Milan have confirmed Daniel Maldini has joined Spezia on a season-long loan, leaving San Siro for the first time.

The 20-year-old is a third-generation footballer with the club, having followed in the footsteps of his father, modern legend Paolo Maldini, and grandfather, club icon Cesare Maldini, in playing for Milan.

Cesare started his Serie A career at Triestina and ended his playing days at Torino, but Paolo stayed with Milan throughout.

This now represents Daniel's first move away from the club, having made 15 Serie A appearances for the Rossoneri across three seasons. However, those outings have only amounted 194 minutes.

At Spezia, the 20-year-old will get the opportunity to establish himself in the top flight.

Milan defender Fikayo Tomori has dismissed suggestions Inter and Juventus are favourites to take the Rossoneri's Serie A crown next season, declaring: "They also said it last year."

However, the England international acknowledged Inter's loan signing of Romelu Lukaku – who he described as "special" – represents a major coup for Milan's cross-city rivals.

Tomori enjoyed a stellar campaign as Stefano Pioli's men ended an 11-year wait to win the Scudetto last season, contributing to 13 clean sheets in 31 Serie A appearances. 

Meanwhile, the former Chelsea defender topped the Rossoneri charts for blocks (23), interceptions (45), clearances (77) and tackles (73) in his first campaign since making a permanent move to San Siro last June. 

No team conceded fewer Serie A goals (31) or recorded more wins (26) than Milan last term, but Inter's signing of Lukaku and Juventus' moves for Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria have seen the Derby d'Italia rivals touted as title favourites for 2022-23.

Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, however, Tomori suggested it would be unwise to write off Milan, smiling: "Are they the favourites? They also said it last year and then we won.

"When I arrived in Milan I knew the team was strong and we could win the Scudetto. 

"I knew it was a special club, especially in the Champions League. We are excited and we are still hungry to win."

 

Lukaku's return to Inter, for whom he scored 24 Serie A goals during a 2020-21 Scudetto triumph under Antonio Conte, represents a significant coup for Milan's rivals.

And Tomori labelled the striker "a special player" as he revealed his high hopes for another Belgian attacker, new Milan arrival Divock Origi.

"The first time I faced him in the derby was my debut in Milan," Tomori said of Lukaku. "I am not afraid but I respect him, he is strong and will be like this again this year. Romelu is a special player.

"Origi is strong and fast, a good sign, I played against him last year [in the Champions League]."

Despite enjoying a dream campaign during his first full season at San Siro, Tomori is still targeting individual improvements, and has no shortage of defensive role models to look up to in Milan.

"I saw [Alessandro] Nesta, [Jaap] Stam, Cafu, all very strong. But the one I liked the most is Paolo Maldini, also because he is back here while we do the interview!" The defender continued.

"[Franco] Baresi is not as tall as me, but he had leadership, and then the position of the body, the voice on the pitch... the same thing for Maldini and Nesta. 

"Personality on the pitch, ability to read the different moments of the match… I want to show these characteristics too."

Milan begin their title defence at home to Udinese on August 13.

Charles De Ketelaere appears to be on the brink of a move to Milan, and Club Brugge team-mate Hans Vanaken revealed the Belgian champions' squad are resigned to his departure.

Milan are in the market for attacking reinforcements after winning their first Serie A title since 2010-11 last season, and Brugge star De Ketelaere has emerged as a target after scoring 18 goals in all competitions last term.

The Rossoneri's sporting director Paolo Maldini revealed he was confident of striking a deal for the 21-year-old after travelling to Belgium for talks this week, despite Brugge coach Carl Hoefkens insisting De Ketelaere would only be permitted to leave "at the right time".

De Ketelaere's team-mate Vanaken has revealed the Brugge players are resigned to losing the Belgium international, who he believes has the quality to star in Serie A.

"Against Milan in the Champions League could be a nice reunion," Vanaken told Belgian newspaper HLN.

"I haven't seen Paolo Maldini here this week, no. But we all read it too. There are no secrets.

"We all know that Milan will go to any lengths to get Charles. We're not swinging all those La Gazzetta dello Sport covers here, but we do speak some Italian to him sometimes.

"Charles is a super talent who has grown enormously here in three years. He has shown that he is ready to take the step."

However, De Ketelaere may not have made his final Brugge appearance after Hoefkens confirmed he is available for their season opener against Genk on Sunday.

"For me, he is still part of club. He is also available for Sunday," Hoefkens said of the attacking midfielder. "This is not easy for him, he has never experienced anything like it.

"It's something special, we're trying to understand it as best we can."

