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The Archive

July 2008

Trofeo TIM: Abbiati is derby hero
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan won the Trofeo TIM after Christian Abbiati was the hero in a penalty shoot-out, saving Sulley Ali Muntari's spot-kick on his Inter debut.

The final round of the Trofeo TIM was the mini Derby della Madonnina, as the Rossoneri had beaten Juventus on penalties after a 2-2 draw and the Nerazzurri lost 1-0 to the hosts in Turin.

Muntari made his debut just 24 hours after completing his £12m move from Portsmouth, while Kaka's younger brother Digao played in central defence for Milan and Christian Abbiati took on the gloves.

Kaka curled inches past the far post and there were four substitutions, with Luca Antonini, Cristian Brocchi, Luis Jimenez and Mario Balotelli coming off the bench. Nicolas Andre Burdisso threw himself at an Antonini strike to defend the goal, but Abbiati performed a fantastic save to tip Olivier Dacourt's header off the goalline.

Muntari tried to score a stunning goal on his Inter debut, but again Abbiati palmed away the snapshot.

David Suazo and Milan youth team player Osuji were also introduced, but Jimenez and Balotelli wasted good chances with wayward finishing. Inter should have taken the lead on 38 minutes when Abbiati did well to parry Suazo in a one-on-one, but when the Honduras international cut back for Balotelli, the unmarked striker shinned it well wide.

There were no goals and it went to a shoot-out that would decide the winner of the Trofeo TIM. Juventus had four points (one for a draw, three for the victory) and Milan two after the same draw and another point for the shoot-out success.

Kaka stepped up first and flicked the ball over Francesco Toldo and Adriano sent Abbiati the other way. Massimo Oddo and Luis Figo both saw their penalties saved after juddering run-ups.

Marek Jankulovski fired powerfully into the bottom corner and Abbiati couldn't quite get his fingertip to Suazo's shot.

Giuseppe Favalli ballooned over the bar, but Abbiati levelled the scores immediately with a good save on Jimenez. Brocchi converted and youngster Santon took Inter's decisive spot-kick, squirming under the goalkeeper's body.

After the lottery of five it was still all even, so the teams continued. Digao sent Toldo the wrong way, but Suntari's weak finish was saved on his Inter debut so Milan won the shoot-out and the Trofeo TIM on four points thanks to their superior record against Juve.

Milan 0-0 Inter
Milan: Abbiati; Oddo, Simic (Jankulovski 45), Digao, Favalli; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf (Brocchi 21), Ambrosini (Antonini 15); Kaka, Paloschi (Osuji 27)
Inter: Toldo; Maicon, Burdisso, Cambiasso (Santon 43), Maxwell (Jimenez 15); Zanetti, Dacourt, Muntari; Mancini (Balotelli 15) (Adriano 43), Figo, Crespo (Suazo 30)

Trofeo TIM: Seedorf double sinks Juventus
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Clarence Seedorf's brace forced a thrilling 2-2 draw in which Milan beat Juventus on penalties, so the Bianconeri now face Inter.

The Trofeo Tim is one of the traditional summer competitions in the peninsula and has Inter, Milan and Juventus going head-to-head in 45-minute encounters at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin.

Juventus were expected to do well in this tournament, as they were already at an advanced stage of pre-season training ahead of the Champions League preliminary round, but Cristiano Zanetti had a minor injury.

Kaka returned from his knee operation along with Under-19 international Alberto Paloschi, as they were the only fit strikers at the club. Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato were at the Olympics and Pippo Inzaghi and Marco Borriello sidelined. Mathieu Flamini was also out with a muscular strain.

Surprisingly, the Rossoneri were more aggressive from the start and took the lead with a cracking strike from Clarence Seedorf after seven minutes. The Dutchman took a few steps forward and unleashed a right-foot screamer from 20 metres that slotted into the top corner despite Gigi Buffon getting his fingertips to it.

The advantage lasted all of 40 seconds before David Trezeguet's equaliser. The Barcelona transfer target slid on to Marco Marchionni's cross, allowed all the time in the world by Kakha Kaladze's error.

Milan's defensive problems were evident again soon after, as a Zdenek Grygera cross from the right took a touch off Kaladze to find Marchionni's cushioned header at the back post.

It was not a vintage performance from Kaladze, who incredibly ballooned Cristian Brocchi's low cross over the bar from six yards! Buffon palmed away efforts from Paloschi and Marek Jankulovski, while Vincenzo Iaquinta's touched-on free kick and a deflected Nedved angled drive were wide.

Milan got back on level terms with just 120 seconds left on the clock, as a corner came to Seedorf, who shrugged off his marker to cannon another powerful and precise shot under the bar. That forced a penalty shoot-out to decide who would face Inter in the second match.

Trezeguet started the 'lottery' and blasted well over the bar, then Kaka coolly sent Buffon the wrong way with a low right-foot finish.

Zeljko Kalac got a hand to Iaquinta's penalty, but couldn't keep it out, while Andrea Pirlo's was just past Buffon's fingertips. Giorgio Chiellini and Jankulovski converted, but a terribly weak Tiago Mendes effort was comfortably saved. Paloschi lifted his penalty over Buffon to win 4-2 on penalties.

Juventus 2-2 Milan
Scorers: Seedorf 7, 43 (M), Trezeguet 8 (J), Marchionni 12 (J)
Juventus: Buffon; Grygera, Chiellini, Mellberg, Molinaro; Marchionni, Sissoko, Tiago, Nedved; Trezeguet, Iaquinta.
Milan: Kalac; Zambrotta, Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Brocchi, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Kaka; Paloschi
Ref: Brighi

Torino had Paloschi agreement
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Torino President Urbano Cairo has revealed that Alberto Paloschi was on his way to the Granata before Milan pulled the plug on a deal yesterday.

Despite the addition of Nicola Amoruso, Cairo is still looking for a new hitman to prevent a repeat of last term’s toothless performances.

Milan’s teenage starlet Paloschi is the No 1 target for Toro and had been expected to arrive on loan this week, but the agreement fell through.

“We already had a formal agreement with Milan for Paloschi,” Cairo told SportItalia.

“When he was in the Czech Republic with the Under-19 side all that was missing was his signature.

“But yesterday Galliani called me after the injury to Marco Borriello to put the brakes on the deal. He said that they would rather keep hold of him, at least for the moment.

“We have an excellent relationship with Milan. In the next few days we will see whether we are still looking for Paloschi or another striker.”

Some Press sources state that Paloschi will be allowed to join Torino next week, but there are also links to Empoli’s Nicola Pozzi and Manchester City reject Rolando Bianchi.

Ronaldinho inspires Brazil win
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Ronaldinho was on impressive form as Brazil’s Olympic side eased past Singapore in a warm-up game.

Dinho’s transfer from Barcelona to Milan has been greeted with hysterical enthusiasm at San Siro in spite of his dip in form last season.

And the former FIFA World Player of the Year looked sharp as he played a full 90 minutes at Singapore’s National Stadium.

Ronaldinho set up the first goal for Diego with a fantastic flick and scored the second from close range in a 3-0 win.

Brazil, who are amongst the favourites to clinch gold in Beijing, had to weather a brief Singapore fight-back in the second period, but substitute Jo was able to make the score-line comfortable in the 84th minute.

Selecao defender Alex Silva, who has been linked with Milan in the past, was dismissed for violent conduct, but Coach Carlos Dunga seemed content.

The next test for Dinho and Co is a friendly against Vietnam on August 1 in Hanoi.

Carletto: Paloschi stays
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Carlo Ancelotti has set his target for the Trofeo TIM and has guaranteed that youngster Alberto Paloschi won’t be leaving San Siro.

The Diavolo didn’t look too impressive in a 0-0 draw against Cremonese in their first pre-season friendly and are behind Juventus in their preparations.

However, Ancelotti still has high hopes for his side as they prepare to visit Turin tomorrow.

“We are hoping to do well – to play good football and if possible to win,” Carletto insisted.

“It’s important because we will be coming up against two of our rivals for the Scudetto.”

The Rossoneri’s mood in pre-season has been damaged by a serious injury to Azzurri hitman Marco Borriello.

“The injury is just one of those things that can happen,” Ancelotti said.

“It upsets me that his injury has come in a department where we still need to prove ourselves. It’s especially bad because of Pippo Inzaghi’s fitness problems.

“Shevchenko? I wish him all the best and I hope he has a good season. If he comes to Italy it can only be with Milan.”

There may now be a chance for 18-year-old Paloschi to make his mark, in spite of links with Reggina and Sampdoria.

“We never thought about selling him,” Ancelotti claimed. “For as long as he is needed, he will stay with us.

“He could be at San Siro until the end of the year but his position isn’t linked with Borriello’s injury.”

Flamini eyes AC Milan glory
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Mathieu Flamini has already impressed the Milan fans and won’t accept anything less than glory this season.

The French star arrived on a free transfer after his contract with Arsenal expired and he could prove to be one of the signings of the summer.

Flamini was superb on his debut against Serie C side Cremonese and there is a buzz around San Siro after the arrival of Ronaldinho.

“The main objective is to win Serie A,” the 24-year-old told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I had no doubts about coming here – it was an easy decision. Arsenal didn’t leave me with the option of staying in London.

“Then Milan contacted me and immediately made me feel important. I never even considered other clubs.

“I play for a club that is amongst the most successful in the world and it is an honour. I want to write my name in the club’s history.”

Flamini concluded by declaring his enthusiasm at the chance to play alongside Ronaldinho.

“I felt an incredible joy when Dinho came and trained with us on the first day,” he said.

“He will give us so much. He is great fun in training and he laughs and enjoys himself.”

Pirlo's AC Milan resolution
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo has declared that he wants to finish his career with the Diavolo and is ready for a five-horse race for the Scudetto.

After seven years at San Siro, Pirlo has become a talismanic figure for Milan fans and remains a crucial asset for Carlo Ancelotti.

While even Gennaro Gattuso was linked with a transfer this summer, Pirlo’s commitment to the Rossoneri cause never seems in doubt.

“I am happy at Milan,” the ex-Reggina ace said. “I have a long contract here and I don’t think I could play for a better club because they are one of the top sides in the world.

“I still have two years left on my current deal and I hope to renew it beyond that.”

Last season’s disappointing fifth-placed finish has left Milan desperate to mount a title challenge in the coming season.

“I think there will be four sides apart from us in the race,” Pirlo stressed.

“Inter, Roma, Juventus and Fiorentina will be fighting with us to the end but we will battle because it is our primary objective.”

Pirlo will have a new colleague to help him light up San Siro this term in the form of Brazilian star Ronaldinho?

“I haven’t had the chance to meet him yet,” he said. “But I’m very happy he is here and I am very satisfied with Milan’s transfer campaign.”

Borriello sparks injury crisis
29.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan may be forced back on to the transfer market after Marco Borriello’s serious injury left them without strikers.

Borriello pulled up during yesterday’s training session with a suspected sprained right knee and more tests were performed today.

The official statement from the club was far from encouraging, as it did not reveal the verdict of the tests.

