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The Archive

July 2004

Stam issues Milan warning
31.7 || scharatz

Jaap Stam has told Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti that he would like to play as a centre-back next season.

"I prefer to play in the middle even if that will be up to the Coach to decide," said the summer signing from Lazio.

"I played as a right-back in Rome sometimes and I’m open to anything. Ancelotti will use me how he thinks is best."

The Dutchman has finally started training with the Rossoneri after an extended break due to Euro 2004.

"I’m very content to be a Milan player," said the £7.5m stopper. "I want to win everything with this club.

"Why did I choose Milan? Because they are one of the strongest sides on the planet. They won the Scudetto last season and the Champions’ League a year earlier."

Stam also commented on his decision to quit the Biancocelesti. "I spent three happy years in Rome," he noted.

"Yet when you want to win things you must join a strong club like Milan. My first objective is to lift the Super Cup against Lazio next month."

Rui Costa going nowhere
29.7 || Seamus

Manuel Rui Costa will still be a key figure at Italian champions Milan next season, says his agent.

The Portuguese playmaker has been linked with a move given that he is only a reserve to Kaka at the San Siro.

Yet despite being associated with clubs like Manchester United in the past few days, Rui Costa seems to be going nowhere.

"Stories suggesting that Manuel is leaving Milan are totally unfounded," stated Carlo Pallavicino.

"Rui wants to remain with the Rossoneri and I have no doubts about that whatsoever."

The former Fiorentina midfielder, who featured at Euro 2004, is tied to the San Siro outfit until the summer of 2006.

Further proof that the ex-Benfica starlet is a part of the club’s plans arrived after he was handed the No 10 shirt for the new term.

Striker Hernan Crespo will wear the 11, the 24 has been assigned to Vikash Dhorasoo and Jaap Stam has selected 31.

Goalkeepers: 17 Abbiati, 12 Fiori, 1 Dida.

Defenders: 2 Cafu, 5 Costacurta, 4 Kaladze, 3 Maldini, 13 Nesta, 26 Pancaro, 14 Simic, 31 Stam.

Midfielders: 45 Abate, 23 Ambrosini, 31 Brocchi, 24 Dhorasoo, 8 Gattuso, 22 Kaka, 21 Pirlo, 10 Rui Costa, 20 Seedorf, 27 Serginho.

Forwards: 11 Crespo, 9 Inzaghi, 18 Pozzi, 7 Shevchenko, 15 Tomasson.

Inter Win TIM Cup
28.7 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Roberto Mancini’s new-look Inter side won the annual Tim Cup, beating probable Scudetto rivals Milan and Juventus in the process.

After beating the Bianconeri 1-0, thanks to a goal from Nigerian youngster Obafemi Martins, the Nerazzurri faced their city rivals in the Final after Milan beat Juventus 2-0. Massimo Ambrosini gave the Rossoneri an early lead against Fabio Capello’s men before the young forward Pozzi doubled their lead.

The final between the Milan sides ended in a stalemate with Inter perhaps shading the play. Mancini’s side looked determined to put on a good show for their fans and the likes of Esteban Cambiasso, Dejan Stankovic and Andy Van der Meyde looked impressive.

It was evident that this was a preseason tournament as the pace of the game soon started to slow down, with penalties the eventual outcome. Milan’s Vikash Dhorasoo missed his spot-kick to give Inter the first derby win of the season.

“Obviously we can’t be 100 percent at this stage of the season,” insisted Mancini after the tournament. “But I am happy with how we played and how we passed the ball. It was a good test.”

Juve Coach Fabio Capello, meanwhile, seems confident despite the two defeats. “I received yet another confirmation that I have a very competitive squad,” insisted the former Roma boss. “Today I preferred to play everyone, but I am looking forward with optimism. Especially given that Emerson will soon be arriving.”

Carlo Ancelotti was also pleased with his team’s performance: “We weren’t as advanced with our preparation as Juventus and Milan, but we played well in the first game and looked tired in the second. Now we must prepare well so we start the season in the best condition possible.”

Milan extend Cafu's contract
28.7 || Seamus

AC Milan have today announced that they extended the contract of Marcos Cafu by one year.

The Brazilian full-back's original contract expired in 2005 but now thanks to the renewal, Cafu will remain a Milan player till the 30th of June 2006.

No worries over Inzaghi
27.7 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan maintain that they will not buy a new striker if Pippo Inzaghi is forced to have another operation.

The Italian is still struggling with an ankle problem which is threatening to see him sidelined again in the new campaign.

But boss Carlo Ancelotti has dismissed reports that his club will enter the transfer market again if Inzaghi needs to go under the knife for the second time in three months.

"Inzaghi is currently in America where we are thinking about a strategy for his full recovery," stated the tactician.

"Anyway, we won’t be buying a new forward even if we are told that he requires more surgery."

Although Inzaghi insists that the injury isn’t too serious, there are fears that he could be out until 2005.

"Talk that he will won’t be back until February are not true," added Ancelotti. "We are and will remain optimistic."

The former Milan midfielder also rubbished speculation that Inzaghi’s career could be over in a similar way to how Marco Van Basten’s ended.

"There are no similarities between the ankle problem of Inzaghi and Van Basten’s which forced his departure from the game," he concluded.

Fortunately for Milan, Ancelotti has numerous attacking options open to him even without Pippo.

