Ibrahimovic 'very close' to Milan renewal as Pioli urges Donnarumma to stay

By Sports Desk April 10, 2021

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini has revealed Zlatan Ibrahimovic is "very close" to signing a contract extension, while Gianluigi Donnarumma has also been urged to stay at the club by head coach Stefano Pioli.

Ibrahimovic has helped to rejuvenate Milan since returning to San Siro in January 2020 on an initial six-month deal that was extended by a year ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

The 39-year-old is due to become a free agent when his latest deal expires at the end of June.

Reports in Italy suggest the evergreen striker is happy to remain with Milan for another year, however, and Maldini has provided a positive update on the contract talks.

"There are only small details missing and therefore we are very close to the renewal," he told Sky Sport Italia.

Ibrahimovic has 25 goals in 35 Serie A appearances since the start of 2020 - only Cristiano Ronaldo (46), Ciro Immobile (33), Romelu Lukaku (32) and Luis Muriel (26) have found the net more often across this period.

Meanwhile, his scoring rate of 108.2 minutes per goal is bettered only by Muriel (58.2) and Ronaldo (84.5) among players to have scored at least five times.

The former Manchester United striker registered his seventh league assist since rejoining in Saturday's 3-1 win over Parma, although he was later sent off for dissent - the sixth red card he has received in his Serie A career.

It somewhat marred what should have been a special occasion for Ibrahimovic, who brought up his 300th career victory in Europe's 'top five' leagues - 170 of those in Serie A - thanks to his team-mates seeing the job through at Estadio Ennio Tardini.

Gianluigi Donnarumma made four saves against Parma, including an impressive quickfire double stop early in the second half to deny Andrea Conti and Graziano Pelle, highlighting his importance to the side.

The Italy international is another who could leave San Siro as a free agent in a few months, but Pioli is hopeful the club's undisputed first-choice goalkeeper will commit to fresh terms.

"I would advise Gigio to stay at Milan because it is a top club and we are building something here," he told Sky Sport Italia. 

"I call my players fighters who haven't won yet, but are training to win trophies."

Hakan Calhanoglu completes the trio of Milan players with uncertain futures as he reaches the end of his contract, with the attacking midfielder reportedly holding out for a longer deal than the club are prepared to offer.

Asked for an update on the contract situations, Maldini added: "These are choices everyone has to make. I am not here to judge, I am here to do what is best for the club.

"I also know that you need two parties to be happy in order to strike a deal."

Milan, who strengthened their grip on second place with a club-record 13th away Serie A win of the season, also have the option of turning Fikayo Tomori's loan move from Chelsea into a permanent deal.

Tomori has impressed since joining in January and leads Milan defenders in blocks per 90 minutes (1.1) in Serie A this term, while the centre-back completed 93 per cent of his passes against Parma.

"He has made a wonderful impact and settled in so quickly," Pioli said. "He has other characteristics of pace and of playing out from the back that can certainly improve us as a team. 

"He is a player who is certainly giving us a lot and the intention is to keep him."

Related items

  • Inter Miami v Chicago Fire: Messi missing again as title tilt continues Inter Miami v Chicago Fire: Messi missing again as title tilt continues

    Inter Miami will again be without injured superstar Lionel Messi as they look to continue on their course for the Supporters' Shield on Saturday.

    Miami will host Chicago Fire with Messi absent, just as he was for the midweek home win over Toronto FC.

    "Leo will continue to be evaluated by our medical staff week to week," coach Tata Martino said.

    "We will see how he recuperates without taking any type of risk."

    Messi suffered an ankle injury while on Copa America duty with Argentina, winning that competition but appearing to hamper Inter's title hopes in the process.

    But Martino's men are still well placed to achieve their goals, starting with the regular-season championship.

    With victory over Toronto, in which Federico Redondo took centre stage with two goals, Miami became the first team to reach 50 points this season.

    They have achieved that feat within 24 games, joining esteemed company. The only six teams to previously tally 50 points inside 24 games have gone on to win the Supporters' Shield.

    Next opponents Chicago at least head into this encounter off the back of a win of their own, beating FC Cincinnati on the road on Wednesday.

    "When you come on the road and get a result like this, it's a great team effort," said Fire coach Frank Klopas.

    "Certain guys are playing really well at the moment, but I still feel that everyone can give more. There's a lot more potential in there with the group.

