Silvio Berlusconi, Adriano Galliani, Cristian Brocchi, Mario Balotelli, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Gabriel Paletta.

There is a real Milan vibe about Monza, who are nestled 15 kilometres north of the Lombardy capital, as the ambitious club stand closer than ever to achieving their goal of Serie A promotion after spending their entire existence in the lower leagues.

Monza are owned by former Milan president and Italy prime minister Berlusconi, who returned to football in 2018 after selling his beloved Rossoneri a year earlier.

After purchasing the club through his Fininvest company, Berlusconi turned to his trusted right-hand man Galliani – who was born in Monza – as CEO. Their partnership helped turn the Rossoneri into a superpower, with eight Serie A titles and five Champions League/European Cup crowns among the 29 pieces of silverware between 1986 and 2017.

Monza are also coached by former Milan midfielder and boss Brocchi, while the Serie B outfit also boasts ex-Rossoneri players Balotelli, Boateng and Paletta.

After completing their rise from Serie C to the second tier of Italian football amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2019-20, Monza are well and truly in the promotion mix – fourth and six points adrift of leaders Empoli, while they are only two points behind Cittadella, who occupy the final automatic spot through 18 games.

Moving up to Serie A would mean a Milan reunion for many of Monza's staff and players, as well as Brocchi – who won the Scudetto and two Champions League titles among other honours at San Siro between 2001 and 2008 before spending a brief period in charge eight years later.

"It is a dream that hopefully will come true. To have brought the Milan mentality coming from our board – always striving to build an important organisation similar to the Milan that won so much worldwide," Brocchi told Stats Perform News.

"Board, manager and some players have worn that shirt and the dream to recreate Milan here in Monza is beautiful and emotional."

"It is a tough season. There are many strong clubs, the ones relegated from A [in 2019-20] who have retained all the important players and those who last season had built up a squad for promotion and failed, so I think this year's Serie B is the hardest of recent times," he continued.

Monza – back in Serie B following a 19-year absence – are no ordinary second-tier team in Italy, with all eyes on the Bagai due to Berlusconi.

Berlusconi's presence has changed the landscape for Monza, who tried to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the star striker opted to return to Milan in January last year. However, Monza have since lured Balotelli and Boateng to the club.

"Working for Berlusconi and Galliani's club is grand because all media attention is on you. For sure everybody thinks Monza have to win every game because these two people have gone down in football history winning so much. And this is exactly our goal," Brocchi said.

"I know very well Berlusconi and Galliani's wish is to reach Serie A and win every game. We share the same mindset because I have grown up with them since I was nine. To me it is an honour to be the manager here.

"For sure it is beautiful and important for me to manage in a club like Monza that are very ambitious. It is not easy to take a club from Serie C to Serie A but it is emotional because you have a lot of responsibilities and adrenaline is always rushing. As I said, to face strong clubs with your own aim and manage to overcome them, would make this even better." 

Brocchi, who oversaw just seven matches as Milan coach before being replaced by Vincenzo Montella, continued: "Monza's aim is to improve. We started from C, we are in B and we want Serie A. The difference between us and other clubs is that once in Serie A we won't have the goal of avoiding relegation at the last game, but to rank in the top 10.

"Mr Galliani wants us to always be a strong team going for great objectives. This is what will happen should we win this league."

Balotelli and Boateng are set to play a key role in Monza's push for promotion following their high-profile arrivals.

Boateng has made an immediate impact, with the former Milan and Barcelona midfielder – on average – scoring a goal every 243 minutes in Serie B this season, the best average among Monza players with at least 90 minutes played.

Only Dany Mota has fired more shots on target than Boateng (23 to 10) among Monza players this term and the talented Portuguese forward has four league goals.

Balotelli – coming off a difficult spell at Brescia before their relegation from Serie A – scored with his first touch in Serie B on debut for Monza last month before being sidelined through injury.

"They [Balotelli and Boateng] arrived here in Serie B thanks to the acquaintance they had with Berlusconi and Galliani and even with me as a manager, since I trained them at Milan and we had a great relationship," said Brocchi, who was handed his first senior head-coaching role at Milan after replacing Sinisa Mihajlovic almost five years ago, having previously worked with the club's youth team.

"They settled in very well, they always train hard, they lead by example by showing the will to take me, Berlusconi, Galliani and Monza to Serie A. So far they have been important, let's hope they can give us even more in order to make this dream come true."

