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AIC President Damiano Tommasi is “optimistic” the strike will be called off for Week 2, but clubs within the Lega are still fighting.
The strike was called by the Players’ Association to cancel Serie A’s opening weekend when the union of clubs (Lega) refused to sign the collective bargaining contract.
“Our desire is to get back on the field,” said players’ representative and former Roma star Tommasi.
“I am optimistic, as in my view we have what it takes to reach an agreement before the second round.
“I would be surprised if we failed to find a deal again. It would be an important signal for Italian football if we got together and sorted things out to play the next round.”
However, there continue to be huge problems within the Lega, who voted 18-2 against signing the collective bargaining contract last week.
Cagliari were one of only two clubs who voted in favour and President Massimo Cellino has been extremely vocal in blaming Lega President Maurizio Beretta for the strike.
“I saw the running order of the next Lega meeting and debating the collective bargaining contract is only in penultimate place,” blasted Cellino.
“I consider what has been done to the players to be unjust. There are Presidents who I won’t name and they didn’t want to share this logic. Beretta has another job at Unicredit and he should resign if he can’t focus.”
AC Milan end transfer campaign according to Galliani 30.8 ||webmaster
AIC President Damiano Tommasi and Lega chief Maurizio Beretta held a live television debate on the Serie A strike.
The Players’ Association (AIC) called the strike for this weekend after the union of 20 Serie A clubs (Lega) refused to sign a collective bargaining contract.
The sticking points were Article 4, as clubs wanted players to pay the full solidarity contribution for unemployed colleagues, and Article 7 that means all squads must train together even during contract disputes.
“The collective bargaining contract expired on June 30, 2010. Last year we reached a deal in December after months of negotiations and the strike was called off,” explained AIC President Tommasi on Sky Sport Italia.
“We played from December to May on faith that the contract would be ratified, just as the Lega had promised, but then they changed their minds. There have been no negotiations. The deal was done in December, forgotten in May and disappeared in August.”
Lega President Beretta also took part in the televised debate and painted a very different picture.
“The strike was decided by the AIC and only them. The Lega merely asked for an explicit pledge to pay the solidarity fee and a rule allowing Coaches to deal with large squads, organising training sessions based on priorities and not forcibly all together.
“The negotiations could’ve continued even without the strike and in this the Lega has no responsibility. The agreement worked out in December 2010 was a vague one and some details did not correspond with the wishes of the Lega.
“The 800 Serie A players who went on strike all have perfectly legal contracts and played on because they were under contract. Under these conditions, the strike was an enormous deal.”
Tommasi hit back by pointing out the debate over the solidarity payments only emerged over the last few days.
“We never said we wouldn’t pay the solidarity fee and nobody complained. This is being used by the Lega to hide the real reason we went on strike. It’s an attempt to win over the public by misinforming them.”
Vidal: 'Juventus match AC Milan and Inter' 28.8 ||webmaster
Arturo Vidal reveals why he chose to join Juventus and “we can match Milan and Inter with our champions.”
The Chilean midfielder arrived from Bayer Leverkusen after a deal had apparently already been struck with Bayern Munich.
“I chose Juve because they are an institution,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “I am able to work alongside people like Alessandro Del Piero, Andrea Pirlo and Gigi Buffon, so this is a great opportunity for me.
“I am discovering a whole new world and am happy with my choice. Everything is perfect at Juventus, as there is a club structure at the cutting edge, great teammates and a talented Coach who talks to his players.
“Antonio Conte wants tactical perfection and demands the utmost concentration in every training session. He pays me a lot of attention and all I can do is give my best for the team.”
Conte had said Vidal was picked because he can cover numerous midfield roles.
“I am a central midfielder and give my best there, though naturally the team comes before all personal considerations,” responded the 24-year-old.
“We are a little bit behind the Milanese clubs, but working hard to close that gap. We will do it, as we can match Milan and Inter with our champions.
“I can guarantee the fans we’ll squeeze out every last drop of energy we have in each game to bring Juve back to where history has always seen them – ahead of everyone else.”
As players warn they could carry on the strike into Serie A Week 2, the FIGC intervenes. “We cannot accept that.”
The opening weekend of the top flight season was called off by the Players’ Association (AIC) after the union of clubs (Lega) refused to sign the collective bargaining contract.
“After a year and a half of waiting, we couldn’t do anything other than strike,” Lazio defender Guglielmo Stendardo told Il Messaggero newspaper.
“It is not about money, but defending our rights and our dignity, particularly with regards to Article 7 ensuring all players can train together.
“Without an agreement we will not play, because we are ready to carry on this strike indefinitely. Every professional has the right to train with the squad and not be marginalised in his working environment.
“We understand it is difficult for a Coach to deal with a squad of 30-35 players, but that’s certainly not our fault. We should follow Spain in limiting squads to 20-25 players.
“It’s a pity the first round of the season was postponed, as we wanted to play, but I hope the fans can understand what we’re trying to achieve.”
Serie A Week 2 is set for September 10 and 11, as there is a break for the Euro 2012 qualifiers, but the AIC warn without a deal they could continue the strike.
“We cannot sit here twiddling our thumbs, nor can we accept the strike calling off Week 2 as well,” slammed Federation President Giancarlo Abete.
The FIGC chief is set to hold separate meetings with the AIC and Lega on Monday in a desperate bid to work out an interim agreement.