Instead, it pointed out Borriello would go to Antwerp on Wednesday for a specialist visit with Professor Marc Martens – the same medic who operated on Ronaldo.

If the former Genoa star is going to be out of action for a while, it throws a very large spanner in the works for the Rossoneri.

Pippo Inzaghi has also been suffering from a muscular problem in recent weeks and Kaka is still recovering from his knee operation.

Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho are away with Brazil’s Olympic team in Beijing and so will miss the rest of pre-season training.

With this situation emerging, Milan have called a halt to Alberto Paloschi’s proposed loan to Torino.

The Under-19 international was set to prove himself at Toro, but is now needed as back-up during this injury crisis.

As Paloschi does not return from the European Championship – which Italy lost 3-1 in the Final to Germany – until later today, Milan could well have not a single fit striker for the Trofeo TIM on Tuesday.

If Borriello’s knee problem requires months out of action, it is possible the Rossoneri could renew their interest in Andriy Shevchenko.

Chelsea are still unwilling to release the Ukrainian on loan, but could still be convinced to part with him.

Another alternative is Russia’s Euro 2008 star Roman Pavlyuchenko, currently plying his trade with Spartak Moscow.

Pato: Ronaldinho's my inspiration
27.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alexandre Pato is already forging a solid union with Milan and Brazilian Olympic teammate Ronaldinho.

“I always talk with him. Considering what he represents, it is only logical that we all expect a great deal from him,” said the 18-year-old.

“He is a touchstone for us all because he is Ronaldinho. It is natural that we would all look to him for inspiration.”

That position of seniority within the Olympic squad has been put into concrete terms with news Ronaldinho will wear the captain’s armband in Beijing.

Their participation means both these players won’t be able to take part in Milan’s pre-season training, but they are already getting to know each other.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident Pato can find a new lease of life with Dinho and Kaka in support, predicting 30 goals in all competitions this season.

“I always try to score goals, but my real dream is to win,” insisted The Duck.

“I hope to score a goal per game in Beijing and become top scorer with six strikes. As for Milan, I am happy to hear what Ancelotti said, but I don’t feel like gambling on a prediction.”

Kalac given AC Milan gloves
27.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have three top goalkeepers in their squad, but Adriano Galliani has clarified that Zeljko Kalac is first choice.

With Christian Abbiati's return from Atletico Madrid and Nelson Dida back to full fitness, there is a crush of shot-stoppers pushing for space.

“We have established a hierarchy of goalkeepers and Carlo Ancelotti drew it up,” revealed general manager Galliani.

“I think that at this stage we can say we're starting with Kalac, then Abbiati while we wait to evaluate Dida's condition, as he is undergoing a recovery programme.”

There were concerns over whether Alessandro Nesta would require surgery for a recurring injury, but that does not seem to be the case.

“Nesta has nothing serious. He does have this back problem and we have sent him to the top specialists, but they all said he does not need an operation. He should recover quickly.”

There are injury worries for Marco Borriello, who sprained his right knee during today's training session. More tests will be performed tomorrow to investigate the extent of the damage.

Ronaldinho: I'm reborn with AC Milan
26.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho is fired up for the Olympics with new teammate Alexandre Pato and assures “I am reborn with Milan.”

The former Barcelona star has been out of action for several months with injury and let his weight go during the protracted transfer saga of the summer.

“I am becoming reborn with Milan,” he grinned in the Gazzetta dello Sport from Brazil’s Olympic training camp in Singapore.

“I am improving day by day. I thank Carlo Ancelotti and the club for having authorised me to come to the Olympics, as it will be an excellent way of preparing for the Italian season.”

Dinho had been denied the right to participate in the Games by Barca, but the Rossoneri agreed to release him when he completed the £18m move.

It will be an opportunity to regain fitness levels and get to know new club teammate Pato.

“I am working hard, following a personal fitness programme with a specific diet and I think I’m close to 100 per cent now,” continued the 28-year-old.

“On August 7, when we make our Olympic debut, I will be in ideal shape.

“Brazil might want me to play as a striker next to Pato, which is absolutely no problem for me, as I have already played in that role.

“If Ancelotti asks me to play there too, I am ready. Whether it is midfield or attack, I will give my all.”

Kaka 'happy at AC Milan'
26.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka’s agent has said he is happy to remain at Milan and will not walk away unless the club decides to sell.

The World and European Player of the Year has been the subject of reported £100m bids from Chelsea and Real Madrid, but negotiations never even got off the ground.

“It is only normal that every year big clubs like Chelsea and Real Madrid make offers for the best players in the world, like Kaka,” said representative Gaetano Paolillo on Sky Italia.

“When Roman Abramovich’s proposal emerged, Real immediately contacted us to say that if the player was for sale, they were also interested.

“Luiz Felipe Scolari has infinite respect for Kaka, but aside from that, it is Abramovich who dreams of Kaka. He is the one dream he cannot make true.

“Has he got a future at Chelsea? It depends on Milan,” added the agent.

“If President Silvio Berlusconi wants to keep him at Milan, then it is highly unlikely Kaka will leave. If a player is happy, he stays with his club.”

The British and Spanish newspapers have tried to stir up rumours of trouble between the Brazilian and the Rossoneri, suggesting the arrival of Ronaldinho prompted jealousy within the ranks.

“Kaka has always been happy at Milan and still is,” assured Paolillo. “He has a special rapport with the fans and everyone here. His family is happy in Milan.

“There is a good relationship with Ronaldinho, as they are friends and have played together for the Selecao. There is absolutely no problem, in fact the stronger Milan become, the happier he is, so of course he’s pleased with Ronaldinho’s arrival.”

There is just one sticking point at the moment with the club’s refusal to release Kaka for international duty at the Beijing Olympics along with Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho.

“He cared a great deal about the Olympics and is disappointed, because Brazil have never won this trophy and he wanted to participate.

“Kaka’s focus right now is on training and the Ballon d’Or. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the lead, but there are still three months to go before the votes are in. He always likes to think big.”

AC Milan derby date annoys Inter
26.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan and Inter have differing views on the timing of the Derby della Madonnina, as the Nerazzurri aren't happy about it.

The head-to-head clash at San Siro will be played in Week 5, so on the weekend of September 28, 2008 and the return fixture on February 15, 2009.

“It's better that way, the games will be played with nice weather,” smiled Rossoneri general manager Adriano Galliani (pictured).

“We've never played the derby in September before, but it is a good atmosphere for this type of match.”

Inter disagree and are unhappy with the Week 5 meeting, especially as Milan are in the UEFA Cup.

“It is better to play in Week 5 than just before Christmas like last year, but in that period there is the Champions League,” warned director Ernesto Paolillo.

“The derby would be played two days before a game that could well be very important.”

Galliani had other concerns, as the calendar has given Milan a dramatic title run-in for May.

“What we are worried about is the incredible closing run of fixtures. You never can tell if this is good or bad for the team, as at the end of the day the chronology of the encounters counts for little.”

The last four rounds of the Serie A season will be decisive for Milan's Scudetto hopes, as they will welcome Juventus on May 10, visit Udinese, then face Roma at San Siro on May 24 and finish the campaign in Florence on May 31.

The dates of these fixtures are already decided, as the final four rounds are always played simultaneously on Sunday afternoon.

“The Scudetto has been missing for a bit too long, but in the meantime we have won in Europe,” continued Galliani.

“This year we are putting the title back at the top of our list of priorities. I won't say we'll certainly win it, but we will aim to be close to victory.”

Serie A: 2008-09 Fixtures
26.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Week 1 (31/8/08 - 25/1/09)

Week 2 (14/9/08 - 28/1/09)

Week 3 (21/9/08 - 1/2/09)
Sampdoria- Chievo

Week 4 (24/9/08 - 8/2/09)

Week 5 (28/9/08 - 15/2/09)

Week 6 (5/10/08 - 22/2/09)

Week 7 (19/10/08 - 1/3/09)

Week 8 (26/10/08 - 8/3/09)

Week 9 (29/10/08 - 15/3/09)

Week 10 (2/11/08 - 22/3/09)

Week 11 (9/11/08 - 5/4/09)

Week 12 (16/11/08 - 11/4/09)

Week 13 (23/11/08 - 19/4/09)

Week 14 (30/11/08 - 26/4/09)

Week 15 (7/12/08 - 3/5/09)

Week 16 (14/12/08 - 10/5/09)

Week 17 (21/12/08 - 17/5/09)

Week 18 (11/1/09 - 24/5/09)

Week 19 (18/1/09 - 31/5/09)

Carletto impressed by Flamini start
24.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has praised Mathieu Flamini and Luca Antonini for their performances against Cremonese yesterday.

The Rossoneri looked short of ideas and fluency in a stalemate against their Serie C opponents but Flamini impressed on his debut.

“The first match of the season was a good test,” Ancelotti said. “We played with commitment and showed good desire and concentration.

“I saw good signs, particularly because the squad showed continuity. In my opinion our preparations have started in the best possible way.

“Flamini is a complete player who can be used in the defensive phase as well as the offensive phase.

“For those of us who already know him, he isn’t a gamble but a certainty.”

Youngster Antonini spent last season at Empoli, but has been brought back to San Siro for the coming campaign.

“Antonini has showed that he does better at the back and I think that he can also do well as a winger,” Ancelotti stressed.

“He must understand the needs of the team but he provided great dynamism and a lot of will.”

Veteran hitman Pippo Inzaghi was unexpectedly left out of the starting line-up, but Carletto explained his absence.

“Inzaghi wasn’t selected as a precaution and we mustn’t forget that he must be protected because he is 35-years-old,” he concluded.

Spurs offer AC Milan cut-price Berbatov
24.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

There are rumours that Tottenham will offer striking star Dimitar Berbatov to Milan at a reduced fee to avoid selling him to Manchester United.

The Bulgarian international is expected to quit White Hart Lane for a bigger club ahead of next season and had been a target for the Diavolo at the start of the summer.

But after a period of flirtation with Milan, Berbatov seemed to have chosen Manchester United instead.

However, after a public row between Spurs and United, The Sun reports that the North London outfit are desperate not to sell Berbatov to the Red Devils and are willing to offer him to the Rossoneri for the reduced price of £25m.

Such a deal seems rather far-fetched after the arrival of Brazilian ace Ronaldinho, which Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani insists closed the market for the world champions.

It is also unlikely that Milan would be willing to spend £25m on Berbatov when they refused to pay a similar sum for Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor, who is younger.

Barcelona is a more realistic destination for Berbatov with the future of Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o still uncertain.

Torino snap up Abate
24.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Torino have officially signed Under-21 international Ignazio Abate in a co-ownership deal with Milan.

The wide midfielder who can also play as right-back spent last season on loan at Empoli, scoring one goal in 24 Serie A appearances.

Abate is a replacement for Gianluca Comotto, who joined Fiorentina over the summer.

The 21-year-old had also been a target for Napoli, but half his contract has been sold to Torino.

He won’t be able to take part in pre-season training with his new club, as Abate is part of Italy’s squad for the Beijing Olympics.

Meanwhile, Toro midfielder Simone Barone’s agent has confirmed he won’t be joining Lazio after all.

