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The Archive

August 2007

Ancelotti: Dedicated to Puerta
31.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti has dedicated the European Super Cup to Antonio Puerta, the Sevilla player who died this week.

“Of course, we dedicate this trophy to Puerta. The game was played despite the atmosphere of great sadness. It was very difficult for all of us, but it was decided it had to go ahead and so we played.”

Milan won the trophy 3-1 at the Stade Louis II in Monaco and all the players had Puerta’s name under the number on their jerseys.

The 22-year-old Spaniard died this week after suffering multiple cardiac arrests, starting from his collapse on the pitch against Getafe on Saturday evening.

“As for the football, Sevilla are a tough team and we were under pressure for the first half-hour, but then found our way and managed to turn the game around,” continued Ancelotti.

The Rossoneri were trailing 1-0 at half-time to Renato’s goal, but turned it all around through Pippo Inzaghi, Marek Jankulovski and Kaka.

“We were a little held back in the first half and relaxed a lot more after the break, playing better football.”

Milan win their fifth European Super Cup – more than any other club – after victories in 1989, 1990, 1994 and 2003.

“We have had a good start to the season, now the ‘real’ campaign kicks off and we are convinced we are competitive on all fronts.”

Inzaghi’s brace secured the Champions League trophy in Athens back in May against Liverpool and 2007-08 started the same way, with Super Pippo on target in a Final, his 59th European goal.

“Inzaghi is an Immortal, especially when it comes to goals. He’s always there on the scoresheet.”

The celebrations after the match were very muted and all the Milan players went under the Sevilla end to applaud the fans, who reciprocated, in a moment of rare unity in football.

Sevilla star Enzo Maresca also praised the Italian side for the way they reacted to the tragic events of the past few days.

“The club Milan proved themselves up to the situation and behaved impeccably throughout this week,” said the former Juventus midfielder.

“I think that there are no words for what we feel. We tried to do our duty and managed that. It was a shame not to win, but the important thing was to play. How it went was almost irrelevant.”

European SuperCup: AC Milan 3:1 Sevilla - match report
31.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Renato 15 (S), Inzaghi 56 (M), Jankulovski 62 (M), Kaka 87 (M)

Milan have won the European Super Cup 3-1 over Sevilla on an emotional night in Monaco, including Marek Jankulovski’s stunning strike.

Both clubs have been here before, but this was a game like no other. Tragedy hung over the 2007 European Super Cup after the death of 22-year-old Sevilla player Antonio Puerta this week from multiple cardiac arrests.

UEFA and Sevilla insisted the tie go ahead “as a tribute to Puerta” and all the team shirts had ‘Puerta’ written on them under the squad numbers. The minute’s absolute silence and black armbands also marked the deceased player.

Sevilla were hoping to win this trophy for the second consecutive year, while Champions League holders Milan aimed for a record fifth triumph. Ronaldo and Paolo Maldini were injured, but Nelson Dida recovered to start and Emerson had his first spot on the bench. Christian Poulsen surprisingly played central defence for the Spaniards.

In the first three minutes a woeful Massimo Oddo clearance was struck wide by Renato, but Milan went even closer moments later.

Pippo Inzaghi sprung the offside trap on Clarence Seedorf’s through ball and cut back past Poulsen, but Kaka pounced and thumped the upright from six yards. The Brazilian – top scorer in last year’s Champions League and this week voted Player of the Tournament – should perhaps have left it to Inzaghi.

Rino Gattuso was first into the book for a late tackle on Jesus Navas, while Oddo’s first touch let him down on an inspired Andrea Pirlo pass over the defence.

It was Sevilla who took the lead against the run of play. Marek Jankulovski gave away a needless corner and from that kick Dida was stuck in no man’s land, allowing Renato to prod it over the line from point-blank range. The entire Sevilla side came together in a circle and pointed at the sky, honouring their fallen teammate.

The Rossoneri defence was struggling with several misplaced passes and Duda just failed to get on the end of a Freddie Kanoute’ assist. There was absolute chaos on 23 minutes when a couple of defensive errors left Kanoute’ clear on goal and cut back for Renato, but Alessandro Nesta performed a decisive goalline clearance to keep the score at 1-0.

Kaka sparked a move that Poulsen intercepted before Gattuso could set up Inzaghi. Incredibly, a corner kick was touched on by Nesta and Seedorf’s diving free header was over from six yards.

Jankulovski wasted a golden opportunity from Massimo Ambrosini’s left-flank low cross, but Kanoute’ was given far too much space to turn and smash a right-foot shot wide.

Poulsen’s sliding tackle saved a certain goal on the stroke of half-time, as Pirlo’s slide-rule pass had sent Ambrosini clear, but the Dane plucked the ball off his foot as he pulled the trigger. Palop rushed out to block another fine Pirlo assist for Inzaghi.

Super Pippo hit the back of the net in first half stoppages from a Seedorf through ball, but it was disallowed for a tight offside decision. In a beautiful gesture during the break, a Milan banner hailing Puerta was passed along to the Sevilla end of the Stade Louis II in Monaco.

Seedorf went for glory rather than passing to Inzaghi and Ambrosini’s long-range effort was deflected out. From the resulting corner, Pirlo’s backheel sent Gattuso down the right and his cross found Inzaghi’s precise free header at the back post.

Sevilla had been under pressure since the restart, but Kanoute’s cross was just too powerful for Duda. Gattuso needed to be patched up after an accidental elbow from Keita left him with a deep cut over his eye. He insisted on carrying on even with a huge bandage covering the top of his face and it later emerged he required four or five stitches.

Milan were in control now and took the lead on the hour mark with a stunning goal from Jankulovski. The left-back clipped a brilliant low volley from Pirlo’s inspired long cross-field ball, at a precise angle into the far bottom corner. It was the Czech’s first ever European club goal.

Sevilla threw on forward Kerzhakov, but only a brilliant Poulsen tackle stopped Kaka running end to end. Gattuso was finally convinced to leave the field due to his head injury and gave Emerson his debut.

Enzo Maresca replaced Duda and took a central role for the final push, but Keita nodded a corner kick over from six yards. Substitute Luis Fabiano also failed to make the most of a promising opportunity.

However, another divine Pirlo crossfield pass found Kaka and Dragutinovic mistimed his tackle to snap at the Brazilian’s ankle. Kaka took the penalty himself and it was saved by Palop, but the ball ricocheted off his face and back on to the Milan man’s head. The goal was scored under the Sevilla end and Kaka celebrated by pointing to the ‘Puerta’ name on the back of his shirt.

Seedorf went off as a substitute and also held up the shirt with only Puerta’s name showing to the entire crowd. Milan had suggested postponing this European Super Cup, but agreed to go ahead only if Sevilla wanted it.

It was nearly 3-2 in stoppages as Kerzhakov nodded the ball across the face of goal where Maresca hit the post from point-blank range.

Milan 3-1 Sevilla
Scorers: Renato 15 (S), Inzaghi 56 (M), Jankulovski 62 (M), Kaka 87 (M)
Missed penalty: Kaka 87 (M)
Milan: Dida; Oddo, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso (Emerson 73), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kakà, Seedorf (Brocchi 89); Inzaghi (Gilardino 88)
Sevilla: Palop; Daniel Alves, Escudè (Luis Fabiano 82), Marti (Kerzhakov 65), Dragutinovic; Jesus Navas, Poulsen, Keita, Duda (Maresca 74); Renato, Kanoutè
Ref: Plautz (Aus)

Ambrosini admits Super Cup doubts
30.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini has questioned the decision to go ahead with Friday’s European Super Cup after the death of Antonio Puerta.

The Diavolo's opponents Sevilla are a club in mourning after 22-year-old star Puerta died from a heart attack during a La Liga clash against Getafe last weekend.

While the Spaniards’ Champions League fixture with Greek side AEK Athens in mid-week was postponed, the Super Cup will go ahead as planned at Monaco’s Stade Louis II.

The atmosphere is likely to be sombre and neither side will to approach the game with relish, prompting Ambrosini to raise doubts as to whether it should be played at all.

“If it was up to me, I wouldn’t play this match,” the 30-year-old admitted at a Press conference with boss Carlo Ancelotti and Massimo Oddo.

“We don’t know yet what kind of attitude we will have on the pitch as this kind of tragedy puts everything into perspective.”

Ancelotti echoed Ambrosini's reservations as to the validity of the fixture after the week's events.

"I don't know if it makes sense to play or not," he growled. "But this Final has lost all significance and will be a game of football totally different to all others."

The Rossoneri will have just a weekend to recover before their key Serie A clash against Fiorentina at the San Siro on Monday.

CL DRAW, Group D: AC Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk
30.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Group A: Liverpool, Porto, Marseille, Besiktas
Group B: Chelsea, Valencia, Schalke, Rosenborg
Group C: Real Madrid, Werder Bremen, Lazio, Olimpiakos
Group D: Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk
Group E: Barcelona, Lyon, Stuttgart, Rangers
Group F: Manchester United, Roma, Sporting Lisbon, Dynamo Kiev
Group G: Inter, PSV, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce
Group H: Arsenal, Sevilla / AEK Athens, Steaua Bucharest, Slavia Prague

Emerson set for Super Cup debut
29.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Emerson and Ronaldo are in Milan’s squad for the European Super Cup, as Adriano Galliani explains why Sevilla wanted the game to go ahead.

Many expected Friday’s match in Monaco to be rescheduled after the death of 22-year-old Sevilla player Antonio Puerta from cardiac arrest and the Rossoneri had proposed this course of action immediately.

“I spoke to President Del Nido and he assured me we will play as usual on Friday. Sevilla prefer to play, that is what he told me,” revealed Galliani.

“UEFA had already given its view that the match should go ahead, so now the confirmation has come from the club as well.”

