Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a "unique" talent but Milan's improving form means they may not make a move for a new forward, says the club's chief football officer Zvonimir Boban.

The future of veteran free agent Ibrahimovic has been the topic of much discussion in recent weeks, with Milan and Serie A rivals Napoli and Bologna all tipped with a move for his signature.

Ibrahimovic is a former Rossoneri favourite and won a Serie A and a Supercoppa Italiana during two seasons with the club between 2010 and 2012.

Boban says even at the age of 38 Ibrahimovic, who decided not to renew his stay with LA Galaxy in MLS, can have an impact on the team but says Milan – who are unbeaten in their past four matches under Stefano Pioli – must take time to weigh up their options.

"We will see if we have to make transfer moves for a forward," he told Rai Radio 1.

"However, Ibrahimovic is unique, he can give so much in the short term. He is different from the others even though he is no longer 28 years old. He is a player with plenty of personality and has what it takes to make the atmosphere around a team pivot.

"When we started negotiating, however, we were in a different position in the table."

Milan are 10th in Serie A, 11 points off the top four and 18 adrift of table-toppers Inter and Juventus.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo praised the desire of Neymar amid ongoing speculation linking him with an exit from the Ligue 1 champions.

Neymar was desperate to leave PSG during the previous transfer window, however, a return to former club Barcelona did not materialise.

There continue to be doubts over the PSG superstar's future in Paris ahead of the January transfer window.

Leonardo was asked about Neymar after the Brazil international supplied two assists and missed a second-half penalty in Sunday's 4-0 Ligue 1 rout of Saint-Etienne.

"I think Neymar is making a lot of effort in every way and also in terms of state of mind," Leonardo told reporters.

"I think the story we have lived is real, it happened a short time ago, but I see a lot of effort on his part.

"The system also forces him to go back, ditto for Kylian [Mbappe], [Mauro] Icardi too, [Edinson] Cavani always did and Pablo Sarabia and [Angel] Di Maria ... they make themselves available and we also have a balance behind that we are forced to have.

"Coming back to Neymar, he still has a lot to do, but I see a real desire on his part to make himself available."

With the transfer market set to reopen in January, PSG have been linked to Juventus outcast Emre Can – who could swap places with Leandro Paredes.

As speculation intensifies, Leonardo urged for Thomas Tuchel to be left alone over transfers.

"I think I'm going to ask you not to ask the coach questions about the transfer window," he said. "The transfer window is a club issue. I have been in football for a long time, I know the limit of the role of the coach, the president, the communication director and that everyone does their job.

"You have to stop with the coach, leave him alone, talk to him about the technical side of the team. The transfer window is a question of opportunity. This group there, for me, it is complete.

"What is also positive is that we managed to play in Ligue 1 two young kids, [Adil] Aouchiche and [Tanguy] Kouassi and that is nice. In addition I think that these are two players who will complement the workforce with their qualities."

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis appeared to rule out the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, insisting the club must "start from scratch" after Gennaro Gattuso replaced Carlo Ancelotti.

Ibrahimovic is a free agent after leaving MLS side LA Galaxy and the veteran striker has been linked with a return to Serie A via Napoli, former club Milan and Serie C outfit Monza.

Touted to re-join Milan, the arrival of ex-Rossoneri boss Gattuso in Naples has led to speculation Ibrahimovic could move to Napoli instead.

It comes after Napoli reportedly offered Ibrahimovic an 18-month contract before head coach Ancelotti was sacked following the club's Champions League victory on Tuesday.

Asked about Ibrahimovic, De Laurentiis told reporters: "Zlatan is a great person with a strong character. We thought about Ibrahimovic when Ancelotti was in charge, as he would've taken a certain role.

"Now before thinking about him, I have other priorities, as this is a team that must play in a different system with a very high line and a defence that cannot allow what it allowed against Parma.

"We must focus first and foremost on what we have in-house and then to reinforce the midfield. It's a pity all the work we had done for Ancelotti now has to be scrapped and we start again working for Gattuso's ideas. We start from scratch, but do not lack enthusiasm."

Gattuso's first match in charge did not go according to plan – Napoli stunned 2-1 by visiting Parma after conceding a 93rd-minute goal on Saturday.

