sulley had quality, but also great motivation, and that made the difference.”
Antonio Nocerino tells Italy they “are a good side and don’t need to worry” about facing Spain in their Euro 2012 opener.
The Azzurri begin Group C against the reigning World and European Champions on June 10, followed by matches with Croatia and the Republic of Ireland.
“Our objective is to do our best. We start off to go as far as possible, even if at the moment we don’t know what that is,” said Nocerino in today’s press conference.
“We are a good side and don’t need to worry about facing Spain. We already faced them in the past and must respect Spain, but also be aware of what we can do. I think others ought to respect us too.”
Nocerino was surprisingly Milan’s second top scorer in Serie A this season and could be a secret weapon for Italy too.
“I don’t know, I don’t really feel the pressure to get goals. I always try to put myself at the disposal of the club and my national team, so if the goals come then it’s even better. It is pleasing to score, especially as they are somewhat unexpected coming from me, but my objective is the collective.”
The midfielder has taken over from Gennaro Gattuso at San Siro and was asked about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suggestions Milan have no money for new buys.
“Milan are a great side with excellent players who have made history in Italy and Europe. I am proud and very happy to be part of the club and don’t want to talk about other issues.”
Massimiliano Allegri has assured President Silvio Berlusconi “promised Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t leave Milan.”
The Rossoneri narrowly missed out on a second consecutive Scudetto, but there are reports the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City want to tempt away their top stars.
“Anything can happen on the transfer market from here to August – except for them leaving,” the Coach told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I talked it over with President Berlusconi and he promised Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic won’t leave Milan.
“We need those two, but also Alexandre Pato. Next season has to be his year.”
Allegri drew a great deal of criticism for letting Andrea Pirlo quit on a free transfer last summer, especially as he became the crucial figure at title-winning Juventus.
“It was a decision also made by Andrea and the club. If Juve hadn’t won the Scudetto then you journalists wouldn’t have gone on and on about this story. Last year Pirlo didn’t play because he wasn’t in good shape, but we won the title and nobody complained then.
“It is also not true that I dislike quality in my teams. We field four attacking players usually, plus Antonio Nocerino who is more of an attacking midfielder than a defensive one.
“We lost the title this season because we had a dip after the Barcelona game and we also lost against Fiorentina. I’m sure I made mistakes too, but we missed too many important players.”
Allegri has also been accused of not communicating enough with his players, but insists they need to look at themselves first.
“Unfortunately, when you are a player then sometimes one word isn’t enough. Nor are two or a hundred. It’s difficult for a player to be self-critical, but I evaluate the game and the rest is of no interest to me.
“Milan don’t need a revolution. As for the veterans leaving us, talent is not infinite and you don’t go on to the field holding the trophies you’ve already won in the past. If time didn’t pass, we’d still be in the Colosseum with lions.”
The tactician got into a war of words with Juventus Coach Antonio Conte and director general Beppe Marotta this season, particularly over refereeing errors and the tone of the debate.
“I had no argument with anyone and don’t need to shake anyone’s hand,” insisted Allegri. “I was angry because I lost the Scudetto and I still am. The rest was just jokes. Marotta is very easily offended.”
Ibrahimovic 'shares AC Milan's transfer strategy' 26.5 ||webmaster
Agent Mino Raiola rushed to calm the storm after Zlatan Ibrahimovic said Milan have no money. “He is totally in sync with the club and will not leave.”
The striker caused shockwaves on Friday in a press conference on international duty with Sweden when he openly criticised the Rossoneri’s transfer strategy.
“Milan’s problem is economic. There is no money to buy five players, or even the ones we need. We made a couple of signings, maybe there will be a third.”
Naturally this upset the club hierarchy and Vice-President Adriano Galliani urged agent Raiola to do some damage limitation.
“There are four or five sides who want him, but Zlatan is staying at Milan,” Raiola told Sky Sport Italia.
“He is totally in sync with the club and will not leave. Ibra didn’t want to say that the club has no money, as he was trying to get at something different... He was referring to football in general and the way the financial crisis is starting to affect the sport.
“Ibra knows that Milan cannot afford to sign five top class champions, because nobody can at the moment.
“Ibra is not quitting Milan, we are certain of that. Zlatan spoke to Galliani a few days ago and there are no problems. Now Zlatan is focused on Euro 2012 with Sweden, as he went on international duty safe in the knowledge Milan do not want to sell him and he does not want to leave.
“This team has helped bring back the smile to this lad and he is prepared to marry their project. Could he be the captain in future? Only if the club ask him to be. You can be a captain even without the armband.
“As for rumours of problems with Massimiliano Allegri, there’s nothing to report and it’s not true the situation is complicated. There is respect between Zlatan and the Coach.”
Juventus 'behind in Verratti race' 25.5 ||webmaster
Pescara have warned Juventus that there are “several clubs ahead of them, including Milan,” in the race to sign Marco Verratti.
The teen has been called up to Italy’s training camp ahead of Euro 2012 as part of the 32-man long list, but until now it was believed he’d either join Juve or remain at Pescara.
“There are several clubs ahead of Juventus, including Milan,” Pescara director of sport Daniele Delli Carri told Tuttojuve.com.
“I don’t want to name the other sides, but there are some foreign ones too from the Premier League, Liga and Bundesliga.
“The Bianconeri want to sign the player, but the last approach from them was two months ago. There haven’t been any other calls since then.
“Verratti has always said he is a Juventus supporter and his intentions will of course be taken into consideration, but let’s remember we are not talking about a 28-year-old who can afford to accept Juve and turn down Inter or Milan, for example.
“He is 19 and is not in that position. I would like to underline that Pescara want to keep Verratti with us next season too.”
Italian giants Milan insist that they will resist the bombardment of offers for key defender Thiago Silva.
The Brazilian is again being linked with an exit after Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was spotted at the Diavolo’s HQ this week.
“There is an assault on him,” stated Vice-President Adriano Galliani. “All of the big Spanish and English clubs want Thiago Silva.
“He’ll stay at Milanello though. We’ll resist all of the temptations and there are strong ones which exist.
“All of Europe want him, including clubs with great economical power. We’ll do all we can to keep him.”
Silva is seen as a vital figure at San Siro given the departure of Alessandro Nesta, as is star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“After the Novara game on the last day of the season, Ibra came to my house,” Galliani continued when asked about the Swede’s future.
“I spoke to him for two hours and I hear from his agent on a daily basis. I’ve not been told that he wants to leave.
“Like Thiago Silva, Ibra will stay at Milan.”
Mancini’s visit, however, did also spark suggestions that Milan could again be interested in January target Carlos Tevez and City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov.
“The Tevez train has gone,” Galliani added. “We have never been interested in Kolarov – especially as we have four left-backs already…”
The former Lega Calcio President was also questioned on the futures of Clarence Seedorf, Mathieu Flamini, Maxi Lopez and Alberto Aquilani.
“I’ve still not seen Seedorf, while Flamini has to tell us whether or not he will accept our renewal offer. Maxi Lopez and Aquilani won’t be signed.”
The first pair are out of contract this summer, while Lopez and Aquilani are on loan from Catania and Liverpool respectively.
Galliani added that Milan are not looking for a new striker, while a defender is an objective. He also declared that Stephan El Shaarawy would be signed outright from Genoa, while the Rossoblu would take full ownership of Alexander Merkel.
Thiago Silva's 'preference is AC Milan' 22.5 ||webmaster
Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri wants a reduced squad at San Siro next season – but one that includes Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Both players have been linked with exits over recent weeks, with Manchester City apparently interested in the duo.
Allegri, though, has insisted that his plans for 2012-13 include the Brazilian stopper and the Swedish striker.
“Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva will stay,” the former Cagliari boss told Milan Channel.
“The club and especially the President want to maintain the team at its high levels. Ibra and Thiago are two champions, a base on which the club can build a future on.”
Reports had suggested that Ibra was looking for a switch because of his relationship with the tactician.