Milan will hope to have De Ketelaere on board when they begin their Serie A title defence against Udinese on August 13.

Milan are confident of concluding a deal to sign promising Club Brugge forward Charles de Ketelaere, according to technical director Paolo Maldini.

Stefano Pioli's men are in the market for attacking reinforcements after winning their first Serie A title since 2010-11 last season, with Brugge duo Noa Lang and De Ketelaere both reported targets.

De Ketelaere, who scored 18 goals in all competitions last season and has won eight senior caps for Belgium since his 2020 debut, has been strongly linked to both the Rossoneri and Premier League side Leeds United.

Earlier this month, Brugge head coach Carl Hoefkens insisted the forward would only be allowed to leave "at the right time".

But Milan appear to be closing in on the 21-year-old's signature after Maldini joined Rossoneri director of football Frederic Massara in Belgium for negotiations, after which the legendary defender expressed his confidence a deal would be done.

Asked how talks were progressing by Tuttomercato, Maldini responded: "Good. There is confidence."

Pioli's men could be set to make two additions to their squad after Lille president Oliver Letang revealed midfielder Renato Sanches was likely to depart for either Milan or Paris Saint-Germain.

Technical director Paolo Maldini and sporting director Frederic Massara have signed two-year contracts at Milan, the club confirmed on Friday.

The pair's previous deals had expired on Thursday with the end of the 2021-22 season.

However, Maldini had belatedly confirmed he would be staying at the club following a tough start to the close season.

Although Milan won the Serie A title last term with a team built in part by Maldini and Massara, they have struggled to add reinforcements for the coming campaign.

With the Rossoneri in the midst of a takeover, they could not compete with Newcastle United for highly rated defender Sven Botman.

The centre-back was said to be a primary target for Maldini, while reports have suggested Paris Saint-Germain have jumped the queue for Botman's Lille team-mate Renato Sanches.

However, Milan, Maldini and Massara have now come to an agreement that will see two key figures remain in their roles for at least another two seasons.

"This deal highlights the importance of continuity we see throughout the club as we continue to strengthen and grow," Milan said in a statement.

Paolo Maldini is glad that Milan can now "plan for the future" after confirming he has reached an agreement with the Serie A champions to stay on as technical director.

Club legend Maldini was considered one of the main architects behind Milan's first Scudetto success in 11 years last season thanks to his work behind the scenes.

He has held a boardroom position for the past four years, three of those in his current role, and helped sign the likes of Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan.

The 54-year-old was due to be out of contract come the end of Thursday, but he announced shortly ahead of that deal expiring that he will remain in the job.

"Everything is sorted. We renewed at the last minute, but we did it," Maldini told reporters outside Milan's headquarters.

"I am very happy to be here and ready to plan for the future, with even more victories. There's still time [this transfer window]. We started a bit late, but we'll recover lost time."

Director of football Frederic Massara is also reported to have signed an extension to the contract that was due to expire on Thursday.

According to reports from Italy, the delay in reaching an agreement with the pair was down to the lack of funds being made available for transfers this window.

Milan have already missed out on Sven Botman to Newcastle United, while Paris Saint-Germain appear to have pipped the Rossoneri to fellow Lille player Renato Sanches.

Stefano Pioli's men begin their 2022-23 Serie A campaign with a home match against Udinese on August 13. 

Romelu Lukaku completing his return to Inter would make the Nerazzurri favourites to win Serie A next season, according to Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.

Lukaku is reportedly nearing an Inter comeback less than a year after making a club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, where he scored just eight Premier League goals as Thomas Tuchel's men finished third.

The Belgian had scored 30 goals and added 11 assists during his final season with Inter, helping the Nerazzurri end an 11-year wait for a league title as they finished 12 points clear of local rivals Milan.

While the Rossoneri fought back to end their own long Scudetto drought last month, Costacurta believes the return of Lukaku would shift the balance of power in Inter's favour.

"I think they also were [favourites] last year," he told TuttoMercato.

"Inter were the strongest last year and with Lukaku the gap with the others is getting wider."

 

Costacurta also expects Juventus to be back in the title mix after they finished fourth in consecutive Serie A seasons, but claims the return of Federico Chiesa, who sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, is more important to their prospects than the potential arrival of Paul Pogba.  

"A lot will depend on the recovery of Chiesa, one of the best players in Europe. If he recovers well, Juve will fight against Inter," the former defender said.

"This will be the blow, the one that most of all can shift the balance. More than Pogba."

Meanwhile, Milan are reportedly looking to bolster their own attack with moves for departing Liverpool forward Divock Origi and Real Madrid's Marco Asensio, and Costacurta, who won five European Cup/Champions League titles with the Rossoneri, believes both would be useful additions.

