RB Leipzig's hopes of signing Hakan Calhanoglu appear over after the club's coach and sporting director Ralf Rangnick declared the deal "financially impossible".

Reports in Italy suggested Leipzig agreeing a €20million deal to bring Calhanoglu back to the Bundesliga from AC Milan.

However, Rangnick effectively ended the speculation, telling reporters: "The deal is financially impossible.

"Obviously we know him, given he played in the Bundesliga, but now he plays for Milan.

"We already knew his price, so it's absolutely not possible for us to make a move from a financial standpoint."

Calhanoglu previously enjoyed spells in Germany with Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen before moving to San Siro in 2017.

The Turkey international has found the net just once for Gennaro Gattuso's men this season.

Massimiliano Allegri says Cristiano Ronaldo was signed exactly for the kind of match-winning impact he made for Juventus against AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo's goal proved decisive as Juventus defeated 10-man AC Milan 1-0 to win the Supercoppa Italiana in Jeddah.

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has developed into the "perfect machine", according to AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso.

Patrick Cutrone came off the bench to score twice as a below-par AC Milan battled through to the Coppa Italia quarter-finals with a 2-0 extra-time victory at Sampdoria.

After a forgettable 90 minutes at the Luigi Ferraris, Cutrone side-footed home from Andrea Conti's teasing centre and followed that up with another fine finish to earn a scarcely deserved win for the Rossoneri in the additional time.

Sampdoria will feel they created the better of the chances against a Milan side that lacked creativity and ideas until Cutrone's introduction, but Pepe Reina made crucial saves from Riccardo Saponara and Albin Ekdal when it mattered.

The win is unlikely to do much to ease the seeming ever-present rumours that Gennaro Gattuso's position as head coach is under threat, although they can at least look forward to a last-eight tie with either Napoli or Sassuolo.

Milan had a let off in the 23rd minute when Jakub Jankto's dipping right-wing cross was spilled by Reina and Gianluca Caprari's claims of a push by Cristian Zapata in his attempts to reach the ball fell on deaf ears.

Gonzalo Higuain wastefully drilled wide of the left post after getting in behind the defence and the lacklustre nature of the match continued until Hakan Calhanoglu wasted a glorious 70th-minute chance from Samu Castillejo's right-wing delivery, somehow squaring across goal instead of turning the ball home at the back post.

Higuain then rightfully had a goal ruled out for offside, and Fabio Quagliarella fired wastefully into the side-netting for Sampdoria before ex-Milan man Riccardo Saponara placed an effort wide of the bottom-left post.

Reina came to the fore in extra-time, first brilliantly closing the angle to deny Saponara before a brilliant double save denied Ekdal and Dawid Kownacki.

Those interventions proved crucial when Conti, whose time at Milan has been injury plagued, put one on a plate for Cutrone to guide past Rafael, and the Italy international lofted another expert finish over the goalkeeper from Calhanoglu's pinpoint pass to seal the win.

What does it mean? Gattuso needs more convincing performances

Perhaps a little ring rust should be expected after a mid-season break, but even taking that into account Milan never reached a level above underwhelming. Being a club legend might buy Gattuso more time than any other coach, but you really do wonder if Milan, Coppa Italia finalists last season, will be tempted to try and coax the likes of Arsene Wenger or Antonio Conte to San Siro in the near future.

Reina wonders set up late winner

Conti, still working his way back to fitness, and Cutrone combined off the bench, but had it not been for Reina's big saves their moment of inspiration could not have happened. The former Liverpool keeper was a bit shaky early doors, but a series of huge saves – including one from Kownacki with the score at 1-0 – proved crucial.  

Bakayoko and Co. lucky to progress

You could make a case for about eight or nine of Milan players to have the dubious honour of worst player of the game. Calhanoglu was cumbersome and indecisive, Higuain tried hard but still looks well off the sort of form that made him one of the best strikers in world football and little came from either full-back. But Tiemoue Bakayoko just about takes it for a largely anonymous performance that included several instances of misplaced passes. 

What's next?

Milan will now travel to Saudi Arabia where Wednesday's Supercoppa Italiana contest with Juventus takes place, while Sampdoria visit Fiorentina a week on Sunday in Serie A.

Gonzalo Higuain has been told by sporting director Leonardo to show responsibility for AC Milan and decide his future at the club.

Patrick Cutrone has attracted interest from LaLiga and the Bundesliga but the Italian striker wants to "keep doing well for AC Milan", according to his agent.