“Ibra is not aching to leave,” Allegri continued. “He is happy in Rossonero. You can have discussions and an exchange of ideas over the course of a season. But he’s a champion and I want to train champions.”
Milan will make changes this summer as a host of veteran players have left, while Riccardo Montolivo and Bakaye Traorè have already come in.
“We had 33 players in the squad this season, but that was because we had to make some adjustments in January because of injuries.
“We’ll have a 25-26 man squad, including three goalkeepers, for the new season.
“Montolivo? Riccardo can play right in the centre of midfield, or just off centre. Traorè has excellent qualities. He is a player who breaks into attack well and he has legs. He can do a lot more.”
Riccardo Montolivo has written an open letter to fans after he left Fiorentina for Milan earlier this month.
The midfielder signed a contract until 2016 with the Rossoneri last week after refusing to accept a new deal in Florence.
“Before beginning my Euro 2012 adventure with the national team, with the hope of being there as a protagonist, I would like to thank the Della Valle family, Fiorentina and Florence for all these wonderful and unforgettable seven years spent together,” he said on the club’s website.
“The memory of this experience will always remain in the heart. They were seven very intense years, full of joy and pain, satisfaction and tears, which saw us as protagonists in Italy and on the prestigious stage of the Europa League and Champions League.
“I will never forget the scream of joy when Gila scored at Anfield, as I will never erase from my memory the twin battles, epic and unfortunate, against Bayern Munich.
“I was the captain of this team and I felt on my skin how important the armband was. I wore it with pride and passion, proud to be the reference point for my teammates and for the Viola.
“In life and in professions, relationships can break down and not always in an understandable and painless way for everyone. Behind every reaction, comment or opinion, I have always felt, however, that I have had the passion for this purple shirt that represents the true heritage of Fiorentina.
“There will be times, places and ways to remember my seasons in Florence and the choices made. Although some see me as an enemy, I can only wish joy and satisfaction to Fiorentina, Florence, to my former comrades and all the people who work every day in the club with passion and dedication.
“Finally, I’d like to send a greeting and a warm embrace to those who stood by me during these years.”
Montolivo, signed from Atalanta in 2005, has joined the Rossoneri on a free transfer.
Seedorf: 'AC Milan band of brothers' 20.5 ||webmaster
Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan career may be over, but he could stay in Serie A, as there are reports Lazio are ready to offer him a contract.
The gritty midfielder opted not to renew his contract with the Rossoneri and ended a 13-year spell at San Siro.
He has not yet decided what to do in future, as his dream of returning to troubled Glasgow Rangers is scuppered by the transfer embargo on players over the age of 18.
According to the Corriere dello Sport, Lazio have pin-pointed Gattuso as the experienced hand their midfield needs in Serie A and the Europa League. He would be reunited with another former Milan man, Cristian Brocchi.
They would propose a two-year contract with a considerable drop in wages from those he had at Milan.
In a curious coincidence, it is also pointed out that Gattuso shares a birthday with the club, which was founded on January 9.
Massimo Ambrosini’s “adventure at Milan should continue,” declared the veteran midfielder’s agent, denying reports of a problem with the Coach.
The Rossoneri are in the midst of a revolution after Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Mark van Bommel, Clarence Seedorf and Gianluca Zambrotta all confirmed their departures with contracts that expire in June.
“I believe Ambrosini’s adventure at Milan should continue,” said agent Moreno Roggi on RadioCalciomercato.it.
“I think the club intends to keep him. We still haven’t set up a meeting, when we do I doubt there will be any problems.”
Ambrosini is one of several players rumoured to have clashed with Coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“I know of a good rapport between Massimo and his Coach. When he’s had the chance, he has been used consistently. There is therefore no problem.”
Maxi Lopez - AC Milan talks delayed 15.5 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic will stay at Milan, as he pays tribute to Pippo Inzaghi and agrees with Rino Gattuso on respect.
The Coach gave a long interview on Monday afternoon and immediately faced questions on Ibrahimovic’s future. The Swedish forward has been linked with a departure from the Rossoneri this summer, but Allegri stated he thinks otherwise.
“He said he loves Milan and fortunately for us he has also said that he will remain at Milan,” began the tactician on Rtl 102.5.
“Who do I dream of coaching? That’s difficult. Coaching champions like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is the dream, it is the desire of all.
“I have Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva and am lucky enough for this, without taking anything away from those who are leaving the club.
“I think Milan have had 10 years of these champions, especially Italians, and at the greatest level. Unfortunately of the current champions, fewer are Italian, which is bad for Italian football.
“Mario Balotelli? He’s a young player, he has great quality but he needs to mature, I think so because it would be important for his career.”
The Coach then reflected on one of the club’s departing Italian champions, Inzaghi, who scored in his final appearance for the club at the weekend.
“Inzaghi has once again demonstrated his professionalism and above all I think he had a great chance to close his Milan spell, and I don’t know, maybe his career, in the best way possible.
“It was a beautiful gift, among other things it was a beautiful goal. Although this year he has had some injuries, he has a quality that is difficult to find in all other strikers in Italy and Europe.
“It is normal that when one is a player that you want to feel important, that you always want to play, and forever. On the other hand, there is a Coach who is always a bastard, who has to make choices.
“I thanked Inzaghi as I thanked everyone who played their last game for Milan, for what they gave me during these two years and because they helped me in the first year win the Scudetto.”
Allegri was also asked about Gattuso’s departing words from San Siro, where he spoke of the respect he had for his Coaches at the club and how he intimated that younger players don’t have that same respect today.
“First of all I believe that we should have respect not only in the dressing room but in everyday life. Unfortunately, in young people these values are somewhat lost.
“As is normal in dressing rooms, there must be those who are given seniority based on what they have achieved, and these younger players in particular must learn so as to stay at Milan for many years. Gattuso is right.”
Photo: Inzaghi's goodbye message in Gazzetta dello Sport 14.5 ||webmaster
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has reportedly made up his mind and is keen to leave Milan to go and play for Manchester City in the Premier League.
The tall Swede has just finished his most prolific year in front of goal, with 28 League goals to his name earning him a second Capocannoniere title in his career.
However, with Milan having not won anything and rumours of a rift with Massimiliano Allegri and other coaching staff at the club, reports are suggesting that the forward is angling for a move.
Preivously linked with a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, the latest line is that the 30-year-old is keen to sample English football.
Tuttomercatoweb are alleging that the player’s agent, who was spotted at Milanello today, is already at work to try to engineer a move to newly-crowned champions Manchester City, ahead of an anticipated meeting between Ibra and Rossoneri Vice President Adriano Galliani to discuss his future.
A move to Manchester City would be a link up with another former Inter boss in Roberto Mancini.
Montolivo set for AC Milan switch 14.5 ||webmaster
Gennaro Gattuso has given Antonio Nocerino his blessing to take over Milan’s Number 8 jersey. “Leaving is my definitive decision.”
The midfielder’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has opted to walk away despite being offered an extension.
“Nocerino can wear my jersey, especially as he’s a Southerner like me,” smiled Gattuso on Milan Channel.
“It was right for the club to retire the jerseys of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi, but we’ll leave ours to our teammates.”
Gattuso is not the only one leaving, as Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Gianluca Zambrotta and Mark van Bommel have also played their last games for the Rossoneri.
“How did I feel when our jerseys were held up in the stands? You all saw the effect it had, as 13 years are a lot and in that moment everything went through my mind, from the joy to the pain, the victories and defeats. I carry all of it in my heart.
“It is my definitive decision, as when I open my mouth then I mean what I say. One day I’ll try to return to Milan and we’ll see in what role. I still feel able to do something in football.”
Inzaghi: 'Difficult to leave AC Milan' 13.5 ||webmaster
Milan said goodbye to their stars in style, as Pippo Inzaghi scored his final goal in a Rossoneri jersey amid moving scenes against Novara.
