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The Archive

April 2008

Seedorf orders nine points
30.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf knows that Milan must win all their remaining games if they are to grab fourth place, starting with the derby against Inter.

The Rossoneri clawed their way back to two points behind Fiorentina in the battle for Champions League football, with last weekend’s emphatic 4-1 win over Livorno.

But time is running out for the world champions and they need to be flawless in their final three games, even if Sunday’s D-day against Inter is a daunting task.

“At the moment the Nerazzurri look very strong,” Seedorf admitted on the Milan Channel.

“They just have to stay in control and not take any great risks. We know that we will be up against a team who know exactly what they want.

“Inter can manage without Zlatan Ibrahimovic and they have been winning in his absence. They have five good strikers who can make the difference.

“But we are on good form and we just have to take nine points out of nine and see how Fiorentina do.

“The derby has come at a good time. The important thing is that we are calm and go about our work with belief and without constantly thinking about the game.

“We have to prepare just as we have over the last few weeks for the other matches.”

When asked for his best derby memory, the Dutch international opted for February 2004.

“My favourite derby has to be the comeback to win 3-2,” he grinned. “It meant so much because it took us to the Scudetto.”

This weekend’s titanic encounter sold out within hours of tickets going on sale with gate receipts totalling around £1.3m.

Ronaldo: I was the victim
30.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan striker Ronaldo has responded to allegations that he had a drug-fuelled rendezvous with a transvestite prostitute last Sunday night.

The Brazilian ace is currently recovering from severing a tendon in his knee back in February and has returned to his homeland for the next stage of his rehabilitation.

Ronnie’s name was splashed all over Brazil’s newspapers when transvestite Andre Albertini claimed in the Folhe de Sao Paulo that he took cocaine with the marksman in a hotel in Rio De Janeiro before receiving payment for sex acts.

However, Ronaldo claims he was the victim of an attempt at extortion and that he refused to pay Albertini £12,000 to stop him fabricating the story for the Press.

“There are no accusations for Ronaldo to answer,” a statement on El Fenomeno’s website reads.

“An active supporter of social causes, he has never used drugs and is an idol to youngsters all over the world. All the evidence points to a case of extortion with Ronaldo as the victim.”

Reports state that the gifted hitman spent Sunday night in a police station where he repeatedly stated, “This could end my career,” as he waited to give his statement to the authorities.

The police have indicated that there will be no investigation into the allegations against Ronaldo, but the episode may have left a lasting stain on his reputation.

Moratti baulks at Ronaldinho price
30.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Inter President Massimo Moratti looks to have pulled out of the race to sign Barcelona ace Ronaldinho.

Milan have looked most likely to lure the Brazilian international since it emerged that he was keen to leave the Nou Camp at the end of the season.

Inter had refused to rule out gazumping their neighbours, but it seems that Joan Laporta’s claim that Dinho is “worth than £30m” may have ended any hope of that.

“Ronaldinho’s price tag is a big high,” Moratti admitted.

“We have been following the situation and there’s an excellent relationship between our clubs, but we don’t seem to be the most interested side because other teams have officially declared their intentions.

“For now the only derby that matters is on the pitch this Sunday, not in the transfer market.”

Laporta's huge Ronaldinho demand
30.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Barcelona President Joan Laporta has warned Milan that he won’t let Ronaldinho leave cheaply. “He’s worth at least £30m.”

Having fallen out with Coach Frank Rijkaard, Ronaldinho’s love affair with Barça seems to have turned sour.

The Brazilian star has admitted that he is keen to leave this summer and Milan are in pole position for his signature, but they will need deep pockets.

“I would say that Ronaldinho is worth more than £30m,” Laporta insisted.

“Dinho is an excellent lad and has never created any problems. I am convinced that he will return to his best when he is fit again.

“He needs fresh motivation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has to leave because he can find stimuli here and he is under contract until 2010.

“We have received lots of offers, including bids from England, but Milan have shown the greatest interest in him.”

The vast price tag could end the Diavolo’s chances of luring Dinho, unless his opts to use FIFA’s Article 17 to buy out the rest of his contract.

Ronaldo in sex scandal
29.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Brazilian striking star Ronaldo has become embroiled in a sex scandal in Rio De Janeiro.

El Fenomeno has returned to his homeland during his recovery from a severed knee tendon sustained while playing for Milan against Livorno in February.

While Ronnie has made headlines because his knee is healing ahead of schedule, it’s his personal life that’s now in the spotlight.

Reports in Globo state that Ronaldo spent Sunday night in a hotel in Rio with three transvestites.

Amongst them was Andre Albertino, who has accused the striking ace of drugging him and put video footage of the encounter on Youtube.

However, Ronaldo insists that he was the victim of extortion and claims that the three men tried to blackmail him by threatening to drag his name through the mud unless they received a sizeable payment.

The authorities are currently investigating the incident.

Ancelotti expects D-day epic
29.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti looks ahead to Sunday’s derby against Inter and discusses summer transfer plans.

The Rossoneri’s season hangs in the balance as they prepare to face their city rivals in a San Siro showdown.

After last weekend’s 4-1 win over Livorno, Ancelotti’s side are just two points behind fourth-placed Fiorentina and are desperately in need of the victory, as are Inter, who are looking to secure the Scudetto.

“There are 23 points between Inter and Milan and that seems a lot over the course of a whole campaign, but there isn’t a chasm between the two sides at this minute,” Carletto insisted on Fuori Zona.

“Inter want to win the title as soon as possible because shocks are part and parcel of football. But I think the Rossoneri are used to this kind of game.

“It isn’t a Champions League Final but it is something very similar to a Final due to the pressure and tension.

“Lots of players are playing for their professional futures because playing in the Champions League is very different to playing in the UEFA Cup.”

Pippo Inzaghi could be Milan’s key man, as the resurgent hitman has bagged eight goals in the last four games.

“I expected Inzaghi’s renaissance,” Ancelotti claimed. “He needed to be in shape to score goals and now he is.

“He is a formidable player and when you know him well enough you can see when he is fit and when he isn’t.

“He started this season very well and helped us in the Champions League but he just suffered a tough middle period.”

The Diavolo’s thrashing of Livorno last weekend cost Amaranto boss Giancarlo Camolese his job and Carletto has sympathy for the former Vicenza man.

“They are clearly a team having some difficulties, but the Coach could be the least responsible,” Ancelotti said.

“The team haven’t shown good character and maybe that’s why the President opted to make a change.

“I think that changing Coach can be an ace up the sleeve for a President during the course of a season, but I find it strange that they can call back their former tactician.

“I believe that the Coaches’ Association should be able to intervene because sacking a boss means that the relationship of trust with the President has been severed.

“The top men act like this because they don’t want to pay multiple wage bills for Coaches and they are just looking for the immediate shake up of the squad.

“Of the new bosses, I like Walter Zenga because he is one of few Italian Coaches who has had the guts to go abroad and work in difficult countries. That shows his passion.”

Milan are expected to make sweeping changes to the squad in pre-season in order to refresh an ageing squad.

“A player has never arrived at Milan against my wishes and similarly I have never imposed my will to sign a player,” Ancelotti explained.

“The Coach needs to be on the same wavelength as the club. I deal with the tactical side, while the club deals with the administrative elements.

“I was happy to hear links with Ronaldinho. He is considered a mix between a trequartista and a striker and his role depends on the players available.

“I think that he could play very well in a Christmas Tree formation or with two wingers and a trequartista.”

Ronaldo plots early return
29.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Stricken star Ronaldo is eyeing a rapid return to action and hopes that he will be ready to play before the end of the year.

There were fears that El Fenomeno would never play again after he severed a tendon in his knee during Milan’s game against Livorno in February.

However, after a successful operation, the Brazilian striker’s recovery has been ahead of schedule and there is a feeling of optimism.

“I think that I will be ready to return to playing in six or seven,” Ronaldo claimed in Globo.

A number of players and ex-players have rallied around the 31-year-old and he thanked compatriot and idol Romario in particular for his help.

“I have learned a lot from him,” Ronaldo continued. “The time to quit comes for everyone and mine will come soon, but not now.”

Milan club doctor Jean Pierre Meersseman has also been impressed by the improvement in Ronaldo’s condition.

“At the start we were talking about nine months out of the game,” he told Radio Kiss Kiss.

“But we have always hoped and still do that he can cut that around seven. Of course it’s not a matter of two or three months because Ronnie’s body will need some time.”

Borriello gives AC Milan backing
28.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Serie A’s joint Capocannoniere Marco Borriello hopes Milan can upset Inter next weekend, but insists that he is dedicated to the Genoa cause.

It has been a revelatory season for the Neapolitan striker after joining Genoa from the Rossoneri in a co-ownership agreement last summer.

Against all expectations, Borriello is level with Juventus’ David Trezeguet at the top of the scoring chart with 19 goals to his name, but he doesn’t feel that he has outgrown the Grifone.

“I want to stay at Genoa because I have found my ideal environment here,” he told Tg2.

“But if a big offer from an important club arrived, I would have to discuss things with the President.”

Although he isn’t angling for a return to San Siro, Borriello admits that his eyes will be on this weekend’s epic D-day clash.

“As an ex-Milan player I hope that the Rossoneri can ruin Inter’s party,” he explained.

“Nonetheless I think that the Nerazzurri have the Scudetto in the bag because they have a six-point lead at this stage.”

The 25-year-old also stressed his hope that Milan can overhaul Genoas’ city rivals Sampdoria to claim fourth spot.

“I can only support Milan otherwise I wouldn’t be able to return to Genoa,” he grinned. “But I hope that the Diavolo finish fourth anyway.”

With Genoa’s chances of reaching the UEFA Cup all but extinguished by yesterday’s defeat against Empoli, Borriello’s main motivation now is finishing as Serie A’s top scorer.

“As there are three games left and I’m level with Trezeguet at the top of the scoring chart, it would be stupid to not think I can win the Capocannoniere crown,” he conceded.

“I’m hoping to score in the last three weeks anyway so that I can earn a Euro 2008 call-up.

“Is it me against Alessandro Del Piero? Alex is having an excellent season and he deserves the Azzurri shirt for what he is doing and all that he has given for Italy.”

AC Milan set bumper Kaka price
28.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are rumoured to have put an enormous price tag on star man Kaka in order to quell advances from Chelsea.

Earlier in the season, Kaka put pen to paper on a deal that ties him to the Rossoneri until 2013.

The Brazilian international has repeatedly pledged his future to the world champions and Real Madrid claim that they have given up on trying to prise him away from San Siro.

However, reports suggest that Chelsea are showing a greater determination, as they look to rebuild their squad this summer.

According to the Daily Mirror, Milan will demand a staggering £55m for Kaka in a cash deal – a figure designed to fend off Roman Abramovich.

But there are whispers that the Blues are willing to table an offer that dwarfs the £31m record fee they paid the Diavolo for Andriy Shevchenko.

Chelsea may use the unsettled Sheva as a bargaining chip in a part-exchange deal and are said to be unfazed by the high valuation.

Pippo keeps Azzurri faith
28.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi is on sensational form for Milan and admits that he is dreaming of a place in Roberto Donadoni’s Euro 2008 squad.

The 34-year-old has been lethal since returning from injury and has found the net eight times in the last four games after yesterday’s hat-trick against Livorno.

Competition for places in Austria and Switzerland is fierce and Donadoni has a wealth of striking options, but Inzaghi is still in with a chance of a seat on the plane, despite his injury-plagued year.

“It was a very important game and I am happy for the win as well as the three goals I scored,” Inzaghi declared.

“I’m on incredible form personally and it’s hard to believe because I thought it would be tough.

“I must continue to do my part if I am to make it to Euro 2008. I’m available if I am needed, but if not I will stay at home without any quibbling.

“At the moment I am calm and just looking to keep going forward like this. It is a fantastic time and it is great to be playing here.

“Kaka, Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf are such amazing players and keep setting me up in front of goal.”

Ancelotti hails hat-trick hero
28.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti feels Pippo Inzaghi can lead Milan to the Champions League – and the derby victory – but can’t help wonder what might’ve been.

SuperPippo bagged a hat-trick in today’s 4-1 win away to Livorno, which thanks to Fiorentina’s 2-2 draw with Sampdoria leaves them just two points adrift of fourth place.

It sets up a tantalising Derby della Madonnina next Sunday afternoon with title-chasing Inter.

“All teams will want to get their objectives as soon as possible. It is only normal Inter want to get a result on Sunday, but we’ve got a lot to aim for as well,” said Ancelotti.

“Certainly Fiorentina’s result helps because getting into the Champions League doesn’t only depend on us anymore. It is important to close up the gap and let’s not forget if we finish level on points then we would qualify thanks to our superior record in head-to-heads.”

There is no doubting the difference made by Inzaghi’s return to full fitness, as the veteran has scored a staggering eight goals in his last four Serie A games.

“I don’t want to dwell on the past, but people often forget Inzaghi was out of action for three months. Once he started playing from the start again he scored 16 goals in as many matches. He is in great shape along with Kaka and they forge a very strong partnership.”

Ancelotti also wished to reiterate his view on Gennaro Gattuso’s possible move to Manchester United, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

“Rino will not leave here. I am sure he is still very motivated and you can see it in these tricky times when there are important objectives to achieve.”

Livorno’s humiliating home defeat leaves them propping up the Serie A table and staring relegation in the face.

“The biggest disappointment is the negative impression we have made on our fans,” sighed Coach Giancarlo Camolese.

“The team has to play with a different spirit. We need to give our best in every match and today, regardless of the fact we were playing a great squad, we did not fight to the end.

“Nonetheless, there are nine points up for grabs and we have the potential to make it.”

Livorno 1:4 AC Milan - match report
27.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Inzaghi 23, 51, 59 (M), Seedorf 71 (M), Knezevic 73 (L)

Pippo Inzaghi grabbed a hat-trick for his eighth goal in the last four games, closing to within two points of Fiorentina in fourth!

Two important races crossed paths at the Stadio Picchi, as the Rossoneri were within four points of a Champions League spot and the Amaranto were propping up the table alongside Reggina and Empoli. Livorno held Milan to a 1-1 draw at San Siro in February, the game in which Ronaldo snapped the tendon in his knee.

Alessandro Diamanti got a starting spot after his brilliant free kick blocked Roma last week, but Luis Vigidal was still sidelined and Marco Amelia pulled out in the warm-up. Carlo Ancelotti missed Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Emerson, Marcos Cafu, Dario Simic, Nelson Dida and Serginho, but Marek Jankulovski was back on the bench.

Pippo Inzaghi just failed to get on the end of a Kaka cross from the left in the opening 60 seconds, while Clarence Seedorf flashed a right-foot shot across the face of goal.

Milan took the lead with a well-worked move, as Kaka sprung the offside trap and rolled across for Inzaghi to tap in from six yards. However, there was more than a suspicion of offside, as it is not clear whether he was behind the line of the ball.

Alfonso De Lucia parried a Massimo Ambrosini header and Kaka drilled well wide, but Livorno finally had their first chance on the stroke of half-time with Grandoni's cross-shot.

Inzaghi doubled the advantage with his seventh goal in four games, a precise glancing header from Daniele Bonera's cross from the right.

SuperPippo continued his incredible form with a hat-trick, a precise header from an Andrea Pirlo corner kick at the near post.

Inzaghi completed his man of the match performance with an assist for Seedorf to go past two defenders in the centre and blast it past De Lucia.

Livorno got one back with a Dario Knezevic diving header from a corner kick. Massimo Oddo made his comeback after surgery to replace Alessandro Nesta, ensuring the central defender did not get a booking that would rule him out of the derby.

Livorno: De Lucia; Melara, Grandoni, Knezevic, Galante, Pasquale; Pulzetti, A Filippini (De Vezze 55), Bergvold (Balleri 67); Diamanti; Tavano (Tristan 55)

Milan: Kalac; Bonera, Nesta (Oddo 69), Kaladze, Favalli (Jankulovski 73); Gattuso (Brocchi 61), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka, Seedorf; Inzaghi

Ref: Morganti

AC Milan set Ronaldinho ultimatum
27.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Spanish newspapers claim Milan have set an ultimatum to Barcelona – accept £10m for the player or abandon negotiations.

So far the Rossoneri have baulked at the demands for the Brazilian player, said to be in the region of £40m.

Although FIFA agent and Milan go-between Ernesto Bronzetti has publicly stated “Barca usually ask for at least double their real target,” even £20m is considered too steep after Dinho’s dismal campaign.

They have the will of the player on their side, as personal terms have already been agreed with Milan and Ronaldinho has made no secret of his desire to join the Club World Cup winners.

With this in mind, and Barca risking losing the Liga title to Real Madrid after last night’s 2-0 defeat to Deportivo La Coruna, the Rossoneri are backing them into a corner.

Catalan newspaper Sport today claims that a new and final offer of £10m for Ronaldinho has been tabled, along with the absolute assertion there will not be a penny more.

Although clubs such as Manchester City have offered considerably more for the Brazilian, his heart is set on Milan and attempting to force him into a move to the Premier League could spark a legal battle.

After all, Ronaldinho could in theory cite FIFA’s Article 17 and extricate himself from his contract for just over £10m and all involved want to avoid such drastic action.

Article 17 allows players to unilaterally break a contract after their “protected period” expires – after three years if they signed when under the age of 28 and two years if they put pen to paper when older.

The buy-out clause is calculated based on the original transfer fee and wages.

Ancelotti welcomes Flamini
27.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti sees Mathieu Flamini as “an excellent signing” and gives his views on Gennaro Gattuso and Ronaldinho.

“He is an excellent player,” the Coach said of the Arsenal midfielder. “When he played against us, he showed great dynamism and ability. Someone like him would be of use to any side.

“And, seeing as he will be out of contract, that would be an excellent signing for us.”