"I have never been in love with him [Origi], but he is a wonderful player," he said.

"Like [Olivier] Giroud, he will be able to help. They are not extraordinary players, but [you need] to have players like that, like Giroud last year." 

On Asensio, Costacurta added: "He is an excellent player, he has a lot of quality."

Costacurta's glittering playing career saw him establish a fearsome defensive partnership with Milan's current technical director Paolo Maldini, and although reports have suggested the Rossoneri legend could leave in the absence of a new contract offer, Costacurta remains confident his old friend will extend his stay.

"I can't imagine a Milan without Paolo Maldini," he said. "I don't think they [the club] are morons and so I imagine that as soon as they can, Maldini will sign. 

"I don't even ask myself the problem. A radical change of strategy would be harmful. 

"It seems to me that everything is going very well. The limited budget leads to a lot of ideas, I wouldn't worry much about it."

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."

Rafael Leao expressed his excitement over speculation of interest from Real Madrid, but the Milan forward assured his "feet will remain firmly on the ground".

The Portugal international has starred for Milan since joining from Lille in 2019 and played an integral role as Stefano Pioli's side secured their first Scudetto in 11 years.

Leao scored 11 times and assisted eight in 34 Serie A appearances over the 2021-22 season, setting up two goals in the final-day 3-0 win over Sassuolo that sealed the title.

No Milan player outscored him – Olivier Giroud also scored 11 league goals – or recorded more assisted for the Rossoneri this term.

Leao regularly tormented Serie A defences with his powerful runs down the left flank, with only Adama Traore (107), Kylian Mbappe (112) and Allan Saint-Maximin (150) completing more dribbles than him (98) across Europe's top five leagues.

The form of Pioli's key man has led to reports Madrid are interested after missing out on Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe, but Leao insists he is focusing on life with the Rossoneri.

"I'm at Milan, I have another two years on my contract," he told A Bola. "Untouchable? I'm happy with these words. I feel at home, but right now my focus is on the national team.

"[The rumours about Real Madrid] make me happy, but my feet are firmly on the ground. It is a pride to work with highly experienced players. 

"As for my development, I left Sporting [CP] when I was young and went to Lille. People may not know it, but Ligue 1 is a strong league, I have evolved."

Leao will now target World Cup success with Portugal in Qatar as he looks to partner fellow Sporting academy graduate Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Two years have not gone as I would have liked, but now I am more mature and confident, the season has gone as I wanted," he added.

"I hope to do great things in the future. I want to be a point of reference in my club and in the national team… the highest point is, for example, winning a World Cup."

Meanwhile, Milan technical director Paolo Maldini insists Leao will never be put up for sale by the Rossoneri.

"Of course he is not for sale," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is still a rough diamond who from one year to the next has already improved so much.

"We signed him from Lille for €24million and immediately put a €150m release clause on him, because we believed so much in this player.

"He was always potentially a great champion, but he needs to continue this growth process that he is only part-way through.

"He is extremely intelligent but needed to be helped along the way and I spoke to him a lot.

"Clearly, if in future Milan are not at the level of Leao or if Leao is not at the level of Milan, things could change. But at this moment, the growth is exponential for both the club and the player."

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini says he is "proud" of the Rossoneri's impressive season so far, but has urged the team not to let the chance of a first Serie A title since 2011 pass them by.

Stefano Pioli's men lead rivals Inter by two points at the Serie A summit after Sandro Tonali's 92nd-minute winner secured a crucial 2-1 win at Lazio on Sunday, although the Nerazzurri have a game in hand.

Milan recently kept six consecutive league clean sheets to strengthen their Scudetto hopes, with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's opener at the Stadio Olimpico representing the first goal Pioli's men had conceded in 568 minutes of league football.

Such impressive form has raised hopes of Milan winning their first Serie A title since 2010-11 this season, and Maldini is proud of the way they have proven their doubters wrong this campaign.

"As a Milanista, I am proud. Proud of the team, the staff, of the way we behaved, and for all the fans are giving us in this moment," Maldini told the club's official media channels.

"When you have a season like this one, the objective is to do the best we can. With the great opportunity we have, we need to aim much higher.

"I remember at the start of the season some didn't even consider us for the top four, but this something we have used as motivation.

"The numbers speak for themselves. We know that, to be here, to be one of the top two over the last two years, we need to keep hold of this spirit of sacrifice, I believe it is our most important characteristic."

Having finished a distant second to runaway Scudetto winners Inter last season, Milan are hunting their 19th league title after going unbeaten in their last 12 Serie A matches. 

