Real Madrid are planning to make a splash in the transfer market.

Reports claim three of Europe's finest – Kylian Mbappe, Kai Havertz and Eduardo Camavinga – are waiting to make the move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Could it happen?

 

TOP STORY – TRIO WAITING ON LOS BLANCOS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga are holding off contract talks as they wait for Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Wednesday's edition of Marca.

Mbappe is highly coveted by Zinedine Zidane and Madrid, Havertz has been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, while Camavinga is reportedly a Madrid target.

However, the trio may have to wait beyond this year to make the move to the Spanish capital, though Sport Bild claims Havertz has asked to leave Leverkusen before 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona still want to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, despite his release clause expiring.

Borussia Dortmund have issued an ultimatum to United. Sport Bild claims United have been told if they want to bid for Jadon Sancho, the deal must be done by August 10. Sancho has been heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford.

Arsenal want to sign Lyon's Moussa Dembele if they lose Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, reports Foot Mercato. Lacazette has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Inter, while Barca, PSG and other clubs are reportedly interested in Aubameyang.

Inter are not David Alaba's first choice should he leave Bayern, says Sport Bild. Alaba has been linked to Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Sevilla are leading Juventus and Inter in the pursuit of Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, says the Express.

- According to the Express, Tottenham are confident of signing Kurt Zouma from London rivals Chelsea at the end of the season.

- Could Inter be about to hijack Napoli's bid for Lille forward Victor Osimhen? The Nigeria international has been tipped to join Napoli in a €80million deal, however, Le10Sport says Inter are making a last-ditch attempt to sign Osimhen.

- Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri has handed in a transfer request as he looks to reunite with Antonio Conte at Inter, reports Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schira.

Milan are trying to hijack Inter's move for Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter have been favourites to land Tonali but Ralf Rangnick – who is tipped to become Milan's head coach in 2020-21 – has reportedly made the Italy international his top target.

The touching pre-match tribute to Ennio Morricone, the great Italian film composer who died, aged 91, on Monday, fitted nicely for what was about to unfold at San Siro.

Possibly for the last time in their decorated careers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – two of the most destructive gunslingers in modern European football – were ready to do battle as Milan and Juventus lined up.

More so than perhaps any other players of their generation, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's on-field deeds have frequently carried cinematic qualities. From the rippling physiques and inimitable preening, to their seamless combination of brute force and artistry, both men scream Hollywood.

Characters who polarise the audience were always the best pegs for Morricone's irresistibly lush arrangements and Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic are good, bad and ugly to many all at the same time. If Lionel Messi's lack of overt edge leaves you cold, these two have always been your guys. Your antiheroes.

While Ronaldo and Messi existed unrelentingly in one another's orbit for the best part of a decade, the fleeting and often explosive addition of Ibrahimovic to the equation has usually left fans wanting more.

It is churlish to bemoan the lack of spectators given the ongoing gravity of the global situation but some occasions miss a live audience more than others. This potentially final installment of a flashpoint rivalry was one of those.

Although this match eventually made a case of its own, they were never likely to top the stupendous 2013 World Cup qualification play-off, where the pair scored all the goals over two legs that concluded with Portugal eliminating Sweden on away goals. Morricone could have gone to town on that one. Drama, tension, plot-twists, elation, despair. It had everything.

Almost seven years on, each player is past the peak they revelled in back then, even if Ronaldo's absurd goal scoring numbers make a compelling counter-argument.

The passage of time necessitates refinement. Today they are wily, all-knowing stars in complete control and happy to exist on the margins, rather than all-action leading men – more Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino than his Man With No Name pomp.

This was their lot during a brooding first half. Ronaldo cut inside from the left win to thump a trademark dipping drive just beyond the far post. He was more frequently seen remonstrating with the officials, most notably when Ibrahimovic's penchant for martial arts was on display and his boot grazed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's ear as he attacked a right-win set piece.

Ibrahimovic twice brought routine saves from Wojciech Szczesny before breaking clear in stoppage time. 1-0? No, cut! Offside, and the deadlock remained.

