Milan's Alessandro Florenzi has undergone surgery on his left hamstring, with the Italy full-back expected to miss the next five months of the season.

The defender, a key member of the club's Serie A title-winning squad last term while on loan from Roma and a Euro 2020 champion with the Azzurri, suffered the injury during their 0-0 draw with Sassuolo last month.

Now, he has undergone an operation in Finland that will keep him out at the very least until the start of the new year, in a major blow to Stefano Pioli's side.

"Milan can confirm Alessandro Florenzi suffered a severe injury to the biceps femoris of his left hamstring, which required surgery," read a club statement.

"The surgery was successful and Alessandro will return to Italy tomorrow to begin the rehabilitation process. He is estimated to make a full recovery in five months."

Florenzi signed a permanent deal with Milan ahead of the new campaign, and had made two appearances so far this term before his injury.

Stefano Pioli is set to unleash Rafael Leao on Inter in Saturday's Milan derby after keeping suitors at bay before the transfer window closed.

The exciting Portuguese forward was thought to be a target for Chelsea but remains with Milan and is poised to make his 100th Serie A appearance against the Nerazzurri.

Up to this point, Leao has started in 69 of his 99 league games, and among players born from 1999 onwards he has provided the most assists (16) in the competition.

In terms of goals scored among that age group, the 23-year-old stands third on the list with 24, behind only Dusan Vlahovic (55) and Andrea Pinamonti (25).

Pioli never believed he would lose Leao before the shutters went up on the market on Thursday, but the finality will have come as a relief to many associated with the club.

"I have never been worried about the possible departure of Leao, I have always seen him fully involved and determined," Pioli said on Friday.

Milan won the last league derby, a 2-1 victory in February when Olivier Giroud's double saw the Rossoneri come from behind to take the points, an important result on the way to a first Scudetto since 2010-11, dethroning Inter in the process.

It means Milan will be looking to win consecutive league games against their city rivals for the first time since 2011, although Inter got the better of the two-leg Coppa Italia semi-final between the teams in March and April.

Pioli said Giroud had "a crucial role" to play in Saturday's game, and stressed Milan have prepared "down to the smallest detail".

"I expect a vibrant contest: the derby is the derby and so it will be an even contest," Pioli said. "We must not lose focus for even a second, we'll have to move hard and fast. Effort, aggression and sacrifice will all be required."

The transfer window has been an inevitable distraction despite Pioli's best efforts to focus on Inter. Milan look to have traded prudently in its closing stages, agreeing loan deals for Barcelona's American full-back Sergino Dest and Wolfsburg's teenage Belgian midfielder Aster Vranckx, while also signing Schalke's young centre-back Malick Thiaw.

Pioli described the newcomers as "important players with ample room for improvement".

Dest arrives in the wake of Milan losing right-back Alessandro Florenzi to a leg muscle injury that will reportedly sideline him for around eight weeks.

"We are gutted for Florenzi's injury," said Pioli, quoted on Milan's official website. "He is a leader on and off the pitch. We're still evaluating how to proceed in order to manage his recovery in the best possible way."

Assessing what Dest brings, Pioli said: "He has quality and pace, we got him to play the full-back position but he has the right characteristics to play in other roles too."

Alessandro Florenzi has talked up Milan's plans to retain the Serie A title, with the club seeking a 20th league crown that would see them add a second star to their badge.

The San Siro side have had a single gold star on their crest since 1979, following their 10th Scudetti win, and last season's triumph took their overall tally to 19 – with only Juventus winning more.

Milan have won just two league titles since the turn of the millennia, however, and have not successfully retained the league since three consecutive title-winning seasons from 1991-92 to 1993-94.

Florenzi, who joined on loan from Roma last year before making his switch permanent in June, is keen for that to change as he outlined the club's plans to retain the title in the forthcoming campaign.

"So many teams have improved. We deservedly won last year and we want to repeat that. It won’t be easy – everyone will play at their best to beat the reigning champions," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We must not make predications, otherwise we won't get anywhere. We’ll start with Udinese, then think about one match at a time.

"In the league we want to try to earn the second star. We have to have big goals and dream big. 

"In the Champions League we want to improve on last year. Many weren't ready, not qualitatively but mentally."

Florenzi also highlighted what he felt was the key to Milan's success last season, where they pipped arch-rivals Inter to the crown on the final day of the season.