The experience of Balotelli and Boateng complements an exciting core of Monza players, including Mota and Brazilian full-back Carlos Augusto, as well as talented loanees Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo), Andrea Colpani (Atalanta) and Davide Bettella (Atalanta).

Both Balotelli and Boateng have tasted Serie A success in their careers to go with respective Premier League and LaLiga honours, with the latter part of the last Milan team to celebrate Scudetto glory in 2010-11.

The strategy of sporting director Filippo Antonelli and Brocchi to invest in promising young talent has continued to deliver results on the pitch.

Monza have allowed the fewest headed goals (one) in Serie B this season, while Brocchi's side have conceded 10 goals from inside the box – the least in the league, while they have scored five goals inside the opening 15 minutes of play – the joint most in 2020-21.

"Monza are a mix of experienced players and great young talents. The right mix to achieve our goals. Players like Balotelli and Boateng can help Mota, Carlos Augusto, Frattesi, Colpani or Bettella, all under-21 players for Italy and Portugal," the 44-year-old Brocchi said.

"You can't only field experienced players, you have to look for the right mix and this is what Antonelli and I looked for. I think experience helps youngsters and their exuberance helps the expert ones."

Chapecoense are back "among giants" in the Campeonato Brasileiro after securing promotion from Serie B on Tuesday. 

After just one win in their previous five matches, Chape took on Santa Catarina rivals Figueirense at the Arena Conda knowing a win would send them back into the top flight. 

They were relegated to the second tier in 2019, having incredibly managed to retain their top-flight status for two straight seasons after an aircraft carrying the squad, club officials and journalists to the 2016 Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin crashed, killing 71 people on board. 

Chape were also last December hit by the death of president Paulo Magro due to coronavirus. He began attempts to get the club out of a dire financial situation following the resignation of Plinio David de Nes Filho, who had taken charge following the tragedy in Colombia. 

Their funds will be boosted after Paulinho Moccelin and Derlan scored either side of half-time against Figueirense, with Chape holding on for a 2-1 victory after Diego Goncalves scored from the penalty spot, sending them back to Serie A with four games to spare. 

A club statement read: "It was not easy to get here. It was much tougher than we imagined, in fact. But with work, humility, dedication, unity and, above all, with the STRENGTH FROM ABOVE, Chapecoense kept its promise. Chapecoense – made for the people, by the people – returned to the place it should never have left. 

"It is Chape, of the impossible, of the surprising, of resilience and overcoming, again among giants. 

"You can celebrate, fan. You can celebrate, president! With 66 points and four games left we have stamped our passport. Our return ticket. The beginning of another great story."

Chape's poor run prior to the Figueirense clash saw them surrender top spot to America Mineiro, who hold a one-point advantage. 

Head coach Umberto Louzer urged the players not to celebrate promotion too hard because he hopes to see them return to the Brasileirao as champions. 

"We can look back and see it was worth it. Thank you to everyone who helped us return to the first division," he told SporTV. 

"We still have a few games, we will fight America for the title. We have to celebrate, but rest because we already have to think about the next opponent." 

Goalkeeper Joao Ricardo added: "Only those who were in the group last season know about the difficult moments. 

"Even with adverse situations, we always believed and showed affection for the club. We have to congratulate everybody. The club deserved to return to Serie A." 

Chape captain Alan Ruschel, the only survivor of the plane crash that continues to play professionally, last month had his contract extended until the end of the coronavirus-interrupted season but did not feature against Figueirense due to injury.

Mario Balotelli made a flying start to life in Serie B with a debut strike after just four minutes for Monza against Salernitana.

Former Milan and Manchester City forward Balotelli signed for Monza - owned by ex-Rossoneri chief Silvio Berlusconi - earlier this month until the end of the season.

The 30-year-old made his second-tier bow on Wednesday, lining up alongside Kevin-Prince Boateng, another former Milan man, from the start at home to the league leaders.

And Balotelli needed just three minutes and 53 seconds to get on the scoresheet as he turned in Carlos Augusto's cross with the first shot of the match and his first touch.

Balotelli has played in the top flight in Italy, England and France but only in Ligue 1, with Nice in 2016, had he previously netted on his debut in a new league.

Kevin-Prince Boateng urged Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi to join Napoli as a tribute to club and Argentina great Diego Maradona.