The arrival of Hernan Crespo from Chelsea has boosted a squad that already contains Andriy Shevchenko and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

No ankle fear for Pippo
25.7 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan ace Pippo Inzaghi is confident that he is on the verge of finally resolving his ankle problem.

"I’m calm about my physical condition," he told Milan Channel. "I know that it isn’t serious even if it may take longer to resolve than previously thought."

The striker has been struggling with the injury for the last six months and surgery in April hasn’t fully resolved the issue.

He’s now been told to rest for the next six weeks before resuming training with the Italian champions.

"We will carry out all of the necessary tests but I’m confident that I will be playing again as soon as possible," he added.

"The affection that I have been shown by the club, my teammates and the fans in these past few days has been special.

"This will undoubtedly help me to recover and all this support makes me very happy to be a part of this club."

Inzaghi did start pre-season with the club until this latest fitness set-back. However, he’s happy with the look of the new side.

"It’s been a positive start to the season but I was always confident of that. We are a great squad who have been strengthened over the summer," he continued.

"There was also a great atmosphere at Milanello in the last few weeks. I can’t wait to start working with them again."

Crespo opens Milan account
24.7 || scharatz

Hernan Crespo has scored Milan’s first goal of the season as the champions collected a 5-0 friendly win.

The on loan Chelsea forward netted after just six minutes as the Rossoneri beat amateur side Legnano.

The Argentine combined well with new strike partner Andriy Shevchenko who also got on the scoresheet.

The Ukrainian scored twice, once from the spot, as Marcos Cafu and Andrea Pirlo also celebrated goals.

"It was a positive test for us," stated boss Carlo Ancelotti. "We played especially well in the first half of the game."

How did Crespo do? "He moved well and scored a goal almost instantly," added the tactician. "That is important for a striker."

Ancelotti was also asked for an opinion on midfielder Vikash Dhorasoo, a free signing from Lyon.

"He demonstrated that he is an intelligent and organised player, as well as tactically good," he explained.

Milan were without Pippo Inzaghi for the game as he continues to struggle with an ankle problem. Yet Ancelotti is not worried: "There is no need to make a drama out of it."

Inzaghi out for six weeks
23.7 || scharatz

Pippo Inzaghi has been told to rest for six weeks after undergoing more tests on his ankle injury.

The Milan man flew to Amsterdam yesterday where a consultation ruled out the threat of more surgery.

However, medics have told the Italian international that he will be sidelined for over a month in a bid to finally ease the pain.

The former Piacenza ace has been hampered by the problem since the end of last November.

He tried to live with the injury for most of the season before deciding to go under the knife in April.

Inzaghi was apparently fit enough to start pre-season training last week but he was still reporting problems.

That led to Milan’s decision to send him to Holland in the hope of trying to resolve the issue once and for all.

"Inzaghi is an important investment for Milan and we want to know what is happening," stated Milan medic Massimiliano Sala.

Reports suggest that the 31-year-old could be fit enough to sit on the bench for the opening game of the season on 12 September.

Meanwhile, Milan will play Legnano in a friendly on Friday where the Coach will field Hernan Crespo and Andriy Shevchenko in attack.

More problems for Inzaghi
21.7 || Seamus

Last season Filippo Inzaghi didn't play much because of an injury and now after an operation in May that kept him out of Euro 2004 his problems aren't over yet.

Tomorrow he will travel to Holland to meet professor Van Dijk and see if there is a way to stop the pain that comes from his ankle. The Striker began the pre-season training session with his AC Milan team mates but he never managed to practise with them and he has spent the last two weeks in the gym working out but his ankle's condition hasn't improved.

Lippi impressed by Milan
21.7 || scharatz

New Italy boss Marcello Lippi has named Milan as his favourites to win Lo Scudetto next season.

"They are the strongest side and the team to beat in the new campaign," said the former Juventus tactician.

"They have added strength to the squad over the summer and they are the reigning champions anyway."

Lippi made the statement on Wednesday as he started his tour of Serie A clubs with the Rossoneri.

"Out of respect, it was only right that I began here with Milan," he added. "I had to come here first."

Lippi is travelling around the country in the hope of picking up some ideas by visiting clubs in training.

The tactician was appointed as Azzurri boss just days after Giovanni Trapattoni’s side flopped at Euro 2004.

"We are still at an early organisational stage but it is my hope to get off to a good start," he continued.

"The national side hasn’t had the best of results in recent times and we must find some enthusiasm again.

"I think people can get excited by the national side thanks to these visits where I can exchange opinions with coaches and players."

Sheva on the offensive
20.7 || webmaster

Andriy Shevchenko has warned boss Carlo Ancelotti to make sure he makes the most of his striking options.

The arrival of Hernan Crespo means that two big name players are going to be left out of the team, given that Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson are also at the club.

Now star striker Shevchenko has urged the tactician to use his forward players wisely in the new campaign.

"We need to be managed well," stated the Ukrainian international. "I think it is essential that the Coach understands this and vice versa.

"Anyhow, I believe that the Coach will make a decision by looking at what we do on the pitch. Only those in the best shape should be assured of a place in the team."

Shevchenko was outstanding last term as Milan won Lo Scudetto but the player has his eyes on other objectives.

"Winning the Champions’ League is my primary target," he said. "It is an amazing feeling to lift up that trophy."

