Zlatan Ibrahimovic reached another goalscoring milestone on Sunday by netting his 400th career league goal in Milan's Serie A meeting with Roma.

The 40-year-old drilled a free-kick under the Roma wall and past a well-beaten Rui Patricio to give Milan a first-half lead at the Stadio Olimpico.

That was also another landmark strike for Ibrahimovic, bringing up 150 goals in Serie A for Juventus, Inter and Milan, where he is in his second spell.

Incredibly, 15 per cent of the players with at least one match in Serie A this season were not even born when Ibrahimovic scored the first of his league goals for Malmo in the Swedish top flight in October 1999.

 

Ibrahimovic has also previously played for Ajax, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and LA Galaxy, with his most prolific spell coming in Ligue 1 with PSG as he netted 113 times in 122 appearances.

The Sweden international has now scored 11 goals against Roma in Serie A, making them his favourite opponent in the competition. 

Each of Ibrahimovic's eight previous goals against Roma prior to Sunday had been in games in which he scored a brace, but that run came to an end as he was substituted before the hour mark in this latest contest.

Kylian Mbappe must learn to "walk on fire" if he wants to achieve his full potential, according to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

France striker Mbappe is in his fifth year at Paris Saint-Germain and the 22-year-old has been the team's Ligue 1 top scorer in the past three campaigns.

Mbappe continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid, which could happen at the end of this season, given he will become a free agent if he refuses a new PSG contract.

Former PSG frontman Ibrahimovic, who famously scored 38 league goals in the 2015-16 season, feels there is more to come from Mbappe if he introduces a greater edge and stretches himself to the limit.

Ibrahimovic has been a master of tacking his talent to an exuberant, at times brash, character, and it has made him an opponent that others fear, not merely for his goal threat but his force of personality.

He told Telefoot: "I love Mbappe, but what he does is not yet enough. He is too comfortable, in his zone. He needs to walk on fire and then he will be even better.

"He needs to sense the taste of blood. You have to be surrounded by those who tell you you're not good enough and you can progress, not by those who say you're the best."

Mbappe has become pivotal to PSG since arriving, initially on loan, in 2017 from Monaco.

 

Last season there was a marked difference in PSG's fortunes when he was not in the team. With Mbappe starting, as he did in 27 Ligue 1 games, PSG averaged 2.3 points per game, winning 74 per cent of those fixtures, but in the 11 matches when he was absent from the XI those numbers dipped to 1.8 points per game and a 54.5 per cent win rate.

Given PSG were pipped to the title by one point, as Lille were crowned French champions, his importance becomes obvious.

Including appearances off the bench, he featured in 31 Ligue 1 games and scored 27 goals, his second-best return for the Parisians, beaten only by his remarkable 33-goal effort in the 2018-19 season.

Mbappe will have his work cut out to match Ibrahimovic's 2015-16 strike rate of one goal every 67.2 minutes, although he has had three campaigns so far where he has dipped under the goal-every-90-minutes bar.

"Mbappe is in the top category of those that I like," said Ibrahimovic. "There are other players who have been at the top for a long time. Among young people, there is Mbappe, [Erling] Haaland. And who else? There is Ibrahimovic, no need for anyone else."

What does the future hold for Paul Pogba?

Pogba, who re-joined Manchester United from Juventus in 2016, is set to become a free agent at season's end.

Juve are believed to be trying to lure Pogba back to Italy.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE LEAD RACE FOR POGBA

Juventus are in pole position to re-sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United, according to Sportitalia journalist Rudy Galetti.

Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and is reportedly not prepared to sign a new contract with United.

The World Cup-winning France international left United for Juventus in 2012 before returning to Old Trafford in 2016.

Le10 Sport, meanwhile, claims Paris Saint-Germain are circling amid interest from Real Madrid also.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Xavi wants to sign Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman if he is appointed head coach of LaLiga giants Barcelona . Barca great and Al-Sadd boss Xavi is favourite to replace Ronald Koeman.

Theo Hernandez is set to snub a move to Premier League champions Manchester City or Ligue 1 powerhouse PSG in favour of re-signing with Milan, per Calciomercato.