Tearing the length of the field to score goal-of-the-season contenders might no longer be Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's game, but Adrien Rabiot happily made that his business in the 47th minute.

The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder barged Franck Kessie out of the way and nutmegged Theo Hernandez to cross the halfway line on the right wing. Rabiot then opened his elegant stride to breeze beyond Alessio Romagnoli and brought things to a thrilling crescendo. As Milan's defence scattered he unfurled a majestic left-footed strike into the top-right corner.

A befuddled Rossoneri were struggling to regain composure – none too effectively in the case of Andrea Conti and Simon Kjaer, who got in each other's way defending Juan Cuadrado's raking ball.

And there he was. Ronaldo, finger on the trigger. Goal 26 of the Serie A campaign was a formality and Juve were going 10 points clear of a faltering Lazio.

Only, one man had other ideas. It was time for an audacious third-act twist almost too implausible for any composition.

The VAR playback of the 62nd-minute scene did no favours for Leonardo Bonucci. Handball. Penalty. Of course Ibrahimovic stepped up. Of course he scored.

There he was again four minutes later, that strapping back onto which you could probably project movies facing the Juventus goal. Ibrahimovic's penalty box presence was as booming as his lay-off was deft. Kessie was on hand for a redemptive finish, his earlier humiliation at the hands of Rabiot forgotten.

Ibrahimovic then left the chaos, his part played perfectly. But Milan were not done as Ronaldo's compatriot Rafael Leao ensured 0-2 had become 3-2 in the space of five berserk minutes.

If he'd been tasked with soundtracking this undulating drama, Morricone might have been tearing up his score at this point. At the very least, the keen Roma fan would have been disgruntled at the unlikely lifeline handed to Lazio's ailing Scudetto bid.

A roof-falling-in error from Alex Sandro allowed Ante Rebic to complete a 4-2 triumph. Six goals, the perfect number.

At full-time, Ibrahimovic strode around, a picture of satisfaction. Topless, of course. Just as Ronaldo, beaten and wounded, would have done had roles been reversed.

Perhaps the veteran Swede will survive the behind-the-scenes ructions at Milan to return next season. Is another sequel with the intoxicating sound and colour of the tifosi as opposed to the eerie emptiness of now too much to ask?

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri lamented his team's "total blackout" after the Serie A leaders capitulated in their shock 4-2 defeat to rivals Milan.

Juve appeared on track for a routine win at San Siro, where two goals in the space of six minutes from Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo gave the defending champions a 2-0 lead through 53 minutes.

However, Milan turned Tuesday's match on its head, scoring three goals in five minutes to take a 3-2 lead before Ante Rebic sealed the incredible comeback with 10 minutes remaining.

"I think our first 60 minutes were world class. We were in total control and had this blackout," Sarri told DAZN as he discussed Juve's collapse.

"There's not even much use thinking too much about it, because we have another game in three days.

"We had a total blackout for 15 minutes. It has happened to other teams in this period. We have to take the positives from the game, which are that we were in total control for an hour.

"It's usually not even possible to find the reasons for these inexplicable blackouts."

Sarri, who was without suspended pair Paulo Dybala and Matthijs de Ligt, added: "We had some bad performances and quite rightly lost them, but this is not the case now. We played well this evening.

"I've seen many other teams have similar blackouts lately, because it's an unusual situation to be playing and training in these temperatures, with so many games close together.

"Sitting here trying to over-analyse it or put ourselves on trial could be counter-productive and make us lose all the good work we’ve done so far.

"It's completely different to the defeats against Verona and Napoli, so we have to focus on the next match. This is a team that has excellent football in its capabilities and that is what we need to build on."

Despite the loss – which saw Juve concede four goals to Milan for the first time since 1989 – the Scudetto holders remain seven points clear atop the table with seven matches left to play.

Challengers Lazio failed to make any inroads following their surprise 2-1 loss to lowly Lecce earlier on Tuesday.

Asked if Lazio's result had made Juve complacent, Sarri replied: "I don't think it made a difference, otherwise the initial approach would've been poor.