Maradona – arguably football's greatest ever player – died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure last month.

Napoli renamed their stadium to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in honour of the 1986 World Cup winner, who guided the Serie A side to their only Scudetto triumphs in 1987 and 1990 after arriving from Barca in 1984.

Messi removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with Maradona's famous number 10 after scoring in last month's 4-0 LaLiga rout of Osasuna.

But former Barca team-mate Boateng wants six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi – who has been heavily linked to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – to do more to pay tribute to his countryman.

"I often hear of the comparison between Messi and Maradona and therefore I'll make a proposal to Leo," Boateng, who now plays for Serie B outfit Monza alongside Mario Balotelli, told ESPN.

"He should go to Napoli after his contract with Barcelona expires. It would be great if he himself called [president Aurelio] De Laurentiis and said: 'I'm coming'.

"Even if they have retired the No 10 shirt, 'I would like to honour Maradona's No 10 and come and play for a year or two at Napoli', without thinking about money, just the heart.

"Maybe then he manages to win a championship and then it would be the apotheosis, a movie story.

"If I were him, I would think about it. By now, he has won everything at club level, closing in a legendary way would be incredible."

Mario Balotelli has signed a contract with Serie B club Monza for the remainder of the season.

The 30-year-old Italian striker had been a free agent since his contract with Brescia was terminated following their relegation from Serie A last season.

Balotelli had been training with Serie D side Franciacorta to maintain his fitness and was linked with a surprise move to Championship club Barnsley.

Monza are co-owned by Silvio Berlusconi, who was previously the owner of Milan between 1986 and 2017, where Balotelli also had two spells as a player.

Balotelli began his career with Lumezzane and also played for Milan's city rivals Inter as well as Manchester City, Liverpool, Nice and Marseille.

A statement from Monza, who are ninth in Serie B, said: "Mario Balotelli comes to reinforce Monza and has signed a contract until June 30, 2021.

"Balotelli is one of only seven footballers who from January 1, 2000, has scored at least 20 goals in three of the top five European Leagues. Welcome Mario!"

Balottelli has scored 14 goals for Italy and won the last of his 36 international caps against Poland in July 2018.

He has been given the number 45 shirt at Monza and could be in line to make his debut in their Serie B clash away at Venezia on Friday.

Sandro Tonali's move to Milan is almost complete but Brescia's president Massimo Cellino wanted him to join Roma.

Italy international Tonali has been one of the hottest properties in Italian football over the past few years, having broken into the Brescia team as a 17-year-old.

A technically gifted midfielder renowned for his dribbling and passing abilities, Tonali – now 20 – has long been seen as a future star of the Azzurri.

Brescia managed to keep hold of Tonali for the 2019-20 season after they were promoted to Serie A, but their relegation left them helpless to resist offers.

Cellino previously claimed Tonali ignored offers from Barcelona and Manchester United, while Inter had also tried to prise the talent away.

But Milan, whom he supported as a child, look set to win the race for Tonali – though Cellino would have preferred to sell him to Roma.

Speaking to Il Messaggero, Cellino said: "Sandro has supported Milan since he was a child.

"The negotiation with them made me doubly happy – I also respect a club that gives value to money.

"[Milan technical director, Paolo] Maldini has Milan DNA and has all the prerequisites for becoming a great manager.

"I would have seen Sandro more at Roma. It's a beautiful team, a hot city. [Roma vice-president, Mauro] Baldissoni told me some time ago that he was their dream, but now I don't know who is in charge of their transfers.

"I had an excellent relationship with [former president, Franco] Sensi and I know [former director of football, Walter] Sabatini very well.

"I feel very attached to Roma. For this reason, when I sold Cagliari, I had the dream of buying Roma and rehabilitating it, enhancing its potential through my work and my experience. It remained just a dream."

The deal for Tonali is rumoured to be an initial loan worth €10million, plus an option to buy set at €20m, and given Brescia's relegation, Cellino felt it was impossible to keep him any longer.

"It had never happened to me before, to discover a strong player like Tonali," he added. "I would have liked to keep him, but unfortunately the dream was shattered with the relegation and the uncertainty transmitted by the pandemic.

"I had to manage Brescia without refinancing the company. I hold the position of president as a profession, while my other millionaire colleagues do it as a hobby."