Emotions will be running high at the Stade Louis II in Monaco. Today Puerta’s coffin was taken to Sevilla’s stadium – where he collapsed on Saturday night during a game with Getafe – so the fans and players could pay their respects. Members of the Milan administration were also present.

“It is a real tragedy that a 22-year-old lad, whose wife is set to give birth in six weeks, should die,” added Galliani.

As for the football, Carlo Ancelotti has called Ronaldo and Emerson, although the two Brazilians are set to only start from the bench.

It would be the former Juventus and Real Madrid midfielder’s debut in a Rossoneri jersey after his summer switch.

Pippo Inzaghi is expected to lead the line, just as he did in the Champions League victory over Liverpool in Athens.

Ronaldo has not played yet this season, as he has been struggling with a thigh problem and weight gain.

The Milan medical staff found he has a thyroid condition and with new medication he has already lost 5kg.

Milan squad: Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Bonera, Cafu, Digao, Favalli, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Oddo, Serginho, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Emerson, Gourcuff, Kaka`, Pirlo, Seedorf; Aubameyang, Gilardino, Inzaghi, Ronaldo.

Inzaghi admires Roman spirit
29.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan hitman Pippo Inzaghi has admitted his admiration for Scudetto rivals Roma and sees them as genuine contenders.

The Piacenza native knows Rome well as his brother Simone has played for Lazio for the last eight years and admits that he is always impressed by the public’s dedication to the Giallorossi.

“When I was in Rome I saw great support for the side and a particular pride in the team,” he told Rete Sport.

“Looking in from outside I can see such closeness between the players, the Coach and the club. It will be good to take them on.”

Although Inzaghi admits that Inter are the side to beat in Italy this season, he believes that Luciano Spalletti’s men have as good a chance as any of usurping the Nerazzurri’s throne and thinks they have a secret weapon.

“Roma have been impressive for a couple of years,” he continued. “Last season their only bad game was against Manchester United - otherwise they played great football. Look out for Mirko Vucinic this year as he could be their added strength.

“Nonetheless I see Inter as big favourites, but I think we can make life difficult for them, as can Roma and Juventus. Juve have the advantage of not playing in Europe so they will be better prepared.”

Milan meet Roma at the San Siro in Week 9.

AC Milan await Super Cup decision
29.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s European Super Cup clash with Sevilla may be postponed after the tragic death of Rojablancos midfielder Antonio Puerta.

The 22-year-old collapsed during the opening La Liga match against Getafe last weekend and it emerged that he had suffered a heart attack.

After two days in hospital it has been revealed that he suffered ventricular arrhythmia – a lack oxygen to the brain – while playing and lost his fight for life on Tuesday afternoon.

Sevilla’s Champions League clash with AEK Athens will be rescheduled, but as yet there is no news on Friday’s match.

“Everyone asssociated with A.C Milan offer their condolences to the family and friends of Antonio Puerta,” a statement from the Rossoneri read. “The club is ready to accept any decision made regarding the Super Cup.”

This is the third such case in recent memory after similar incidents involving Cameroonian midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe in 2003 and Hungarian Miklos Feher in 2004 whilst playing for Benfica.

AC Milan: We nearly had Henry
29.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has revealed that the Rossoneri came close to capturing Barcelona’s Thierry Henry at the start of the summer.

The European champions were linked with a host of top strikers including Andriy Shevchenko and Samuel Eto’o in pre-season, but settled for Brazilian starlet Alexandre Pato from Internacional.

However, Galliani has now explained just how close the Diavolo came to signing French ace Henry from Arsenal.

“Thierry Henry could have come to Milan,” he told Sky Sports Italia. “ We were ready to match the figure Barcelona paid Arsenal and Henry would have happily come here, but Barca added 50 per cent to his wages.

“It was clearly impossible to lure Ronaldinho in this transfer window,” he continued. “Our business is done for now, but we will have to see in future.

“I still believe that Barca may sell him at some stage. If they do put him up for sale we will try, but we don’t want to risk Real Madrid coming in for Kaka.”

Despite regular Press reports that Milan representatives were in negotiations with the Blaugrana regarding Ronaldinho, the Spainsh runners-up’s President Joan Laporta insists that Eto’o was the main subject of discussions.

“We never received an official offer from Milan for Ronaldinho,” he mainained on Radio Catalunya. “Eto’o is the player we had most offers for and the Rossoneri were very keen on him.”

AC Milan's Adriano dream fades
29.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani has closed the door on a swoop for Inter striker Adriano as he feels no player could move between the two rivals.

L’Imperatore’s future is still uncertain, but the Brazilian hitman looks increasingly unlikely to remain with the Nerazzurri after dropping to fifth choice in the striking hierarchy.

While a number of sides had been linked with a loan deal for the troubled 25-year-old, it has emerged that he would favour a permanent move and few sides are willing to commit to a player whose career has hit the rocks so spectacularly.

Although Adriano hit just five goals in 23 appearances last season, a number of key figures at city rivals Milan have admitted their fondness for him, but Galliani believes the switch could never take place.

“Signing Adriano is just a dream because I think nowadays a great champion can’t move between Milan and Inter,” Galliani insisted.

“We have 10 Brazilians in our squad and they are all friends with Adriano, but let’s leave him and Inter in peace just as we ask to be left when there is speculation surounding our players.”

Genoa 0:3 AC Milan - match report
26.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Scorers: Ambrosini 21 (M), Kaka 43, pen 45 (M)

Kaka scored twice as Milan comfortably conquered new boys Genoa on the return to Serie A.

There was a mixed atmosphere at Marassi. On the one hand joy for Genoa's return to the top flight after 12 years, but on the other tension and sadness. The death of Rossoblu fan Vincenzo Spagnolo in clashes outside the stadium in 1995 was the reason for threats against the Milanisti this week, so in the interests of safety all visiting supporters were banned. That was the last time the two teams met in Serie A.

As for the football, the Rossoneri were without the injured Ronaldo and new arrival Emerson, while Genoa launched their new trident attack of N'Diaye Papa Waigo, Marco Di Vaio and Mirco Gasparetto.

Omar Milanetto and Kaka had long-range efforts off target, then there were decisive defensive tackles in the area from Massimo Ambrosini on Gasparetto and Konko on Andrea Pirlo.

A Pirlo corner kick found Alberto Gilardino completely unmarked from six yards, but he missed the free header by not even making contact with the ball. Genoa also wasted a golden opportunity when Konko skipped past Kakha Kaladze and went for glory, hitting the side-netting.

Genoa had shown problems in marking on set-pieces and did so again on 21 minutes, as this time Ambrosini was in acres of space and nodded Pirlo's free kick in at the near post.

Kaka ran almost all the way up the field and threaded through for Gennaro Gattuso, but goalkeeper Rubinho came tearing out and clattered into the midfielder.

Genoa had a good chance to draw level with Konko, but Gilardino came sliding in and couldn't quite get the right finish on Massimo Oddo's assist.

Oddo was wreaking havoc down that right flank and he set up the second goal, the cross touched on by Clarence Seedorf for Kaka to turn in unmarked.

In first half stoppages Rubinho came flying out to block Gilardino. The referee pointed to the spot, but replays suggest the goalkeeper did get a hand to the ball. Nonetheless, Kaka stepped up and buried the penalty in the bottom far corner.

Seedorf was booked for dissent complaining that the wall was not far enough away for a free kick, but the Dutchman continued to argue and Gattuso had to drag his teammate away to prevent further problems.

Di Vaio drilled just over and substitute Juric held off two defenders for a left-foot shot that skimmed the upright.

On 70 minutes Nelson Dida was tested by Papa Waigo's header that may have taken a deflection on the way.

Dida also flew to push Di Vaio's attempt out from under the crossbar, but Genoa simply could not chip into that three-goal lead.

Genoa: Rubinho; Bega, Santos (M Rossi 66), Lucarelli; Konko, Milanetto, Paro (Fabiano 46), Juric; Papa Waigo (Leon 78), Gasparetto, Di Vaio

Milan: Dida; Oddo, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski (Favalli 89); Gattuso (Brocchi 74), Pirlo, Ambrosini (Gourcuff 83); Kakà, Seedorf; Gilardino

Ref: Saccani

Emerson: I wanted to quit
26.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Emerson admits he was so furious with Real Madrid that he considered retiring if he was not allowed to join Milan.

“I couldn’t take it anymore. At a certain stage I wanted to just end it with football,” said the Brazilian midfielder.

His negotiations with the Rossoneri dragged on for months and it all seemed to collapse when Real changed their mind over a loan deal, demanding £5m for a permanent transfer.

“The situation was untenable in Madrid and I just couldn’t focus there. At one point I thought about retiring.”

However, the move was eventually completed and he could make his debut in the European Super Cup tie with Sevilla on August 31.

“I have found myself in a club that allows me to think only about football and that is very important for me. I am ready to start again.”

He had followed Coach Fabio Capello from Roma to Juventus and Madrid, but his spell in Spain was agonising despite the Liga title success.

“Capello is exceptional and really helped me a lot. We worked together for seven years, so the time had come for a change,” added Puma.

“I have already played in Italy and will have no problems settling back into this style. I have no physical issues either.”

Ancelotti wants super start
26.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti believes Milan will begin where they left off – in European Champion form – in their tricky trip to Genoa.

“It will be very important to get off to a good start, as the end of a season is very closely linked to the beginning. Last year we were unable to prepare properly.”

The Calciopoli scandal not only forced them to start from –8 points in Serie A, but also rescheduled their pre-season training to fit in a Champions League preliminary round. Despite entering the competition through the back door, they went all the way to lift the trophy in Athens.

“This season everyone has strengthened, which means we will see a more competitive, entertaining and uncertain campaign. The stadiums have also improved and the fans are flocking back to see their teams.”