"Instead, we were focused for most of the match. I don't even think we relaxed after going 2-0 up, it was the penalty that sparked the blackout."

Stefano Pioli was in no mood to ruminate on his Milan future after leading an incredible fightback to defeat Serie A leaders Juventus 4-2 at San Siro.

Milan looked set to become defending champions Juve's latest victims as the Rossoneri trailed to a wonderful individual Adrien Rabiot goal and Cristiano Ronaldo's swift second on Tuesday.

But a remarkable turnaround saw Milan score three times in the space of six minutes through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Franck Kessie and Rafael Leao, with Ante Rebic then securing the points after an awful Alex Sandro error.

Milan are unbeaten since the season resumed, also beating Juve's title rivals Lazio last week, yet it still appears Pioli will not be at the helm next season.

Widespread reports claim former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick will be installed as both head coach and technical director.

Pioli will not be distracted, though, telling DAZN post-match: "I don't think about what's going to happen on August 3. I'm focused on what we're doing.

"I hope to hit the target I was called for. I don't think about August 3rd; I like to train, I'm fine here. I can't think about the future and situations that don't depend on me."

Pioli, who saw Milan score four goals against Juve for the first time since 1989, added of the win: "I congratulate my players on a great day and a great victory.

"The work done at Milanello was important. The team is doing well, playing well, and I'm happy even if we haven't done anything yet.

"In 20 days, we play for everything. We think of Napoli [next]. There is satisfaction but great concentration. Everything we are doing needs to be improved. The level is high - if you make a mistake then you pay for it.

"The work of the staff was important. We were good at taking advantage of the penalty incident. We did well on the pitch.

"The first half was balanced, we were surprised. The team mentality is making a difference and we must keep going."

Rangnick's mooted dual-role would also impinge on Milan great Paolo Maldini's position at the club.

However, Maldini – the existing technical director – took a similar tone to Pioli as he spoke ahead of the Juve game, insisting his future was not an immediate concern.

"I don't know [about the future]," Maldini told DAZN. "I want to get to the end of this season in August by concentrating on the matches and the goals we have set ourselves."

The touching pre-match tribute to Ennio Morricone, the great Italian film composer who died, aged 91, on Monday, fitted nicely for what was about to unfold at San Siro.

Possibly for the last time in their decorated careers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – two of the most destructive gunslingers in modern European football – were ready to do battle as Milan and Juventus lined up.

More so than perhaps any other players of their generation, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's on-field deeds have frequently carried cinematic qualities. From the rippling physiques and inimitable preening, to their seamless combination of brute force and artistry, both men scream Hollywood.

Characters who polarise the audience were always the best pegs for Morricone's irresistibly lush arrangements and Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic are good, bad and ugly to many all at the same time. If Lionel Messi's lack of overt edge leaves you cold, these two have always been your guys. Your antiheroes.

While Ronaldo and Messi existed unrelentingly in one another's orbit for the best part of a decade, the fleeting and often explosive addition of Ibrahimovic to the equation has usually left fans wanting more.

It is churlish to bemoan the lack of spectators given the ongoing gravity of the global situation but some occasions miss a live audience more than others. This potentially final installment of a flashpoint rivalry was one of those.

Although this match eventually made a case of its own, they were never likely to top the stupendous 2013 World Cup qualification play-off, where the pair scored all the goals over two legs that concluded with Portugal eliminating Sweden on away goals. Morricone could have gone to town on that one. Drama, tension, plot-twists, elation, despair. It had everything.

Almost seven years on, each player is past the peak they revelled in back then, even if Ronaldo's absurd goal scoring numbers make a compelling counter-argument.

The passage of time necessitates refinement. Today they are wily, all-knowing stars in complete control and happy to exist on the margins, rather than all-action leading men – more Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino than his Man With No Name pomp.

This was their lot during a brooding first half. Ronaldo cut inside from the left win to thump a trademark dipping drive just beyond the far post. He was more frequently seen remonstrating with the officials, most notably when Ibrahimovic's penchant for martial arts was on display and his boot grazed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's ear as he attacked a right-win set piece.