Maldini – who won seven Serie A titles and an incredible five European Cup or Champions League trophies during his own glittering Rossoneri career – has called upon Pioli's men to seize the opportunity to make history after over a decade without a title.

"If we've gotten this far, it's due to the fact we've always believed we could," he added. "Even when we didn't communicate it publicly, inside the group we've always believed it.

"And so it should be, because we can't let it go by as an everyday thing. In the last 20 years, Milan has won two Scudetti. We're talking about Milan!

"Winning this year would be an incredible result and when you've got a chance like this, you need to give it your all. Should things not work out, you know you did your very best."

Milan's next Serie A outings sees them host Fiorentina on Sunday, with each of their four remaining fixtures coming against top-half opponents.

Orlando City star Alexandre Pato suggested Milan technical director Paolo Maldini knows the striker is ready to return to San Siro.

Pato is plying his trade in MLS for Orlando, where he is contracted until December 2022, but hinted at his willingness to move back to Milan.

The Brazil international scored 51 goals in 177 appearances for the Rossoneri during his time in Serie A between 2007 and 2013 before joining Corinthians.

The 32-year-old believes he still has what it takes to compete in the Italian top flight, which Stefano Pioli's side lead by two points ahead of Inter, who have played a game fewer.

"Orlando is fine and I still have a contract, but Maldini knows it: I would be ready," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"Now I have matured, I have a different attitude towards football and maybe I would be useful with the younger players.

"I miss Italy and the Italians, the warmth of the fans. I always say to my wife, 'one day I'll take you to Milan and you'll understand what I'm talking about'.

"For me it was a fundamental city: I learned many things and I miss everything about Milan. And I'd like to go back to Milan, after all in Italy there are many players who are older in Serie A."

Milan and Inter face off in their Coppa Italia semi-final return meeting on Tuesday, level at 0-0 from the first leg, and Pato cannot pick between the two sides.

"It's a difficult one and Milan can't make mistakes,” he said. "They can win the title and beating their rivals in Coppa Italia would give them extra motivation.

"Olivier Giroud is strong, Rafael Leao can make the right moves. The game will be open, it always is against Inter."

As for the future, Pato has great expectations for Milan under the stewardship of Pioli and Maldini.

"I played in a team full of champions," added Pato. "This Milan side is improving and has a bright future because they are building the team well."

Carlo Ancelotti likened Luka Modric to Paolo Maldini as he declared the veteran midfielder would end his career at Real Madrid – also insisting he has no problem with Toni Kroos.

Ahead of a trip to Sevilla on Sunday, Ancelotti spoke glowingly about both midfielders who have put Madrid in a strong position to strike for LaLiga and Champions League glory.

There was a flash point between Ancelotti and Kroos in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, when the former Germany international was substituted and was reported to have insulted the coach as he left the field.

Ancelotti stressed that was soon defused, meaning there seems no danger of Kroos and Modric not starting in tandem when league leaders Madrid tackle third-placed Sevilla.

With Madrid edging through to the European semi-finals after extra time, despite losing 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti's decision to bring on Eduardo Camavinga in Kroos' place proved to be justified.

The change had come with Madrid 2-0 behind and facing possible elimination. Modric played the full 120 minutes, and the 36-year-old remains as influential as ever at the heart of the team.

Addressing the Kroos kerfuffle, Ancelotti said on Saturday: "His gesture didn't bother me. He was angry with the coach but not with the person.

"As well as in sport, he is a person with a very high level. I don't need to talk to him or ask for explanations. It's all over after the game."

Kroos, 32, and Modric have been the beating heart of the Madrid midfield, and that is set to remain the case into next season.

Although Modric is now in the veteran stage of his career, Ancelotti sees that as a positive rather than a weakness.

"I think he's going to finish his career here, I don't know when but that's everyone's idea," Ancelotti said. "There is no problem for the club, neither for us nor for him to renew, that is quite clear.

"He takes great care of himself, in his career he has not had any major injuries and that helps him a lot."

Making the Maldini comparison, Ancelotti said: "I had a football legend, who won the last Champions League at the age of 40. If I have to compare him with anyone, it would be with him: for the quality, for the seriousness, for how he understands football. They are legends."

Ancelotti coached Maldini at Milan, having previously played in the same team as the defender who went on to make 902 appearances for the Rossoneri.

Maldini was in fact 38 when he helped Milan to the fifth European Cup/Champions League of his career, but he played on until the age of 40.

Madrid head into Sunday with a 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga, with Barcelona and Sevilla their nearest challengers but both surely now playing for second place.