The Rossoneri end their campaign and wave goodbye to stars Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Gianluca Zambrotta and Mark van Bommel. Also on the injury list were Alexandre Pato, Thiago Silva, Christian Abbiati, Daniele Bonera, Sulley Muntari, Urby Emanuelson, Mattia De Sciglio and the suspended Ignazio Abate. Novara had Giuseppe Mascara out on a ban with Samir Ujkani, Achille Coser, Samir Ujkani, Andrea Mazzarani and Francesco Marianini sidelined.
There were emotional scenes before kick-off with Gattuso in particular shedding tears after 13 years at the club. The choregraphy in the stands had three huge jerseys representing Gattuso, Inzaghi and Nesta.
Jeda thought he had given Novara the lead after four minutes with a glancing header on Marco Rigoni’s cross, but it was correctly ruled offside. Marco Amelia also smothered a Giuseppe Gemiti snapshot.
Milan’s injury crisis showed no signs of calming down, as Kevin-Prince Boateng went off for Mathieu Flamini just 11 minutes in.
Novara seemed more fired up for the game and took the lead when a Rigoni free kick was not cleared effectively and Santiago Garcia latched on to a deflected Gemiti strike to turn it in off the inside of the far post from eight yards.
Andrea Caracciolo tested Amelia from close range on a free kick and Zambrotta flashed an angled drive just past the far stick. Seedorf should’ve scored on 28 minutes when left totally unmarked on a corner, but fired well wide.
Caracciolo’s header was just off target and Amelia punched away a Rigoni free kick. Alberto Aquilani remarkably fired a Djamel Mesbah cross wide from a couple of yards, firing it across the face of an open goal.
Seedorf improved his aim after the break, his free kick curling over the wall and clipping the outside edge of the upright.
Moments later Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s angled drive was well palmed out of the bottom corner by Mario Alberto Fontana.
The Rossoneri seemed to be a different side after Allegri’s team talk and equalised when Flamini gathered from Antonio Cassano down the left and smashed an angled drive from the edge of the box.
Seedorf skipped past Michele Morganella and could only hit the side-netting from close range, as Milan were a completely different team.
Rigoni still threatened on a counter-attack from his own half, but was tired by the end of the run and drilled wide.
Inzaghi came on for his final match in a Milan jersey and as a professional football player, greeted by chants and banners from the stands. SuperPippo had a shot charged down by Centurioni and another volley whistled across the face of goal.
Nesta also replaced Gattuso in an exchange of two players who are leaving Milan.
His teammates were raining in assists for Inzaghi and he got the goal he was looking for! It was a well-taken strike, as he chested down the Seedorf pass and smacked a half-volley across the goalkeeper with his right foot. He was visibly moved during the celebrations, knelt down and kissed his jersey while pointing to the fans.
Seedorf clipped the edge of the upright again with a free kick.
Massimiliano Allegri prepares for next season with Riccardo Montolivo at Milan and sends a message to Andrea Pirlo. “I don’t care what he says.”
The Coach has nothing more to play for this term and takes on already-relegated Novara this afternoon.
“I must compliment Juventus, as they had an extraordinary year and deserve this Scudetto. This does not mean it was a failure for Milan, though,” said Allegri.
“We won it last season, went close this time and hope to be competitive in Europe and Serie A next year too.
“Next season Montolivo will arrive and he is a very talented player with great technique. In any case, Milan will remain competitive next year and we must continue the work we started last season. We need to begin again with great enthusiasm.”
Montolivo is a free agent, as his contract with Fiorentina expires on June 30.
There is the sensation this is the end of an era, as Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Pippo Inzaghi and Mark van Bommel have all confirmed they are leaving Milan, while Clarence Seedorf and Gianluca Zambrotta are expected to follow with their contracts expiring next month.
“These are going to be difficult days, as we are saying goodbye to players and men who have written Milan history. It must be a celebration for those lads who are leaving and I thank them for giving their all. Unfortunately you cannot hold back time.
“To be here for 10 years and win so many trophies means you have a very strong mentality. We’re finishing a season and an era.”
There was already a sign of change within the Rossoneri camp last summer, when Andrea Pirlo joined Juventus on a free transfer and proved decisive in the Scudetto race. The veteran midfielder sniped at Allegri, suggesting the Coach “didn’t want” him around.
“I thank Pirlo for the hard work he put in last year. I evaluate players when I have them at my disposal. After that, I don’t care what they do or say,” replied Allegri.
Genoa defender Kakha Kaladze has announced his retirement from football, as he will go into politics in Georgia.
“I am moved to tell you that after 18 years of football I’ve decided to retire,” said the 34-year-old.
“I must thank Genoa, Milan, the fans and all of my teammates. I will begin a new adventure, as I have decided to go into politics. I want to fight for liberty and democracy in Georgia.
“I dream of a Georgia in which my children can grow in freedom. I want my country to become part of the EU and of NATO.”
Politics are very close to Kaladze’s heart and he already has experience of the worst aspects of Georgian life.
In 2001 his brother Levan, a medical student, was kidnapped and a ransom requested, but he was found dead in 2006.
Kaladze is a FIFA ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages, founded a foundation of charitable works that raised €50,000 for South Ossetian refugees during the conflict with Russia and also owns a restaurant in Milan.
Gattuso: 'Bye AC Milan, hello Rangers' 12.5 ||webmaster
Gennaro Gattuso has held an emotional press conference for his farewell to Milan and admits his dream is “to go back to Glasgow Rangers.”
The midfielder’s contract expires next month and he has decided to walk away from San Siro along with Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi, Mark van Bommel and most likely also Clarence Seedorf and Gianluca Zambrotta.
“I want to thank Milan and all those who helped me in these years. Being here was a dream over 13 incredible years, wearing the jersey that is closest to my heart. Now life goes on and I hope to not have any more problems with my eyes.”
He has missed most of the season due to an ocular condition that meant he saw double and needed steroids to correct the medical issue.
“I still want to battle and prove I am not dead in football terms. Both Adriano Galliani and the club showed great respect by offering me another year on my contract, but like Nesta I preferred to take another path. I will decide with my family where I’ll play. Clearly out of respect for Milan I’d never go to Inter or Juventus, but then those clubs don’t want me anyway!
“I never dared say I wanted a first team shirt at all costs. I always respected the decisions of the clubs and Coaches, even when I made a mistake with Leonardo. I turned down the renewal because I don’t want to be a weight on anyone. I felt within me the need to go and give fresh blood a chance. I no longer feel the same fighting spirit I always had.
“A few months ago I felt that I wasn’t going to play at all anymore and would take a role in the club. I felt a bit like a mascot recently, almost as if the team captains exchanged me before kick-off!”
Gattuso also looked back over the times when his warrior spirit went over the top, such as his rows with Leonardo and attempt to headbutt Tottenham assistant manager Joe Jordan.
“It’s true I made mistakes, but I hope by taking away those embarrassing moments I can cleanse Milan so they retain the spirit of Paolo Maldini, Billy Costacurta and Massimo Ambrosini, who is now the only one left of the old guard.
“Looking at my Coaches, Carlo Ancelotti was everything for me – he was tactician, father, friend and football fan. Carletto is Carletto, I think they ought to build a statue of him next to that of Nereo Rocco. Milan at that time was as strong as Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.
“Beating Juventus and Inter on the road to the Champions League trophy in 2003 was the best moment. It goes without saying Istanbul was the worst defeat, as I was woken by nightmares for the next six months seeing Steven Gerrard and his Liverpool teammates celebrating.”
Fumbling a 3-0 lead to lose the trophy in 2005 aside, Gattuso has a strong rapport with Britain, his wife is Scottish and he admits he’d love to help rescue financially troubled Glasgow Rangers.
“My dream is to wear the Rangers shirt again. They’re in a bad situation at the moment, though. I left Salernitana as a 19-year-old and made my name in Glasgow. They’re having so many problems and don’t have an owner yet, but it would be a choice made from the heart. I’d like to finish off where I started.”
Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Paris Saint-Germain “will re-open talks” with Milan for Alexandre Pato in June.
The French side had agreed a transfer in the mid-season window, but the deal suddenly collapsed when Pato and President Silvio Berlusconi pulled the plug.
“We had already talked about this in January and I think we will re-open talks in June,” Coach Ancelotti told Sky Sport Italia.
Meanwhile, other Rossoneri veterans like Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Pippo Inzaghi have announced their departure.
“There is some disappointment, as these are players who had a great career at Milan, but life goes on. Other doors will open for them.
“As for Massimiliano Allegri, I think it is tougher to be the Coach of other clubs, as Milan have a great infrastructure. Milan has the ideal environment to work at your best, probably more than at any other club.”
There have been reports that PSG director Leonardo could be making a return to Inter in a behind the scenes role.
“Everything suggests Leo will stay here. His work has been greatly appreciated and there is so much more to do. He is motivated and happy in Paris.
“Are we like Manchester City? There are some differences. PSG will make targeted investments with new players to improve the quality of the team.”
Antonio Cassano gave a rare interview and shed tears on his dramatic year, missing out on the Scudetto and waving goodbye to so many Milan teammates.
FantAntonio’s career and even life were in the balance in late October when he suffered an ischemic stroke on the way back from a 3-2 win away to Roma, but has returned to the playing field five months after undergoing heart surgery.
“I like to help others and so I don’t really enjoy talking about myself,” confessed Cassano on Milan Channel.
“I felt good after the Roma game and was happy to be on the pitch, even if I’d only come off the bench. On the plane I caused absolute chaos and felt great.
“All of a sudden after stepping off the bus that transports you from the plane to the terminal, I felt really dizzy and couldn’t see out of my left eye. The doctor said he’d take me to hospital, but I didn’t want to and we argued about it for half an hour.
“When we finally decided, on the journey to the hospital I started having problems speaking. I could think clearly, but the words weren’t coming out. At that moment I thought about my son, to see him one more time...” said Cassano when fighting back tears.
“I was so pleased to receive so much affection from everyone, both in the football world and outside of it. They had understood I am crazy, but still honest and authentic.
“My son and my wife were the fundamental elements for me and I always asked the doctors to tell me the absolute truth. I am glad the medics were always very clear with me.
“I am not a believer in God, but before I used to take His name in vain a lot. Now, after the heart problem, I can’t seem to do it anymore, not even in thought. Maybe it’s destiny I came back to the field just before Easter.
“I feel good with everyone here, from the youngest kid to the most important star. I think Alexandre Pato is potentially the second best player in the world behind Leo Messi and hope his injuries can be over with so he can get back on top.
“When I had been at Milan for 10 days it felt like Paradise, but now it’s even better, as they treat you like a King. Those who leave Milan tend to immediately regret it.”
Those could include Gennaro Gattuso, Pippo Inzaghi and Alessandro Nesta, who have all confirmed they will not be renewing their contracts this summer.
“It’s very sad for me, as these lads are abandoning us and will regret it straight away. It’s true there are times in which everyone has to make choices, as Nesta explained yesterday. I believe that he could’ve still done well here by cutting down on the number of games, but it was his decision and a big loss to us. I’d like to talk him into changing his mind.
“As for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, when we’ve got the ball, it’s like we won’t let others into our playpen. We have two strange heads on our shoulders, but we get along and love to play together. Ibra does well to fire up Milan. He can do what he wants, as long as he scores!”
The Rossoneri missed out on the Scudetto and Cassano congratulated Juventus for their victory, but added there were reasons behind the defeat.
“We had a million injuries and without those probably would’ve been six or seven points clear. We are the strongest team in Italy, clearly in front of the rest. We haven’t been as consistent as Juve this season, but we start next term aiming to win everything.
“I only know how to talk about football, as I have no alternatives! I follow every League and that causes some rows with my wife, because I’d never stop watching football.”
Gennaro Gattuso and Pippo Inzaghi have both confirmed that they will be leaving Milan at the end of the season.
After holding talks with Adriano Galliani on Friday, it was initially believed that a one-year contract would be offered to Gattuso, despite his struggles this year for playing time, having been afflicted with a rare eye condition.
However, the 34-year-old midfielder has instead announced that he will be leaving the club in June and even hinted at his retirement.
“Tomorrow we will hold a press conference at Milanello,” Gattuso told reporters at Milan after the meeting.
“I'll take a year out, this is goodbye and we’ll see what happens in the coming year. I have nothing on the table at the moment.
“I’ve missed a year with injury and I have realised that now there is no space for me here, so it’s time to make way for players that are younger than me.
“I will meet again with Milan in the next year, but not as a player.”
Meanwhile, Inzaghi, who has barely featured this season and was more widely anticipated to leave, wrote a long letter bidding farewell to the club’s fans.
Whilst he is expected to continue playing on, as confirmed by his brother on Thursday, Inzaghi has looked to make clear his affinity to the Rossoneri in writing goodbye.
“The first and only thing I want you to know forever is this - I have played and won for us,” the striker wrote on the club’s official website.
“To play and win without sharing emotions is nothing, but you and I, us, we did everything together.
“We hoped, we suffered, we cheered, we celebrated. We lifted cups and titles together with our hearts. We were always on the same wavelength. And no-one can ever take this away.”
Gattuso and Inzaghi follow Alessandro Nesta in leaving the San Siro outfit at the end of the season.
Thiago Silva: Replacing Nesta, a great responsibility 11.5 ||webmaster
Thiago Silva has reflected on the challenge of replacing Alessandro Nesta’s leadership in the Milan defence.
Nesta announced on Thursday that he will be leaving the Rossoneri at the end of the season.
After a decade leading the club’s back-line, the 36-year-old was quick to identify Silva as his natural heir and a player that the rest of the team can look towards for years to come.
“Being here carries a great responsibility,” the Brazilian told reporters on Friday in response.
“Previously, I had the responsibility of being heir to Paolo Maldini because I took his place in the team and now there is another great player stopping in Nesta…It is sincerely difficult to describe a great champion like him.
“He’s a great man, he helped me a lot in these last two years when we have played together and I’m so sorry because he is so good for the squad and for keeping dressing room together too. With his departure, Milan loses on both counts.”
Nesta is likely to be joined by a host of other big names to depart Milan this summer.
“All great players have great responsibility. Milan loses so much with the farewells of Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Pippo Inzaghi and Gianluca Zambrotta. Leaving us are great champions, it is not easy to immediately replace them.
“If you make a new team and change 100 per cent or many pieces at once, it is not easy to be competitive, so you have to have quality players, personalities like Zlatan Ibrahimovic become more valuable.
“Milan is not just about Thiago Silva, there are many quality players that will help us begin again. With the players that are staying, like Antonio Nocerino, who has done well, and Ibra, then we can start to again do well.”
Silva has been compared to Franco Baresi in playing style, something that he revealed he holds dear and is one reason why he wants to stay at San Siro.
“I enjoy it because being compared to Baresi makes me very happy and I hope to still do well because I have many reason to progress here.
“I hope to continue to do well because I want to repeat the type of history that Baresi and Maldini made here.”
AC Milan look for Nesta replacement 11.5 ||webmaster
Pippo Inzaghi is almost certain to end his Milan career this summer, but as his brother confirms, not his playing career.
Inzaghi, who will be 39 by the start of next season, has barely featured for the Rossoneri this season, having struggled for fitness and then to convince Coach Massimiliano Allegri of more playing time.
With Pippo set to leave the club this summer, his brother Simone, a retired striker and now Coach of the youth team at Lazio, has revealed that this doesn’t spell the end of his playing career.
“Pippo has made history with Milan and is genuinely impacted by his departure,” reflected Simone Inzaghi to Tuttomercatoweb.
“He is grateful to the Rossoneri for what they have done, but I think there is also gratitude from the club and the fans for him too.
“Pippo is still physically fit and knows he can play on for a couple more years. Managed in the right way he can still give so much to football.