The result left Napoli languishing in eighth in Serie A, 11 points outside the top four amid an eight-match winless streak in the league.

"I am totally in sync with Gattuso, who is a great worker," De Laurentiis said. "He did well at Milan and is the right profile for us, as was Carlo, who remains an extraordinary person.

"Now we need a great deal of patience, nerves of steel and cool heads. I tell that above all to the fans. They want to win at all costs, but football has changed and it has become far more complex."

On Ancelotti, De Laurentiis added: "I can only wish Ancelotti all the best. He is an extraordinary person and a great friend. Once we reach the end of the season, I'll look at everything and understand what went wrong or who was wrong. We will draw a definitive line."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Erling Haaland "knows what he wants to do" amid increasing speculation about the Salzburg striker joining Manchester United, who drew 1-1 at home to Everton on Sunday thanks to Mason Greenwood's equaliser.

Solskjaer described Greenwood as "different class" in his post-match news conference, but discussion soon turned to 19-year-old Norway international Haaland.

Reports suggest the United boss could be given the resources to bring his compatriot to Old Trafford after impressing in Salzburg's ultimately unsuccessful Champions League campaign.

"I don't comment on those speculations," Solskjaer said of the transfer talk. "[Haaland] knows what he wants to do, and he knows what he's going to do, so I don't have to give any advice to any other team's players."

Discussing Greenwood after the teenager followed up a midweek Europa League brace with another goal, Solskjaer said: "It's so natural for him. He just knows exactly what to do.

"Too many chances are missed with strikers rushing the finish, stressing, but the best ones have that little extra half a second, and he does."

Greenwood's strike rescued a point for United and extended their unbeaten Premier League run to six consecutive matches, but they could not break down Everton.

Solskjaer felt his side did not deserve to go behind in the first half, claiming United goalkeeper David de Gea was fouled before Victor Lindelof's own-goal, and expressed his disappointment that the VAR did not bring about a different decision.

"It's a foul. It's as clear as that, but there's no point me complaining," he said. "It [VAR] will be better next year, for sure. We'll have to look at it. That's a clear and obvious foul.

"They got the goal and had something to hold onto. I don't want to go down the route [of saying] that we always struggle against teams that lay low, because we don't.

"It's a work in progress and these young boys are learning. The tempo of the ball wasn't good enough and it has to move quicker, but these boys will learn that."

Reflecting on his first 12 months in charge at Old Trafford, he added: "I've really enjoyed it. I feel that we're on the right track. I'm looking forward to going into work tomorrow because these boys want to learn and improve."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been offered the chance to join ex-Milan associates Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani at third-tier Monza on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Galliani, the Rossoneri's former chief executive, said he had spoken with the Swede in an audacious attempt to lure him to the Serie C side.

Confirmation of the contract offer comes after former Milan owner Berlusconi, who purchased Monza in 2018, publicly outlined his desire to reunite with Ibrahimovic.

The 38-year-old has been a free agent since leaving LA Galaxy after two seasons in MLS.

"After Berlusconi gave me a mandate, I made the offer to [Ibrahimovic's agent] Mino Raiola," Galliani, now CEO at Monza, told Corriere della Sera.

"He suggested I talk about it directly with Zlatan, who I speak with every night."

Galliani explained his pitch: "Come to us, stay six months in Serie C. Then next year we go up to Serie B and in two seasons we are in Serie A."

Monza are on track to win promotion this term, but signing Ibrahimovic would still represent a major surprise.

The former Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United star has been heavily linked with either a return to Milan or a move to Napoli.

Rumoured suitors Bologna have ruled themselves out of the race, with director Walter Sabatini telling Tuttomercatoweb: "Ibrahimovic will not be coming to Bologna. He has made other choices."

Manchester United could be set to land the most sought-after striker in Europe.

According to a new report, Erling Haaland has identified the Red Devils as his preferred choice from a long list of suitors containing Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

The teenager met with the two Bundesliga clubs in midweek, but United appear to have moved to the front of the queue.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND SENDS MESSAGE TO SOLSKJAER

Salzburg star Haaland has told compatriot Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he wants to move to Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

United have been linked with the 19-year-old for several months and the Norwegian connection could lead him to the Premier League.