The players had offered to negotiate a temporary deal to call off the strike on Friday, but the Serie A clubs refused to even discuss it.
Aquilani 'lucky' to be at AC Milan 27.8 ||webmaster
The Players’ Association has warned the Serie A strike could go beyond the opening weekend “if clubs don’t change their attitude.”
The AIC called off the Week 1 fixtures, set for today and tomorrow, after the union of Serie A clubs (Lega) refused to sign a collective bargaining contract.
“If the clubs don’t come together to talk and change their attitude, then it will be difficult to negotiate,” Vice-President Umberto Calcagno told Sky Sport Italia.
“We proffered a hand towards the Lega, including yesterday’s proposal of an interim agreement to avoid the strike.
“It’s difficult to know when we could see each other for talks again. We are available 24/7, but for the moment there are no meetings lined up.”
There are fears the strike could continue, though due to the break for international duty, Serie A won’t kick off until the weekend of September 11.
“We hope the Lega can make a more organic proposal that respects the agreements already reached in recent months, otherwise we risk failing to target the real problem.
“Our interim deal was meant to stand by those agreements for a year so we could sit round a table again, but it was not accepted.”
The Lega have accused the AIC of refusing to accept a solidarity payment to help unemployed players, but the most important issue is that of players in contract disputes being forced to train separately from the squad.
“The players have always said we’d respect the law with regards to the solidarity contribution and there is absolutely no problem there,” assured Calcagno.
Galliani: 'Everyone take a step back' 27.8 ||webmaster
The players are on strike for the opening weekend of the Serie A season and the finger of blame is pointed in different directions.
The Players’ Association (AIC) declared a strike for Week 1 after the union of 20 top flight clubs (Lega) refused to sign a collective bargaining contract.
“The responsibility lies with Lega President Maurizio Beretta,” blasted Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino.
“He treated the situation superficially. I no longer recognise Beretta as our President and asked him to put in writing what he said to us in the Lega meeting.
“If he continues to control the Lega this way, then he may as well go home. He proved himself incompetent.”
Cagliari and Siena were the only two out of 20 clubs to vote in favour of signing the collective bargaining contract on Thursday.
Last-ditch talks failed to reach an agreement, even when the AIC and the Federation offered a temporary deal to see them through to July.
“This strike is a defeat for everyone, especially the AIC,” said Parma President Tommaso Ghirardi.
“Every time a problem emerges, they threaten to go on strike, so this blackmail is unacceptable. They can defend their rights like all workers, but must also not forget they are privileged.”
The two sticking points are the solidarity contribution for unemployed players, which the clubs do not want to pay, and the rule barring clubs from freezing players out of training with the full squad during a contract dispute.
“At Parma there were some players who were not in our plans, so we made them train at Collecchio while the others were at the pre-season camp in Levico. That doesn’t mean we abandoned them, as they had a fitness coach and full medical staff. I don’t find anything wrong with that.”
The AIC argues forcing players to train separately from the squad is damaging their professional dignity and can be used as a ‘blackmail’ tool during contract negotiations.
Kevin Prince Boateng has admitted that he’d like to be fielded as a trequartista for Milan this season.
The player was used in a variety of midfield positions last term, but he’s made it clear that he has a preference.
“I want to be used behind the strikers,” the Ghanaian told Sky Sport Italia. “That is my preferred role in the team.
“Coach Massimiliano Allegri knows that too, but I will adapt to whatever is necessary. He’ll decide what to do with me.”
Boateng was a sensation at San Siro in 2010-11 and a major reason behind the Rossoneri’s Scudetto success.
“Not a lot was expected from me in the last campaign,” he admits. “However, I’ll have to confirm myself and improve as I’ll now have the spotlight on me.
“My personal goal for the season is to get into double figures with regards to the number of goals I score.”
Meanwhile, the player has welcomed Alberto Aquilani and blocked a possible exit for Antonio Cassano.
“Aquilani is an excellent player and he’ll give us a helping hand in midfield,” he noted. “Cassano has had a good pre-season and I hope that he can stay with us.”
AC Milan Champions League fixtures 25.8 ||webmaster
Round 1: Tuesday, 13 September 2011: FC Barcelona - AC Milan Round 2: Wednesday, 28 September 2011: AC Milan - Viktoria Plzen Round 3: Wednesday, 19 October 2011: AC Milan - Bate Borisov Round 4: Tuesday, 1 November 2011: Bate Borisov - AC Milan Round 5: Wednesday, 23 November 2011: AC Milan - FC Barcelona Round 6: Tuesday, 6 December 2011: Viktoria Plzen - AC Milan
It is now official that Alberto Aquilani has joined Milan on loan from Liverpool with an option to buy.
The midfielder flew in to Italy today and underwent his medical at the Milanello training ground.
“Liverpool FC have reached an agreement, subject to a medical, for Alberto Aquilani to join AC Milan on loan for the remainder of the current season,” read a statement on the official Liverpool website.
“The deal includes an option to make the move a permanent one.”
It is believed the option is worth around €6m.
“I want to pay tribute to the way Alberto has conducted himself during these discussions,” said Reds Director of Football Damien Comolli.
“Throughout the entire process, his only desire has been to play football and he has put this ahead of any other considerations and at personal cost to himself. We wish him well for the season ahead.”