Juventus are also interested in picking up the want-away Gunners star who looks set to reject the offer of a new contract at the Emirates.

There has been transfer talk around Gattuso, who could move on for a new challenge in England or Spain.

“We will talk about it at the end of the season. I continue to believe he will remain at Milan at the end of the day. He may have a few worries at the moment, but Gattuso is too important for Milan and is just as crucial as Kaka.

“Nobody puts in the heart and soul that Gattuso does and he is irreplaceable. There is absolutely no way we would let him go.”

The negotiations for Ronaldinho seem to have hit a brick wall this week, as Barcelona are requesting £40m for the package deal with Gianluca Zambrotta, whereas the Rossoneri are offering half that.

“Ronaldinho is a great champion and two years ago he was wanted by everyone because he was the European Player of the Year,” continued Ancelotti on Milan Channel.

“He has had a bad year, but that’s not the point. Ronaldinho is useful to us if he works hard and settles in to the squad.”

Meanwhile, Milan have a four-point gap to close up from fourth-placed Fiorentina to capture that Champions League spot and take on Livorno, the side that ruined Roma’s Scudetto dreams last week.

“We will be facing a team that cares a great deal about this game and Livorno have already shown what kind of an approach they have against Roma. They’ll try to make the most of Alessandro Diamanti and Francesco Tavano’s chances.

“We will field more or less the same line-up that beat Reggina with Daniele Bonera at right-back, while Marek Jankulovski is now fit for the bench. Pippo Inzaghi and Kaka will start, as they are fresh and dangerous.

“To carry on hoping we need to win all four games and hope for the best. We are in stand-by this season, as it seems excessive to call it a failure after taking home the European Super Cup and Club World Cup.”

Marcos Cafu and Dario Simic were not called up, while Nelson Dida, Emerson, Serginho, Paolo Maldini and Ronaldo are injured.

Milan squad: Fiori, Kalac, Offredi, Oddo, Bonera, Digao, Favalli, Kaladze, Nesta, Jankulovski, Brocchi, Ambrosini, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Pato, Paloschi.

Capello: AC Milan don't need Ronaldinho
25.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

England boss Fabio Capello warns Milan they “don’t need Ronaldinho,” while Barcelona find fault with the negotiation tactics.

The Rossoneri are focusing most of their transfer kitty on capturing the Brazilian, but Capello has a different view.

“Milan do not need a player like Ronaldinho,” the former Real Madrid and Milan Coach told Spanish newspaper Marca.

That is the not the only dissenting voice from Spain, as Barcelona’s directors are said to be furious with President Silvio Berlusconi and general manager Adriano Galliani for publicly announcing Ronaldinho wanted to join them.

“We know Milan reached an agreement with Ronaldinho, but they must not think that because of that our position has been weakened,” Vice-President Ferrano Soriano told Tuttosport.

“We will not be remembered as the administration that sold Ronaldinho for a cut-price fee.”

It is reported Barca have requested £30m for the Brazilian and teammate Gianluca Zambrotta, but Milan want to pay only £20m for the package deal.

“Berlusconi used a tactic from the last century, saying he had already bought him and then accusing us of asking for too much.

“But if it’s true that Milan want to sign Ronaldinho on their terms, then it is also true that we own his contract and will sell him on our terms.”

There is the threat Ronaldinho will invoke FIFA’s Article 17, effectively freeing him from his contract for just over £10m.

“Milan will not resort to such an extreme measure, as it would spark a dangerous chain reaction through Europe’s most important clubs.”

AC Milan in the red
25.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has today spoken to shareholders, revealing the Via Turati club to be £24m in the red.

The 63-year old who, since Silvio Berlusconi stepped down earlier this week, has taken the role of President in all but name, moved to reassure the Rossoneri's worried investors.

“To get the books back in order it would be enough to sell Kaka to Real Madrid for £55m,” remarked Galliani to the consternation of Milan's money men.

Shareholders are believed to be angry at the club's recent form on the pitch and in the transfer market.

According to a report in Italian newspaper La Stampa, some investors are unwilling to contribute money to this summer's transfer budget.

Galliani refused to accept all the blame, insisting that they were just as responsible for the Diavolo's current troubles.

“Last year they begged me to renew Dida's contract and adhere to the requests of Emerson, Cafu, Serginho and Favalli.”

Milan have been labelled an old side of late and criticised for not investing enough in young talent, Alexandre Pato aside.

But Galliani defended the Rossoneri's policy, saying: “Footballers are like cars, their condition changes year on year.”

The Diavolo have recently been heavily linked with troubled Barcelona forward Ronaldinho. The 28-year-old has been in limbo this year, but Galliani believes he can get back to his best.

“At the moment he reminds me of when he was at Paris Saint-Germain in 2003. I don't think he'd have a problem playing in the UEFA Cup either. Luca Toni has for Bayern Munich.”

Bronzetti: Ronaldinho wants AC Milan
25.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ernesto Bronzetti, transfer advisor to some of Europe's biggest clubs, believes Ronaldinho would like to play for Milan.

Bronzetti has become a point of reference between Barcelona and the Diavolo as the two clubs look to iron out a deal for the 28-year-old star.

“Ronaldinho would be the icing on the cake,” he said. “However, he is not the solution for the ills of Milan because, let's be honest, they are well-organised in attack. I wouldn't say that he has to arrive at all costs.”

Bronzetti is wary about the asking price touted for Ronaldinho, which has been reported to be in excess of £40m.

“There are some very high figures being thrown around,” he added.

There has also been speculation regarding the involvement of Nike and Inter in the transfer of the former Paris Saint-Germain attacker.

Nike sponsor both Inter and Ronaldinho, leading some to believe that they would prefer to see the Brazilian in Nerazzurri.

“If Ronaldinho changes teams, he would like to wear Rossonero - with or without Nike,” concluded Bronzetti.

Shevchenko loan to AC Milan?
25.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko will only return to Milan if the Blues are willing to let him go out on loan, according to his agent.

The 31-year-old Ukrainian has struggled since moving to London in 2006 and has made no secret of his desire to return to Italy with Milan, where he scored 127 goals in 208 appearances.

“Vice-President Adriano Galliani has always been clear,” explained Fabio Parisi. “The operation can only be done if Chelsea were to allow Milan to take him on a cost-free loan.

“If the Blues' owner Roman Abramovich gives it the ok then I believe that the move will go ahead.”

Shevchenko went to Stamford Bridge for a club record fee of £30m and is regarded as one of the biggest flops in Premiership history despite being a former European Footballer of the Year.

Milan have been linked with a string of forwards in recent weeks as the Via Turati club look to arrest their decline and prepare for next season.

Duo reject Super League
25.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Enrico Preziosi and Maurizio Zamparini have rejected Silvio Berlusconi's plan to create an Italian Super League.

The Rossoneri President and Italian Prime Minister claimed he would like to see a championship with only the best teams involved, without promotions and relegations.

“There is no way this proposal should go ahead,” claimed the Genoa patron. “I don't understand how this Super League would be created.

“We are talking about something which needs to be organised for the long term, at least from five to eight years.”

Palermo President Zamparini [pictured] has indicated that this is an old idea which is never going to work.

“I have always disagreed with it and I don't want to have a G-14 in Italian football,” he stated, referring to the now disbanded group of powerful European clubs.

“With this system you can do whatever you want - we could even have 14 dictators ruling Europe rather than 14 democracies.

“This proposal will never be taken into account because, fortunately, we do not live in the United States.”

The G-14 was a European organisation founded in 2000 which aimed to reinforce the power of the most important clubs.

Inter, Juventus and Milan were all members before the group was disbanded at the beginning of 2008.

Pirlo admits AC Milan failure
25.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan playmaker Andrea Pirlo has expressed his dissatisfaction at the Rossoneri's lacklustre season in no uncertain terms.

Milan won the Club World Cup in January, but were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 in March and are currently four points from qualifying for next year's edition.

“We went out of Europe, then the Coppa Italia and we haven't even challenged for the Scudetto,” moaned the Italian international.

The Rossoneri currently lie fifth in Serie A, five points away from the top four and a massive 23 points behind city rivals Inter at the top of the table.

The 28-year-old is not too downhearted though, and wants his teammates to channel their disappointment into success in 2008-09.

“We will need all this hurt, it will stand us in good stead for the next campaign,” said the former Inter man, who also gave his view on the future of his midfield partner Gennaro Gattuso.

“Rino is the talisman of this team. I don't think that he has the desire to leave, also because next year we will return to winning ways,” he insisted.

Looking ahead to this summer's European Championship, Pirlo felt inclined to put his weight behind the campaign to get Alessandro Del Piero into the Italy squad.

“Del Piero has always been a part of the Azzurri and it is normal that we would like to see him there for this occasion,” he finished.

Berlusconi Jr rejects Ronaldinho
25.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Piersilvio Berlusconi disagrees with his father's intention to bring Barcelona and Brazil star Ronaldinho to San Siro.

The former World Player of the Year has been heavily linked with a move to the Rossoneri after falling out with the Catalan giants.

“I wouldn't take Ronaldinho. Speaking as a fan, Milan do not need a player like him at the moment,” said the Mediaset Vice-President.

Berlusconi Jr has been touted as a future President of the Diavolo and has his own ideas on how the club should be managed, balking at the price of the World Cup winner.

Negotiations have stalled between Barcelona and Milan after the Blaugrana demanded a fee believed to be in excess of £18m for the 28-year-old.

“It's rather a lot to spend on one player, perhaps it would be better to invest in different departments. But if a player of his calibre were to arrive, he would still be welcome,” he ended.

Milan are rumoured to have made an offer of a combined £20m bid for both Ronaldinho and his Italian teammate Gianluca Zambrotta.

Zamparini eyes Amauri - Gattuso swap
24.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini has sensationally proposed an Amauri-Gennaro Gattuso exchange with Milan.

The Rosanero have had confirmed negotiations with Juventus over Amauri, but their patron thinks he’d be better elsewhere.

“I don’t want to judge Milan’s transfer policy, but with Kaka and Alexandre Pato, I don’t think Ronaldinho can be a useful signing,” he told Radio Kiss Kiss.

“We are talking about a player of undoubted value whose name excites the fans, but when you focus only on making the supporters happy then you don’t work for the good of the team.

“Perhaps a hitman like Luca Toni, Didier Drogba or Amauri should be a priority for the Rossoneri.”

Zamparini said this week that the only offer he had received was from Juventus, so this was a clear public invite for Milan to join the race.

His interest in the Rossoneri does not limit itself to strikers, as the patron also commented on reports Gattuso is ready to move on.

“We must keep our transfer targets hidden so they do not escape, but I dream of Gattuso in the Rosanero jersey.”

The World Cup winner has been linked with a new challenge at Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Manchester United, but could be tempted into a surprise switch.

Cafu: I'm too young to quit
24.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan veteran Marcos Cafu is 37 years old, but has absolutely no intention of hanging up his boots just yet.

“I still haven’t decided what I will do and there is still a month to go before the end of the season, but I do not think I will retire,” revealed the Brazilian.

“I am still motivated. When I am on the bench or in the stands, I feel bad. I still have the desire to prove I can do a great deal for football, even if I am 37 years old.”

Cafu has been at Milan since a free transfer from Roma in 2003 and even back then was considering seeing out the final years of his career in Japan.

“I am feeling good at the moment after having a few fitness problems. The important thing is that when the Coach calls, I am ready to give my contribution.

“It always makes a player happy knowing he can contribute to the success of the squad.”

The right-back has had to play more regularly of late because Massimo Oddo underwent surgery and hopes he can help Milan finish in the top four.

“We will try to get there at all costs. There are four rounds left in which we must achieve everything we possibly can and then, if the other sides also do well and end up ahead, all we can do is take our hats off to them.

“The important thing is that we do well so there can be no regrets. If the other teams want to give us a hand by slipping up, then that is even better.”

Oddo: It's our fault
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Massimo Oddo has admitted that the Rossoneri have only themselves to blame for their disappointing season.

The Club World Cup holders were knocked out of Europe in March and are struggling to qualify for next year's edition of the Champions League.

“It's our fault,” confessed Oddo, pointing out the Diavolo's disastrous home form as a reason why they are four points adrift of fourth place Fiorentina with four games to go.

“We have only won six times at San Siro - that's relegation form. This makes me think that we have not been able to exploit home advantage.”

Milan have the second best away record in the League, winning on three more occasions than fourth-place Fiorentina, but the Viola have notched up five more victories than the Rossoneri in front of their own fans.

“The teams we face tend to close us down and we have not been successful in finding a way to unhinge their defences,” mused the right-back.

Oddo also refused to blame referees for the Rossoneri's current position, acknowledging that players are not above reproach themselves.

“They haven't killed us, but they have played their part,” he moaned. “They have made mistakes, as have we.”

Milan face Livorno in Tuscany on Sunday and still have to take on Inter, Napoli and Udinese to complete the campaign.

Berlusconi wants 'super' League
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi would like Serie A to become a League for big clubs only.

The 71-year-old, who today stepped down as Milan President, believes a smaller championship would make Italian teams more competitive in Europe.

“The great sides should make their own championship. When you invest a lot in a team it's unthinkable to make them play against a team from the provinces whose stadium, usually with a capacity for 20,000 people, is inevitably half-empty.”

Speaking to Radio Radio, Il Cavaliere explained that teams with fewer spectators should have their own Division, separate from those with large grounds and huge fan bases.

Attendances at Italian football matches have been dropping, despite a recent resurgence, over the last 10 years. Violence, irregular kick-off times and ticket prices have all contributed to the decline.

“When there are great teams playing the stadiums are always full and TV audiences are massive. Only with great teams can we become protagonists in Europe again.”

Aside from owning the Rossoneri, Berlusconi presides over Mediaset, a private television company which has the rights to show Milan, Juventus, Roma and Inter.

Juventus and AC Milan trade insults
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus' general manager Jean-Claude Blanc has become embroiled in an argument with Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani.

The Frenchman, who joined La Vecchia Signora in June 2006, reacted to competition from the Diavolo for Arsenal's Mathieu Flamini in a cheeky fashion.

Asked why Flamini would choose the Bianconeri ahead of the Rossoneri, Blanc said: “Juve are in the Champions League and Milan aren't.”

Galliani [pictured] didn't waste any time coming up with a response, sniping: “The Club World Cup champions cannot possibly reply to the newly-promoted Juventus.”

Relations between the two clubs have been cordial since 2006 when the Turin giants were relegated and Milan were penalised for their part in the Calciopoli scandal.

However, Juventus' competitiveness this term has marked the return of a historic antipathy which could spoil the Bianconeri's efforts to sign another of their targets, Genoa striker Marco Borriello, who is currently on loan from Milan.

Pato reveals Olympic dream
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan's teenage sensation Alexandre Pato is intent on going to the Olympics in China this summer with Brazil.

A string of Rossoneri players, including Kaka and Clarence Seedorf, have expressed their wish to compete in Beijing only to be discouraged from doing so by the club.

“I want to go to the Olympics,” revealed Pato. “I dream of winning a gold medal for Brazil, but it depends on Milan.”

The 18-year-old, who has scored eight goals in 15 appearances since January, has moved to reassure the Diavolo that he is still committed to their cause.

“In the future I am counting on winning lots of trophies in Rossonero and a World Cup with the Selecao. I also want to become the best player in the world.”

The Via Turati club are believed to want all of their players to be available, should they finish in fourth place, in preparation for Champions League qualifiers in August.

The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to be held from August 8 to August 24, 2008.

Berlusconi steps down
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi is to give up his official role at the club after becoming Prime Minister of Italy for a third time.

Il Cavaliere has been under pressure to step down from the helm at Via Turati to guard against any potential conflicts of interest.

“My new role is incompatible with the Milan presidency,” explained Berlusconi in an interview with Radio Radio.

The 71-year-old media mogul has been criticised in the past for abusing his power to protect his own interests.

Owner of Milan since 1986, Berlusconi also categorically denied he is opposed to George Soro's bid to buy Roma.

“I am not against the arrival of foreign investors. This is a practice by now well developed in Europe - just look at what has happened in England with Chelsea and Liverpool.

“If someone comes in who is willing to bring happiness to the fans and reinforce the squad, I'll more than welcome them.”

Kaka seeks derby gift
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

As Kaka celebrates his 26th birthday, he asks for two special presents – victory in the Milan derby and the captain’s armband.

“Winning the derby has a very special taste to it,” smiled the Brazilian ahead of the intercity clash on May 4.

“When I first arrived we used to win it all the time, but now for the past two or three years things have changed. We’ve got to turn that trend around, as a great deal of our future is tied up in beating Inter.”

The Nerazzurri have triumphed in the last three derbies on the trot and won four of the last five Serie A meetings, including a 2-1 back on December 23.

This is Kaka’s fifth year at the club and, with Paolo Maldini considering retirement and Gennaro Gattuso reportedly leaving the country, he is next in line for the captain’s armband.

“One day I would love to wear it. I am currently learning from Maldini and if one day it does happen, it would be wonderful for me,” he told Milan Channel.

“The team is very close to Milan and when you have played together a long time you know everything about each other. That is the secret of a winning side – we all learn from one another.

“For example, I try to treat Alexandre Pato the same way the others treated me when I arrived, I try to protect and coddle him a little bit. He will learn too.”

If Kaka has one complaint about the life of a Milan star, it is the packed fixture list and he blames this for the spate of fitness concerns.

“There are too many games. Players get tired physically and in terms of motivation, as isn’t easy to be constantly focused. The injuries reflect this schedule.”

AC Milan plan Zapata raid
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have reportedly renewed their interest in launching a bid for Udinese defender Cristian Zapata this summer.

The Rossoneri watched the 21-year-old stopper on numerous occasions last year, only to divert their resources towards the transfer of Alexandre Pato.

