Rade Krunic opened his Milan goalscoring account as the in-form Serie A giants won 3-1 at Celtic in their Europa League Group H opener.

Bosnian midfielder Krunic headed the first and Brahim Diaz scored a neat second for the Rossoneri, before Jens Hauge added a late third, as they produced an efficient performance in Glasgow against the Scottish champions.

With Celtic reeling from a derby defeat to Rangers and weakened by a string of injuries, this match always looked unlikely to provide the succour for which they were hoping.

Milan were so in charge that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could effectively stroll through 65 minutes before being replaced, but they were hanging on after Mohamed Elyounoussi's header gave the hosts a surprise foothold, until Hauge made sure.

Celtic wanted an early penalty when Albian Ajeti's shot hit Alessio Romagnoli, but it did not look to strike the Milan captain's hand, and Olivier Ntcham's follow-up strike was tame.

It was downhill from there for the hosts, with Milan snatching a 14th-minute lead when Samu Castillejo sent in a teasing cross from the right and former Empoli man Krunic headed beyond the dive of goalkeeper Vasilios Barkas, finding the left corner.

Jeremie Frimpong was at times lively for Celtic on the right, but Milan are eager to make their presence felt in this competition, despite having only edged into the group stage after beating Rio Ave 9-8 on penalties in their play-off.

Diaz got the second goal for Stefano Pioli's men in the 42nd minute, taking a pass from Theo Hernandez and showing nimble footwork before burying a low shot into the left corner.

Uruguayan winger Diego Laxalt sent a shot a yard over the Milan crossbar early in the second half as Celtic searched for a way back into the game.

Ryan Christie's corner was nodded in by fellow substitute Elyounoussi in the 76th minute to give the hosts hope, but Milan were in no mood to be denied and Hauge finished well from Alexis Saelemaekers' pass in stoppage time.

Brahim Diaz scored his first goal for Milan as they claimed a 2-0 Serie A win away to Crotone on Sunday.

Franck Kessie opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half before Brahim struck early in the second to secure a fourth win in four games in all competitions in 2020-21.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was again absent after testing positive for coronavirus on Thursday, but Stefano Pioli's men were in control throughout at Stadio Ezio Scida as they stretched their unbeaten Serie A run to 14 matches.

There was a blow for Milan, though, who saw Ante Rebic leave the pitch in the second half with a nasty arm injury sustained after he tripped and fell.

Milan's early control of possession yielded little in terms of chances, although a header from Simon Kjaer bounced off the turf and then the crossbar from Hakan Calhanoglu's corner.

As the half moved into injury time, Rebic was felled by Luca Marrone in the penalty area and, after the forward escaped a possible handball following a VAR check, Kessie made no mistake with an emphatic finish from the spot.

Milan doubled their advantage just five minutes into the second half, Brahim finishing low on the turn after the ball fell kindly to him in the six-yard box at the end of a swift break involving Alexis Saelemaekers and Calhanoglu.

Crotone did not lack endeavour but Gianluigi Donnarumma's goal was rarely threatened as the Serie A newcomers slipped to a second successive defeat.

What does it mean? No Zlatan, no problem for Rossoneri

While the 3-2 win over Bodo/Glimt on Thursday was a little closer than Milan would have liked, this was an assured and controlled outing in Calabria.

Crotone did not manage a shot on target as the visitors eased to another victory and clean sheet and a fifth league game without defeat against this opposition.

Brahim building bridges

Not only did he score one of his two shots on target, Brahim also completed all but one of his 23 attempted passes, 15 of which were in the final third.

The Real Madrid loanee might have been on the fringes of things in the Spanish capital, but he is already at the heart of things in the Milan attack.

Can I be blunt?

Crotone's starting attacking pair of Simy and Denis Dragus managed not one shot or chance created between them. Crotone will not last long in the top flight if they cannot start at least threatening a goal.

What's next?

Milan head to Rio Ave in the Europa League play-offs on Thursday before hosting Spezia in Serie A three days later. Crotone head to Sassuolo next Saturday.

Brahim Diaz has joined Milan on loan from Real Madrid for the 2020-21 season, the Serie A club confirmed.

The 21-year-old forward signed for Madrid in January 2019 but has struggled for first-team football since making a €15million switch from Manchester City.

Diaz featured just six times in LaLiga last term, with none of those appearances as a starter, and had been strongly linked with a transfer.