“The situation has not improved and, if anything, has sunk without trace,” said Silvano Martina on Datasport.

“The negotiations started some time ago, when Walter Sabatini was still Lazio’s director of sport. Nobody was convinced the matter would be successfully resolved, though.

“Torino weren’t interested in Massimo Mutarelli as part exchange, just as Lazio were not too enthusiastic about Barone.

“It is my view that Mutarelli will not join Torino, unless the Granata release Vincenzo Grella.”

Flamini shines on AC Milan debut
24.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s first friendly of the season, in which Mathieu Flamini made his debut, ended goalless against Cremonese.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side failed to hit the back of the net, but expected little more considering they were without Ronaldinho, Alexandre Pato, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Gianluca Zambrotta, Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini, Marco Borriello, Alberto Paloschi, Paolo Maldini, Pippo Inzaghi, Emerson and Marek Jankulovski.

The main focus was the debut of new boy Flamini and the former Arsenal star impressed in midfield, taking on Pirlo’s usual position in front of the defence.

He had the first shot on goal that whistled past the upright from distance. Osuji, Willy Aubameyang, Cristian Brocchi and Clarence Seedorf also went close, but could not break through.

General manager Adriano Galliani was at the Stadio Zini and took the opportunity to comment on news Nesta was suffering from a back problem.

“It is not a serious problem,” he told Sky Italia. “We are relaxed because the player does not need an operation. Besides, we have six central defenders in the squad, so Milan will not be buying anyone else.”

Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Favalli; Osuji, Brocchi, Flamini, Antonini; Seedorf, Aubameyang

AC Milan fears over Nesta fitness
24.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan could be forced to return to the transfer market after key defender Alessandro Nesta reported a back problem.

The Rossoneri believed that they had completed their summer spending with the arrival of Ronaldinho.

However, the Diavolo are still short of options in defence in spite of the signature of Azzurri stopper Gianluca Zambrotta.

With the news that Nesta is suffering from pain in his upper back, the Corriere dello Sport insists that Milan will look for a possible replacement.

The world champions had been linked with former Roma stopper Matteo Ferrari in recent months, but they never made any concrete approach for the free agent.

Ronaldinho's message to Kaka and Barcelona
23.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho writes an open letter to Barcelona and flies out to Beijing with a message for Chelsea target Kaka - Be here when I get back!

“I hope Kaka can stay at Milan for as long as possible, because we're going to have great fun together,” Dinho told Sky Italia.

The reigning European and World Player of the Year has been the subject of reported £120m bids from Chelsea, but the club has refused to sell at any price.

The Rossoneri have finally been able to connect the Brazilian trio of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato for the 2008-09 season.

“Milan is not just Ronaldinho-Kaka-Pato, but a whole team, so it isn't right to keep focusing only on us.”

The fans certainly have been, as today another 2,000 season tickets have been sold for a total of 27,028.

Dinho will miss the summer friendlies, as he will fly out to Beijing to play with Pato in Brazil's Olympic squad.

Barcelona had banned him from attending the tournament, but the £18m move to Milan changed that situation and Dinho decided to write an open letter to his former club.

“First of all, I would like to say how grateful I am to the Barcelona fans,” said the statement written on the official Milan website.

“I was very happy in every moment at Barcelona, because the people were always very affectionate. I felt accompanied on this journey and that sensation is what gave me strength at every moment.

“I had joy playing for Barca and loved to give the fans the same feeling. I remain with the thought I can some day salute the Camp Nou.

“I am joining a great club, but with a certain sense of sadness at leaving those places where I had happy moments and celebrations.

“We Brazilians play football in a way to make other people happy. That was one of my objectives and I can say I'm satisfied to have achieved that.”

Ronaldinho went on to thank all his teammates, Coaches, medical staff and everyone who worked at the club, as “they too are part of every triumph.

“I was happy with Barcelona and in Barcelona. I will carry all of that in my heart with great affection.

“Football is a game, a party, a sport to enjoy and to give joy. You have to play football with a smile, that's what it means to me. Thank you for having smiled with me.”

Flamini for Cremonese debut
23.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has chosen his 11 to face Cremonese in a pre-season friendly tomorrow.

The Diavolo play their first summer fixture in Cremona against a side still reeling from defeat in the Serie C1A play-off Final.

There will be no Ronaldinho, but a number of big names, including Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi will be making the short trip, while Mathieu Flamini makes his first appearance in a Milan shirt.

Nigerian youngster Wilfred Osuji will be present, along with Luca Antonini, who was brought back from a loan period at Empoli.

The game will be a useful warm-up for the Trofeo TIM, which pits Milan against Inter and Juventus in Turin on July 29.

Kick-off is at 5.30pm tomorrow at the Stadio Zini.

Milan (probable): Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Favalli; Brocchi, Flamini, Osuji, Seedorf, Antonini; Inzaghi

Ronaldinho selects AC Milan number
21.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s new recruit Ronaldinho has chosen his squad number for the coming season and it’s a surprising selection.

The former FIFA World Player of the Year completed a switch from Barcelona last week and has been given the warmest of receptions at San Siro.

Dinho wore the No 10 shirt at Barcelona, where he secured the Champions League title, but at Milan that number is occupied by Clarence Seedorf.

The 28-year-old refused the No 11 shirt that Alberto Gilardino has vacated after leaving for Fiorentina.

Instead, Ronaldinho has gone for the No 80 shirt to represent the year that he was born – 1980.

The demand for Ronaldinho replica shirts is overwhelming and the Diavolo are expecting record sales of personalised shirts.

AC Milan to poach Panucci?
21.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Roma’s veteran defender Christian Panucci could be lured to Milan, according to rumours in the peninsula.

The 35-year-old is currently at Trigoria with the rest of the Roma players who began their pre-season training earlier this morning.

However, according to Il Messaggero, he could leave his teammates to return to Milan, where he plied his trade between 1993 and 1996.

The paper suggests that the Rossoneri have a two-year deal waiting for the Azzurri star and that Vice-President Adriano Galliani has made contact with his Giallorossi counterparts to discuss a possible transfer.

Panucci’s current contract at the Stadio Olimpico expires at the end of June 2009, which would leave him without a deal at the age of 36.

A switch to Milan would provide Panucci with the security of an extra year’s earnings and would ensure that he could close his career at the highest level.

Chelsea deny Kaka mega bid
21.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Chelsea have refuted Milan general manager Adriano Galliani’s claims that they unsuccessfully tabled a huge bid for Brazilian star Kaka.

As FIFA World Player of the Year, Kaka’s future has been a constant source of speculation and he has been regularly linked to top sides, such as Real Madrid.

But while these stories are usually little more than Press gossip, it seemed that The Guardian were justified in reporting that Chelsea had made an £80m bid for Kaka when Galliani revealed that there had been contact.

“It’s true that Chelsea made a conspicuous offer, but I won’t say how much it was,” the Diavolo director said on Saturday night.

However, now Chelsea have moved to deny that any such move was ever made.

“There was never any offer,” chief executive Peter Kenyon maintained.

“They made it clear that the player wasn’t for sale and so we never made any bid.”

Kenyon’s comments don’t seem to have stalled the rumour mill as today’s La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Chelsea are now willing to break the £100m barrier in their efforts to lure Kaka.

Ronaldinho 'fought Manchester City demands'
21.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Intermediary Ernesto Bronzetti reveals just how close Ronaldinho came to missing out on Milan for Manchester City.

“This was the most difficult negotiation I have ever overseen,” said the FIFA agent and expert on Spanish transfers.

He was in the decisive meetings between Milan general manager Adriano Galliani, Barcelona President Joan Laporta and agent Roberto De Assis.

“Barcelona had decided to sell Ronaldinho to Manchester City for £25m against the £15.8m offered by the Rossoneri.

“Their plan was to hand Samuel Eto'o to Milan for that sum instead. But at the end of the day, it all went well.”

Ronaldinho rejected the lucrative proposal from Manchester City, as he always wanted to join the Serie A side instead.

It was in fact thanks to the Brazilian foregoing his cut of the transfer fee that Milan were able to mount a winning £18m bid.

Pato: With Ronaldinho we can win it all
21.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alexandre Pato trusts with Ronaldinho by his side he can win the Olympics, Scudetto and UEFA Cup.

The Milan starlet will be in Beijing with his new club teammate next month for Brazil’s Olympic squad and believes it’ll be the start of a beautiful partnership.

“With this team, we can win it all. Kaka and Ronaldinho are both very important for Milan, but they play different roles,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Ronaldinho tends to spread out wide more and if Kaka does too, then they’ll both give me the ball in the centre to score. Easy, eh?”

The Selecao trio has sparked a wave of enthusiasm with more than 10,000 season tickets sold since Dinho’s £18m move from Barcelona was confirmed.

“I am ready to train up as a centre-forward. If Carlo Ancelotti sees me in this role, then that is not a problem for me,” continued Pato.

“I am young and want to learn many things, the secrets of the sport. I scored nine goals in half a Serie A season, but I know I can do more. Much more.”

It will be his first full campaign with the Rossoneri, as due to age restrictions he could not sign the contract until he had turned 18.

“The most difficult thing to face was tactical, as in Brazil I was accustomed to running forward and waiting for the long ball from a teammate.

“Ancelotti asked for a different movement, as I have to go towards the ball and then run into space. It took me a while, but I’ve got it now.

“I am happy the way my first Italian season went, but Milan were unable to qualify for the Champions League and that made me very angry. Now I want to help my team get back into the competition.”

Now Pato will have the support of Kaka and Ronaldinho, he pledges to bring a Selecao sensation to San Siro.

“I haven’t changed, but I have grown up and learned what it means to play football in Italy. I can guarantee I’ll improve. You haven’t seen the real Pato yet.”

Kaka resists £80m Chelsea bid
19.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Despite good friend Ronaldinho’s arrival, the media in Spain and England insist Milan would be willing to hand Kaka to Chelsea for a record £80m.

Rumours of the reigning European and World Player of the Year’s departure have been circulating for several years, but the Rossoneri and the Brazilian have always shrugged off the speculation from Real Madrid and Chelsea.

According to The Guardian and Spanish newspaper Sport, Milan are negotiating over a new £80m offer to solve their financial problems.

"Real Madrid offered 90m Euros last summer and Milan did not even think about the bid," Kaka's personal assistant Diogo Kotscho was quoted as saying in Globoesporte.

"This time is different. This is the first time we feel that a deal will definitely happen. Because of the (financial) situation Milan are in at the moment, the deal is good for all parties involved.

"The move would represent a significant increase in Kaka's salary, on top of the 10 per cent transfer fee that goes straight to the player anyway - some 15m Euros.

“Chelsea are the club to be at right now. They are building a team to win everything."

Milan general manager Adriano Galliani confirmed the club had been hit hard financially by the failure to qualify for the Champions League and was running at a loss.

He also noted the Rossoneri could wipe out their debts in one fell swoop by selling Kaka.

“We do not have a transfer kitty stashed away here. Despite failing to qualify for the Champions League, the club is strengthening the squad and increasing the wages. This means we’ll be £35m in the red without President Silvio Berlusconi’s help.