Ibrahimovic twice brought routine saves from Wojciech Szczesny before breaking clear in stoppage time. 1-0? No, cut! Offside, and the deadlock remained.

Tearing the length of the field to score goal-of-the-season contenders might no longer be Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's game, but Adrien Rabiot happily made that his business in the 47th minute.

The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder barged Franck Kessie out of the way and nutmegged Theo Hernandez to cross the halfway line on the right wing. Rabiot then opened his elegant stride to breeze beyond Alessio Romagnoli and brought things to a thrilling crescendo. As Milan's defence scattered he unfurled a majestic left-footed strike into the top-right corner.

A befuddled Rossoneri were struggling to regain composure – none too effectively in the case of Andrea Conti and Simon Kjaer, who got in each other's way defending Juan Cuadrado's raking ball.

And there he was. Ronaldo, finger on the trigger. Goal 26 of the Serie A campaign was a formality and Juve were going 10 points clear of a faltering Lazio.

Only, one man had other ideas. It was time for an audacious third-act twist almost too implausible for any composition.

The VAR playback of the 62nd-minute scene did no favours for Leonardo Bonucci. Handball. Penalty. Of course Ibrahimovic stepped up. Of course he scored.

There he was again four minutes later, that strapping back onto which you could probably project movies facing the Juventus goal. Ibrahimovic's penalty box presence was as booming as his lay-off was deft. Kessie was on hand for a redemptive finish, his earlier humiliation at the hands of Rabiot forgotten.

Ibrahimovic then left the chaos, his part played perfectly. But Milan were not done as Ronaldo's compatriot Rafael Leao ensured 0-2 had become 3-2 in the space of five berserk minutes.

If he'd been tasked with soundtracking this undulating drama, Morricone might have been tearing up his score at this point. At the very least, the keen Roma fan would have been disgruntled at the unlikely lifeline handed to Lazio's ailing Scudetto bid.

A roof-falling-in error from Alex Sandro allowed Ante Rebic to complete a 4-2 triumph. Six goals, the perfect number.

At full-time, Ibrahimovic strode around, a picture of satisfaction. Topless, of course. Just as Ronaldo, beaten and wounded, would have done had roles been reversed.

Perhaps the veteran Swede will survive the behind-the-scenes ructions at Milan to return next season. Is another sequel with the intoxicating sound and colour of the tifosi as opposed to the eerie emptiness of now too much to ask?

Juventus missed the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of Serie A as they incredibly let a two-goal lead slip to lose 4-2 at Milan after a remarkable second half on Tuesday. 

At the start of a crucial week in which Juve also face in-form Atalanta, the leaders had been boosted ahead of kick-off by news of another defeat for second-placed Lazio. 

However, the Bianconeri could not take full advantage despite a sensational opener from Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo's swift second. 

All six goals came after the interval as Milan staged a rapid recovery, scoring through Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the penalty spot, Franck Kessie, substitute Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic. 

Missing the suspended Paulo Dybala, Maurizio Sarri's side could not rally and so remain seven points ahead of Lazio, while rampant Milan climb to fifth. 

Few could have imagined such a chaotic second period when an offside flag against Ibrahimovic ensured the sides went into the break scoreless after a first half of precious little action. 

But Rabiot then required only 74 seconds from the kick-off to break the deadlock in magnificent fashion. 

The midfielder collected the ball just inside his own half and brushed off Kessie before advancing, nutmegging Theo Hernandez and then, 20 yards from goal, arrowing a left-footed shot into the top-right corner. 

There was little the Milan defence could do to deny Rabiot, but Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer would be well advised to avoid replays of Juve's second, the pair colliding to give Ronaldo time and space to beat Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

Just as Juve looked set to coast to victory, a VAR review spotted a handball from Leonardo Bonucci inside the area, allowing Ibrahimovic to convert from 12 yards. 

The momentum swung and suddenly Milan were in the ascendancy. A wonderful team move created space for Kessie to shoot inside the area, a deflection deceiving Wojciech Szczesny, while Leao drove a low strike through the goalkeeper for a third goal in six minutes to turn the match around. 

