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The Archive

August 2002

OPINION: San Alessandro, The Calming Influence
31.8 || scharatz

AUTHOR: Lo Scrivano

When Francesco Baresi hung up his boots in 1997 and Milan retired his No. 6 jersey, few thought that they would see a sweeper of his calibre grace the San Siro anytime soon. After 20-years in a red-and-black shirt, Baresi had left more than just a legacy behind. He had left a gaping hole in the Milan back-line that the club would struggle to fill for years to come. That was, until now.

Tassotti-Baresi-Costacurta-Maldini…bit-by-bit that barbican defence has been dismantled and the last piece, Paolo Maldini is now forced to play in the centre to plug the holes that his teammates dig. However, Maldini can now sleep peacefully at night. For just like his forays up the left wing in the 90s, he can now make forays down the middle. He no longer needs to stay back and orchestrate plays and organize his defence. For, just like he had the luxury of having Baresi behind him all through the 90s, Alessandro Nesta will see him though to retirement.

Alessandro Nesta may not realize it right away, but he is about the change AC Milan for good. He is about to fulfil the one need that the Rossoneri have had since the departure of that elegant man, Baresi.

Nesta will take his time to settle in at the San Siro. All players need that. The only difference is that some take 2 days while others take more than a year. Nesta has yet to train with his teammates, even with the Italian championship but a fortnight away, but Milan fans can rest assured that they have in their side the most calm, composed and professional player they could hope for.

"There is no team in the world Alessandro Nesta wouldn't improve," Cragnotti had said a year or so ago. The cereal-baron has seen his (former) captain hold the team aloft single-handedly. Nesta has vision. He can, from his position at the rear of the field size up a situation in a split-second. He can visualize, order, and act all at once. And that is what Milan have paid 30 million Euros for (a bargain if you ask me).

Aug 30, the signature…Aug 31, the presentation…and, Sep 1 the first training! Yet, when 'la prima giornata' of Serie A comes around, it is almost certain that San Alessandro will be ready. He already knows Maldini from the national team and it is hard to believe that anyone else is going to have issues adjusting to Nesta or vice-versa. Milan will kick-off their campaign free of defensive insecurity for the first time in many, many seasons. And the calming influence will be none other than the man they have just signed: Alessandro Nesta.

Euro 2004: Pirlo joins Trap team
31.8 || scharatz

Andrea Pirlo has finally earned his promotion into the senior Azzurri squad as part of Giovanni Trapattoni’s team to face Azerbaijan.

The former Under-21 captain and Milan midfielder is one of the 22 players called up for the September 7 Euro 2004 qualifier in Baku.

Pirlo is the only new face in the line-up, but Christian Vieri returns from an injury lay-off.

New Rossoneri star Alessandro Nesta and Juve’s Marco Di Vaio will make the first international appearances since changing clubs.

Matteo Brighi returns to the Under-21 side Coached by Claudio Gentile after making his senior debut against Slovenia earlier this month.

GK: Buffon (Juventus), Toldo (Inter)

D: Adani (Inter), F Cannavaro (Inter), Coco (Inter), Iuliano (Juventus), Materazzi (Inter), Nesta (Milan), Oddo (Lazio), Panucci (Roma)

M: Ambrosini (Milan), Di Biagio (Inter), Doni (Atalanta), Gattuso (Milan), Pirlo (Milan), Tommasi (Roma), Zauri (Atalanta)

F: Del Piero (Juventus), Di Vaio (Juventus), F. Inzaghi (Milan), Montella (Roma), Vieri (Inter)

Official from Lazio: Nesta completes Milan move
31.8 || scharatz

Lazio have confirmed that Alessandro Nesta has officially signed for Milan in a £20m deal.

The deal had been struck late Friday night, but despite an announcement from the San Siro side, the contract itself was only signed this afternoon.

The deal is worth £20m, plus a five-year contract that will give the Lazio captain a slight pay-cut to £2.6m per season, not including bonuses.

The 26-year-old Italian international trained with the Biancocelesti this morning and was mobbed by fans as he left the Formello ground.

“I haven’t signed yet,” he told the Tifosi who literally begged him not to make the move. “I am still considering the offer and we’ll have to wait and see.”

But the two clubs were already in agreement and a note on the Rossoneri website confirmed that the contract had been signed and handed in to the authorities.

At this point the move can be considered complete following confusion over Nesta’s future earlier this morning.

Meanwhile, President Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that Galliani will take his place from this season.

OFFICIAL - Nesta is a Milan man
31.8 || scharatz

Alessandro Nesta signed a five-year contract for the Rossoneri this morning, ending months of transfer speculation.

The official Milan website confirmed the news just before 9am after a new bid was staged late Friday evening.

It's believed that the club upped their original £17m bid to just under £21m in order to tempt the Italian international to the San Siro.

It is a far short of the £35m price-tag that President Sergio Cragnotti had placed on his head in May.

The Lazio defender had been called to club headquarters in an emergency meeting and accepted the move, his first away from the Biancocelesti in nine years.

Nesta, a Lazio youth product, had been close to deals with Inter and Juventus throughout the summer, but it was the San Siro side that snatched the final prize.

The Roman club was forced to sell one of its stars due to financial difficulties.

Milan stage Nesta swoop
30.8 || scharatz

There are strong reports that Milan have staged a new and successful bid to bring Alessandro Nesta to the San Siro.

Late this evening there were claims that the defender had been called to an emergency meeting at Lazio headquarters.

Although this week the Rossoneri had maintained there would be no new bid for the Italian international, it appears that the club raised their offer considerably.

Earlier this month Lazio had turned down what was confirmed to be a bid worth £17m, while the Roman side had set their price-tag at £25m.

Assurance that Milan would play the Champions’ League has given the club new confidence and disposable cash to bring in a sorely-needed central defender.

Juventus were also interested in Nesta, but backed out after Coach Marcello Lippi made public their need for a fifth forward, Marco Di Vaio.

Costacurta saved by the bell
30.8 || scharatz

Alessandro Costacurta confirms that had Milan not recalled him to their ranks he would have hung up his boots for good.

Instead, the 36-year-old is preparing to salvage an ailing Rossoneri defence in the toughest Champions’ League group.

“I am truly happy for this opportunity,” said the man commonly known as Billy, “because I thought my experience with Milan was now over. In fact, I was convinced that had the club not called me I would have retired from football.”

The veteran had been released this summer when his contract expired, but after 17 years at the same club his options had narrowed.

“I do not deny that I felt real nostalgia for the team and the Milanello training ground. I didn’t realise watching the squad on television would be so painful for me.”

Costacurta isn’t quite what the fans were expecting, but Vice-President Adriano Galliani again confirmed that there would be no new bid for Alessandro Nesta or Jaap Stam.

“We have signed Costacurta,” said Galliani following a meeting with Lazio President Sergio Cragnotti, “and our transfer market has closed.”

The Champions’ League draw was tougher than even the club had feared, with beaten finalists Bayern Munich, Deportivo La Coruna and Lens fighting it out for just two qualifying spots.

On the strength of the performance against Slovan Liberec, this reinforcement at the back was certainly needed.

“I was impressed with the Milan side I saw recently,” noted Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s former teammate. “The team is ambitious but not arrogant.”

The 36-year-old could be used almost immediately as he has kept up his training regime just in case that call came.

“I could even play one half of Sunday’s derby,” revealed Costacurta.

On Sunday evening the San Siro will play host to a special derby between Milan and Inter.

Much of the proceeds will go towards charity, primarily the families of those who died in the Linate air disaster in September last year.

Milan rule UEFA Dream Team
30.8 || scharatz

Six Rossoneri stars are included in the official Champions’ League Dream Team.

To mark the tenth year of the competition, UEFA have compiled a squad of eleven players who made the most impact on the continent during this decade.

These include Paolo Maldini, the only member of this team to still wear the Rossoneri shirt, Franco Baresi, Mauro Tassotti and star striker Marco Van Basten.

Former Juventus man Zinedine Zidane is also included in the UEFA line-up.

Champions’ League Dream Team: Schmeichel; Tassotti, Desailly, Baresi, Maldini; Beckham, Rijkaard, Zidane, Giggs; Van Basten, Raul

CL Draw: Milan with Bayern, Depor & Lens
29.8 || webmaster

Milan were placed in the third pot and picked a particularly tough Group. The seeds were last year’s beaten finalists Bayern Munich, but both Deportivo La Coruna and Lens can prove tricky customers.

The Rossoneri already faced the Spaniards in their last Champions’ League outing two years ago, registering a 1-0 win in La Coruna and a controversial 1-1 draw at the San Siro. That result saw Milan knocked out of the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have not faced Bayern Munich since 1990’s European Cup Semi-Final, while French revelation Lens are a novelty to the Milan fans.

Rebel clubs confirm Sept 15 start
29.8 || webmaster

Despite renewed threats to delay the Serie A and B season, the company representing the eleven rebel clubs has confirmed a September 15 kick-off.

“We believe that there are the right conditions to start on September 14 and 15,” revealed Enrico Bendoni, President of Plus Media Trading.

“We will make the necessary agreements and set up the third pay-per-view television platform. There is no commercial contract as yet, but we are optimistic and have been given certain guarantees.”

The season was delayed when the clubs – eight from Serie A and three second division sides – failed to agree terms with the two pay-per-view satellite companies, Stream and Telepiu.

The rebels therefore decided to set up their own channel solely to transmit the home games of Atalanta, Brescia, Chievo, Como, Empoli, Modena, Perugia and Piacenza.

As the impasse continued, FA President Franco Carraro had asked the clubs to simply renew the contracts they held last year.

“That is out of the question,” assured Bendoni. “That’s where the problems started in the first place. Those contracts were very damaging to the smaller clubs.”

This statement should allay fears – propagated by Roma President Franco Sensi (pictured) and Perugia’s Luciano Gaucci this week – that the campaign could be further delayed.

Ancelotti sings Pippo's praises
29.8 || webmaster

Carlo Ancelotti concedes that Pippo Inzaghi’s two goals rescued Milan from a Champions’ League crisis.

“Inzaghi is a great striker,” said the Coach in his post-match press conference, “and at the important moments he has always been crucial. We expected Pippo to have a good performance and he did not disappoint.”

The hitman netted in both legs of the preliminary round clash with Slovan Liberec, eventually seeing the Rossoneri through on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate.

“After a great first half in which we had absolute control over the game, we suffered a little after the break as Slovan moved their attacks up a gear,” noted the tactician.

The Czech side almost caused an upset by snatching a 2-1 victory two minutes from time. One more goal would have seen them through to the Champions’ League.

“Anything can happen in football and that is why during stoppage time we got a little scared. Overall though, I’d say Milan’s qualification was deserved.”

For the first time four Serie A sides will enter the draw for this competition, but Milan are the only club to be placed in the third band.

“Now we just want to do as well as possible in the Champions’ League,” commented Ancelotti.

“We have achieved the objective of reaching the competition proper, albeit with a struggle, and can now look forward with optimism.”

The former Juventus Coach also took this opportunity to confirm that Alessandro Costacurta has returned to the club.

The 36-year-old defender had been released when his contract expired this summer, but the problems in that area of the field have forced a rethink.

Nonetheless, Ancelotti did not deny that Lazio’s Jaap Stam could also be added to the squad before the August 31 deadline.

“For the moment Costacurta is back in the side. Then we’ll see what happens.”

Slovan Liberec 2 - 1 AC Milan
28.8 || webmaster

Scorers: Inzaghi 20 (M), Slepicka 46 (S), Langer 88 (S)

Pippo Inzaghi netted in both legs to see Milan safely through to the Champions' League on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate, but a late siege from the Czechs proved perilous.