“This year he had expected to play a bit more, but saying that, he was recovering from a very bad injury.
“He’s not decided on his future yet, but he is aware that he can still give so much to the game.”
Cragnotti: 'Nesta one of the game’s greatest' 10.5 ||webmaster
Former Lazio President Sergio Cragnotti has praised Alessandro Nesta, in reaction to the defender’s confirmation that he will leave Serie A this summer.
Nesta, 36, confirmed on Thursday that this will be his final season in the Italian top-flight, drawing to a close a two-decade-long career that has seen him win 19 major honours at club and international level.
Cragnotti, who held power at Lazio during Nesta’s emergence and later ascent to the role of club captain, paid tribute to the defender.
“Alessandro was one of the most important resources at my great Lazio,” remembered Cragnotti on Radio Sportiva. “Dino Zoff took him into the first time in 1993-94 and although he was very young you could already see he was a great talent. He contributed to building a great club.
“He is a simple man, who is totally dedicated to football and is one of the game’s greatest champions. His transfer to Milan was dictated by financial reasons - he had a great attachment to the Lazio shirt but realised it was necessary for the funds.
“Nesta’s farewell today is the choice of a great professional, he preferred to go and play elsewhere before waiting for a definitive decline.
“His heir? Thiago Silva can take his place.”
Cragnotti then turned his attention to the Aquile’s current season, that could end on Sunday with Champions League qualification.
“They have expressed some good football and Miroslav Klose has added value to the team. Should they get to third place and reach the Champions League then it would be a season to remember - it’s a shame about the lack of transfer activity in January.
“My experience? I’m happy for what I did with Lazio and I hope that soon the team can return to those levels.”
Stephan El Shaarawy is pleased with how his first season at Milan went on a personal note, even if the club haven’t won anything.
The 19-year-old joined the Rossoneri last summer from Genoa, having previously impressed in Serie B with Padova and has managed to appear in almost half of the unsuccessful title-chasers’ games this season.
“The season has been very good on a personal level,” reflected the Italian with Egyptian heritage on Milan Channel.
“Early in the campaign I did not anticipate playing many games, whilst they said that the Coach had little confidence in me.
“However, I have racked up 28 appearances, two of those in the Champions League, but I think also, maybe I could do better.
“In any case, I am satisfied and I am glad to have also proven myself.”
Alessandro Nesta has confirmed that he will leave Milan at the end of the season – a decade after joining the outfit.
The 36-year-old is out of contract in the summer and although he was offered an extension, he’s decided to terminate his Rossoneri adventure.
“This has been my last season with Milan,” he stated on Thursday. “I’m leaving. We’re playing at high levels and if I no longer feel important then I’d prefer to stay at home.
“I took this decision when I was feeling in good shape. I’ve won a lot but out of respect for the club and myself, I would like to go and try a different experience where I will be able to do something good.
“I made my choice in February. The club offered me a new one-year deal, but I decided that I didn’t want it.”
Rumours suggest that the 2006 World Cup winner will end up in the MLS with New York Red Bulls.
“I don’t know where I will be playing next season because I haven’t signed anything,” continued the 2002 capture from Lazio.
“I’ll go and play where the tempo is lower. An experience in America wouldn’t be bad, it’ll be a great adventure.”
The centre-back has won honours galore at San Siro and he’ll have fond memories of his time with the Italian giants.
“Carlo Ancelotti was the most important Coach in my career,” he added. “He was perfect. Winning the Champions League for the first time was the best memory.
“I’ll miss the people at Milanello who have been here on a daily basis for the last 10 years. I’ll also leave behind historic friendships with Massimo Ambrosini, Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Christian Abbiati, Paolo Maldini – people who I have a bond with.”
Nesta is one of 10 players with expiring contracts and he’s suggested that he won’t be the only high profile exit before the start of next term.
“I leave Milan disappointed because we wanted to win the championship and could have.
“I don’t know what the future will hold for Milan because there will be a group of players leaving. I don’t know what the club will do.”
According to the player’s agent, there could be a Milan derby this summer for the signature of Bologna midfielder Gaby Mudingayi.
The 30-year-old former Torino and Lazio man has spent the last four seasons on the Rossoblu’s books at the Renato Dall’Ara and in the last two transfer windows has reportedly attracted the interest of Champions League-qualification-chasing Napoli.
Whilst the Vesuviani are again linked with the tough-tackling, Zaire-born Belgian international, the player’s agent believes Inter and Milan are also in the hunt.
“I can say that Milan and Inter are both interested in Mudingayi. He’s been working very well for the last two years at Bologna, having extraordinary seasons,” Federico Pastorello told Sky Sport Italia on Tuesday. The Felsinei reportedly paid Lazio €7m for Mudingayi’s services in 2008.
Agent: Pato flattered by Ancelotti 8.5 ||webmaster
Alexandre Pato’s agent has reignited rumours linking the Brazilian striker with a switch to Paris Saint-Germain. “We’d be happy if Ancelotti called.”
The youngster, who has struggled with injury at Milan in the past few seasons, was reportedly on the verge of a transfer to the Parisian outfit in January, only for Rossonero President Silvio Berlucsoni to allegedly intervene and halt the deal.
However, rumours of negotiations reopening have persisted, with PSG’s Coach Carlo Ancelotti more than once hinting that he would like to reunite with the striker he worked with previously at San Siro.
Asked about the tactician’s wish to work with his client, Pato’s agent did not rule out the possibility of a move this summer.
“Ancelotti is a great Coach, we’d be happy if he were to call us,” Gilmar Veloz told Tuttomercatoweb.
“With the Coach, Alexandre has always has a great relationship, his esteem is cause for satisfaction. Let’s see what happens…
“Alexandre is fine at Milan, in addition to having a contract with the club.
“But, Ancelotti is a great Coach and we valued it when he said that my client is a target, we were very pleased.
“The transfer market will be discussed in due course.”
Meanwhile, the player told Brazilian television at the weekend of his ambition to represent Brazil at the London 2012 Olympics late this summer.
The latest reports in Italy suggest Milan are considering offering Mathieu Flamini a new two-year contract to stay at the club.
The Frenchman has struggled for fitness in four years with the Rossoneri and has in fact not featured at all this season under Massimiliano Allegri.
With his €4.5m annual contract set to end in June, it was anticipated that the 28-year-old would be leaving the club this summer.
However, Sky Sport Italia believe that Adriano Galliani, who is in the process of offering new contracts this week, is set to include the midfielder, but at a much-reduced salary of €1.75m. Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic earned more at the club last season.
Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has congratulated champions Juventus, but insisted his side’s campaign has not been a failure.
The Rossoneri will finish the season empty-handed after last night’s 4-2 loss to Inter gave Juve the Scudetto with one game left to play.
“Juventus have won and my compliments go to them,” he stated. “We’ve finished second after last year’s first, therefore we’ll get going again.
“Now we are just concentrating on ending the season on Sunday and then we’ll think about next term.
“We have time to analyse what has happened during the campaign, but we are nevertheless satisfied with what we achieved.
“We’ve finished first and second since Coach Massimiliano Allegri arrived. It has been a positive campaign, even if we wanted to finish it differently.”
Galliani was then asked about the club’s plans for players – both in terms of the transfer market and the 10 men who have contracts expiring in June.
“New signings? We already have world class players,” he responded.
“We’ll start to discuss the renewals this week. I don’t know with whom we will start with, there is no order, but the doors are open.”
Alessandro Nesta, Massimo Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso, Flavio Roma, Gianluca Zambrotta, Mario Yepes, Mark Van Bommel, Mathieu Flamini, Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi have just weeks left on their deals.
Nocerino proud of AC Milan challenge 7.5 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri complimented Juventus for their Scudetto victory and felt Milan paid a price for injuries, both overall and in the derby.
“Juventus won the title, deserved to win it and it was a fascinating season with two teams on many points. Compared to last season, many more points were needed,” said the Coach after a 4-2 defeat to Inter.