Shev also spoke about his private life before revealing a secret. "I want to get this season off to a good start as I will become a father in November," he added.

"I also want people to know that I married my partner Kristen in Washington over the summer."

Shevchenko Weds
20.7 || Seamus

Andriy Shevchenko has revealed that he has wed his long-time girlfiend Kristen Pazik in Washingon.

The Ukranian forward, who is expecting his first child in November from his newly wed wife, surprisingly admitted today: "I wanted to tell you something that I did not tell anyone. On the 14th of July I got married in Washington."

Ancelotti To Continue With 4-Man Defence
19.7 || Seamus

Carlo Ancelotti has stated that despite Jaap Stam's arrival, Milan will continue to play with their usual 4-man defence which has brought them the Champions League and Scudetto in the past two years.
The rossoneri's coach will not change to a three-man defence and will not play Stam as a left-back, thus hinting that Maldini will go back to his full-back role.

"I don't see Stam as a left-back and I exclude playing with a three-man defence because I would lose a midfielder, one between Gattuso and Seedorf, and Milan cannot allow this. And I don't see Cafu as a midfielder either."

Billy eyes Coach role
19.7 || scharatz

Alessandro Costacurta intends to take up coaching once he completes his last year as a player with Milan.

The 38-year-old, known as Billy, is about to start his 18th and final season with the Rossoneri but he’s already thinking about the future.

"I do have a number of options when I hang up my boots," said the legendary defender. "But lately I have been getting a desire for coaching.

"In the last few months I have found that I seem to have a lot more patience than in the past and this is an ideal quality for a Coach.

"My teammates often follow my advice and giving out instructions comes easily for me. I don’t think these skills should be underestimated."

Despite his age, Costacurta is still a valuable member of the side that justifies his decision to keep on playing.

"You only feel certain emotions by playing football and I didn’t want to miss out on those," he continued.

"This is the beauty of the sport. I could have quit the game a few years ago but I had to continue."

And the former international is keen to keep winning. "We are the champions of Italy and we know it," he added.

"Psychology this motivates us as a side and pushes us to continue. I would say that is the real difference between us and other clubs."

Kaka eyes European Cup
18.7 || scharatz

Winning the Champions’ League is the primary objective for Milan sensation Kaka in the new campaign.

"It would be nice to win everything but if I had to choose then I would say the European Cup," he stated.

"By winning that we would have another chance at the Intercontinental title, our great regret of last season."

The Rossoneri missed out on that trophy by losing to Boca Juniors even if they made up for it by winning the League.

And one of the architects behind that success was the 21-year-old after his arrival from Sao Paulo.

"I didn’t expect my life to change so much in a year," reflects the Brazilian. "Things will be more difficult for me now though.

"People know what I can do now and I expect to be marked more closely. Yet this doesn’t scare me.

"It is simply an extra stimulus for me to do well. I’m here to keep improving as a player because I know that I can."

The attacking midfielder has been back in training since Thursday after deciding to not take part in the Coppa America.

"It was a shame but I needed a break this summer after two years of football," he added. "It is an important competition but I will get other chances to play in it."

Kaka was also questioned on what he thought about the capture of Crespo, Dhorasoo and Stam.

"My first impressions of Crespo are good," he added. "He speaks Italian and is a nice guy.

"Dhorasoo is a bit shy but he’ll soon get used to this new environment as I did.

"Stam is one of the best defenders in Europe. It is better to have him in our team rather than as an opponent."

Profile: Gennaro Gattuso
16.7 || Seamus

In a team where looks and fame sometimes seem to take first priority over football, Gennaro ‘Rino’ Gattuso is a shining light.
Gattuso, who plays for Serie A champions AC Milan, is a no-nonsense, combative style defensive midfielder who always seems to bring the best out of the sometimes lacklustre Azzurri.

Whilst he may not posses such skill and creativity that the likes of Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Del Piero have in abundance, Gattuso’s spirit and attitude is something that these players should really look to apply to themselves in order to salvage something from Italy’s slow start to EURO 2004.

"The hallmarks of my game are grit, tenacity, courage. I never stop fighting for the team.”

Gattuso, born in Calabria, deep-down in the south of Italy, is typically unfazed with the fact that he isn’t gifted with such talent as some of his team-mates. In fact, the midfielder, who grew to prominence with Rangers FC in Scotland, was once asked to comment on team-mate Andrea Pirlo and his words typify his no-nonsense attitude to the game.

“When I see what Andrea can do with a ball, I have to ask myself whether I am a footballer.”

This attitude is one that Gattuso carries into every game, which sees him receive more than his fair share of bookings. But whilst the tough-tackler sometimes gets carried away with his challenges, his presence around some more creative players gives Italy some much needed midfield stability, as well as a great fighting spirit.

Rino in Italian means ‘growl’ or ‘grunt’ – a perfect example of how Gattuso is singled out as a fiercely-aggressive player amongst the likes of Pirlo, Totti and Del Piero.

When asked to comment on some comments made by Totti about his socks and shoes after the game against Denmark, Gattuso came out with a typical response.

"Don’t make me laugh about this story with the socks. Kenyans run hundreds of kilometres with bare feet”.

A typical Gattuso comment – no-nonsense, straight to the point and fiercely aggressive, precisely the way he loves to play the game.