“The fans should be happy, as all we’d need to do in order to wipe out or debts is sell Kaka and Andrea Pirlo. Instead they won’t move, so if that’s not a show of love for this side, I don’t know what is.

“I can confirm that Chelsea declared their interest in Kaka. But I told them that Milan were not interested in selling him and I stopped everything before they could make any offer. So, I don’t know whether they would have offered £80m.”

The financial crisis at the club has been somewhat tempered by the ‘Ronaldinho effect.’ Although the player cost £18m, in the space of two days he has already sold an extra 10,000 season tickets.

When he decides which number to pick for the squad, shirt sales will also go through the roof, not to mention new sponsorship and overseas sales revenue.

According to Sport, the reason for Kaka’s potential transfer demand is ‘jealousy’ at the flurry of media activity surrounding new signing Ronaldinho.

However, it was Kaka who proved instrumental in bringing the Barcelona star to San Siro by urging him – both in public and private – to join him at Milan.

It is also unlikely Kaka would be eager for a move to Chelsea considering his good friendship with Andriy Shevchenko, who has made his regret at making that £30m switch abundantly clear.

Ronaldinho 'bigger draw' than Adebayor
19.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho had his first training session with Milan today as Adriano Galliani explained why he went for the Brazilian instead of Emmanuel Adebayor.

The former Barcelona star was greeted by an extraordinary Brazilian-themed party at San Siro in front of 40,000 fans on Thursday evening, but it was down to work today as he took part in his first training session.

The £18m signing also underwent his first tests in the MilanLab medical centre and worked in the gym with fellow countryman Emerson.

Ronaldinho’s arrival has created a wave of enthusiasm around the team, even though they failed to qualify for the Champions League.

“It was wonderful to see 40,000 people at San Siro just to see Ronaldinho for a few minutes,” noted general manager Galliani.

“He is a player with great media impact, whereas Adebayor is not. These characters elevate the interest towards our League on behalf of the media, help fill the stadiums and certainly make the challenges more interesting.”

The club had also been in intensive negotiations for the Arsenal striker, who would have come to more or less the same £18m fee after the Gunners agreed to halve their initial £32m asking price.

However, Milan preferred to push for Ronaldinho instead and the 24-year-old Togo star is now likely to join Barcelona.

In recent years the Rossoneri have made the Champions League their focal point for the campaign, but this time they must shift their priorities.

“If you ask me whether I’d prefer we win the UEFA Cup or the Scudetto, then without doubt I’d say the Serie A title.

“I am not thinking ahead to the derby with Inter, I only focus on my team. We have reinforced the side and with that we can confirm we won’t be signing any more players.”

Seedorf to defect to Juve?
19.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

There are sensational rumours that Milan midfield ace Clarence Seedorf is considering a transfer to Juventus.

San Siro was packed to welcome new recruit Ronaldinho last night, but not everyone was delighted by the decision to sign the Brazilian.

Seedorf had spoken out against signing Dinho and had hinted that he wouldn’t be willing to hand over his No 10 shirt to the former Barcelona man.

While La Gazzetta dello Sport insists that the Dutchman was amongst the first to offer Dinho a warm welcome, Tuttosport claims that wasn’t the case and that Seedorf is considering his future.

The Turin-based newspaper also reports that Juve are keeping and eye on the situation after passing up the opportunity of signing Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso.

Although the Old Lady claim they have finished their shopping for the summer, there is still a gap for a creative midfielder after the arrival of the pugnacious Christian Poulsen.

Seedorf has something of a reputation for his outspoken behaviour in the dressing room and Milan may consider it detrimental to the spirit of the side to keep him at the club.

The rumours seem fanciful at this stage but it remains to be seen whether Seedorf will accept the possibility of spending significant periods on the bench.

Seedorf has already played for both Inter and Milan and would be one of very few players to represent all three of Italy's giants.

Buffon: AC Milan for Scudetto
17.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Juventus goalkeeper Gigi Buffon believes that Milan are the favourites for the 2008-09 Scudetto.

The Rossoneri languished in fifth place last term, but San Siro is buzzing after the arrival of Ronaldinho last night.

Buffon’s Juventus are expected to make a bid to dethrone Inter, but Buffon thinks Milan are the team to beat.

“If you want my prediction, I would go for Milan,” the Azzurri No 1 told Panorama.

“The fact that the Diavolo aren’t playing in the Champions League next year is an enormous advantage.

“As for Inter, we will have to see what the Jose Mourinho effect is.”

The former Parma shot-stopper then gave an honest assessment of the Old Lady’s situation.

“Last year we had just come up from Serie B and we had this exaggerated motivation that we couldn’t have this year,” he said.

“We need to do well and find new stimuli. I think that Amauri has the ability to make a big difference for us.

“Christian Poulsen? He may not have the technical quality of Amauri, but he is the kind of player who makes a side solid.”

Ronaldinho took pay cut for AC Milan
17.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho will go to the Olympics and it is confirmed he took a pay cut so Milan could beat Manchester City’s offer.

“Our bid was considerably lower than that of Manchester City, but we managed to close that gap thanks to the Barcelona player’s sacrifices,” revealed general manager Adriano Galliani.

It is said the Brazilian agreed to forego his percentage of the transfer fee in order to facilitate the move to the club he wanted.

“These sacrifices are what contributed greatly to closing this deal in favour of Milan. He has already proved he wants to push himself to the limit, as otherwise he could’ve relaxed with an incredibly lucrative contract in England.

“If he came to us, it’s because he wants to become number one again.”

Ronaldinho received something else in return, as Barca had banned him from attending the Beijing Olympics as part of Brazil’s squad.

“He had some previous engagements that we will respect. Had he already been a Milan player, we would have kept him back, but seeing as he will only officially become ours next week we will let him go to the Olympics.”

It will be an opportunity for the 28-year-old to rediscover his form and fitness after a period of inactivity due to injuries, not to mention the chance to gel with his new club teammate Alexandre Pato.

Dinho is undergoing his medical this afternoon and will sign the contract afterwards, but his official presentation to the media has been put back until tomorrow or possibly even Friday.

“We realised when we drove up to Milanello that there was a new air of enthusiasm around. Dinho has been training hard and has already lost his belly, he’s thin and taut.”

Ronaldinho’s arrival on the day that pre-season training begins has closed the door on Andriy Shevchenko.

“We have signed six new players,” continued Galliani. “We made an offer for Sheva and, if Ronaldinho didn’t come, then we would have gone for him. Dinho was always the first choice, though.

“Nobody else will arrive, although Alberto Paloschi, Abate and possibly Dario Simic could leave. Marco Borriello is absolutely not on the market.

“We have a competitive squad that is no inferior to Inter, Roma, Juventus or Fiorentina. As we are not in the Champions League, our objective is the Scudetto. We’ve never won the UEFA Cup before, so that too would be a nice addition.”

Flamini: I always loved AC Milan
17.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Mathieu Flamini maintains he “always loved Milan and could not turn down such an offer.”

The midfielder rejected a lucrative contract extension at Arsenal so that he could join the Rossoneri on a free transfer.

“I have always loved Milan and been a big fan, so when this opportunity was presented I could not turn down such an offer,” said the Frenchman on Milan Channel.

“On a personal level I would like to win a few trophies. As Adriano Galliani said, a great squad is always full of great champions. Being by their side and fighting for my place can only motivate me to do better.”

General manager Galliani revealed an intriguing background to this transfer, as Flamini was also of interest to Juventus and Barcelona.

“He was a player sought after by all of Europe. He knew it and made me suffer a bit,” smiled the official.

“We had clandestine meetings in Paris, but unlike the other clubs, we didn’t get caught!”

Flamini was one of the star figures at today’s presentation ceremony to begin pre-season training, even though all the attention was on new arrival Ronaldinho.

Instead, the former Gunner represents a more defensive element who will be needed to give the side balance.

“Some have asked me if I feel a little like Marcel Desailly. I consider him a champion and it would be wonderful for me to follow his career, especially with a goal in the European Cup Final,” grinned Flamini.

“My objective is to do well at Milan and maybe one day become part of the French national team, but those decisions are made only by Raymond Domenech.”

Nesta rules out Italy return
16.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Veteran Milan defender Alessandro Nesta has insisted that he won't return to the Azzurri side under Marcello Lippi.

With the return of Lippi to the Italy bench, there have been suggestions that Francesco Totti and Nesta could retract their international retirement.

Nesta hasn’t represented his country since October 2006 when he played in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Georgia and he claims that he won’t be tempted back to the fold.

“The national team is a closed chapter,” Nesta stated emphatically.

“Leaving the Azzurri had nothing to do with Roberto Donadoni, I had major physical problems that stopped me from playing.”

The former Lazio man also commented on Milan’s summer transfer campaign.

“The club has done well in the market,” he said. “And this year we can challenge for the Scudetto as well as the UEFA Cup, which seems to be less difficult than the Champions League on paper.

“As we don’t have the Champions League as an objective, we can focus on domestic affairs because we haven’t done so well in Serie A for a few years.”

Milan gripped by Ronaldinho fever
16.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho has landed in Milan to a jubilant reception and Carlo Ancelotti has hailed his arrival.

The former PSG man completed a switch from Barcelona to Milan late last night for a fee of around £18m.

Dinho flew into Milan’s Malpensa Airport at 11.30am along with Vice-President Adriano Galliani and is taking a medical this afternoon.

A crowd of fans gathered to cheer the Brazilian ace as he started his new life with the Rossoneri and the star’s arrival has prompted a clamour for season tickets with 3000 sold in an hour as soon as the transfer was confirmed.

“There’s lots of talk about the Milan of the future,” Ancelotti told the Milan Channel.

“The club have made a big sacrifice to buy important players and not only Ronaldinho.

“He has brought so much enthusiasm. Dinho’s not an outright striker because he loves to find space as well as being deadly.

“What do I expect from him? I expect him to give his all. We are hoping to give him the chance to return to being the best in the world with us.

“It has been a unique summer but we will be competitive on all fronts next year with Gianluca Zambrotta, Mathieu Flamini, Ronaldinho and Marco Borriello.

“We have so many options now and we have a nice mix of youth and experience. With Kaka and Dinho in hand I can come up with some new tactics.”

OFFICIAL: Grimi to Sporting Lisbon
16.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have agreed the sale of Argentine defender Leandro Grimi to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon.

The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at the Jose Alvalade Stadium after being sent to Siena in 2007.

Grimi made just three appearances in the Rossoneri shirt and never managed to assert himself at San Siro.

And now Sporting have ended the left-back’s spell at Milan by paying £2m for the rising star and offering him a five-year contract.

However,the Diavolo will pocket 35 per cent of any future transfer fee if he is sold on.

The Lisbon giants will be able to negate this clause if they are willing to buy Milan out by paying a fee of £150,000 for each five per cent of his eventual transfer bounty.

Paloschi to leave on loan
16.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan starlet Alberto Paloschi has asked to be sent out on loan after the Diavolo confirmed the arrival of Ronaldinho.