Slovan Liberec had to win in order to cause an upset and immediately proved aggressive, bringing a good save out of Dida with Hodur's fierce drive on five minutes.

For only the second time Andrea Pirlo - playing in his new position in front of the defence - started in the same line-up as Manuel Rui Costa, but Rivaldo was left on the bench.

Milan youth team Coach - and former fan favourite - Mauro Tassotti was on the bench as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant manager for the first time.

The first chance for the Rossoneri arrived on 14 minutes when Filippo Inzaghi fell under pressure, but was still able to bring a reaction save out of Kinsky.

Soon after Jon Dahl Tomasson could have finalised a good counter-attack, but defender Pilny bravely cleared off the line with his 'keeper beaten.

The Rossoneri eventually broke the deadlock with the man who had sealed the 1-0 first leg win - Pippo Inzaghi.

The Italian international picked up a Rui Costa through ball and drilled it under the goalkeeper.

Tomasson wasted yet another opportunity on the half-hour mark. Following some good build-up play from Rui Costa and Clarence Seedorf, the Dane fired straight at the goalkeeper.

Milan perhaps relaxed a little too much into their lead as 30 seconds into the second half Slepicka caught the defence napping to bring the Czechs new hope.

Slovan continued to push and notch up a succession of corner kicks, so Ancelotti introduced holding midfielder Massimo Ambrosini in place of Tomasson.

The home side went close with a Papousek free kick that shaved the crossbar with Dida - filling in for the injured Christian Abbiati - well beaten.

Rivaldo made his official debut for the Rossoneri in the final 20 minutes, partnering Inzaghi upfront rather than acting as a Trequartista.

Former Chelsea star Sam Dalla Bona also made his Champions' League debut with the red and black shirt.

The defence was again at fault when two minutes from time David Langer was left completely unmarked to nod in a Papousek free kick.

Slovan needed one more goal to qualify and stoppage time was a siege on Dida's goal. A respite came when goalscorer Langer picked up his second yellow card for dissent.

Controversially, the referee blew the final whistle one minute early and end the Rossoneri's misery.

Slovan Liberec: Kinsky; Pilny, Johana, Holenak, Janu; Papousek, Hodur (Blaha 76), Langer, Sboncak (Ancic 65); Slepicka, Nezmar (Gyan 46)

Milan: Dida; Simic, Laursen, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo (Dalla Bona 81), Seedorf; Rui Costa (Rivaldo 70); Tomasson (Ambrosini 60), Inzaghi

Ref: Duaden Ibanez (Spa)

Sent off: Langer 92 (S)

Rivaldo unleashed on Europe
28.8 || scharatz

Rivaldo will play in Milan's Champions' League showdown with Slovan Liberec, it was confirmed.

Carlo Ancelotti assured fans and press that the Brazilian would give his contribution to securing their spot in Europe this season.

“I don’t know whether he will start the match,” explained the Coach, “but Rivaldo will certainly play.”

The Rossoneri must build on a slender 1-0 first leg lead in their trip to the Czech Republic tonight, aware that Slovan Liberec are several weeks ahead in terms of fitness preparation.

“We are in much better condition than we were two weeks ago,” assured the tactician when reminded of their disappointing performance at the San Siro.

“Those 15 days of training are extremely important at this stage of the campaign. We realise that this is a crucial encounter.”

The club has waited until after the Champions’ League spot has been booked to snap up their much-needed reinforcement in defence.

Failing to qualify for this competition would be damaging to their prestige, but above all represent a financial loss of £10m.

“This squad was constructed at great expense for the Champions’ League and we cannot miss out.”

Captain Paolo Maldini was also keen to point out the importance of the next 90 minutes of football.

“We all know this is a fundamental moment in our season,” the defender told Milan Channel, “and that we are stronger overall than a fortnight ago. Rivaldo’s introduction could be extremely useful.”

The Brazilian will be particularly welcome as Andriy Shevchenko is out of action for two months with a knee injury.

Nonetheless, Ancelotti seems inclined to attack Slovan Liberec from all angles with the new tactic successfully employed in the Trofeo Berlusconi win against Juventus.

“Some important changes have taken place in the last few weeks,” revealed the tactician, “and they allow the team to be attacking and at the same time maintain balance. I am optimistic.”

The secret ingredient is the introduction of Andrea Pirlo as a playmaker just in front of the back four, giving space to creative midfielders Manuel Rui Costa and Clarence Seedorf behind the front pairing of Filippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

It’s likely that Rivaldo will start from the bench and come on for the second half.

“Our biggest advantage this time,” warned Ancelotti, “is that Slovan must try to score instead of sitting behind the ball. That will give us more freedom to move.”

Probable line-ups:

Slovan Liberec: 30 Hauzr; 22 Pilny, 14 Johana, 11 Holenak, 17 T.Janu; 2 Capek, 25 Langer, 10 Hodur, 6 Zboncak; 8 Slepick, 7 Nezmar

Milan: 12 Dida; 14 Simic, 24 Laursen, 3 Maldini, 4 Kaladze; 8 Gattuso, 21 Pirlo, 10 Rui Costa, 20 Seedorf; 15 Tomasson, 9 Inzaghi

Ref: Duaden Ibanez (Spa)

Costacurta reconciled with Rossoneri
27.8 || scharatz

While Milan continue to track Jaap Stam, the club has confirmed the return of Alessandro Costacurta.

The veteran central defender was released this summer when his contract was not renewed, but the problems at the back pre-season have forced a rethink.

“Alessandro Nesta is just too expensive for us,” revealed director Adriano Galliani. “Who will arrive? We’ll take back Costacurta.”

36-year-old Costacurta, nicknamed ‘Billy’, was preparing for a move to the United States in order to finish his playing career and learn English.

However, he could be playing Champions’ League football instead as the Rossoneri realised he is the cheapest and most reliable solution to the defensive crisis.

“I’ll believe it when I walk into the Milanello training ground,” he reportedly told his agents upon hearing the news.

Stam is still likely to be signed for approximately £10m, but the former Italian international can act as a form of ‘insurance’ in case something should go wrong.

Costacurta has played with the Milan jersey for the last 17 years with a brief 12-month spell at Monza in 1987.

It is claimed he is being groomed for a director’s post at the club when he hangs up his boots.

Seedorf: "It's time we returned to Europe's elite"
27.8 || webmaster

Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf wants to see his side rubbing shoulder's with Europe's elite clubs this season.

The general feeling is that for too long now the Rossoneri have sat back and watched the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United dominate Europe's Premier club competition.

Speaking ahead of his side's vital Champions League qualifying second-leg match with Slovan Liberec, Seedorf says it's time Milan returned to where they belong.

"We are ready to get back among the big sides of Europe," he told Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview published on the club's official site.

"We are calm because we don't take into account the possibility of being out of the Champions League. We expect to face the likes of Bayern and Real, but before that we have to defeat Slovan Liberec through an attacking style of football."

Milan prepare Stam swoop
27.8 || scharatz

Having lost Alessandro Nesta, the Rossoneri are turning their attention to his Lazio teammate Jaap Stam.

Negotiations between the two clubs continued despite the inability to reach Nesta’s £35m price-tag.

The serious financial difficulties suffered by the Biancocelesti in recent weeks have forced the club to make sales and Stam is the ideal candidate to raise some much-needed cash.

In fact, Manchester United have asked for FIFA intervention after Lazio failed to make regular payments on the former Premiership star.

Valencia and Velez Sarsfeld have made similar complaints with regards to Gaizka Mendieta and Lucas Castroman.

The key to this new move would see the San Siro side agree to pay the remaining £12m owed to the Red Devils, thereby clearing one of their debts.

Milan need a defender to enter the Champions’ League with greater confidence and must register Stam before the August 31 deadline.

The only issue said to be worrying Carlo Ancelotti’s advisors is Stam’s age. The Dutchman is 30 years old and some would prefer his teammates Giuseppe Favalli or Fernando Couto.

The former Juventus Coach has been tracking Stam since January’s transfer window, so it is entirely possible this deal will go through within a matter of days.

Van der Sar reveals Baresi's secret deal
26.8 || webmaster

Fulham’s ex-Juve ‘keeper Edwin Van der Sar will be fined two weeks' wages after informing the Dutch media that Franco Baresi was sacked. He was reportedly the only player to know of a secret deal between both parties claiming Baresi had resigned rather than been pushed. Now Fulham are considering withholding Baresi’s pay-off following alleged remarks from the former Milan legend to a friend. Apparently Van der Sar's involvement has weakened Fulham's position, so that’s the reason they will hit him hard in the pocket.

Ancelotti on the attack with two R's
25.8 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti has assured fans that Rivaldo and Manuel Rui Costa can share the limelight in their Champions' League clash with Slovan Liberec.

“The defence is doing well,” said the Milan boss, “but if we are to qualify for Europe then we must go to the Czech Republic to attack Slovan.”

The disappointing first leg at the San Siro gave the Rossoneri a slender 1-0 lead ahead of Wednesday’s return match.

“We must go there with the idea of scoring at least one goal rather than avoid conceding any. This is a crucial turning point for our campaign and we’ll do everything within our capabilities to achieve that result.”

This plan to attack at all costs could see Rivaldo, Filippo Inzaghi, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Rui Costa start in the same line-up.

“Rivaldo did well against Juventus in the Berlusconi Trophy last Sunday,” explained the Coach, “but he is not yet 100% fit. We’ll evaluate his condition carefully before deciding whether or not he starts this match.”

The tactics used in that Juventus game provided fans with their best performance of the season so far.

“I know Rivaldo loves playing behind the front two, but he is also useful as a forward. It is not difficult to keep Rivaldo in the same line-up as Rui Costa. If anything, it helps bring the best out of both.”

That victory over the Bianconeri saw Andrea Pirlo – replacing an injured Rui Costa – as a deeper playmaker just in front of the defence, while Rivaldo sat behind Tomasson and Inzaghi.

Meanwhile, Thomas Helveg is almost ready for a return to the playing field and could feature in the Slovan Liberec tie.

The Dane was struggling with an ankle problem, but every man is needed following a spate of injuries in the back line.

Roque Junior fell heavily on his shoulder in the first leg, while goalkeeper Christian Abbiati has a hip problem.

Jose Chamot will not feature in the trip to the Czech Republic due to an upper thigh strain.

Milan nix Nesta move
24.8 || scharatz

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has ended speculation of a move for Alessandro Nesta, dubbing today’s prices “neither economic nor moral.”

There were renewed reports of a £23m bid for the defender following Lazio’s financial difficulties, but the patron assured fans that this was not to be.

“I cannot buy Nesta for you,” the Italian Prime Minister told a group of fans who waved a banner begging for the Azzurri star to be signed.

“We have reached levels that have nothing economic nor moral about them. We made mistakes and must now change our ways.”

The comments from the man who build the Rossoneri into an empire in the late 1980’s have been met with derision by former player Gianni Rivera.

“Berlusconi should have given us a solution to the financial crisis in sport, not a lecture,” said Rivera, also now a politician.

“Mind you, Berlusconi was one of the men who contributed to creating this situation in the first place.”

The media magnate created the ‘Grande Milan’ of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and broke the world transfer record for Gianluigi Lentini.

Meanwhile, the Government has suggested a new method of keeping Serie A clubs in check.

A ‘luxury tax’ could be introduced to penalise clubs who spend more than 80% of their income in a single year.

Up until now the balance sheets are allowed to reach 118%, spending far more than these sides can earn.

Special Milan derby set for Sept 1
23.8 || scharatz

Inter and Milan will play a local derby on September 1 with all proceeds going to charity, it was announced today.