Cutrone enjoyed a breakout campaign with 12 goals in all competitions in 2017-18 and the 21-year-old has followed that up with seven this term.

The Italy international – who is contracted until 2023 – has been limited to just eight starts from 17 Serie A appearances following Gonzalo Higuain's arrival from rivals Juventus.

Cutrone's agent Donato Orgnoni, however, insisted his client is happy to learn from Higuain at the San Siro.

"Had he been foreign he'd have attracted much more interest, even if he remains one of the top Italian youngsters," Orgnoni told MilanNews.it.

"We've had many shows of interest from foreign teams, with enquiries from Spain and one from Germany, but Patrick wants to keep doing well for Milan.

"We expect Cutrone to have the same chances in 2019 that he had last year. After that, it'll be up to him to do well on the field with his performances, goals and, possibly, awards.

"There's a lot of talk of new strikers, but we never talk about them. We know that the club must work to improve the team, but we've never been afraid, not even when Higuain arrived.

"He's grown a lot working alongside Higuain. Pipita remains one of the best strikers in the world.

"His bad run aside, Gonzalo is a great player and Patrick is trying to steal as many things from him as possible. They work very well together. Patrick is aware of Pipita's quality and wants to learn from him."

Ex-AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko is convinced the under-pressure Gennaro Gattuso possesses the right qualities to lead the club forward.

Gattuso's position has been a source of speculation for much of his first full season in charge and he narrowly avoided a fresh wave of scrutiny thanks to a come-from-behind 2-1 defeat of SPAL last month.

The Rossoneri had failed to win any of their previous five matches in all competitions and remain a point adrift of Serie A's top four.

Though coaches of the calibre of Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte have been linked to Gattuso's post, Shevchenko - a Champions League winner with Milan - is staunchly in his former team-mate's corner.

"It is important to keep supporting Rino, because he's giving the team an identity and a sense of belonging," Shevchenko told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He's the right man for this Milan. I'm happy that the club is keeping faith in him.

"I like this attitude of the club. There are people who have clear ideas, who are not shaken in times of difficulty. [Sporting director] Leonardo and Paolo Maldini are working calmly and competently.

"With Leo, Paolo and Rino, we're in good hands."

Milan's victory over SPAL came courtesy of Gonzalo Higuain's second-half goal, the striker's sixth of a difficult Serie A campaign and first since October.

Shevchenko, now in charge of the Ukraine national team, believes Higuain will come good as the heightened expectation around his off-season arrival from Juventus wears off.

"There is so much pressure on him and he has been unlucky," the former Chelsea and Dynamo Kyiv star said.

"Since the beginning of the season, Higuain has been treated as the star signing with all eyes on him.

"He's a great player and is playing with his future, because if Milan qualifies for the Champions League he can stay at the club and prove that he cares about it. 

"He just needs to stay calm during difficult times, like everyone else in Milan. There are tough times in football, but they always pass."

AC Milan have announced the signing of Lucas Paqueta from Flamengo for a reported fee of €35million.

The Brazil international has agreed to a five-year contract with the Rossoneri and will join up with his new team-mates when they resume training on Monday following Serie A's mid-season break.

Milan sporting director Leonardo confirmed last October that a deal had been agreed in principle with Flamengo, although they needed to wait until the January transfer window opened to finalise the move.

The 21-year-old scored 10 goals in 32 Brasileirao appearances in 2018 as Flamengo finished second behind Palmeiras.

Serie A president Gaetano Micciche has defended the decision to host the Supercoppa Italiana final between Juventus and AC Milan in Saudi Arabia.

This season's edition of the showpiece fixture between two of Italian football's biggest clubs will be staged in the Saudi city of Jeddah on January 16.

The league's decision to hold the match in the Middle Eastern country has drawn controversy, with certain human rights organisations calling for the game to be boycotted by both sides following last year's killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

However, Micciche insists the decision for the high-profile fixture to go ahead at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium later this month is the right one, believing that it will help to promote the Italian game to a worldwide audience.

"Dear fans and those passionate about Italian football," he wrote in a statement. "I think it's right to take stock of the decision of the Lega Serie A, and all the associated clubs, to play the next Supercoppa Italiana on January 16 in Jeddah.

"This trophy, since the first overseas edition in 1993, has been used to export and promote Italian football around the world. We've played this competition twice in the United States, four times in China, as well as in Qatar and Libya.