Paloschi was the hero for Italy’s Under-19 side at the start of the week as he scored a crucial equaliser against Greece in their European Championship clash.

But the 18-year-old would be unlikely to receive much playing time next term and the arrival of Dinho seems to have made it certain that Paloschi will be loaned out.

“It’s much better like this because now there is no doubt that I will be sent somewhere else to play,” Paloschi told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I prefer that situation and I have been asking for that to happen for a while anyway.

“I’m hoping that it will just be a loan to a team where there I can find some space and get a game.”

Sampdoria are said to be keen to bring Paloschi in on a temporary basis, whereas Reggina are aiming for a co-ownership agreement.

Ronaldinho: AC Milan at last
16.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho has expressed his joy at leaving Barcelona for Milan and can’t wait to make a fresh start in Serie A.

The Selecao star was frozen out at the Nou Camp after a troubled campaign and made it clear that he didn’t want to stay on for next season.

After a series of financial compromises, Dinho was allowed to join Milan rather than Manchester City and the joy was evident.

“Finally I am a Milan player,” he crowed. “I’m sorry if I kept you waiting but the facts show that I always wanted the Rossoneri.

“It’s not the right time to talk about Barcelona because I just want to enjoy this new chapter in my life.

“I will only say that I promise to work so hard at Milan and not just on a technical level.”

Milan’s new ace will fly to Italy’s fashion capital at 10am this morning and is due to be presented to the Press at Milanello this evening.

AC Milan arrange Manchester visit
16.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have announced the list of friendly games, including encounters with Juventus, Inter, Manchester City and Sevilla.

The most eagerly-awaited appointment is the Trofeo Berlusconi against Juve on August 17 at San Siro, while they'll face the Bianconeri again in the Trofeo Tim on July 29.

There are several trips overseas this summer, as Milan visit Moscow on August 1 and 3 for a four-way tournament.

They also visit British shores in what should be a curious clash at Eastlands. It is likely Ronaldinho will play for Milan against Manchester City, the team that offered £25.5m to sign him.

Pre-season training begins on Wednesday and the first planned friendly match is away to Cremonese on July 23.

July 23, Cremona: Cremonese-Milan
July 29, Turin: Trofeo Tim with Juventus and Inter
August 1 & 3, Moscow: Tournament beginning with Milan-Sevilla
August 9, Manchester: Manchester City-Milan
August 17, Milan: Trofeo Berlusconi, Milan-Juventus
August 21: To be defined
August 24, Gijon: City of Gijon Trophy, Sporting Gijon-Milan

16.7 || webmaster

Source: Football Italia

Milan have a deal to sign Ronaldinho from Barcelona for £16m pending a medical, made possible by the player taking a pay cut.

“AC Milan and FC Barcelona have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ronaldinho to the Rossoneri,” read the statement.

“The player will be in Milan tomorrow to undergo a medical and sign the contract that will tie him to the club until June 30, 2011.”

It was confirmed the Brazilian will leave Barcelona at 11.00 local time on Wednesday morning on the same flight as general manager Adriano Galliani.

Barcelona on their own website announced the financial details of the move, valued at £16m plus another £3m in bonuses based on whether Milan qualify for the Champions League.

General secretary Txiki Begiristain added that the deal was only made possible because Ronaldinho agreed to give up 15 per cent of his cut in the transfer.

The offer was substantially lower than Manchester City’s £25.5m bid, but Ronaldinho’s desire to join Milan has been evident for many months.

He now goes to bolster an already strong Brazilian contingent at San Siro alongside Kaka and Alexandre Pato for an all-Selecao front three.

“Tomorrow Ronaldinho will undergo a medical and, if he passes, he will become a Milan player,” grinned Galliani on Sky Italia.

The official was on his way to a restaurant in Barcelona with President Joan Laporta, agent Roberto De Assis, FIFA go-between Ernesto Bronzetti and of course Ronaldinho himself to celebrate the deal.

Galliani flies in for Ronaldinho
14.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho didn’t turn up for Barcelona’s first pre-season training session and Adriano Galliani has flown to Spain to discuss the Brazilian’s future.

Having been told that he doesn’t feature in new boss Josep Guardiola’s plans, Dinho is looking for a fresh start.

Reports suggest that Manchester City have tabled an offer of £26m, but that the former PSG man only wants to move to Milan.

Ronaldinho wasn’t present as Barça’s players met up today for their first session under Guardiola and underwent their medical tests.

Meanwhile, Rossoneri Vice-President Galliani has arrived in Barcelona in the hope of coming to an agreement with the Catalan giants.

While the world champions don’t have the funds to outbid Manchester City, a compromise could be reached.

Barça know that Dinho could refuse to join City and they will be desperate to get rid of the unsettled star ahead of the new campaign, possibly forcing them to accept a smaller bid.

AC Milan show Abate faith
14.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have offered Azzurrini starlet Ignazio Abate a new contract, but he could be sent out on loan this season.

A product of Milan’s youth system, right winger Abate has spent his entire professional career on loan.

After spells at Napoli, Sampdoria, Piacenza, Modena and Empoli, the Rossoneri have shown faith in the 21-year-old and have brought him back to base.

The Diavolo have tabled a four-year contract, which Abate is expected to sign within the next week.

However, Abate may again be sent to another club to gain experience as Milan have a wealth of midfield options.

Torino and Sampdoria are the most likely destinations for the Campania native, who played 24 games for Empoli in Serie A last season.

Frey puts Fiorentina first
14.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey reveals that he has snubbed advances from Milan and will sign a new deal with the Viola.

The French international is widely seen as one of Serie A’s most talented No 1’s and has been on Milan’s wish list for a long time.

With Nelson Dida hardly inspiring confidence at San Siro, links with Frey intensified, but the 28-year-old is happy to stay in Tuscany.

“There was a chance that I could go to Milan, but Fiorentina have done everything in their power to keep me,” he told La7Gold.

“I want to stay here and I will sign a new contract within the next few days.

“Is Dida on his way out at Milan? I think the role of goalkeeper is the best job to have, but it does carry a lot of responsibility.

“A few years ago Dida was the best ‘keeper in the world, but he has had a slump recently and lost some of his confidence.

“However, at the age of 30 he can’t be called into question because he has such quality and will return to being a great player.”

Gattuso wants Ronaldinho at AC Milan
14.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Azzurri midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is still hoping that Ronaldinho will join Milan, in spite of fierce competition from Manchester City.

The Rossoneri have made it clear that they are looking to lure the former FIFA World Player of the Year and Dinho has confessed that he wants to play at San Siro.

However, Manchester City have reportedly offer Barcelona £26m, prompting Ronaldinho to demand that Milan match that bid to secure his services.

“He would be very welcome because he is a great champion,” Gattuso told the Corriere dello Sport.

“Don’t be fooled by appearances – his weight isn’t a problem. We just need to discover why it is happening in order to solve it.

“We need a player like him. I don’t think he has forgotten how to play.

“Are his problems to do with his lifestyle? I’d bring him to live with me in Cardano al Campo so that he can keep temptation away,” he concluded.

Dida on an AC Milan mission
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan flop Nelson Dida is confident he'll win back his place in the side and in the fans' hearts.

“I feel in good shape. I am happy, relaxed and above all finally recovered from my back problem,” he told the Corriere dello Sport.

“I worked very well in Brazil to get over this injury. The long and meticulous strength training I did has paid off.”

Dida lost his gloves midway through last season following a series of dismal performances and that recurring back pain.

Now he'll have to fight for his spot with both Zeljko Kalac and the returning Christian Abbiati.

“I have never been the guaranteed first choice at the start of a season and, above all, I never demanded it.

“The important thing for me is to be physically fit. I think I can still give a great deal to this side as, along with my health, I still have lots of enthusiasm and desire.

“I am starting out this campaign in order to win back my place and everyone's faith in my abilities. Then it'll be down to the Coach to decide.”

Ronaldinho: Match City or lose me!
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Ronaldinho saga is intensifying with news that if Milan don't match Manchester City's offer within 48 hours, he'll go to Eastlands.

City have long made their interest in the Barcelona outcast clear, but he has always maintained he will only leave the Nou Camp for a switch to San Siro.

This morning reports in Spain, Italy and Brazil were buzzing that a move to Milan would be completed in the next 48 hours when he refuses to attend pre-season training.

However, Barca still have a trick up their sleeve and so does Dinho. It is now reported on Televisio de Catalunya that Manchester City are being used as a bargaining tool to rush the Rossoneri.

If Milan do not match City's £26m offer within the next 48 hours, Ronaldinho's agent will accept the transfer to the Premier League.

Secretly the Brazilian is hoping it doesn't come to this, as he is willing to take a pay cut for the Diavolo, but it is the only way to force them into completing the deal with Barcelona.

The reports suggest Barca are pushing Ronaldinho towards Manchester, where they would be able to cash in on the player far more than Milan's £11m bid.

He is currently training in Porto Alegre and is furious with Barcelona for vetoing his call-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Flamengo swoop for Ronaldo
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldo’s Serie A career appears to be over after Flamengo announced an agreement with the out of contract Milan star.

“We have a deal with the players’ agent,” confirmed President Marcio Braga in Globoesporte newspaper.

“As soon as he has recovered from the injury, we will sit around a table and complete the paperwork.”

Il Fenomeno has been out of action since suffering a devastating knee tendon injury in February and in that time his contract with the Rossoneri expired.

As he is still battling for fitness and was also involved in a blackmail scandal with transsexual prostitutes while in Brazil for rehabilitation, Milan opted to wait for the situation to develop before committing to another season.

“Flamengo’s medical staff are personally following his physical progress,” added Braga.

“Ronaldo will be this club’s top priority.”

The striker turns 32 in September, but his career has been blighted by a series of injuries.

If he does sign for Flamengo, it will be his first non-European club since Cruzeiro in 1993-94.

He has worn the jerseys of PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and Milan.

Ronaldinho to AC Milan 'imminent'
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Italian, Spanish and Brazilian media are buzzing with news that Ronaldinho could complete his move to Milan within 48 hours.

Interest in the Barcelona outcast had waned over the past few days after Emmanuel Adebayor’s agent revealed Arsenal were willing to part with the Togolese striker for “just over half” the original £32m asking price.

However, according to O Globo, the Gazzetta dello Sport and El Mundo Deportivo this morning, Adriano Galliani is in Catalonia to finalise the transfer.

The key is the fact that Barcelona have banned Ronaldinho from attending the Beijing Olympics with the Brazil squad.

The club is within its rights to do so, as the tournament does not form part of the FIFA official calendar, but he wants to use it as reason to call on Article 17.

That would allow him to buy himself out of his contract for a small fee and would therefore be free to join Milan rather than await their £20m demands.

Matters will come to a head on Monday, when Ronaldinho will refuse to attend pre-season training with his club.

Instead his agent (and brother) Roberto De Assis will fly in to demand an immediate transfer. Considering Barca are having problems of their own with the club hierarchy in conflict, they could be open to ending this potentially damaging situation before it begins.

Ronaldinho has been training in Porto Alegre and seems to have already lost the weight that caused so many jokes at his expense only a few weeks ago.