Love him or hate him, Gattuso is a shining light in an Italian team that has yet to hit their stride at EURO 2004. Such a player should be an automatic choice when Giovanni Trapattoni sits down to fill out his team sheet ahead of every game.

Pirlo gets Olympic call
16.7 || webmaster

Andrea Pirlo, Matteo Ferrari and Ivan Pelizzoli have been confirmed in Italy’s 18-man Olympic squad.

They are the three over-aged players that U-21 boss Claudio Gentile has opted to select for the Greek games.

Gentile knows all of the individuals well having successfully coached them at Azzurrini level in the past.

Milan star Pirlo is set to be handed the playmaker role in midfield. Ferrari will play at centre-back, with goalkeeper Pelizzoli handed the gloves.

There are few surprises in the squad even if Paolo Cannavaro (Parma), Andrea Caracciolo (Brescia), Cristian Zaccardo (Palermo) and Matteo Brighi (Juventus) are all missing.

The group of players will meet up at Fiuggi on August 2, before flying out to Greece seven days later.

The Azzurrini have been drawn in Group B where they will face Ghana, Paraguay and Japan.

Full squad
Marco Amelia (Livorno) - goalkeeper
Andrea Barzagli (Chievo)
Daniele Bonera (Parma)
Cesare Bovo (Roma)
Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Daniele De Rossi (Roma)
Simone Del Nero (Brescia)
Marco Donadel (Sampdoria)
Matteo Ferrari (Parma)
Andrea Gasbarroni (Palermo)
Alberto Gilardino (Parma)
Giandomenico Mesto (Reggina)
Emiliano Moretti (Parma)
Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria)
Ivan Pelizzoli (Roma) - goalkeeper
Giampiero Pinzi (Udinese)
Andrea Pirlo (Milan)
Giuseppe Sculli (Brescia)

Should injuries strike, Gentile has named goalkeeper Agliardi (Brescia), Aquilani (Roma), Bianchi (Cagliari) and Potenza (Inter) as replacements.

Crespo on the offensive
16.7 || scharatz

Hernan Crespo says he has no fear about the stiff rivalry for places in the Milan side next season.

"I’m not afraid of the competition, in fact it is an extra stimulus for me to work even harder," said the Argentine.

"I’m used to being part of a squad with great players in it. I’ll do my best in order to help Milan do well."

The Italian champions now have four world class strikers, as the Chelsea owned player joins Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson at the club.

"Having four strikers is fundamental," explained Vice-president Adriano Galliani. "It will be a very busy season seeing as there will be four more Serie A games to play."

Boss Carlo Ancelotti, who specifically asked for Crespo, added: "I don’t think we’ve exaggerated with strikers. I know Crespo well and he can only be a positive for us."

Milan’s star forward Shevchenko also seems pleased with the acquisition of the South American.

"Our chances of winning again have improved with his arrival," said the Ukrainian. "We can win everything next season. Our squad is complete in every department."

Crespo has arrived on a one-year loan deal and he can’t wait to play his first match in the famous Rossoneri colours.

"I’m delighted to be here," he added. "It is very pleasing and an honour for a club like this to want me.

"I’m also happy to be back with Ancelotti again after our time together at Parma in the past. This really is a great squad who want to lift more honours."

Crespo could get his hands on his first trophy against Lazio in the Italian Super Cup on August 21. "That is just one of many objectives," he concluded.

Milan back at work
15.7 || scharatz

The new term officially began for Italian champions Milan this evening as they started pre-season training.

Around 1,500 fans turned up to the Milanello complex to welcome the team that has been boosted by the arrival of Hernan Crespo.

"It must be our objective to keep winning when you look at the squad we have assembled," stated Vice-president Adriano Galliani.

"We have an extraordinary group of players and although time goes by, there is always the enthusiasm to keep being victorious."

The Rossoneri have won just about everything possible in the last 24 months and they are keen to lift more trophies.

"We’ve had two fantastic years and our policy hasn’t changed as we have confirmed 21 out of 24 players," added Galliani.

"I do believe that the changes we’ve made, Stam for Laursen, Dhorasoo for Redondo and Crespo for Borriello, have made us even stronger.

"Crespo? We wanted to please Ancelotti and President Berlusconi was also happy with the arrival. Our transfer campaign is over now though."

Boss Carlo Ancelotti is confident about the season ahead. "We have a slight advantage over the other sides," he stated.

"That is because our squad is already complete while the other clubs are still trying to buy and sell."

When asked whether having so many top class players could cause him problems, he replied: "I’m not afraid by this. Even if I know that I must make the right decisions.

"But I feel that we need four great strikers even if it means that it will be virtually impossible to play with just one in attack from now on…"

Milan now have one of the deadliest striking options on the planet with Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Crespo all available.

"I’m honoured to be at this club," said the Argentine as he was presented to the media. "Ancelotti helped me to grow up as a player at Parma.

"Am I used to a starting shirt? There is always great competition for places at great clubs. I will calmly fight for a place as I know what the situation is."

Maldini names Milan rivals
15.7 || scharatz

Paolo Maldini fears that Juventus, after appointing Fabio Capello as boss, will be Milan’s main rivals this term.

The Rossoneri comfortably won Lo Scudetto last season but the legend feels that Juve will be real title contenders once again.