    "That's why this game on Saturday is so massive for us."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Inter Miami – Federico Redondo

    Miami may be missing Messi, but the supporting cast has consistently stepped up this season. They have had four different players score two or more goals in a match, tied for the most in MLS.

    The latest of those was Redondo, scoring his first goals in MLS against Toronto. With an assist in that game, too, he will hope that is the start of a strong run of game.

    Chicago Fire – Brian Gutierrez

    The Fire have had just three goals from substitutes in 2024, yet two of those have been among their past three goals. The latest, their winner against Cincy, saw Gutierrez emerge from the bench to score.

    The midfielder will not want that to develop into a consistent theme, however, surely preferring to play from the start. He had done so in each prior game going back to April.

    MATCH PREDICTION: INTER MIAMI WIN

    Chicago have actually won four of their six games against Miami, including the past three in a row.

    But New York City FC are the only team to further extend such a streak against Miami, and their run of five straight victories ended back in 2022. Miami are a very different prospect in 2024.

    Their stretch of scoring in 10 consecutive MLS matches is a club record, with their tally of 19 goals across those games showing the task that lies before Chicago – with or without Messi.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Inter Miami – 64.2%
    Chicago Fire – 16.7%
    Draw – 19.1%

  • Reggae Girl Chantelle Swaby inks two-year deal with Leicester City Reggae Girl Chantelle Swaby inks two-year deal with Leicester City

    Jamaica's senior Reggae Girl Chantelle Swaby is set to realise a lifelong dream of playing in the Barclay's Women's Super League (WSL), as she was signed by Leicester City on a free transfer.

    Swaby, agreed to a two-year deal with Leicester City after her contract with French club FC Fluery expired recently. 

    The versatile player, who has been capped 38 times for Jamaica, is eager to hit the ground running at the King Power Stadium.

     

    “It feels great to have signed for Leicester City.  I’ve been wanting to come to the WSL for years now, but I just haven’t had the chance to, so I’m happy to be here and can’t wait to get started," she told the club website.

    "I know this will be a really good experience and a great challenge for me, and I'm really excited. Playing as the home team at King Power Stadium will be a whole different experience, and I'm really looking forward to getting started with my teammates and meet the supporters,” Swaby added.

    The 25-year-old made 33 appearances across two seasons and helped FC Fleury finish fifth in the French top-flight league last season. Prior to that, she represented American outfit Sky Blue FC and had a one-year stint with Rangers in the Scottish Women's Premier League, where she won the 2021–22 title.

    Interestingly, Reggae Boy Bobby Reid was recently picked up by Leicester City's male team following their promotion to the English Premier League (EPL).

  • Schmeichel reunites with Rodgers at Celtic Schmeichel reunites with Rodgers at Celtic

    Kasper Schmeichel has signed a one-year deal with Celtic, while reuniting with former Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers.

    The Denmark goalkeeper joins the reigning Scottish Premiership champions as a free agent after his departure from Belgian side Anderlecht, where he spent a single season.

    Schmeichel, who also spent a year with Ligue 1 outfit Nice in 2022-23, brings plenty of experience to Celtic Park, following his 11-year stint with Leicester.

    The 37-year-old helped the Foxes to their fairy-tale Premier League triumph in 2016, along with their FA Cup success five years later.

    Rodgers was Schmeichel's coach in his final three years at the King Power Stadium, and both are excited to renew that working relationship.

    "I am absolutely delighted to join Celtic and can't wait to get started," Schmeichel told the club's official website.

    "Celtic is one of the world's proper football clubs, a massive name and a place of real passion and success. Celtic is what football is all about. 

    "I know Brendan very well, too. He is a top manager and someone I can't wait to work with again. 

    "I'm really looking forward to meeting up with the boys [on their pre-season tour] in America and starting our work and then, of course, meeting our fans who bring so much to Celtic.

    "I will be doing all I can to keep Celtic on top and bring these brilliant supporters more and more success."

    "I am really pleased to bring Kasper to Celtic," Rodgers added. "He is a real quality keeper and someone with the ability and personality to be great for us.

    "He is a guy I trust and someone who knows how to win. He lives for football, and he is coming to a club where he will feel the same passion that he has for the game.

    "I know he will feel right at home at Celtic, and we look forward to working with him as we all aim for more success."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.