The Colombian, who has made 23 appearances for the Zebrette this season, is thought to be wanted by a string of clubs including Fiorentina, Inter, Roma and Arsenal.

Udinese sporting director Giampaolo Pozzo is believed to be willing to let the youngster go for a fee of around £12m.

Milan transfer guru Ariedo Braida is said to be presiding over the deal by virtue of his healthy relationship with Udinese, where he spent three years as a player.

The Diavolo are clearly looking to reinforce their defence for next season after a disappointing campaign in both Serie A and the Champions League.

French internationals Philippe Mexes and Sebastien Frey have already been linked with a move to Milanello as has Sevilla's Brazilian right-back Daniel Alves.

Juventus consider Zambrotta return
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Barcelona defender Gianluca Zambrotta could be set for a sensational return to Juventus according to the Spanish Press.

The 31-year-old left the Bianconeri for £9m in the summer of 2006 after the Turin giants were relegated for their part in the Calciopoli scandal.

The Catalan daily newspaper Sport has revealed that Juventus have, along with Milan, registered their interest in taking the World Cup winner back to Italy.

The former Bari star has made 75 appearances for Barcelona in two seasons and has only a Spanish Super Cup medal to show for it.

Zambrotta, who was made honorary President of hometown club Como in December 2006, has been itching for a move all season.

Milan are still favourites to sign the two-time Scudetto winner given that many Juve fans still feel betrayed by Zambrotta's hasty departure two years ago.

Kaka wants Ronaldinho at AC Milan
23.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Ricky Kaka has spoken of his desire to see compatriot Ronaldinho join him in Rossonero.

The Barcelona ace has been heavily linked with a move to San Siro after falling out with players and directors at the Camp Nou.

“I have always had the opportunity to play with him in the national team,” explained Kaka. “We have always got on well.

“To be able to play together also at club level would be truly beautiful.”

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani had reportedly come to an agreement with the former Paris Saint-Germain player’s representative, but admitted yesterday that any deal would be difficult.

Kaka, meanwhile, is enjoying life at Milanello and is particularly happy after scoring his third hat-trick for Milan against Reggina at the weekend in the Diavolo’s 5-1 victory.

“It’s always a great feeling to score three,” admitted Kaka. “What makes me even happier is being useful to my team and my mates again.

“I like to be decisive, it pleases me. A victory of this style has given us a boost to finish each of our remaining four games in the same way.”

The Brazilian, 26 today, is optimistic Milan can make fourth place and qualify for the Champions League.

“We have to think about ourselves, conquer the 12 points available and then look at what Fiorentina are doing.

“The Viola are having a great season but are still in the UEFA Cup... But, first of all, we have to think about Milan and Milan only.”

Kaka is quickly becoming a legend among the Milanisti faithful and would like to win the Scudetto next season.

The former Sao Paulo player, who signed a contract extension until 2013 worth £7.5m per season last month, also has a personal objective.

“I have scored 78 goals with Milan and I am very content. I hope to reach 100 as soon as possible.”

Galliani crunches Ronaldinho numbers
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani confirms a conference call with Barcelona, but “some numbers don’t add up” in the Ronaldinho negotiations.

It is well known that yesterday FIFA agent Ernesto Bronzetti flew out to Spain for talks over the former European and World Player of the Year, acting as an emissary for the Rossoneri.

“Yesterday there was a conference call with Barcelona, but there are some numbers that don’t add up,” general manager Galliani told Sky Italia television.

It has been reported that Milan have offered £20m for both Dinho and teammate Gianluca Zambrotta, although it’s likely the final price tag will be a little higher.

Galliani also moved to quash rumours the transfers would fall through if they failed to finish in the top four.

“We absolutely want to enter the Champions League, but let us not forget that Ronaldinho joined Barcelona when they were playing the UEFA Cup.

“It can happen to all the great European clubs to miss out on qualification one season. Of course I hope it won’t happen to Milan, but it would not be a tsunami.”

The Rossoneri general manager also commented on reports Gennaro Gattuso is seeking a fresh challenge next term at Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Rangers or Real Madrid.

“Absolutely not, he will not leave.”

Ancelotti: Win and hope
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti insists Milan must play with the same aggression as their 5-1 thumping of Reggina in all four remaining matches.

“We had a good start with impressive play and determination, quickly breaking the deadlock so we could hit them on the counter,” explained the Coach.

A victory was needed to stay within four points of Fiorentina in that final Champions League berth.

“The gap is still there, but we must continue along this path right to the end. Our objective is to prepare one game at a time and try to win them all.”

Kaka has been struggling with injury for the past few months, but proved he is back in top shape with a hat-trick.

“Kaka’s absence really weighed on us in decisive games that proved crucial to falling behind in the Champions League race. It’s only natural and now he is finding his best form.

“Clarence Seedorf sacrificed himself for the team today with characteristics that are not his own. Great champions are always able to put the squad first and it is inevitable in any League in Europe now.”

The Rossoneri strike force had been disappointing of late, but this 5-1 thrashing with goals from Pippo Inzaghi and Alexandre Pato revived them.

“At the moment our centre-forward is Inzaghi, even if Pato is a different type of player. There’s no such thing as pure centre-forwards anymore, now there are complete forwards.”

AC Milan 5:1 Reggina - match report
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka pens 8 and 33, 68 (M), Barreto 40 (R), Inzaghi 73 (M), Pato 89 (M)

Kaka proved he is fully recovered with a magnificent performance and hat-trick in this drubbing of Reggina.

There was no room for error as the Rossoneri needed a win to avoid falling seven points behind Fiorentina. Last week's 3-2 defeat at Juventus was a blow, but even worse was their dismal home form, winning just five times at San Siro. Reggina were on a high after beating Sampdoria 1-0, though they remained in the bottom three and had scored just once in their previous six away games. Curiously, this fixture hadn't ended in a draw for nine editions, since the 2-2 in December 1999.

Alexandre Pato returned from a mysterious muscular injury to sit on the bench, though Daniele Bonera and Massimo Ambrosini were banned with Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, Marek Jankulovski and Emerson sidelined. Reggina made the trip without Emanuele Cascione, Maurizio Lanzaro and Montiel.

In the opening minute Salvatore Aronica and Francesco Modesto collided, allowing Cristian Brocchi to fire a right-foot shot on the bounce on to the side-netting.

The referee pointed to the spot when Modesto tackled Kaka in the box as he was lining up the shot. The Brazilian got back up to send Andrea Campagnolo the wrong way and bury the powerful penalty.

Reggina fought back with a Valdez header testing Zeljko Kalac, but Campagnolo palmed Kaka's cross-shot out from under the bar and parried a Kakha Kaladze angled drive with his feet.

Kaka has now recovered from his injury problems and it showed, as he was swarming around the Amaranto defence. Pippo Inzaghi's backheel set up Kaka for a fierce strike that Campagnolo parried.

The referee awarded a second penalty for a Luca Vigiani trip on Clarence Seedorf and this time Kaka took a different approach, rolling it gently into the other angle.

However, Reggina got back into it with an absolute screamer from Barreto. He controlled a clearance just outside the D and smashed the rocket into the top corner past a helpless Kalac.

A Seedorf rocket skimmed the bar, but after the restart Barreto went off in agony after an accidental clash of knees with Seedorf.

Inzaghi's diving header whistled wide and Campagnolo pushed an Andrea Pirlo piledriver out from under the crossbar.

Kaka's acrobatic backheel sent Inzaghi clear on goal, but the Italian was closed down as he was lining up the shot by some desperate defending. However, some chaotic play at the back almost gifted Reggina an equaliser, as Kaladze had to come sliding in to stop a tap-in from six yards.

Kaka was comfortably man of the match and completed his hat-trick. Brocchi's cross was chested down for a precise low first time finish into the far bottom corner.

There were penalty appeals from Reggina for a Kaladze handling offence on Franco Brienza's cross, but the referee waved play on.

Alexandre Pato made his comeback and created the fourth goal almost immediately. His shot was deflected on to the upright by Campagnolo and Inzaghi was ready to pounce on the loose ball.

Pato got his name on the scoresheet eventually with a powerful header on Yoan Gourcuff's cross from the right.

Milan: Kalac; Cafu (Simic 76), Nesta, Kaladze, Favalli; Gattuso (Gourcuff 80), Pirlo, Brocchi; Kaka, Seedorf (Pato 69); Inzaghi

Reggina: Campagnolo; Valdez (Alvarez 69), Cirillo, Aronica; Vigiani, Barreto (Misiroli 48), Tognozzi, Modesto (Costa 82); Cozza, Brienza; Amoruso

Ref: Farina

Sponsors aid Inter's Ronaldinho bid
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Inter are reportedly using Nike to intercept Milan’s negotiations for Ronaldinho, but the Rossoneri will meet with Barcelona today.

Nerazzurri patron Massimo Moratti had said the Spaniards “wouldn’t move a muscle before hearing our proposal.”

It is claimed on Sky Sport Italia that the offer has now come in, as his son Angelo Mario Moratti flew out to Barcelona for talks.

As Barca, Ronaldinho and Inter are all sponsored by Nike, they hope to use the kit giant to help steer him towards Moratti’s side of San Siro.

However, Milan have also sent emissary Ernesto Bronzetti out to Barcelona for initial talks on taking both Ronaldinho and Gianluca Zambrotta.

These went well, especially as the Rossoneri have already agreed personal terms with Dinho’s agent for a four-year contract worth £6.7m per season plus image rights.

Official negotiations will get down to details today at Barca’s offices in the Nou Camp and it is reported Milan could snatch both players for a bargain £20m.

General manager Adriano Galliani will only fly out for the final meeting in which contracts are signed and exchanged, but Sky Sport Italia thinks that could be as early as the middle of next week.

There is of course the Premier League option, as both Chelsea and Manchester City maintain their interest in the Brazilian.

“Few can afford Ronaldinho, so Milan and Chelsea are the clubs who have sought him out most insistently,” revealed FIFA agent Bronzetti on RAI programme Dribbling.

“Ronaldinho doesn’t really like English football though, he much prefers Milan.”

Manchester United move for Gattuso
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Italy suggest Gennaro Gattuso is heading from the Diavolo to the Red Devils at Old Trafford this summer.

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti denied the midfielder was ready to walk out on his team, insisting he was “100 per cent” sure to remain.

Yet rumours of Gattuso’s imminent departure continue to circulate and so far the candidates have included Glasgow Rangers, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

The latest newspaper reports in Italy have found a new and more likely destination – Manchester United.

Sir Alex Ferguson has never disguised his admiration for the World Cup winner and is ready to over a four-year contract worth £3m per season net.

Milan had previously turned down an approach for the midfielder in the wake of the Champions League Final debacle in Istanbul.

It is claimed that Gattuso has already agreed basic personal terms with United and Milan would be willing to release him after nine years of service.

However, the Rossoneri are not ready to let him go for the proposed £10m and want a higher offer for the 30-year-old.

Clarence Seedorf is also considering moving on with interest from Bayern Munich and Valencia.

Upfront Alberto Gilardino is almost certain to leave in the summer with offers from Sampdoria, Fiorentina and Roma.

Orlandi takes fight to AC Milan
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Considering Milan’s dismal home record and Reggina’s attitude, Nevio Orlandi insists his team won’t raise the drawbridge at San Siro.

“We must go there aware of Milan’s strength, but with the intention of attacking them and playing a positive match,” said the Coach who defeated Sampdoria last week.

“To put up the barricades against a team like that would be counter-productive. We should be careful in defence, of course, but also dedicated to pushing forward quickly and sharply.”

The Rossoneri need a victory to get back into the race for the Champions League, while Reggina are desperate to climb out of the bottom three.

“Milan went through a tough time, but although they lost away to Juventus last week, they seemed to be on the way back up.

“They will be missing some important players, such as Massimo Ambrosini, but the substitutes are all up to scratch.”

Perhaps crucially, Reggina boss Orlandi knows they have nothing to lose at San Siro.

“In the worst case scenario, we lose at Milan and will play for our safety in the final four rounds. If we get a positive result, then it is a huge boost for the table and psychologically going into the final sprint.”

Orlandi will be pleased to shake Carlo Ancelotti’s hand on the touchline at San Siro this afternoon in a game you can see live on Five.

“I met Ancelotti for the first time when he was at Reggiana, then we were in the same class for the Coaching course at Coverciano. He is a wonderful person, a great Coach and professional. It will be a pleasure to see him again.”

Reggina squad: Campagnolo, Novakovic; Aronica, Costa, Modesto, Alvarez, Cirillo, Valdez; Barreto, Cozza, Missiroli, Tognozzi, Vigiani; Ceravolo, Amoruso, Brienza, Joelson, Stuani

Ronaldo progress impresses
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo is champing at the bit after his medic gave a promising update on recovery from knee tendon surgery.

“From the day of the injury the progress has been evident and the fact it has all happened without problems is extraordinary,” explained physiotherapist Bruno Mazziotti.

“The latest tests and x-rays have confirmed the good news.”

There were fears Ronaldo’s career would be over when he snapped the tendon in his knee back in February, but he is working for a comeback.

“He deserves 10 out of 10 for effort. He is doing everything possible to be back as early as he can.

“In fact, he keeps asking me to set a date for his comeback, but I think it’s too early to be so precise.”

The initial diagnosis suggested Ronaldo would be out of action for at least seven to nine months.

Ancelotti's double objective
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti urges Milan to win all five remaining games to reach the Champions League and ruin Inter’s title dream.

“It is a tricky time for us and we are going into a very important match,” he said before tomorrow afternoon’s encounter with Reggina.

The four-point deficit to Fiorentina remains intact despite the Tuscans losing their last four away games on the trot.

“The whole Milan environment is shaken by the fact we can’t seem to close up this gap. We have thrown away a great deal despite good performances, such as against Roma and Juventus. But with five victories I think we’ll reach the Champions League.”

This could be a positive round for the Rossoneri, who take on relegation strugglers Reggina while Fiorentina face a reinvigorated Palermo.

“If tonight they failed to beat Palermo, that would be a remarkable opportunity for us,” conceded Ancelotti.

His team has a difficult run-in, specifically with the Milan derby on May 4.

“With five victories we would be able to achieve another objective – ensuring Inter don’t win the Scudetto…”

The Coach has other problems to contend with, as Paolo Maldini is out for the rest of the season with a left thigh strain.

“It is not a simple lesion, but let us not get carried away with talk of his campaign or even career being over.”

Alexandre Pato and Massimo Oddo should be back in action after long-term setbacks.

AC Milan vs Juve battle for Torres
20.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Liverpool could be forced to sell Fernando Torres – alerting Milan and Juventus – but the Rossoneri are already targeting Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Anfield Road in-fighting between owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks is just one of their problems, as ‘The Times’ claims there is a serious financial short-fall.

“Liverpool entered into an 18-month loan agreement with interest of 9 per cent - £2.8 million a year - with a letter of credit to pay back the £31.5 million at the end of the period,” says the newspaper.

”Should Liverpool be unable to pay back or refinance the loan, banks could force the sale of Torres and Ryan Babel, who was also included in the smaller refinancing package.”

If hitman Torres becomes available for around £27.5m, he will be a prime target for both Juventus and Milan, who are on the lookout for a striker.

Rossoneri President Silvio Berlusconi has already stated his club will sign Ronaldinho, Andriy Shevchenko “plus an old-style centre-forward.”

Up until now it was thought to be Chelsea’s Didier Drogba, but new reports around Europe today suggest it is Real Madrid’s van Nistelrooy.

He is relatively cheap compared to Drogba and Real would be happy to release him because they are looking to sign the Ivory Coast international as a replacement.

Milan and Juve are also said to be at loggerheads over another Premier League player, as the San Siro giants assumed they had a deal for out of contract Mathieu Flamini.

They have offered the midfielder a five-year contract worth £3.5m per season, but Juve director of sport Alessio Secco has reportedly flown out to England to table a bid of his own and, while he’s there, seek news on the Liverpool situation.

Arrivederci Maldini?
18.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Paolo Maldini has picked up an injury in training, which may end the veteran stopper’s season and bring the curtain down on his career.

The Rossoneri need all the experience they can get with just five games left to turn their season around.

However, it seems that 39-year-old stopper Maldini could be watching the remainder of the campaign from the stands.

The Diavolo legend damaged his left thigh during yesterday’s training session and early tests show that the damage could be reasonably extensive.

There are fears that the problem could be enough to rule Maldini out of any of Milan’s remaining matches.

Should Maldini stand by his previous decision to hang up his boots at the end of the season, he may have played his final game in a glorious career.

A homegrown talent, Maldini came through the Milan youth ranks and made his Serie A debut at just 16 back in January 1985.

He has since made 617 appearances for the club and has played more games in the top flight than any other active player.

AC Milan and Inter commit to San Siro
18.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan and Inter will continue to play at San Siro for another five years after agreeing a new lease with the local council.

There have been suggestions that one of the two sides may relocate to another site and build their own venue.

These whispers increased in intensity when Italy emerged as possible replacements for Ukraine to host Euro 2012, which would require the construction of new stadiums, but that possibility is now remote.

“Inter and Milan will stay at San Siro until 2013,” a statement from official Giovanni Terzi read.

“The clubs will work with the council to undergo work to make the Stadio Meazza a five star facility.”

The 83,000-capacity stadium opened in 1926 with Inter moving in to share the ground with Milan after World War II.

Pato return lifts AC Milan
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Football Italia

Milan’s young gun Alexandre Pato has finally returned to training after a lingering injury and he may even make the squad to face Reggina.

The man nicknamed “The Duck” has been out of action since the start of the month with a pain in his adductor muscle.

The problem confused Milan’s medical team, who were unable to explain why Pato was still in pain when the injury appeared to have healed.

However, the former Internacional man was able to return to training yesterday and seemed to be at 100 per cent.