HIs agent confirmed talks with Milan earlier in the week, criticising Madrid for not giving Diaz the "required space and above all the confidence he needed".

Despite seemingly not being part of Zinedine Zidane's plans, Diaz has not secured a permanent move, and reports indicate Milan do not have a purchase option in the deal.

A Milan statement read: "Milan is delighted to announce the signing of the Spanish footballer Brahim Diaz from Real Madrid on loan until June 30, 2021."

Diaz, a technically gifted and skilful attacker, joined City in 2015 after showing promise in Malaga's youth ranks.

Although he was regarded as one of City's best prospects alongside Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden, Diaz followed the former in leaving the club in search of more opportunities.

While that has not been forthcoming at Madrid, he will be expected to see more action in San Siro, with Milan aiming to improve on their sixth-place finish in 2019-20.

Brahim Diaz's agent Pedro Gonzalez says Real Madrid failed to get the most out of the young midfielder and has backed his client to succeed on loan at Milan.

The 21-year-old joined Madrid in January 2019 after six years at Manchester City but has made just five LaLiga starts since then, with only substitute appearances in the top flight last season.

He previously vowed to win over head coach Zinedine Zidane, but the Spaniard is now on the verge of linking up with Milan for the 2020-21 season after flying into Malpensa airport on Wednesday.

Diaz declared himself "ready for this challenge" ahead of undergoing a medical and his representative Gonzalez is confident the ex-Man City product can become a key player at San Siro, having been underused by Zidane at Madrid.

"Brahim returned to Spain in January 2019, but in Madrid they didn't give him the required space and above all the confidence he needed," he told Tuttomercatoweb.

"He's a young player and he needs to play continuously to bring out his full potential.

"I'm convinced of the Rossoneri choice. Brahim has already lived abroad and will therefore adapt quickly to his new reality.

"His future team-mate Samu Castillejo, another great player I brought to Malaga, will help him. I say this with great pride.

"If Brahim Diaz has chosen Milan, it means he already knows he can help the team by carving out a leading role.

"I have no doubts about this. As soon as he has finished his growth path, we will talk about an absolute champion and not a promising youngster anymore."

Spain Under-21s international Diaz has scored two goals in 21 appearances for Madrid in all competitions during his 20 months at the club.

Lionel Messi looks set to leave Barcelona and a select few clubs are preparing to make a move.

Manchester City? Paris Saint-Germain? Inter?

Keep an eye on this saga…

 

TOP STORY – PSG TALKING TO MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with wantaway Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Ole.

Messi has handed in a transfer request at Barca, and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has already been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter, Juventus and PSG.

The frontpage of Thursday's Mundo Deportivo claims City are circling to bring Messi to the Premier League with the 33-year-old believed to be keen on reuniting with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, Marca claims City have offered a three-year deal.

However, Ligue 1 champions PSG are also eyeing Messi as they look to add him to a squad that already boasts former team-mate Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports Inter have re-opened talks with Barca for midfielder Arturo Vidal. Antonio Conte, who will remain Inter head coach in 2020-21, wants to bring the Chilean to San Siro.

- It comes as Gazzetta dello Sport reports Inter have struck a deal to sign Brescia star Sandro Tonali. Milan have also been eyeing the Italy midfielder.

- Serie A champions Juventus are set to sign Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, says Sky Sport Italia. The United States international is poised to arrive on loan with the option to buy. Juve have also been linked with Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli.

Manchester United are still chasing Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, according to the Daily Mail. Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho has been United's top priority, though the Red Devils remain in contact with Villa over a potential transfer.

- Sport Bild says Liverpool will make an approach for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara in the coming days.

Milan are poised to sign Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz on loan, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Brahim has struggled for game time since arriving from City in 2019.

- Signing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is a priority for PSG, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbia international has previously been linked with Madrid, United, Juve, Inter and Chelsea.

Manchester City are reportedly looking at signing Lionel Messi, while Barcelona's rebuild does not include Luis Suarez.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants after a trophy-less 2019-20 season.

Barca are preparing for a rebuild and while Messi is part of their plans, Suarez is seemingly not.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MESSI MOVE

Manchester City are working out if they would be able to sign Barcelona star Messi without breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, according to ESPN.

The report says the Premier League giants are preparing should Messi become available.

Messi is contracted at Barcelona until 2021, but has been linked with a move.