UEFA Champions League draw details 25.8 ||webmaster
Milan were paired with Barcelona, BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen. Inter face CSKA Moscow, Lille and Trabzonspor, but Napoli have Manchester City, Villarreal and Bayern Munich!
Inter are in Group B along with CSKA Moscow, French outfit Lille and Trabzonspor. The Turks were only included on Thursday after Fenerbahce pulled out.
Milan are in Group H with reigning champions Barcelona, so the toughest possible draw for Massimiliano Allegri's men. It also allows Zlatan Ibrahimovic to face his former club.
BATE Borisov of Belarus and Czech first timers Viktoria Plzen complete Group H, so the Rossoneri hope to split the group and qualify in the top two fairly easily.
Napoli are in Group A, also the worst they possibly could've drawn, but it is an almost all-Italian affair. They face Bayern Munich, the Manchester City of Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli, plus Giuseppe Rossi's Villarreal.
The draw for the group phase of the Champions League was held in Montecarlo this afternoon with three Italian clubs taking part, as Udinese were eliminated by Arsenal in the play-offs.
Inter were in Pot 1, while Milan dropped to Pot 2 after both Bayern Munich and Arsenal got through the preliminary round. Napoli were in Pot 4, as it was their first European Cup entry in 20 years.
Trabzonspor were introduced on Thursday after fellow Turkish side Fenerbahce were removed from the draw due to a match-fixing investigation.
Elsewhere, Luciano Spalletti's Zenit St Petersburg face Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto and APOEL.
Group A Bayern Munich Villarreal Manchester City Napoli
Group B Inter CSKA Moscow Lille Trabzonspor
Group C Manchester United Benfica Basel Otelul Galati
Group D Real Madrid Olympique Lyonnais Ajax Dinamo Zagreb
Group E Chelsea Valencia Bayer Leverkusen Genk
Group F Arsenal Olympique Marseille Olympiacos Borussia Dortmund
Group G Porto Shakhtar Donetsk Zenit St. Petersburg APOEL
Group H Barcelona Milan BATE Borisov Viktoria Plzen
The Serie A players’ strike still seems to be going ahead this weekend, as the clubs stand firm in refusing to sign the collective bargaining contract.
The Players’ Association (AIC) has warned it will not play the opening weekend of the season unless the clubs sign the contract.
On Wednesday 18 of the 20 Lega clubs voted against accepting the deal. Today the FIGC and CONI are trying to act as mediators, offering a €20m fund to resolve the issue of a ‘solidarity’ payment for unemployed players.
“We confirm that without the signature, the players will not step on to the field on Saturday and Sunday,” declared AIC President Damiano Tommasi.
“Just one minute after pen is put to paper, we are ready to play. We await developments, but what happened over the last couple of days is glaringly obvious. Someone didn’t want this weekend to be played.”
“If there is someone who wants to stop the campaign, then that is the Lega,” added AIC Vice-President Leo Grosso. “They have to take responsibility.”
FIGC President Giancarlo Abete is trying to mediate today and stated he would call off Week 1 if a deal was not struck “before tomorrow.”
It does seem as if the Lega, the collective name for the union of Serie A clubs, is putting up a brick wall in negotiations.
“Our position will not change. The Lega already dictated its conditions yesterday. We wait for the AIC to call off the strike or they will shoulder the responsibility,” said Lega President Maurizio Beretta.
“We negotiated for months and there is no room to talk things over today, because that would mean changing some very clear issues. Either the AIC signs that they will pay the solidarity fee or nothing will happen.”
The AIC version of the contract has been in place since the end of May and up until now the main sticking point had been ensuring all players, even those in contract disputes, could train with the full squad.
However, over the last 24 hours the issue of the solidarity fee for unemployed players has become a big problem. Clubs want the players to pay all of it, whereas the AIC would like sides to contribute.
Even the Federation’s offer of a €20m slush fund to help this issue has not impressed the Lega.
The CONI (the Italian Olympic Committee) released a statement this afternoon “openly condemning the exasperated language used in this debate, which has become incomprehensible and unsustainable.”
UEFA Champions League draw: AC Milan with Barcelona, BATE Borisov & Viktoria Plzen 25.8 ||webmaster
More to follow.
Aquilani happy with AC Milan move 25.8 ||webmaster
Sensational goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng and Clarence Seedorf gave Milan the Trofeo Berlusconi, beating Juventus 2-1.
Mirko Vucinic got one back as the Bianconeri improved considerably in the second half, but the home side lost several players to injury.
The traditional pre-season match at San Siro saw Andrea Pirlo return to face his former teammates for the first time since ending his 10-year stay with the Rossoneri.
Antonio Cassano was the only available striker, as Alexandre Pato and Robinho return from Brazil on Tuesday, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pippo Inzaghi and Stephan El Shaarawy are injured.
Boateng was playing in a more advanced role and made full use of it, opening the scoring with a spectacular volley after nine minutes. Ignazio Abate’s cross came in from the right and he managed to keep his right-foot volley low into the far bottom corner past Gigi Buffon.
A smart Cassano through ball released Gennaro Gattuso, but he lost his footing under pressure.
Seedorf made it 2-0 with a perfect right-foot free kick, curled round the wall and in off the inside of the far post with Buffon rooted to the spot.
Juventus finally got a genuine scoring opportunity after 28 minutes with a Claudio Marchisio screamer that swerved round Christian Abbiati only to crack against the upright.