- The Mirror says Newcastle United are struggling to prise Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag from Amsterdam. Also linked to Manchester United amid pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer , Ten Hag is reluctant to move to Newcastle due to their position in the table.

Inter have planned talks with Marcelo Brozovic regarding a new contract amid interest from PSG , Manchester United , Barca and Atletico Madrid , according to Corriere dello Sport.

Jose Mourinho said he realises why is it "tough" to work at Roma, but the Portuguese boss is having "fun" in the Italian capital.

Mourinho returned to Serie A as Roma head coach at the start of the season after he was sacked by Tottenham last term.

The Giallorossi have not won the Scudetto since 2001, while not since 2008 have they claimed silverware.

Mourinho has found himself under some pressure in the wake of Roma's shock 6-1 humbling at Bodo-Glimt in the Europa Conference League last week, with the former treble-winning Inter coach scathing of his players in the aftermath.

As Roma prepare to welcome high-flying Milan to the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, Mourinho was in a combative mood during his pre-game news conference.

"You always find the negative side of any situation," Mourinho told reporters when asked about Roma conceding goals after the restart. "It would be more frustrating for me to concede a goal in the first five minutes of the match. Honestly, I am impressed by your ability to pick the negatives out of everything.

"I am starting to understand why Roma is a difficult place to work. In other clubs, you feel more protection and positivity with the fans at home.  Maybe in Rome it's more difficult for that too, but that's okay, it's still fun this way."

Mourinho's Roma are fourth in Serie A, nine points behind Milan and Napoli through 10 rounds of the season.

After losing his first match against Milan in Serie A in 2008, Mourinho has won each of his last three top-flight matches against the Rossoneri, with eight goals scored and only one conceded.

In each of the previous nine occasions – in the era of three points per win – in which Roma have won at least six of the first 10 Serie A games, they have then finished within the top three positions in the table (currently six wins, one draw and three defeats).

"I like to play against the best and I think I convey well to the players this feeling of pleasure when playing against teams that are playing well, are higher than us in the standings and that have different goals than ours," Mourinho said.

"From this point of view, there are no problems, only motivations. When I was in Italy, Pioli did not coach in Serie A. Our teams have never played against. I will have the pleasure of meeting him and greeting him before and after the game. His work maybe has some similarities to what I have to do here.

"He deserves a lot of credit for what he is doing, but from the outside, it seems to me that we're talking about a club effort: behind him there are people like [Paolo] Maldini, just to give an example, and there is a good, stable structure, a squad that improves in every transfer window.

"If you compare the squad he first had and the one he has now – a very good evolution of the club, which is in a good position now, plays in the Champions League and is first or second in the standings. They're doing very well."

Leonardo has dismissed talk Paris Saint-Germain are lining up moves for Milan duo Franck Kessie and Theo Hernandez.

Kessie's contract expires at the end of this season, so the Ivory Coast midfielder will be free to talk to other clubs in January.

Milan are eager to keep the 24-year-old, who has been linked with the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham, but have been unable to agree terms on a new deal.

Big-spending PSG are also reported to be eyeing up Kessie along with his team-mate Hernandez.

Yet the Ligue 1 giants' sporting director Leonardo has rubbished claims that approaches have been made for the two key Milan players.

Leonardo was previously a player, coach and director for the Rossoneri.

"We haven't contacted any player, there's nothing with Franck Kessie or Theo Hernandez," he said.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli on Saturday responded to Leonardo's comments by saying: "I'm not going to comment on Leonardo's words. I'm interested in seeing the players available and that's it."

France left-back Hernandez is under contract with Milan until June 2024.

Simon Kjaer has penned a new two-year contract with Serie A leaders Milan.

The extension will keep him at the Rossoneri until June 2024 after his current deal was due to run out at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

The club announced Kjaer's new contract on Wednesday, hailing the 32-year-old as an "exemplary professional on and off the pitch" as they look forward to "continuing their journey together".

Kjaer initially moved to San Siro on a six-month loan from Sevilla in January 2020 before making the move permanent in the close season.