ROUND-UP

- Also at Barcelona, Ronald Koeman is preparing his rebuild. Mundo Deportivo reports the club no longer want Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal or Samuel Umtiti, but have plans for Philippe Coutinho, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. The report also says Suarez's departure will open up a move for Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

- Ansu Fati is seemingly close to committing his future to Barcelona. The 17-year-old forward, who has been linked to Manchester United, will sign a new deal that will include a €400million release clause, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- A former Bianconeri striker could help Juventus land Edin Dzeko. Tuttosport reports Mario Mandzukic could join Roma as a replacement for Dzeko, who is being linked to Juve.

- Milan are reportedly looking at Brahim Diaz. Fabrizio Romano reports the Serie A giants have opened talks with Real Madrid about a loan move, with an option to buy, for Brahim.

- Hector Bellerin has been linked with a move away from Arsenal. RMC Sport reports the defender has been offered to Paris Saint-Germain.

- Also at PSG, Leandro Paredes could make a move. Gianluca Di Marzio says Juventus are interested in the midfielder.

Manchester City's preparations for their eagerly awaited Champions League showdown against Real Madrid have been thrown into flux by the news teenage centre-back Eric Garcia will not sign a new contract at the club.

Garcia has established himself as Pep Guardiola's first-choice central defensive partner for Aymeric Laporte since the Premier League resumed.

However, the 19-year-old has been heavily linked with a return to boyhood club Barcelona and Camp Nou looks increasingly likely to be his next destination following Guardiola's shock disclosure on Thursday.

Garcia is far from the first bright young thing to look beyond the environs of the Etihad Campus. Here, we look at how those next moves panned out, as Phil Foden's impressive first-team breakthrough increasingly looks like the exception to the rule.

ERIC GARCIA

Garcia's defection feels like it will cut Guardiola deep – the City boss having lavished praise upon "a guy who doesn't make mistakes", making for a pointed contrast with the out-of-favour Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones. Plenty of City youngsters have had a strong argument in terms of having no obvious pathway to the first team but, even allowing for the arrival of Nathan Ake and further reinforcements being sought at centre-back, this in not really a case Garcia can make.

He made seven of his 13 Premier League appearances after lockdown this term. It seems a simple case of Barcelona's allure being too strong to ignore.

BRAHIM DIAZ

Brahim is back in Manchester this week with Real Madrid, meaning his reasons for departing have common ground with the Garcia situation. The forward was similarly offered fresh terms at the Etihad Stadium but, despite 15 appearances and two goals across all competitions, the plethora of attacking options at Guardiola's disposal undoubtedly came into his thinking. Madrid paid €17million for Brahim last January and have not shown a great deal more inclination to give him a run at the highest level.

RABBI MATONDO

Another attacking player who assessed the star-studded cast ahead of him and decided he would be better off elsewhere. The curious thing about Matondo's €9m move to Schalke in the same month Brahim left is he had not troubled Guardiola's first-team squad, even if he had made the breakthrough with Wales at international level. Eighteen months on, he has 27 Bundesliga appearances and two goals to his name. It is nevertheless difficult to imagine Matondo taking the course of action he did without another man blazing a trail...

JADON SANCHO

Sancho was set for a place on City's 2017-18 pre-season tour alongside Foden. But while his fellow England youth international went on to enjoy a sparkling debut against Manchester United in the International Champions Cup, Sancho kicked his heels at home. Contract negotiations and, as a result, relations with City had broken down. In the bigger picture was the club looking to add Alexis Sanchez to their already considerable forward line.

Sancho sensed his career would be allowed to flourish at Borussia Dortmund and, as he reportedly moves towards a return to England at Manchester United having established himself as one of the most lethal attackers in Europe, it is impossible to argue he was proved anything other than emphatically correct. If he steps out at Old Trafford next season, it will sting on the blue side of Manchester.

JASON DENAYER

Denayer's tale is arguably one that came into the thinking of Sancho and others when considering their future prospects at the Etihad Stadium. Having impressed on loan at Celtic in 2014-15, City gave the Belgium defender a five-year contract. They then signed Nicolas Otamendi for £32m and loaned the youngster to Galatasaray, where he returned in 2017-18 after a season with Sunderland. Denayer will also play in the Champions League last-16 this week with Lyon, who he joined in 2018 for €10m having never managed a competitive appearance for City.