Boateng limped off with a knee problem and made way for Mathieu Flamini, moving Seedorf and Urby Emanuelson to more advanced positions. Alessandro Matri also picked up a knock to be replaced by Alex Del Piero.
Within 30 seconds of the restart, Taye Taiwo sprained his ankle and made way for Gianluca Zambrotta. Abbiati beat away a swerving Pirlo snapshot from distance.
Juventus got back into it when Del Piero threaded through for Mirko Vucinic’s angled drive with the outside of his right foot.
Another Vucinic attempt was charged down in the box, while Abbiati stuck out a leg to parry from Del Piero. Juve piled on the pressure, but Milan had penalty appeals when Flamini’s shot was charged down by a hand.
Teenage striker Kinglsey Boateng – no relation to Kevin-Prince – unleashed a curler that shocked Buffon and thumped the far top post in the final minutes. Cassano then forced Buffon into a crucial save with his outstretched foot.
Alessandro Del Piero is looking forward to tonight’s Trofeo Berlusconi against Milan and the new Serie A season with Juventus.
The Bianconeri step out at San Siro in the traditional August friendly, having already faced each other during Thursday’s Trofeo TIM mini-tournament along with Inter.
“There is a week to go before the start of the season and it seems as if the summer of 2011 has chosen to reserve its hottest weather for the days leading into the official campaign,” wrote Del Piero on his official website.
“For as long as I have been at Juventus, this phase has been marked by an appointment that is almost as traditional as the season itself, even if it is only a friendly.
“I am talking about the Trofeo Berlusconi, which we play at San Siro against Milan.
“We did well in pre-season, training hard and building a new squad with great promise. On Sunday August 21 there will be another important test, then we begin...”
Allegri: 'Is Aquilani AC Milan's Mr X?' 20.8 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri admits Milan “had found” their Mr X, but are turning their focus on to another midfielder – most likely Alberto Aquilani.
“At the moment there is no Mr X,” he said of the mysterious transfer target who has been touted throughout the summer.
It was believed to be Riccardo Montolivo, but Fiorentina have pledged to only sell him abroad.
“We will stay like this and try to get back the injured players as quickly as possible. We will be competitive on all fronts, including the Champions League, where last season we struggled for various reasons.
“We will absolutely not sign a striker, so if we do bring in reinforcements, it’ll be in midfield. Is Aquilani Mr X? If you say so...”
It is believed the Rossoneri will step up their bid to sign the Liverpool midfielder this weekend for around €7m.
Andrea Pirlo was released on a free transfer to join Juventus, but so far no midfielder has been brought in to replace him.
“There was an alternative, but we were unable to complete the transfer. We had identified a few targets, though some did not make the move.
“In any case, there are still a few days left in the transfer market, so last year at this time we brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho. It’s possible someone else can be a late arrival too.”
Milan take on Juventus on Sunday evening in the traditional Trofeo Berlusconi friendly at San Siro.
“On Tuesday Alexandre Pato and Robinho will return from Brazil, while on Thursday they’re joined by Thiago Silva and Mario Yepes. Unfortunately Pippo Inzaghi had a calf problem, so won’t be available tomorrow.
“Stephan El Shaarawy will return in 15-20 days, while it’ll take a little longer for Philippe Mexes.”
Ibrahimovic misses the Trofeo Berlusconi with a sprained ankle, so Antonio Cassano will start against Juventus.
“At the moment he is our only available striker, is doing well and preparing to have a great season. He knows competition at Milan is fierce and he must always be ready to prove himself.”
AC Milan line up EUR 7 mil. Aquilani swoop 20.8 ||webmaster
The opening weekend of the Serie A season could be postponed due to a players’ strike, as talks again failed to reach a conclusion today.
The Players’ Association (AIC) has threatened to strike in protest at the fact the collective bargaining contract has still not been signed by the union of Serie A clubs (Lega Serie A).
It was hoped there would be a breakthrough today during a meeting of the Lega in Milan, but there were not enough directors present to fully discuss the deal.
“In the absence of several Presidents, we decided to postpone the discussion on the collective bargaining contract, but we will continue along our planned route,” said Udinese patron Gino Pozzo.
The sticking point is Article 7, which protects the rights of players not to be frozen out of training with the squad.
“We are waiting to understand how this rule will be interpreted, to avoid the grey area that could lead to both bullying and also players forcing the hand of the club. We hope the season can start regularly without a strike.”
The opening weekend is set for August 27-28.
There is also another issue that the Lega Serie A are not happy with, namely the contribution to be paid to unemployed players.
The clubs want it made very clear in the collective bargaining contract that this contribution is provided by players who earn above a certain wage and will not cost anything to the clubs.
Meanwhile, the opening weekend of La Liga in Spain has officially been postponed due to their own players going on strike because of unpaid wages.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic reiterated his commitment to Milan, suggested they need another couple of players and hopes Inter sell Samuel Eto’o.
“I am very happy at Milan. Last year Robinho and I arrived in the final days of the transfer market, so we didn’t have time to train with our new teammates. This time we’re in our best shape and are inferior to nobody,” said the striker.
“My arrival from Barcelona was important, as I had to prove I was still alive. There was so much stress and pressure to win, while I also had something to prove to my former club, Inter.
“The Coach, Massimiliano Allegri, had also just arrived, so it was a new experience for all of us. The situation has changed radically this summer.”