"There was team spirit, 26 players pushing on the same side," he explained. "We weren't the strongest but the strongest don't always win. Everything went right and we overcame adversity all together."

Milan have confirmed the signing of Alessandro Florenzi from Roma on a permanent deal following the right-back's successful spell on loan last season.

Florenzi made 30 appearances in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign, including 24 league outings in Milan's first Scudetto-winning campaign in 11 years.

Having played his part in that historic triumph, Milan announced on Friday they have taken up the option to sign Florenzi on a three-year-deal.

The Italy international had been on Roma's books since 2011, but he fell out of favour and spent time on loan at Valencia and Paris Saint-Germain prior to joining Milan.

Milan also announced on Friday that back-up goalkeeper Antonio Mirante, who did not feature at all last season, has extended his contract until the end of this coming season.

It comes after club directors Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara – who overlook transfer activity – extended their own stays at San Siro.

Stefano Pioli's men begin their Serie A title defence at home to Udinese on August 13.

Alessandro Florenzi insisted he has faith in Italy's young talent following their 1-1 draw with Germany on Saturday.

The Azzurri opened their Nations League campaign with an improved performance from their UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima loss to Argentina, consistently generating opportunities against a ball-dominant Germany.

Among a string of debutants including Torino duo Tommaso Pobega and Samuele Ricci, 18-year-old Wilfried Gnonto marked his first cap for Italy with an assist for Lorenzo Pellegrini.

Wearing the captain's armband and amid Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup, Florenzi tried to bring perspective to the window post-game.

"There were many young players compared to Wembley," Florenzi told RAI Sport. "Some of them paid a price for the nerves of their debut, others behaved like little veterans.

"We need to start again with Italy fuelled by the hunger of these young guys."

Florenzi and Gianluigi Donnarumma were the only Azzurri players on Saturday to have played over 40 caps, with six debutants overall at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

While five of them came off the bench including Gnonto, a start was handed to Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi.

Asked whether he felt added responsibility wearing the captain's armband, the 31-year-old claimed it was necessary for his team to rejuvenate the Italy squad.

"You feel responsibility every time you pull on this shirt," Florenzi said.

"We had to send a signal that we were starting fresh and I think we did that. Everyone gave something more to honour this jersey."

Italy next host Hungary on Tuesday, before Saturday's Euro 2020 final rematch with England.

Alessandro Florenzi says it is impossible to imagine Paolo Maldini leaving Milan amid uncertainty over his future.

Maldini is coming towards the end of his contract with the newly-crowned Serie A champions and it has been reported that the technical director could leave.

Milan wing-back Florenzi has no idea if the Rossoneri and Italy legend will still be at San Siro next season, with the club set to be taken over.

Maldini spent his entire 25-year career at Milan, playing an incredible 902 games and winning 26 trophies.

Florenzi cannot envisage the one-club man no longer being with the Rossoneri but hopes he will stay on.

He said during a press conference ahead of Italy's Finalissima showdown with Argentina at Wembley next Wednesday: "Maldini does not know what he will do between now and June 30, let alone if I do.

"Now I want to do well with the national team, then there will be the holidays and then what will be will be."

He added: "I met him this year, he is a man of great values ​​and I would also put Massara [Milan sporting director Frederic] with him. They are the basis of the championship won, the two of them did a great job with the coach. 

"They are very important people who can do well for Milan. A Milan without Maldini is a bit like a Rome without [Francesco] Totti and [Daniele] De Rossi."

Alessandro Florenzi has undergone surgery on his left knee and Milan have not given a timeframe for his recovery.

Florenzi is on a season-long loan at Milan from Roma, with the Rossoneri having the option to make the deal permanent.

The 31-year-old full-back has played 27 times this season for the Serie A leaders, though only 13 of those have been starts.

Florenzi suffered the injury in Monday's goalless draw with Bologna at San Siro that saw Milan drop two points in the race for the Scudetto, though they remain a point ahead of second-placed Napoli.

A statement on the club website read: "AC Milan can confirm that Alessandro Florenzi today underwent an arthroscopic operation on his left knee, conducted by Dr Piero Paolo Mariani.

"The meniscectomy, undertaken with AC Milan club doctor Lucio Genesio in attendance, was successful. Alessandro will commence the rehabilitation process right away."