The news is a huge boost to Carlo Ancelotti, whose men cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to secure Champions League qualification.

Massimo Ambrosini is suspended for the weekend’s game against Reggina, as is defender Daniele Bonera after his horror tackle on Juventus’ Momo Sissoko last weekend.

Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze could return at the back and Marcos Cafu is ready to fill in on the right.

Pippo Inzaghi, who has scored four goals in two games, is expected to start as a lone striker with Alberto Gilardino warming the San Siro bench.

Oddo makes rapid recovery
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Massimo Oddo has returned to training ahead of schedule just two weeks after knee surgery and knows that it's do or die for Milan.

It had appeared that Oddo’s season was over when he underwent knee meniscus surgery at the start of the month.

But just over two weeks later, the former Lazio man is back in training and closing in on a return.

“I am feeling good,” he insisted. “I feel like I am fully recovered after the operation and I have already had several personal training sessions.

“Now I am ready to train with the rest of the group and we will see how I go in the next few days.”

Milan are close to missing out on next season’s Champions League as they trail Fiorentina by four points with just five games remaining.

The Diavolo were left reeling after their 3-2 reverse against Juventus in Turin last weekend, but Oddo was impressed with the way his teammates played.

“I have watched the lads train and I have seen us play well in the last few games, but we have been unlucky as can happen from time to time,” he stressed.

“We deserved more against Juventus from the way we played, but we came away from Turin empty-handed.

“Now we have to win every game in order to reach our objective.

“We have to take each game as it comes, starting with Reggina on Sunday, and then we just have to hope that other teams in the race for the Champions League slip up.

“I don’t think I will be ready to play on Sunday, but I am at the Coach’s disposal and we will keep a close eye on when I am able to play.”

Maldini's against summer clearout
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Football Italia

Contrary to popular opinion, Paolo Maldini doesn’t believe that Milan need to make sweeping changes this summer.

The world champions have had a miserable campaign and are in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League.

It has widely been suggested that the Diavolo will revamp the squad at the end of the season, but Maldini has kept his faith in the current personnel.

“I don’t think that this Milan side needs to be rebuilt,” he claimed on the Milan Channel.

“This team won a prestigious competition - the Club World Cup - as recently as December – it wasn’t 20 years ago.

“There should be some continuity with this group and not a rebirth.”

One of the old guard who has been tipped to leave San Siro is Azzurri midfielder Gennaro Gattuso.

“I have read in the newspapers that there’s lots of interest for Gattuso, but I think that there have always been clubs watching him,” said Maldini.

“However, I have no doubt that the club wants to keep him and I don’t think that Rino wants to go.”

Pippo Inzaghi has made a spectacular return from injury, prompting some suggestions that he could be called up for Euro 2008.

“Lots of players are in contention for a place in Austria and Switzerland – Alessandro Del Piero, Marco Borriello, Pippo and many more,” Maldini stressed.

“They aren’t easy choices and I wouldn’t want to be the Coach.

“Generally, I think that Donadoni should go with the players who have made up the group during the two years of qualification.

“Then you take last minute physical condition into consideration and you can make a selection.”

Every game is must-win for Milan now if they are to claw back Fiorentina’s four-point advantage in fourth place and Maldini knows his side can’t afford to drop any more points.

“It doesn’t matter which games are home and which are away, we just have to give everything in these final five games,” he insisted.

“All there is for us to do is go out on the pitch and do everything we can and then we have to hope for Fiorentina to slip up. We just have to do our duty and win our games.”

Ronaldinho deal will have to wait
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Football Italia

Barcelona star Ronaldinho won’t agree a deal with Milan before the end of the season, according to a Blaugranes board member.

The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year is likely to leave the Nou Camp in the summer after falling out with Coach Frank Rijkaard.

Milan have emerged as favourites to secure Dinho’s signature and there had been suggestions that a deal could be agreed immediately, but it seems the negotiations have been put on hold.

“At the moment we are concentrating on the competitions we are involved in,” Albert Perrin insisted.

“We are not interested in listening to offers – we are just interested in winning.

“The reality is that at the moment Ronaldinho is a Barcelona player and I hope that he will be playing for us in the Champions League Final.”

Barça currently trail Real Madrid by nine points in La Liga and are awaiting a Champions League semi-final showdown with Manchester United.

Pato problem baffles doctors
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Football Italia

Alexandre Pato continues to be plagued by a mysterious muscular injury that has left the Milan doctors stumped.

The teen sensation has made a huge impact since arriving in January and has become Carlo Ancelotti’s first-choice hitman after seven goals in 14 appearances.

However, Pato has been out of action since the start of the month and, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the medics have been unable to find the exact nature of the problem.

The former Internacional man has been complaining of a pain in his adductor muscle and the doctors are puzzled as they have been unable to find any damage in tests.

With Pato still unable to train, the Rossoneri will rely on Pippo Inzaghi at Reggina this weekend and will hope he can continue his recent scoring form.

Silvio: Ronaldinho and a hitman
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Football Italia

“Ronaldinho wants to come to Milan and another top centre-forward is on his way too,” announced President Silvio Berlusconi.

The patron – this week elected Prime Minister of Italy – made the statements on Sky Sport Italia.

“Ronaldinho wants to come to Milan, that is clear. First of all because this club is the world champion, secondly as there are so many Brazilians and third everyone knows how well we treat our athletes.

“Perhaps we pay a little less than other sides, but we give them a lot more glory.”

The dig was at the other teams vying for Ronaldinho’s signature, as the Barcelona star is also a target for Inter, Chelsea and Manchester City.

The negotiations for the former World and European Player of the Year are confirmed and well known, but Berlusconi hinted at another transfer well on the way to completion.

“Another very important player is on the way. He is a powerful centre-forward who I shall not name.

“We are ready to sign two world class players for next season and there will be world class players in defence, too.”

The description of this centre-forward does not fit Andriy Shevchenko, who has also been tipped for a return to San Siro after his disappointing Chelsea spell.

“He had to bow down to a decision that his wife considered indispensable for the good of their children and so I supported him,” revealed Berlusconi.

“Among the fans there is a confrontation between those who believe he was a traitor and those who want him back. He did not cheat on Milan, he had to put his family first and I understood his decision.

“Now I believe that if he came back, we would welcome him with open arms. I am the first to support a return and hope he does.”

This week transfer guru Adriano Galliani also stated that Shevchenko’s arrival was “possible.”

Milan President Berlusconi concluded by leaving the door open for another comeback – former Rossoneri player and current Italy Coach Roberto Donadoni.

“I think he has done very well for the Nazionale and can see his future going in that direction. But if Milan needed a change of management, then he would be a great option, someone who was a key player for us and gave this side many victories.”

It is bound to spark further rumours over Carlo Ancelotti’s future should the Rossoneri not qualify for the Champions League.

Pippo sets sights on Scudetto
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Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi is firing on all cylinders after returning from injury and has set his sights on winning the Scudetto with Milan next term.

The Diavolo’s season is hanging by a thread after last weekend’s 3-2 defeat against Juventus.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are four points away from Champions League qualification and have failed in this season’s Cup competitions, but Inzaghi is staying upbeat.

“I was sad when we were eliminated from the Champions League by Arsenal, but I have been lucky enough to lift that trophy twice,” he said on Studio Sport.

"I really want to win the League title the same number of times.

“Is it over for this Milan side? We did well in the first half against Juventus and things could have been different. This team has given so much and there is a legacy to safeguard.”

After firing braces against Cagliari and Juve, Inzaghi is on red-hot form and there have even been tentative suggestions that he should go to Euro 2008.

“Roberto Donadoni knows me well,” Inzaghi said. “He knows what I can do and my feelings about the Azzurri shirt.

“I played in lots of the qualification games. If I am needed then good, but the important thing is that I train without any problems and keep playing for a great team.”

The Piacenza native concluded by discussing the possibility of Barcelona star Ronaldinho arriving in the summer.

“He is a great champion and champions are very welcome,” Inzaghi declared. “We will be happy if he arrives.”

AC Milan to return to Russia
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Football Italia

Milan will again enter the Russian Railways tournament this August as part of their pre-season preparations.

The Rossoneri will be joined in the competition on August 3 by hosts Lokomotiv Moscow, Chelsea and Sevilla.

In last summer’s inaugural tournament, Milan were beaten on penalties by PSV in their opener before seeing off Lokomotiv Moscow – also on spot-kicks – to secure third place.

The Diavolo may have a busy summer if they are forced to enter the Intertoto Cup or if they find themselves in the Champions League preliminary round, both of which take place in July.

However, should Carlo Ancelotti’s men end up competing in the UEFA Cup, they won’t be in action until the end of August.

Kalac's fourth faith
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Football Italia

Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac knows that every game is must-win for the Rossoneri from now on, but he still believes his side can finish fourth.

The world champions are facing the grim prospect of missing out on the Champions League as they trail fourth-placed Fiorentina by four points.

Last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat against Milan was a crushing blow to the Diavolo and it’s still a sore subject for Kalac.

“We conceded three goals and that’s a shame because we generally played well and deserved at least a point,” the 35-year-old told the Milan Channel.

“I won’t deny that it has left a bitter taste, but that’s the way it goes – that’s football.

“We have to look forward even if these kind of defeats have happened to us a lot this year.”

Milan must now take all three points against Reggina at San Siro this weekend in order to put the pressure on Fiorentina, who host Palermo.

“After the loss against Juventus we have to have a normal week,” Kalac stressed.

“It's essential that we don't think about what happened last week because we need to move on to preparing for the Reggina game.

“We haven’t discussed the game yet, but I think that we will tomorrow when we have double training.

“Mathematically, we are still in the race for the Champions League.

“We are four points behind, but lots of things can happen in five games.”

Real to go for Gattuso?
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Football Italia

There are reports in Italy that Real Madrid are preparing a summer bid for Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso.

The former Rangers man hasn’t been on top form recently and has been one of the main disappointments in the Rossoneri’s season of underachievement.

Press reports have suggested that the world champions are ready to ring the changes in pre-season and could replace many of the old guard, including Gattuso.

According to Tuttosport, Real Madrid are watching the situation with interest and could be willing to part with as much as £10m to bring Rino to the Bernabeu.

With Mahamadou Diarra looking to quit the Merengues, the Spanish champions are searching for a new defensive midfielder and could benefit from the addition of a pugnacious ball-winner.

While Gattuso has stressed his desire to lead Milan back to glory, the 30-year-old is also reportedly keen to ply his trade abroad once more after enjoying his adventure with Rangers in 1997-98.

There have been suggestions that Gattuso may prefer to relocate to England, with whispers that Tottenham and Newcastle are in the frame.

Nonetheless, it may be hard to persuade the Diavolo to part with a man who has become an integral figure at San Siro after playing over 250 games since joining from Salernitana in 1999.

Berlusconi expects Ronaldinho deal
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Football Italia

Silvio Berlusconi is confident that Barcelona star Ronaldinho will be playing for Milan next term.

Despite interest from city rivals Inter, the Rossoneri are in pole position to sign the Brazilian ace, according to agent and brother Roberto De Assis.

Milan President Berlusconi, who became Italy’s prime minister yesterday by winning a third general election, met De Assis late on Monday night and has revealed that the deal is progressing.

“Will Ronaldinho arrive? For the time being his brother has arrived,” Berlusconi said on Radio Monte Carlo.

“At dinner, De Assis brought me Ronaldinho’s shirt with a very affectionate message written on it. I have very high hopes.”

Ronaldinho is under contract at Barca until 2010, but he is reportedly keen to quit the club after falling out with Coach Frank Rijkaard this season.

Although Dinho has stressed his admiration for the Diavolo, it has been suggested that he is waiting to see whether they secure Champions League qualification before he commits his future to San Siro.

Agent refutes Mexes' AC Milan link
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Football Italia

Rumours linking Roma stopper Philippe Mexes with a summer switch to Milan are complete fabrication, according to the player’s agent.

After a shaky spell, the French international has re-emerged as a steadying presence at the heart of the Giallorossi defence in recent times.

As Milan look to freshen up their ageing defence ahead of next season, there have been whispers that the Rossoneri will approach the 26-year-old, but his representative denies there’s any concrete interest.

“I deny everything,” Olivier Jeanneaux told Laromasiamonoi. “I don’t know anything about this move because Philippe and I have had no contact with Milan.

“The rumours are the usual voices about Philippe and they are heard every time Roma close on Inter. It’s possibly people trying to destabilise the Lupi.

“Philippe is happy and wants to stay at Roma. We received an offer from Liverpool during his first year when he was fourth choice even behind Sammy Kuffour, but he didn’t even want to leave then.

“There was a period in this campaign when Philippe wasn’t brilliant and Matteo Ferrari and Juan were playing better than him, but that can happen in a season.

“The important thing is that he continues to play at a high level and has the chance to win the Scudetto and go to Euro 2008.”

Kaka shows Olympic spirit
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Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka has admitted his desire to play for Brazil at the Olympics and hasn’t given up on the race for Champions League qualification.

The Rossoneri are expected to try and prevent Kaka from travelling to Beijing to be one of Brazil’s overage players at the Olympics this summer because the extra engagement could jeopardise the FIFA World Player of the Year’s preparations for next season.

Carlo Ancelotti is unlikely to be enamoured with the idea of one of his star men being on the other side of the world while the rest of his players rest and such an adventure would rule Kaka out of the Intertoto Cup, but the lure of the Games is evident.

“Playing in the Olympics would be a stimulating challenge because Brazil have never won the gold medal in football,” Kaka explained.

“But for now there are some problems between Milan and the Seleção, which I don’t want to get involved in.

“Playing at the Games and winning a title which has never been won by Brazil is a big motivation and it would be a chance to enter the record books.”

Because the Olympic Games is outside the jurisdiction of FIFA, Milan cannot be forced to release Kaka for the tournament.

A lot depends on whether Ancelotti’s side are preparing for the Champions League preliminary round, the UEFA Cup or the Intertoto Cup this summer.

Despite last weekend’s defeat against Juventus, the Diavolo remain four points away from Fiorentina’s fourth spot after the Viola lost to Fiorentina and Roma sank Udinese.

“It’s very hard to imagine Milan not playing in the Champions League,” Kaka stressed.

“Things haven’t been going so well, but we are not out of it yet and there’s time to recover.

“There are still some games left and I think that this team, with its experience and everything it has won, can still reach fourth place.”

Seedorf in referee rant
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Football Italia

Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf would be happy to welcome Ronaldinho to San Siro and has partly blamed this term’s troubles on referees.

After a season of disappointment, the Rossoneri are already looking to next term and are fighting Inter for the signature of Ronaldinho.

Dinho’s agent has revealed that the world champions are in the box seat to lure the Brazilian ace, but Seedorf doesn’t fear the competition.

“I will be happy if he comes to Milan because he is another great champion,” the Dutch international said. “I would welcome him. His arrival would give us all a boost.”

However, it seems that the Suriname-born star wouldn’t want the newcomer to take his No 10 shirt.

“When I arrived at Milan from Inter, where I had the No 10 shirt, I didn’t get it because I was behind Manuel Rui Costa,” he recalled.

“Then, when Manuel left, I asked if I could have that number, as it has always been my favourite and I think that goes for everyone.

“But I’m not involved in these discussions and I just hope that the club does what is necessary.

“The Coach and the directors know what is needed and will find players who can make the difference.”

Milan’s 3-2 defeat against Juventus last Saturday left a bitter taste in the mouth for the Diavolo and Seedorf believes the officials have done his team no favours in this campaign.

“I don’t like to talk about referees. It’s even difficult to talk to them because they just say that they call things as they see them,” he said.

“But on Saturday again there were certain episodes that changed the game. The referees have to apply the rules, but they can interpret them as they wish.

“This year Milan have been on the receiving end of too many refereeing errors and it has had a big influence on the season.

“Three or four mistakes is one thing, but there have been almost 10 games with quite serious errors.”

Milan need a strong conclusion to the season to secure Champions League qualification as they failed to take advantage of Fiorentina’s defeat at Inter and remain four points behind.

“We didn’t do our bit, but we can still do it, given yesterday’s results,” Seedorf stressed.

“Against Juventus, the first half was totally Milan, but we still conceded two goals and we have to reflect on that.

“The scores gave us hope, but also angered us at the same time. We got hope because the other results went our way, but we were frustrated as it was a missed chance to close in on fourth place and that’s the fourth time in a month and a half.”

Gattuso to receive AC Milan axe?
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Football Italia

Press reports in Italy suggest that Milan could begin their summer clearout by sensationally selling Gennaro Gattuso.

The world champions have just five games left to save their season and secure Champions League football by clawing back fourth-placed Fiorentina’s four-point lead.

With the Rossoneri’s squad ageing, they are expected to make sweeping changes at the end of the campaign wherever they finish in the table and Gattuso, who has disappointed this term, could make way for new blood.

There have been suggestions that Bayern Munich could step in to sign the 30-year-old, who would link up with Azzurri teammate Luca Toni.

It has been reported that Premier League sides Tottenham and Newcastle and Scottish giants Rangers are keeping an eye on the Gattuso situation.

A move across the Channel doesn’t seem out of the question given that Rino spent the 1997-98 season with Rangers and has a Scottish wife.

Agent: AC Milan close to Dinho
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Football Italia

Ronaldinho’s agent Roberto De Assis has stressed that Milan are in pole position to sign the Brazilian ace, but no deal has been done yet.

Dinho’s brother has been in Milan for a week and has been negotiating solely with the Rossoneri, who claim to have a “basic agreement”.

However, Inter President Massimo Moratti confused matters when he declared that Ronaldinho’s future depended on the Nerazzurri’s decisions.

In an effort to silence the relentless Press speculation and clarify the situation, De Assis has insisted that Milan are closing in on securing the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year’s services.

“Milan are enthusiastically involved in negotiations with Ronaldinho,” he told French TV channel Canal Plus.