Sandro Tonali turned down Barcelona and Manchester United because he wanted to join Milan, according to Brescia president Massimo Cellino.

Tonali is a three-time Italy international and starred for Brescia in 2019-20, although they were relegated from Serie A.

The 20-year-old was heavily linked with a move to Inter, but is now set to join Milan.

Cellino said Tonali was eager to join Milan despite offers from Barcelona and United.

"In January we received an offer of €65million from Barcelona. Not later than 10 days ago we received an offer of 10 million higher than Milan's from Manchester United," he told Top Calcio 24.

"But the boy was determined to go to the Rossoneri."

Cellino added: "I know that [Antonio] Conte has thought a lot about Tonali, but I was also convinced that he was going to Inter.

"But at a certain point the boy didn't want to hear anything anymore and went to Milan."

Spezia have been promoted to Serie A for the first time in their history despite losing the second leg of the Serie B promotion play-off final against Frosinone 1-0.

Thursday's result at Stadio Alberto Picco made it 1-1 on aggregate, with Spezia moving up to the top flight due to their superior position in the table at the end of the regular season.

It completes a miraculous recovery for a club that was declared bankrupt following its relegation from Serie B in 2008 and return the next season in the fourth tier after being re-founded.

Andrea Beghetto hit the post for Frosinone in the 12th minute and Spezia goalkeeper Simone Scuffet made some good saves to keep the scores level at half-time.

Frosinone drew level on aggregate when Marcus Rohden added a fine finish after Andrija Novakovich and Camillo Ciano flicked on a long ball from keeper Francesco Bardi.

The visitors pushed for a winner but were unable to find a way through, with Spezia hanging on to secure a historic promotion.

Mario Balotelli looks to have no hope of a move to Besiktas after club president Ahmet Nur Cebi said the Italian is not wanted by coach Sergen Yalcin.

The Turkish Super Lig giants were reported to have offered Balotelli a lucrative contract, with the striker likely to be on the move again after a turbulent first season with Brescia.

Brescia president Massimo Cellino revealed in May he expected Balotelli to leave his hometown club at the end of the season as the 30-year-old "no longer has his head with us".

Cellino's comments came following reports the former Italy frontman failed to attend training, claims which were denied by Balotellli before Brescia suffered relegation from Serie A.

Cebi suggested Balotelli's name cropped up when transfer targets were discussed, but Yalcin does not want to take the former Manchester City man to Istanbul.

Cebi, quoted widely by Turkish media, said: "Sergen Yalcin does not consider Mario Balotelli as one of his options for the striker position. He told me that.

"Executives usually have initial talks with players and listen to them. This doesn't mean that a move is bound to happen.

"We will make the signings Sergen Yalcin has asked of us but, I want to put it frankly, we will not compromise our financial situation."

As well as Cellino's criticism of Balotelli, the Italy international was reported to have clashed with former head coach Fabio Grosso at Brescia's training ground in November.

He was given permission to leave the club in January, only to stay put before the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of the season in March.

Crotone president Gianni Vrenna led the celebrations on Friday after his side secured promotion back to Serie A.

A 5-1 thrashing of Livorno and Spezia's draw with Cremonese saw the Pitagorici seal a top-flight spot for just the third time.

Crotone finished 17th in 2016-17 but were relegated a year later.

"This Serie A [promotion] is perhaps the most beautiful success since I've been at Crotone," Vrenna said, as quoted by Tuttomercatoweb.

"We need to enjoy this day of celebration and then let's try to finish the league in the best way. Then, we'll start planning for next season."

Crotone, who have scored a club-record 62 goals in Serie B this season and enjoyed a 12-game winning run, will join Benevento in moving up to the top tier next term.

They host Frosinone on Sunday before concluding their 2019-20 campaign away to Trapani on July 31.

Brescia's relegation from Serie A was confirmed after a 3-1 defeat away at fellow strugglers Lecce on Wednesday.

Daniele Dessena gave Brescia hope after Gianluca Lapadula's first-half double at Via del Mare, but Riccardo Saponara's 70th-minute goal ended any hopes of a comeback.

With Genoa defeating Sampdoria 2-1 in the Derby della Lanterna, Brescia were left 12 points adrift of safety with three games left.

It is the 13th time Brescia have been relegated to Serie B, more than any other team.

Lecce occupy the only remaining unconfirmed relegation spot but are only four points behind 17th-placed Genoa.