The two clubs have set the San Siro date as a practice run ahead of the 2002-03 season, which will now begin on September 15.

This will be the first chance for fans of both sides to see the two Brazilians Ronaldo and Rivaldo face off in the derby, although the want-away Inter star’s presence is yet to be confirmed.

50% of the proceeds will go to the Milan council for initiatives in sport, while the remaining half will be handed to the families of the Linate disaster victims.

118 people, many of them Swedish, died on October 8 2001 in a crash before take-off at Milan’s Linate Airport.

Serie A sides rule rich list
23.8 || scharatz

Despite the financial crisis in Italian football, five Serie A clubs are among the top ten richest sides in the world.

The revelation was made by a Spanish University study, taking figures from ‘The Economist’.

Manchester United lead the way ahead of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Milan, Juventus, Lazio, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter and Roma.

The study also outlined how these sides rake in their hard-earned cash. It emerged that the Spanish League is dependent on television rights.

51% of La Liga club earnings come from the small screen, compared to just 29% for Premiership sides.

It was confirmed that players cost more in Serie A, while most Latin countries have an unusually low earning from attendances.

Milan stars come out for Boban testimonial
22.8 || webmaster

Zvonimir Boban will retire from football with a star-studded testimonial on October 7.

The former Milan legend has decided to hang up his boots after successful spells at Dynamo Zagreb and Celta Vigo.

The Croatian international graced the San Siro from 1992 to 2001, winning four Serie A titles (1992-93, 93-94, 95-96, 98-99), the 1994 edition of the Champions’ League, one European Supercup and two Italian Supercups.

The testimonial will take place at Zagreb’s Maksimir Stadium and several top stars have already confirmed their presence.

These include Rossoneri heroes George Weah, Andriy Shevchenko, Rivaldo, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Daniele Massaro, Jean-Pierre Papin, Roberto Donadoni and Mauro Tassotti.

Former Milan defender Tassotti is also in the news as he has been appointed Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant manager.

The move is only temporary as Giorgio Ciaschini is in hospital following a car crash this week.

“It will be a great deal of responsibility,” said Tassotti, “but obviously I wish Giorgio all the best in recovering quickly.”

Former Italian international Tassotti is a successful youth team Coach at the Rossoneri.

Meanwhile, Milan have loaned Uruguayan midfielder Pablo Garcia to Spanish side Osasuna.

Dalla Bona wanted Milan chance
22.8 || webmaster

New Milan man Samuele Dalla Bona has revealed why he took so long in returning to Italian football.

The central midfield player had wanted to leave the Premiership and Chelsea for some time but turned down an offer from Venezia last summer.

"I declined the opportunity to sign for Venezia, because with all due respect, I wanted to join a team that was at least as strong as Chelsea," he told the Milan website.

"I am a player that is ambitious and this is the main reason why I decided to wait for the right offer and why I chose to join Milan."

Dalla Bona joined the San Siro side this summer after the aggressive player was constantly linked with the Rossoneri for the last six months.

And the last seven days has seen Dalla Bona play his first game for the club in the penalty win over Juventus, before winning his first Under-21 cap on Tuesday in the 2-0 loss against Germany.

Turning to his personal objectives for the new campaign, the ex-Stamford Bridge favourite simply wanted a chance to impress.

"I just want the opportunity to prove my worth," he continued. "At this moment in time that is all that I can ask for."

Van Basten starts new life
22.8 || webmaster

Marco Van Basten has begun his new job in coaching youngsters at the Ajax academy. The former Milan man passed his coaching examinations after joining the Dutch club’s back room staff in May.

Sheva eyes October return
21.8 || scharatz

Andriy Shevchenko believes he will be playing football again by mid-October after undergoing knee surgery.

The Milan star went under the knife earlier this week after he suffered slight ligament damage in the 1-0 win over Slovan Liberac in the Champions’ League tie.

And although he’s been told that he will be out for two months, the striker claims he will return sooner than expected.

"In the next month I will be back in training and I have two immediate targets. My national side face Northern Ireland on October 10 and I think I will be ready for that one.

"Therefore I could be back in the Italian championship around that time too," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Shevchenko’s loss shouldn’t be a major loss to the San Siro giants because of the attacking options that the side have available. But he isn’t worried that this injury could cost him his first team place.

"I’m looking to get back to full fitness as soon as possible but that isn’t because I fear for my first team place," he continued.

"Competition for places has always been there and I know that I have to prove myself. There is Rivaldo but also Jon Dahl Tomasson who is a great player.

"I understand that I will have to get back into form quickly and unfortunately I don’t have the luck of Pippo Inzaghi. He only needs about three days to find good form."

Rivaldo considers Brazil future
21.8 || scharatz

Milan’s Brazilian striker Rivaldo is considering bringing an end to his international career, according to reports.

The summer signing will be in action for his country tonight as they take on Paraguay back in his homeland. And there is speculation that it could be his final game for the Selecao.

The 30-year-old is said to be weighing up his international future, amidst doubts about his chances of making the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany.

However, there are also claims that Milan are pressuring the star to hang up his international boots because they don’t want him jetting off around the world too regularly.

Milan did actually threaten to not buy any more South American players last year after complaining that their Brazilian contingent were missing too regularly because of international commitments.

Rivaldo has had a mixed Brazil career. He was heavily criticised before the 2002 World Cup that he rarely played to his full potential for his country.

However, the former Barcelona star certainly lived up to his reputation on the Orient as his five goals helped his side to their fifth World Cup.

Shevchenko goes under knife
19.8 || webmaster

Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko will be out of action for the next two months after undergoing knee surgery.

The Ukrainian international damaged ligaments in the recent 1-0 win over Slovan Liberac and tests revealed that he would need surgery on his meniscus.

Knee specialist doctor Marc Martens operated on the star in Antwerp on Monday, while being assisted by Milan doctor Rodolfo Tavana.

The Rossoneri have confirmed that the striker will be out of action for the next two months should no complications arise.

Meanwhile, Roma hero Francesco Totti is back in training after he suffered a slight knee injury.

The Italian international underwent a period of physiotherapy before he took part in a touch of light running this afternoon. He should be match fit by mid-September.

More TV chaos in Italy
19.8 || webmaster

Italian state broadcasters RAI are threatening to end their coverage of Italian football unless a reasonable price can be reached over rights.

RAI have been covering the Italian scene for nearly 50 years but as of yet can’t agree a price with the Italian League for the highlights package for the Serie A and B campaigns.

"RAI is not prepared to bleed itself dry in order to save football clubs that are suffocating in debt," director general Agostino Sacca told the ‘Corriere della Sera’ on Monday.

The League want close to £60m from RAI – the same price as what was paid last season. However, the broadcasters say that they will not pay more than £30m.

This latest TV argument comes in the midst of the distinct possibility that the new season will not kick off on September 1 as scheduled.

There are still eight Serie A clubs who have yet to agree pay-per-view TV deals and they want the season postponed until negotiations are complete.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Monday that the Serie B season could also be put back. A total of 14 out of the 20 clubs in the Second Division don’t have TV contracts.

A final decision is expected to be made on Tuesday when the crucial League meeting takes place.

Ancelotti impressed by Rivaldo debut
19.8 || webmaster

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has praised Rivaldo after his debut for the side in the Trofeo Berlusconi game against Juventus.

The Rossoneri defeated the Italian champions 3-1 on penalties in the annual friendly between the two footballing superpowers.

"Rivaldo put in a very good performance," said former midfielder Ancelotti. "He pushed very hard and has already integrated himself into the side alongside his new teammates. He could have scored but Buffon was excellent."

Milan deserved the victory after their best performance of pre-season so far. And Ancelotti has reason to be optimistic.

"I’m happy with the way everyone played," he added. "We tried some new things out which turned out to be very positive. The movement was good, especially in the first half."

Bianconeri boss Marcello Lippi wasn’t too downhearted despite the defeat to the old enemy.

"It was a good test for us against a side that is in better physical condition than we are because they have already played a Champions’ League game," he said.

"I’ve received some answers and I was happy with the way we played in the second half."

Lippi also praised the form of Alessandro Del Piero and goalkeeper Gigi Buffon who produced a number of outstanding saves at the San Siro.

"All of my side is in a phase of improvement, but it is clear that Del Piero and Buffon are already in good form," he added.

Berlusconi Trophy: Milan 0-0 (3-1 on PK) Juventus
19.8 || webmaster

Rivaldo’s debut saw Milan’s best performance of the season so far in the Trofeo Berlusconi clash with Juventus.

The Rossoneri were without the injured Andriy Shevchenko, but the Ukrainian was in the stands to watch this encounter. His presence disproved Russian news reports suggesting the ruptured knee ligament was a hoax and that he was already in Kiev.

It mattered little as all eyes were on Brazilian Rivaldo’s white boots. He started the match behind front two Filippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Andrea Pirlo took over from Manuel Rui Costa in the deeper midfield playmaker role.

The former Barcelona star made a positive first impression, passing the ball around well, although his many long-range shots were wayward.

Juventus put the rhombus tactic – Alessandro Del Piero in a deeper role with Pavel Nedved and Mauro Camoranesi out wide – to one side for this match, going back to the line-up that had helped earn them the Scudetto last season.

Milan dominated the first half and called Gianluigi Buffon into action with a Filippo Inzaghi header and curling Pirlo free kick, while Gennaro Gattuso’s piledriver whistled past the upright.

Former Juventus man Inzaghi had the best opportunity, but after getting past Buffon he incredibly hit the sidenetting of an open goal.

Juventus made two changes at half-time and were more vibrant, going close with a looping Del Piero header and curling effort from the Italian international.

Rivaldo lasted an hour before being rested, while former Chelsea midfielder Samuele Dalla Bona also made his debut.

Milan again made an impact on the Juventus defence, but Buffon was able to punch out Tomasson’s close-range effort.

It ended 0-0 after 90 minutes and for the third year running this trophy went to a penalty shoot-out.

Juventus had a disastrous run from the spot as only one out of four was successfully converted.

Camoranesi fired over, Marcelo Salas’ tame effort was saved before Davide Baiocco converted at the third attempt. Ciro Ferrara also saw his final spot-kick saved.

For Milan Clarence Seedorf, Rui Costa and Pirlo hit the back of the net to give the Rossoneri the trophy.

Milan 0-0 Juventus (3-1 on pens)

Milan: Dida; Simic (Contra 81), Laursen, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso (Dalla Bona 62), Pirlo, Seedorf; Rivaldo (Rui Costa 62); Inzaghi (Borriello 72), Tomasson

Juventus: Buffon; Thuram, Iuliano (Ferrara 68), Montero, Moretti; Brighi, Davids (Baiocco 46), Tacchinardi (Zenoni 75); Nedved (Camoranesi 71); Del Piero, Zalayeta (Salas 46)

Ref: Treossi

Milan vs Juventus - Lippi's prematch comments
18.8 || scharatz

Marcello Lippi warns that tonight’s Trofeo Berlusconi match with Milan is where the going gets tough for his new-look side.

“This is the starting point for our official season,” commented the Coach ahead of the showdown at the San Siro. “Pre-season is over, it’s time to get used to real games again.”

It will be particularly important for Juve, as it is a dress rehearsal for next week’s Italian Supercup against Parma.

The Berlusconi Trophy has been an annual event for the last 12 years, but during the 1990’s was touched by what some called a curse: whoever lost this match would go on to win the Scudetto.

“That so-called curse has been neutralised in the new century. Last season Juve won that game and the title. So we want to win it again, especially because we’ll be facing Rivaldo.”

The Brazilian is set to make his debut in the Rossoneri shirt and may well start the match in front of his new fans.