Juve threatened to battle back as Donnarumma saved superbly from Daniele Rugani, but Rebic - earlier denied by Szczesny - lashed in Milan's fourth to clinch the points. Ronaldo thought he had netted again in stoppage time, only to be ruled offside.

Already rivals on the field, Manchester United and Manchester City might be set to clash off it.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Milan Skriniar of Inter are both reportedly wanted in Manchester.

An off-season battle may therefore be set to take place between the two foes.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED, CITY EYEING DEFENDERS

Manchester United and neighbours Manchester City are going head-to-head for centre-backs, according to the Independent.

United and City are both reportedly eyeing defensive reinforcements as they look to catch Premier League champions Liverpool next season.

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and Inter defender Milan Skriniar – also wanted by Real Madrid – have been strongly linked to the Manchester clubs.

 

ROUND-UP

Ralf Rangnick has agreed a deal to become the head coach of Milan in 2020-21, says The Guardian. Rangnick will replace Stefano Pioli, who was only appointed in October. The German is also set to hold talks about combining the coaching role with that of sporting director – a position held by Milan great Paolo Maldini.

- Qualifying for the Champions League will be the first step of any deal to bring Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho to United, reports the Evening Standard. Sancho has been linked to Liverpool, Chelsea and Madrid.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Paris Saint-Germain are poised to make an €80million offer for Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The Ligue 1 champions, however, are wary of competition from United, Madrid and Chelsea.

Kai Havertz is aware of interest from Chelsea but the Premier League side are yet to make an offer for the Bayer Leverkusen star, claims Bild's Christian Falk. Liverpool, United, Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have also emerged as possible destinations.

Juventus, Inter and Atletico Madrid are eyeing Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, according to L'Equipe.

- A cross-town move? Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter are continuing to pursue Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.

Nathan Ake to United? The Daily Mail claims Bournemouth could be forced to sell some of their stars as they battle to avoid relegation. The defender has previously been linked to City.

Juve are interested in Arkadiusz Milik but Napoli would prefer not to sell to their Serie A rivals, reports Calciomercato. Napoli are said to be prepared to move Milik abroad amid links to Atletico and Tottenham.

Hungary head coach Marco Rossi believes Salzburg star Dominik Szoboszlai is the "ideal player" for Serie A side Napoli.

Szoboszlai is a player in demand and tipped to leave Salzburg following his exploits for the Austrian champions – the Hungary international linked to Napoli, Milan, Inter, Lazio and Premier League outfit Arsenal.

The 19-year-old midfielder has scored 12 goals across all competitions in 2019-20, supplying 10 league assists for Salzburg in Austria.

Amid growing speculation, Hungary's Italian boss Rossi feels Szoboszlai would thrive with Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli.

"He's a 19-year-old who made his debut for the national team at the age of 18. He's a very elegant and talented player, rich in technique," Rossi told CalcioNapoli24.

"He plays between the lines and is good at assisting in the final third. He has great physicality and is tall but, despite its height, also has an excellent burst of pace.

"If he decides to accept an offer from Serie A, it would complement his technical expertise with a couple of things where he still needs to improve, for example his defensive game.

"Tactically speaking, Salzburg have played him high up on the left and he's posted good numbers there, but in possession he often plays between the lines to make room for the full-back.

"In a 4-3-3, instead, he could be a box-to-box midfielder, capable of supporting the centre-forward.

"Szoboszlai expresses himself best in a team who play positionally. In Italy, Napoli must play football and not counterattack because they're among the best teams in Italy, [even if] they might suffer in a couple of games every season.

"Dominik would be the ideal player for [Napoli’s] style of play."

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

Simone Inzaghi acknowledged Lazio's Serie A title chances have been dealt a blow after losing 3-0 to Milan but insisted the Scudetto hopefuls will not give up.

Lazio were comprehensively beaten by visiting Milan in Rome on Saturday as Inzaghi's men fell seven points adrift of leaders and defending champions Juventus.