"The choice to take calcio to places which are different in terms of culture and type of government is not just an Italian decision, but has other international examples because sport increasingly needs global audiences to grow.

"The Khashoggi case which took place in October and therefore months after the agreement was found, placed the choice of Saudi Arabia in the spotlight and, as is right, the Lega Serie A questioned what the right thing to do was.

"Football is part of the Italian economic and cultural system, and can't have logic, especially in international relations, different from those of the country to which it belongs.

"Saudi Arabia is the largest Italian commercial partner in the Middle East thanks to dozens of important Italian companies that export and operate there, with many of our compatriots working Saudi Arabia, and none of these relations have been disrupted.

"Football cannot put itself in a place of authority on international politics, nor can it make choices which don't respect the system of the country.

"Football doesn't play politics but it has a social role, in this case a vehicle of union and commonality among peoples which has no equal in any other sector.

"Within a few hours of pre-sales the Jeddah Supercoppa sold out, an event of international importance for which the local fans wait with great enthusiasm.

"With the approval of FIFA, UEFA and the Asian Confederation we are going to play an official football competition in a country with its own laws, which have been set for years, where local traditions impose constraints that cannot be changed from day to night.

"I am optimistic by nature, and I look to the future and the steps already taken with confidence."

Micchie has also denied reports that female spectators will be banned from watching the match inside the 62,000-capacity stadium.

"Until last year, women could not attend any sporting event and for several months now they've had access to large areas of the stadium, which they've started to enthusiastically attend," he added.

"We're working to ensure that the next editions will be played in a country where all the seats are accessible to everyone.

"And I want to clarify that women will be able to enter the game alone without any man accompanying them.

"Our Supercoppa will be remembered as the first international sporting competition which women can watch live."

Fiorentina have beaten AC Milan to the loan signing of Sevilla striker Luis Muriel.

Colombia international Muriel became Sevilla's record signing when he joined from Sampdoria for a reported €22million in July 2017, but he has failed to live up to expectations.

The 27-year-old scored only seven goals in 29 LaLiga appearances last season, frustrating fans with a lack of killer instinct in front of goal.

Under new coach Pablo Machin, Muriel played just six times in LaLiga this term, with Wissam Ben Yedder and Andre Silva the preferred options in attack.

Milan had been touted as favourites to sign Muriel as they look to bolster their attacking options, but Fiorentina ultimately managed to get the deal over the line.

Muriel joins the club initially on loan, but they retain the right to purchase him – reportedly for €13m – at the end of the season.

Fiorentina will be his fourth Italian club after previous spells at Lecce, Udinese and Sampdoria.

Gonzalo Higuain dedicated his winner for AC Milan against SPAL to Gennaro Gattuso after the striker ended his goal drought in a 2-1 victory.

Higuain had gone nine games without a goal going into Saturday's contest at San Siro, and rarely looked like breaking his duck in a largely unconvincing display.

However, he struck the decisive blow from close range in the 64th minute as Milan, who saw Suso sent off late on, ended a run of five games without a win by coming from a goal down, Samu Castillejo having initially cancelled out Andrea Petagna's opener.

There had been reports Gattuso could be sacked if Milan failed to claim a positive result, but the Rossoneri now head into a two-week break on a high ahead of a Coppa Italia clash with Sampdoria and the Suppercoppa Italiana meeting with Juventus.

And Higuain was quick to pay tribute to his coach after they moved within a point of the Champions League places.

"It was an important goal and three fundamental points after all we've wasted before, but now we can have a rest with our families," the striker told DAZN.

"It's natural the fans expect more from me. I came to Milan because I was convinced by the project here and I want to continue like this.

"Gattuso has always supported me and above all been honest. This goal is for him. Now we've got the Supercoppa, it's the first trophy of the season and we want to win."

Gonzalo Higuain scored for the first time in 10 matches as AC Milan ended their winless run by beating SPAL 2-1 in Serie A to ease the pressure on coach Gennaro Gattuso.

There had been reports in Italy that Gattuso could be sacked if Milan failed to gain a positive result against SPAL, having overseen a run of five games without a win in all competitions.

SPAL appeared to have a chance of extending that streak to six when former Rossoneri academy product Andrea Petagna put them ahead.

However, Samu Castillejo levelled in style before Higuain finally found the net and completed the turnaround for Milan, who, despite losing Suso to a late red card, moved into fifth, a point behind fourth-placed Lazio in the race to secure Champions League football.