He is currently in his home country of Sweden for the Rossoneri’s friendly match against Malmo, where he again starts alongside Antonio Cassano.
“Antonio is a great player and a wonderful teammate I really get along with. We talk a lot and I really hope he will stay with us. However, if someone isn’t happy, then there’s nothing to be done. We’ll see what happens.”
Despite his faith in the squad, Ibrahimovic admitted the Rossoneri could do with some new signings.
“In my view we could do with a couple more players. The transfer market isn’t closed yet and anything is still possible, but even as we are now, Milan have nothing to fear.”
Rivals Inter could be transforming their squad next week, as Eto’o is considering a €40m transfer to Russian club Anzhi.
“I cannot judge, as anyone would be tempted when faced with so much money,” said Ibra of the rumoured €20m per season contract.
“If Inter lose Eto’o, then it’s natural they’d also lose a lot of quality. He is one of the best in the world.
“Would I accept an offer from Russia? I am happy at Milan, so I’d say no. Just to be on the safe side, here’s hoping I never receive such a proposal!”
Allegri: 'AC Milan can beat anybody' 14.8 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri feels Milan’s Italian Super Cup win over Inter was the perfect start to the season. “We know we can beat anybody.”
The Rossoneri fought back from a goal down to defeat their rivals in Beijing on August 6 and are in Sweden today for a friendly with Malmo.
“We are facing an important side that we could well be paired with in the Champions League,” said the Coach.
“The Super Cup victory allows us to prepare for the start of the season in the best possible way. I have an exceptional squad with more motivation than last year and I’m sure we’ll be protagonists.
“Unlike last season, when we brought in new players on transfer deadline day and again in January, this team is already a solid unit. When winning the Scudetto, we needed the first six months just to build the team.
“The lads know each other now and we are all convinced of our strength. When we are highly motivated and ready to play good football, we know we can beat anybody. Milan proved that in the Super Cup against Inter.”
AC Milan aim for Kaka deadline deal 14.8 ||webmaster
Philippe Mexes thinks he’ll be ready for his Milan debut in three weeks. “I’m getting frustrated. I can’t take it anymore.”
The defender has been out of action for four months after undergoing knee ligament surgery when he was still a Roma player.
“I am slowly getting back in shape and tried touching the football for the first time this week,” he told Milan Channel.
“It was nice to have that feeling again, as I hadn’t gone near a football in four months, but I feel a bit frustrated. I know what I’m like and this much time away has been tough. I can’t take it anymore.
“But I know I have to go slowly and avoid relapses. Once the pain has gone, I will be at Coach Massimiliano Allegri’s disposal, which I think will be within two or three weeks.”
Mexes has already missed out on the Italian Super Cup, in which his Milan teammates beat Inter 2-1.
“The season started very well and it was important to see how we were doing. It’s very gratifying to win a title, especially if it’s in a derby. We’re on the right path.
“This is an honest squad and everyone works very hard throughout every training session. My fellow Frenchman Mathieu Flamini is really helping me through this time, but I can’t wait to be with my teammates in the locker room and on the pitch!”
Kevin-Prince Boateng hints at a big change in Milan this season. “The Coach told me I won’t be playing as a trequartista for much longer...”
The Ghanaian international played behind the two strikers during their Scudetto-winning campaign, but the transfer market could bring changes.
“My preferred role is trequartista and I’m enjoying it, albeit not for much longer. Coach Allegri already told me in future I’ll have to play in midfield, on the right or the left,” Boateng said in Tuttosport.
This suggests there will be a new trequartista joining the club during the summer, with names like Alberto Aquilani of Liverpool or Fiorentina outcast Riccardo Montolivo heavily linked.
Another option is that Antonio Cassano will be redeployed in that position to ensure he has more playing time.
“I think our team is complete, so a new buy isn’t crucial, although obviously I don’t make those decisions,” continued Prince.
“If a player arrives who can help us to win, then he’s very welcome. Competition is healthy for individuals and the group.
“We have become a team now after our first year together. We all know Thiago Motta never loses a tackle, that Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants the ball a certain way and Alexandre Pato in another. This is why I’m convinced we will do very well.”
Boateng scored the winning goal in Milan’s 2-1 Italian Super Cup triumph over Inter in Beijing, then celebrated with a kung fu flying kick.
“The goal was Pippo Inzaghi-style, as I was in the right place at the right time. Everyone says it’s worth double because it was against Inter and it brought us the Super Cup. I add a third reason, as the win showed the path we need to follow in the next few months.
“As for the celebration, I was in China and it seemed a nice homage to the local fans. I am passionate about martial arts, as Bruce Lee was my idol and as a kid I studied Kick Boxing for two years.”
Milan full-back Ignazio Abate is determined to earn his place in the Italy squad. “I don’t have as much quality, so always have to go 100kph.”
The 24-year-old started his career as a winger and was transformed into a full-back with the Rossoneri, but is yet to earn a call-up from Cesare Prandelli.
“I am a lad who has to give 100 per cent at all times to improve, because perhaps I don’t have as much quality as Alessandro Nesta or Thiago Silva, so I always have to go 100kph,” he told Sky Sport.
“I have ambitious targets with this team and haven’t won nearly as much as my Milan teammates, so I and the other youngsters in the side have 3,000 more reasons to seek trophies, including the Champions League.