Yet Milan’s supporters will not be able to witness their first game of the season, as they have been barred from the Stadio Ferraris after threats from Genoa fans over an incident from 12 years ago.

“Considering the signs coming out of Genoa, it was the right decision and one showing common sense. Of course we hope such a thing will never be needed again, that we can live through every game in a relaxed atmosphere.”

The Rossoblu will be eager to prove a point on their return to the top flight after more than a decade.

“Genoa have good pace, especially upfront, and play a very attacking form of football. The biggest dangers will come from this. Our objective, taking each game at a time, is to start well and get as many points as possible in the first half of the campaign.”

Gennaro Gattuso missed Italy’s 3-1 friendly defeat in Hungary midweek, but has recovered, while Ronaldo and Emerson are not yet ready.

The Azzurri are dealing with an injury crisis in defence, so there are reports Roberto Donadoni could beg Alessandro Nesta to come out of international retirement for the crunch Euro 2008 qualifiers with France and Ukraine in September.

“It is a delicate issue that can only be evaluated by Alessandro, Donadoni and the Federation. His return to the Azzurri is difficult, but not fantasy football,” concluded Ancelotti.

Milan squad: Dida, Kalac, Fiori; Bonera, Cafu, Digao, Favalli, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Nesta, Oddo, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Pirlo, Seedorf; Aubameyang, Gilardino, Kakà, Inzaghi

Emerson: AC Milan are the greatest
23.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Emerson has flown in to finally completing the move to Milan. “I wanted to leave Real Madrid and join the best club in the world.”

The Brazilian’s transfer had collapsed completely earlier this month, but the two sides came to an agreement for a permanent switch worth £3.4m.

“I am truly happy,” said the midfielder as he arrived at Linate Airport. “I wanted to leave Real Madrid and join the best club in the world. Now I really feel reborn.”

The deal was only completed after Emerson agreed to take a £1m per season pay-cut to pen the two-year contract.

Before he flew away from Madrid, the former Roma and Juventus star had harsh words for President Ramon Calderon.

“Calderon treated me badly. He never said a word or made a gesture towards me. Unfortunately, there is a wall between the team and a part of the club, as those who make the decisions have created a clear distance.

“In any case, at the end of the day I have to thank Real because they allowed me to join Milan.”

On Thursday Emerson will undergo his medical and pass through the many tests at MilanLab.

“I do not suffer from recurring groin problems, as some people would like you to believe. I am here to train well and reach my form as soon as possible.”

Gattuso out of Hungary test
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Gennaro Gattuso is out of this evening’s international friendly with Hungary after suffering a muscular problem.

The Milan midfielder pulled up during training with a twinge in his thigh and it is highly unlikely he will be risked for this Italy test.

It’s believed his place in Budapest will be taken by Rossoneri teammate Massimo Ambrosini, flanking Andrea Pirlo in a 4-2-3-1 system.

Alessandro Del Piero is tipped to start in the supporting trident with Fabio Quagliarella and Roma debutant Alberto Aquilani behind Bayern Munich sensation Luca Toni.

This is the final Azzurri match before the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against France on September 8 at San Siro.

Italy (probable): Buffon; Oddo, Cannavaro, Materazzi, Zambrotta; Ambrosini, Pirlo; Quagliarella, Aquilani, Del Piero; Toni

Brocchi: I’ll challenge Emerson
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan midfielder Cristian Brocchi isn’t daunted by the arrival of Emerson and has vowed to fight for his place in the side.

After weeks of rumours and denials, ex-Juventus and Roma star Emerson oficially signed for the Rossoneri late on Tuesday night, putting Brocchi’s future in doubt.

With French prodigy Yoann Gourcuff also fighting for space in a squad with a wealth of options in the middle of the pitch, it had been suggested that the ex-Fiorentina man would be the player to make way.

“Emerson will surely be a help for the team, but from a selfish point of view it is more competition for a place,” he admitted.

“But I have always said that in order to be true competitors we need a big squad. I know that I won’t play in every game, but that just means that I have to make sure I earn my place".

The 31-year-old, who co-owns Italian clothing label Baci & Abbracci with Fiorentina striker Christian Vieri, played in 29 games last term as the Diavoli triumphed in Europe.

“I’m happy that the years in which Milan have won, 2003 and last year, were the years that I played the most. I have received less media attention than others, but perhaps the time for the spotlight will come.

“Staying at Milan may have meant giving up on the national side as I probably could have played for the Azzurri if I had been in Florence or elsewhere, but this shirt is too important to me.”

Brocchi’s chances of starting the opening game of the new campaign at Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris are in the balance as Gennaro Gattuso may take his place.

Fan ban for AC Milan
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

There will be no tickets allocated to Milan fans when the Rossoneri visit Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday.

The Grifoni’s return to Serie A after 12 years in the wilderness begins with a game that brings tragic memories of the death of fan Vincenzo Spagnolo, who was murdered prior to this clash in 1995.

The two sides haven’t met in the top flight since and concerns that emotions may boil over into clashes between fans have led to the decision to close the away end at Marassi.

“To have to make this decision after 12 years is a defeat,” stated Giuseppe Romano of the Committee for Security and Public Order in Genoa.

“Sadly there have been worying signs and threatening messages and not just those written on walls.

"If any Milan fans come to Genoa we will make sure that they don’t come into contact with the Rossoblu supporters.

”One man who will be unhappy with the decision is Genoa President Enrico Preziosi who stressed on Wednesday that shutting out Milan fans would represent a ‘failure’.

Rossoneri midfielder Gennaro Gattuso had also stressed his belief that away fans should be allowed to travel to the game.

“It would be awful if we started like this for the first match of the season,” he told the Press.

“The best thing for everyone is that all fans can participate in the occassion.”

Kaka: Pressure on Inter
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Kaka insists that Inter are the favourites for the Scudetto title, but believes the Rossoneri should fear nobody.

Having strolled to the Scudetto last term and strengthened in pre-season, Inter are widely tipped to retain their title, but the midfield star believes they have just as good a chance of clinching the silverware.

“Inter are in pole position, but we are their main rivals and we will start the season on equal footing,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Winning the Champions League last season has given us a renewed enthusiasm.

“Juve and Roma are the other two sides who could win the Scudetto. I’d say that Roma are ahead of the Bianconeri, but this year it will be a very tight race.”

The Brazilian ace was the top scorer in last season’s Champions League with 10 goals in the Diavoli’s triumph and sees the English sides as the main obstacle to repeating that triumph this term.

“To tell the truth, I’m most scared of the English sides in Europe. Manchester United have such weapons and Chelsea and Liverpool are more or less at the same level.”

To conclude, Kaka expressed his satisfaction at the arrival of fellow Selecao star Emerson from Real Madrid.

“The addition of Emerson is the right move to complete our squad,” he enthused.

“It is crucial to have options in every position if we are to challenge for the title."

It seems that Kaka will be banished to the bench for Brazil’s friendly with Algeria after he chose to sit out the summer’s Copa America.

Boss Dunga had warned that any player who made himself unavailable for the trip to Venezuela would have to win back his place and Kaka lined up alongside Ronaldinho in reserve training on Tuesday.

AC Milan suffer Ronaldo blow
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

European champions Milan may be forced to start the 2007-08 Serie A campaign without star striker Ronaldo.

The Brazilian is still struggling with a leg injury which has hampered his training over the last few weeks and he’s rated as very doubtful for Sunday’s first game of the season at Genoa.

Reports in the peninsula this evening are suggesting that the January signing from Real Madrid may not in fact make his seasonal debut until the Week 3 game against Siena on September 16.

As a result, he will not only miss the Marassi clash at the weekend but also the European Super Cup Final against Sevilla and the dangerous Fiorentina encounter in Week 2.

The loss of Ronaldo will pose a major problem for boss Carlo Ancelotti who will only have Pippo Inzaghi, Alberto Gilardino and Kaka available to him offensively.

As a result the Rossoneri, who can’t field new boy Alexandre Pato until January, may change their shape in the opening few weeks of the campaign.

Although President Silvio Berlusconi clearly favours a 4-3-1-2 formation, Ancelotti will undoubtedly consider using a 4-3-2-1 system until Ronaldo is again at his full disposal.

Ronaldo, who netted seven goals in 14 League games last season, will have happy memories of Siena should he be fit for that clash.

It was at the Franchi where he scored his first goals for the San Siro giants after they ended his Real Madrid nightmare.

Meanwhile, Paolo Maldini has confidently predicted that he will be ready for action at the end of next month.

The captain has spent all of the summer recovering from a knee injury, but insists he’s on the road to recovery ahead of what will be his final season as a professional.

“I’m doing fine and my knee is okay,” he noted. “I should start running again at the end of August before I will have another medical consultation.

“If that goes well and there aren’t any problems then I will resume training with my teammates and I’ll be ready for the end of September.”

OFFICIAL: AC Milan sign Emerson
22.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

The Emerson transfer saga is over after Milan announced his capture from Real Madrid this evening.

Reports in Italy gathered pace this afternoon that the Brazilian was on the verge of joining the European champions and that has proved to be reality.

“Milan communicate that they have signed Emerson from Real Madrid on a permanent basis,” read a short note on the Rossoneri’s website.

Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani flew out to Madrid earlier today to complete the deal after weeks of talks.

It’s understood that the veteran has signed a two-year deal at the San Siro after Real accepted a fee of around £3.7m.

Berlusconi books Ronaldinho bid
19.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi hails Alexandre Pato and warns he’ll go after Ronaldinho as well next summer.

“We are well equipped in attack now. If Pato lives up to only 70 or 80 per cent of what is expected of him, then we’ll be fine,” said the patron.

“All the Brazilians speak very highly of him, say he goes straight to the goal and does not waste time in pointless dribbling. I feel ready to compare Pato to Kaka.”