Florenzi was in the Italy squad that won Euro 2020 last year and the group that failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after losing to North Macedonia in the play-offs.

Stefano Pioli's side travel to Torino on Sunday.

Roma defender Alessandro Florenzi has joined Milan on a season-long loan.

Florenzi becomes Stefano Pioli's latest acquisition in a busy transfer window, with Milan confirming they have an option to sign the full-back on a permanent deal.

The 30-year-old had not featured for Roma since January 2020, spending time on loan at Valencia and then Paris Saint-Germain, where he played 21 times in Ligue 1 last term.

Despite spending the previous season at the Parc des Princes, only Daniel De Rossi (20,370) and Edin Dzeko (19,686) have played more minutes for Roma than Florenzi's 18,925 since his debut in May 2011.

In the same time period, only Radja Nainggolan (285), Lorenzo Pellegrini (296), Dzeko (312), Francesco Totti (366) and Miralem Pjanic (403) have created more chances for Roma than Florenzi, who tallied up 282.

Among defenders in Serie A, Alex Sandro (321) and Aleksandar Kolarov (295) are the only two to have created more than the full-back, who will be back plying his trade in Italy.

A part of Italy's successful Euro 2020 squad, Florenzi also has experience on the international stage, too.

He appeared twice for Roberto Mancini's side as they secured the trophy, including a brief cameo in the final against England at Wembley, to take his total to 45 caps since making his debut in 2012.

Milan get their Serie A campaign underway on Monday when they travel to Sampdoria.

Jack Grealish has been holidaying following Euro 2020, but it is now decision time on his club future.

Speculation has mounted over the past few days about a potential move to Manchester City.

City manager Pep Guardiola is a long-term admirer of Grealish, and a big-money bid has apparently been sanctioned by chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak.

TOP STORY - GREALISH SET FOR MONDAY TALKS WITH VILLA

Grealish has returned from his off-season holiday and will hold showdown talks with Aston Villa on Monday as a move to City looms, reports The Mirror.

Grealish has been linked with a £100million move to the English champions and is expected to inform Villa of his intention to leave.

Villa have reportedly offered Grealish a bumper new deal worth £200,000-a-week.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham have turned their attention to Wolves winger Adama Traore, according to the Daily Mail. Wolves reportedly want £45m for the Spain international, who would be re-acquainted with manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Goal claims Leeds United are also interested in Traore.

Atletico Madrid are preparing for Kieran Trippier to exit the club as links with Manchester United intensify, with the Spanish champions lining up a move for Roma's Alessandro Florenzi, claims AS.

Atletico are also pursuing Inter's Lautaro Martinez and have moved ahead of Arsenal in the race to sign the Argentina international, according to Tuttosport.

- Borussia Dortmund's Denmark international Thomas Delaney is being pursued SouthamptonNorwich City and Crystal Palace, reports Ruhr Nachrichten.

- ABC claims Real Madrid will offer forward Karim Benzema a new one-year contract extension.

Erling Haaland might be too expensive a purchase for some of football's richest clubs. 

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is on everyone's wish list.

The question is who will be willing to meet his reported demands?

 

TOP STORY - LALIGA GIANTS PRICED OUT OF HAALAND MOVE?

Haaland's apparent desire for a €35million annual salary has the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid thinking twice about a potential move, Goal reported. 

The prolific 20-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, has held informal discussions with both LaLiga stalwarts but the sides did not get into specifics about finances. 

For now it appears Barca and Madrid are content to wait it out and see how Haaland's market unfolds. 

That is not the case for another potential suitor. According to Goal, an unnamed English club that made inquiries about the Leeds-born striker earlier this year has backed away from talks due to that salary figure. 

The mystery team is not Chelsea, who consider Haaland their top target according to an Evening Standard report. 

 

ROUND-UP

- While the Blues can hope to land the high-flying Norwegian, Timo Werner may be on the way out. Though the Evening Standard reports Chelsea have not yet seriously discussed selling him, it is not clear how he fits into the Blues' strike force at the moment.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract with AC Milan this summer and has had talks with Juventus, per La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Manchester United have coveted Nikola Milenkovic and may be ready to make a move for the Fiorentina defender, though The Sun says United would not be interested at the rumoured £38m fee. 

- United also want Edinson Cavani to have another season at Old Trafford, but at age 34 he might want to move closer to home. Boca Juniors would offer him a two-year deal, says Fabrizio Romano. 