He was a standout performer as his side undertook something of a transformation under Stefano Pioli during the previous term.

The Denmark international received the 2021 UEFA President's award following his heroic actions in which he dealt with Christian Eriksen at Euro 2020 after his team-mate suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch in their opener against Finland.

The former Sevilla defender, who has racked up 66 appearances for Pioli's team across all competitions, also made the 30-man shortlist for the 2021 Ballon d'Or following his rapid reactions to help Eriksen in June.

The centre-back has managed 621 minutes this season in all competitions for Milan, who have won nine of their opening ten games in Serie A for just the second time since 1954-55.

The Rossoneri overcame Torino 1-0 on Tuesday and currently hold a three-point lead in the Italian top flight over Napoli, who face Bologna on Thursday.

Any hopes of Paul Pogba remaining at Old Trafford appear to be fading. 

The Manchester United stalwart has halted contract talks with the club. 

Multiple European clubs are said to be interested in the 28-year-old. 

 

TOP STORY – POGBA ENDS MAN UTD TALKS

Paul Pogba has ended talks over a potential new contract at Manchester United amid an apparent row with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Sun reports. 

The France international will be out of contract in June and appears likely to move on. 

The Sun reports he apologised to his team-mates but did not speak to Solskjaer after being sent off 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool. 

His former club Juventus could be an option, while Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have shown interest. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona would prefer to have Jurgen Klopp take over whenever they sack Ronald Koeman, says Sport. Klopp is under contract with Liverpool through 2024. 

- Newcastle United are prepared to offer Alex Ten Hag £6million a year after taxes if he leaves Ajax for St. James' Park, reports the Mail. 

- Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in Barcelona's Spain international Sergi Roberto, says Fichajes. 

- Inter have had talks with Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby's agent over a potential move, claims Calciomercato. 

- River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is drawing interest from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Aston Villa, says Calciomercato. 

Olivier Giroud acknowledged Milan's display in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Torino was by no means impressive but applauded the team for still managing to get the job done.

Giroud got the only goal of the game in the 14th minute, tapping in from close range after Rade Krunic flicked on a corner.

Precious few clear-cut opportunities came for Milan thereafter – their 1.1 expected goals (xG) value was better than Torino's (0.6), but 0.8 of the Rossoneri's total was attributed to Giroud's goal, highlighting the dearth of quality chances after the breakthrough.

Torino came on strong in the latter stages, with Tonny Sanabria forcing a save from Ciprian Tatarusanu and Dennis Praet having a deflected effort hit the crossbar.

It was hardly an emphatic performance from Milan, who had great trouble in their 4-2 weekend win at Bologna as well, but it moved them to the top of the table at least until Thursday and also ensured they reached the 10-match mark with nine victories for only the second time ever (also 1954-55).

And Giroud feels Milan can cut themselves some slack as long as they get results.

"We play every three days, and that's just not easy on the body," Giroud told DAZN. "Not everything was perfect, but we won and that's the most important thing.

"We played a good game, I think. Torino are a strong, physical team. They're aggressive in tackles and there were plenty of challenges with Bremer, who's a great defender.

"I'm really happy because we started well and Torino didn't really create lots of scoring opportunities. That shows we were really solid at the back, and we've taken the three points, which is the most important thing.

"We can do better at times. It's not perfect, but Torino are very tough to play against, and we got the three points. That's what I really like about this team [Milan], especially when playing at home, we want to make the fans happy with a lot of energy and passion."

Milan playmaker Brahim Diaz is poised for a first-team return after testing negative for coronavirus.

The Spaniard has missed the last three games for the Rossoneri after contracting COVID-19.

Diaz, 22, was forced to isolate while Milan secured Serie A wins over Hellas Verona and Bologna either side of a Champions League defeat to Porto.

Ahead of Milan's clash with Torino on Tuesday, the San Siro club said on their website: "AC Milan announces that Brahim Diaz has tested negative to the COVID-19 swab test."

Diaz, on loan from Real Madrid, has scored three goals in Serie A this season and provided one assist.

Stefano Pioli's side will go top of the table if they avoid defeat at home against Torino.

