Donnarumma the world's best goalkeeper – Maldini determined to keep Milan star

By Sports Desk June 28, 2020

Paolo Maldini believes Gianluigi Donnarumma is the best goalkeeper in the world as Milan try to keep the Italy star.

Donnarumma has established himself as the undisputed number one keeper at boyhood club Milan since debuting as a 16-year-old in 2015, however, his future is often a topic of discussion.

The likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea have been linked to Italy international Donnarumma, who is out of contract in 2021 as Milan look to discuss a new deal.

And Milan technical director Maldini heaped praise on Donnarumma prior to Sunday's 2-0 Serie A victory over Roma at San Siro.

"It is certainly Milan's duty to try and keep hold of an important player like Gigio, for what he represents as a symbol, a player who came up through our youth academy and, in my humble opinion, because he is the best goalkeeper in the world," Maldini told DAZN.

The future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also making headlines after joining Milan on a free transfer from LA Galaxy in January.

Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in 10 games across all competitions since returning to Milan for a second spell.

The 38-year-old's contract expires at the end of the current campaign and Maldini added: "As for Ibrahimovic, these are two different situations. Gigio's contract is not running down, whereas Ibra's is."

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    Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to fight for the Champions League "until the last effort they have in their bodies" after Friday's draw mapped out a devilishly tough route to glory.

    The deposed Premier League champions hold a 2-1 last-16 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the August 7 return at the Etihad Stadium.

    The winners of that tie will take on the victors of Lyon versus Juventus – the Ligue 1 outfit 1-0 to the good at the midway point – at UEFA's mini-tournament to decide the coronavirus-impacted Champions League in Lisbon on August 15.

    Whichever team progresses from that quarter-final will meet the team remaining from Barcelona or Napoli and Bayern Munich or Chelsea.

    "All of us want to try, to be ourselves in the game against Real Madrid, to try to defend really well and suffer the bad moments," Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

    "Try to impose our game and our football, try to score our goals and defend the game against Real Madrid. It is incredible what [Madrid] have done in this competition, nobody has done it."

    If City finally claim the prize Madrid have lifted on a record 13 occasions, they will do so in unique circumstances heightened by the reality of a trying season on and off the field.

    Guardiola's team could be facing up to their final European game for two years next month, if the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides to uphold a two-season ban for contravening UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules. A verdict in the case is due on Monday.

    The Champions League, along with the FA Cup, offers the chance to triumphantly salvage a campaign where they meekly surrendered the Premier League title to Liverpool.

    This crescendo of events is something Guardiola believes has got through to his players.

    "I feel the motivation," he said. "I have the feeling from my players and the club that we have, in the next four weeks, something that is not coming back again.

    "Of course, we have the chance to fight but the situation that we have is not coming back again.

    "I think the big clubs don't miss these chances to try until the last effort they have in their bodies."

    The situation will certainly not come back for club great David Silva.

    City's veteran playmaker is set to leave at the end of his contract and, as a World Cup and two-time European Championship winner with Spain, he is seeking the biggest honour to have eluded him over the course of a decorated career.

    "David has won everything," Guardiola said. "The World Cup, European Championships with Spain, the Premier League and all the titles you can achieve except the Champions League.

    "All of the players want to try but the younger ones, maybe they think they have more chances.

    "Maybe David might go back to Europe with another top club and have another chance. But I'm pretty sure after one decade in this club, he will try."

    With a top-four place in the Premier League now guaranteed – whatever that comes to mean – Guardiola's main challenge for the rest of the campaign is getting Silva and the rest to next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the Madrid match in prime condition.

    He concedes this is a balancing act but will not shirk from giving Premier League minutes to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, even if sight of the star midfielder receiving a heavy knock during the closing stages of Wednesday's 5-0 win over Newcastle United caused understandable disquiet among the City faithful.

    "That's part of football. The important thing is they are fit," he added.

    "We cannot say one or two games, don't play and then come back. Sometimes the players who play regularly are in better condition for the important games.

    "Arsenal is an important point but it's important to keep momentum and rhythm to the way we play."

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    In the 1-0 win over Everton on Monday, the duo were involved in a flare-up at half-time and had to be separated by team-mates.

    Lloris later explained he had been frustrated with Son's failure to track the run of Richarlison, who came close to scoring for the Toffees, but insisted they had put it behind them quickly.

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    Lampard admits there are certain qualities his young players must improve, but he believes any such disagreements between team-mates should be confined to the dressing room.

    "Tammy gave the ball away and has to react better and yes, of course, I speak with the players when these things happen," Lampard said ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with Sheffield United on Saturday.

    "It's part of the development but they can only go so far. Some things in football are basic and they need to do better. Tammy gets us the goal that wins the game, I know his intentions are good, all the players want to see out the game. It's a mistake that can happen to anybody.

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    Chelsea are under pressure for a result against Sheffield United, with Leicester City just a point behind in the table and Manchester United only two adrift after their 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Thursday.

    That game saw a controversial penalty awarded to Bruno Fernandes following a collision with Ezri Konsa, with referee Jon Moss awarding the spot-kick and VAR backing up his decision.

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    "I only saw the Manchester United one and I was surprised how quickly it was dealt with and not looked over again," he said. "We had one at West Ham a couple of weeks ago when [Michail] Antonio was offside and pretty clearly interfering, and it took them a few minutes but they came to the right decision. [At Villa Park] it seemed to be that, by the time it came back, the penalty was being taken.

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    When Brendan Rodgers appointed Henderson as his skipper in 2015, it appeared a daunting task for the former Sunderland midfielder because of who he was replacing.

    Gerrard had been club captain for 12 years and became a homegrown hero having joined the Reds' academy as a nine-year-old, but he opted to spend the final year of his career in MLS with LA Galaxy.

    Many felt it was a significant step down for Liverpool, with Henderson a player who has often polarised opinion in terms of his abilities.

    But he remained an important player even following Rodgers' departure, which came shortly after handing Henderson the armband, with Klopp retaining him as the team's leader.

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    While Klopp would not want too much emphasis to be put on such accolades, he does acknowledge their importance and he feels they would reflect the success of the team.

    Liverpool face Burnley at Anfield on Saturday.

    "If Ali wins the Golden Glove, that means we have obviously - I don't know how many games - have a [lot of] clean sheets, which would really help us," Klopp said. "And if we provide the winner of the Golden Boot, it means we have a lot of goals, and that helps, absolutely.

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    "If it was different, I would tell them it's not okay. Personal accolades are important, really important, but it's always first and foremost about winning matches, not about the other stuff, but it's nice when you can win both."

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