“We have made lots of steps forward, even though that doesn’t mean that the deal is done.

“As long as Dinho is under contract with Barcelona, we cannot say anything for certain. But Milan are in the strongest position to sign him.”

While De Assis’ statement will have put smiles on Milan faces, it remains to be seen whether Ronaldinho would be willing to join the Diavolo should they fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Ronaldinho's AC Milan mystery
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Football Italia

Ronaldinho seems destined for San Siro this summer, but while Milan announce “it’s all but official,” Inter’s Massimo Moratti insists “it all depends on us.”

Agent Roberto de Assis has been in Milan all week for negotiations with the Rossoneri and confirmed late last night that he had only been talking to Carlo Ancelotti’s club.

Today transfer guru Adriano Galliani made it clear what the situation was. “We have a basic agreement with the player.

“Now we will try to complete an economic deal with Barcelona. They have given us permission to negotiate directly with Ronaldinho.

“Andriy Shevchenko could come along too, we have to talk to Chelsea and see what the situation is.”

However, this evening Inter patron Moratti continued to put a spanner in the works for his ‘cugini’ across the city.

“Next week we will evaluate this possibility. We have an excellent rapport with Barcelona and the player’s management.

“We will see if we too have decided to go all the way in this transfer.”

When told of Milan’s statements assuring only details separated them from an official announcement, Moratti was not fazed.

“It depends on our attitude towards this deal,” insisted the Nerazzurri President.

“Milan are doing well in their negotiations, but the matter is open to us too.”

Bonera: I'm so sorry
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Football Italia

Daniele Bonera has publicly apologised to Momo Sissoko – and his Milan teammates – for the horror tackle that ruined last night’s game.

The scoreline was 2-2 in Turin before Bonera’s shocking leg-breaker challenge earned him a straight red card on 66 minutes and Juventus went on to win 3-2.

“I went by the locker room earlier to apologise to Sissoko, because I realised I had made an awful tackle,” confessed the defender.

“I wanted to get the ball and was already powering in. I should have stopped, but I was going at some speed and looking back at the footage it was a horrible challenge.”

Former Liverpool midfielder Sissoko was extremely fortunate to avoid injury, as he was able to continue the game after several minutes of treatment.

Bonera is well aware his dismissal also proved disastrous for Milan, whose 3-2 defeat puts a huge dent in their Champions League chances.

“I apologised to my teammates too, but we should not have conceded on a set piece. We only suffered under a little bit of pressure after going down to 10 men.

“Clearly now we are forced to chase fourth place and hope other results go our way. We have to believe right up until the end, but time is running out.”

AC Milan: Ronaldinho deal is done
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Football Italia

Inter may claim Ronaldinho won’t move without consulting them, but Adriano Galliani and agent Roberto de Assis insist: “The deal is done.”

Milan have stated for some time that the Brazilian would only leave Barcelona for them and this week they intensified the process in negotiations with his agent.

“Yesterday there was a basic agreement in principle,” explained general manager Galliani. “Now there is a real deal.”

An official move has not yet been announced, but this is as close as the club can get to making that statement.

The problem lies with Barcelona, who do not want to lose the former World and European Player of the Year through FIFA’s new rule for just £13m.

In a bid to get preferential treatment in negotiations, it is reported that Inter have offered £20m and Manchester City up to £32m.

However, agent – and Ronaldinho’s brother – de Assis was in Turin for last night’s Juventus-Milan match and made his position clear.

“Ronaldinho would very much like to play for a team like Milan and he acted entirely professionally, asking Barcelona for permission to negotiate,” he told Italian television.

“Inter? At this moment we are talking to Milan.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Nerazzurri won’t try to intercept with a proposal of their own, but at this moment in time the Rossoneri are in Pole Position.

President Massimo Moratti may well be waiting for Milan to mathematically miss out on a Champions League place before launching his assault on Ronaldinho.

“The player and Barcelona will not move a muscle before hearing our proposal. By ‘ours’, I mean that of Inter,” said Moratti on Saturday.

“What will we do? We have taken some time out to evaluate various situations. In the meantime, though, we are receiving unequivocal signs of interest.”

Ancelotti: Now we're in trouble
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has regrets over Milan’s defeat in Turin and admits this puts a spanner in the works for the rest of the season.

“It certainly complicates our plans, as we were counting on a different result. We tried to get a win, but come away empty-handed and that makes it tougher for the next few games,” said the Rossoneri Coach.

They are four points adrift of Fiorentina in fourth place and if the Viola get a result against Inter tomorrow evening, it will make it extremely difficult for Milan to reach the Champions League.

“We played a great first half, put Juve under pressure and scored two goals. It’s a shame we were unable to go into the break 2-1 up.”

The match changed after Daniele Bonera’s straight dismissal for a horrific tackle on Momo Sissoko.

“The second half was trickier, especially after the red card. We tried to bring home a point that would have been, all things considered, an important result.”

There was controversy for the winning goal, though, as Paolo Maldini was harshly penalised for a challenge on Zdenek Grygera and from that free kick Hasan Salihamidzic secured the 3-2 result.

“Let us say the free kick that decided the match was a ‘gift’ to Juventus, as unless the rules have changed then a shoulder to shoulder challenge is allowed,” complained Ancelotti.

“Tonight we had a ‘short’ team, considering Juve had so many very tall players who are good in the air. We only had Massimo Ambrosini and Maldini who could counter them and that ensured Juventus were more effective on set pieces.”

It is another example of Milan putting in a good performance, but not bringing home the points.

“The fact we are able to train regularly for a week has certainly improved our condition and quality of play. The worrying thing is that the results haven’t improved!”

Juventus 3:2 AC Milan - match report
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Football Italia

Scorers: Del Piero 12 (J), Inzaghi 14, 31 (M), Salihamidzic 45, 80 (J)

Juventus fought back to defeat Milan 3-2 with Hasan Salihamidzic's brace, but Daniele Bonera's red card for a horror tackle proved decisive.

These two clubs dominated Serie A for two decades and it remained a battle of pride as well as a key game. The Bianconeri needed a victory to make up for last week's 3-2 loss at Palermo, while the Rossoneri knew only a win would keep their Champions League hopes intact. Carlo Ancelotti had to completely revolutionise his defence as Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze were banned, while Marek Jankulovski, Massimo Oddo, Ronaldo and Alexandre Pato had injuries. Pavel Nedved was suspended and Cristiano Zanetti sidelined.

Juve last won this fixture in November 2002 and curiously, Milan had not shared the spoils on their travels since a 1-1 at Catania on February 27, the same weekend as Juve’s last home draw in the goalless Turin derby.

Alessandro Del Piero flashed an angled drive off target, but he opened the scoring on 12 minutes. Mauro Camoranesi beat Giuseppe Favalli and threaded through for Del Piero's right-foot angled drive that trickled past Zeljko Kalac's outstretched leg and into the far corner of the net.

Moments later Inzaghi nearly equalised, as he sprung the offside trap on Favalli's cross and hit the side-netting.

Once again, it was a warning not heeded, as 60 seconds later Super Pippo drew level. Kaka held off Giorgio Chiellini down the left channel and rolled across for Inzaghi to tap in from six yards. This was his first goal against Juve in Turin.

Chiellini nodded a corner over the bar and Zdenek Grygera curled off target, while Buffon smothered a Kaka effort that bounced just in front of him.

Del Piero wasted a great counter-attack when he tried to dribble a little too long and was crowded out by Rossoneri shirts. Clarence Seedorf's wayward cross turned into a very dangerous lob that Buffon tipped on to the crossbar!

The resulting corner was not cleared effectively and allowed Milan to go 2-1 up. Daniele Bonera sprung the offside trap and smartly rolled across to Inzaghi, who was behind the line of the ball for a tap-in from eight yards. Before last week Inzaghi had scored just one Serie A goal all season, but this was his fourth in two games.

The Rossoneri had another wonderful scoring opportunity with Kaka's cracking right-foot volley spilled by Buffon and the World Cup winning goalkeeper just about scrambled the loose ball off the feet of Inzaghi.

However, Juventus made it 2-2 on the stroke of half-time. Del Piero dispossessed Paolo Maldini with a sneaky tackle and Camoranesi chopped a cross for David Trezeguet's header, which Kalac parried into the path of Hasan Salihamidzic.

The drama still wasn't over, as 30 seconds later Gennaro Gattuso's lob forced Buffon into a fingertip save.

After the restart Dario Simic slipped and was still able to intercept Del Piero's pass for Trezeguet. Nicola Legrottaglie limped off with a sprained knee and made way for Guglielmo Stendardo.

Grygera almost scored the goal of the season as he unleashed an extraordinary right-foot rocket from 34 metres that Kalac had to fingertip round the post.

Maldini's sliding tackle dispossessed Camoranesi at the byeline after he had overcome Simic. Bonera needed a glancing header to tip Sissoko's cross off the head of Stendardo from six yards, doing just enough to put the Juve defender off.

There was controversy on 66 minutes. Seedorf was furious that Camoranesi did not receive a booking for a stamp, but as soon as play resumed Bonera received a straight red card for a horrible studs-up challenge right on Sissoko's shin. It really was a leg-breaker tackle that risked serious injury to the former Liverpool midfielder. Fortunately, Sissoko was able to continue after several minutes of treatment.

Carlo Ancelotti had to balance out the side and threw on Marcos Cafu for Inzaghi. It seemed to work, as the Brazilian veteran was brought down by Camoranesi on the right channel for a poor Andrea Pirlo free kick.

Trezeguet made way for Vincenzo Iaquinta, so Ranieri did not risk the trident even against 10 men. Maldini charged down a Grygera counter, but there was further controversy 10 minutes from time. Maldini was very harshly penalised for a shoulder against shoulder challenge with Grygera and from that Camoranesi free kick Salihamidzic was allowed a totally free header.

Milan poured forward looking for the equaliser and this left space at the back for Del Piero to flash a counter off target, while Alberto Gilardino replaced Gattuso.

Buffon smothered a Cafu snapshot and Massimo Ambrosini moved up the field as a striker, but at the other end Del Piero's volley hit Kalac's outstretched foot in a one-on-one situation. Seedorf earned a free kick five minutes into stoppages and even Kalac went up, but Juve held on for the victory.

Juventus: Buffon; Grygera, Legrottaglie (Stendardo 51), Chiellini, Molinaro; Camoranesi (Nocerino 90), Tiago, Sissoko, Salihamidzic; Del Piero, Trezeguet (Iaquinta 78)

Milan: Kalac; Bonera, Simic, Maldini, Favalli; Gattuso (Gilardino 83), Pirlo (Brocchi 89), Ambrosini; Kakà, Seedorf; Inzaghi (Cafu 69)

Ref: Rocchi

Sent off: Bonera 66 (M)

Pippo faces Juventus past
12.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi leads a 4-3-2-1 Milan line-up with a totally revolutionised defence, while Juventus shelve their trident attack.

The official line-ups of tonight’s big game at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin have been released and there are some surprises.

The Rossoneri are forced to revamp their defence as Kakha Kaladze and Alessandro Nesta are suspended along with the injured Massimo Oddo.

It had been thought Marcos Cafu and Serginho would step in, but instead Daniele Bonera takes the right-back role and Giuseppe Favalli has shaken off a fitness problem at left-back.

Dario Simic makes his first start of the campaign in central defence alongside Paolo Maldini.

Upfront former Juve striker Inzaghi gets the nod, while Clarence Seedorf keeps his place with Kaka supporting the lone forward.

Juventus boss Claudio Ranieri had considered using a trident attack, but appears to have gone for a more solid squad.

Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet are the strikers with Mauro Camoranesi and Hasan Salihamidzic covering the flanks. Tiago Mendes partners Momo Sissoko in the absence of the injured Cristiano Zanetti.

Check back on the Football Italia website where we’ll have half-time and full reports along with extensive post-match comments. Kick-off in Turin is 19.30 UK time.

Juventus: Buffon; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro; Camoranesi, Tiago, Sissoko, Salihamidzic; Del Piero, Trezeguet
Milan: Kalac; Bonera, Simic, Maldini, Favalli; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kakà, Seedorf; Inzaghi

Kaka out to conquer Juventus
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Football Italia

Kaka trusts Milan will beat Juventus in Turin tonight and will then “cheer on Inter” against Fiorentina.

Usually the Rossoneri would not be supporting their rivals, but the result could propel them into the Champions League places.

“I can see Milan winning in Turin and Inter beating Fiorentina, so on Sunday night we could be just one point away,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The longer the season goes on, the more anxiety builds up. I’d love to score my first away goal against Juventus, but I will not give up even if we don’t manage to close the gap in Turin.”

Failure to finish in the top four would send Kaka’s Club World Cup holders into the UEFA Cup.

“I do not consider our season to be so very negative. We can still end up fourth and at the start of the campaign we won two very important trophies in the European Super Cup and Club World Cup.”

Moratti: Ronaldinho's waiting for Inter
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Football Italia

While agents confirm a deal between Milan and Ronaldinho, Massimo Moratti insists “he won’t move a muscle before hearing Inter’s proposal.”

This week the Rossoneri – specifically general manager Adriano Galliani – announced that Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko were “180 per cent Milan players.”

President Silvio Berlusconi also stated a transfer for the Brazilian could be made official before Sunday.

Agent Roberto de Assis commented: “We only want to talk to Milan. He will either go there or stay at Barcelona” and last night go-between Ernesto Bronzetti told the media “there is a deal with the player.”

However, and certainly not for the first time, their cross-city cousins have dived in to ruin the party in spectacular fashion.

“I would like to say something about Ronaldinho,” stated President Moratti in the Corriere dello Sport.

“The player and Barcelona will not move a muscle before hearing our proposal. By ‘ours’, I mean that of Inter.

“What will we do? We have taken some time out to evaluate various situations. In the meantime, though, we are receiving unequivocal signs of interest.”

Having already snatched Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Patrick Vieira and David Suazo out of their clutches, Inter are prepared to cause another shockwave in the transfer market.

It is reported that Manchester City were the first club to officially contact Barca enquiring after Ronaldinho, followed by Inter.

Milan only made the call on Thursday to have permission to talk directly to the player’s agent, but it is claimed that next week Inter have set up a meeting with both Barcelona chief Joan Laporta and agent Assis.

Pato out of Juventus clash
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Football Italia

It is now official – Alexandre Pato is not even fit for the bench as Milan take on Juventus on Saturday evening.

The Brazilian youngster missed last week’s 3-1 win over Cagliari with what at the time was described as a muscular twinge.

It had only required rest as a precautionary measure, but it proved to be far worse than previously thought.

“He has not trained at all since last Thursday,” revealed Coach Carlo Ancelotti in today’s Press Conference.

Pato is not even in the squad for the trip to Turin, staying behind along with Marek Jankulovski, Massimo Oddo and former Juventus midfielder Emerson.

Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze sit out a ban, so Dario Simic is the favourite to take central defensive duties alongside Paolo Maldini.

Pippo Inzaghi is expected to partner Kaka upfront in a 4-4-2 system, though Alberto Gilardino and teenager Alberto Paloschi are ready to come off the bench.

Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac, Bonera, Cafu, Digao, Favalli, Maldini, Serginho, Simic, Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Paloschi

Ancelotti: I'd welcome Shevchenko
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Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti is quietly confident ahead of tomorrow’s Juventus test and insists he would willingly welcome Andriy Shevchenko back.

Ancelotti knows that there is immense pressure on his side to deliver three points against old rivals Juventus in Turin as their chances of taking part in next term’s Champions League are fading.

A defeat would more or less cement Juve’s place in Europe’s showpiece event and could leave Milan with an unassailable gap to fourth place.

“Juve are having a great period, but we need to pick up points,” Ancelotti stated.

“The Bianconeri play with a style that is very aggressive, compact and organised and they have the experience of their great champions

“It will surely be a great battle. We are a growing side and we rediscovered ourselves against Cagliari and can build on that.

“I have seen the right spirit and the players are showing me good signs.”

Ancelotti was keen to state his respect for tomorrow’s opponents and their captain Alessandro Del Piero.

“Ranieri has done an excellent job and has managed to quickly build a side up after Serie B,” he said.

“Del Piero has found his old brilliance and at the moment deserves a place at Euro 2008.”

Ancelotti’s big selection doubt is Brazilian starlet Alexandre Pato and his adductor problem could see Alberto Gilardino and Pippo Inzaghi start up front.

“He trained until last Thursday and then a problem with his adductor stopped him,” Ancelotti said. “Also, Marek Jankulovski is still feeling pain in his knee and there’s swelling.

There has been incessant speculation in recent days that Milan could bring back former hero Shevchenko and Ancelotti insists that he won’t veto a move.

“He has forgotten Italian and that’s why he wants to return,” he joked. “Seriously though, I got the impression that he wanted to come back to Milan.

“I didn’t express surprise at his return - I merely said that Shevchenko has similar characteristics to Pato.
I” never even said that they can’t play together and it is wrong to say that I don’t want Sheva here. He could return and he could be very useful.”

There was also time for a very brief discussion of the possible addition of Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

“It’s an intriguing situation,” Ancelotti explained. “He would be a new kind of player for us, somewhere between a trequartista and a striker.

“But for now the players are ready to go out on the pitch tomorrow for a crucial battle and I don’t want to dwell on the market.

“I only want to say that all the choices the club makes will be in absolute harmony with the Coach’s thoughts.”

Ranieri plays down rivalry
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Football Italia

Claudio Ranieri is focusing on Juventus’ campaign, rather than the possibility of ruining Milan’s season, as the two rivals meet tomorrow.

Juve are in the box seat as they host a Rossoneri outfit in severe danger of missing out on next season’s Champions League.

The Old Lady have a six-point cushion on Milan and Sampdoria with a game in hand and know that their visitors cannot afford a reverse.