“I’d be amazed if Carlo Ancelotti didn’t play Rivaldo tonight,” confessed the Bianconeri boss. “It is in Milan’s interests that he get used to the team as soon as possible.”

“But it’s also for the fans. Rivaldo is a delight for all followers of football. His creativity, acrobatics and technique are the hallmarks of a great player.”

Although this is technically a friendly match, this trophy has always been a hard-fought affair between two historic rivals of Italian football.

“We’ll play with great determination,” explained Lippi, “as this is always an encounter that gets you fired up.”

The Bianconeri have impressed pre-season with their new tactical set-up, but their Coach is still not satisfied.

“Juventus need to improve in many areas. Their physical condition, making the new faces an integral part of the team and the tactical movements. But I am pleased with the progress I’ve seen so far.”

The Turin side will be without the injured David Trezeguet, Antonio Conte and Igor Tudor, but Marcelo Salas will make way for Marcelo Zalayeta in the starting line-up.

“Salas has just returned from a long injury lay-off and needs to regain match fitness gradually. As for the others, there will be less substitutions as we must get into official match mentality after all these summer friendlies.”

So far this summer the Bianconeri have played with Alessandro Del Piero in a deeper role, flanked by attacking wingers Pavel Nedved and Mauro Camoranesi, behind lone striker Trezeguet.

Trofeo Berlusconi

1991 Juventus-Milan 2-1
1992 Milan-Inter 1-0
1993 Milan-Real Madrid 3-2
1994 Milan-Bayern M. 1-0
1995 Juventus-Milan 0-0 (6-5 pens)
1996 Milan-Juventus 1-0
1997 Milan-Juventus 3-1
1998 Juventus-Milan 2-1
1999 Juventus-Milan 1-0
2000 Juventus-Milan 2-2 (7-6 pens)
2001 Juventus-Milan 1-1 (3-2 pens)

Shevchenko injury scare
17.8 || webmaster

Andriy Shevchenko is undergoing tests after suffering what doctors fear is a torn left knee ligament.

The Milan hitman suffered a knee injury during Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions’ League win over Slovan Liberec at the San Siro.

He had played all 90 minutes of the match, hitting the crossbar in stoppage time, but realised the extent of the problem the morning after.

Shevchenko, valued at £50m recently, will fly out for a specialist consultation with Professor Mark Martens in Antwerp on Monday.

The official Milan website confirmed the news that a lesion had been discovered in the meniscus ligament of his left knee.

If the diagnosis is confirmed, it’s possible surgery will be required, keeping the Ukrainian striker off the field of play for several months.

Ancelotti outlines new tactics
17.8 || webmaster

Carlo Ancelotti revealed developments for Sunday’s Berlusconi Trophy match against Juventus, including Rivaldo’s debut.

The Milan Coach is coming up against his former club in this annual showdown that traditionally kicks off the new campaign.

“As it is basically a friendly there will not be the same pressure and tension as we felt in the Champions’ League qualifier with Slovan Liberec,” explained the tactician, “but it is an important event and we want to look good.”

“The criticism of our performance against Slovan was excessive,” noted the ex-Milan midfielder. “The first half was all wrong, but after the break we really made an impact.”

Some suggested that a relatively weak defence could not sustain the number of attacking players.

“The important thing is to find the right balance. We can do that, even with the so-called rhombus pattern we use.”

The rhombus is a new tactic also adopted by Juventus this summer, with a two strikers, a Trequartista and another playmaker in front of the defence.

Ancelotti announced experiments in the side that disappointed fans on Wednesday with their performance.

“We really feel the desire to play and will try something different, starting with Rivaldo. He’ll start the match and play as a Trequartista behind Filippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson.”

Danish international Tomasson is pushed into the limelight following news of a potentially serious knee injury to Andriy Shevchenko.

More tests are needed, but it is feared the striker has torn the meniscus ligament in his left knee.

“We can only take this into account and hope he recovers as soon as possible,” added Ancelotti.

“In the meanwhile I have been able to see that Tomasson is a great player and a real professional. Just think that despite a free day on Thursday, he decided to train by himself.”

“In midfield we’ll have Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf out wide, while either Manuel Rui Costa or Andrea Pirlo will be positioned in front of the defence.”

Portuguese international Rui Costa is struggling with an injury and may be rested for this encounter.

“The back four,” continued Ancelotti, “will consist of Dario Simic, Martin Laursen, Paolo Maldini and Kakha Kaladze.”

The Coach also confirmed on the club’s official website that Roque Junior and Christian Abbiati will be out of action following injuries sustained against Slovan Liberec midweek. Therefore Dida will be in goal.

Chelsea accuse Milan of wrongdoing over Dalla Bona transfer
17.8 || webmaster

Chelsea chairman Ken Bates has accused Italian giants Milan of agreeing an illegal `pre-contract` deal with Sam Dalla Bona.

The Serie A side signed Dalla Bona from Chelsea earlier this summer, however Bates is certain that all was not done legally and above board.

Speaking on Chelsea's radio station, Big Blue, he said, "We have reason to believe he signed an illegal pre-contact with AC Milan two years ago. We've been stitched up from beginning to end. A year ago, Colin Hutchinson (then Chelsea managing director) agreed to sell Sam dalla Bona to Venezia for £5million. But he refused to go even though Venice is 30 minutes from his parents and he had said he was homesick."

"AC Milan offered us £3.5million, but Colin thought he could get more, which was a mistake with the benefit of hindsight. Then Dalla Bona said he wanted to sign a new contract with us."

However, Andrea D'Amico, Dalla Bona's agent, says that all was done by the book, stating, "It is not true. There is nothing hidden and I can say very clearly that nothing happened in this deal that was wrong."

Have the Rossoneri spent their money wisely?
15.8 || ART

Too many cooks spoil the broth - that’s how the old saying goes. In the case of the Rossoneri, it couldn’t apply more. Admittedly, credit must be given to Galliani, and co. For, despite the so-called ‘crisis’ in Italian football, Milan have been actively strengthening their squad, in preparation for the assault on Serie A, which is expected of them, year after year. This year is no different, and with some of the big guns, such as Parma, and Lazio, struggling to compete both on, and off the field, season 2002-3 is as good a chance as any to add another title to the trophy cabinet.

However, I can’t help, but question some of their signings, and whether we really need five top players competing for one position, while we struggle for cover in others. The attacking midfielder role is a perfect example. Last season, we had the mercurial Rui Costa (who, when you look beyond his injury problems, had quite a good season in an average Milan side), and one of my personal favourites, Andrea Pirlo. Now that’s what you call healthy competition. Two top players competing for one place. Both knowing they would get a decent chance of a run in the side, if they managed to impress.

Since then, we have signed Rivaldo-who, despite the outlay, represents an excellent acquisition, Sam Dalla Bona (a pretty good player, but will be lucky to start 10 games this season), and Jon Dahl Tomasson (he must really be cursing his luck, having signed as the team’s new playmaker, before being shoved to the back of the queue by the arrival of Rivaldo).

Even if we revert to a more attacking formation, as has been suggested by certain sections of the media, Milan are unlikely to play any more than two of these players in any one side. Personally, I don’t think Rivaldo, and Rui Costa can play together in the same side. I may be wrong, but I just feel that they are too attack-minded, and leave the midfield vulnerable. But both players are too good to be left sitting on the bench week after week. So it remains to be seen how Ancelotti will keep the two of them happy. I’m also worried that Pirlo, one of the best young talents to emerge from Serie A in years, will be wasted in the reserves, and forced to seek his fortunes elsewhere, like so many before him. I can’t see Dalla Bona making much of an impression on the first team this year. And as for Tomasson, the fact that he has been linked with a move away from the San Siro, before he’s even had a chance to kick a ball in anger, doesn’t bode too well for his future at Milan.

The powers that be should have concentrated on strengthening other areas of the side. Most notably the defence, which has looked suspect for a while now. There is not one man you can call world-class in the current Milan back line. Maldini is, undoubtedly, a Milan legend, and a deserving club captain, but the World Cup matches against Mexico, and South Korea, proved he is past his best. Chamot has seen better days also. Roque Junior is accident-prone. Laursen is ordinary at best (although an excellent man-marker). And I cannot, for the life of me, see the reasoning behind selling Helveg to Inter, and then taking him back on loan. Then why sell him in the first place?!?

I would also like to have seen another quality striker brought in to partner Sheva up front. I’ve never really rated Inzaghi too highly, even when he was at Juve. My reasons? Where should I start? He breaks down attacks by getting caught offside too much, wastes too many easy chances (a la Glenn Hoddle’s comment about Andy Cole needing five chances to score one), dives in the penalty area way too often, and in attacking situations holds on to the ball for too long. Good enough? I thought so.

AC Milan begin their Serie A campaign at home to Udinese on 1st September. Lets hope that they put my mind at rest, and put on a Championship-winning performance. Hopes and dreams win you nothing in football, but his year we can be sure to see some pretty, flowing football at the Guiseppe Meazza, and plenty of goals. As for silverware, only time will tell.

Inzaghi worried by risky Rossoneri
14.8 || scharatz

Pippo Inzaghi netted the winner in tonight’s Champions’ League qualifier, but admits the performance left a lot to be desired.

“We got a good result,” said the striker following the 1-0 win over Slovan Liberec, “but let us all prepare for the second leg, because it won’t be easy.”

The Czech Republic side, making its first Champions’ League appearance, struck the woodwork early on and caused real problems for the Rossoneri defence.

“They showed tonight just what they are capable of. If we don’t play in the style fitting Milan, then we risk an early elimination.”

Coach Carlo Ancelotti was more optimistic after the final whistle at the San Siro.

“It is a good result, considering our opponents are already three weeks into their season and came here primarily to defend,” noted the tactician.

“It was a poor first half, but thankfully we made adjustments after the break and improved a great deal. The team is growing, and that is a good sign.”

Milan 1-0 Slovan Liberec
14.8 || scharatz

Inzaghi 68

Milan struggled to earn a slender first leg lead over Slovan Liberec in the Champions' League qualifier thanks to Pippo Inzaghi and an inspirational Manuel Rui Costa.
The Rossoneri had the first opportunity after just 2 minutes when Massimo Ambrosini's free header skimmed just wide of the near post.

Without new buy Rivaldo, the team lined up with Manuel Rui Costa behind Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi.

However, the Rossoneri were incredibly fortunate to survive soon after when Netzmar's shot was deflected off Roque Junior before ricocheting off the post and into the grateful arms of Christian Abbiati. A Cosmin Contra error risked causing another upset at the back, but the opposing striker overhit his chip.

The already debilitated defence was further hit when Roque Junior was substituted due to a shoulder injury. The World Cup winner fell heavily on his left shoulder early on and was replaced by Martin Laursen.

The difference in training schedules was all too clear as Milan looked tired and slow, while Slovan - whose season started three weeks ago - were in better condition.

There was another injury for Abbiati, seen holding his hip, and Brazilian Dida started the second half in goal.

Milan had the first chance of the second period but after a fine Rui Costa run, Serginho ballooned it over the bar. The Brazilian winger was particularly disappointing and his misplaced passes ruined several chances. He was soon replaced by Clarence Seedorf.

At the other end the defence remained distracted as Langer merely scuffed the ball with only the 'keeper to beat.

The presence of Seedorf and Rui Costa on sparkling form boosted the Rossoneri in the final half-hour. The Dutchman brought a save out of the goalkeeper with a fierce effort from the edge of the box.

The pressure was building and on 67 minutes a curling Seedorf cross was tapped in by Pippo Inzaghi following a disastrous error from goalkeeper Hauzr.

Superpippo had another chance moments later, but the shot-stopper bravely dived onto his feet.