“There are many great full-backs who are doing well at club level and therefore the Italy squad. I just need to keep working and make it difficult for the Coach to drop me every Sunday.”
Abate has had a remarkable career progression considering he has only recently become a full-back.
“This position means you need to be concentrated for all 90 minutes and see many things from another angle.”
Gigi Buffon explains why it was “natural” to give Antonio Cassano the captain’s armband against Spain.
The Bari native revealed he was surprised when coming back from the warm-up at his hometown stadium, the San Nicola, to find the armband on his locker.
“In all honesty, these are natural gestures and it came to mind yesterday. It seemed fairly normal considering it was a friendly and he’d care about this,” smiled the goalkeeper after Italy’s 2-1 victory.
“For me it’s an honour to wear the armband, but this squad has many captains. If we can give this honour to someone else on a special occasion, then I’m happy.
“It was such a natural issue that there’s no need to even comment on it. There’s mutual respect and affection between us all. If we had played in Brescia, then Andrea Pirlo would’ve had the armband.”
However, Buffon admitted there was also something more to giving Cassano a sense of responsibility.
“Behind that gesture there was also the meaning of what he can do for this team. Maybe even Antonio doesn’t know how much he matters to us in the locker room and on the field.
“He must know it’s up to him to be strong, do the work and be ready for Euro 2012.”
AC Milan happy to keep Ibrahimovic for life 10.8 ||webmaster
All 20 Serie A captains signed a letter warning they’ll strike for the opening weekend of the season unless the collective bargaining contract is signed.
There were threats of a strike last year over this same issue and they agreed to postpone the action to give more time for negotiations.
However, the season is set to begin on August 27-28 and the Lega Serie A (the union of clubs) has still not signed the deal with the Players’ Association.
“The Serie A players want to make the public aware of the disconcerting situation around the collective bargaining contract,” read the open letter released by the AIC.
“The agreement reached by the delegation of the AIC and the Lega Serie A, certified by the FIGC in December 2010, were ignored by the clubs with a surprising and unacceptable decision.
“As a consequence, the inadmissible period of deregulation around our world continues to drag on. It threatens our rights and could even put our contracts in jeopardy.
“It may seem absurd, but Italy are today the only developed football nation in which there are no precise contractual norms for all players.
“We therefore consider that without a signature on the collective bargaining contract, we cannot begin the new season. This is why we are certain the Lega Serie A will stand by its commitments and sign the contract that was already drawn up by the Players’ Association on May 30, 2011.”
The letter was signed by all 20 Serie A captains, including Javier Zanetti, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero.
Gattuso: 'AC Milan need an Aquilani' 7.8 ||webmaster
Adriano Galliani maintains beating Inter to the Super Cup in Beijing “was better than the Scudetto, but I punched a board and cut my hand open.”
The Rossoneri fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 at the Bird’s Nest Stadium on Saturday.
“It was a stronger emotion than I felt when we won the Scudetto against Roma, as we were almost prepared for that result,” said the Vice-President.
“At the second goal I punched an advertising board and cut my hand open. We must also thanks the Chinese fans, who were absolutely fantastic throughout our stay.
“I had a few reservations about playing the local derby so far away, but it was a wonderful experience.”
Milan have won the Italian Super Cup six times – more than any other club – although they hadn’t lifted it since 2004.
“This is our 15th Italian piece of silverware, plus 13 internationals, which means Milan have won 28 trophies in 26 years of President Silvio Berlusconi’s rule. I called the President and he was very happy.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic thanked his teammates for the Super Cup goal. “Winning is in the Milan mentality.”
The Swede’s diving header from a Clarence Seedorf assist drew level before Kevin-Prince Boateng secured their 2-1 win over Inter in Beijing.
“We begin the campaign with a great victory,” Ibrahimovic told Milan Channel.
“This was a very important game for us and we’re all happy. We worked hard for a month, but can do much better and return home with this trophy to spur us on.
“I’m trying to do my best and work hard to get where I want to be, but I admit that I’d be dead in the water without my teammates. Once again I scored today thanks to Seedorf and my teammates. What else could I do after their hard work?”
Inter dominated the first half, but Milan emerged as time wore on to secure their sixth edition of the Italian Super Cup.
“I think that if we won this game despite not being in peak form, we can consider that a show of great quality.
“We want to win it all, as we are Milan and it is our duty to be successful. Winning is in the Milan mentality.”
Zanetti wanted AC Milan goal disallowed 6.8 ||webmaster
Milan director Barbara Berlusconi admits it was particularly satisfying “to win this trophy by beating Inter. It’s a victory that’s worth double.”
The Rossoneri secured the Italian Super Cup with a 2-1 victory in Beijing, meaning with six editions they are the most successful club in this tournament’s history.
“I compliment the team, Coach Massimiliano Allegri and Vice-President Adriano Galliani, who got our first objective of the season,” said Berlusconi.
She has only recently joined the Board of Directors, but is the daughter of President Silvio Berlusconi and is dating Milan striker Alexandre Pato.
“I’m glad 2011 continues to bring us success and this is a day of celebration for the Milanisti, because we’re adding another piece of silverware to the CV and it’s particularly satisfying to win this trophy by beating Inter.
“This means it’s a victory that is worth double to the supporters.”
Wesley Sneijder’s goal had put Inter in front before Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin-Prince Boateng turned it around. Pato had a hand in the second goal, as his shot came off the post for the Boateng tap-in.