- Watford are prepared to bring Ashley Young back to the club should they return to the Premier League next season, the Daily Mail says. Young's contract with Inter is expiring.

- After a loan spell with Paris Saint-GermainAlessandro Florenzi could be in line to play in Italy with Inter next season rather than returning to Roma, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported. 

- Luis Suarez appears likely to remain with Atletico Madrid, but there is a possibility he could rekindle last year's reported talks with David Beckham's Inter Miami. The American side's interest in the Uruguayan "has not stopped," according to Mundo Deportivo. 

- One player not headed anywhere is Karim Benzema, who Marca reports will sign to remain with Real Madrid through 2023.

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Marquinhos and Marco Verratti are unlikely to start the second leg against Bayern Munich as Paris Saint-Germain look to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Verratti, along with fellow Italy international Alessandro Florenzi, missed the first meeting between the teams in Munich after testing positive for COVID-19.

However, the duo have received the all-clear and are back in training ahead of the return fixture in the French capital, with PSG holding a 3-2 advantage at the halfway stage in the tie.

Pochettino told the media on Monday he is yet to decide on his line-up, with Marquinhos remaining a doubt due to a thigh injury.

"We haven't decided the team for tomorrow yet, but it will be difficult for Verratti to start," the PSG boss said in his pre-game news conference. "Florenzi will be assessed further tomorrow."

On Marquinhos' status, he added: "We will see how he feels tomorrow. In theory, he could be involved in the squad, so we will see.

"I don't think he will be able to start, certainly, but he may be able to be on the bench. We will decide that on Wednesday."

PSG knocked out Barcelona in the previous round 5-2 on aggregate, though were held to a 1-1 draw at home in the second leg following a resounding triumph at Camp Nou.

Pochettino is well aware that the tie with Bayern – who he made clear are the best team in the world – is much tighter, meaning his players must find the right balance between retaining their slender advantage and also posing problems in attack for their opponents.

"At home to Barcelona, particularly in the first half, we found it very hard to keep the ball, even with Verratti and Leandro Paredes in the team," Pochettino said.

"It is not about individual names but collective attitude. We have to have a different approach from the Barcelona game while understanding that we don't just need to defend but also to keep the ball to attack and hurt the opposition.

"This is the challenge that lies ahead, and once again we have a positive first-leg result to build on."

PSG have won all four of their previous games in which they have hosted the German side in European competition, while only three of the previous 50 teams to lose the first leg at home in a Champions League knockout tie have managed to progress.

Pochettino, though, is well aware of the size of the task the hosts face against the defending champions, with Bayern having gone 16 games unbeaten in the competition under Hansi Flick prior to the loss on home soil last week.

"The Barcelona game is the past, Bayern are the best team in the world at the moment so they will certainly make it difficult for us," the former Tottenham head coach said.

"We need the strength and ability to manage those moments, just as we did in the first leg in Munich.

"They are world champions who have won six trophies in recent months. We are the pretenders and contenders to win the trophy. We have to consider all the circumstances surrounding the tie.

"If we get through to the semi-finals, it will be a big achievement for the club. PSG want to win every competition we are involved in, but beating Bayern Munich, in itself, would be a big feat."

Alessandro Florenzi will miss the first leg of Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League quarter-final clash with Bayern Munich this week after testing positive for COVID-19. 

The full-back follows PSG team-mate and compatriot Marco Verratti in testing positive for the virus after returning from international duty with Italy. 

Both players missed their side's damaging 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat to Lille on Saturday and will be absent for the trip to Bayern on Wednesday, too. The second leg takes place on April 13.

A statement released by the club on Monday read: "Following the last Sars-Cov2 PCR test, Alessandro Florenzi is confirmed positive. 

"He will therefore respect isolation and is subject to the appropriate health protocol. As a reminder, the player had been in isolation for a few days as a precaution."

Florenzi has made 29 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring two goals for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

The former Roma man is the latest confirmed case connected to the Azzurri squad. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced last Wednesday that four staff members had isolated away from the group following testing carried out prior to the midweek fixture against Lithuania. 

Juventus revealed on Thursday that Leonardo Bonucci had also returned a positive result upon returning to his club, while Sassuolo took the preventative step of leaving out their Italy players for the game against Roma on Saturday.

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