“Juventus had a great campaign, so did we despite all of the problems we went through from injuries to incidents. I thank the lads for the work they did this year and next term we’ll be here fighting again.
“It’s difficult to say what Milan lacked compared to last year. We did make mistakes that forced a heavy price, including tonight when we were close to going 3-2 up and instead went 3-2 down.
“We played pretty well tonight and did all we could to bring home the result, but this is football. Last season Samuel Eto’o missed an open goal from point-blank range in an important moment of the game and we won 3-0.
“We lost Daniele Bonera after 10 minutes, Christian Abbiati had a thigh strain, we had to end the match with Mattia De Sciglio limping on a swollen ankle. It’s just one of those years.
“I don’t think there is a gap from Juventus, as these teams are on the same level and it will be interesting to see how they fare next season when they have to deal with the Champions League.
“We have some players reaching the end of their contracts and must evaluate with the club what we will do to reinforce the squad.”
Serie A: Inter 4:2 AC Milan - match report 6.5 ||webmaster
Inter destroyed Milan’s Scudetto hopes with a controversial and spectacular 4-2 victory in the Derby della Madonnina!
The Rossoneri closed the gap to just one point midweek and absolutely had to beat their rivals to keep that title race alive into the final round. It was also a huge occasion for the Nerazzurri, as Andrea Stramaccioni fought for his job, city pride and a place in Europe. It was also Ivan Ramiro Cordoba’s chance to say goodbye to San Siro after 13 years and he embraced each of his teammates before kick-off.
Milan’s injury list included Thiago Silva, Clarence Seedorf, Luca Antonini, Alexandre Pato, Pippo Inzaghi and Gianluca Zambrotta. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Robinho pushed Antonio Cassano on to the bench while Sulley Muntari faced his former teammates. Inter missed Diego Forlan, Andrea Poli, Luc Castaignos, Dejan Stankovic and Cristian Chivu, but Javier Zanetti returned to the starting XI after his injury, meaning he hasn’t missed a Milan derby since 1997.
News filtered through after five minutes that Juventus had taken the lead in Trieste. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a great chance to break through on 11 minutes, but flicked the Robinho cross with the outside of his boot and it sailed over from six yards.
Inter took the lead when Wesley Sneijder flicked a free kick to Walter Samuel, who got away from Daniele Bonera, and pulled it back across for Diego Milito to tap in undisturbed. The Rossoneri defenders seemed to wait around for an offside flag that never came, as Bonera was keeping them all in play.
Fredy Guarin unleashed a screamer that flew wide of the far post. There was a bizarre moment when the ball went out of play and Robinho got into a row with the Inter physio, who tried to delay putting it back on to the pitch.
Inter thought they had doubled their lead when Sneijder’s blockbuster stung Christian Abbiati’s palms and Lucio put the follow-up into the net, but the defender was clearly offside. Bonera joined the injury list with a calf problem, making way for teenager Mattia De Sciglio.
Douglas Maicon had a risky backpass to Julio Cesar with De Sciglio hovering, while the goalkeeper later smothered a Mark Van Bommel daisy-cutter.
There was chaos in the Milan box on 32 minutes when Abbiati flapped an Esteban Cambiasso header away – perhaps with it crossing the line completely – and then needed a follow-up save on Sneijder at the base of the near post. In performing these acrobatics, the goalkeeper gave himself a thigh strain and had to be replaced by Marco Amelia.
Ibrahimovic held off two defenders to shoot at the near post and Julio Cesar threw himself at his feet to smother from point-blank range.
Julio Cesar also rushed off his line to take the ball off Boateng’s foot when he sprung the offside trap from an Antonio Nocerino through ball. The referee pointed to the spot, but the replays clearly show the goalkeeper got the ball, making his furious protests entirely understandable. Ibrahimovic stepped up against his former club and Julio Cesar tried to put him off with some mocking comments to his face, but the Swede buried it into the near bottom corner. After scoring, Ibra replied: ‘I told you.’
It took all of 40 seconds for Milan to go in front after the restart. The Inter defence was taken by surprise, as Ibrahimovic flicked on a pass to go between two defenders and placed a snooker shot in off the far post.
Sneijder tried an audacious lob from the halfway line that almost surprised Amelia, but the goalkeeper palmed it on to the upright. From the corner Samuel appeared to be brought down by a combination of Muntari and Mario Yepes, but the referee waved play on.
Moments later Inter did indeed get their penalty, as Ignazio Abate clearly pulled back Milito. El Principe stepped up and buried it to make the derby 2-2, getting the Nerazzurri back on level terms.
Muntari looked ready to equalise when Ibra knocked down a corner, but he only prodded it inches wide with his knee from two yards!
Robinho forced Julio Cesar to beat away at the base of the near post, then Yepes nodded wide from a Boateng cross. Robinho blasted over and Muntari hit the side-netting from an improbable angle.
Julio Cesar palmed an Abate snapshot out from under the bar and at the other end Amelia plucked a dangerous Sneijder strike out of the air.
The referee awarded another penalty for an Alessandro Nesta handling offence, though it seemed as if Giampaolo Pazzini nodded it on to his arm from close range. The arm was still raised, so the referee pointed to the spot and Milito fired under the bar to complete his hat-trick.
Milan had penalty appeals for a Cambiasso handling offence, but the referee judged it to be off his chest.
Douglas Maicon put the derby and the Scudetto race beyond doubt with Inter’s fourth goal, hitting an unstoppable strike from distance that left Amelia rooted to the spot. It was a missile into the far top corner.
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Nagatomo; Guarin (Obi 61), Cambiasso, Zanetti; Sneijder, Alvarez (Pazzini 77), Milito
Milan: Abbiati (Amelia 34); Abate, Nesta, Yepes, Bonera (De Sciglio 21); Nocerino, Van Bommel, Muntari (Cassano 78); Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Robinho
Serie A: Inter vs. AC Milan - lineups 6.5 ||webmaster
Marcello Lippi is confident Juventus will clinch the Scudetto this season. “Milan have been unlucky, but the Bianconeri won’t get it wrong.”
The title race will be over this evening if Juve beat Cagliari and Inter avoid defeat in the Derby della Madonnina.
“In theory anything could still happen, but the derby is a big risk for Milan,” 2006 World Cup winner Lippi told Tuttosport.
“On the other hand, I struggle to think that Juve, especially after dropping points to Lecce on Wednesday, will allow victory to get away from them against Cagliari.
“I agree with Massimiliano Allegri, who said if both teams win tonight, then the final round will not change the table.
“I don’t believe Juve are getting stingy with their efforts. This team has head, heart and the desire to finish this magnificent journey on a high. The draw with Lecce really was out of nowhere.”
Antonio Conte was Lippi’s captain during his strongest Juventus era and could now start a new phase in the club’s history.
“The first step is certainly to win the title. After that you must create a squad capable of surviving the double commitment of domestic and European competition, because that changes a great deal.
“Juve are the positive face of this season, as they progressed much quicker than anyone expected and were aided by the end of the Inter era and the distraction of Napoli, who concentrated on the Champions League.
“Milan’s myriad of injuries also contributed, as they were unlucky. However, if at the end of the day Juventus do win the Scudetto, then they will have deserved it by working very hard.”
Lippi has been linked with a return to the bench for the first time since the ill-fated 2010 World Cup.
“The next stadium I step into will not be an Italian one. Is an announcement imminent? No, but I am in contact with different federations.”
Christian Abbiati has an eye on Juventus and another on tonight’s opponents Inter, but also reassures Gigi Buffon.
The Scudetto race was blown wide open midweek when Buffon’s howler allowed Lecce a 1-1 draw in Turin, closing the gap to just one point.
“I made 100 more mistakes like that,” smiled Abbiati. “I show honest solidarity to a friend and a great person. He’ll be distraught at letting down his teammates, but I’m sure Gigi will make up for it in the next game.
