Stefano Pioli knows AC Milan need new signings to compete for Serie A title

By Sports Desk January 19, 2024

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has admitted his side must strengthen in the January transfer window if they are to chase down leading duo Inter Milan and Juventus in Serie A.

Milan head to struggling Udinese on Saturday looking to close a seven-point deficit to second-placed Juve, and with Pioli eyeing reinforcements in defence and midfield.

“Our decisions don’t change and the club are working on it. There are two weeks remaining,” he said.

Pioli pointed out the need for a “complete” defender, saying any new recruit would need to be able to help with build-up play from the back.

Milan have improved defensively since Simon Kjaer returned from injury, but the Denmark centre-half’s future is uncertain with his contract due to expire in the summer – perhaps a contributing factor in their search for a new defender.

“Simon is a leader,” Pioli said. “He knows what to say and he takes position. But for all of us, it’s too early to speak about the future.”

Udinese claimed a 1-0 win over Milan at San Siro in November, one of only two games they have won all season, and Pioli is determined to avoid a repeat.

“Only tomorrow’s game counts, not what we did in the past against them,” he said. “We are different teams now. They are in a good moment, but the same is true of us.

“We must be fearless and try to perform at our best. It’s a hard game tomorrow, but we want better results than in the first part of the season. Surely, we’ve had a good week.

“Milan must earn as many points as possible, that’s what we want from every single game. All games are worth three points and we want to take them home tomorrow.”

Reserve goalkeeper Marco Sportiello and defender Alessandro Florenzi have returned to training after injury, but Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu all remain out while Ismael Bennacer and Samuel Chukwueze are at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Udinese sit only one point above the relegation zone, but have taken four points from their last three games to offer some hope amid a miserable run.

It could have been better, but last weekend they conceded a late penalty in a 2-2 draw with Fiorentina, the seventh time this season they have lost a lead – having dropped 14 points from winning positions.

With away games against Atalanta and Juventus to come, things will not get any easier so coach Gabriele Cioffi would love what would be a third straight win over Milan.

Martin Payero could return from the muscle problem that kept him sidleined against Fiorentina, but Gerard Deulofeu, Jaka Bijol and Enzo Ebosse remain out.

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