On 77 minutes the former Juventus man sprung the offside trap and chested the ball past the 'keeper, but it was cleared off the line by a defender.

Shevchenko was quiet overall, but in the final minute the Ukrainian dribbled past several players only to see his dipping drive rattle the crossbar.

Milan: Abbiati (Dida 46); Contra, Roque Junior (Laursen 25), Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Ambrosini, Rui Costa, Serginho (Seedorf 60); Inzaghi, Shevchenko

Slovan Liberec: Hauzr; Janu, Holenek, Johana, Pilny, Capek (Papousek 69), Langer, Zboncak, Hodur, Slepicka (Ancic 93), Nezmar (Blaha 83)

Ref: Plautz (Aus)

Carlo confident of Milan success
13.8 || scharatz

Carlo Ancelotti assured fans that the Rossoneri will not fail in their Champions’ League clash with Slovan Liberec.

“This match will have the usual tension and pressure,” noted the Coach. “There is a very important prize at the end of this preliminary round.”

“But we suffered too much last season in order to reach this point for us to just throw it away now. The team is not afraid of this challenge and walks into it with great enthusiasm, desire and effort.”

The first leg of the preliminary round will take place Wednesday evening at the San Siro, with the return match in the Czech Republic on August 14.

The team has shown some stuttering pre-season form, particularly in defence, but Ancelotti’s calm demeanour quashed any fears the fans may have.

“We are convinced that the work we did in training was good and physically we have no worries whatsoever,” continued the former Juve tactician.

“Slovan’s season has already started so they are closer to full fitness than we are, but Milan approach this match in ideal conditions, both mentally and physically.”

Although Inter had the worst luck in the draw by being paired with Sporting Lisbon, Ancelotti refuses to play down their own opponents.

“We know Slovan Liberec very well. It’s a difficult team that deserves our full respect. They play organised football, if not particularly fast. Their strength is in the collective rather than individual talents.”

The San Siro side faces further problems in defence as Thomas Helveg and Jose Chamot are injured, while Roque Junior is yet to find form after his World Cup winning summer.

“In training recently we have spent much of our time working on crosses and the entire movement of the team benefited from that. The defence is sorting itself out.”

Ancelotti admitted the starting line-up “is all ready in my mind,” but gave only tantalising glimpses of the squad.

The Coach revealed that Andrea Pirlo and Manuel Rui Costa would not be seen on the field together. A similar fate falls on Dario Simic and Cosmin Contra, Martin Laursen and Roque Junior, Clarence Seedorf and Serginho.

The issue of where to field Rivaldo is not yet a problem as the Brazilian is not fit enough for this match.

“He has just started his fitness preparation,” explained Ancelotti, “and is not ready for tomorrow’s game. I think that he’ll play for a while in Sunday’s Trofeo Berlusconi friendly with Juventus and will be ready for the return game against Slovan.”

Now that he has seen the Extra-Terrestrial in training, the tactician reveals his first impressions of Rivaldo up close.

“He is a very shy person, but practical. His football is simple and does not search for show-stopping moves at all costs.”

For Wednesday’s game Milan will field Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko in front of Manuel Rui Costa.

The Ukrainian’s presence will end speculation linking him with Real Madrid, as he will be unable to play Champions’ League football for any other team this season.

Cosmin Contra partners Simic in defence, while Dida may be forced to replace Christian Abbiati. The goalkeeper is suffering from tonsillitis.

Atletico still in Rui chase
13.8 || scharatz

Atletico Madrid sporting director Paulo Futre is still hoping that he can land Milan playmaker Manuel Rui Costa.

The Portuguese international’s future at the San Siro is still in doubt following the arrival of Rivaldo.

And Futre has hinted to a Spanish newspaper that he is hopeful that there may be some developments in the next few weeks.

"I speak regularly with him and I know that he wants to win with Milan, especially in the Champions’ League," Futre told ‘AS’.

"But we need to see how things develop after the signing of Rivaldo. Rui Costa is a winner but if he is left on the bench too often then he won’t be happy."

Meanwhile, Milan have officially announced their squad numbers for the new season.

Rivaldo has opted for the 11, Tomasson gets the 15 while Fernando Redondo will wear the 5 – his preferred 6 is unavailable after the club retired it for legend Franco Baresi.

Full list: 1 Fiori, 2 Helveg, 3 Maldini, 4 Kaladze, 5 Redondo, 7 Shevchenko, 8 Gattuso, 9 Inzaghi, 10 Rui Costa, 11 Rivaldo, 12 Dida, 13 Ba, 14 Simic, 15 Tomasson, 16 Chamot, 18 Abbiati, 20 Seedorf, 21 Pirlo, 22 Contra, 23 Ambrosini, 24 Laursen, 25 Roque Junior, 27 Serginho, 28 Dalla Bona, 30 Borriello, 32 Brocchi, 83 Aubameyang

Inter in new Serginho link
12.8 || webmaster

Inter are set to launch a bid to land Milan’s Serginho by offering Ivan Cordoba in return, according to reports.

The Nerazzurri are still searching for a left hand sided midfielder and the Brazilian is one option after the club failed to land Kily Gonzalez from Valencia.

Hector Cuper’s club are trying to tempt their city cousins to sell Serginho by offering a central defender in return.

Milan are in the hunt for a stopper after failing to land Fabio Cannavaro or Alessandro Nesta in the last week.

The Colombian international could be sacrificed after Inter signed Cannavaro from Parma but also sealed the signature of Daniele Adani who joined for free from Fiorentina.

However, the proposed deal could collapse if either player is fielded in their respective Champions’ League games this week.

Should they appear then they will be ineligible to play in European competition for the rest of the season if the transfer goes through.

Galliani explains Nesta bid retraction
12.8 || webmaster

Adriano Galliani has explained to the rossonero supporters why the club chose to retract their bid for Alessandro Nesta.

"The sum they were asking, which I shall not disclose was too high for us. For reasons of amortization, we could not go beyond 26 million Euros over a period of 3 years."

"I can also confirm that President Berlusconi never intended to step into the negotiation. I have personally conducted the talks."

"Nesta is a great player, the only one capable of improving our backline, but since we cannot afford the price tag, we will not look to other solutions. We have a strong defence."

"Cragnotti is right! If Manchester United paid 45 million for Ferdinand...surely Nesta is worth at least that."

"The supporters and media will now surely criticize us for a failed transfer market. But, I would be quick to remind them that we acquired two great champions like Rivaldo and Tomasson for free. In defence? We added Simic to an already imposing backline."

"Unless Cragnotti decides to rethink and lower Nesta's price, we can consider this deal concluded."

Contra and Davids suspended
12.8 || webmaster

Milan’s Cosmin Contra and Edgar Davids of Juventus have been handed suspensions following their recent brawl.

The two players were dismissed in a pre-season friendly which the Italian football authorities have decided to act upon.

Contra has been handed a three-match ban, while the Dutchman has received a two-game penalty.

Contra has been handed a longer punishment because he was said to have instigated the incident.

The Romanian acted angrily towards Davids after just four minutes of the Trofeo TIM match following a rash challenge on Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso.

Davids reacted which ignited a mini-brawl on the field. The two were subsequently dismissed even if the heated exchanges continued in the tunnel.

Contra later publicly apologised for the incident.

Both Milan and Juventus have the ability to appeal against the suspensions.

Rui Costa reassures Rossoneri
11.8 || scharatz

Manuel Rui Costa believes the Rossoneri can field their all-star line-up of himself, Rivaldo, Inzaghi and Shevchenko together.

“If the team is set out well,” explained the midfielder, “then we can all play together. A squad becomes strong when it has many players and different ways of going forward.”

“The Milan side we have today has a great deal of quality and quantity, something that makes us feel we are very competitive.”

Many pundits believe that Rui Costa and Andrea Pirlo will be sacrificed following the arrival of Rivaldo, Clarence Seedorf and Samuele Dalla Bona.

“Obviously,” concedes Rui Costa, “eight attacking stars cannot play together, but we can certainly work out a tactical solution that the rest of the team can support.”

This onerous task falls to Carlo Ancelotti, a Coach who up until now has always been considered defensive.

Pre-season friendlies have shown a line-up that is extremely weak at the back, a factor that could preclude this all-attack line-up.

“The goals that Milan conceded this summer do not worry me,” claimed the Portuguese international.

“I was satisfied with our performances as the team is finding its feet and we were able to put into action what we had practised in training.”

“We need to improve in defence,” he conceded, “but I am optimistic looking at the squad at our disposal. All of us have a strong desire to recover from last season.”

The former Fiorentina captain had a worse campaign than most, suffering a succession of injuries punctuated by disappointing performances.

Nonetheless, their transfer campaign – particularly if Alessandro Nesta can complete his £30m move to the San Siro – has made Milan one of the favourites for the Scudetto.

“We have a strong side,” confirms Rui Costa, “but so have Juve, Roma and Inter. Even without Nesta, we have excellent defenders such as Paolo Maldini and Roque Junior.”

The first major objective for the Rossoneri is the preliminary round of the Champions’ League against Czech side Slovan Liberec.

“We are preparing ourselves as best we can for Wednesday’s first leg match. It won’t be a Milan team that is 100% fit,” warned Rui Costa, “but we must get past this hurdle.”

Official: Milan drop Nesta bid
11.8 || scharatz

Milan have released a statement officially ending their negotiations with Lazio for defender Alessandro Nesta.

“Milan would like to point out,” read the statement on their official website this evening, “that Vice-President Adriano Galliani has made an offer of £17m to be paid over three years.”

“Lazio refused this bid and at this point, in accordance with Biancocelesti President Sergio Cragnotti, the negotiations for Nesta can be considered over.”

The news comes following a hesitation on behalf of the Rossoneri in talks for the Italian international.

An initial bid was tabled 24 hours after their main target, Parma captain Fabio Cannavaro, completed a surprise £15m move to rivals Inter.

A reinforcement for the defence was needed and it was claimed that Milan were willing to offer up to £25m for the Azzurri star.

However, following a meeting with President Silvio Berlusconi in Sardinia, the San Siro side decided that Nesta was too expensive.

“We cannot negotiate at a price that is beyond what the current market dictates it should be,” confessed Galliani earlier today.

This leaves Milan without the reinforcement in defence they were hoping for. As Cyril Domoraud has been loaned out to Spanish side Espanyol, it’s likely another experienced player will be brought in.

The main target now appears to be Nesta’s Lazio teammate Jaap Stam. The Dutchman is rated at a far more affordable £13m.

Breaking news: Berlusconi vows to put end to Nesta saga
10.8 || scharatz

In a sudden news flash, AC Milan have revealed that President Berlusconi has decided to personally step in and put an end to the Nesta saga.

"Now I'm going to take care of this, so that we will solve this issue, otherwise it will last forever," said the Italian Prime Minister and Media mogul.

"The Cavaliere dedicated plenty of time to this issue, and he remained in close contact with Galliani," the statemennt went on.

Berlusconi has become less involved in Milan's affairs over the last 5-6 years, but it is well known that when he steps in, he usually gets what he wants.

The richest man in Italy will now make the decision regarding the arrival of Nesta in Milan and all indications seem to point at the close of this affair with Nesta dressed in red-and -black: a fact that will surely confirm Milan as the 'Dream Team' that it once was known to be.

Buffon: Star names not enough
10.8 || scharatz

Gianluigi Buffon has warned Inter and Milan that star names do not guarantee success in Italian football.

“If Milan do take Alessandro Nesta,” noted the Juventus goalkeeper, “it doesn’t make them unbeatable. Even if he is fantastic and Rivaldo needs no introduction.”