Milan forward Olivier Giroud is focused on winning Serie A with the Rossoneri as he targets league success.

A Champions League victor in 2020-21 before leaving Chelsea for Milan, Giroud has not won a league crown since conquering Ligue 1 with Montpellier in 2011-12.

Milan – without a Scudetto since 2011 – are level atop the Serie A table alongside Napoli through nine rounds after their enthralling 4-2 win at nine-man Bologna last week.

"I used to say football is an everlasting new beginning and you must always be ready for the next challenge," France international Giroud, who has three goals in five Serie A appearances this season, told Football Ramble podcast.

"That's one of my regrets in my career, it's not to have finished the job by winning the European Cup with France at home to Portugal. Another is not winning the Premier League with Arsenal or Chelsea.

"I still have a lot of hopes regarding winning another league with my new club and I am focused on it."

Stefano Pioli oversaw his 100th match in charge of Milan across all competitions following Saturday's triumph over Bologna.

He has won 56 of those games, exactly as many as Massimiliano Allegri had recorded with the Rossoneri after the same tally of games.

"This might sound like a threat for someone, but I expect to reach at least another 100 more," Milan head coach Pioli said.

Milan have won eight of their opening nine games of a Serie A season for the second time in their history – previously in 1954-55.

Pioli's Milan, meanwhile, have equalled their record of away wins in a single calendar year in Serie A thanks to 14 victories, as in 1964.

What does the future hold for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

His position as Manchester United manager is becoming more uncertain after an embarrassing loss to Liverpool.

A former Premier League-winning boss, Antonio Conte, is believed to be waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – CONTE EYEING UNITED ROLE?

The Manchester United job would be a priority for Antonio Conte should the Red Devils part with embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Sportitalia journalist Gianluigi Longari.

Solskjaer is facing fierce criticism following Sunday's humiliating 5-0 defeat to Premier League rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Former Inter and Chelsea boss Conte has been linked with Newcastle United following talk of a pre-season move to Tottenham, while the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino could reportedly be considered for the United role.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is in talks with Manchester City, Tottenham and Juventus, per Gianluca Di Marzio. The Germany international is available on a free transfer at season's end amid reported interest from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Marcelo wants to leave Madrid for Fluminense in 2022, claims El Nacional. Marcelo is out of contract at the end of the season.

- El Nacional says Barcelona have decided to sell United States international Sergino Dest. The 20-year-old has struggled for form at Camp Nou and he has been linked with Bayern.

Inter and Juve both identified Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic and Sampdoria's Mikkel Damsgaard, per Calciomercato. Vlahovic has also been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

- Calciomercato claims Serie A high-flyers Milan are eyeing Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

 

Theo Hernandez has been cleared to return to action for Milan after recovering from coronavirus.

The 24-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning from international duty with France nearly two weeks ago.

He was subsequently forced to sit out the Serie A wins over Hellas Verona and Bologna, either side of Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Porto in the Champions League.

However, Milan announced on their official website on Sunday that Hernandez's latest coronavirus test came back negative and he is now available for selection.

Stefano Pioli's side face Torino and Roma in Serie A over the next week, before hosting Porto and bitter rivals Inter in crucial games ahead of the next international break.

Fode Ballo-Toure has filled in during Hernandez's absence, but the Frenchman's return will be considered a huge positive for Pioli.

 

Since joining Milan in July 2019, Hernandez's combined 25 goals and assists has been bettered by only four defenders in Europe's top five leagues – Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raphael Guerreiro (both 28), Achraf Hakimi and Robin Gosens (both 35).

The 93 chances created by Hernandez in Serie A over that same timeframe is third to Federico Dimarco (97) and Juan Cuadrado (114), the latter of whom has often played further forward.

Prior to being struck down by coronavirus, Hernandez played a crucial role in France's Nations League success with a 90th-minute winner in the 3-2 semi-final victory over Belgium and an assist for Kylian Mbappe's winner in the 2-1 final triumph over Spain.

Toni Kroos has fallen out of favour with Real Madrid. 

A January transfer is a top priority with the World Cup looming.