The 17-year-old cannot play an official match for the Rossoneri until January 2008 due to his tender age, but can feature in friendlies from September, when he turns 18.

However, Berlusconi is already looking ahead to next summer and a renewed bid to prise Ronaldinho away from Barcelona.

“Of course we are always interested in champions. In 2008, after five years in Spain, his tax situation will change and affect his earnings there. We will see what happens.”

Milan have often complained that Serie A sides are disadvantaged in the modern transfer market by the lower taxes on football contracts in Spain and England compared to Italy.

They had tried to make a bid for the former FIFA World Player of the Year, but chose to spend £10m on young pretender Pato instead.

Another option for Milan was Andriy Shevchenko, but they could not agree terms with Chelsea.

“I haven’t heard from him for a while,” confessed Berlusconi. “Unfortunately with Pato we have filled our quota of non-EU players, so that closed the door definitively on Shevchenko.

“I know that he was very pained by that and I hoped he would return, but things went another way. I also understand the Chelsea patron who did not want to sell him back to us for half or even a third of what they paid a year ago.”

Last term his side won the Champions League, but with the Calciopoli penalties now expired, will Milan be Inter’s only challengers for the Scudetto?

“No, the Roman clubs are in there too and I saw a good Juve. Our pre-season preparation went well and we did not begin with the same problems and negative atmosphere as last year. We have many objectives and there is no point putting them in order of importance.”

They aim for their first piece of silverware next Friday in the European Super Cup with Sevilla, then in December travel to Tokyo for the Club World Cup.

AC Milan fans banned from Marassi?
19.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Police authorities are considering banning Milan fans from the Serie A opener at Genoa after threats between the two sets of supporters.

This is considered a very high risk game, as on January 29, 1995 Genoa fan Vincenzo Spagnolo was stabbed to death outside Marassi in clashes.

That match was abandoned when news came through of the fatality with both captains reading out a statement to those in the arena. It was eventually replayed on February 15 and ended 1-1.

Genoa have been in Serie B since that campaign, so this is an extremely delicate situation to begin the new season.

Now graffiti outside the Stadio Luigi Ferraris has been written that reads: ‘January 29-August 26. Let us avenge Spagnolo’.

“This is a very bad sign,” commented a member of the local police force.

It is reported that the authorities in Genoa have formally applied to ban travelling fans from attending this match and it will be discussed in a meeting on Monday.

Inzaghi picked for Budapest
18.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Roberto Donadoni has called Pippo Inzaghi and Angelo Palombo for Italy’s friendly test against Hungary next Wednesday.

The Azzurri boss was in the stands for last night’s Trofeo Berlusconi match, in which Inzaghi bagged both of Milan’s goals in the 2-0 victory over Juventus.

Sampdoria midfielder Palombo made his senior international debut in Donadoni’s first match in charge, a 2-0 defeat to Croatia on August 16, 2006, and has two caps to his name.

However, the 25-year-old had not been called up since the 1-1 draw with Turkey on November 15, 2006.

There are precious few new faces in the squad for next Wednesday’s match in Budapest, although Roma’s Alberto Aquilani and Gianluca Curci graduate from the Under-21 side.

Aquilani had made his senior debut in the 1-1 draw with Turkey in November 2006, but returned to the Azzurrini for the European Under-21 Championships.

This is goalkeeper Curci’s first ever senior call-up for the Nazionale and he turned 22 last month.

It is a warm-up for the crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against France and Ukraine in September and Donadoni had warned this was no time for surprises.

The team must meet in Milan on Monday morning for their first training session.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Amelia, Buffon, Curci
Defenders: Barzagli, Cannavaro, Grosso, Materazzi, Oddo, Zaccardo, Zambrotta
Midfielders: Ambrosini, Aquilani, Diana, Gattuso, Palombo, Pirlo
Forwards: Del Piero, Di Natale, Inzaghi, Quagliarella, Toni

Maldini eyes European swansong
18.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Paolo Maldini heads into his final season as a player and wants to end his career with the Champions League in his hands once again.

“As far as I am concerned, the Intercontinental Cup is an important goal, but it is not the primary one of our campaign. I reserve that place for the Champions League,” said the captain.

Back in May the legendary defender won the competition for the fifth time in his career, but this will be his last chance to add to that, as he has said he will retire in June 2008, when he’ll turn 40.

“We want to be the world club champions again, but it is unthinkable to get there by playing badly in Serie A and Europe.”

The Rossoneri are the reigning continental chiefs after their 2-1 victory over Liverpool in Athens and travel to Tokyo in December for the Club World Cup tournament.

Maldini has spent his entire career at Milan, making his official debut in a 1-1 draw with Udinese on January 20, 1985.

At club level he has won seven Scudetti, five European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, four European Super Cups, one Coppa Italia and five Italian Super Cups.

He will not be able to take part in the first games of the season, including the European Super Cup clash with UEFA winners Sevilla in Monaco on August 31, due to injury.

“I will return in September, after I have had thorough medical tests,” confirmed Maldini.

Galliani rejects Emerson terms
18.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Adriano Galliani admits Milan are keeping the door open for Emerson, but not at the conditions Real Madrid have set.

The two clubs have been locked in negotiations for weeks over the midfielder, but earlier this week the Rossoneri announced on their official website that the deal was off.

“It is very difficult to see Emerson at Milan, but I do not feel I can exclude anything,” said general manager Galliani ahead of last night’s 2-0 Trofeo Berlusconi win over Juventus.

“I can tell you that at the conditions put forward by Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon, he is 100 per cent certain not to arrive. If Emerson does not come, then we won’t sign anyone else.”

Thiago Motta had been named as a potential alternative, but the Barcelona player is no longer on their wish-list.

“Motta was an option, but with Ancelotti we had identified Emerson as the right player for us. If Real Madrid’s economic demands change, then we are interested in him. We will wait until August 31.”

A deal to agree a loan spell with an option to buy at the end of the season was almost struck when the Spaniards changed their minds to an £8m permanent move.

There are rumours that the reason Real have suddenly raised the price-tag is because rivals Inter have made a counter-offer for the former Juventus and Roma star.

“I don’t know and do not want to stir up any controversy with our ‘cousins’,” said Galliani on ‘Sky Italia.’

“There is talk, but there is a lot of that in football. I can’t say for sure.”

Another report is that Madrid are trying to cause problems for Milan after their refusal to negotiate for Kaka.

“I think the motive is purely economic and I cannot start considering other reasons. Calderon knows that for Kaka it is an eternal ‘no’. They will have to resign themselves to the fact he is our player.”

Ancelotti nitpicks Rossoneri
17.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Carlo Ancelotti may have won the Trofeo Berlusconi, but he’s still far from satisfied with Milan’s performance.

“We didn’t do very well,” he said after the 2-0 victory over Juventus at San Siro in this traditional encounter.

“We were not linear enough. I imagine it is mainly due to the strain of the pre-season training regime. It has nothing to do with the tactical system, having one or two strikers, as it is all a matter of pace right now.”

Pippo Inzaghi was certainly not feeling the pressure of his first start since the Champions League Final, as he bagged a brace to defeat his former Bianconeri teammates.

Ancelotti – another Juventus old boy – had kinder words for Claudio Ranieri’s squad.

“They are a quality side and very organised. They are still testing out their movements and can have a great season.”

Milan have won the last three Trofeo Berlusconi editions on the trot and now lead with nine victories to Juve's eight.

Trofeo Berlusconi: AC Milan 2:0 Juventus - match report
17.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Pippo Inzaghi’s brace handed Milan the prestigious Trofeo Berlusconi in a 2-0 victory over old rivals Juventus at San Siro.

The 17th edition of this friendly tournament at San Siro was without the injured Kaka, Ronaldo, Tiago Mendes and David Trezeguet, so Clarence Seedorf started in the Trequartista role for the Rossoneri. After three minutes Zdenek Grygera did well to tackle the Dutchman inside the area.

The Turin giants were immediately aggressive with Vincenzo Iaquinta brought down by Kakha Kaladze on the edge of the box and Sergio Almiron drilling just wide.

Milan also pushed forward, as Massimo Oddo set up Pippo Inzaghi’s diving header to bring a great save out of Gianluigi Buffon.

Alessandro Del Piero had a fantastic chance when he ran on to Pavel Nedved’s pass and put two defenders on the ground, but Kaladze bravely flung himself at the shot. Antonio Nocerino’s strike was also deflected off target.

An Andrea Pirlo free kick fell to Inzaghi, who was closed down by a desperate Domenico Criscito tackle, and Oddo hit a first-time finish over. The old Milan problems continued, as Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino often crossed paths and held each other up.

Nocerino has been impressive in pre-season, but his error sent Inzaghi clear and Buffon smothered the strike.

Buffon was not so prepared soon after, as Inzaghi’s splendid glancing header at the near post turned in Massimo Ambrosini’s cross from the left. The Juventus defence made a mess of this situation, as Jorge Andrade and Criscito lost sight of SuperPippo in his first start since the Champions League Final in Athens.

Del Piero’s confidence was at an all-time high, as he repeatedly dribbled past sets of Rossoneri defenders, including a nutmeg on Oddo.

Both Coaches made changes at the break. Claudio Ranieri appears to have abandoned the experiment of Tiago Mendes alongside Sergio Almiron, as it proved very disappointing, so he fielded the former Chelsea midfielder with Nocerino instead.

Within 58 seconds Milan had doubled their lead with Inzaghi yet again. A corner kick was flicked on by Gilardino to the back post for Inzaghi to come sliding in.

Nedved’s acrobatic volley went wide from a corner at the other end and an equally spectacular Seedorf attempt was held by Buffon, but Andrade was booked for trying to punch the ball into the net.