The former Parma man made similar comments when he arrived as part of Juve’s £100m spending spree last summer.

“At the start of last season we also discovered how hard it is to assemble a squad, especially as we were considered to be the favourites with our new buys.”

The Bianconeri won the Scudetto on the last day of the season, overtaking Inter in a remarkable late surge.

“We did win,” concedes Buffon, “but the big name stars only got into gear after several months of teething problems.”

Milan are among the favourites to take the title this year, but the Italian international hints at a contradictory transfer policy.

“It was said that Milan had problems in defence, but instead they signed Rivaldo to make their strike force even more powerful and go for all-out entertainment.”

“Obviously,” he added, “if they get Nesta as well then this club can start an era of three or four years of success.”

“But at Juventus we have one more year of teamwork behind us and I am convinced we will be centre stage in all competitions.”

The Turin side had ruled the transfer roost 12 months ago, but this summer seem content with bringing in young players rather than world-renowned stars.

“Who would not have been interested in Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro,” admits Buffon. “But the club simply felt that at this price they were not essential.”

“In any case, we can consider Paolo Montero and Igor Tudor to be new buys in defence, as they hardly ever played last season due to injury.”

The young goalkeeper was nonetheless hoping to team up with his former Parma teammate Fabio Cannavaro.

“I am happy for him,” he said of the £15m Inter signing, “as Fabio can finally return to fighting for top trophies.”

“Inter wanted to give a show of their strength by reinforcing the team. The fact that they are competitive gave a clear message to those who weren’t sure whether or not to stay.”

The last comment was a clear hint at Ronaldo, who this week expressed his disappointment with the Nerazzurri set-up.

Buffon concluded by looking towards his own team and the new arrivals that have bulked up the squad.

“Antonio Chimenti is such a strong goalkeeper that he could threaten my place, while I never knew Mauro Camoranesi was so creative.”

Nesta's Milan move "hours away"
10.8 || scharatz

There are reports that Alessandro Nesta will sign for Milan this evening after a new £30m bid from President Silvio Berlusconi.

The club patron – who is also Italy’s Prime Minister and a media magnate – offered to put in the necessary funds himself in order to strengthen their defence.

“We cannot negotiate at these figures,” admitted Vice-President Adriano Galliani. “The request is too high, but President Berlusconi will be the one to decide.”

On Friday evening it was claimed that there was a difference of 5m Euros - £3m - between the offer and the request.

It is a minor quibble when discussing a move worth almost £30m and it is expected to be completed later today.

Lazio Coach Roberto Mancini also hinted at a development this weekend when he spoke with the press after Friday’s 3-2 friendly defeat at Blackburn Rovers.

“I hope that this was not Nesta’s final match with Lazio,” confessed the tactician. “At the moment he’s here, and I hope he can continue to wear this shirt.”

As the Biancocelesti will take on Spurs on Sunday evening, it appears obvious that a deal is imminent.

It would be the transfer coup of the summer as after snatching Rivaldo on a free transfer, the Rossoneri would take Nesta following lengthy negotiations with both Juventus and Inter.

The other San Siro side completed a shock swoop for Fabio Cannavaro this week, a player who up until then had been Milan’s main target.

Meanwhile, Cyril Domoraud’s agent is in Spain to discuss his loan move to Espanyol. The Iberian club will have an option to make the switch permanent at the end of the season.

This would not be the first time that Berlusconi has made a personal intervention to complete a major signing.

Last summer the President resolved negotiations with Fiorentina by bidding £27m – a new club record – for Manuel Rui Costa.

Rivaldo wanted Flavio in Milan
9.8 || webmaster

Spanish daily AS have reported that Rivaldo was very keen to see fellow countryman Flavio Conceicao join him in Milan.

The Real Madrid midfielder was linked with a move to the San Siro a few weeks ago, and it has now been reported that Rivaldo suggested to Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani that the former Deportivo man would be a good player to sign.

Galliani spoke to Real about the possibility of a move, but the player's wage demands would have exceeded the Rossoneri's budget.

Galliani apparently explained to Rivaldo that the move was unrealistic given what they'd just shelled out to sign the playmaker.

Helveg: "Cannavaro would have been helpful"
9.8 || webmaster

Milan defender Thomas Helveg has admitted that Fabio Cannavaro would have been an asset to his side but believes that the Rossoneri are more than covered at centre-back.

At the beginning of the week it looked very much as if Cannavaro would be joining Milan, only for the Rossoneri's neighbours Inter to swoop in and make the £15 million signing.

"OK, Cannavaro might have been helpful for us," Helveg told the club's official site. "But I think that we can do great things anyway thanks to Roque Junior, Laursen and Domoraud. These are all players who are worthy of wearing an AC Milan Jersey".

Maldini puts up case for the defence
9.8 || webmaster

Milan captain Paolo Maldini says he can't understand why everyone is predicting that the Rossoneri will struggle at the back this season.

There seems little doubt that following the signing of Rivaldo, Milan will be an irresistible attacking force this campaign, but many are pointing to their suspect back-line as a reason why things may not go so well this season.

However, Maldini disagrees with the critics.

"I really do not know why you (the media) keep on saying that we are not as good as some other teams, especially in defence," he was quoted as saying on the club's official site."Last year we finished as the 3rd best defence of the league. And this year is going to be even better."

Lazio to hold on to Nesta
8.8 || scharatz

Lazio President Sergio Cragnotti has insisted that Alessandro Nesta will stay after Inter signed Fabio Cannavaro.

The central defender was heavily linked with a move away from the Olimpico with Inter his likely destination.

However, the Nerazzurri’s capture of Cannavaro has brought an end to the Nesta saga according to Cragnotti.

"Nesta will definitely stay here with us and that is for certain," he said. "Inter have a very strong side after signing Cannavaro but we have an even better player and we are keeping hold of him."

Some reports on Thursday had claimed that Juventus and Milan could possibly make a late attempt to sign the capital captain, but Cragnotti maintains that the squad will remain as it is.

"The start of the new season is very close and Coach Roberto Mancini will have this side to work with," he added.

"I can also confirm that we have not received any concrete offers for Hernan Crespo or Claudio Lopez."

The two Argentines had been linked with a number of sides in Spain and England but now look set to stay in Rome.

Milan set for Nesta swoop?
8.8 || scharatz

After losing Fabio Cannavaro to rivals Inter, Milan are considering a multi-million pound approach for Lazio’s Alessandro Nesta.

The Rossoneri were hotly tipped to reach agreement with Parma for Cannavaro before their city cousins swooped for the £15m international last night.

That development has now led to speculation suggesting that the Rossoneri are set to make a bid to land Nesta.

The Milan giants are desperately searching for a quality central defender after a number of pre-season friendlies have underlined a weakness at the back.

Milan had stated earlier this summer that they were not in the chase to land Nesta because of the costs involved.

However, with the new season on the horizon, Milan officials are said to be seriously considering making a move for the stopper.

Nesta had been heavily linked with a move to Inter but the Nerazzurri failed to reach agreement with Lazio over the fee.

Juventus had also held a number of talks with the Olimpico giants but they seem overloaded with central defenders with Lilian Thuram, Paolo Montero, Mark Iuliano, Ciro Ferrara, Salvatore Fresi and Igor Tudor already at the club.

Nesta is valued at around £30m and a proposed Milan offer would probably consist of a player plus cash offer.

Rivaldo: I’ve made right choice
7.8 || scharatz

Rivaldo was officially presented as a Milan player on Wednesday convinced that he had chosen the right club.

The Brazilian has arrived in Italy after his contract with Barcelona was terminated a year before it was set to expire.

"A lot of clubs wanted me, but I see the enthusiasm of the people here and I believe that I have made the right choice by selecting Milan," he said.

"At Barcelona I didn’t feel comfortable anymore and to be here is like starting from scratch, with a new stimulus."

The 30-year-old has been a target for Italian clubs for a number of seasons and is immediately focused on winning with his new side.

"The Italian championship is much more difficult that the Spanish League. But I am here to win the Scudetto and I think it is possible to win the Champions’ League too.

"Despite the fact that I am 30 and have just won the World Cup, I am still hungry for victories. And I’ve always been a winner."

When asked how he would liked to be used by Coach Carlo Ancelotti, Rivaldo maintained that he would do what was required.

"I’m a player that makes sacrifices for the team and that won’t change while I’m here. It will be up to the Coach to decide what to do with me and what position to select me.

"There are no problems for me. I just look to give my best always, no matter what position I am told to play in."

Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani was obviously pleased with the capture of the former Deportivo La Coruna star.

He said: "He is the best player in the world and completing his signing is a dream come true seeing as we have been chasing him for the last three years."

Inter capture Cannavaro - official
7.8 || scharatz

Inter have officially confirmed that Fabio Cannavaro is about to sign for the Nerazzurri, beating competition from Milan and Juventus.

The official Inter website revealed the shock news late Wednesday evening ahead of the Trofeo Birra Moretti tournament against Juventus and Chelsea.

“At this moment,” read the statement, “Fabio Cannavaro’s move from Parma to Inter is in the final stages.”

The news came as a surprise to the Italian press, as up until this evening only Juve and Milan had been earmarked as contenders for the Azzurri captain.

The San Siro side had been in talks with Alessandro Nesta for several months, but could not reach an agreement with Lazio for the £37m-rated defender.

Instead it appears that Coach Hector Cuper has settled on Italian international Cannavaro as a suitable reinforcement for the defence.

Parma had demanded £25m for the 28-year-old, but Juve and Milan had been unwilling to go above £15m.

OFFICIAL: Kutuzov loaned to Sporting
6.8 || webmaster

MILANO - AC Milan announces that Vitaly Kutuzov has gone out on loan to Sporting Lisbon. The spell chosen for the Belorussian forward, as it happened with Massimo Donati and Parma, is the simple loan, without any option of a permanent deal for the Portuguese club.

Juve back in Cannavaro chase
6.8 || scharatz

Juventus have dived back into the race to sign Fabio Cannavaro, sparking a new bidding war with Milan.

Bianconeri transfer guru Luciano Moggi met with Parma director Arrigo Sacchi this afternoon to discuss the captain’s £27m move.

However, the recent fall in market prices and lack of strong offers may allow Juventus to push the price-tag down to as little as £14m if reports are to be believed.

Juve and Roma had been the main contenders for the new Azzurri captain, but in recent months Milan have taken centre stage as the only club still showing interest.

Poor pre-season performances against Bayern Munich and Liverpool highlighted the Rossoneri’s need for a central defender and Cannavaro is the perfect solution to their problems.

Milan will meet with Parma on Wednesday to table their bid in reaction to Juve’s latest swoop.

The San Siro side is on good terms with Parma following the loan move of Under-21 international midfielder Massimo Donati.

However, the main problem remains Cannavaro’s £3.2m wage demands, more than the salary cap of £3m put in place this summer.

It’s believed that issue will be resolved as new buy Rivaldo, who signed on a free transfer from Barcelona, has already broken the salary cap.

Rivaldo touches down in Milan
5.8 || webmaster

Brazilian playmaker Rivaldo has finally touched down at Milan airport.

He was, however, immediately led onto a bus parked on the runway, meaning fans didn't get a chance to greet him.

He will attend a medical before officially being presented later this week.

He had earlier put back his arrival in Milan because he wanted to say goodbye to the people of Barcelona.

Galliani: "Rilvaldo will enhance Serie A"
5.8 || webmaster

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani believes that new signing Rivaldo will benefit the whole of Serie A.

"I'm delighted that we've managed to sign a real champion like him," said Galliani.

"He will not only benefit this club but also Italian football in general as our game needed revitalising."

Rivaldo watched from the stands as the Rossoneri picked up the wooden spoon in Real Madrid's centenary tournament with a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool.