It is believed he has agreed to accept a two-year contract with the Rossoneri worth £4m per season.

Borriello barricades AC Milan gates
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan may be trying to sign Andriy Shevchenko, Emmanuel Adebayor and Ronaldinho, but Marco Borriello warns he’ll walk if competition increases.

The Italian international earned a recall to base after his splendid spell at Genoa proved enough to get him into the Euro 2008 squad.

However, talk of bids for Sheva, Adebayor and Ronaldinho risk squeezing him out of the side completely.

“For the present time, Milan have shown they wish to count on Borriello,” said agent Tiberio Cavalleri.

“If the number of strikers at the Rossoneri’s disposal should grow, then his position could well change.”

The 26-year-old scored a sensational 19 Serie A goals with Genoa last season, almost double his previous personal best of 10 in Serie C1 with Treviso.

His last campaign with Milan was 2006-07, managing one goal in just nine appearances.

“In any case, it is all hypothetical about the future, as Milan have been linked with many strikers, but nobody has arrived yet.”

Borriello must be worried that general manager Adriano Galliani has been so open in discussing their negotiations for these three top stars.

The chances of capturing all three increased considerably over the last 24 hours, as Arsenal appeared to halve their asking price for Adebayor to £20m.

Shevchenko and Ronaldinho are reportedly both willing to take a pay cut in order to facilitate the move to San Siro.

Costacurta turns down Pisa post
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Billy Costacurta has rejected a job as Coach of Pisa because he has to be a stay-at-home Dad while his wife works.

The former Milan star was assistant manager to Carlo Ancelotti last season and passed his certificate at Coverciano this month allowing him to be a fully-fledged tactician.

“I am sorry, because Pisa would be the ideal city and club to begin my adventure as a Coach. I was really looking for a side like Pisa to start out with,” said the ex-defender.

“My wife and my son come first right now, above anything else. I will not Coach any side this season, as I will instead study so that I can improve further.”

Costacurta had already warned that he would need a job close to his home in Milan if he were to take up football management this term, as his wife Martina Colombari is in a touring theatrical production for six months starting in the autumn.

“I don’t want our son Achille to grow up with a nanny. I want to be there for him,” he said of the four-year-old.

New Pisa patron Luca Pomponi took charge of the club on Friday and immediately made a beeline for Costacurta.

“I liked Pomponi straight away, as he was enthusiastic and had clear ideas. I don’t know if this will be enough to succeed at Pisa, but he wanted to build on the progress made by the last owners who went so close to Serie A.”

The Tuscan outfit lost the chance to reach the top flight with a defeat in the Serie B promotion play-offs.

AC Milan release Grimi
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have confirmed they are on the verge of selling defender Leandro Grimi to Sporting Lisbon.

“We are very happy with the latest offer we have received,” director general Ariedo Braida told Portuguese newspaper Record.

“We are continuing to work in order to reach an agreement that will suit both parties.

“The paperwork could be completed Tuesday or Wednesday, but most certainly some time next week.”

It is the end of a disappointing Rossoneri spell for Argentine Grimi, who never quite made his mark at San Siro.

The 23-year-old arrived from Racing Avellaneda for 2m Euros in January 2007, but made just three appearances for the club.

He spent the rest of his time out on loan at Siena and, for the past six months, Sporting Lisbon.

The Portuguese outfit are keen to make the move permanent for the left-back who can also play in central defence.

Ronaldinho: I'll do anything!
13.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Ronaldinho is doing everything he can to facilitate a move to Milan, even if it means a pay cut and shorter contract.

The Barcelona outcast has repeatedly stated he is desperate for a move to San Siro, but this week Adriano Galliani claimed the real problem was not so much the £20m asking price, more so his wages.

Dinho got the message and, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport, is ready to reduce his demands considerably.

The newspaper suggests he is ready to sign a two-year contract worth ‘just’ £5m per season plus bonuses.

The decision comes just as Arsenal have begun negotiations with Milan for Emmanuel Adebayor and reportedly reduced their price-tag to £20m from the original £32m.

Considering the Togo international is much younger than Ronaldinho, the Brazilian must try to make himself a more appetising prospect on the transfer market.

The problem now is finding a deal with Barcelona, who have dropped their demands to £20m from £28m, but the Rossoneri are still ready to part with no more than £12m.

The rapport between Ronaldinho and his club is at an all-time low after new boss Pep Guardiola announced he was no longer required and Barca vetoed his call-up for the Brazilian Olympics squad.

Sheva cuts wages for AC Milan
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Football Italia

Andriy Shevchenko is happy to take a pay cut if it means escaping Chelsea for his Milan comeback.

The return of the prodigal son has been mooted ever since a few months after his £30m move in the summer of 2006.

The Ukrainian, who forced the transfer against the Rossoneri’s initial wishes, never settled in at Stamford Bridge and is eager for another San Siro experience.

According to the Corriere dello Sport newspaper, Milan general manager Adriano Galliani met with Sheva and has now flown to Sardinia for talks with Chelsea counterpart Peter Kenyon.

Although he had previously said the club would only be able to take Shevchenko back on loan, that situation seems to have changed.

Milan would be willing to pay a small sum for the striker, aided by the voluntary reduction of the current £6.4m per season wages to the £3.9m he had been earning when he left Italy.

In fact, so eager is Shevchenko for this move that he would even be content to cut the pay packet further.

This would allow Milan to reinforce their attack with both Shevchenko and Arsenal hitman Emmanuel Adebayor, whose transfer seems increasingly likely for around £20m.

Adebayor 'offered at half-price'
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Football Italia

Emmanuel Adebayor’s agent has said Arsenal are willing to sell him to Milan for “a little more than half” the original £32m asking price.

General Manager Adriano Galliani had publicly pulled out of talks when it was rumoured they had set a £32m price-tag on the 24-year-old.

This week the Gunners wrote a letter to the Rossoneri confirming they were willing to discuss their position on the Togolese hitman.

“We are going towards more reasonable figures that are within Milan’s reach, as they had placed a ceiling on the bid they were willing to make,” explained FIFA agent Vincenzo Morabito on television station Antenna 3.

“It is much, much lower than the £32m initially requested. In fact, it’s a little bit more than half that figure.

“It is still below the asking price of Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba, but they are a little older.

“We are working to facilitate the negotiations. The signs are very positive.”

Milan have turned their attention back towards Adebayor after Ronaldinho’s fitness concerns raised questions over his £20m price-tag.

Although Galliani has said the club is running at a loss in the wake of their failure to qualify for the Champions League, patron Silvio Berlusconi is willing to break the bank for Adebayor.

They are also in a strong bargaining position now that Adebayor has made it clear he wishes to leave the Emirates and has rejected a switch to Barcelona.

Reports: Gourcuff is Adebayor key
11.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

There are whispers that Milan outcast Yoann Gourcuff could be the bait that brings Emmanuel Adebayor to San Siro.

The Rossoneri’s search for a new striking star led them to Adebayor, but it seemed that the world champions had been priced out of the running.

However, it now seems that Arsenal may be willing to reduce their £25m plus asking price for the Togolese star.

According to the Daily Star and a number of sources in the peninsula, Arsene Wenger is an admirer of Milan youngster Gourcuff and a part-exchange deal involving the midfielder could be accepted.

Gourcuff, who turns 22 today, has struggled to secure playing time at San Siro and was sent on loan to Bordeaux at the end of May.

That loan would be cancelled should Gourcuff become the bait to lure Adebayor, but Arsenal are also expected to demand at least £13m.

Beckham was on AC Milan doorstep
11.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Former England captain David Beckham has revealed that he was on the brink of joining Milan last summer.

After leaving Real Madrid this time last year, Beckham was looking for a fresh challenge and he was strongly linked with a San Siro switch.

In the end, ex-Manchester United midfielder was lured to the MLS by a vastly lucrative offer from LA Galaxy, but he has recalled how much thought he gave to joining the Rossoneri.

“I was very close to signing for Milan,” Beckham told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I thought very hard about the opportunity, but in the end I decided to come to the USA.

“Milan are a top-level club, which is what I was looking for after Real Madrid and Manchester United.

“The Diavolo are the side that I like best in Serie A and they have played excellent football for years. Furthermore, I like the country and I often go there on holiday.”

Beckham also gave his view on England manager Fabio Capello, who he feels is the right man to set the Three Lions roaring.

“He’s a Coach with the ability to bring us success and he has such passion,” he said.

“You have to play for the team, otherwise you will end up in the stands. Capello is a wise man and he knows what is needed to win.”

Storari eyes AC Milan exit
11.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Experienced goalkeeper Marco Storari isn’t happy with being fourth choice at Milan and is looking for a team where he would be a starter.

Storari spent last season on loan at Levante and Cagliari but he has returned to San Siro where he is behind Nelson Dida, Zeljko Kalac and Christian Abbiati in the pecking order.

“On July 16 I will be there for Milan’s first pre-season meeting, but I already know what my role will be,” the Pisa native told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I am the fourth goalkeeper there, but there is no chance of going back to Cagliari because they have Federico Marchetti coming in from Albinoleffe and he is a great goalkeeper.

“It’s a crisis for me – I don’t know why I can’t find a team. There was contact with Chievo and I have heard talk about Juventus and Fiorentina, but I need to be playing at the age of 31.

“Perhaps it would be better to have another experience abroad. In Spain I let in lots of goals, but I made a good impression.”

Pato not Kaka for Olympics
8.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Brazil have named their Olympic squad with Milan starlet Alexandre Pato on the list but Kaka won’t be travelling to Beijing.

The South American giants have been drawn against China, New Zealand and Belgium in Group C of the Olympic football tournament.

Ronaldinho, Robinho and Fluminese man Thiago Neves are the three overage players in the squad with Milan locking up star man Kaka.

Pato, who was a revelation for the Diavolo last year, will have a chance to prove himself on the world stage.

Galliani: There was no bid
8.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has insisted that Chelsea made an approach for Kaka but never named a price.

The FIFA World Player of the Year has been a target for several of Europe’s biggest clubs for the last 12 months, but Chelsea have emerged as the most likely club to table a bid after the appointment of Brazilian boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.

There were reports in the Press that the Stamford Bridge giants had tabled an offer of nearly £80m in a desperate bid to lure the Sao Paulo native, but Chelsea stated that no such action has taken place.

While Galliani admits that there was an approach, he is adamant that discussions never progressed far enough for a fee to be mentioned.

“I can confirm that Chelsea declared their interest in Kaka,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“But I told them that Milan were not interested in selling him and I stopped everything before they could make any offer. So, I don’t know whether they would have offered £80m.”

Leonardo hopes for Premiership purchase
8.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan technical director Leonardo claims that the Rossoneri are still chasing Premier League stars Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor.

The world champions’ striker hunt has been derailed somewhat by the vast price tags on some of their targets.

While Vice-President Adriano Galliani has confessed that the Diavolo are short of funds, Leonardo is more optimistic.

“It’s no secret that we’re interested in signing a forward and we are looking at candidates,” he told BBC Sport.