Milan found no reward for a sustained spell of early pressure, Alessio Romagnoli correctly flagged for offside as he found the net before then finding himself at fault as SPAL broke the deadlock.

Romagnoli was cleverly turned by ex-Milan striker Petagna, whose low effort deflected off the centre-back and into the bottom-left corner.

However, the visitors' lead lasted just three minutes as Lorenzo Dickmann failed to control Filippo Costa's poor clearance and Castillejo pounced to rifle a volley into the top-right corner.

Tiemoue Bakayoko blazed over with the goal at his mercy as a gilt-edged opportunity to complete the turnaround went begging amid more haphazard SPAL defending.

Yet they finally paid the price as Higuain silenced his critics, goalkeeper Alfred Gomis getting both hands to his effort but unable to keep it out after Hakan Calhanoglu had knocked the ball into the path of the former Napoli and Real Madrid forward.

Calhanoglu and Bakayoko each had chances to make it 3-1 before Thiago Cionek went close for SPAL, with Suso's second yellow card for an ill-advised foul on Mirko Valdifior then setting up a nervy finish that would have ended in heartbreak had Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma not produced a stunning diving save to deny Mohamed Fares.

 

AC Milan have never considered sacking Gennaro Gattuso and do not plan to part with the head coach, insisted sporting director Leonardo.

Milan head coach Gattuso is reportedly under pressure following a five-match winless streak, with the Serie A side without a goal in their previous four league games.

It is Milan's longest spell without a league goal since 1984 as pressure mounts on Gattuso ahead of Saturday's visit of SPAL, however, Leonardo dismissed speculation that the 40-year-old boss could be replaced.

"We never thought about changing Gattuso," Leonardo told reporters as Milan sit sixth in the Serie A standings. "We can deny this general situation. Milan started in a hurry this year, and we're trying to fix a situation which started that way.

"We're in the running for our objective, which is to finish in the top four. Right now we're there, and the pessimism Rino talks about is in relation to a moving car that needs fixed.

"The owners know the situation, and we need everyone to cooperate and unite.

"We need a bit of understanding to fix this situation, we're not going to buy 10 players and suddenly fix everything.

"There is no plan to change Gattuso, and Milan have not contacted anyone else."

 

AC Milan have received no contact from Chelsea over Gonzalo Higuain amid speculation he could leave the club, according to sporting director Leonardo.

Higuain is in the midst of a dismal run of form, having failed to score in his last nine games.

Milan signed Higuain on a season-long loan from Juventus in August, the Rossoneri can make the deal permanent by exercising a €36million option.

However, reports in Italy have claimed Higuain has agreed to move to Chelsea and renew acquaintances with Maurizio Sarri, for whom he scored a Serie A record 36 goals during their time together at Napoli in 2015-16.

Dismissing those claims, Leonardo told Sky Sport Italia: "It's difficult for a striker when he doesn't score, and he also needs to find himself because he's in a delicate situation, out on loan from Juve.

"Our relationship with him is very direct, he has an important role for us and he knows that. He has a leadership role, because he's won so much.

"We've never had doubts about Higuain, we've never questioned his position in this year: nothing has changed.

"Chelsea or no Chelsea, there's been no offer for him. No-one has asked us about him and he hasn't asked to leave.

"He's a Juventus player, we have an option at the end of the year. There's nothing else to say. He needs to assume his responsibility and do it on the pitch."

Asked about reports that Gennaro Gattuso could be sacked as coach if Milan, who are winless in five games, fail to earn a positive result against SPAL on Saturday, Leonardo said: "We've never thought about changing Gattuso.

"There is no plan to change him but we expect the team can have a positive shock against SPAL. No other coaches have been contacted from Milan."

Gattuso echoed Leonardo's sentiments regarding Higuain in his pre-match media conference. He told reporters: "I want to see the Higuain of the second half [of the 0-0 draw] against Frosinone - that's Higuain. He beat his man, he had chances and then he got things slightly wrong when shooting.

"He's struggled a bit after the missed penalty and red card against Juve. I don't want to hear talk about a sale, it's up to the club and his entourage.

"As long as he stays here we'll need him.

"This year he's dribbling more than last year, he's had the same number of touches, but what's lacking is a goal.

"After the red card there was the sensation that he wasn't good on a physical level, but that's not the case, he's fine.

"I think he'll stay here, if the opposite happens then I'll have made a mistake but from what's been said I think he'll stay here."

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