Could a reunion with Pep Guardiola await? 

 

TOP STORY – KROOS HEADED TO CITY?

Manchester City have reached out to Toni Kroos about a January transfer, El Nacional reports. 

The Germany international has played in just one league match for Real Madrid this term. 

The 31-year-old previously played for City boss Guardiola at Bayern Munich and a reunion could be on the cards. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Ferran Torres is set to land a contract extension at Manchester City, says the Daily Star, with the new five-year deal set to pay him £100,000 a week.

- Lazio midfielder Luis Alberto could be headed for a reunion with Simone Inzaghi at Inter, reports Calciomercato. 

- Everton lead several clubs in pursuit of Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, says Football Insider, with West Ham and Newcastle United also interested. 

- Liverpool and Manchester United are among the clubs queuing for 18-year-old United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi, the Mirror reports. Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich also have been linked to the teen. 

- Newcastle have increasingly focussed on Ajax's Erik ten Hag to replace Steve Bruce, the Express reports, adding that Marc Overmars could also make the move to St. James' Park as director of football. 

 

Milan were made to work more than they expected after taking an early lead against short-handed Bologna on Saturday. 

After taking a 2-0 lead at the interval with Bologna down to 10 men, the Rossoneri had a second-half scare at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara before prevailing 4-2. 

Stefano Pioli lamented his side's over-confidence heading into the break, with Milan fortunate to prevail after Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted late to secure the win. 

"We struggled because we mistakenly thought that the match, with two goals and one more man, was over," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"Fortunately we have the qualities to take it back and we won an important match. Even in numerical superiority we have lacked clarity, we were too frantic. 

"With Ibra and [Olivier] Giroud ahead we made too many crosses, we had to play it more and move it more quickly. In the first 10 minutes of the second half we had to manage it better. 

"It is a very important victory. We know very well that the matches after the European commitments are difficult."

Coming off a 1-0 Champions League defeat to Porto on Tuesday, Milan went top of the table in Serie A with Saturday's triumph. 

Pioli said afterward that Ibrahimovic told him during the game he was "really tired" and indeed the talisman started the Bologna comeback with an own goal in the 49th minute. 

Musa Barrow equalised three minutes later before Bologna's momentum was blunted when Robert Soriano was given a straight red card in the 58th minute, leaving the home side with just nine men. 

Ibrahimovic played the full 90 minutes in starting his first league match of the season. His goal in the final minute capped the scoring. 

"We are showing that we always believe in it, that we never give up," Pioli said. "It is clear that there is a bit of tiredness because there are so many players missing and we play so many games, but it is the mentality that makes the difference and we want to win games until the end."

Milan moved to the Serie A summit as Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck late to hand them a pulsating 4-2 win over nine-man Bologna.

Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria scored either side of Adama Soumaoro's dismissal to give the Rossoneri a healthy advantage at the interval.

That was wiped out in the space of seven minutes at the start of the second period, however, with an Ibrahimovic own goal and a Musa Barrow strike restoring parity at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

Bologna had a second man sent off before the hour mark, Roberto Soriano given a straight red card for a late challenge, and Stefano Pioli's Milan landed a memorable three points thanks to fine late strikes from Bennacer and Ibrahimovic.

Leao put Milan ahead in the 16th minute with a deflected strike, before Soumaoro was shown a red card for bringing down a clean-through Rade Krunic just outside the area four minutes later.

Milan took advantage of their numerical superiority in the 35th minute, Calabria lashing home a second from 15 yards.

The hosts stormed back at the start of the second period, though, with Ibrahimovic – making his first start since May 9 – heading into his own net four minutes after the interval to give Sinisa Mihajlovic's side hope.

Barrow then remarkably drew Bologna level in the 52nd minute, slotting past Ciprian Tatarusanu after being played in by Soriano.

Rossoblu captain Soriano was then given his marching orders after a VAR review six minutes later for an ugly challenge on Fode Ballo-Toure.

The hosts held firm until the 84th minute when Bennacer powered into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards, while Ibrahimovic added gloss to the scoreline with a whipped finish from the same distance six minutes later.

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