Nelson Dida parried Del Piero’s free kick and substitute Daniele Bonera slipped in a one-on-one with Raffaele Palladino, but Del Piero’s fantastic turn between two defenders was eventually closed down by a third.

Nedved’s volley at the back post whistled just wide when he only had the goalkeeper to beat and he turned another effort off target.

The San Siro field was slippery, as Buffon stumbled and, as Gilardino went round him, the Milan striker lost his footing as well in a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with Nocerino.

Juve’s best opportunity came in the final minutes, as Tiago unleashed a fierce strike that Dida fingertipped over the crossbar. The Brazilian goalkeeper also plucked a Nedved attempt out of the air.

Milan 2-0 Juventus
Scorers: Inzaghi 44, 46 (M)
Milan: Dida; Oddo (Cafu 46), Nesta (Bonera 66), Kaladze (Digao 87), Favalli (Serginho 46); Gattuso (Brocchi 46), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf; Inzaghi (Gourcuff 57), Gilardino
Juventus: Buffon; Grygera, Andrade, Criscito, Molinaro; Salihamidzic (Olivera 66), Nocerino, Almiron (Tiago 46), Nedved; Del Piero, Iaquinta (Palladino 46)
Ref: Banti

AC Milan back in for Emerson?
17.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Reports in Italy claim that Milan could renew their efforts to sign Real Madrid midfielder Emerson after negotiations failed last week.

The Brazilian seemed close to joining the Champions League winners after a meeting between Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani and Real sporting director Predrag Mijatovic.

The San Siro outfit was eyeing a loan switch with the option to buy the 31-year-old at the end of the season and a deal was reportedly struck.

However, Merengues chief Ramon Calderon then sank the deal by insisting that he would only let El Puma leave on a permanent basis for a fee of £8m.

Milan subsequently withdrew their interest in Emerson with a statement on the club’s website on Wednesday, but rumours suggest this might only be a strategy.

The former Roma star still seems set to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, as new Coach Bernd Schuster has made it clear that he is not part of his plans.

In the meantime, the player has admitted that he would be glad to play for the Rossoneri under Coach Carlo Ancelotti, with the pair sharing a mutual respect.

“I know nothing about an alleged bid from Inter, but I know that Milan approached us and what happened afterwards,” explained Emerson.

“Madrid asked for more money in order to let me go, something around £8m. I don’t know the exact figure, I haven’t spoken with anybody yet.

“If someone calls me, I will listen. I still have two years on my contract with Madrid, but to join Milan and play for a Coach who wants me would be a beautiful ending,” added the midfielder.

Ancelotti ready for rehearsal
17.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti considers the Trofeo Berlusconi match with Juventus an important test in view of the European Super Cup.

The Rossoneri, who already beat the Old Lady 1-0 in Tuesday’s Trofeo Tim, will host Claudio Ranieri’s side on Friday as they prepare for the August 31 match in Monaco against Sevilla.

“We have been working peacefully, partly thanks to our Champions League win. Things are going well,” announced Ancelotti in a Press Conference this afternoon.

“The match with Juventus will be the last one before the official start of the season, therefore it represents a general rehearsal, it will be useful to verify the team’s condition.”

“That is why I will field the side that will probably play in the Super Cup,” explained the former Italy international midfielder.

“I am not looking for answers from these men, they have already proved their worth, I just want to verify their condition. We have the motivation needed, we want to win these trophies.”

The ex-Juve Coach will have to do without Brazilian striker Ronaldo though, who is still recovering his full fitness after undergoing surgery earlier in the summer.

Ancelotti was also questioned on the Rossoneri’s efforts to sign Real Madrid midfielder Emerson after it was announced this week that the proposed move had collapsed.

“When a negotiation is underway, it can sometimes fail, but there was no special reason,” said the Coach.

“In any case, I believe this team is already competitive as it is. We had eyed Emerson because he could have been an interesting addition, but he will not arrive and that isn’t a problem.

“We are not discussing any other players, the main structure of the team is fine and I am especially confident in the midfield, which is a reliable department,” concluded Carletto.

Milan (probable): Dida; Oddo, Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kaka, Seedorf; Gilardino

Trofeo TIM: AC Milan 0:1 Internazionale - match report
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

A splendid Alvaro Recoba goal gave Inter the Trofeo TIM thanks to victories over both Milan and Juventus.

The Rossoneri were in the lead for the Trofeo TIM, as they had beaten Juventus 1-0 while the Nerazzurri only defeated Claudio Ranieri’s side in a penalty shoot-out. Pippo Inzaghi made his first official appearance since the Champions League Final in Athens.

There was a minute’s silence before kick-off for Inter team manager Guido Susini, who had also worked at Milan in his career, as he died this week aged 48.

Clarence Seedorf created the first chance with a backheel for Yoann Gourcuff, Paolo Orlandoni at full stretch to tip the fierce strike off target. Moments later Hernan Crespo pounced on a Dario Simic error to test Zeljko Kalac at the other end.

Milan went incredibly close on six minutes with a truly spectacular Inzaghi diving header and equally impressive Orlandoni save.

Inter introduced Mario Balotelli, a 17-year-old originally from Ghana who was adopted by an Italian family. Another youngster, Gourcuff, impressed with some fancy footwork combining with Andrea Pirlo.

There was drama at both ends, with Inzaghi’s shot charged down by Douglas Maicon and moments later Crespo threatened Kalac’s net.

Il Diavolo had a fantastic chance on 21 minutes, but Gourcuff was unlucky when Orlandoni fingertipped his fierce strike on to the inside of the post and it ricocheted back out to safety.

Marcos Cafu did hit the back of the net moments later, but it was correctly disallowed for an offside position.

It was Inter who broke the deadlock, though, as substitute Alvaro Recoba combined with Crespo and unleashed a stunning effort with that trademark left foot that floated over Kalac and into the top corner from 20 metres. The Uruguayan is expected to leave this summer and if this is his last San Siro goal, it was a pearl.

Francesco Toldo was back in goal now and parried a Pirlo free kick, while Kalac was almost taken by surprise on Balotelli’s solo effort and Nelson Rivas got in the way of Nesta’s header.

Recoba’s free kick hit the defensive wall, Attila Filkor wasted a counter-attack and Inzaghi nodded a Pirlo set-piece over the bar.

Inter won this match 1-0 and so secured the Trofeo TIM for the fifth time. Milan came second, Juventus were third.

Milan 0-1 Inter
Scorers: Recoba 28 (I)
Milan: Kalac; Cafu, Simic, Nesta, Favalli; Gattuso (Ambrosini 29), Pirlo, Gourcuff, Seedorf (Gilardino 36); Inzaghi, Aubameyang
Inter: Orlandoni (Toldo 22); Maicon, Rivas, Cordoba (Samuel 25), Burdisso (Bolzoni 25); Zanetti (Fatic 32), Cambiasso (Jimenez 32), Cesar (Filkor 32); Solari (Recoba 18); Cruz (Balotelli 15), Crespo
Ref: Damato

Trofeo TIM: AC Milan 1:0 Juventus - match report
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alberto Gilardino’s goal sent Juventus to their second defeat of the Trofeo TIM, so Milan will decide the tournament against Inter this evening.

Having lost the opener on penalties to Inter – 0-0 after 45 minutes – Juve took on the Rossoneri in the second game of the Trofeo TIM tournament at San Siro. Claudio Ranieri made several changes, including Antonio Nocerino, Raffaele Palladino and David Trezeguet.

Nelson Dida came out to pluck a cross off Trezeguet’s head and was forced to work harder on a powerful Pavel Nedved header from Cristiano Zanetti’s assist.

Cristian Brocchi combined with Clarence Seedorf, but they should have spread the play to the unmarked Kaka on the left flank.

Palladino scuffed his shot from a promising position and Kakha Kaladze came rushing in to stop Trezeguet meeting Christian Molinaro’s cross.

The Georgian was again crucial, bravely clearing from the on-rushing Nedved with only Dida to beat. Juventus hit the back of the net after 25 minutes with Palladino’s header, but it was disallowed for a push on Massimo Oddo.

Less than 30 seconds later, it was Milan who opened the scoring. Gennaro Gattuso filled in for Andrea Pirlo with a classy slide-rule pass that sent Alberto Gilardino clear and he buried the delicate finish past Gigi Buffon.

Kaka nearly made it 2-0 soon after, as his precise low strike nutmegged Cristiano Zanetti and Buffon was at full stretch to fingertip it round the far post.

Dida blocked a flick from substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta, but the Bianconeri didn’t really trouble the Brazilian shot-stopper.

The Trofeo TIM will now be decided between rivals Milan and Inter.

Juventus 0-1 Milan
Scorers: Gilardino 26 (M)
Milan: Dida; Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso, Brocchi, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Kakà; Gilardino
Juventus: Buffon; Grygera, Andrade, Criscito, Molinaro; Nocerino, Almiron, C Zanetti (Iaquinta 75), Nedved (Olivera 30); Trezeguet, Palladino
Ref: Gervasoni

AC Milan win Emerson race?
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan have moved closer to Real Madrid midfielder Emerson after Inter and Valencia dropped out of the race to sign the Brazilian.

El Puma joined the Spanish champions last year when Juventus were demoted to Serie B, but failed to impress in La Liga and has been heavily paired with a return to the peninsula.

Transfer guru Ernesto Bronzetti met with Real sporting director Predrag Mijatovic on Monday evening and again on Tuesday, as the Merengues insist on their £7m valuation of the former Roma star.

The Rossoneri are still the only outfit ready to make an offer for the defender, as Valencia and Inter are no longer interested in luring him away from the Bernabeu.

The Spanish club seems to have targeted other Madrid players instead, whereas the Italian champions were probably never close to making a firm offer for Emerson.