“It’s only normal that Milan should believe in the Scudetto and fight to the end. There are only two games to go and we have to approach them as best we can. All we can do is win and hope Juventus slip up.”
The Rossoneri have a tougher fixture list, as tonight they face local rivals Inter in the Derby della Madonnina.
“I see a united Inter group with a new Coach who helped them climb back up the table. I fear their desire to prove a point, because they’ve struggled this season and want to target a Champions League spot.”
Cossu: 'Why I want to beat Juventus' 6.5 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri expects a very attacking Inter in the Milan derby, but warns “whoever is on top tomorrow evening is 99 per cent sure of winning the Scudetto.”
The Rossoneri sliced the gap at the top of the table from four to just one point thanks to the midweek round, but the Coach warns this title is still very much in the hands of Juventus.
“I believe whoever is on top tomorrow evening is 99 per cent sure of winning the Scudetto, although anything can happen,” said Allegri.
“If I had to play one of our games again, it may well be the head-to-head with Juve. However, I’d also like to point out we picked up five points in the first five rounds. Not everything can be decided by a single match. Milan have had an important campaign and it could get even more important tomorrow evening.
“We do hope that we don’t end up on level points with Juventus, as that would be pretty irritating.”
If the two teams do finish joint top, then Juve will win the title thanks to their superior record in head-to-head meetings this season.
While the Bianconeri visit Cagliari on neutral turf in Trieste, Milan take on rivals Inter in the Derby della Madonnina.
“I expect a very attacking Inter side, as they have done well recently and are still in the race for third. The derby is always a special game and we must put in a great performance, as we really can afford only one result.
“Inter will also be highly motivated because they have two objectives – staying in the Champions League hunt and winning the derby. We’ve just got to make sure we’re even more motivated.”
Thiago Silva has not recovered in time for Sunday’s match and there are reports he won’t be ready next week either.
“To be a point behind Juventus with all the injuries we’ve had means a lot,” insisted Allegri. “There are so many qualities within this squad. We must face the derby with courage and the awareness we can win and only then see what’s happening elsewhere.
“I have complimented Antonio Conte throughout the campaign, because Juventus have had a great season. Regardless of how it ends, it has been a wonderful season and a great challenge for the title.
“Antonio Cassano or Robinho? I will evaluate their form today, including Stephan El Shaarawy and Maxi Lopez. I rested Ignazio Abate midweek, but he is certainly ready.”
Allegri was asked whether he would ever accept the Inter job in future and had a cryptic reply.
“I have two years left on my contract, so I’ll tell you in two years.”
Naturally, the Coach was also asked about Delio Rossi’s dismissal from Fiorentina for attacking player Adem Ljajic.
“It was a great shame, as a fraction of a second later Rossi immediately regretted his actions. I think at times there needs to be more respect for players towards their Coach. There is so much stress and mistakes can happen, for these are professionals, but also men. Respect and politeness for people are fundamental concepts and many say modern society has changed them, but I’d prefer to go back.”
Andrea Stramaccioni’s future on the Inter bench could well be decided by Sunday’s Milan derby. “I want to stay and am giving all of myself.”
The Coach was promoted from the Primavera youth team as their third tactician of the campaign after Gian Piero Gasperini and Claudio Ranieri, but fell to his first defeat at Parma midweek.
“We want to play well and win this game, especially as it comes at a moment in which we are fired up to the max,” said Stramaccioni.
“The city lives the derby atmosphere, also considering the importance of what is at stake. Is it decisive for my future? That is not a question for me. I think my work will be judged overall and this game will help people form a judgement on me. You’ll see what we want to prove tomorrow.
“Preparing for the derby means understanding what condition the players are in, both psychologically and physically. I will choose 11 players to start who are at 101 per cent. Everyone wants to play the derby and it is my job to pick the 11 in the best shape.
“I hear it said that the pressure is on Milan to win for the Scudetto, but we too need to and want to get the victory on Sunday night. It is both to reach our objectives and because it’s simply a derby, so until the last second of injury time both sides will give their all to win it.
“I know we are facing a team that is in front of us in the table and we want to prove there aren’t 22 points separating these squads. I hope Milan have all their stars at their disposal and it’ll be a derby at the highest level.”
It was reported the Nerazzurri would axe Stramaccioni if he failed to secure a Champions League qualifying berth, but they are now trailing Udinese, Napoli and Lazio in the race for third.
“There will be time to discuss the Europa League, but we are playing two crucial games first and want to get six points, then we’ll see where Inter are.
“How much do I want to stay from 0-10? 11. I am giving all of myself for this experience and the real dream was being picked. I feel that I am the Inter Coach and I want to stay here.”
Zaccheroni: 'AC Milan superior to Inter' 5.5 ||webmaster
Alberto Zaccheroni has managed both Milan and Inter, but feels the Rossoneri are “superior in every way” ahead of Sunday’s derby.
“The favourites are Milan and I think they have a great chance of winning. At this moment they are superior to Inter in every way,” the current Japan manager told Sky Sport Italia.
“Therefore right now my prediction is certainly in favour of Milan. Both teams are a little tired at this stage, as Inter had a chaotic season with so many ups and downs, not to mention three different Coaches.
“Milan showed good quality in their football, although not as consistent as Juventus throughout the campaign.”
Only one point separates the two teams at the top of the table with two rounds to go, as Juve dropped points against Lecce midweek.
“I was absolutely convinced Juventus would do well this year, but even I didn’t think they’d reach this point,” added ex-Bianconeri boss Zaccheroni.
“I was surprised by how they played, above all their consistency while changing tactical systems based on the characteristics of their opponents. This great motivation, determination and intensity were certainly unexpected by everyone.”
Although Milan are in the running for a second consecutive Scudetto, there are reports Massimiliano Allegri could be sacked.
“Allegri certainly deserves to stay on the bench because he won Serie A last season and, if the worst comes to worst, he’ll finish second this year. With all the injury problems he had to deal with, fighting to the end means he deserves another chance, in my view.”
The race for third place is also raging on, as Udinese and Napoli are currently joined together, followed by Lazio and Inter.
“People rarely talk about Udinese, but in my view they are the favourites. It’s true Lazio threw it away by dropping so many points, but the consistency and strength of Udinese should be underlined.
“Without taking anything away from Napoli, who at this stage may well be the favourites, I think the side that deserves third place is Udinese.”
Muntari: 'AC Milan better than Inter' 5.5 ||webmaster
Inter’s Diego Milito reassured he will “certainly remain here, or at least I hope I will,” and looks forward to the “special” derby with Milan.
“I have always said that I am very happy, am at a great club and will certainly remain here. Or at least I hope I will,” the 33-year-old told Sky Sport Italia.
“I am sure Inter will become competitive again. Massimo Moratti is someone who always wants to see his team do great things and I’m confident he will invest so from next season we’ll be competitive on all fronts.”
The Nerazzurri lost 3-1 at Parma on Wednesday night, but are still in the running for a Champions League spot.
“We fell a little off the pace for third, but will try not to think about that right now. At the end of the season we’ll see how we are doing in the table and evaluate the situation.
“The derby is always a very special game and one we all feel passionate about. We will try to win for our fans. We know that we could be the turning point for the Scudetto, but the truth is we just want to make our supporters happy.”
Milan are just one point shy of Serie A leaders Juventus with two rounds to go.
Inter director Marco Tronchetti Provera looks forward to the derby and advises wayward Mario Balotelli. “It all depends on him.”
The striker grew up in their youth academy and was sold to Manchester City two years ago, but has been linked with a return to San Siro after picking up numerous red cards and suspensions.
“Mario is a young man who is starting his journey and has a potentially fantastic career in front of him. It all depends on him,” Tronchetti Provera told the Corriere dello Sport.
“I am very happy with City’s victory over Manchester United, because Roberto Mancini is a good man who deserves to win in England too.”
Inter have to focus on their own objectives, as they face Milan in the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday evening and are still in the running for a Champions League spot.