Without leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo due to suspension, Lazio's Scudetto dream was derailed by Hakan Calhanoglu, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic at Stadio Olimpico – Milan leading 2-0 at half-time.

Lazio – eyeing their first league crown since 2000 – face an uphill battle overhauling Juve with eight matches remaining in 2019-20, while Inter could move within a point of second spot by beating Bologna on Sunday.

"This defeat weighs on us in the table, but we knew that there were some objective difficulties today," Lazio head coach Inzaghi told DAZN. "We weren't very fortunate either, as we conceded a goal with a deflection, another on a penalty that Thomas Strakosha almost saved.

"Then we had two chances to get it back on track, only to concede the third goal. Unfortunately, I can't rotate the squad right now, so playing four games in under two weeks becomes difficult.

"We've got to look forward and prepare for the next match. We know the journey we have taken and have no intention of letting go. We'll probably lose [Joaquin] Correa to injury for the next one, we must try to rotate a little, because these lads are now very tired."

"Correa has been struggling with a calf problem for a few weeks," added Inzaghi. "If Caicedo and Immobile weren't suspended, he wouldn't have played today. Lucas Leiva had his first appearance today after just 25 minutes of training. We only made the decision after a fitness test this morning.

"Bobby Adekanye hadn't played for 25 days either, [Sergej] Milinkovic-Savic and Correa told me they weren't feeling right. It was difficult against Milan in these circumstances. Even then I have to think we could’ve got back into it at 2-1.

"Initially, Luis Alberto was meant to be in support of Correa, but we were lacking a physical presence and hadn't really used this tactic without Immobile. If we'd had Adekanye in training during the week, I probably would've started him, as he is at least a centre-forward."

It was a return to form for Milan, who faced defeat before rallying to earn a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened SPAL last time out.

Milan – with Ibrahimovic back in the line-up – dominated against Lazio as they stayed on track to qualify for the Europa League next season.

"We work really well at Milanello, I always said that I had a group of responsible players who are aware of the importance of the shirt they are wearing," said Milan boss Stefano Pioli, who is tipped to be replaced by Ralf Rangnick at the end of the campaign. "I don't know what will happen with our future, with my future, but we are too concentrated on fighting to the end so we can at least get Milan back into the Europa League.

"We won't get the Champions League now, but Milan are a prestigious club and have to be in European competition.

"The players are continuing to give 110 per cent, even those who signed contracts to the end of the season and probably won't remain here after that. They are determined to prove they are still strong players at this level and to give their best for Milan."

Ibrahimovic, who has recovered from a calf injury, converted a first-half penalty to take his tally to five goals since returning to Milan from LA Galaxy in January.

"Ibra has allowed us to grow in terms of mentality, quality, technique, it's a real pleasure to work with him and see how he deals with his team-mates," added Pioli, whose Milan host Juve on Tuesday. "Now we've got a month left and can continue pushing all the way."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on target again as Milan beat Lazio 3-0 at Stadio Olimpico to derail their opponents' Scudetto hopes.

Juve moved seven points clear at the summit with a 4-1 win over rivals Torino earlier on Saturday and Lazio were unable to close the gap in their game in hand.

Lazio had not lost in 16 home games since September 2017 but were two down at half-time - Ibrahimovic scoring a penalty after setting up Hakan Calhanoglu for the opener.

Ante Rebic added a third for Europe-chasing Milan in the second half as Lazio, without leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile, fell to just a second loss in 25 league matches.

Calhanoglu continued his good form since the restart by opening the scoring after 23 minutes, the midfielder's strike deflecting off Marco Parolo to help it over Thomas Strakosha.

Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled out for offside but did not have to wait long to score from the penalty spot after Alexis Saelemaekers' cross struck Stefan Radu's hand.

Strakosha got a hand to the spot-kick 11 minutes before the break but it squirmed under his body to leave Lazio, who recovered from a goal down to beat Fiorentina in midweek, with a big mountain to climb.

Manuel Lazzari thought that he had started a second-half comeback when he drilled home, only for the offside flag to deny him, and further misery followed when Rebic added a third goal.