Roberto Mancini had expressed his admiration for the Brazilian in the past, but reports suggest that Inter were never interested in signing him, despite Patrick Vieira’s injury problems.

Milan have offered real Madrid £1.4m for a one-year loan, plus £3.5m if they opt to sign the player on a permanent basis, with a deal is expected to be signed soon despite Mijatovic’s latest denials.

“Emerson? He is contracted to us for two more years, he is a great player and a great professional,” he told Radio Radio.

“If he stays in Madrid it will be a good solution for all of us, because he is experienced and can help Real to win,” concluded the ex-Fiorentina striker.

AC Milan face Ronaldinho wait
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi could finally fulfil his dream of seeing Ronaldinho play at the San Siro in 2008, according to the latest reports in Spain.

The Rossoneri have been linked with a move for the Brazilian ace all summer, but the Blaugrana have repeatedly insisted that they've got no intention of selling him.

The Champions League winners, however, have not ruled out the idea of signing the former Golden Ball winner and President Joan Laporta has allegedly admitted that a transfer could take place next year.

“There is no way we can discuss Ronaldinho this year, but next season we can sit around a table and talk about this,” Laporta was quoted as saying to Berlusconi by Spanish newspaper Marca.

Milan haven’t enjoyed an active transfer campaign, aside from the signing of young talent Alexandre Pato, and were allegedly ready to pay Ronaldinho’s £84m buy-out clause.

Laporta had hinted earlier this year that he might be willing to sell the player for a high figure, although he was aware that the fans would not be happy about such a move.

“President Laporta told me he would have to leave the country if he sold Ronaldinho,” Berlusconi has previously stated.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti would be delghted to welcome ‘Dinho to the San Siro, but he is not planning for anymore new arrivals before the current transfer window closes.

“Ronaldinho? We are waiting and will greet him with open arms. As for Emerson and Thiago Motta, I can confirm that for me this year’s transfer campaign is over,” explained the tactician.

Ancelotti: Scores don't matter
14.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has stressed that he isn’t interested in the results at Tuesday evening’s TIM Trophy as long as his side’s performances impess him.

Inter, Milan and Juventus square off in the triangular tournament at the San Siro and it is another chance for the main Scudetto chasers to win pre-season bragging rights.

However, Ancelotti is adamant that scorelines count for nothing at this time of the year and sees the friendlies as glorified fitness training.

“They are two games like the Berlusconi Trophy that help us get into better shape,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The result is the last thing I’m thinking about. It is a chance for everyone to play, but Ronaldo will have to wait a bit longer.”

While Ancelotti has been reluctant to talk about his side’s main rivals, he did have words of praise for Claudio Ranieri’s Juventus team.

“Antonio Nocerino and Domenico Criscito are good players who are integrating well,” he admitted. ”Juve are looking to find a new balance and their youth is providing a freshness and energy. Ranieri has a lot of work to do, but he has the resources to do it.

“We haven’t made any big changes, we have just continued down the same track. Luckily we have fewer problems than at the start of last term as we have players like Alessandro Nesta, Massimo Oddo and Massimo Ambrsini who were missing this time last year.”

The 48-year-old tactician finished with a final comment on Ronaldinho, who Barcelona President Joan Laporta has revealed could be wearing the Rossonero jersey for the 2008-09 campaign.

“Ronaldinho? We are waiting with open arms,” he grinned.

Barca snub sends Emerson to AC Milan
12.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are closer than ever to Emerson, especially after Barcelona slammed the door on their bid for Thiago Motta.

The Rossoneri seem set to bring in a new midfielder before the transfer deadline on August 31 and they have narrowed it down to two names.

If Barca’s Motta was the favoured option, then reaching him is going to be tricky after his club refused to let him join the reigning European champions.

“We will not leave him free to go where he wants,” explained director Txiki Begiristain.

“He is a player who has a certain worth on the market and also grew up in our youth system. He’s not happy? Tough, that doesn’t change matters as far as we are concerned.”

A far easier path is open to Milan for another Liga based midfielder, as Real Madrid are ready to release Emerson.

The former Roma and Juventus star, nicknamed ‘Puma’, is not part of new boss Bernd Schuster’s plans.

There are reports in Italy that Emerson will be officially unveiled as a Milan player on Monday.

In order to facilitate the move, the Brazilian has accepted a pay cut from £3m to £2.3m per season, extending the contract to 2010.

San Siro increases capacity
12.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Work has been completed on San Siro so it returns to a capacity of 82,955, but Udine and Catania’s stadiums still do not pass safety tests.

Following the death of a police officer in the Catania riots in February, the Government cracked down on the security requirements in Italian stadia.

Emergency work was performed on the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan to ensure it could host matches with a reduced capacity of just 40,000, but now the 132 new turnstiles have been installed on a permanent basis.

This week a security check confirmed that the turnstiles, 1,300m of external barrier and more than 80 CCTV cameras put the stadium up to code in time for the Trofeo Berlusconi between Milan and Juventus on August 17.

There are other problems elsewhere, though, as the Stadio Friuli in Udine and Catania’s Stadio San Filippo have still not passed checks.

Work is ongoing to install the turnstiles, so Udinese and Catania have been allowed to play their first game of the season away from home to enable it to be completed quickly.

The Stadio San Paolo in Naples is also an issue, so the third tier has been ruled off limits and the capacity reduced to 75,000.

Friendly: Real Betis 1:0 AC Milan - match report
10.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan were defeated 1-0 by Real Betis on Thursday evening but Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with his men’s performance.

The Rossoneri travelled to Spain for a friendly organised to celebrate the Sevilla club’s Centenary, which was included in the deal that brought Ricardo Oliveira to the San Siro last year.

Ancelotti fielded Clarence Seedorf, Kaka and Alberto Gilardino upfront and the trident created several chances during the first half, when a Gilardino goal was disallowed for offside.

However, the home side took the lead immediately after the break, when goalkeeper Marco Storari’s foul on Rafael Sobis was punished with a Mark Gonzalez penalty.

Betis, coached by former Inter boss Hector Cuper, managed to defend the result, ending the match with a 1-0 victory to please the 55,000 supporters packing the Estadio Ruiz de Lopera.

“This was a good test. We have been working hard in this period and it is logical that the side isn’t always perfect upfront,” said Ancelotti after the game.

“I'm disappointed about the result as we could have scored. We made a few mistakes in defence, mainly for their goal, but these things can happen at this time of the year,” explained the Coach.

The Rossoneri will now play in the Trofeo Tim tournament on August 14 with Inter and Juventus and will face the Bianconeri again on August 17 in the Trofeo Berlusconi.

Real Betis: Ricardo; Ilic, Juanito, Nano, Babic (Vega 79); Rivera, Juande (M.Angel 85); Odonkor (Maldonado 87), Sobis (Capi 73), M.Gonzalez (Caffa 62); Pavone (Fernando 67)

Milan: Dida (Storari 46); Oddo (Cafu 46), Nesta, Kaladze, Jankulovski (Serginho 46); Gattuso, Pirlo (Gourcuff 65), Ambrosini (Brocchi 65); Seedorf, Kaka; Gilardino (Aubameyang 82)

Ronaldino - AC Milan flame revived
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

There are reports that Ronaldinho has renewed his interest in Milan, but Carlo Ancelotti only has eyes for Alexandre Pato.

Barcelona stated the former FIFA World Player of the Year was untransferable and the Rossoneri instead signed £10m Internacional starlet Pato.

However, it is now claimed that ‘Dinho is increasingly unhappy in Spain and wants to join the Champions League holders and their growing Brazilian contingent.

Monday reportedly saw a new meeting between transfer guru Adriano Galliani and agent Roberto Assis.

Ronaldinho’s contract expires in 2010 and there have been no real developments in the tricky negotiations with Barca.

He is also applying for an EU passport and, having signed Pato already from Brazil, Milan cannot bring in another non-EU player before the August 31 deadline.

The Italian newspapers are full of these stories today, but Coach Ancelotti does not want to hear about them.

“As far as I and the club are concerned, our transfer market is closed,” he said. “Talking about Ronaldinho in April may have made sense, but midway through August I don’t think there is much point.”

Yet because Pato cannot play a competitive match for Milan until January, there could still be room for a summer reinforcement.

“Pato was a little dazed but happy on his first day. He underwent many tests, saw the whole training ground structure and walked through the trophy room. It was a long walk, as we’ve won a lot!

“Despite his tender age, he is already very mature and dealt well with the pressure of these days. He will be helped by the fact he can settle in gradually here. I hope he can become a player I can count on for the next few years.”

Ronaldo claims favourites tag
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan star Ronaldo has denied that Inter are the dominant force in Europe and believes that the Rossoneri are favourites for all competitions.

Most experts in the peninsula feel that the Nerazzurri will be hard to stop after dominating so completely last term and adding Romanian star defender Cristian Chivu this summer.

By contrast, the Diavoli have made few new signings and looked lifeless in several of their pre-season friendlies, but Ronaldo isn’t in awe of the city rivals.

“We won’t start below Inter in the pecking order,” he insisted. “On the contrary, we have the advantage as we have such history and so many great champions in the squad.”

The ex-Inter marksman also took time to talk about the arrival of 17-year-old countryman Alexandre Pato from Internacional.

“I think he’s ready for Serie A,” Ronnie claimed. “There are no hard and fast rules that state a player can’t play here if he doesn’t weigh enough or is too young - it’s all to do with what he can do with the ball.”

Despite reacting angrily to his side’s sloppy performance against Lokomotiv Moscow on Sunday, boss Carlo Ancelotti claims he is happy with the way his men are approaching the coming campiagn.

“I agree with Ronaldo and I’m happy with the mentality of my players, and especially him,” the ex-Juventus Coach told the Press.

“We have finished in the market. We aren’t after Emerson and Ronaldinho is a target for another day.”