Donati keen to make Milan pay
5.8 || webmaster

Parma's newest signing Massimo Donati says he hopes to make Milan regret loaning him out for the rest of the season.

"This is my chance to show them that they were all wrong to get rid of me," he said.

"This is my chance to get back to where I was two seasons ago when I was close to getting an international call-up.

"I'm really enthusiastic about joining Parma for this reason and I must thank (Parma coach) Prandelli for this opportunity. He will certainly help me develop as a player."

Milan 1:2 Liverpool
4.8 || scharatz

Milan fell to their second consecutive defeat in the Santiago Bernabeu tournament in Madrid as defensive errors let Liverpool through.

There were sweeping changes from yesterday’s unlucky 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, including the return of Paolo Maldini from injury.

Pre-season worries in defence proved to be founded as former Inter duo Cyril Domoraud and Dario Simic were particularly disappointing in the first half.

Croatian international Simic scored a spectacular own goal from Stephen Gerrard’s harmless free kick, while the defender was again at fault for the Milan Baros header that doubled Liverpool’s lead.

Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko had good opportunities, but Jon Dahl Tomasson wasted two excellent chances with only the ‘keeper to beat.

The Dane would have tapped into an open goal on 55 minutes, but Traore’s sliding tackle saved the day.

Moments later the World Cup hero finally hit the back of the net by deflecting in Cosmin Contra’s effort.

The weak defence was again pierced by Gerrard, but Dida did well to fingertip the ball over the bar.

Milan had by far the better of the second half, but Chris Kirkland made fine stops on Serginho and Borriello to hold on to the win.

Milan 1-2 Liverpool

Scorers: Simic og 32, Baros 37, Tomasson 57

Milan: Dida; Simic (Aubameyang 46), Domoraud (Laursen 46), Maldini, Kaladze; Contra (Ba 63), Pirlo (Serginho 66), Ambrosini, Seedorf; Shevchenko, Tomasson (Borriello 74)

Liverpool: Kirkland; Henchoz (Carragher 46), Hyypia, Traore, Babbel (Riise 81); Gerrard (Murphy 71), Barmby (Diouf 74), Biscan (Hamann 57); Smicer; Heskey, Baros

Ref: Mejia Davila (Spa)

Send your fan photos to AC Milan Online
4.8 || scharatz

We would to inform you that AC Milan Online started a new section in the photo gallery called "Fans".
That section will include pictures of fans on Milan games. We will start with the Rangers-Milan game where we had 2 of our members: ChelseaBear and Scharatz.
If you would like to have your pictures from some of the Milan games on our site, you can e-mail them on and please inlcude a short description with each picture (you can add your name, age, location etc).
Also, if you are planning to go to some Milan games in the future, you can also promote this site as ChelseaBear and Scharatz did. And make sure you take picture and send it to us.

The Management team

Atletico swoop for Rui Costa
3.8 || scharatz

Atletico Madrid have confirmed they are preparing a new bid to take Manuel Rui Costa to La Liga.

President Jesus Gil y Gil told ‘Radio Marca’, “Negotiations are ongoing. We are not giving up on the Portuguese star and I am confident that in the next few days we will prevail.”

Rui Costa’s position at Milan has been increasingly shaky over the last few months. A succession of injuries prevented the former Fiorentina man living up to his £27m price tag.

With the arrival of new buys Rivaldo, Clarence Seedorf and Chelsea’s Samuele Dalla Bona, added to Under-21 international Andrea Pirlo, it has become more likely that the veteran will be sold this summer.

Atletico Madrid made their interest in the player clear from the start after an initial contact from Galatasaray.

The Spaniards already hold a strong rapport with the Rossoneri as this season four players – Demetrio Albertini, Jose Mari, Fabricio Coloccini and Javi Moreno – have made the move to Madrid.

Atletico, promoted back into the first division this season, would prefer to take Rui Costa on loan but on the same wages that he currently commands from Milan.

It is reported that phone contact has already been made between Rui Costa and Atletico Madrid’s Portuguese director of sport, Paulo Futre.

AC Milan 1- 2 Bayern Munich - match report
3.8 || webmaster

Clarence Seedorf was particularly impressive despite Milan’s unlucky defeat to Bayern Munich in the Santiago Bernabeu tournament.

The result sets up a consolation final match with Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool on Sunday evening.

“We are growing as a team and did not deserve to lose tonight,” commented Coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“We did everything we could against one of the strongest teams in Europe and certainly left a good impression on the fans. It’s all going according to plan.”

Rivaldo was in the stands to watch his future teammates take on Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.

Milan were preparing for the Champions’ League qualifying round against Slovan Liberec and already looked impressive with greater attacking flair.

Manuel Rui Costa played behind front two Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi, but it was former Inter defender Dario Simic who set up the opener after just ten minutes.

The Croat’s intelligent cutback was powered in on the half-volley by a particularly on-form Inzaghi.

The equaliser came twelve minutes later with a fierce Michael Tarnat free kick from the edge of the box. It was a relatively tense encounter and Niko Kovac was fortunate not to see red for an elbow on Gennaro Gattuso.

Milan began to tire after the break so Clarence Seedorf, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Massimo Ambrosini stepped onto the field for Serginho, Shevchenko and Christian Brocchi.

Seedorf made an immediate impact and one of his trademark piledrivers thumped the near post with goalkeeper Oliver Kahn beaten.

Soon after the Dutchman brought a desperate save out of the World Cup runner-up with another powerful effort.

Milan seemed to have the upper hand, but another set-piece – a curling Mehmet Scholl free kick – took Christian Abbiati by surprise.

There was further controversy moments later when Inzaghi was brought down running on goal, but Salihadzimic was only booked.

Kahn held out under a late siege from Simic, Andrea Pirlo and Seedorf, setting up Milan’s tie with Liverpool. Bayern take on Real Madrid in the Final.

Milan 1-2 Bayern Munich

Scorers: Inzaghi 10, Tarnat 22, Scholl 76

Milan: Abbiati; Simic, Laursen, Domoraud, Kaladze; Brocchi (Ambrosini), Gattuso, Rui Costa (Pirlo), Serginho (Seedorf); Inzaghi (Borriello 78), Shevchenko (Tomasson)

Rivaldo pledges 'Samba Soccer'
3.8 || scharatz

Rivaldo has promised to bring Brazilian flair to Milan’s all-attack line-up this coming season before waving a controversial goodbye to Barcelona.

“It will be a Milan side that dances to the Samba,” said the former World Player of the Year in a press conference in Spain.

“If they signed me then it must mean the Rossoneri want to play more attacking football and I am certain the choice I made is the right one.”

Rivaldo has not been officially presented to the press by his new club because of outstanding financial obligations in Spain.

These issues have now been clarified and the Selecao star can wear the Rossoneri shirt on Monday or Tuesday.

“I expect a warm greeting from Milan,” explained the man nicknamed ‘The Extra-Terrestrial’. “So far I have only spoken with Serginho, but with fellow Brazilians Roque Junior and Dida in the side I’m sure we’ll make them all dance to the Samba.”

“More importantly,” he added, “I think my arrival signifies that Milan will play very offensive, attacking football. We certainly have the players to do this successfully.”

Rivaldo is added to a list of stars that includes Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Manuel Rui Costa, Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is not known for his attacking tendencies, but Rivaldo assures this will not stand in their way.

“I know Ancelotti because he has a great reputation. I also know that he already wanted me when he was still the tactician at Parma. This is why I must repay his faith in me.”

The Brazilian left the Blaugrana in acrimonious circumstances when his contract, which had one more year left to run, was terminated by mutual consent to allow a free transfer to the San Siro.

"I chose Milan because it was the best option presented to me after my contract with Barcelona was rescinded," he explained in a press conference.

The World Cup winner had also been in talks with Tottenham Hotspur, but preferred the San Siro to White Hart Lane.

"I hope that I can become for the Rossoneri fans what I have been for the Barcelona supporters."

In five years at the Spanish side he had become a hero to the 'tifosi', but confirmed that his difficult rapport with Coach Luis Van Gaal had been behind his decision to leave.

“I do not get on with him and he does not get on with me. I hope Van Gaal goes on to win the title with Barcelona,” he added bitterly, “because he has no more excuses now that Rivaldo is no longer there to ruin his precious tactics.”

"President Gaspart also told a lie when he said I had requested 15 days for a holiday. I have always been professional and had respect and affection for Barcelona."

"The club did not want me anymore, so from today onwards I shall be only a Milan player."

Incorporating Rivaldo into Milan's attack
2.8 || Rab

Incorporating Rivaldo into Milan's attack

Post World Cup, the summer had been astonishingly slow, with the worldwide financial crisis in football resulting in a transfer market quieter than an Amish disco. The TV rights boom was proven to be well and truly over, and as a direct consequence the era of telephone number salaries and fees had come to a crashing halt. Milan had corresponded to the new trend of "sensible" transfer market acquisitions, signing only John Dahl Tomasson on a free from Feyenoord, Sam Dalla Bona, a promising Chelsea reserve and two rejects from our ever friendly city neighbours, Clarence Seedorf and Dario Simic. As is annually the case, Adriano Galliani declared that this was the conclusion of the transfer campaign, and that no more money would be spent.

Then Barcelona released Rivaldo.

It came completely out of the blue, a player who a year previously had been valued at over £30 million now suddenly available on a free. Perhaps it was because of Barcelona's crippling financial problems, perhaps it was because of the animosity between the ridiculously skilful yet enigmatic Brazilian and Louis van Gaal. Almost certainly it was a combination of both. But Milan were quick to act. Although a few Premiership sides expressed their interest, and Luis Figo released a tantalising appeal for Real Madrid to sign him, in the end his common sense (and our bank balance) prevailed and he opted for Milanello.

But his arrival, despite the fanfare, is not without it's difficulties. For a start, Rivaldo is not a good, honest, hard working consumnate professional. Rather, at times he can be a whining, confrontational, petulant cheat prone to fall outs with staff and team-mates. His spell at Barcelona was marked by a number of fall outs with van Gaal, the only coach willing or able to stand up to him. Llorenc Serra Ferrer and Carlos Rexach were both too concerned with preserving their own positions to irritate the superstar. I remember several instances when he openly criticised his coach. In 1999, having scored at Camp Nou, he tore off his "Rivaldo 11" shirt to reveal underneath another Barca strip, this one bearing the number 10 of his close friend Giovanni, whom van Gaal had benched. Now, can you imagine a similar situation arising if Serginho was dropped by Carletto? Such a move could potentially cause chaos in the dressing room. Van Gaal was surrounded by Dutch acolytes whom he personally signed at Barcelona, but I am unsure whether Carletto enjoys similar backing. In his previous jobs at Reggiana, Parma and Juventus, he has had to deal with very few troublemakers along Rivaldo's line. The only examples I can think of are Zola, whom he had sold, and Inzaghi, who took a huff after being dropped but now appears to have mellowed a sizable amount. Can Ancelotti handle a superstar like Rivaldo? As Kent Brockman would say, only time will tell. Let's just hope we don't turn into a Bayern-esque "FC Hollywood" collection of squabbling egos.

But perhaps the most obvious question to be asked is; where will he fit in? At present, Milan's attacking midfield and forward options are Andriy Shevchenko, on of the world's most complete strikers, Pippo Inzaghi, an established Italian international, John Dahl Tomasson, a new signing who had a very good World Cup, Manuel Rui Costa, last summer's big signing and Andrea Pirlo, a young Italian prodigy who was one of the stars of last season. The possibility of him playing on the left wing, where he began his career, is a non-starter, as he has already used the ceremonial occasion of an Footballer Of The Year ceremony to denounce any possibility of him ever playing there again. So some way has to be found to incorporate the £80k a week superstar. I have made several suggestions beneath, taking it for granted that we will either play 4-3 or 3-4 in defence/midfield. Either way, it is irrelevant to this discussion.