The Croatia international took Giacomo Bonaventura's pass in his stride and swept past Strakosha for his ninth league goal of the season.

Milan should have added a fourth late on but Theo Hernandez missed a sitter, having earlier been denied by Strakosha following an impressive run.
 

What does it mean? Lazio's Scudetto hopes all but over

Lazio's slim Scudetto hopes are surely all over as this loss leaves them seven points adrift of leaders Juventus with eight games to go.

As for Milan, they now have 10 points from a possible 12 since the restart - the exception being a disappointing 2-2 draw with SPAL last time out - and are in sixth place.

Zlat is back

Ibrahimovic now has two goals in two starts since recovering from an injury during the lockdown that many feared would bring a premature end to his career.

He may have got a bit of luck with the penalty - Strakosha really should have kept it out - but he made his presence felt and also teed up Calhanoglu's opener.

Immobile absence is felt

Lazio were without Immobile for the first time in Serie A this season, while fellow forward Felipe Caicedo was also suspended.

Joaquin Correa and Luis Alberto had nowhere the same impact, managing just one shot on target between them.

What's next?

Milan host league leaders Juventus on Tuesday, the same day that Lazio, who will hope Stefano Pioli's men can do them a favour, travel to relegation-threatened Lecce.

Milan will be without Samu Castillejo when they take on a Lazio team missing suspended duo Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile on Saturday.

Castillejo suffered a hamstring injury during the 2-2 draw with SPAL on Wednesday and will undergo further evaluation in a week, meaning the Spanish winger will also miss the upcoming home game against Juventus.

His absence is a further blow for Milan coach Stefano Pioli after seeing his team drop two points against a side sitting in the relegation zone in midweek, hardly ideal preparations for a meeting with opponents occupying second spot in the table.

Lazio are hindered themselves by both top-scorer Immobile and fellow forward Caicedo missing the Stadio Olimpico clash. However, Pioli is aware of the dangers posed by Joaquin Correa, as he scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Milan back in November.

"Lazio are strong, they come from two important comebacks," Pioli told the media on Friday. "Immobile and Caicedo will be missed, but they have Correa. It will be a very complex game, especially from a tactical point of view.

"We are a different team [from the last meeting], many things have changed. We will have to be compact, smart and understand the key moments of the game.

"Lazio are a complete team. They are strong, but we also have to have confidence in ourselves."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first appearance since the Italian season resumed during the game with SPAL, coming on as a 65th-minute substitute on his return from injury.

The Swedish striker could be set to play a greater part in proceedings against Lazio, Pioli revealed.

Asked about Ibrahimovic's fitness, he replied: "Maybe he doesn't know how many minutes he has in his legs. His condition will improve playing, on Thursday he did a good workout. I hope I can put more minutes in his legs on Saturday."

Lazio have rallied after falling behind to beat Fiorentina and Torino in their previous two league outings, leaving them four points behind leaders Juve in the title race.

"We are getting used to living with problems during this period," Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi told the media. "I'm convinced the team can play an excellent game regardless of formation and players.

"These guys are having a great season, I'm proud to be their coach. There are seven games left in the championship, we must take one game at a time."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ability only has a positive impact on team-mates, according to former Paris Saint-Germain attacker Jeremy Menez.

Ex-France international Menez spent three years at the Parc des Princes, two of those alongside Ibrahimovic, before joining Milan in 2014.

The 33-year-old built up a good connection with Ibrahimovic on the field in his early days at PSG but a change in system saw him lose his place in the side.

And Menez, now plying his trade in Serie B after joining Reggina last week, is grateful for the advice given to him by the striker during their time in the French capital

"I always got along well with him and his words motivate you to give your all, train at your best," he told Stats Perform News 

"I never had any problem with him. Such a player pushes you to improve all the time. He always wants to win. He goes out every day to train well and win it all. 

"I thank him because playing with players like him makes you grow as a professional and as a man."

Ibrahimovic scored 156 goals in 180 appearances for PSG and referred to himself as "God" in the dressing room.

Menez says the Milan striker has more than justified the hype on the field by scoring goals wherever he has played.