“Drogba is a fine player and I really like Adebayor. We are just waiting for the right time to make a move.”

However, Leonardo did conclude by accepting that finance may be a problem if they want to land one of Europe’s sought-after marksmen.

“We have to accept that the incomes of the top English and Spanish teams are greater than they are in Italy and it’s very hard for us to compete,” he admitted.

“But we can offer other things. We have a first-class environment for players and a wonderful history.”

AC Milan to buy Bergessio?
8.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Argentina state that Milan’s striker search will lead to promising San Lorenzo hitman Gonzalo Bergessio.

The Rossoneri’s bid to add a well-known goal-getter to their arsenal has been so far unsuccessful as Vice-President Adriano Galliani has been priced out of the market for stars such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Samuel Eto’o.

And now reports in Argentina suggest that the world champions could look to a rising star instead such as 23-year-old Bergessio.

According to Olè, Milan are yet to make any official approach but are considering stepping in with a bid of around £12m.

San Lorenzo are expecting a sizeable fee for Bergessio, but the Argentine outfit seem resigned to losing their star man.

“There is no news to give you, except that Gonzalo’s agent is currently in Europe,” President Rafael Savino admitted.

Bergessio has experienced European football before but his spell at Benfica in 2007 didn’t go according to plan, prompting his return to Argentina.

Dunga hails boys from Brazil
6.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Brazil boss Carlos Dunga is confident this’ll be a great Serie A season for Adriano, Alexandre Pato, Nelson Dida and Ronaldinho.

Only three of those Selecao stars are currently signed with an Italian club, but that might not be the case for much longer.

“Ronaldinho wants to join Milan and players are in charge of transfers. The Rossoneri have a good hand of cards to play here,” Dunga told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He has put on a couple of kilos, but he’ll burn them off quickly and will become a star of the Olympic Games.

“Pato will also stand out and I like this kid more every day,” he said of the 18-year-old Milan talent.

“The only problem is that everyone wants the moon from Pato, they forget he’s young and has the right to make mistakes.

“Pato was born to score goals in any League, against any opponent. He still has to learn how to be a protagonist for 90 minutes, not just the time he needs to put the ball in the back of the net.”

If Ronaldinho does join Milan, he’ll create an all-Brazilian front line with Kaka and Pato.

“Of course, this is the magic behind my own Selecao, with Pato and Robinho a little further in front,” explained Dunga.

“I have Gilberto Silva and Mineiro to guarantee midfield stability, while Milan have Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso.”

There are other Brazilians within the Rossoneri ranks who are not generating so much enthusiasm.

“I would like to launch an appeal on behalf of Dida. He is my friend and still a champion. Last season he was disappointing and injuries took their toll, but if Dida is fit then he’s still Number 1.”

Dunga gave Adriano another chance at international level after his depression and hard-partying ways and expects Inter to do the same when he returns from his San Paolo loan spell.

“I must admit I approached him with a little trepidation. I never had doubts over his football skills, but as a person…

“Instead I discovered a model professional. Adriano will be Jose Mourinho’s best signing and President Moratti did well to have patience. Adri will repay him for this faith and can win the Serie A Capocannoniere title.”

AC Milan haggle for Shevchenko and Ronaldinho
6.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani explains why Milan fans should be happy they can only take Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko on loan.

The club has been in intense negotiations for both players, but has so far been put off by the excessive price-tags, which for the Barcelona star is around £20m.

“Ronaldinho is not in Pep Guardiola’s plans for the new season, so that cuts the cost down a little, but the problem is his wages,” noted the Rossoneri general manager.

“In order to meet those demands we’d have to pay next to nothing for the player himself. It all depends on Barcelona.

“I can say that Ronaldinho rejected an offer from Manchester City, who were proposing twice as much as Milan.”

The Brazilian has made it clear he wants a move to San Siro and hopes to prove himself in the Beijing Olympics.

“That is a matter for Barcelona. If he were a Milan player, I wouldn’t let him leave for that tournament,” added Galliani.

The Rossoneri require a centre-forward, but the £32m price-tag placed on Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor is considered excessive.

“Arsene Wenger booked an appointment, but there is no point me going to Nice when he has already said he wants £32m. These are impossible figures,” continued Galliani in La Stampa newspaper.

Another option is far cheaper and already tried and tested, as the Corriere dello Sport maintains Milan are close to capturing Shevchenko on loan from Chelsea.

He only made the £30m transfer to Stamford Bridge in 2006, but has failed to settle in and is desperate for a return to Serie A.

Once again, the Rossoneri are unwilling to shell out any fee for the Ukrainian and are happy to wait until January 2009 in case the situation changes.

These comments come after fans staged a protest urging patron Silvio Berlusconi to sell up the club to someone who can invest heavily, but Galliani had a stark warning.

“We do not have a transfer kitty stashed away here. Despite failing to qualify for the Champions League, the club is strengthening the squad and increasing the wages. This means we’ll be £35m in the red without Berlusconi’s help.

“The fans should be happy, as all we’d need to do in order to wipe out or debts is sell Kaka and Andrea Pirlo. Instead they won’t move, so if that’s not a show of love for this side, I don’t know what is.

“It is incredible that the supporters are not celebrating the arrival of Marco Borriello, who scored 19 goals last season, the fact Alexandre Pato can finally play a full campaign, Mathieu Flamini from Arsenal and World Cup winner Gianluca Zambrotta.

“As a fan, I too hope something else will happen, but Milan have already reinforced their squad.”

Kalac takes on Abbiati
6.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have brought back Christian Abbiati, but Zeljko Kalac believes he’ll be first choice between the sticks this season.

The Australian took over from the injured Nelson Dida during the final months of the campaign and was relatively impressive.

However, Abbiati has returned from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid – who replaced him with France international Gregory Coupet – and is favourite to start.

“I am not worried,” insisted Kalac. “I hope to be the first choice. Last season I did well and would like to still have the faith of the Coach and club at the start of this new term.

“As always, what happens on the pitch will be the judge. Christian and Nelson are good goalkeepers and people. One of the three has to go in the stands.”

Kalac freely admits he has done himself no favours during his summer vacation back home.

“The goalkeeping Coach called up exactly one month after I left and warned me not to come back huge and fat! I put on a couple of kilos, but nothing worrying.

“I did everything in my time away except sleep. At night my friends would meet up and watch the Euro 2008 matches on television,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“This meant kick-off times at 2am and 4.45am. I was a wreck, basically. Still, it was a relaxing break after a great season in which I was finally able to prove what I can do.”

Costacurta: The Coach I'll be
5.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Billy Costacurta passed his coaching certificate this week and reveals what he learned from Carlo Ancelotti, Arrigo Sacchi and Euro 2008.

In order to hold a job as a Coach in Italy, everyone must pass a course at Coverciano and this week former Milan defender Costacurta was among those graduating along with Ciro Ferrara and Fabrizio Ravanelli.

“The difference between a Coach and a great Coach is empathy,” said the recently-retired star.

“The thing I have learned from this course is how to deal with the human resources in a team. I have always been very attentive to this aspect and started studying it by observing the tacticians at Milan.

“Ancelotti, for example, has an incredible capacity for dealing with the squad as a unit.”

Over the 20 years he spent at San Siro, Costacurta has had the opportunity to watch and learn from the greats.

“I remember the first speech Sacchi gave to the side when he took charge. ‘We shall aim to surprise,’ he said.”

He shadowed Ancelotti last season as an unofficial assistant manager – as former teammate Mauro Tassotti has that role – and is now ready to break out on his own.

“I am really excited at the idea of teaching football from on the training field. It’s the hardest thing for a Coach to ensure everyone is happy and involved in the project.

“There’s nothing to say I’ll get a job quickly, though. Many Presidents are frightened by the idea of handing the reins to a debutant.

“Besides, my wife will be working in theatre for the next few months and I don’t want our son Achille to grow up with a nanny, so if I do work, it’ll be close to home. After that period, I have no qualms about a club in any division or country.”

Costacurta has been keeping a close eye on Euro 2008 and the Spanish success story, as well as the impressive performances from Russia and Turkey.

“The message from that tournament is that if you have players with great technique, then use them. If you don’t have them, then make your squad move as fast as possible.”

Zambrotta relishes AC Milan start
4.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Azzurri defender Gianluca Zambrotta can’t wait to start pre-season training with Milan after his summer switch from Barcelona.

After a decade on the Rossoneri radar, Zambro has finally been added to the ranks after completing a £7m move.

And the former Juventus wing-back is relishing the overdue chance to ply his trade at San Siro ahead of the first day of training at Milanello on July 16.

“I expect a fascinating challenge,” Zambrotta said. “I’m returning to Italy with a great club.

“I had two great, positive years in Spain and I had a chance to experience a different kind of football.

“At club level we didn’t achieve the objectives we set ourselves, but we were unlucky.”

Rumours are intensifying that former Barça teammate Ronaldinho will be joining Zambro in Italy’s fashion capital and he concluded by welcoming the suggestion.

“He is a great player,” he grinned. “He has had some problems lately, but he is always capable of making a difference.

“He has already given so much to football, but he can still be a decisive weapon.”

Zambrotta’s only title at the Nou Camp was the Spanish Super Cup in 2006, but he has two Scudetti with Juve – plus two that were revoked – to his name.

Serie A sides get second foreigner
3.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Federal Council has given the green light for Italian sides to have more than one non-EU player in their squad.

Italian clubs have struggled to compete with their European neighbours in recent years, as they have been allowed no more than one player with non-EU status.

In Spain, clubs may have three and in France four, whereas the Bundesliga demands that German sides have at least eight homegrown players in their squad.

The change in Italy could render Serie A sides more active in the market and could see new players become targets.

“The law has passed,” explained Italian Coaches Association head Renzo Ulivieri [pictured]. “New talent can now arrive in Italy to reinforce our squads.”

For 2008-09, the rule will apply to Serie A sides who have “the possibility of signing two non-EU players where at least one is to replace a non-EU player who has become a free agent or moved abroad.”

Galliani defends Berlusconi strategy
3.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has responded to fans protesting against club patron Silvio Berlusconi.

The pressure is rising in Italy’s fashion capital as the world champions struggle to find a big-name striker who they can afford to bring to San Siro.

An online petition has received nearly 2000 signatures from Diavolo supporters demanding that Berlusconi leave the club because he isn’t investing heavily enough.

“The protest against Berlusconi is bizarre,” Galliani told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The 1700 people who signed it are free to think what they want, but Berlusconi isn’t involved in the management of the club and he has already kept his champions for the UEFA Cup.

“I can’t make any promises to the fans, but I can say that Milan are doing everything possible to build a competitive squad.

“The problem in Italy is that prices have risen enormously. Fans need to know that this is the reality of calcio.

“With the current financial situation, Italian sides can’t compete with foreign clubs.

“There won’t be a £35m swoop, but there will be a move if the terms are more reasonable.”

Galliani concluded by dismissing reports that former Rossonero Andriy Shevchenko could join Sampdoria.

"If Sheva comes to Italy, he will come to us,” he asserted. “But a source very close to Roman Abramovich has told me that he won’t be moving.