Brescia were promoted from Serie B as champions in 2018-19 but have returned to the second tier after a single season in the top flight.

Monza will not be signing Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ahead of next season, Adriano Galliani says.

The veteran forward has been linked with a move to the Lombardy club, who won promotion to Serie B after being taken over by former Milan president Silvio Berlusconi.

With ex-Rossoneri CEO Galliani also installed at the club, it has been suggested Monza could launch ambitious bids to sign Ibrahimovic and fellow former Milan star Kaka, who announced his retirement in December 2017.

Berlusconi admitted in June he remains "very attached" to the players, although Galliani later clarified that they would be considered in their spending, telling Sky: "Our budget will be used to get into Serie A. We won't go crazy, but we will do what's necessary."

Speaking to Binario Sport, Galliani appears to have accepted defeat in any attempt to bring Ibrahimovic to the club.

"I met with Ibrahimovic last week," he said. "There's always a great bond between us, but I think his signing is beyond our reach and the reach of many Serie A clubs."

Ibrahimovic returned to Milan, where he won the Scudetto in 2011, as a free agent in January after leaving MLS side LA Galaxy.

However, he stated this month that he was playing for the club "purely for passion" and that he would not extend his stay beyond this season if Europa League football was the best they could offer.

"We'll see how I feel in two months," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We'll also see what's happening with the club. If this is the situation, to be honest, it's unlikely you'll see me at Milan next season.

"Ibra is not a player for the Europa League and Milan are not a club who belong in the Europa League."

Milan face Sassuolo on Tuesday knowing that a top-four finish is beyond them with four games remaining.

They are seventh in the table, 13 points behind Lazio in fourth but only two adrift of Roma in fifth.

 

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

Filippo Inzaghi's Benevento clinched promotion to Serie A on Monday with seven league games to spare.

Former Cagliari striker Marco Sau came off the bench to score the only goal in Benevento's 1-0 victory over Juve Stabia, a result that sealed the Serie B title.

Benevento, who have won 23 of their 31 league games and lost just once, have a 24-point advantage over Crotone and Cittadella.

Ascoli were the last club to be promoted with seven games remaining, and they did so in 1977-78 when only two points were awarded for a victory.

Benevento were promoted to Serie A for the first time in their history three years ago, but they were relegated after just one campaign having lost their first 14 games.

Former Milan and Bologna boss Inzaghi took over 12 months ago and will re-join his brother and Lazio coach Simone in Italy's top flight next term.

Benevento look to be preparing for life in Serie A already as ex-Chelsea and Marseille striker Loic Remy was reported to have arrived for a medical on Monday ahead of signing.

Lionel Messi is reportedly set to re-sign with Barcelona.

The Argentina star is out of contract at Camp Nou next year, but is seemingly set to extend his stay with the LaLiga giants a little longer.

Messi, 32, has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona – and he may yet end up a one-club player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI TO EXTEND BARCELONA CONTRACT UNTIL 2023

Messi will extend his contract at Barcelona until 2023, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says the forward will get to decide if he wants to leave the club before then.

Messi is enjoying another fine season with Barcelona, scoring 26 goals in 33 games in all competitions.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham want to hold onto their stars. The Telegraph reports chairman Daniel Levy is eager to keep Spurs' best players, including Harry Kane – who has been linked to Real Madrid – and Dele Alli and Son Heung-min.

- It remains to be seen if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will stay at Arsenal. CalcioMercato reports the forward – out of contract until 2021 – is open to a move to Inter, but the Gabon international is not among the Serie A club's top choices if they need to replace Lautaro Martinez, who is wanted by Barcelona.

- Madrid are reportedly eager to sign Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga. But Sport says the Ligue 1 club are working to extend the the 17-year-old's contract, with his deal running until 2022.

- Liverpool could be set to make changes. The Sun reports Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Dejan Lovren could make exits, while Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson may leave on permanent deals. It also says Liverpool are set to give Naby Keita one more season to prove his worth.

- Borussia Dortmund seem some way off landing Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. Bild reports the Bundesliga club have offered just a little more than €20million (£17.9m) for Bellingham, who reportedly has a release clause of €35m (£31.4m).

- Empoli midfielder Samuele Ricci is reportedly catching the eye. CalcioMercato says Milan have kept an eye on the 18-year-old, while Napoli and Borussia Dortmund are also said to be interested.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.