“We started a little too tense, then the real Milan emerged in the second half,” continued Berlusconi.
“Aside from the result, this Italian Super Cup was a positive advert for Italian football, which can still capture the interest of millions of fans on an international level.
“Our football is a quality product and that’s inevitable for a nation that has won the Champions League twice in the last five years.”
The last time Milan won the Italian Super Cup was in 2004, when Andriy Shevchenko’s hat-trick saw off Lazio 3-0.
Their other victories were in 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1994.
Massimiliano Allegri feels “Milan deserved this win” after a bad start, but improved their courage to defeat Inter in the Super Cup.
“We knew this was a difficult game and starting the season with a derby was not easy,” he said of their 2-1 victory in Beijing.
“We didn’t get a good start, mainly thanks to Inter, who wouldn’t let us keep hold of the ball.
“After Wesley Sneijder’s goal we improved and hit the woodwork, then scored twice and wouldn’t let Inter back in the game.
“I think at the end of the day we deserved this win.”
The Rossoneri couldn’t get into gear during the first half, but found their way after the break to turn the tie around.
“In the second half we put the pressure on and played with more courage. This is the spirit I want to see in football at Milan,” Coach Allegri told RAI.
The tactician was asked if the Rossoneri are the favourites to retain the Scudetto after this success.
“This is a one-off game, whereas over a Serie A season you need greater consistency. We’ve proved that we need to win on the field with the right attitude.
“At this moment I’m happy with the squad at my disposal. There’s a month to the end of the transfer market, but I think everyone will remain. The side is very motivated, has character and can do well this season too.”
Italian Super Cup: AC Milan 2:1 Inter Milan - match report 6.8 ||webmaster
Milan fought back from Wesley Sneijder's opener to win the Italian Super Cup 2-1 with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin-Prince Boateng in Beijing.
This was the first ever Derby della Madonnina in the Super Cup and to spread the word of Italian football it was hosted by the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing. Dejan Stankovic was a shock starter despite missing the last few training sessions with a knee problem and played with a 3-5-1-1 system. Javier Zanetti and Julio Cesar were recalled early from their Copa America vacations after injuries to Yuto Nagatomo and Emiliano Viviano.
Milan opted to start with Robinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng supporting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Ignazio Abate recovered from a flu virus. Philippe Mexes and Stephen El Shaarawy were injured, while Taye Taiwo still had a ban to sit out from his Olympique Marseille days.
It certainly was not friendly, as within 120 seconds Mark Van Bommel got a talking to from the referee for a tackle from behind on Thiago Motta. Robinho fired over after exchanging passes with Ibra, while Thiago Silva did well to block Samuel Eto'o following an intercepted Alessandro Nesta pass.
Gennaro Gattuso was booked after 19 minutes and just 60 seconds later went into two diving tackles on Alvarez and Joel Obi. Inter players crowded round the referee demanding a second booking, but calm was restored and he was given a final warning.
From that free kick, Inter took the lead with a classic Sneijder free kick. It curled in off the inside of the near post to beat Christian Abbiati, a lucky ricochet ensuring the goalkeeper had no chance.
Milan struggled to get into gear and a rare chance went begging thanks to Robinho's misplaced pass in a give-and-go with Ibrahimovic. Instead, Sneijder and Alvarez exchanged quick passes for the Argentine to fire over, while an Eto'o angled drive was smothered at the base of the near post.
Julio Cesar did well to block a Robinho snapshot, but moments later Milan had their best chance of the game so far. On 40 minutes Abate's cross went over Boateng to find Ibra's diving header, looping the ball past Julio Cesar and on to the back post! The Nerazzurri goalkeeper was grateful the bounce took it back away from the line.
In first half stoppages Cristian Chivu brought down Boateng on the outside right edge of the box, but Clarence Seedorf's free kick was insipid.
There were no substitutions, but Gasperini switched Inter to a four-man defence after the break. Chivu went to left-back, Zanetti to the right and Alvarez on the right side of midfield for a 4-4-1-1.
Clarence Seedorf drilled just over the bar from the D in a good opportunity, as did Sneijder. Ibrahimovic combined passes with Boateng to burst into the box before running into Walter Samuel. Milan wanted a penalty, but the referee awarded a free kick against the Swede.
Milan got their equaliser at the end of a chaotic move. The Inter defence charged down a series of efforts before Seedorf chipped a pass at the back post for Ibrahimovic's diving header from six yards, anticipating his marker for an open goal. Inter were furious about a supposed foul in the lead-up, which earned Sneijder a booking for dissent.
Alexandre Pato replaced Robinho with Marco Davide Faraoni on for Alvarez. Ibrahimovic had a good chance on the edge of the box, but the first touch let him down and Zanetti was on it like a hawk.
Thiago Motta's dangerous tackle on Thiago Silva, stamping on the Brazilian when he had the ball between his legs and sparking a furious brawl, particularly with an infuriated Nesta. Thiago Motta risked a straight red for that unnecessary challenge on Silva's knee.
However, as soon as play resumed, Milan went 2-1 up! A long Abate pass found Pato's angled drive, which was fingertipped on to the back post by Julio Cesar, but Boateng dived on to the rebound for a tap-in.