"I would have never of expected Capello to replace Marcello Lippi in Turin," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Capello is a guarantee as a Coach. He has the capability to always be at clubs that have major objectives."

If Maldini is anxious about the strength of Juve in Italy, he believes that Real Madrid will be a major threat in the Champions’ League.

"The fact that they have signed defenders (Walter Samuel from Roma) makes quite an impression," he added.

"However, I’m not thinking about Europe for the time being. We are just focused on working hard and improving."

The San Siro giants were unbelievably good last season and they could be even better after the arrivals of Jaap Stam and Hernan Crespo.

"Everyone knows about Stam’s value on the football field," noted the 36-year-old defender.

"Could Crespo’s arrival cause problems? The signing of great players doesn’t cause problems, it only helps to resolve them."

There are fears that the Argentine’s capture could upset the squad, seeing as the side already have Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson as attacking options.

Ancelotti key says Crespo
15.7 || scharatz

Hernan Crespo has admitted that Carlo Ancelotti was a major factor in his decision to join Milan.

The Argentine is expected to officially be unveiled as a Rossoneri player today after flying into the Italian city late last night.

"Ancelotti was a big part of my thinking," said the South American who is set to join from Chelsea on a one-year loan.

Boss Ancelotti is a massive fan of the player after they worked together at Parma between 1996 and 1998.

"The idea of returning to play in Italy gives me great pleasure. But don't make me talk about it now, not before the last details are completed and before I take the medical," he added.

"We are very, very close to sealing the deal, and I will be very happy to speak when everything is in place."

Crespo is set to return to Serie A just 12 months after leaving Inter for a difficult spell at Chelsea.

He only made 18 League appearances for the Stamford Bridge outfit, even if he did score 10 goals.

Milan have been after a fourth striker for some time to add to Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

"The three strikers who are already at Milan are great players and they have proved it many times," he added.

"To anyone who is worried about my fitness, I would say that I am in great shape. Of that there is no doubt."

Milan chief Adriano Galliani was also pleased to have captured Crespo. "I am delighted Crespo is here," he stated.

"It is a decision that everyone at the club wanted and it is certainly a present to our fans."

When asked about the specific terms of the agreement between the two clubs, Galliani responded: "That is between Milan and Chelsea."

Milan complete Crespo loan
14.7 || scharatz

Hernan Crespo will wear the Milan shirt next season after Chelsea agreed to a one-year loan deal.

The Argentine has been linked with the Rossoneri for weeks and he’ll be presented to the media on Thursday.

The Italian champions have been in talks for the player recently and an agreement has finally been reached.

Reports suggest that the forward has accepted to take a cut in his £3.5m a season salary in order to complete the move.

Milan have been after a fourth striker for some time to add to Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

The club were initially linked with Bernardo Corradi, but they turned their attention to Crespo after the Lazio man joined Valencia instead.

Boss Carlo Ancelotti is a massive fan of the South American after they worked together at Parma between 1996 and 1998.

The transfer should be made official by Milan this evening.

Drogba key in Crespo move
14.7 || scharatz

Hernan Crespo has moved closer to a Milan switch after Chelsea confirmed their interest in Didier Drogba.

The Argentine has been linked with a London exit and the Premiership club have targeted the Marseille man as his replacement.

The Stamford Bridge outfit made an £18m bid for the striker yesterday but that has been rejected.

However, the English club are expected to increase their offer and the French have admitted that a sale may occur.

"Negotiations have begun between Chelsea representatives and our general manager Pape Diouf," said Marseille chief Christophe Bouchet. "But their offer of £18m was insufficient.

"Yet the situation is extremely complex and it's a real balancing act not only on the human side, but also because of our financial state that has to be taken into account as well."

Milan and Chelsea are understood to have held talks over Crespo and he should be released just as soon as Drogba is netted.

The only problems that remain are whether the former Inter striker arrives on loan or is signed outright.

The South American must also be convinced to take a cut in his reported £3.5m a season salary.

New deal for Max
14.7 || scharatz

Milan have quashed transfer speculation surrounding Massimo Ambrosini by extending his contract.

The midfielder was being linked with a move away after failing to be a first team regular last season.

But despite interest from the likes of Real Madrid, and Fiorentina recently, Ambrosini will remain at the San Siro.

The 27-year-old has put pen to paper on a new agreement which will keep him with the Rossoneri until 2006.

Ambrosini was said to be considering his future given his reserve role which cost him his place at Euro 2004.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti likes the player but his first choice midfield last season consisted of Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso.

However, Ambrosini will have a chance to impress over the next few months given the likely absence of Pirlo and Seedorf.

The Italian is set to travel to the Olympic Games next month, while the Holland star is recovering from thigh surgery.

Pirlo to snub Olympics?
13.7 || scharatz

A club versus country row is developing after Milan’s Andrea Pirlo was included in the provisional Olympic squad.

The Italian ace is set to be one of three over-aged players who will represent the U-21 side in Athens this summer.

But Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t seem too keen on losing the playmaker during pre-season.

"It will be up to the player to decide and his decision needs to be respected," said the tactician.

"I would obviously prefer it if he didn’t go to Greece. After all, we play Lazio in Tripoli for the Super Cup on August 21 and I could be without Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf for that game."

Those words were not welcomed by Gianni Petrucci, the President of the Italian Olympic Committee.