However, Haaland's high-profile agent Mino Raiola reportedly wants to keep all options on the table as the January transfer window moves nearer.

The striker's father, Alf-Inge, was said to have visited United's training ground in November, while Haaland held talks with Bundesliga teams Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig this week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter's firm interest in Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa could lead to a transfer tug-of-war with Serie A title rivals Juventus, according to CalcioMercato.

- The Nerazzurri have been linked Alessandro Florenzi, but Atalanta are now in pole position to sign the Italy international if he leaves Roma in January, says Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Rest time might be at a minimum for Kylian Mbappe when the club season winds down. According to Le Parisien, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet will give the Paris Saint-Germain star the chance to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which begin less than two weeks after the Euro 2020 final.

- Chelsea are considering launching a January bid for Leeds United loanee Ben White, claims the Daily Mail. Brighton and Hove Albion, White's parent club, are reportedly willing to accept offers of £25million.

- Mundo Deportivo suggests LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona are monitoring Thiago Alcantara's situation amid rumours the midfielder has become unhappy at Bayern Munich. Thiago swapped Barca for Bayern in 2013.

- West Ham's victory over Southampton will not be enough to save Manuel Pellegrini from the sack, says the Daily Star. Carlo Ancelotti and David Moyes are among the possible replacements.

Zinedine Zidane vowed to respect Paris Saint-Germain's relationship with Kylian Mbappe amid rumours of disharmony at Parc des Princes.

Mbappe, 20, was publicly told by Thomas Tuchel to respect coaching decisions after seemingly ignoring the PSG boss when substituted late in last weekend's Ligue 1 win at Montpellier.

French newspaper L'Equipe then claimed the World Cup winner has at times questioned his importance and treatment in comparison to team-mate Neymar.

The report fuelled speculation Mbappe could seek a move to Real Madrid in future but Zidane, who recently admitted to being "in love" with the talented France forward, tried to avoid driving a wedge between player and coach.

"Mbappe plays for PSG. I can't comment on what goes on there behind the scenes," the Madrid boss said on Saturday ahead of his side's LaLiga game against Valencia.

"That would be a lack of respect on my part. You know that I know him very well, but I have to have respect."

Madrid's trip to Mestalla on Sunday marks their final match before El Clasico on Wednesday, a potentially pivotal encounter in the title race.

Zidane insisted his team was focused only on beating Valencia and would not be distracted by the upcoming match at Camp Nou.

"We don't even talk about it," he said. "We are not interested in what will happen on Wednesday. We are only interested in tomorrow's game.

"Valencia are playing very well, getting very good results, they're through to the next stage of the Champions League.

"What we want is to give the best version of ourselves and to try to continue growing as a team. That is what interests us."

Zidane offered no clues over his starting XI but promised Gareth Bale had not fallen out of favour after the winger went unused against Club Brugge in the Champions League.

"I don't think Gareth's role is less important now," he said.

"He is one of us and I will count on him, but I have 25 players and they are all important to me. I follow the squad's progress day by day and everyone puts in. Bale is as important as the others."

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Frank Lampard joked he would ask Chelsea to sign Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.

The Premier League side are able to sign players in January after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) halved their transfer ban.

While Lampard wants to have a say in Chelsea's transfer activity, he joked about signing three of the world's best attackers – Barcelona's Messi, Juventus' Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe.

"If I say I want Mbappe, Ronaldo and Messi for my front three I might get knocked back," the Chelsea head coach said.

"I wouldn't say that, but it's obviously a balance where I can put forward a recommendation and have an open conversation with the owner and hope we move forward in the right direction. I'm very open about that.

"My biggest thing here is how hard can we work on the training ground because I know we have a good squad, that's my main concern.

"Of course when it comes to recruitment I want to have a big say in it and we are very open."

Chelsea were banned from signing players during the close season, but have still made a decent start to the campaign, sitting fourth in the Premier League.

Lampard believes the performances of some of the club's younger players could lead to a change at Chelsea, who host Bournemouth on Saturday.

"I just think we all here have seen this summer, and what's happened since the summer, that the idea of going into the academy and giving these boys a chance was a really good one, because they've deserved it. And they haven't been given that so much in the past," he said.