Pato has AC Milan medical
8.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

New star signing Alexandre Pato had a day of medicals and meetings with his new Milan teammates today.

The Brazilian touched down on Italian soil at the weekend and was mobbed by photographers, but only met with the squad today after their return from a friendly tournament in Moscow.

“This is a dream come true,” said 17-year-old Pato as he toured the Milanello training ground. “I do not feel as if I am a big transfer deal, though.”

The Rossoneri paid £10m to release the Internacional starlet from his contract, although he will not be able to play competitive games for the club until January 2008.

Pato was given his medical this morning, had lunch with the team – including his hero Ronaldo – before undergoing thorough tests in the Milan Lab.

Kaka eyes world title
6.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan’s Brazilian ace Kaka has revealed that he has his heart set on clinching December’s FIFA Club World Cup.

The 25-year-old star is in an optmistic mood in spite of the Rossoneri’s poor recent showings in pre-season friendlies and is aiming for glory in Japan at the end of the year.

The competition for each of the six winners of major Continental tournaments will see Milan compete against Argentine side Boca Juniors, Mexicans Pachuca and three teams yet to qualify.

“I want the Champions League, Scudetto and Coppa Italia obviously, but I also have a special desire to win the Club World Cup,” Kaka insisted on Studio Sport.

“The Golden Ball? We will have to wait and see because it all depends on my performances for the Diavoli this term.”

The Brasilia-born midfielder added his comments on the arrival of fellow countryman Alexandre Pato from Internacional.

“I hope that he has the Italian mentality and can become one of the best Brazilians in Europe,” he stated. “I don’t know him all that well, but he is a young lad with incredible talent and when he arrives we will see how we can help him.

“The key right now is getting our injured strikers back as Pippo Inzaghi, Ronaldo and Alberto Gilardino are three vital players.”

Maldini in buoyant mood
6.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Veteran Milan defender Paolo Maldini has insisted that the mood in the Rossoneri camp couldn’t be better, despite poor pre-season performances.

The Diavoli looked less than impressive at last weekend’s Moscow tournament as they struggled to a third-placed finish with a penalty shoot-out victory over Lokomotiv Moscow.

Boss Carlo Ancelotti slammed his side for looking out of shape, but the injured Maldini believes that the San Siro outfit will be ready when the time comes.

“It seems normal to me that a side that wins the Champions League has a slight hangover,” he told Il Giornale.

“This doesn’t mean that we aren’t ready to tackle the challenges and we believe that we can climb mountains as we did last term.”

As for his own recovery from a knee injury that has seen him regularly sidelined over the course of the last season, Maldini is pleased with the progress.

“At the end of August I’m scheduled to go on a course in Antwerp and a month after that I should be ready to play,” he revealed.

“It has been strange and not nice being missing from pre-season training at Milanello for the first time, but I’m working as hard as I can to rejoin the squad."

Finally, the 39-year-old took a moment to express his excitement at the imminent arrival of Brazilian starlet Alexandre Pato.

“I’ve seen him twice on TV in the FIFA Club World Cup and I was struck by his talent. I’m delighted because he already has such skill,” he concluded.

Ancelotti: It's not good enough
6.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti is far from satisfied with the Rossoneri’s pre-season preparations despite seeing his side squeeze past Lokomotiv Moscow on Sunday.

The Diavoli needed two goals in the last three minutes to avoid defeat before eventually triumphing on penalty kicks to secure third place in the Moscow tournament.

Ancelotti will be worried by how sluggish the European champions looked, especially in the first half and knows that there is a lot of work to do before the season gets underway.

“We made too many errors and let Lokomotiv control the pace of the game,” he lamented in his post-match Press conference.

“We played better when the game was slowed down and then we showed our quality, but we are still behind in our preparation.”

“However, we are working hard at the moment and we will get our pace soon,” the ex-Juventus boss concluded.

Milan have a chance to redeem themselves when they face Spanish side Real Betis on August 9.

Friendly: Lokomotiv Moscow 3:3 (4:5 after penalties) AC Milan - match report
6.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan took third place in the Moscow Tournament on penalties after a 3-3 draw with Lokomotiv Moscow.

The tie was eventually decided on spot-kicks – just as their first encounter of this competition with PSV Eindhoven earlier this week – but this time the Rossoneri emerged 8-7 winners.

Once again Carlo Ancelotti’s men were clearly tired from their pre-season training regime and almost disinterested in the game during the first hour.

Lokomotiv Moscow were given a helping hand to take the lead, as Dario Simic accidentally nodded the ball into his own net past the stranded Zeljko Kalac.

Kaka was the liveliest of his squad and managed to draw level, beating former Roma goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli with a solo effort sparked by Cristian Brocchi.

However, before the break the Russians were able to score another couple of goals through Ivanovic and Odemwingie left totally unmarked.

Kalac also made way for Nelson Dida after taking a knock to his right ankle during the first half, while Willy Aubameyang – the only striker at Ancelotti’s disposal – missed at least two sitters.

Milan fought back with a late flurry of goals to make it 3-3 practically on the final whistle, when the tactics had been reshuffled so much that Marcos Cafu was playing upfront!

Clarence Seedorf gave his teammates hope and 90 seconds later Brocchi sealed the six-goal thriller, both goals set up by Marek Jankulovski.

So for the second time in this tournament, it went to penalties. Massimo Oddo, Jankulovski, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Brocchi all successfully converted their kicks, but Dida’s one save on Kontsadelov proved decisive.

PSV Eindhoven won the trophy, beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the Final.

Lokomotiv Moscow 3-3 Milan
Scorers: Simic og 17 (L), Kaka 20 (M), Ivanovic 29 (L), Odemwingie 41 (L), Seedorf 88 (M), Brocchi 90 (M)
Milan: Kalac (Dida 33); Cafu, Bonera, Simic (Nesta 67), Favalli; Gattuso (Pirlo 67), Brocchi, Gourcuff, Serginho (Jankulovski 46); Kaka (Seedorf 46); Aubameyang (Oddo 67)
Lokomotiv Moscow: Pelizzoli, Spaic (Efimov 70), Ivanovic, Asatiani, Yanbaev, Gurenk, Samedov (Maminov 57), Bilyaletdinov, Odemwingie (Korchagin 89), Sychev (Draman 78), Traore (Kontsedalov 72)

Pato mobbed in Milan
6.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Photographers and journalists mobbed Alexandre Pato as Milan’s new star touched down at Malpensa Airport.

“To be here and to join Milan is truly a dream,” said the 17-year-old as he stepped off the plane.

Flight AZ7353 was carrying the £10m former Internacional striker and director general Ariedo Braida.

“I am very honoured to be a part of the Rossoneri squad,” he added as he fought his way through the dozens of cameramen this afternoon.

Pato’s future teammates are currently in Moscow playing against Lokomotiv for the Russian Railway Cup.

The teenager was asked by the waiting media how it felt to be in the same club side as fellow Selecao heroes Ronaldo and Kaka.

“It’s a dream. I am very happy,” was all he could reply as he was rushed through Terminal 1.

He will now travel to the Milanello training ground to complete his medical and sign the contract.

Pato cannot make his debut for the side until he turns 18 on September 2 and therefore can only play a competitive game from January 2008.

Kaka: I'm Milan for life
6.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

A new contract is ready to tie him to Milan until 2012 and Kaka admits he’s happy to be a Rossonero “for life.”

As Real Madrid continue to maintain that within the next two seasons the Brazilian will join them, Milan are making a contingency plan by drawing up a new contract.

“Will I stay a Rossonero for life? It depends on President Silvio Berlusconi and if he says he wants to keep me forever, then I believe him,” Kaka told Sky Italia television. “Besides, we’ve already had a meeting about this.”

According to Spanish newspaper ‘Mundo Deportivo’, the club has prepared a contract worth £4m per season until 2012.

The rest of the media in Spain has been playing on the fact Kaka accidentally got on the Real Madrid team bus when the two teams arrived in Moscow for the Russian Railways Cup.

“It wasn’t just me, the entire team got on that bus,” pointed out the player. “Carlo Ancelotti made a joke about me being so eager to be part of the Real group. At this stage, the whole Real Madrid issue has become one big joke.”

Kaka objectively has little reason to go to Madrid, as with Milan he has won the Champions League, been top scorer in the competition with 10 goals and is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.

“This success helped me a great deal. It’s all well and good to be a talented player, but with silverware everyone has to acknowledge I am a winner. In five years here I have won everything.

“I am working to do my best now and in the future. If the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player award arrive, then it will only depend on what I do with Milan. Up until now we’ve done brilliantly well. Now my next target is the World Club Cup – it has extra special meaning for us Brazilians.”

The Rossoneri will fly to Tokyo in December for that tournament, once called the Intercontinental Cup, but new teammate Alexandre Pato will only be able to play competitive games from January 2008.

“He is a little different to me in the way he plays, as he is an out and out striker whereas I am a Trequartista,” commented Kaka of the teenage talent.

“He is a great player and comes from a good family environment. I think he could become a true champion.”

Friendly: AC Milan 0:0 (3:4 after penalties) PSV - match report
3.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan lost to PSV Eindhoven on a penalty shoot-out after the opening Moscow Tournament match ended goalless.

Yoann Gourcuff and Clarence Seedorf made the decisive errors from the spot for a team that started without Ronaldo, Pippo Inzaghi or Alberto Gilardino.

Andrea Pirlo had the best scoring opportunity of the game, but his long-range effort cracked against the upright after 41 minutes.

Youth team striker Willy Aubameyang failed to break through the PSV back line and despite many half-time substitutions, neither side could make an impact.

The Dutch outfit seemed content with the draw and after Kaka, Serginho and Pirlo converted their penalties, Milan lost 4-3 in the shoot-out.