"I would be surprised if he didn’t go," Petrucci stated. "The Italian League and the Federation have insisted that we send a strong squad.

"The five players (Pirlo, Pelizzoli, Ferrari, Natali and Barone) provisionally named must accept any eventual call."

Milan chief Adriano Galliani, who is also the League President, refused to be drawn into the argument.

"I have absolutely nothing to do with this situation," he said. "It is between the player and the Coach."

Milan want Crespo swoop
12.7 || scharatz

Italian champions Milan have confirmed they are interested in signing Chelsea's Hernan Crespo.

The Argentine has been heavily linked with a move to the Rossoneri and the club will open negotiations with the Premiership side.

"He is a possible signing," Vice-president Adriano Galliani told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"Carlo Ancelotti has assured me that the Argentine wouldn’t unbalance our strike force.

"Crespo would certainly be a luxury but I can’t ignore the opinions of a Coach who has won everything in the last two seasons.

"Ancelotti worked with the player at Parma and knows him very well. If the conditions are right then we will try to please the Coach."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho stated at the weekend that he was unsure whether Crespo would remain or go.

Reports today suggest that the striker could leave on a one-year loan deal, just as Juan Veron did for Inter earlier this summer.

That theory is backed up by the fact that both players are represented by the same agent.

However, it seems almost certain that the move will only go through if Crespo accepts a cut in his reported £3.5m a season salary.

Galliani added that he wanted to win the Champions’ League again next term, while admitting the Scudetto race is set to be between just three teams.

"Our direct rivals have strengthened themselves," he added. "Juventus have hired Fabio Capello who has won titles at Milan, Real Madrid and Roma.

"While Inter have just signed Edgar Davids. We were very close to getting him but I blocked it as we already have Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini."

Rui Costa sticks with Milan
11.7 || scharatz

Manuel Rui Costa insists he will stay with Milan for another season, but leaves the door open for a return to Giovanni Trapattoni’s Benfica.

“Right now the most important thing is to enjoy my holiday,” said the Portuguese star, “which is difficult considering the fact everyone keeps asking me about a potential move to Fiorentina or Benfica.”

32-year-old Rui Costa’s future was placed in doubt following a year spent mainly on the bench at Milan behind young Brazilian Kaka.

His fine performances in Euro 2004 were his last in a Portugal shirt, while new Benfica boss Trapattoni has publicly named him as a main transfer target.

“Only one thing is certain,” added Rui Costa in ‘Tuttosport’, “and that is I will be at the Milan training ground on July 30, happy to be working with the Rossoneri again. It’s just not possible, with a club like Milan, to make that decision to leave lightly.”

Reports that Rui Costa is on his way out of the San Siro were further fuelled with rumours of their interest in Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar.

The 19-year-old is already the captain of Dynamo Zagreb and a star of the Under-21 side, while he would be available for just £3.5m.

Coast clear for Crespo comeback
11.7 || scharatz

Chelsea have effectively invited Milan to make a bid for Hernan Crespo and the crucial meeting could take place on Monday.

The Argentine has made no secret of his desire to work with Carlo Ancelotti, his mentor at Parma, again and the Rossoneri are equally public about their admiration for the striker.

Crespo’s decision to turn up late for pre-season training with Chelsea infuriated Jose Mourinho and opened the door for a return to Serie A, perhaps with the same loan deal that allowed Inter to take Juan Sebastian Veron.

“If the decision is for Hernan to go looking for a new club, we have an open space,” revealed new Stamford Bridge boss Mourinho.

“I was not happy when he did not turn up for the first day of training. But he gave some excuses I could accept and we started from scratch. We have to decide in the next few days what is going to happen with Hernan.”

Chelsea have already pinpointed Marseille star Didier Drogba as his replacement, so the coast is clear for Milan to make their move.

Crespo has already made his mark on Serie A with successful stints at Parma, Lazio and Inter, but he has struggled with injuries and poor form since joining the Premiership last summer.

Meanwhile, his potential new teammate Jon Dahl Tomasson would welcome the Argentine with open arms.

“I hope that Crespo comes to Milan,” commented the Danish international. “He is an extraordinary player that would make us even more competitive. It is our duty to win everything this season.”

The club is searching for a fourth striker after Marco Borriello was loaned out to Messina, but Tomasson’s Euro 2004 campaign pushed him up the pecking order.

“I had already noticed throughout last season that the club and my teammates had a lot more faith in me. I am happy with my progress and it was also a wonderful prize to be named as part of the Euro 2004 All-Star squad.”

Trap calls in Rui Costa
10.7 || scharatz

Giovanni Trapattoni aims to pack Benfica with Serie A stars and confirms Manuel Rui Costa and Daniele Adani as his main targets.

“I have known Rui for many years,” explained the former Italy boss, “and can therefore say that he is an extraordinary player. I would love to have him in my squad again, right here in Lisbon.”

It would be an ideal solution for the Portuguese international, who shone in a number of substitute appearances for the Euro 2004 Finalists.

32-year-old Rui Costa began his career at his hometown club Benfica and has never hidden his desire to return for one final swansong.

He also had his most productive and impressive Serie A campaign under Trapattoni’s guidance at Fiorentina, when they beat Arsenal in the Champions’ League and challenged for the Scudetto.