“A game like this is always experienced with passion, because it is not a match like the others. This is why I say the derby is fun to the very last minute.
“Are Milan favourites for this game and the Scudetto? We’ll see on the field... a derby is always a derby. The truth is I can’t get passionate about whether Milan or Juventus win the title. I prefer to concentrate on Sunday’s clash.”
Andrea Stramaccioni was promoted from the youth team as interim manager, but has impressed and could be confirmed on the bench next season.
“He has done better than anyone could’ve expected. He is a Coach with notable qualities and if he continues like this, then he’ll be fine.”
Boateng: 'AC Milan deserve Scudetto' 4.5 ||webmaster
Kevin-Prince Boateng would love a goal in the Milan derby on Sunday night and insists “we deserve the Scudetto.”
The Rossoneri closed the gap at the top of the table to just one point from leaders Juventus and continue to look back at their controversial 1-1 draw, in which Sulley Ali Muntari’s shot crossed the line but was not spotted by the officials.
“That incident was in the past and I don’t think it’s right to talk about it now, but it was important, as with that goal we’d have another two points and be the leaders,” Boateng told Sky Sport Italia.
“We have closed the gap and our objective is to keep believing to the end. We deserve the Scudetto, despite the fact Juventus had a good season. It was a strange campaign and we played so many matches.
“I was on the bench when news filtered through that Lecce had equalised against Juve. The whole stadium just exploded. We won and they made a mistake.
“Their fixture list is easier now, but they have the pressure on their shoulders, because if they slip up again then we are ready.”
Milan face rivals Inter on Sunday evening, while Juventus play Cagliari in Trieste.
“I’d love to score a goal in the derby, but the important thing is that the team wins. If I could take a player off Inter, it would be Wesley Sneijder, as he is a great friend and a great player.”
Thiago Silva is set to miss Milan’s derby with Inter this weekend as he reportedly struggles to return to full training.
The Brazilian centre-back has been out of action since late-March after suffering a thigh strain in the pre-match warm-up against Roma, which was then seemingly aggravated by his Coach’s decision to then start him.
After the midweek game with Atalanta, Massimiliano Allegri declared that the Brazilian would be back in training and ready for the weekend’s Milan derby with Inter.
However, the 27-year-old is now thought unlikely to feature, because whilst he did train on Friday, it was still separate from the main group and he did not go out on to the field at Milanello.
Allegri has reportedly been informed by medical staff that he cannot use the centre-back for the team’s Week 37 test.
Doubts also still remain on Luca Antonini and Urby Emanuelson’s fitness for Sunday evening, but Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta and Antonio Nocerino have all been passed fit.
Milan’s Sulley Muntari is praying that title rivals Juventus drop more points between now and the end of the season.
The Old Lady were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw in Turin against Lecce last night, while Muntari scored in the Rossoneri’s 2-0 win over Atalanta.
“I’m praying to God that Juventus can be stopped again,” the central midfielder stated as his side are now just one point behind the leaders with two games left.
“Now we have to concentrate on the final two matches in the hope of ending the season at the top of the table.
“We deserve something important.”
The Ghanaian international joined the Rossoneri in January on loan from city rivals Inter. He’s also pitched in with some important goals – as well as netting the ghost goal that was not awarded versus Juve.
“I’m happy with my goal,” he stated after his latest strike. “It’s not my fourth goal though, it’s only my third…
“My teammates deserve the praise because I would not be able to do anything without them. Just look at the role Kevin Prince Boateng played last night.”
Massimiliano Allegri says Milan “still believe and always believed” after cutting Juventus’ lead to just one point.
“With five minutes to go, the Scudetto was practically signed, sealed and delivered,” smiled the Coach whose side beat Atalanta 2-0.
“Sunday will be a wonderful evening anyway and we are really fired up for the derby. This fixture gets the players going anyway and perhaps we could not have asked for a better game, as we are highly motivated, certainly more than we were tonight.
“If we do well and Juve slip up again, then we can overtake them. The Scudetto is still in Juve’s hands, but we believe and we always believed.
“The last 15 minutes we felt like we were at the theatre waiting for the finale of an opera, because we knew only a Lecce result in Turin could help. It was difficult to predict, but that’s football!”
Serie A: AC MIlan 2:0 Atalanta - goals 2.5 ||webmaster
Serie A: AC Milan 2:0 Atalanta - match report 2.5 ||webmaster
Milan saw off Atalanta in a local derby and incredibly close to within a point of leaders Juventus!
The Rossoneri were hanging in there for the Scudetto, but time was running out and the gap was still three points. Antonio Cassano started again after his inspirational turn against Siena. Robinho and Massimo Ambrosini returned, but Clarence Seedorf, Alexandre Pato, Thiago Silva, Urby Emanuelson, Ignazio Abate, Gianluca Zambrotta and Pippo Inzaghi were still sidelined. Atalanta set a new club record for points and mathematically secured their safety at the weekend, so were eager to cause an upset in this local derby. Matteo Brighi, Guido Marilungo and Daniele Capelli did not make the trip, but Simone Tiribocchi partnered German Denis.
Milan started strong in their new kit, as in the opening three minutes they had three shots on target, one deflected wide, Kevin-Prince Boateng and the Zlatan Ibrahimovic follow-up both testing the goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.
Boateng again forced former Under-21 international Consigli into a tough save with a powerful strike, but it was Sulley Ali Muntari who broke the deadlock. The Ghanaian sprung the offside trap to volley in a Boateng cross low at the back stick from six yards.
Atalanta were in the game, though, as Christian Abbiati palmed away a splendid glancing German Denis header and Alessandro Nesta cleared the danger.
Consigli just about smothered at Cassano’s feet when Ferri risked an own goal with his deflection. Denis hit a daisy-cutter that skimmed the upright for Atalanta, then on the stroke of half-time Cazzola’s long-range strike shaved a coat of paint off the base of the far post.
Cassano combined with Ibra and the Swede’s finish was inches wide to Consigli’s right, as was an Antonio Nocerino strike. Luca Cigarini needed a perfectly-timed tackle in the box to stop Nocerino completing a Milan counter-attack.
Tiribocchi was offside, but the linesman did not flag, so his header wide counts as a terrible error from the striker.
Mathieu Flamini made a rare appearance after almost a year out with injury. Ibrahimovic should’ve made it 2-0, but horribly placed his lob off target when skipping between three defenders.
The atmosphere at San Siro was sluggish throughout, but suddenly sparked up into cheers when news filtered through that Lecce had equalised against Juventus. However, Milan hadn’t finished off this game either.
Ibrahimovic unleashed a screamer that Consigli parried just past Flamini. Robinho hit the crossbar at the 88th minute, then as the move continued he rolled across for Ibra to put the ball in the net when offside.
Milan finally got their second goal deep into stoppages when Consigli parried a fearsome Ibrahimovic free kick, but only into the path of Robinho to nod in from six yards.
AC Milan: Abbiati; De Sciglio, Nesta, Mexes, Antonini; Nocerino, Ambrosini (Gattuso 77), Muntari; Boateng (Flamini 73); Ibrahimovic, Cassano (Robinho 68)
Dejan Savicevic has revealed that he advised Milan to sign Stevan Jovetic before he joined Fiorentina.
The Montenegro fantasista is one of Serie A’s most talented players after moving to the Viola in 2008 from Partizan Belgrade.
However, Savicevic, who spent six years at Milanello as a player, spotted Jo-Jo’s talent while he was still a teenager.
“Six years ago I advised director Ariedo Braida to buy him for Milan,” the President of the Montenegro FA told TMW. “He didn’t listen.”
Jovetic missed all of last season with injury, but his 14 goals in 27 League games this term are a major reason why the Viola look like they’ll survive the drop.
“He can play for any club in the world,” Savicevic continued. “He’s demonstrated some great quality, just think back to what he’s done over the years. Do you remember the game against Liverpool in the Champions League?
“We are talking about a great talent. His future will depend on what Fiorentina decide to do on the transfer market.”