"So I do think maybe we've changed their [the club's] minds a bit on that one."

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho praised Christian Eriksen's performances, but refused to discuss the midfielder's future.

Eriksen's future has been widely spoken about with the Denmark international coming out of contract at the end of the season.

However, Mourinho is more concerned with the 27-year-old's performances and said he was pleased with Eriksen, who has made just one start since the Portuguese tactician's arrival.

"I only know his contract ends at the end of the season and the conversations I have had with Christian are private conversations that I am not going to share," Mourinho told UK newspapers.

"He was so honest with me and I was so on honest with him – our relationship is really, really good. We have a very good relationship that started on day one. I am not going to betray that trust and relationship.

"I just share this intimate conversation with the structure of the club and Christian obviously knows I am an important part of the club and my job is to share with the structure but to you, it is not for me to say. It is up to Christian to tell anything he wants to or not.

"Every time I play him, I think he shows clearly the quality he has and he tries to help the team when he's on the pitch which is an important thing for me, independent of his future."

Eriksen has previously been linked with a move to Real Madrid, while Manchester United are also reportedly interested.

But, asked if Eriksen would leave in January, Mourinho said: "I cannot answer that. I don't know."

Diego Simeone has responded to calls for Joao Felix to be given a more important role with Atletico Madrid by insisting he too wants to see the player in top form in every match.

The 20-year-old forward, a €126million signing from Benfica in the previous transfer window, scored a penalty during a strong performance in the 2-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday that secured Atleti's place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

It was Joao Felix's most promising display since he returned from an ankle injury that saw him miss six matches, in which Simeone's side were criticised for a lack of cutting edge in attack.

There are calls for the Portugal international to start Saturday's LaLiga match against Osasuna as the linchpin of the attack once more, as Atleti aim for what would be just a fourth win in 14 league games.

Simeone, too, is eager to unleash Joao Felix and see him maintain his level of form.

"I also want to see him every day and want to see him in the best form possible, no doubt about that," he told reporters on Friday.

"We know what we need to do to improve in LaLiga.

"We have a tough opponent, who have come up into the Primera Division in a very strong way, with great collective work.

"Beyond the criticism and the opinions, we're looking for routes to get us back to having balance. This balance is more clear now, and with more regularity across the 90 minutes, there are more chances to win."

Simeone also confirmed discussions are under way as to Atletico's plans for the January transfer window.

They are rumoured to be prepared to go back in for Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno, while Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic and Tottenham's Christian Eriksen have also been linked, as has Torino forward Andrea Belotti.

"As always, we're talking with [CEO] Miguel Angel [Gil Marin] and with [sporting director] Andrea [Berta] about what the team needs," Simeone said. "But I'm only thinking about Osasuna."

Atleti are seventh in the table after 16 matches, eight points behind both leaders Barcelona and second-placed Real Madrid, having played a game more.

Ezequiel Lavezzi has announced his retirement from professional football.

The 34-year-old said in a statement on social media that he is calling time on "the most amazing phase life has given me".

Lavezzi had suggested last month that he could end his playing career after Hebei China Fortune's final Chinese Super League match of 2019 against Wuhan Zall on December 1, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The former Argentina international, who won 51 caps for his country and reached the finals of the 2014 World Cup and 2015 and 2016 Copas America, wrote on Twitter on Friday: "They were amazing years of this story.

"Years marked by learning, unique moments and lots of memories that will stay in my heart for good.

"I am forever grateful for those who have stayed by my side throughout this journey.

"With lots of joy, I say goodbye to the most amazing phase life has given me. I've been extremely happy!"

Lavezzi moved to Hebei China Fortune in 2016 after four years with Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he won four Ligue 1 titles, two Coupes de la Ligue, two Trophees des Champions and the Coupe de France.

He was previously part of a formidable attacking trio with Napoli, alongside Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik, and won the Coppa Italia in 2012 with a 2-0 win over Juventus in the final.

Lavezzi started his career with Rosario Central before spending a year with Estudiantes and three with San Lorenzo, where he won the 2007 Clausura title.

Frank Lampard has no plans to discuss the respective futures of Olivier Giroud, Willian and Pedro before January as the trio prepare to enter the final six months of their Chelsea contracts.