Barcelona: No Ronaldinho bids yet
3.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Barcelona have admitted that they are yet to receive a concrete offer for unsettled ace Ronaldinho.

Milan are expected to table a sizeable bid for the Brazilian international next week and in spite of rumours of a £35m advance from Manchester City, it seems they could be the first side to act.

“There has been no news,” Barça sporting director Txiki Beguiristain conceded.

“We are waiting for concrete offers from other clubs so that we can negotiate.”

Barcelona have been accused of demanding too much for Dinho and fellow wantaway asset Samuel Eto’o.

“I understand that it is difficult to sell them because there aren’t many clubs in the world willing to pay these amounts,” Beguiristain concluded.

It is suspected that a bid from Milan for Ronaldinho could spark a bidding war with Manchester City, who signed Brazilian striker Jo for £19m on Wednesday.

“Ronaldinho is a world star and if these things are going to happen they are likely to take a bit of time and patience,” new City boss Mark Hughes stated.

AC Milan fans demand change
3.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Frustrated Milan fans have sent a petition to the club’s head office demanding a change in ownership to allow the Diavolo to compete in the market.

After a miserable season culminating in a fifth-placed finish, the Rossoneri were determined to add a big-name striking star to the ranks this summer.

However, Vice-President Adriano Galliani has confessed that the world champions don’t have the resources to lure the biggest stars, such as Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor.

Galliani’s declaration has angered many Milan followers, who have started an online petition to demand that patron Silvio Berlusconi sells the club.

“The club has been lamenting its lack of resources compared to those in England and Spain and so we invite the fans to protest for an improvement,” the petition begins.

“We are grateful to the President for the work he has done, but over the last two years we have won because of miracles from our team and not because of anything else.

“We have to make ourselves heard in a serious way and we need to make our disappointment with Milan clear.

“The Rossoneri deserve dignity and for the benefit of the club we demand that the President sells up to restore some pride amongst the fans.”

AC Milan for Monday Ronaldinho date
3.7 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s laborious summer search for a forward has led Vice-President Adriano Galliani to Ronaldinho and he is ready to fly to Barcelona with a bid.

The Rossoneri have given up on Arsenal hitman Emmanuel Adebayor, who has been judged to be too expensive after the Gunners reportedly demanded £35m.

On Sunday, Barcelona will hold elections for their new President and it is believed if Joan Laporta stays in power he will sell Dinho as one of his first acts.

Milan have already begun provisional talks with Laporta and allegedly have the first stages of an agreement.

Reports in the peninsula suggest that Galliani has booked a flight to Barcelona for Monday and is set to call a Milan meeting to finalise the offer he will make.

However, if opponent Sandro Rosell is victorious, he may choose to keep hold of the Brazilian ace.

Rosell was the man who brought the former PSG star to the Nou Camp and he has consistently defended the wayward ace.

AC Milan turn to Bendtner
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Milan cannot afford Emmanuel Adebayor, but they are instead holding negotiations for youngster Nicklas Bendtner.

Today general manager Adriano Galliani confirmed they simply could not pay the £35m requested for Adebayor and pulled out of talks for the Togo international.

However, the two clubs are still in communication over the possible transfer of a striker to San Siro this summer.

It is reported that 20-year-old Bendtner is eager to leave the Gunners so that he can play more first team football.

Milan would give him the opportunity to gain experience in Serie A and rejuvenate the squad, which already has young forwards Alexandre Pato, Marco Borriello and Alberto Paloschi.

Bendtner's agent Nicola Juric is expected in Italy over the next few days, but the Rossoneri face competition from Roma for the Dane.

The Corriere dello Sport maintains that the deal with the Giallorossi is already done, but Bendtner's father denied the report.

"It is not something we have heard a sound about. Not at all."

Milan are turning towards Bendtner as a cheaper option, although they remain interested in a £15m swoop for Ronaldinho.

“We are awaiting concrete offers,” said Barcelona director Txiki Begiristain. “I understand that, as there aren't many clubs who can afford such an expense.”

Galliani rues 'unrealistic demands'
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Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has explained that Arsenal’s £35m price tag on Emmanuel Adebayor is beyond the club’s financial capabilities.

The Diavolo are desperate to lure a big-name marksman this summer and after a number of possible targets had been ruled out they seemed to have found their man in Adebayor.

However, the Rossoneri would be unlikely to match Barcelona’s reported bid of £25m, let alone the additional £10m the Gunners seem to want.

“There are continuous requests for Adebayor, but Arsenal are demanding £35m and that is impossible for clubs in Italy,” Galliani moaned.

“That’s why the top footballers in the world don’t come here anymore.

“When big clubs like Barcelona and Chelsea arrive it is impossible to compete because they are in a very advantageous fiscal situation.”

Adebayor remains unsettled at the Emirates Stadium and has demanded a pay rise of almost 400 per cent to stay in London.

Ronaldo's San Siro stay ends?
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Brazilian striker Ronaldo’s contract at Milan has expired and reports suggest that El Fenomeno’s time at San Siro is over.

The 31-year-old hitman’s career seemed to be over when he severed a tendon in his knee while playing for the Rossoneri against Livorno in February.

However, after a successful operation and rehabilitation, Ronnie is ahead of schedule on the road to recovery and is ready to restart training.

Milan initially hinted that they would stand by the former Inter man if he managed to get back to shape and would offer him a new deal.

But a sex scandal in Brazil damaged Ronaldo’s reputation and the player has suggested that he would be more comfortable playing for Flamengo in his homeland.

Although UOL Esporte reports that Milan are considering bringing Ronnie back, sources in Italy suggest that the Diavolo are happy to part company with the top goal scorer in World Cup history.

The crucial factor may be Milan’s search for a new striking star, which seems to have reached a dead end after top target Emmanuel Adebayor rejected a move.

Pippo outlines three objectives
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Milan veteran Pippo Inzaghi has set his targets for next season and is already looking forward to challenging Inter’s supremacy.

Inzaghi’s renaissance at the end of last season nearly inspired the Rossoneri to grab fourth place, but the world champions will have to settle for UEFA Cup football next term.

“The title will be our objective, just like the UEFA Cup, which Milan are lacking and must be honoured,” Inzaghi told Mediaset.

“This group has won two Champions Leagues and one Scudetto – it would be good to even the totals up.

“We will be focused on the two targets. Inter are the strongest side, but we will have to see. The derby will be as good as ever.

“Am I scared of the Jose Mourinho effect? I can’t judge Mourinho because I don’t know him,” Super Pippo continued.

“But we are very happy with Carlo Ancelotti, who is a great Coach and a great person.”

Inzaghi is the all-time top scorer in European competitions with 63 goals to his name after overtaking Gerd Muller’s record last season.

“The UEFA Cup also counts for records and now that I have overtaken Muller I intend to defend the record. It would be a shame not to after 30 years of fighting to reach it.

“My next personal goal is to get to 300 professional goals – I’m just 10 short. It would be a prestigious milestone.”

AC Milan await Ronaldinho response
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Milan are waiting for Barcelona to name their price for Ronaldinho, confirms Adriano Galliani.

“Ronaldinho is an important player and now we have to wait and see what Barcelona's demands are,” said the general manager.

The Rossoneri have agreed personal terms with the player some time ago, but the deal collapsed when they failed to agree on the price-tag with Barca.

After Emmanuel Adebayor seemed to move towards Barcelona instead, Milan are looking back to the former World Player of the Year.

He will play with Brazil in the Beijing Olympics along with Milan youngster Alexandre Pato, but recent appearances showed he had put on weight.

“He seemed a little bit overweight, but there can be no doubt the talent is still there.”

Another Brazilian eager to welcome Ronaldinho to the club is Emerson.

“He is very disappointed at the unfortunate events at Barcelona and I can say with certainty that he has a great desire and determination,” commented the former Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid midfielder.

“He told me there was some contact with Milan, but I don't know anything more than that.”

Emerson has barely featured for the team since joining from Madrid, but his injury woes seem to be behind him at last.

“Living with a fracture was not easy and often the pain was stronger than the willingness to train.

“After the operation on May 13 I feel much better. If we really must set a date for my comeback, then I'll definitely be ready for the Trofeo Berlusconi on August 17.”

Kaka: Knee is getting better
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Milan have fixed a friendly away to Manchester City on August 9 and Kaka is hoping to have fully shrugged off his knee problem by then.

Brazilian star Kaka was plagued by recurring knee pain last season and was forced to go under the knife on May 23 to correct a meniscus problem.

The World Player of the Year is now having treatment in Sao Paulo in the hope of reaching full fitness before pre-season starts.

“I am undergoing physiotherapy and I am happy with how it is going,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“My knee still hurts, but I’m sure that it will be better soon and I will be ready for the pre-season camp on July 16.”

Milan doctor Massimiliano Sala sent Kaka to see Brazil’s national team doctor Jose Luiz Runco for surgery back in March and the midfield wizard has been recovering with a mixture of swimming, gym work and physiotherapy.

The Rossoneri’s pre-season friendly schedule has taken shape with the world champions set to face Inter and Juventus in the Trofeo TIM on July 29 before travelling to the Moscow Tournament on August 3.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side will then board a flight for England to take on Manchester City on August 9 before August 17’s Trofeo Berlusconi against Juventus.

Ronaldinho heads for Nou Camp exit
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Barcelona ace Ronaldinho seems to have bade farewell to the Catalan giants, possibly ahead of a move to Milan.

The mutual affection between the Rossoneri and Ronaldinho has been evident for months, but there have been no concrete negotiations.

However, the Brazilian star seems to have decided that he won’t be playing at the Nou Camp next term and it is now up to the Diavolo to make the next move.

“It was a stupendous story with Barcelona, given everything that we won,” Dinho told Rete Globo.

“The fans should never forget it, just as I never will, and I felt that they showed their gratitude each day in the street.”

Over the course of the last season, Dinho spent an increasing amount of time on the sidelines and it seems that the 28-year-old has one priority when looking for a new employer.

“What I want first and foremost is to be playing again,” he insisted. “It doesn’t matter where, I want to do what I love most and that is playing football.”

With Emmanuel Adebayor distancing himself from the world champions, a move for Ronaldinho looks increasingly likely.

Adebayor: I'd prefer Barcelona
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Arsenal marksman Emmanuel Adebayor is moving further away from Milan after hinting that he would rather join Barcelona.

The Togolese international became Milan’s main target as they look to add to their firepower this summer and he seems set to quit the Emirates Stadium in spite of the Gunners’ desire to keep him.

According to the News of the World, Adebayor has demanded a new £120,000-per-week deal is he is to stay put, but he is now flirting with Barcelona rather than Milan.

“Barcelona have made a good financial offer,” the 24-year-old said. “I am under contract with Arsenal, but it’s up to the directors to satisfy my demands, otherwise I will leave.

“You have to take advantage of the moment. Why not go to Barcelona if their Coach Josep Guardiola already has me in his plans?

“Milan are a great club, but unfortunately they aren’t in the Champions League,” he concluded.

The Rossoneri are being widely tipped to turn to Barcelona star Ronaldinho instead and are said to be closing in on an agreement.

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