The other main contender for Rui Costa’s services is another of his old clubs, as the Viola are back in the top flight and want the former Fiorentina legend back to lead the squad.

Milan start Crespo talks
9.7 || scharatz

Hernan Crespo could be on the verge of leaving Chelsea for Milan, according to reports in Italy.

Rossoneri director general Ariedo Braida is believed to have met with the player’s agent yesterday to discuss a possible move.

Chelsea are understood to be willing to sell and the Argentine could resolve Milan’s missing fourth striker problem.

The Italian champions are looking for a new forward to add to their squad of Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Although Crespo - who failed to turn up for a meeting with new boss Jose Mourinho - has claimed he is ready to stay in England, the Italian media are convinced that is not the case.

Especially as the departure of Roque Junior yesterday freed up a non-EU space in the Milan squad.

The only possible problem that could halt the transfer at the moment is Crespo’s salary demands.

The former Parma, Lazio and Inter ace currently nets around £3.5m a season at Stamford Bridge.

Milan have no intention of matching that amount and are hopeful that the 28-year-old can be convinced to accept around £2.2m.

Boss Carlo Ancelotti is a massive fan of the South American after they worked together at Parma between 1996 and 1998.

Roque Junior leaves Milan
8.7 || scharatz

Roque Junior has played his last game for Italian giants Milan after he joined Bayer Leverkusen.

The Brazilian international has joined the German club after having his contract, which still had a year left to run, terminated by the Rossoneri.

The stopper joined Milan four years ago but never really forced his way into the side – despite being a key member of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup success.

He spent last season on loan at Leeds United, before joining Siena during the January transfer window.

Leverkusen, who have landed him on a three-year deal, targeted Roque Junior after they sold Lucio.

The latter, also a Brazilian, rejected a move to Italy after he decided to sign for Bayern Munich instead.

"Roque Junior is the player who I wanted for my defence," commented Bayer boss Klaus Augenthaler.

Meanwhile, Milan have been told to forget about making a bid for U-21 striker Andrea Caracciolo.

"He is not available for transfer," insisted Brescia President Gino Corioni in response to recent reports.

Seedorf has thigh surgery
7.7 || Seamus

Milan star Clarence Seedorf will today go under the knife in a bid to resolve a thigh problem.

"The operation will be to clean up a bone fragment in his right thigh," said Milan medic Jean Pierre Meersseman.

"It is a problem that the player has suffered with for a number of years now."

The Dutchman will have the minor surgery in Amsterdam but he should be fit for the start of the season.

Meanwhile, Seedorf’s club continue to be linked with a number of new players for the next campaign.

Porto midfielder Maniche is being coupled with the side after a splendid Euro 2004, but transfer whispers continue to revolve around who will be Milan’s fourth striker.

Hernan Crespo of Chelsea is still being talked about but the Italians are today being linked with Milan Baros.

The Liverpool and Czech ace, top scorer at Euro 2004, could be a target even if Real Madrid are also very keen.

Holland star Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who is available on a free transfer, is another possible objective for the San Siro outfit.

Abbiati set for Milan stay
7.7 || Seamus

Christian Abbiati’s agent believes that his client will probably be forced to remain with Milan next season.

The goalkeeper was looking for a move after spending the last two campaigns as No 2 behind Dida.

However, despite being linked with moves to numerous clubs, a transfer doesn’t seem on the cards.

"Abbiati missed the train last year when Arsenal wanted him," Vincenzo Morabito told Radio Radio.

"A move will be difficult now because he’s spent the last 12 months as a reserve and his wages are relatively high.

"We’ve spoken to Palermo but that move can’t be completed, the same applies for Fiorentina. I think he’ll stay at Milan."

Abbiati, who rejected a switch to the Premiership last summer, is keen for regular action after missing out on a place at Euro 2004.

Meanwhile, three of Milan’s young midfielders all look set to be loaned out for the second successive season.

Massimo Donati, who spent last term at Sampdoria, is likely to join top-flight new boys Messina.

Samuele Dalla Bona will be wearing the Lecce shirt after his stint at Bologna, while Marco Donadel has numerous options after impressing at Parma.

Crespo in new Milan link
5.7 || scharatz

Hernan Crespo is again being linked with a move to Milan after he failed to turn up for a pre-season meeting at Chelsea.

The Argentine was set for talks with new boss Jose Mourinho but the former Inter man didn’t show.

"Crespo wasn't there and until now I've not heard from him," stated the Portuguese tactician earlier today.

The 29-year-old has been associated with a switch to the Rossoneri for some time and he’s open to the move.

"Everyone knows that I would be really happy to play under Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti again," he recently told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Ancelotti is a massive fan of the Argentine after they worked together at Parma between 1996 and 1998.

The Italian champions are looking for a new forward to add to their squad of Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Crespo has been linked with a possible loan switch and the move may finally occur given his difficulties in England.

The South American joined Chelsea last summer from Inter but he struggled to settle into the British game.

Milan block Serginho sale
5.7 || scharatz

Milan have denied reports that Serginho is on the verge of leaving the Italian champions this summer.

The midfielder has been associated with a move to Sao Paulo as part of a deal to sign striker Luis Fabiano.

However, the club have released an official statement which insists that the Brazilian is not available for transfer.

"There are no negotiations in place regarding Serginho and none are planned," explained the Serie A outfit.