Having had their transfer and registration embargo ended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Chelsea are free to sign new players in January and look set to be active.

Many expected this season to be tough for the Blues given their inability to bring in new recruits in pre-season, but they have surpassed expectations under Lampard and are fourth after 16 matches.

Supporters' outlooks might become more ambitious following the embargo's end, with several areas of Chelsea's squad seemingly in need of reinforcements.

While that could see some of the club's more experienced campaigners shown the door, Lampard insists no such decisions will be made until next month when the transfer window reopens.

Asked if he had spoken to Giroud about his future, Lampard said: "No. All the players that are here, I won't have any talk about January until we get to January. Everybody.

"I am happy for him to stay, as with every player in the squad. I want them to be here for Chelsea, have the right professionalism and right desire to be here.

"He has shown me that in his training every day this season. That's what I am happy with."

On the subject of Willian and Pedro entering the final months of their deals, Lampard added: "It is always an issue for the club as well as myself.

"I obviously, as the manager, have full conversations upstairs. There's a money side and a playing side, so I want players who want to be here and perform well for us.

"I think they both have done that over their careers here. So, that's simple from my point of view. I want good players here."

One player heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in January is Bournemouth's Nathan Ake.

The Dutch defender joined Bournemouth - who visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday - from the Blues in 2017, but Chelsea retained a buy-back clause reportedly worth £40million in the deal.

Lampard seemed unmoved by the significance of the clause, though he acknowledged they should look to bring new players in if they can.

He added: "I don't know how clever it [the buy-back clause] is - it is what it is.

"Nathan came through here and, when he has gone to Bournemouth to be able to play regular football, I think he has done fantastically well. He has shown himself as a really good defender in the Premier League.

"In terms of the back four and with the defence I have, I am very happy. Again, it [signings] won't be anything I consider until I feel otherwise, and at the minute, we can do no business.

"I am happy with the squad, but we have to improve if we can. It is not just my business; in the modern day, since I have been in management and at most clubs, it is a joint-effort. I can put forward a lot and we will work together.

"I will recommend players that can improve us, fit with the style and the way we want to go and come in really hungry. I want people who come here wanting to win and to be a Chelsea player."

Jurgen Klopp engaged in a comical exchange with a Japanese journalist at Friday's news conference, hinting at Takumi Minamino's imminent arrival at Liverpool.

Salzburg star Minamino has been one of the Austrian club's star players over the past year, impressing in the Europa League last season and in the Champions League this term.

Liverpool had been able to take a particularly close look at the Japan international when the two clubs played one another twice in the Champions League group stage, with Minamino again catching the eye against the Reds in their 2-0 win on Tuesday.

Since then, media speculation has claimed Liverpool have already secured a deal to sign the attacking midfielder in January.

Klopp, who was speaking following confirmation of his new four-and-a-half-year contract, would not be drawn on the rumours but took a mischievous tone when a Japanese journalist raised his hand for a question.

"Why are you here?" Klopp quipped, adding: "I think we'll see you more often now."

But instead of asking Klopp about Minamino, the reporter actually queried the German on Shinji Kagawa, the Japanese player he worked with at Borussia Dortmund.

Klopp replied: "Look, he doesn't speak about Minamino, he speaks about Shinji Kagawa!

"I love that, that's great, and smart. I loved working with Shinji, a great experience because I didn't have much of an idea about Japanese football before I met Shinji. We saw him on video and signed him from watching him on video.

"We were not sure about him, but after first time training, in the dressing room, all of the coaches were just hugging each other, [saying], 'Oh my God, we've got a super player'.

"I had two years with Shinji, and you know better than I do, but the attitude of Japanese players is outstanding, smart, technically really good usually, work-rate outstanding, really dynamic and nice people.

"I still try to follow his career – it was just a great experience."

Earlier, Klopp batted away a question relating to the apparently imminent arrival of Minamino, though he did acknowledge rating the 24-year-old highly.

"There's nothing else to say," Klopp remarked. "We speak about it in the moment like we do about all transfers – or potential transfers – when it's sorted, so [I have] nothing to say about it.

"He's a very good player, I can say that, but I saw many good players in the Salzburg team, more than I wanted to see, but that's it."

Page 1 of 80
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.