"It is a joke because he is like that. I smile at that because this is Ibra. It represents his career," Menez said. 

"He is like that. Despite all the words he can say, he then proves it on the pitch. What can you say against him? He always made his clubs win, wherever he went. 

"What can you say against him? I leave him be and say all he wants."

Menez has spent time in France, Turkey and Mexico since leaving Milan, but insists he is fully motivated after joining Reggina.

"I am the same Jeremy as six years ago, though this Jeremy has slept for two or three years and felt a bit out of phase. But now I am super motivated and the quality is still here," Menez said. 

"But I know I am not an easy guy to deal with myself, it's not easy to be with me every day, but we grow up, mature and get better day by day."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli said he does not feel like a "sacrificial victim" amid mounting speculation he is set to be replaced by Ralf Rangnick.

A heartbreaking stoppage-time own goal from Francesco Vicari gifted Milan a dramatic equaliser in Wednesday's 2-2 Serie A draw at lowly 10-man SPAL.

Mattia Valoti's goal and stunning long-range strike from 38-year-old striker Sergio Floccari had SPAL ahead 2-0 by the half-hour mark before Milan completed a comeback in the second 45 – the Rossoneri aided by Marco D'Alessandro's 43rd-minute red card.

After Rafael Leao and an own goal salvaged a point for Milan, attention turned to Pioli and ongoing talk regarding Rangnick.

Rangnick, who is now head of sport and development for Red Bull – the group which owns RB Leipzig, is tipped to combine the jobs of head coach and sporting director at Milan in 2020-21.

Asked about his future and the Rangnick rumours post-game, Pioli – who was only appointed in October after Marco Giampaolo's sacking – told Sky Italia: "I am working with passion and professionalism, I love these players, they are giving me a lot.

"I do not have the thought and the shadow of another coach, it will be what it will be.

"There are still many games, at Milanello I am happy, we are working well. The choices will be made in the end.

"I am not anxious and I do not feel like a sacrificial victim, I am proud to train these players."

Milan are seventh in Serie A after 29 matches, two points adrift of sixth-placed Napoli.

Pioli's men are next in action against scudetto hopefuls Lazio in Rome on Saturday.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli has backed his players to recover their spark against Lazio on Saturday after a sluggish 2-2 draw against Serie A strugglers SPAL.

Pioli blamed fatigue as Milan needed an injury-time own goal to secure a point at the Stadio Paolo Mazza on Wednesday with lowly SPAL having played the majority of the contest with 10 men.

Mattia Valoti's close-range finish and stunning long-range effort from Sergio Floccari gave SPAL a 2-0 lead before Marco D'Alessandro was sent off for a reckless challenge on Theo Hernandez.

Milan pulled a goal back with 11 minutes remaining when Rafael Leao stroked the ball home before Francesco Vicari diverted the ball into his own net in added time.

"It is not easy to recover mental and physical energies by playing every three days," Pioli told a news conference.

"But we must do it and do better. It takes all our focus and determination.

"The players are tired but they will recover energy to make a good performance against Lazio, who rested one day more than us."

Milan were much improved after veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off the bench just after the hour to make his first appearance since March.

Although Pioli felt his tactics throughout were unfortunate not to deliver victory as the draw left Milan two points behind sixth-placed Napoli in the battle for a Europa League group-stage spot.

He continued: "Our approach was not wrong, but the game was tough after we made two careless mistakes.

"We had controlled the game and created several goalscoring chances. There was even time for us to score a winning third goal, but we just failed."

Milan striker Ante Rebic had an off night but Pioli refused to criticise the Croatia international.

"He had his chances," he added. "Maybe today he was less brilliant. Fatigue can be felt."

SPAL coach Luigi Di Biagio acknowledged the dismissal of D'Alessandro on the stroke of half-time "affected" his side.

But despite suffering a crushing late blow, he would not give up on his side's survival chances even though they are seven points adrift of safety.

"As long as we are alive, I will believe it until the end," Di Biagio said. 

"Three games await us that will give us a clearer idea of things. We hope to close the gap in the table."

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