Giampaolo Pazzini replaced Stankovic for a more attacking end to the game from Inter, while Massimo Ambrosini came on for Gattuso. Urby Emanuelson took over from Boateng, while Luc Castaignos replaced Obi. Within 60 seconds Castaignos' cross had been volleyed wide by Eto'o.
Abbiati was almost caught napping by Eto'o and had to kick the ball out of touch under a great deal of pressure. Eto'o put the ball in the back of the net at the 94th minute, but the offside flag was raised.
Clarence Seedorf warns Milan not to underestimate Gian Piero Gasperini’s Inter in today’s Italian Super Cup. “He caused us problems in the past.”
The two teams come face to face in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, kick-off at 13.00 UK time, for the first official trophy of the campaign.
“It will be more important for us to start strong psychologically. Inter could start with a three-man defence, then maybe move to four,” noted the veteran midfielder.
“We know that we’re facing a great side with a Coach who has caused us problems in the past. It will be an even match and we are prepared for the challenge.”
Traditionally the Scudetto winners are the favourites in this match against the Coppa Italia holders, while the fact Inter have a new Coach and are missing many of their South American stars also leans the odds towards Milan.
However, Seedorf is not fooled by the change in tactics for his rivals.
“Wesley Sneijder can play in any midfield role. At Ajax we are taught to play absolutely anywhere,” said his fellow Dutchman.
“Inter did well for four years, while before that it was the Juventus era. Now we hope it will be the time for Milan. I’ve been here for 10 years and had a lot of fun, winning many trophies, so I hope to continue like that.”
Rossoneri Coach Max Allegri admitted he is unsure which striker to use as a partner for Zlatan Ibrahimovic today.
Antonio Cassano seems fairly low on the list, fuelling reports he could leave this summer.
“New players get some very important support here at Milan from the club, the squad and the staff,” explained Seedorf.
“Cassano brings with him some fairly hefty baggage that everyone on the outside is ready to judge. Inevitably, this means he isn’t so calm, but we are trying to help him. He is improving his condition.
“Would I be surprised if he left Milan this summer? At the moment that’s not a real issue. In football nothing is impossible, but I hope he and Milan will make the right decision for all parties.”
Galliani: 'Cassano staying with AC Milan' 5.8 ||webmaster
Massimiliano Allegri admits he’s got a tough choice on who’ll partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Inter.
“Robinho, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Antonio Cassano and Alexandre Pato are battling it out for two starting spots,” said the Milan Coach ahead of tomorrow’s Italian Super Cup in Beijing.
“These are never easy decisions, especially for a game that could go to extra time, so I need everybody.”
The Rossoneri are relatively unchanged from last season, especially as Philippe Mexes and Stephen El Shaarawy are injured with Taye Taiwo suspended.
“I don’t know if Inter will take on a new tactical approach, as only Gian Piero Gasperini knows that.
“If Dejan Stankovic recovers from that knee problem, he’ll be an important player for this match. He’s a warrior, so I expect him to be there. If I could take anyone away from Inter, it would be Samuel Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder.
“We’re starting on a par in this game and have the same hunger to win this Super Cup. Mind you, I felt less nervous ahead of the derby that sent the Scudetto our way last season.”
Allegri was asked about the continuing transfer speculation around the squad, most notably Cassano’s future and the mysterious Mr X target.
“None of us are thinking about the transfer market, as tomorrow’s game requires a great deal of concentration. We want to be competitive in the Champions League and at least reach the quarter-finals, but this is for later.
“Cassano? He needs to be helped the same way as everyone else in this squad. Since we have been here, Cassano’s fitness has improved.”
Galliani fears demise of Italian football 4.8 ||webmaster
Riccardo Montolivo’s agent confirms Milan-Fiorentina negotiations have started. “The two clubs made contact.”
The former Viola captain is on the market after refusing to extend his current contract, which expires in June 2012.
“Yes, it’s true, the two clubs made contact,” Giovanni Branchini told the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It’s up to Fiorentina now to decide what to do. We have taken a decision, which is not to renew the contract with the Viola, but we are not putting any pressure on them to leave Florence now.”
The club does not want to risk losing Montolivo as a free agent in 12 months and hopes to pick up at least €12m from a summer sale.
His position has become increasingly difficult, as fans hurled insults at the midfielder during training and he was stripped of the captain’s armband.
“I do not understand the bitterness of the fans,” insisted his agent. “If Riccardo were to stay here for another season, he would always guarantee the utmost effort. It wouldn’t be a problem for him to remain with the Viola for a year.”
Milan are the hot favourites to sign Italy international Montolivo, but Genoa are also showing an interest.
Nesta has no intention of retiring 3.8 ||webmaster
Milan have cooled fresh links with Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli and Kaka of Real Madrid.
Both players have again been associated with the Rossoneri, but chief Adriano Galliani insists neither will arrive.
“Balotelli is certainly a talent, but Milan are full of attackers right now,” he stated ahead of Saturday’s Italian Super Cup Final against Inter in China.
“As for Kaka, that is impossible. The difference in tax laws between Spain and Italy would make such an operation very expensive.
“If someone arrives then it will be in the last few days of the transfer market and, as I have said for some time, it will be e left-sided midfielder.”
Milan have a wide range of attacking options available to them this term in the shape of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Antonio Cassano, Pippo Inzaghi, Alberto Paloschi and Stephen El Shaarawy.
Kaka has been regularly linked with a return to Milan since his 2009 switch to Liga giants Real Madrid.