This option looks far and away the most likely. Rivaldo could simply move into the slot behind the front two occupied last season by Rui Costa and Pirlo. Carlo has always liked this system, as it maintains a solid forward partnership (Sheva and Pippo were showing encouraging signs of developing a partnership last season) and allows a playmaker room to create. He has used this system in the past at Juventus (although not Parma, where he sold the aforementioned Zola) with Zinedine Zidane supplying a front pairing of Del Piero and Trezuguet/Inzaghi. It's a quite conventional way of using a skilful player in Italian football, and as we are all aware tactical conservatism plays a huge role in Carletto's vision of calcio. However, there are some negatives to this tactic. Firstly, it does not involve using either Rui Costa, whom we forked out £28 million for only last summer, and Pirlo, seen by many as the next Gianni Rivera. Giving up on Rui Costa seems a little premature, as although his first season at Milanello resembled a dog's breakfast, he was affected a great deal by injuries. Pirlo also deserves regular football at the age of 23. In addition, Rivaldo has rarely played in such a constrained role during the course of his career. Those elastic band legs were built for dribbling, not sideways passing. All the best memories of him involve running at defenders, something he isn't supposed to do when Sheva and Pippo are screaming for a killer pass. Also this position highlights his greatest weaknesses; tendencies to be selfish, over-elaborate and to dwell on the ball. The role of a player in this position is to lay the ball on to the strikers, something Rui Costa and Pirlo at their best do superbly. Rivaldo is supreme at beating defenders and scoring, but laying the ball on? Hmmmm.

Rui Costa/Pirlo

This option involves playing Rivaldo as a second striker in a sort of Del Piero role, with Rui Costa or Pirlo acting as the playmaker behind him and Shevchenko. Before anyone sniggers about Rivaldo's suitability for such a role, it's worth recalling that this was one of his most effective positions for Barcelona. It also gives him the freedom to drop off the attack and move into space, creating more room for Shevchenko to work his magic. Plus, he would be in a better position to score regularly, and there are few better ways of justifying such a sizeable financial outlay to the management than knocking in loads of goals. The formation also allows Rui Costa to play in the position we bought him for, and which he is undoubtedly most effective in. The best season he had at Fiorentina, 2000/01 under the lamented Fatih Terim, involved him supplying a front line of Nuno Gomes and Enrico Chiesa. That form needs to be rediscovered if his career at Milanello isn't going to be a washout. Also, the formation could benefit Sheva. Defenders traditrionally focus on the attacking player they see as most likely to hurt them, something which has severly constricted the Ukranian in the past. However, most teams will look to double mark Rivaldo, allowing Sheva more space and freedom to score. But this plan is not without it's negatives. For a start, Rivaldo is a scorer of great goals rather than a great goalscorer. He scored plenty of goals in Spain, but they were against weak defences in a side constructed so that every match would finish 5-3 win or lose. Camp Nou's wide, manicured lawn is also much more conducive to dribbling than the San Siro mudhole. So the question needs to be asked; will Sheva-Rivaldo be a better partnership than Sheva-Pippo. As mentioned earlier, our strikers looked to have developed a reasonable understanding last season, and will the usually conservative Carletto wish to change that. Remember, it took him more than half a season to realise that David Trezuguet would score more often than Pippo, something that cost Juventus a Scudetto and arguably Carlo his job. Inzaghi is a different sort of player to Rivaldo, apart from a shared ability to roll around on the ground infuriating opposing supporters. He is a proven goalscorer in Serie A no matter what anyone's opinion is on him. Personally, I don't like him, but I can see that he has a more than useful record. He would benefit more from Rui Costa's service than Rivaldo, who would be more akin to go and search for the ball himself. The Sheva-Pippo partnership guarantees at least 35 Serie A goals every season if they stay fit. Would a Sheva-Rivaldo duo be guaranteed to beat that. Factor the newly arrived Tomasson, a specialist in that position, into the equation and you are left with a dilemma.

Rui Costa-Rivaldo

This is the role Rivaldo played during the World Cup, as part of the now feted "3 R's" triumvirate alongside Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. This position gave him plenty of freedom to both create and score, which he did with aplomb on several occasions. That trio dragged an otherwise relatively mediocre Brazil side to glory, and the formation made full use of their talents. Shevchenko is probably the player closest to Ronaldo in terms of technique in the world, and if the Brazilian was able to score eight times in seven games at the head of this formation, then what could our Ukranian do over the course of a season. Two creative midfielders would force an opposing four man defence to adjust dramatically, as they would have only one orthodox striker to mark. A similar event resulted in the shattering of English football's illusions at Wembley in 1953, when the deep lying centre forward Hidegkuti destroyed the hosts. This system allows attacking midfielders freedom to go further forward and support the attack. Remember Rivaldo's goal against England in Shizuoka? He was able to act as a second striker when Ronaldinho had the ball, get into position for the pass and score. The system could also play to Shevchenko's greatest strength, namely his pace in getting behind defences, which Ronaldo exemplified several times. Again, this system is not without it's flaws. For a start, Rui Costa is not Ronaldinho. Whereas the PSG star possesses searing pace and dribbling ability, Rui is more subtle. He is normally more deep lying, and more likely to play the ball sideays in search of an opening than the direct Brazilian. He could possibly fit into this role, but with some difficulty and it would be a struggle to bring out the best in him. The other major difficulty would involve Shevchenko. Throughout his career he has played with a partner up front, firstly with Rebrov in that marvellous Dynamo Kiev side of the late 1990's and then Bierhoff and Inzaghi at Milanello. How quickly could he adapt to playing the role of a lone forward, and would he be successful? His style of play suggests he could do so, but would Carletto be willing to try? Perhaps an alternative to these problems is at hand; play Shevchenko in the Ronaldinho role with Inzaghi as the lone forward. This isn't as ridiculous as it sounds, as Inzaghi's greatest asset is his movement off the ball, something of primary importance in this role. Sheva has the pace and skill to act as an attacking midfielder. Coming from deep, he would have more oppurtunities to score than the man-marked straitjacket which he finds himself in up front.

These are the options which I think are valid, but Carlo will surely make up his own mind without my help. He is embedded in Italian tactical conservatism; I'm merely giving an insight into the possibilities offered by Rivaldo's signing. Please give me some replies with your own ideas.

Shev untouchable says Milan
2.8 || webmaster

Italian giants Milan have maintained that another one of their attacking talents is not for sale.

Just days after the San Siro club revealed that playmaker Andrea Pirlo was not available for transfer, the Rossoneri have now moved to dismiss claims on Andriy Shevchenko’s proposed departure.

The Ukraine international has been linked with a move to Real Madrid lately but his current club will not accept any offer – no matter what bid is tabled.

"We haven’t been in talks with Real Madrid for Shevchenko," said Milan Vice-president Adriano Galliani. "In any case he is not for sale."

Speculation recently had suggested that at least one of their attackers would leave the club after they signed Rivaldo.

The arrival of the Brazilian now means that Coach Carlo Ancelotti has a host of attacking options to keep happy this season.

Apart from Shevchenko and Rivaldo, the club also have Manuel Rui Costa, Andrea Pirlo, Pippo Inzaghi, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Clarence Seedorf all battling for three places.

OFFICIAL: Donati loaned to Parma
2.8 || webmaster

Parma have completed the loan signing of Massimo Donati from Italian giants Milan.

The Under-21 international has been on the Gialloblu transfer wish list for some time and negotiations have seen him sign a one-year deal with the Tardini side.

The central midfielder moved to the San Siro last summer from Atalanta but only made 17 appearances in Serie A last term, mostly as a substitute.

However, Donati’s move south could be a significant step which may see Fabio Cannavaro move in the other direction.

The Italian international defender is wanted by the Rossoneri but a major stumbling block still exists.

Milan want to take the ex-Napoli man on loan before buying him outright next summer. An offer Parma and Cannavaro are not keen on.

Reports suggest that talks over Cannavaro will continue on Monday once the Parma side return from the Amsterdam tournament.

I'm not finished roars Rui
1.8 || webmaster

Manuel Rui Costa has hit back at the critics who have been questioning his ability over the last 12 months.

The Portuguese international signed for the Rossoneri last summer in a £27m move from Fiorentina.

But his first campaign at the San Siro was one to forget as injuries and a lack of form saw question marks arise over his worth.

However, the player performed well in Wednesday’s Trofeo TIM against Juventus and Inter as he proved he could be a significant player in the new campaign.

"My performances last night demonstrated that my cycle as a footballer has not come to an end. If I am at this club it is because I know and the club is aware of what I can do," he said.

There has been speculation in recent weeks that Rui Costa could be sold, especially after the signing of Rivaldo.

However, Milan’s many attacking options will be a benefit rather than a hindrance according to the former Benfica star.

"I don’t think that Coach Carlo Ancelotti will have too many problems in dealing with his many offensive selections. If anything it will make life easier for him," he said.

The former Viola legend also commented on the problems at his former club who went into bankruptcy today.

"I hope that Fiorentina doesn’t disappear for good," he reflected. "I know the city well and I know what drama they will be going through."

Donati the key to Cannavaro
1.8 || webmaster

Milan have confirmed that Massimo Donati may be loaned out to Parma in a first step towards taking Fabio Cannavaro to the San Siro.

After snatching Rivaldo from the jaws of other giant clubs last week, many believed that the Rossoneri had completed their transfer campaign.

However, their interest in the Parma captain has not wavered and Juve’s decision to pull out of the race has further favoured the Milan side.

At this stage the official club website has only confirmed that Donati is in advanced talks for a switch to the Stadio Tardini.

The Under-21 international was requested as part of the original bid for Cannavaro, but the Rossoneri had been unwilling to let go of the midfielder.

If Donati has indeed been released to Parma, then the final stumbling block in their move for Azzurri captain Cannavaro appears to have been removed.

The £27m-rated defender would also stay within the Milan budget as Rivaldo arrived on a free transfer after ending his contract with Barcelona a year early.

Cannavaro - and Donati - would in fact move on a loan deal with the right to buy outright at the end of the campaign.

This type of deal would allow both clubs to register the money as part of their current balance sheet while only paying out next year.

Cannavaro would cost Donati plus £12m cash, while his contract demands are £3m per season.

It is reported that this would not interfere with the salary cap set this summer, as half of the contract would be registered as 'image rights' rather than a wage.

Davids and Contra involved in locker room fight
1.8 || webmaster

Edgar Davids and Cosmin Contra were allegedly involved in a punch-up after both players were sent off in yesterday's Trofeo TIM clash between Milan and Juventus.

Davids was guilty of a bad foul on Rino Gattuso, Contra reacted angrily and both were sent-off.

The pair apparently continued the bust up on the way to the locker room. The unsavoury scenes have rarely been witnessed before in Serie A according to reports.

"I'm sorry, things like this should never occur on and outside the pitch, but sometimes you lose your temper," Gattuso told the Corriere dello Sport. "During the match nothing serious had really happened. However, now let's stop speaking about that incident, better forget all about it."

Moreno in Milan blast
1.8 || webmaster

Ex-Milan striker Javi Moreno, now back in Spain with Atletico Madrid, claims a fortnight with Atletico is worth a season with Milan. "I’ve been here for 15 days and already I'm very happy with life. I've been given more here than I got in a year with Milan. I never got the chance to play in Italy. A striker never gets bored, but it's obvious you feel happier in some places rather than others," he said.

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