“I don’t know whether a win would knock Milan out of the race for Champions League qualification, it depends on other teams,” Ranieri stated.

“But we would move into an even greater advantage in our bid to reach Europe. We are focused on our campaign and we have to know how to defend our position.

“Milan have picked up a lot of points away from home. They are champions and they will battle as they did against Cagliari. But we are also playing well. It’s a big game.

“We want to finish at the top and we will give everything in every game. I don’t think that we will be hindered by tension, motivation or nerves.”

Juve have surprised most people this term with their smooth transition from Serie B to the elite, but Ranieri insists that he expected even greater achievements.

“I thought I could do more because at the start you always have the greatest ambitions,” he revealed.

“We had to lose some games before we could recognise that there are stronger sides than us. I am satisfied, but I am not settling for this.”

Juventus (probable): Buffon; Salihamidzic, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro; Camoranesi, Tiago, Sissoko, Palladino; Del Piero, Trezeguet

Nedved and Nesta miss out
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Football Italia

Juventus will be without Pavel Nedved for the visit of Milan and the Rossoneri are lacking Alessandro Nesta after his disciplinary appeal failed.

Nedved had hoped to feature and had returned to training after being hospitalised by a clash of heads with Roberto Guana during the Bianconeri’s defeat at Palermo last weekend.

However, it seems that the Czech international hasn’t fully recovered from the knock to the head and Coach Claudio Ranieri hasn’t named him in his squad.

“He is better, but he still isn’t heading the ball,” Ranieri explained. “With three games ahead, I decided that it would be better to err on the side of caution.”

Milan stopper Nesta will also have a watching brief after his two-game ban for a red card against Atalanta on March 30 was confirmed.

The former Azzurri star had hoped his appeal would nullify the suspension, but a message on the Diavolo’s official website states that he will miss the crunch match against Juventus.

Inzaghi walks down memory lane
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Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi is looking forward to visiting former side Juventus and has revealed his desire to play at the Olympics.

Super Pippo spent a successful period with the Old Lady between 1997 and 2001 and scored 57 goals in 120 games.

But tomorrow he will be charged with the task of slaying the Bianconeri to help keep Milan’s fragile Champions League qualification hopes alive.

“I don’t mind if I score as long as Milan win,” Inzaghi insisted in La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I have lots of friends in Turin and it wouldn’t give me any pleasure to see Juve suffer.

“The Bianconeri fans always appreciated me because they saw that I gave my soul on the pitch.

“Now I am only thinking of Rossoneri without any desire to prove myself to anyone else. But obviously Juve-Milan is a special game for me.”

One opponent that Inzaghi has the greatest of respect for is former strike partner Alessandro Del Piero.

“Alex is on great form and hasn’t been injured all season, so he has been able to train regularly throughout the campaign – that is the secret to it,” the Piacenza native explained.

“But this isn’t just a game for Del Piero and me – there are lots of other important players on both sides.

“It is always nice for me to meet friends and former teammates, like Gigi Buffon and the other work champions.

“Other than the obvious names, I also really rate Giorgio Chiellini and Mauro Camoranesi, who have the character as well as the talent.”

Inzaghi has recovered from a long-term injury and announced his return to full fitness with a crucial brace against Cagliari, prompting suggestions that he could be selected as one of Italy’s overage players for the Olympics.

“I was sidelined for a long time, but I am happy to have given my contribution in the Super Cup and the World Club Cup and I want to help in the final sprint,” he enthused.

“It would be a fascinating experience to go to Beijing, but my priority remains Milan and everything else comes afterwards.

“Nonetheless, I do have a close bond to the Azzurri shirt – if I weren’t so dedicated to Italy I wouldn’t have gone to play against the Faroe Islands after the Champions League Final.

"The national side is an honour and the Olympics is a dream,” he concluded.

Galliani: Ronaldinho and Shevchenko are ours
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani claims the Rossoneri have a “180 per cent chance” of signing both Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko.

There are reports in the peninsula that Milan are closing in on an agreement with Barcelona for the transfer of unsettled Brazilian ace Ronaldinho.

At the same time, President Silvio Berlusconi has stated that he expects to secure the return of former striking star Shevchenko and Galliani doesn’t believe the deals to be mutually exclusive.

“Ronaldinho and Shevchenko are 180 per cent Milan players,” he revealed to journalists last night.

Press sources state that agent Ernesto Bronzetti acted as a middleman in a meeting between Barca’s Txiri Begiristain and Galliani on Thursday evening to discuss Dinho’s future.

Inter had been in the frame to swoop for the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, but they now seem to be out of the race.

“We only want to talk to Milan,” Dinho’s agent and brother Roberto De Assis confirmed. “He will either go there or stay at Barcelona.”

Bronzetti is expected to arrive in Italy’s fashion capital at the weekend to smooth talks between Galliani and De Assis.

Pato doubt for Turin test
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Football Italia

Milan are set to make do without Brazilian teen ace Alexandre Pato for their crucial trip to Juventus.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side can’t afford to drop any more points as they chase fourth-placed Fiorentina and Champions League football.

However, they will need to be on top form to see off an Old Lady outfit, who have overachieved this term and have nearly secured their place on Europe’s biggest stage.

Pato sat out Milan’s 3-1 win over Cagliari last weekend with an injury to the adductor muscle in his thigh and hasn’t shaken the problem as quickly as expected.

The 18-year-old has found the net seven times in 14 games since arriving in January, but Ancelotti may have to call upon the experience of Pippo Inzaghi to play a full 90 minutes.

With Massimo Oddo out for the season and defender Alessandro Nesta an injury doubt, Paolo Maldini is likely to start his 43rd game against Juve at the heart of the back line alongside Daniele Bonera.

Marek Jankulovski is a doubt. Marcos Cafu is the favourite for the right-back role with Giuseppe Favalli expected to start on the left.

Maldini: Juventus game is special
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Football Italia

Paolo Maldini is looking forward to Milan’s battle with Juventus on Saturday and insists the players would be happy to see Andriy Shevchenko return.

Maldini’s 43rd clash with the Old Lady could be his last as he is considering hanging up his boots at the end of the season.

It promises to be a tense affair and one that the Rossoneri can’t afford to lose with their Champions League qualification hopes hanging by a thread.

“The longer your career goes on, the more you want to play in this kind of game,” Maldini told Sky Sport Italia. “Juve are Juve and they are always our rivals, along with Inter.

“We also had a tense relationship with Napoli at the end of the 80s and then the Rome sides for a bit, but the game against Juventus has always been the battle for League supremacy.

“These occasions give you that little something extra. You don’t have to look inside for the emotion because it comes naturally.”

The newly promoted Bianconeri are daunting opposition after exceeding expectations this term and Maldini admits that they have surprised him.

“Juve have done very well because they had a difficult task and even they didn’t expect a campaign like this,” he stated.

“They are an ambitious club due to everything that they have won and will win in the future.”

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi is determined to bring back former Diavolo striking star Shevchenko, despite opposition from some fans and Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s reported reluctance to work with the Ukrainian again.

“In terms of the atmosphere, there would be absolutely no problem with him coming back,” Maldini stressed.

“Anyone who has given so much to the club will always be readily accepted by the club and the players.

“Ronaldinho? He is a great player and he would do very well in any side.

“And that’s as far as the discussion goes as far as us players are concerned. We will leave the discussions about tactics and the transfer market to others.”

Reports: Shevchenko makes Carletto plea
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Football Italia

There are rumours that Andriy Shevchenko has made an emotional appeal to Carlo Ancelotti to approve his return to Milan.

Sheva was a Rossoneri hero between 1999 and 2006 when he hit the net 127 times in 208 Serie A games.

However, he controversially quit the club for Chelsea in a £30m move in 2006 and has struggled badly at Stamford Bridge, where he has scored just four times this term.

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi is keen to bring the Ukrainian international back to San Siro, but Ancelotti has hinted that he doesn’t want to see Andriy back in the fold, stressing that he is too similar to Alexandre Pato.

Reports suggest that Sheva is desperate to complete the move and that he phoned Ancelotti to beg him to give his approval to the deal.

Meanwhile Vice-President Adriano Galliani is quietly confident that the world champions can seal the services of Sheva and Barcelona’s Ronaldinho.

“I believe that these deals will take place,” he declared while entering today’s Lega Calcio meeting.

“The doors are open to a return for Sheva but, like Ronaldinho, we are talking about a player who is under contract and is being followed by other clubs, so all you can do is hope.”

Ambrosini fights Del Piero corner
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Football Italia

Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini has backed Alessandro Del Piero for a place in Roberto Donadoni’s Euro 2008 squad.

Donadoni will be asked to submit his final squad for the trip to Austria and Switzerland in a month’s time and Del Piero could miss out.

Having been left out for recent friendlies against Spain and Portugal, the Juventus captain may be denied a glorious international swansong, but Ambrosini believes he should be chosen.

“He is a great man and a great player,” he told Tuttosport. “He has the strength, the humility and the demonstration to show his value when he has been criticised.

“He has shown ferocious willpower to confirm that he is still a true champion and I really hope to see him run out for Italy.

“Besides, he is my favourite table-tennis opponent because I always beat him!”

Del Piero also received a vote of confidence from Panini, who included Pinturricchio in their Euro 2008 sticker album.

Albertini sees Ronaldinho at AC Milan
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Football Italia

Former Barcelona and Milan star Demetrio Albertini is confident Ronaldinho’s San Siro switch is very likely.

“He really could join Milan, because I see a pretty complicated situation for him at Barcelona,” the midfielder told Sky Italia.

The former World and European Player of the Year has been struggling with personality clashes at the Nou Camp and is expected to leave this summer.

Clubs who have shown an interest are Milan, Juventus, Inter, Chelsea and Manchester City.

“He would be really happy at Milan, because there are so many Brazilians. He would also enjoy playing for a team like this. He is one of the greatest talents I have ever played alongside.

“It takes a lot of effort to remain at the top of your sport and, as far as Ronaldinho is concerned, I think he needs a great deal of affection.”

Albertini was his teammate at Barca and insists the stories of his difficult personality and fractious rapport with tacticians are untrue.

“He is humble and knows how to accept advice. He is a great person in the locker room and gets on with all his teammates.

“At my testimonial game at San Siro he was so happy to see all those fans and champions. His affection for Milan is mutual. I think in the eyes of any player Milan are a great club.”

Albertini also revealed a curious anecdote to the everyday life of one of the world’s highest paid players.

“He can’t drive. Ronaldinho is always accompanied to the stadium by family and friends.”

Jankulovski fixes Czech out date
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Football Italia

Marek Jankulovski plans to quit international football after the Czech Republic’s Euro 2008 adventure in order to dedicate himself to Milan.

The talented wing-back has been plagued by injury this season and has started just 10 games.

However, the 31-year-old is expected to be an important figure for the Czech Republic in Austria and Switzerland this summer – a tournament that is set to be his international swansong.

“I thought hard about the idea of quitting international football and I decided to commit myself solely to my club,” Jankulovski explained to Czech newspaper Sport.

The former Udinese man made his national debut in 2000 and has since made 62 appearances for Karel Brückner’s side.

Nedved is gunning for AC Milan
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Football Italia

Juventus winger Pavel Nedved is hoping to be fit for Saturday’s showdown against Milan.

The Czech international was hospitalised after a sickening clash of heads with Roberto Guana during last weekend’s 3-2 defeat at Palermo.

Scans showed no damage, but Nedved hasn’t been heading the ball yet in training since the blow.

“I feel better,” the former Lazio man said on the Juventus Channel. “I am a bit weaker, but that’s normal after three days out of action.

“I worked intensely today and I will try and be there on Saturday, even of I have to be at 100 per cent or it would be better to play one of my teammates.”

The stakes are high for this weekend’s Stadio Olimpico clash with Milan needing a win to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive and Juve trying to hold on to their place on Europe’s biggest stage.

“Since they went out of the Champions League, the Rossoneri have been giving everything and seem to be fighting back,” Nedved stressed.

“It will be a close game as ever and it will be decided by the chances.”

Claudio Ranieri is waiting on Nedved, but he won’t be able to call upon midfielder Cristiano Zanetti, who has been suffering with a thigh injury for the last month.

Inter stay on Ronaldinho trail
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Football Italia

Inter haven’t given up hope of snatching Barcelona star Ronaldinho away from city rivals Milan, Nerazzurri director Ernesto Paolillo hints.

Rossoneri President Silvio Berlusconi has stated his desire to snap up the unsettled Brazilian star this summer.

Despite Barça’s claims that Dinho is staying put, Europe’s top clubs are on red alert and it seems that Inter are included in that list.

“This is a period when you keep an eye out and try to work out what the market has to offer,” Paolillo explained.

“Then our Coach will do the sums at the end of the season and the right moves will be made.

“Ronaldinho? At the moment we are keeping an ear to the ground and listening to everything, but no negotiations have started.”

Inter are also being linked with summer reinforcements to lead a Champions League charge next term.

Porto striker Ricardo Quaresma and Chelsea ace Didier Drogba are believed to be the main targets for the Beneamata’s summer transfer campaign.

Silvio's set on Shevchenko
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Football Italia

Despite Carlo Ancelotti's doubts, Milan chief Silvio Berlusconi has revealed that he is trying to sign Andriy Shevchenko and expects to succeed.

Rossoneri Coach Ancelotti has hinted that he doesn’t want Sheva to return to the club and the majority of the fans seem to agree judging by recent protests.

However, Berlusconi seems determined to re-sign the 31-year-old, who blasted 127 goals in 208 games form Milan between 1999 and 2006.

“I am trying to bring Shevchenko back and there’s a good chance that it will happen,” the Diavolo chief said on La7.

The Ukrainian international has endured a miserable spell at Chelsea since his record-shattering £30m move and would be expected to jump at the chance to return to a happier hunting ground.

But Milan are also targeting Barcelona star Ronaldinho and it is unlikely that both men could be brought in.

Berlusconi also discussed this Saturday’s crunch match against Juventus – a must-win for the world champions if they are to secure Champions League qualification.

“I hope that it is a good game and entertaining to watch,” he stated. “I hope that Milan do what they have always tried to do during my reign – dominate the game and win deservedly.”

Flamengo's red carpet for Ronaldo
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Football Italia

Brazilian side Flamengo have indicated that they would be happy to welcome Milan’s injured star Ronaldo to the Maracana during his recovery period.

El Fenomeno severed a tendon in his knee in mid-February during the Rossoneri’s game against Livorno.

There had been fears that the striking ace’s career was over, but he has pledged to return and has suggested he may return to action in his homeland before trying to return to Italy.

“This is his house,” Flamengo Vice-President Kleber Leite told Globo Esporte. “If Ronaldo wants to use our club to rehabilitate himself then he will be welcome.

“There would be nothing better for Flamengo than to regain this happiness.”

Ronaldo hails from Rio De Janeiro but he started his illustrious career at Belo Horizonte club Cruzeiro.

While Ronnie is set on returning to the game, there is still a chance that he may never return to San Siro.

The 31-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of the season and the world champions are expected to bring in a high-profile strike partner for starlet Alexandre Pato during the summer.

Berlusconi: Ronaldinho wants Milan
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Football Italia

President Silvio Berlusconi has reiterated that “if Ronaldinho leaves Barcelona, he’ll only join Milan.”

The patron has long named Ronaldinho as a prime transfer target and seems set to make a swoop this summer for the unsettled Brazilian.

“We are doing everything possible to bring Ronaldinho to Milan,” explained Berlusconi.

“He has said he won’t go to any other squad, only to the World Club champions.”

The Rossoneri won the Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup in 2007, becoming the side with the most non-domestic silverware in history.

Chelsea, Inter, Juventus and Manchester City have also been linked with Ronaldinho, but Berlusconi assures there is only one team in this race.

“Ronaldinho would gladly join us, not least because there are many Brazilian teammates here waiting for him and he knows at Milan we treat everyone very well.”

Yet today agent Roberto Assis warned there was no guarantee his client would leave the Nou Camp at all.

“Ronaldinho has a contract until 2010 and I am not looking for any other option,” he told Don Balon.

Assis was spotted last week in a dinner meeting with Rossoneri general manager Adriano Galliani.

Kaladze welcomes Shevchenko talk
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Football Italia

The Milan fans may have rejected the idea of re-signing Andriy Shevchenko, but defender Kakha Kaladze would welcome him back with open arms.

Alexandre Pato hasn’t disappointed since his arrival in January, but the world champions are still lacking an experienced hitman.

Suggestions that the Diavolo could bring former hero Sheva back to San Siro have met with indignation from many of the fans, but Kaladze thinks he would be a good addition.

“We would be happy if Shevchenko came back, but it also depends on the club,” the Georgian international stated.

“He was at Milan for seven years when he showed himself to be a great player and won the Golden Ball.

“I talk to him on the phone and he certainly isn’t happy to be left out.”

Kaladze is suspended for Milan’s crunch game against Juventus this weekend and is disappointed to miss the epic encounter.

“I’m sad that I will miss the match against Juve due to suspension,” he lamented.

“I don’t think that I deserved a yellow card from referee Roberto Rosetti.

“The match against the Bianconeri always presents a huge motivation. It’s too bad, but we will still try and win this game because three points would be very important.

“I watched Palermo-Juventus and they seemed to be on excellent form, especially in the second half.

“Saturday will be a crucial match because if we win we will be closer to our objective of fourth place. I’m sure that my teammates will go out there and give everything.”

Agent: Ronaldinho may stay
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Football Italia

Ronaldinho this summer have been dealt a blow after the player’s agent declared that his client might be staying put.

The Rossoneri have made no secret of their desire to lure the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and have reportedly been drawing up a big-money contract offer.

‘Dinho has fallen out with Barça Coach Frank Rijkaard and there have been reports that he is keen to quit the club as soon as possible with Manchester City also in the frame.