"Serginho has been at Milan since 1999 and he’s happy with us and the successes of the last two seasons."

Serginho, now 33, has become a squad player at Milan in recent times but is liked by boss Carlo Ancelotti.

That is because he can play on the left-hand side of midfield but also as an emergency left-back.

Meanwhile, Pippo Inzaghi is confident that the Rossoneri will continue to be major players next term.

"We haven’t revolutionised the squad over the summer so we will still be favourites in Italy and Europe," said the striker. "Our winning cycle is by no means over.

"My fitness? I’m in good shape and ready for the season. I’m sure I will be a protagonist in the new campaign."

Milan chase Chelsea trio
4.7 || scharatz

The Rossoneri are being heavily linked with bids for Chelsea pairing Frank Lampard and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, not to mention Hernan Crespo.

Reports of negotiations between the two clubs have come thick and fast in the Italian press over the last few days, but it had been assumed the object of contention was the future of Argentine hitman Crespo.

There were even claims he would be loaned out to the San Siro side for free, with Roman Abramovich continuing to pay his wages during this spell in Serie A.

However, it is now suggested that their real targets are other members of the Chelsea squad.

Frank Lampard has had a splendid Premiership campaign and also impressed during England’s Euro 2004 matches, but is increasingly unlikely to pen a new contract with his current club.

His goal-scoring record has particularly endeared him to Milan director Ariedo Braida, who could stage a swoop to replace Massimo Ambrosini or Clarence Seedorf.

Another Chelsea player of interest to the Italian Champions is Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who this week was released from his contract.

The 32-year-old Dutchman is the kind of forward who would suit Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics and above all be prepared to sit on the bench as part of a squad rotation system with Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Rui Costa's international retirement
3.7 || scharatz

Manuel Rui Costa has confirmed that the Euro 2004 Final will be his last appearance in a Portuguese jersey.

“I already feel nostalgia for this side just thinking about this move,” revealed the 32-year-old midfielder.

“It’s a bit like retiring for me, although I am not considering hanging up my boots just yet.”

The Milan man made history along with the ‘Golden Generation’ of Portuguese stars who beat Brazil 4-2 to conquer the Under-20 World Cup in 1991, but since then this nation has struggled to live up to expectations.

They have the opportunity to go out in style tomorrow evening, when they take on Greece for the Euro 2004 trophy in front of their home crowd.

“I remain very proud of everything I have achieved with Portugal and hope to end my international career on a high,” he added. “It was a decision I had already made before the start of this competition.”

Rui Costa has been something of a fringe player during this tournament with just one start in the opening defeat to Greece, but he has proved decisive as a substitute against Russia and England by scoring two goals.

“The reasons behind my decision are not important,” assured the former Fiorentina and Benfica hero. “All that matters now is winning the European Championship.”

This raises further questions over his future, especially with reports that the midfielder is set to make a return to his first Serie A love – Fiorentina.

Rui Costa spent seven seasons at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and only left in 2001 due to the club’s serious financial problems. Now that the Viola are back in the top flight and with fresh funds from President Diego Della Valle, he could stage a swansong in Florence before heading back to his hometown club Benfica.

Koller jumps at Milan chance
3.7 || scharatz

Czech international Jan Koller admits he’d relish the opportunity to sign for the Scudetto holders and could soon be joined by teammate Milan Baros.

“It would be fantastic to play in Serie A,” commented the giant centre-forward, “but above all for a world-renowned side like Milan. This is the greatest chance of my life.”

Rossoneri Coach Carlo Ancelotti is known to have requested a powerful striker and his prime target had been Bernardo Corradi, who has now signed for Valencia.

However, once Euro 2004 star Koller discovered the interest from the San Siro side, he took every step to ensure the switch could be completed.

“Borussia Dortmund have set a £7m price-tag,” noted the 31-year-old, “but it is too high in my opinion. I want to convince them to lower that figure.”

Koller could soon be joined by his Czech Republic teammate Milan Baros, who had already been linked with the Serie A giants a couple of seasons ago.

Michael Owen and the arrival of Djibril Cisse limit his space at Liverpool, so the Premiership outfit could be talked into a sale next summer.

As for Milan, they are reportedly ready to loan Under-21 international Marco Borriello out to newly promoted Messina so that he can gain experience.

Milan offered Crespo loan
2.7 || scharatz

Chelsea are reportedly ready to offer Milan the services of striker Hernan Crespo – for free.

Speculation in the Italian media today states that the London club will hand over the player on a one-year loan deal.

As part of the agreement, the Italian champions will not even be burdened with his £3.2m salary as that will still be paid by the Premiership side.

Crespo has been linked with the Rossoneri for some time and the move may finally occur given his difficulties in England.

The Argentine joined Chelsea last summer from Inter but he struggled to settle into the British game.

Milan are actively looking for a fourth striker and the 28-year-old is liked by boss Carlo Ancelotti – who worked with the forward at Parma in the past.

"I don’t know anything about these stories but everybody knows that I would be happy to team up with Ancelotti again," stated Crespo. "We’ll see what happens.

"Especially when you consider what has occurred in the past. I started pre-season at Lazio before being sold to Inter.

"I then started work with Inter before joining Chelsea. Nobody knows what will happen but I’m ready for anything."

The Italian champions are desperate for a new attacker to join Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

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