Nelson Dida managed to save one PSV effort from Simons, but it was not enough as Gourcuff’s was parried and Seedorf hit the bar.

This was only the Rossoneri’s second friendly of the campaign following the 4-0 win over Lecco earlier this week.

The other clubs taking part in the Moscow Tournament are Lokomotiv and Real Madrid.

Milan: Dida; Oddo (Cafu 46), Nesta (Simic 63), Kaladze, Jankulovski (Serginho 46); Gattuso (Brocchi 63), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Kakà; Aubameyang (Gourcuff 46)

Ancelotti: Kaka won't leave
3.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti has once again insisted that the San Siro outfit will not be selling Kaka to Real Madrid.

The Brazilian has been linked with a summer switch to the Spanish champions, but the Rossoneri have stated that he is not for sale and will stay in Italy at least until the end of his contract in 2011.

“There are no negotiations underway and there never will be,” said Ancelotti. “It is impossible for him to join Real Madrid, he is a symbol for us.

“He has a long contract and I am sure he will honour it,” added the tactician, whose men will face Real, Lokomotiv Moscow and PSV Eindhoven in the Russian Railways Cup in Moscow this weekend.

Kaka added a funny twist to the transfer speculation when he, along with teammate Cafu, accidentally got on the Madrid team coach.

He soon rectified the mistake, but it was enough for the Spanish Press to report that the player already feels part of Los Blancos.

Meanwhile, Real President Ramon Calderon has announced that Kaka could only join his club if he asks Milan for a transfer.

”Kaka will come if he asks his club to leave. He knows that we have been after him for two years and we know that he and his family would love to join us one day.”

Pato thrilled with AC Milan
3.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alexandre Pato couldn’t hide his delight after finally completing his move to European champions Milan.

The 17-year-old will leave Internacional of Porto Alegre after the San Siro outfit agreed to pay his £10m rescission clause and will immediately meet up with his new teammates.

However, he will not be allowed to play official matches for the Rossoneri until January when he turns 18.

“This was my preferred destination. It’s a great club and there are many of my fellow countrymen who will help me mature and grow,” said Pato after signing a five-year contract.

“Ronaldo was decisive in convincing me to come here, he told me he likes it in Milan very much,” added ‘The Duck’, who will earn a total of £7m over five years.

“I will move to Italy to bring Internacional’s name to the top. I joined this outfit when I was 11. I can remember looking at the Beira-Rio Stadium and being impressed by how big it was.

“I promised my father that I would one day score a goal for him and I am happy I fulfilled this dream.

“I have always tried to repay the supporters’ affection and I will always have pleasant memories of this club,” concluded the youngster.

Milan had to beat off competition from some of Europe’s top sides – including Real Madrid, Chelsea and city rivals Inter – to complete the signing of the Brazilian ace.

OFFICIAL: Alexandre Pato to AC Milan
2.8 || webmaster

AC Milan have announced that the team has signed Alexandre Pato from Internacional Porto Alegre.

Since he's only 17 right now, he is going to be eligible for official matches starting January 3rd 2008.

The transfer fee is rumored to be around $ 20 mil.

Baptista snubs AC Milan move
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid striker Julio Baptista has insisted that he will not be moving to Milan this summer, despite reports suggesting otherwise.

The Brazilian has been linked with a loan move to the Rossoneri, who have yet to land a new forward after being paired with the likes of Andriy Shevchenko and Ronaldinho.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani admitted earlier this week that the 25-year-old was a target, although the San Siro outfit weren’t keen on buying the player on a permanent basis.

“I am flattered that such a big club is interested in me and might want to sign me, but I am a Real Madrid player and want to win here,” Baptista told Spanish newspaper Marca.

“There is absolutely no chance that I will join another club,” added the forward, who spent last season on loan at Arsenal.

“I have always said that I wanted to stay here to win. I spoke to new Real Coach Bernd Schuster and, although what we said is private, we clarified several issues and everything is fine.”

The Beast feared that he could have been surplus to requirements in La Liga, but that no longer appears to be the case.

“I believe they are counting on me, although the squad has yet to be clarified. In any case, things have been sorted out between myself and the club,” concluded Baptista.

Pato moves towards AC Milan
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Brazilian starlet Alexandre Pato has given a clear indication that he is set to choose Milan over Real Madrid.

Having been chased by a number of top European sides including Chelsea, Liverpool and Inter, Pato has narrowed the field down to just two options.

The 17-year-old striker has set an August 15 deadline to decide whether to join the Rossoneri or the Spanish champions, but now seems to be leaning towards the Diavoli.

“Ronaldo has always been my great idol and I would be very happy to play alongside him,” he told Spanish newspaper Sport.

“He spoke to me about Milan and had only positive things to say. The Rossoneri are a very big club with a strong squad.”

According to Sport, the fee for Pato is set at around £10m to the youngster’s club Internacional and a further £5m to be divided between the player and his agent Gilmar Veloz.

AC Milan's early injury crisis
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan are facing a striker shortage for the Moscow tournament, which begins on Friday, due to a glut of injuries.

The Rossoneri are in the Russian capital to face Lokomotiv Moscow, PSV Eindhoven and Real Madrid in a competition to celebrate 170 years of Soviet Railways.

Gabonese youth product Willy Aubameyang may be handed a start as Ronaldo, Pippo Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino are all sidelined with injury problems.

Ronaldo pulled a hamstring kicking a ball in training, Inzaghi is nursing a sore left thigh and Gila is still recovering from knee surgery.

There are whispers in the Italian Press that Milan officials may take the chance to meet with their Real Madrid counterparts in Europe’s most populous city to discuss the future of the Merengues’ Brazilian ace Julio Baptista.

The Diavoli are reportedly keen to take the Selecao star on loan with the option of a permanent move, but the 25-year-old has stressed his desire to stay at the Bernabeu and win over new boss Bernd Schuster.

Riva understands Nesta exit
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Italy legend Gigi Riva has defended Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti for taking early international retirement.

“I understand these lads, as I know what goes through the mind of a player who has suffered a serious injury,” said the Azzurri team manager.

“I realise all too well how it feels to be afraid, sad, to go through rehabilitation with the thought you might never return to the man you were before. Nobody lasts forever and the fans must learn to accept that.”

Totti’s controversial decision to quit international football was followed only a fortnight later by Milan defender Nesta’s announcement.

“We knew for some time that there was the possibility Alessandro could bow out and we waited until the right moment to reach this mature decision. It was a natural progression.”

Nesta has notched up 78 caps for his country, but injuries ruled him out of most major tournaments and he last wore the Azzurri jersey in October 2006.

“In Nesta’s case we are talking about a lad who took part in three World Cups and suffered two serious injuries on the trot. He played nearly 80 games, so one can say he hasn’t had much luck,” continued Riva.

“What to say? The truth is that nobody is eternal and his farewell from the Italy squad did not surprise me.”

Neither of these 2006 World Cup winners will therefore play in September’s Euro 2008 qualifiers against France and Ukraine.

Just one day after going on sale, the Federation confirmed it had already sold 30,000 tickets for the San Siro September 8 showdown with Group B leaders France, 5,000 of which had gone to Les Bleus.

Nesta bids Azzurri farewell
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Alessandro Nesta has followed in Francesco Totti’s footsteps and announced his retirement from international football.

The Milan stopper hasn’t featured in the Azzurri’s recent qualifiers and it has now been confirmed that the 31-year-old has played his last game for Italy.

“I’ve always been so attached to the national jersey and playing for my country has been the best thing in my career,” he stated at a Press conference at Milanello.

“I’m very sorry, but I can’t keep playing in all these games. If I want to keep myself at the top level I need to rest a bit."

Although the decision has only been announced today, it appears that Nesta had been preparing his exit for months.

“I missed a national game when I got married which I only allowed to happen because I knew my Azzurri adventure was over,” he admitted.

“Perhaps I could have gone on longer, but my greatest regret is the last World Cup as it wasn’t easy to watch my teammates triumph while I was sidelined with an injury.”

Nesta made his Italy debut in a 3-1 win over Moldova on October 5, 1996 and won 78 caps without ever finding the net.

Maldini eyes October return
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Milan veteran Paolo Maldini is on the road to recovery from a long-term knee injury and has set October as his target for a return to action.

The Rossoneri idol commented on his preparations for a 22nd season at the club during a publicity event at the San Siro where around 3,000 fans were allowed to meet the squad and have photographs taken with their heroes.

“I asked for extra holiday time because I’m currently not able to train with the others,” the 39-year-old explained to the Milan Channel.

“I want to return before October, but I need to take a series of careful steps towards recovery.

“At the end of August I have an appointment with a specialist and only he can tell me when I’ll be ready to run.

"As soon as I can, I’ll rejoin my teammates and start the real preparation.”

Milan begin the season away to Genoa before hosting Fiorentina in a tough opening fortnight to the 2007-08 campaign.

Baptista denies AC Milan link
2.8 || webmaster

Football Italia

Real Madrid striker Julio Baptista is set to snub Milan’s advances after pledging his future to the Merengues.

Rossoneri Vice-President Adriano Galliani [pictured] recently admitted that the Brazilian star was a loan target with the hope of adding a buy-out clause in the contract.

The 25-year-old Selecao star spent last season on loan to Arsenal as he has struggled to secure playing time in a side with an embarrassment of striking options.

However, the hitman nicknamed ‘The Beast’ has stressed his desire to win over new Real boss Bernd Schuster and cement his position at the Bernabeu.

“My intention has always been to stay and now it all depends on the Coach,” he insisted. “I don’t know what Schuster will say to me, but I want to prove to him that I can be useful.

“He wants to see me train and he will tell me what he wants from me – then we should know more.”

It now seems increasingly likely that Milan will kick-off the season at Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris on August 26 with no new additions.

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