“I work in the world of football and it is my job to travel and talk about personal matters when I think it is necessary,” Roberto Assis explained to Don Balon.

“Ronaldinho has a contract until 2010 and I am not looking for any other option.”

There have been suggestions that the Brazilian star has played his last game for the Spanish giants after being sidelined for six weeks with a torn thigh muscle.

“It’s a little early to say that,” Assis replied. “I hope he will be playing again soon because a player who has been in the hearts of the fans deserves to leave on a high.

“Decisions need to be made calmly at the right time and not during a tough period or in the heat of the moment.”

Simic stresses Juve respect
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Football Italia

Dario Simic may make a rare appearance for Milan against Juventus this weekend and he is approaching the game with caution.

The Rossoneri travel to Turin for a crunch match and need to claim maximum points to keep their fragile Champions League qualification hopes alive.

However, with Massimo Oddo out for the season, Giuseppe Favalli and Marek Jankulovski injured and Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze suspended, they face a defensive crisis.

Croatian stopper Simic, who is expected to leave at the end of the season, may be called upon to fill the gap and he is under no illusions as to the size of the task.

“I watched Palermo-Juventus and I have to say that the Bianconeri played really well, especially in the second half,” he told the Milan Channel.

“Juve are showing what an excellent team they are. They have overcome their troubles and had a great season.

“In any case, they are always Juventus, even if they have had problems in recent times. It has always been a historic rivalry and it will be again on Saturday.”

After losing at home to Atalanta, the Diavolo picked up a crucial win over Cagliari last weekend.

“We are improving,” Simic insisted. “We often started badly at home, but the other evening we got the win. We have had more time to work and we are giving our all.

“At Milan, we are used to pressure, but from now on we can’t afford to drop points if we are going to get in the Champions League. It will be tough, but we can do it.”

Simic concluded by giving an insight into his fitness level after a period that has seen the 32-year-old dogged by injuries.

“I am ready physically,” he said. “I am training well and regularly, in fact I have been at every session over the last few weeks.

“I am lacking a little match fitness, but I feel like I’m in good condition.”

Galliani explains Intertoto entry
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has discussed the prospect of playing in the Intertoto Cup, as the Diavolo struggle to secure European football.

These are strange times for the world champions, who find themselves four points short of fourth-placed Fiorentina and a Champions League qualification spot.

While the Rossoneri are currently in joint fifth place, Udinese are just one point behind and there is a possibility that Carlo Ancelotti’s men could finish seventh, possibly missing out on the UEFA Cup.

“We even signed up for the Intertoto Cup when we were top of the League and were 40 points ahead of seventh,” Galliani explained to the Corriere dello Sport.

“Don’t forget that Ancelotti won the Intertoto Cup with Juventus. And if he did it with Juve, I don’t see why he shouldn’t with Milan.”

Should Milan be forced to compete in the competition, they will face a number of selection problems.

The Final is set for June 29 and several key players could be ruled out, as they require a rest before travelling to the Olympics in Beijing on August 6.

Intertoto commitments would also interfere with entering potentially lucrative summer events, such as the Moscow pre-season tournament, which could net the club nearly £1m.

Ronaldo plots recovery route
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Football Italia

Injured Milan marksman Ronaldo has outlined his recovery schedule, which may include a spell playing in his native Brazil.

El Fenomeno was ruled out of action for at least nine months after severing a tendon in his knee during the Rossoneri’s game against Livorno in mid-February.

There were fears that the 31-year-old’s career could be over, but after a successful operation in Paris he is on the comeback trail and looking to the future.

“I am working four or five hours per day in the hope of recovery,” Ronaldo revealed in La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I want to be able to play football on the beach with my friends and to have a normal life.

“During my last tests in Paris, the doctors gave me the hope and the guarantees that I needed.

“It’s nearly two months since the operation and the knee is already feeling much better.

“I would like to try and play for Flamengo for a few months and then hopefully try and return to Milan.”

It remains to be seen whether Ronnie will ever wear the Diavolo shirt again, as his contract expires this summer and the world champions are expected to make a big-name striking addition to partner Alexandre Pato next term.

Maldini awaits Old Lady date
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Football Italia

Veteran Milan stopper Paolo Maldini is confident ahead of what may be his last battle against Juventus this weekend.

Earlier in the season, the 39-year-old announced that he would be hanging his boots up this summer, but recently stated that he wasn’t sure that he wanted to quit.

President Silvio Berlusconi revealed earlier that he is expecting the legendary stopper to call time on a glittering career, but nothing has been decided yet as he looks forward to the showdown.

“I don’t even know whether this will be my last game against the Bianconeri or not,” he stressed on Sky Sport Italia.

Milan put their defeat against Atalanta behind them with a comfortable 3-1 win over Cagliari last weekend.

“We were improved from last week and we finally managed to win at home,” Maldini declared.

“We knew that we couldn’t make any mistakes because it would be too difficult to pull Fiorentina back.

“But we were calm against Cagliari and we weren’t thinking about what happened in previous games.

“From the off we tried to impose our style of play and that generally gives us the advantage at home.”

Milan trail fourth-placed Fiorentina by four points, but they have a chance to close the gap if they see off Juve, as the Viola must travel to Inter this weekend.

Silvio stands by his men
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Football Italia

Silvio Berlusconi has given Milan tactician Carlo Ancelotti a vote of confidence and has faith in his squad, even if he is eyeing reinforcements.

There have been suggestions that Ancelotti’s reign will come to an end this summer should he fail to clinch fourth place and Champions League football.

However, it seems that President Berlusconi feels a thin squad is the cause of the Diavolo’s disappointing campaign.

“Ancelotti is part of the Milan family and I expect him to be here in the coming years,” he said on Radio Radio. “But a great side has to have more champions.

“We had to deal with the serious injury to Ronaldo and this team was built on having a battering ram like him up front with Alexandre Pato and Kaka in behind creating things.

“Still, we have a squad full of great players, even if they are getting older. Paolo Maldini will probably retire, but we aren’t ageing too badly. We just need to look to youth for our reinforcements.”

Meanwhile, the Rossoneri are reportedly closing in on a deal for unsettled Barcelona star Ronaldinho.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milan have prepared a four-year contract to offer the Brazilian star and they will present it to his brother and agent Roberto Assis within the week.

Kaka expects English triumph
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Football Italia

Milan ace Kaka has tipped one of England’s four representatives to secure Champions League glory.

The holders fell to Arsenal in the last 16, while city rivals Inter were knocked out by Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have a commanding 2-0 lead over Roma in their quarter-final clash.

Four of the eight sides left in the hunt for silverware hail from the Premier League and Kaka thinks they all have a good chance of prevailing.

“Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are all excellent and any of them could win it,” the 25-year-old told BBC Sport.

“I believe that all four English clubs have a great chance of making it all the way to Moscow for the Final in May.

“In the last five or six years, English teams have improved a lot and they are consistently at a high level now. But you can’t rule out the other big clubs still involved, such as Barcelona.”

Kaka has been keen to stress his commitment to Milan for the rest of his career and has signed a new deal that ties him to the club until 2013.

“I am very happy here in Milan, but if one day I had to leave I would like to play for another big European team,” he said.

“The biggest clubs are in Italy, England and Spain, so I would have to be in one of those countries, although it is clear that they play differently in these places.”

When questioned about Fabio Capello’s appointment as England national manager, Kaka insisted that it was a good choice.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that Capello is a very fine manager,” he stressed.

“I believe that he can win a lot with England. It would have been something new if Capello had been the first foreign boss but Sven Goran Eriksson has already been there.

“Brazil has always had a Brazilian Coach and the same for Italy, but in England it has happened before and so it’s not a big deal that they have employed a foreigner.”

The former Sao Paulo man also spoke of his satisfaction at having won last year’s FIFA World Player of the Year award.

“It was a big honour to win it – there are a lot of players in the world and to come first was a great feeling,” he said.

“It’s a unique feeling and I would like to win it again. But I don’t think that I am the best player in the world, I just think I’m up there with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o.”

Kaka concluded by discussing compatriot and Rossoneri teammate Alexandre Pato.

“As for Pato, he is an amazing player. But he is very young though at just 18-years-old,” he declared.

“He has an incredible future ahead of him and he can do a lot of things for Milan. He needs to be allowed to grow and to improve without too much pressure on him.”

Galliani: Mission Scudetto 2009
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Football Italia

Milan are focusing on the Scudetto next season, assures Adriano Galliani, and their first reinforcement is likely to come from West Ham.

The fans have protested recently that the Rossoneri have put all their energy into the Champions League and Club World Cup, notching up a series of disappointing Serie A finishes.

“Milan must play the next season trying to win the Scudetto,” conceded the general manager on Sky Italia.

“We have been struggling for the past two years and so must change our priorities and look to do very well in Serie A.”

At the moment they are in a four-way race for fourth position with Fiorentina, Udinese and Sampdoria, so participation in Europe’s top competition is far from a certainty next term.

“If we do get into the Champions League – which we will do everything to achieve – or another Cup, then that is a different matter.

“Milan will construct a side to win the Scudetto. From next year we are changing our objectives.”

Fans handed out leaflets during last night’s 3-1 win over Cagliari protesting at the transfer strategy adopted in the past three years.

With Serginho, Marek Jankulovski and Massimo Oddo injured, the team was shorn of wide players despite fielding a 4-4-2 system.

It is now reported the Diavolo are trying to rectify that situation by swooping for Northern Ireland international George McCartney.

The 26-year-old left-back has impressed at West Ham United and, according to the Sunday Mirror, has been earmarked for a Milan offer.

The prime candidate for that position is Gianluca Zambrotta of Barcelona, but the fact the former Juventus star can play a number of roles means it does not exclude McCartney’s arrival as well.

Milan have solid links with West Ham because their new director general is Gianluca Nani, formerly of Brescia.

AC Milan fans say no to Sheva
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Football Italia

Milan’s supporters staged a protest last night criticising the club’s transfer policy and the possible return of Andriy Shevchenko.

The Ultra group Old Clan handed out leaflets to the crowd in and around the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza for Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Cagliari.

It contained a list of seven complaints to the club after general manager Adriano Galliani pointed out the fans should not criticise Milan considering the last 20 years of silverware.

“The President is absent and no longer has the motivation or the desire to invest that he did before,” was among the leaflet’s statements.

“The only smart signing of the past three years has been Alexandre Pato. Enough of players on the downward slope of their careers and continual fitness problems.

“Ariedo Braida spent two weeks in South America scouting for talent and returned with the disappointing Leandro Grimi.

“The many season ticket holders have been taken for a ride by broken promises, a squad that is not up to the standard of Milan with great stars who instead joined the opposition.”

The most forceful point was made against the possible return from Chelsea of former crowd favourite Shevchenko.

“We absolutely rule out Shevchenko, who is 32 and would fill the only non-EU slot, preventing Milan from signing a younger and better player.”

In Italy clubs can only sign one non-EU player from a foreign League per season.

Ancelotti: That's my Milan!
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti was furious with his squad last week, but following the win over Cagliari has “rediscovered” Milan.

“At last we started a match with the right tempo and unity,” he said after the 3-1 victory. “We were in control all the way through, even if there were a few tired legs at the end.

“The important thing is that we have rediscovered this team. The side still has pride and the willingness to work hard. It has been a difficult campaign, but we hope to end it on a high.”

The Rossoneri are out of the Champions League and the Coppa Italia, but this result puts them back in contention for fourth place.

He welcomed back Kaka and Pippo Inzaghi from injury, but also adopted a 4-4-2 system.

“That allowed us to remain more compact. It is a good solution, especially with regards to defensive movements. We also played this way towards the end of last season.

“When Kaka is absent, you really notice, and tonight he was back to his usual standards. The problem was being without Inzaghi for a month.”

There are difficulties ahead for the showdown with Juventus, as Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze will be suspended with injury doubts over Alberto Gilardino, Gennaro Gattuso and Giuseppe Favalli.

Finally, Ancelotti was asked to comment on the transfer stories linking Milan with Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko.

“I am a Coach and therefore make tactical evaluations. Ronaldinho is a great player, despite his difficult campaign.

“We have made a big investment on Alexandre Pato and he has similar characteristics to Shevchenko. It would be wiser to go for a different type of player, but that does not mean Pato and Sheva couldn’t play together.”

Ronaldo could be back early
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Football Italia

Ronaldo could return to the playing field sooner than expected, reveals his personal physiotherapist.

The Milan striker underwent surgery on a severed tendon in his left knee and was not expected to return before an eight-month gap – if he managed to resume his career at all.

“I am the bearer of good news,” smiled Bruno Mazziotti on SportTV. “The results of the tests confirm Ronaldo’s recovery is going well.”

He suffered the devastating injury on February 13 during a 1-1 draw with Livorno and is back in Italy after the surgery in Paris.

“The healing process is at an advanced stage, just as we wanted. The whole team is asking if it is possible for Ronaldo to come back quicker than expected, but we cannot confirm or deny anything yet.

“The important thing is that the results of the tests seem to be very favourable, as the first 45 days after this kind of injury are the most critical.

“This is why we hope his comeback date can be put forward a little bit. Ronaldo is desperate to play football again.”

AC Milan turned down Toni!
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Football Italia

When Luca Toni was offered to Milan three years ago, Adriano Galliani said he’d be “embarrassed” to walk him into San Siro, claims Maurizio Zamparini!

The Palermo President is well known for his outlandish statements, but insists this shocking quote came straight from the mouth of the Rossoneri director general.

“When I offered Toni to Milan, if I remember rightly three years ago, Galliani replied he would be embarrassed to walk up the San Siro steps with Toni wearing a Rossoneri jersey,” revealed Zamparini in the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I imagine he won’t regret that statement, seeing as he says he never regrets anything.”

Toni left Palermo in the summer of 2005 to join Fiorentina for around £8m and went on to score 47 goals in 67 games for the Viola.

Winning the 2006 Golden Boot as top scorer in European competition and the World Cup with Italy, he moved on to Bayern Munich.

In the summer of 2005, Milan instead signed Christian Vieri on a free transfer after he had terminated his contract with Inter and picked up Alberto Gilardino from Parma for £18m.

In the January transfer window they also added Ricardo Oliveira to their ranks and loaned Vieri out to Monaco.

AC Milan 3:1 Cagliari - match report
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Football Italia

Scorers: Kaka 8 (M), Inzaghi 31, 69 (M), Conti 49 (C)

Kaka and brace hero Pippo Inzaghi marked their comebacks by taking Milan to a sorely needed 3-1 win over Cagliari, but Zeljko Kalac was left red-faced.

The Rossoneri were in dire straits with consecutive home defeats to Sampdoria and Atalanta, while they were missing the suspended Alessandro Nesta and injured Alexandre Pato, Ronaldo, Alberto Gilardino, Emerson, Serginho, Massimo Oddo and Marek Jankulovski. Carlo Ancelotti opted for a 4-4-2 system despite the fact he had no wide men in the squad. Cagliari are staging an incredible comeback in a four-match unbeaten run, but had not won here in 11 years.

Ancelotti demanded a strong start and he got it, as in 25 seconds Gennaro Gattuso fired over.

Kaka made his comeback after a calf problem and immediately made the difference. The World and European Player of the Year sprinted forward surrounded by Cagliari shirts for around 20 metres and smashed a right-foot finish into the near bottom corner.

Massimo Ambrosini was tripped right on the line and the referee awarded a free kick, although technically the line is part of the area and so it could well have been a penalty.

Kakha Kaladze was booked and will be suspended for the Juventus game, as will Nesta.

Pippo Inzaghi has been out injured for two months, but marked his comeback with a goal, too. A corner kick was whipped in for Inzaghi's header from seven yards that bounced off the ground to beat Marco Storari, but the marking from Cagliari was poor.

Gattuso was so close to a third goal moments later. Kaka and Clarence Seedorf spread the play for Gattuso to come tearing in, but two Cagliari defenders flung themselves at his feet to act as human shields and deny a certain goal.

Milan passed the ball around quickly and Kaka stung Storari's palms with a powerful right-foot strike from Andrea Pirlo's assist. Kaka also curled a left-foot gem inches wide of the far top corner, as he was spreading his range all across the final third.

Cagliari made two changes at the break for a more attacking formation, but it was a Milan player who handed them a goal. Zeljko Kalac's howler allowed a Daniele Conti free kick to squirm out of his hands and under his body when the ball was already in his grasp!

Moments later both Conti and Parola had shots charged down, then Kalac pushed a Pasquale Foggia shot out for a corner from a tight angle.

At the other end Inzaghi volleyed a Seedorf cross off target, but Cagliari nearly returned Kalac's favour as Diego Lopez's header back to his 'keeper almost turned into an own goal and floated inches past the post.

Former Milan youth product Alessandro Matri's overhead kick was wide, but there was more bad news for the Rossoneri as Giuseppe Favalli limped off with a suspected thigh strain. Marcos Cafu came on, moving Daniele Bonera to left-back.

Cagliari threatened an equaliser as Matri got in front of Cafu to meet a Foggia cross, but scuffed his shot from seven yards.

Gattuso was stretchered off with a bruised knee and was replaced by Cristian Brocchi, but was able to walk off the field after treatment.

Milan restored their two-goal cushion with a goal of sheer determination from Super Pippo Inzaghi. He sprung the offside trap and dribbled round Storari. The goalkeeper got a touch to it and he lost his footing, but he got back up, turned and steered the ball into the net despite three Cagliari defenders in his path.

Kaka sent Seedorf clear on goal, but the Dutchman slipped up and the chance went begging. The strain was starting to show on Milan, as Pirlo was the final player substituted, but Kaka and Ambrosini were both asking to be taken off.

Robert Acquafresca almost made the most of a weak backpass, while Storari smothered a Daniele Bonera strike. Kalac did better on another Conti free kick this time, capturing it at the near post.

