Pioli wants more from Milan to help 'champion' Ibrahimovic

By Sports Desk January 05, 2020

Stefano Pioli says Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a "champion" but cannot win games singlehandedly, as Milan target improvement across the team and potentially further January moves.

Ibrahimovic is in line to make his first appearance since rejoining Milan as Serie A returns from the mid-season break this weekend.

The 38-year-old is in the squad to face Sampdoria, having arrived from LA Galaxy on a free transfer.

Head coach Pioli is delighted to welcome Ibrahimovic back to the club, but he sees plenty more work to do, with the Rossoneri 11th ahead of this round of fixtures.

"It's not that we think Ibra is the saviour - nobody thinks that he can solve all the problems," Pioli told a news conference.

"He certainly has an added value in everyday life, but we all have to do something more. He won't make us win games alone - we will do that if we play as a team.

"Ibra is a champion. He will prove it again because he has the desire and passion, but it is the team that will have to do much better."

Discussing Ibrahimovic's condition, Pioli added: "He is in the squad. He is fine as a player who last played two months ago. He has had few training sessions but is improving.

"If he is in the squad, it means that he is available. There is a possibility that he will play."

Krzysztof Piatek was Milan's big signing last January, but he has scored only four times this season, prompting reports in England of a bid from Newcastle United.

But Pioli suggested Piatek could yet play alongside Ibrahimovic, although the coach will not leave his new veteran signing out just to keep others happy.

"Everyone can play together," Pioli said when asked of Piatek. "What matters is balance and creating more scoring chances than opponents.

"We are already putting the cart before the horse [discussing the response to potential line-ups], but I will not be influenced by this. My goal is only to deploy the best possible line-up."

Milan may not yet be done in the market either, as Pioli added: "We are looking for a defender.

"We already have clear ideas. If there is a chance to change something and improve, the club will do it."

Related items

  • I don't even know what I want – Ibrahimovic unsure about future I don't even know what I want – Ibrahimovic unsure about future

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic is unsure what his future holds amid reports he will leave AC Milan at the end of the season and possibly retire.

    Ibrahimovic, 38, returned to Milan in December and scored four goals in 10 appearances before the campaign was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The former Barcelona, Inter and Manchester United star is reportedly considering his future, with his contract at Milan expiring at season's end.

    But Ibrahimovic said even he was unsure about what was ahead as he considers his options.

    "Let's see," he told Svenska Dagbladet on Wednesday.

    "I don't even know what I want. Something new happens every day. Who could have predicted this with corona? We just have to try to live and enjoy life.

    "Don't worry too much. I have a family to take care of, they feel good so I feel good."

    Italy has been hit hard by coronavirus, reporting more than 110,000 cases and 13,100 deaths.

    Ibrahimovic said the health of the community had to come first, with the Serie A season suspended indefinitely.

    "It started to spread to football. They shut down the whole training facility, we were not allowed to move outside," he said.

    "It is tragic that football leagues shut down, but we must respect the system and be patient. They must find a solution that is good for the whole community.

    "Health is above all sport. I'm not worried about corona. I think it will be solved, it's just to wait until the experts know what to do."

  • Coronavirus: Walker hopes Premier League season resumes, but says football must 'take a back step' Coronavirus: Walker hopes Premier League season resumes, but says football must 'take a back step'

    Manchester City defender Kyle Walker hopes the Premier League season can resume, but said "football has to take a back step for now".

    The campaign has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought sport to a standstill around the world.

    It remains unclear when, and if, the Premier League campaign will resume, but Walker is hoping the season can get back underway.

    "Football has to take a back step for now because that is the least important thing on everyone's mind in the football world," the right-back said.

    "The health of family members and other people's family members is the most important.

    "But, I hope, and I am sure everybody else hopes, that football will come back and we will be able to finish off the season, but if it is not a possibility, then everyone does understand that people's health is more important than a game of sport."

    Walker discussed how City – who were second to Liverpool in the Premier League when the season was stopped – were keeping up team spirit using group chats.

    But the 29-year-old revealed manager Pep Guardiola, who donated €1million to the coronavirus fight in Spain, was not in the players' chat.

    "Obviously Pep is not in the group chat! I dropped him a text message last night saying hope you are OK, and I hope the family is well and fair play for donating the amount of money that you have donated," Walker said.

    "That says a lot about him as a person. Put football aside, that has come from his heart and it is something that should definitely be recognised."

  • Coronavirus: Serie A clubs banned from team training until at least April 13 Coronavirus: Serie A clubs banned from team training until at least April 13

    Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has banned Serie A clubs from returning to team training until at least April 13.

    The Serie A season was suspended indefinitely last month with Italy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Napoli and Lazio were among the clubs to backtrack on plans to return to training last month and with Italy extending their nationwide lockdown until April 13, Conte ruled out any team sessions taking place.

    "Actual measures are extended until April 13. We know we are asking another effort, another sacrifice," he said on Wednesday.

    "We have to understand one thing – if we stop following the rules or reduce these measures, we will waste our efforts."

    Conte added: "The only news introduced is about athletes' training sessions … training sessions are not allowed in clubs' headquarters.

    "It doesn't mean athletes cannot train themselves, they can do it individually."

    More than 13,100 people have died from coronavirus in Italy, with the global death toll exceeding 46,000.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.