Ancelotti, appointed for a second spell at Madrid last June, has won six of his seven games as coach against Sevilla in all competitions (L1).

Sevilla, meanwhile, have failed to win any of their past six meetings with Real Madrid in LaLiga (D1 L5), their worst winless run since a 15-game stretch between May 1993 and April 2003 (D2 L13), which is the longest such barren sequence they have suffered against Los Blancos in the competition’s history.

Paolo Maldini is prepared for a change of off-field leadership at Milan after it was reported the club's owners are in talks with potential buyers of the Serie A giants.

Technical director Maldini said it was important to keep a focus on on-field matters as Milan chase the Serie A title.

The club legend, who made a record 902 appearances for Milan as a player, spoke about the possibility of a takeover before Friday's league clash with Genoa.

Milan won that game 2-0 to move top of the table after city rivals Inter briefly went to the summit earlier in the day.

"I know little, but it is normal that in the future of Milan there may also be a sale," Maldini told DAZN. "I don't know when that moment will be.

"A few matchdays from the end [of the season], however, I think it is in everyone's interest to try and think about winning this championship. We also have the semi-final of the Coppa Italia to play."

It has been widely reported that Investcorp, founded in Bahrain, is in talks to buy the San Siro giants from American hedge fund Elliott Management, which is said to be seeking a price above $1billion.

The Financial Times reported Investcorp has secured an exclusivity period set to last for around two weeks.

Milan director Paolo Maldini is eager to learn from past mistakes by tying down Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao and Ismael Bennacer to new deals.

The trio, who have been regulars for Stefano Pioli's Scudetto-chasing side this term, are under contract at San Siro until the end of the 2023-24 campaign.

However, Milan have learned the hard way about the risks associated with allowing players to run down their contracts in recent times.

Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu departed on free transfers ahead of this season, with the latter joining Milan's fierce rivals Inter.

The Rossoneri also risk losing Franck Kessie without receiving a fee at the end of the campaign, but Maldini is hopeful that will soon be a thing of the past.

"It's not always easy to reach an agreement with players, as we have seen with Donnarumma, Kessie and Calhanoglu " Maldini told reporters on Saturday. 

"But talks are well underway with Theo, as they are with Ismael, and we are talking to Rafa. The intention is to renew with all three soon."

 

Bennacer has featured in 24 of Milan's 26 matches this season, while Hernandez and Leao have been used 21 and 20 times respectively in all competitions.

Leao has five goals and one assist in Serie A this term and ranks third in the division for both dribbles attempted (69) and dribbles completed (37).

Hernandez leads the way for assists among defenders in the Italian top flight this season with five, meanwhile, and Bennacer ranks fifth for successful passes per 90 minutes (66.41) among players to have started at least seven times.

Maldini, speaking at the Associazione Italiana Milan Clubs event, added: "These are all young players and we naturally believe they can continue to offer Milan a great deal."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to stay at Milan for "life" as the evergreen superstar eyes a Rossoneri contract extension.

Ibrahimovic celebrated his 40th birthday in October but the veteran forward has shown no signs of slowing down amid Milan's Serie A title bid.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Ibrahimovic has scored six goals in nine league appearances to help Scudetto-chasing Milan to the top of the table through 16 rounds.

Ibrahimovic has been a revelation since re-joining Milan for a second spell in January 2020 and as the Swede continues to defy 'Father Time', he has no plans to leave San Siro.

"I want to play as long as possible, and as long as I have that adrenaline, I will continue," Ibrahimovic – who was part of the last Milan team to win Serie A in 2010-11 – told Rai Tre's Che Tempo Che Fa.

"Let's put pressure on Milan here to give me an extension and I hope to stay at Milan for life.

"I still have objectives that I can achieve and I want to win another Scudetto."

 

Ibrahimovic added: "I don't know what will happen after football, so I am a little scared to stop. We'll see, but I want to continue playing so that I don't have any regrets."

Milan defeated Salernitana 2-0 on Saturday, with Ibrahimovic watching from the bench.

In Milan's previous victory – a 3-0 win over Genoa on Wednesday – Ibrahimovic scored his 153rd Serie A goal, drawing level with Stefano Nyers and Hernan Crespo in 26th place among the top scorers in the Italian competition.

His 73 league goals for Milan also took Swedish forward Ibrahimovic to 10th in Milan's standings, alongside Filippo Inzaghi.

Ibrahimovic has played alongside Milan great and current Rossoneri technical director Paolo Maldini, and his son Daniel – spanning two generations.

"It's wonderful, we'll see if the adrenaline continues and I can play with Daniel's son as well!" Ibrahimovic joked.

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