Kaka almost completed his brace too in stoppages, a splendid right-foot curler palmed out of the top corner by Storari.

Milan: Kalac; Bonera, Kaladze, Maldini, Favalli (Cafu 61); Gattuso (Brocchi 66), Pirlo (Gourcuff 75), Ambrosini; Seedorf; Kakà, Inzaghi

Cagliari: Storari; Ferri, Lopez, Canini, Agostini; Fini (Parola 46), Conti (Acquafresca 74), Biondini; Cossu (Jeda 46); Foggia, Matri

Ref: Rosetti

AC Milan make £16m Ronaldinho bid
5.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Ronaldinho swoop is gathering pace as after Adriano Galliani’s dinner with his agent, it’s claimed the club has offered £16m.

The Rossoneri have not disguised their renewed interest in the unsettled Barcelona star and Galliani met with agent Roberto Assis on Wednesday.

When asked about the rumours of a transfer, President Silvio Berlusconi did not hold back. “We live in hope,” he said, then made a gesture with his hand to suggest the deal was nearly done.

An injury has ended his season, so it seems as if Ronaldinho has played his final game for Barca, but there are other clubs interested too.

As Juventus, Inter and Chelsea are all tracking the former World and European Player of the Year, Milan intend to go straight to the source.

Under the FIFA rules, Ronaldinho could extricate himself from his Barcelona contract at a cost of just £10.5m.

However, the Rossoneri hope to get the club on side by refusing to take that route, instead offering a more substantial £16m.

This could give them the upper hand in negotiations, allowing both the player and clubs to reach an amicable agreement.

It remains an absolute bargain for Milan, considering last year the price-tag requested was £40m.

However, it must also be noted that he is reportedly requesting a four-year contract worth £6.3m per season, vastly increasing the economic burden of this operation.

Other clubs are looking to a different approach, as it is claimed Inter chief Massimo Moratti is aiming to get Nike in on the deal.

Juventus are also interested, as are Chelsea, so the race for Ronaldinho is on.

Gasperini expects Borriello glory
5.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Marco Borriello would be an ideal member of Italy’s Euro 2008 squad, according to Genoa boss Gian Piero Gasperini.

The striker has had a shaky career up until now, but his 18 goals this season have made him currently Serie A’s top scorer.

“Borriello has scored some fantastic goals, many of them from outside the box,” explained Gasperini ahead of today’s clash with Roma.

“This is an exceptional campaign for him. I hope he can crown it by winning the Capocannoniere crown and becoming part of Italy’s squad for the European Championships.”

Borriello has been called up for Roberto Donadoni’s recent games and is a prime candidate to make the grade, especially with Cristiano Lucarelli on poor form.

His contract is still half owned by Milan and there are strong reports he will return to base at the end of this season, but Genoa intend to fight them.

“I don’t know if I’ll have him in my team next year. I do know that this is not the right time to be thinking about that,” concluded Gasperini.

Inzaghi back, but Gilardino left out
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Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi is back in the Milan squad to face Cagliari, but Alberto Gilardino does not make it due to an injury.

The former Parma hitman picked up a nasty knock in training and has been unable to recover in time for Saturday’s game.

The Rossoneri need a victory to keep alive their hopes of catching Fiorentina in fourth place, but have an injury crisis on their hands.

Ronaldo, Emerson, Marek Jankulovski, Serginho, Massimo Oddo and Gilardino are out of action, while Alessandro Nesta sits out the first in a two-match ban.

At least Kaka returns from a thigh problem and Inzaghi is ready for his first appearance since February 27.

The veteran SuperPippo has been struggling with a recurring foot and ankle injury.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Bonera, Cafu, Favalli, Kaladze, Maldini, Simic, Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf, Inzaghi, Pato, Paloschi.

Ancelotti: Ronaldinho? Yes, please
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Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti admits that he would like to welcome Ronaldinho to San Siro, but is focused on delivering fourth place first.

These are testing times for Carletto as his world champions trail fourth-placed Fiorentina by four points.

With the possibility of missing out on next term’s Champions League looming, Milan need to bounce back immediately after last weekend’s defeat against Atalanta.

“We aren’t worried by the whistling from the fans and there is no conflict between us and the supporters, especially as they drove us to fight back against Atalanta,” Ancelotti maintained.

“It’s only natural that there is some disappointment at the end of a game that you lose.

“I haven’t changed the way that I conduct myself. It would be wrong to try and shirk responsibility – it will always be shared between the players and myself.

“To finish fourth we will need to win lots but we are taking one game at a time. Cagliari are a compact and lively side and I am expecting more attention and determination from the lads.”

Milan have been strongly linked to unsettled Barcelona star Ronaldinho over the last few months.

The struggling star has been sidelined for six weeks - effectively ending his season - and is expected to weigh up his options in the next month, but there have been suggestions that he wouldn’t fit in with the current squad.

“The club is weighing up its position on the player,” Ancelotti explained.

“It’s not a matter of bringing in Ronaldinho to please me, but he is indisputably talented and his arrival wouldn’t rule out signing an outright front man.

"There wouldn’t be a clash with Alexandre Pato because he is a different kind of player.”

In order to stand a chance of landing 'Dinho, Milan must ensure they are playing Champions League football next term and badly need maximum points against Cagliari.

Ancelotti is expected to play Clarence Seedorf behind Kaka and Pato in an attacking trident against Sardinians.

With Massimo Oddo out for the season, Daniele Bonera or Marco Cafu will take the right back role.

Milan (probable): Kalac; Cafu, Maldini, Kaladze, Favalli; Pirlo, Ambrosini, Gattuso; Seedorf, Kaka, Pato

Maldini may play on
4.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan defender Paolo Maldini is rethinking his plan to hang his boots up at the end of the season.

The 39-year-old had announced that this campaign would be his last as a player, but he now admits that he is having second thoughts.

“Would I continue to play? I am thinking about it, even if I wake up every morning with a different idea,” Maldini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Seeing as the club and my teammates have asked me, I will consider my options carefully.

“I’m feeling good and I am back playing, even on the wing. I am back in the Milan equation.”

These are testing times for the world champions who are four points away from Champions League qualification rivals Fiorentina.

The Diavolo were booed and whistled during last weekend’s defeat against Atalanta and Maldini doesn’t believe they deserved that reception.

“I can’t stand this whistling at the first error,” he raged. “It is understandable at the end of the game, but from the start it really isn’t right and it doesn’t help. I wouldn’t do it if I were a fan.”

Emerson eyes AC Milan impact
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Football Italia

Emerson is determined to make a contribution to the Milan cause and hopes to score his first goal since arriving in the summer.

The former Juventus man joined the Diavolo from Real Madrid in pre-season, but has made little impression due to injury problems.

Having made just six Serie A starts all term, the No 5 is desperate to make the most of his return to fitness and to erase question marks over his importance to the club.

“I haven’t scored for Milan yet and it would be important for me to get a goal on a personal level and for the team,” Emerson told the Milan Channel.

“When I arrived at San Siro, I hadn’t been doing the right physical preparation. Once I told Real that my head was elsewhere, I was training on my own.

“I knew that there would be difficulties in commanding a starting spot. Unfortunately I then had a tibia problem, which is the biggest battle I have ever fought.

“I am trying to get over it and I am making all the sacrifices to be available for the Coach. I still have a year on my contract here and I am pushing myself hard. I really want to do something good here.”

Emerson’s first club in the peninsula was Roma and Il Puma rejected Milan’s advances when he left Bayer Leverkusen.

“Milan were interested in me when I was at Bayer, but I had already committed to Roma,” the defensive midfielder, who turns 32 tomorrow, explained.

“I remember that my meeting with the Diavolo lasted just five minutes because I wanted to keep my promise to the Giallorossi, but I was very pleased to have interest from Milan.

“Now I am here I understand the greatness of the club. When I arrived and saw some of my teammates who had been here for a decade I was sorry I hadn’t arrived earlier.”

Trezeguet awaits AC Milan date
4.4 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus have to negotiate Palermo this Sunday, but David Trezeguet is looking ahead to April 12’s showdown with Milan.

The Old Lady continue to exceed expectations and are still harbouring a Scudetto dream with seven games remaining.

This weekend sees Claudio Ranieri’s men travel to Sicily to take on a struggling Palermo outfit, but the Bianconeri are already anticipating the chance to deal old rivals Milan a fatal blow in their bid for Champions League qualification.

“It’s a game that holds a special fascination because Juve and Milan are two of the sides who play the best football in the world,” Trez enthused on Sky Sport Italia.

“The Rossoneri may be going through a delicate time, but they are still strong and opponents to be feared. But this test will help us see how far this Old Lady side has come.”

While Milan have disappointed this term, young gun Alexandre Pato is a fearsome opponent.

“He can quickly become one of the best players around,” Trez stressed.

“He is very determined and has the ability to show a great calmness. Most importantly, he is extraordinary on a technical level.”

The French international has often been linked with Milan, especially at the end of last season when he fell out with the Juve directors.

“There have been times when people have discussed a swap with Alberto Gilardino,” he said. “But I am very happy at Juve and I’m hoping to stay here for a long time.”

Donadoni: I won't usurp Carletto
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Football Italia

Azzurri boss Roberto Donadoni hasn’t ruled out taking the Milan hot seat in the future, but has stressed his respect for Carlo Ancelotti.

There have been suggestions that Don will leave the Italy post after Euro 2008 should the world champions fail to deliver in Austria and Switzerland.

While Torino are reportedly considering an offer for the former Livorno tactician, some reports insist that Donadoni’s heart is set on replacing the struggling Ancelotti, who could face the Milan axe.

“I was there for 13 years, but things changed over the years,” the Azzurri tactician recalled.

“But you never know what the future holds. It’s not in my thoughts at the moment. Right now I am just thinking about the national side.”

Donadoni and Ancelotti played together for the Rossoneri at the end of the 1980s and formed a close bond.

“I have a strong friendship with Carlo and above all there is a great respect,” Don explained.

“I always saw him as one of the best teammates I had in my career and it saddens me that he is having a bit of a hard time.

“The club knows how it should work and so when there are difficulties they are blown up.”

Ticket restrictions on Juventus vs. AC Milan
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Football Italia

There will be restrictions on several games in April, including Juventus-Milan and Roma-Catania, to avoid crowd trouble.

The committee set up to prevent fan problems in sport in Italy has passed its verdict on the upcoming matches.

The biggest tie to be affected is Juventus-Milan on April 12, when only one ticket per person will be released.

The same is true of rescheduled Serie A tie Juve-Parma and Coppa Italia semi-final Roma-Catania on April 16.

Other games with only one ticket sold per person are Parma-Lazio, Spezia-Ravenna, Pisa-Vicenza, Pisa-Messina, Cesena-Rimini, Napoli-Atalanta, Lazio-Siena, Verona-Lecco and Pro Sesto-Novara.

Parma and Catania fans will be banned from travelling to away games at Empoli and Palermo respectively on the weekend of April 12.

Galliani in Ronaldinho dinner
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Football Italia

Milan are once more being linked with unsettled Barcelona star Ronaldinho after Vice-President Adriano Galliani met with the Brazilian’s agent.

The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year has completely fallen out with Barça and wasn’t even in Frank Rijkaard’s Champions League squad against Schalke.

Although he is under contract at the Nou Camp until 2010, ‘Dinho will almost certainly leave the club in the summer.

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi had been determined to lure the 28-year-old to San Siro, but seemed to have gone cold on the idea recently.

However, Galliani met Ronaldinho’s brother and agent Roberto Assis and market consultant Ernesto Bronzetti for dinner yesterday after a three-month hiatus and rumours suggest that the hunt may be back on.

It has been suggested that it would take around £12m to sign ‘Dinho and that the former PSG man would be willing to take a pay cut from his current £5m salary per year.

The fee would be a considerable reduction on the £30m quoted this time last year, but there is still the possibility Ronaldinho could use FIFA Article 17 to escape Barça.

Article 17 allows players to buy out their contract at a club as long as they are at least 28 and have spent three years at a club.

While Galliani’s meeting with Assis may have been to discuss Ronaldinho, it is equally likely that they were talking about Ricardo Oliveira, who is also a client of Assis.

The Rossoneri-owned hitman has been on loan to Real Zaragoza and has impressed with 11 La Liga goals, but the Spaniards seem unwilling to invest £10m to make the deal permanent.

Bonera to the rescue
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Football Italia

Milan defender Daniele Bonera claims that he can step up to replace the injured Massimo Oddo.

The Rossoneri are struggling in the battle for Champions League qualification and were dealt a blow with the news that key stopper Oddo will be out for the season with a knee injury.

Former Parma man Bonera has been less than impressive for the Diavolo in the past, but he believes that this is his chance to shine.

“I am ready to replace an important player like Oddo,” he claimed.

“I have to give my full contribution to the team and help them secure fourth place.”

Milan were humbled 2-1 by Atalanta at San Siro last weekend and were 2-0 down before they started to play.

“I think that in order to win games at home we need to start strongly and show our opponents that we have the advantage,” Bonera said. "We need to take the lead and that hasn’t happened often.”

Cagliari are the next visitors to San Siro on Saturday evening, but the resurgent Sardinians could be tricky opponents.

“On Saturday we will face a Cagliari side who are on good form,” Bonera insisted.

“They have managed to take many points recently to take them almost out of the relegation zone.

“They will come looking for crucial points in their bid for survival because they are playing good football.”

Schuster: Ronaldo beats Kaka
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Football Italia

Real Madrid Coach Bernd Schuster claims that Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo is a better player than Milan ace Kaka.

Kaka secured the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or award last year, but the Brazilian midfielder has come off the boil since during an injury-plagued start to 2008.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo took his tally to 36 for the season with his goal against Roma last night and is on unstoppable form.

“Ronaldo has already overtaken Kaka after the Brazilian’s slump,” Schuster insisted.

“Right now, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world. He’s the star at Old Trafford and until they win the Champions League and another League title or two they aren’t going to let him go.

“I don’t think he could be signed at the moment, but hopefully in another couple of years he could be wearing the white shirt at the Bernabeu.”

Galliani: Believe in us
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Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani admits that the Rossoneri are going through a tough spell, but feels that the fans have short memories.

The Diavolo are facing the galling prospect of missing out on Champions League football next term as they trail fourth-placed Fiorentina by four points and are low on confidence after last weekend’s home defeat by Atalanta.

With their Champions League and Coppa Italia adventures already over, the Club World Cup triumph last December is scant consolation for the demanding supporters.

“I like the analogy made by President Silvio Berlusconi with high tides and low tides,” Galliani said.

“I think it gives the perfect picture of the current situation of a team who won the Club World Cup last year.

“Listening to the whistling during the first half against Atalanta it seemed as if Milan hadn’t won anything for five years, but we have won an incredible amount of trophies.

“These days, there is a tendency to forget things quickly. I’m not saying that the last 22 years should be remembered, but at least the last 12 months.”

However, Galliani accepted that there are problems within the club that need to be ironed out.

“Is everything ok then? No, not at all,” he conceded.

“I have enough experience to realise that there are some problems and some first half performances have been especially unconvincing. But that should be discussed privately with Carlo Ancelotti and the players.

“I’d just like to remind everyone that a club as experienced as Milan have what it takes to get through this low tide.”

Oddo undergoes knee surgery
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Football Italia

Massimo Oddo will miss the rest of the season and is now a major doubt for Euro 2008 after undergoing meniscus surgery.

Milan released a statement this evening announcing that Oddo will have the operation on the medial meniscus ligament in his left knee tomorrow in Rome.

It is a bitter blow for the Rossoneri, who must already do without Ronaldo for the rest of the campaign.

Marcos Cafu, Serginho and Marek Jankulovski are struggling with injury, while Alessandro Nesta is suspended for the Serie A encounters with Cagliari and Juventus.

Oddo played the first 59 minutes of Milan’s 2-1 home defeat to Atalanta, but was substituted and replaced by Cristian Brocchi.

The extent of Oddo’s injury was not known and tests today revealed the serious problem requiring surgery.

It is not yet clear how long this will keep him sidelined, but the World Cup winner is now a doubt for Euro 2008, which kicks off on June 7.

Suspended Nesta skips Juventus
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Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta has been handed a two-match ban, so he’ll miss Milan’s crunch games with Cagliari and Juventus.

The defender was sent off for dissent in the final minutes of Sunday’s 2-1 home defeat to Atalanta.

The Disciplinary Commission received the report from the referee and has judged his comments worthy of a two-match ban.

As the Rossoneri are already without the injured Marcos Cafu, Marek Jankulovski and Serginho, this leaves Carlo Ancelotti with limited options at the back.

Cagliari Coach Davide Ballardini will also be in the stands for the Milan tie due to a touchline ban.

AC Milan plan to steal Cesar
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Football Italia

Reports in the peninsula suggest that Inter wing-back Cesar Aparecido will move to San Siro rivals Milan at the end of the season.

The Brazilian has impressed when given the chance and has made 12 starts so far this term, but he has been banished to the bench for long periods of an injury-blighted season.

Cesar’s contract with the Nerazzurri expires this summer and the Corriere dello Sport insists that the 34-year-old is keen for a fresh start in Italy’s fashion capital.

Milan are looking to reinforce their squad this summer after a disappointing campaign and are reportedly ready to start the rebuilding process by raiding their neighbours.

Since signing for Inter from Lazio in 2006, Cesar has been loaned to Livorno and Brazilian outfit Corinthians and Roberto Mancini seems to view the Sao Paulo native as a utility player rather than a first-team regular.

Meanwhile, reports from MilanNews state that the Rossoneri are considering an offer for Arsenal’s defensive star Emmanuel Eboué.

Massimo Oddo has struggled in recent weeks in the right-back position and Marcos Cafu is approaching the end of his career.

The fee is expected to be around £5m for Eboué, who is under contract with the Gunners until 2009.

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