MARCOS 'RONY' LOPES

In the same month Denayer received wildly mixed messages about his future, Portuguese winger Lopes moved to Monaco for €12m after spending the previous season in Ligue 1 at Lille. He produced a handful of exciting cameos while on the fringes of Manuel Pellegrini's City squad, having become the club's youngest ever goalscorer at 17 years and eight days in a January 2013 FA Cup win over Watford. Even then, Lopes – who recently joined Nice on loan from Sevilla – saw the writing on the wall.

"I knew it wouldn't change anything because I knew the players at City at the time, I knew the money involved," he told The Athletic earlier this year. "I knew in my head that to play more, I would have to leave."

Kylian Mbappe could be prepared to agree a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain – on one condition.

The France star has been linked heavily with a move to Real Madrid, although he is contracted in Paris until 2022.

Mbappe could also reportedly re-sign with PSG and it seems it is a possibility, although only if it includes a clause.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE WANTS REAL MADRID CLAUSE IN NEW PSG DEAL

Mbappe wants a clause in his PSG contract that allows him to leave for Real Madrid or another great club for a certain fee, according to AS.

The report compares the buyout clause to the one Neymar had in his deal before leaving Barcelona for PSG for a world-record €222million in 2017.

It says Real Madrid would prefer Mbappe did not re-sign as they would chase the attacker next year.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are reportedly still pursuing Inter star Lautaro Martinez. But ESPN claims the LaLiga giants fear interest from Real Madrid, Manchester United and PSG could drive up the forward's price.

- James Rodriguez is seemingly still attracting interest from Atletico Madrid. El Universal reports the Colombia international is ready to make the move from Real Madrid and join Atletico.

- Again linked with a move, Nabil Fekir may be prepared to wait. AS says the Real Betis attacker is ready to wait for an offer from Barca or Real Madrid to emerge, amid apparent interest from Arsenal, Milan and Newcastle United.

- The chase is on for Aster Vranckx. The Mirror reports Manchester City and Liverpool will go head-to-head for the 17-year-old Mechelen midfielder, who is a Belgium youth international. It comes as The Mirror reports Liverpool are changing their transfer plans to focus on young talent.

- Brahim Diaz is yet to make an impression at Real Madrid and could make a move. Mundo Deportivo claims Betis are interested in the midfielder, who joined Madrid from Manchester City last year.

- Coming out of contract, Angel Gomes' future at Manchester United is unclear. The Sun reports United have made a last-ditch offer to Gomes, who has been linked with Chelsea and other Premier League clubs.

Real Madrid have seemingly set their sights on Eduardo Camavinga, and it may be one of several changes at the LaLiga club.

Camavinga, 17, has been linked to several European giants after impressing for Rennes.

The teenage midfielder is a target for Madrid, who could be set for sweeping changes in the close season.

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA THE PREFERENCE FOR REAL MADRID

Camavinga is the preference for Real Madrid as it is likely to prove tough to land Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, according to Marca.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is also keen to avoid becoming too reliant on Casemiro, the report says.

Camavinga has made 25 Ligue 1 appearances for Rennes this season, including 24 starts.

ROUND-UP

- It may be just one of several changes at Real Madrid. AS reports there must be exits if players are to come in, with James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz potentially leaving. The futures of Nacho Fernandez, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Brahim Diaz are also uncertain.

- Staying at Real Madrid and AS reports the coronavirus pandemic may impact what the club do with Martin Odegaard. The Norway international was expected to spend another season on loan at Real Sociedad but could return ahead of the next campaign as clubs become stricter with their finances.

- Diego Costa has scored just twice in 19 games for Atletico Madrid this season and could be set for a move. Sport reports Roma are interested in the 31-year-old forward.

- Achraf Hakimi appears likely to return to Real Madrid from his loan at Borussia Dortmund. However, the Mirror reports Chelsea have enquired about the defender.

- After impressing with Wolves in the Premier League, Raul Jimenez is attracting interest. Sport reports the Mexico forward could return to LaLiga, with Real Madrid and former club Atletico Madrid interested.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Pedro is poised to leave Chelsea. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Lazio are interested in the attacker.

Zinedine Zidane sought to avoid discussing mooted Real Madrid target Paul Pogba, wishing the Manchester United midfielder well in his recovery from injury.

Pogba has repeatedly been linked with a move to Madrid to link up with compatriot and head coach Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zidane was asked about the player on Friday, with the January transfer window now open, but he appeared keen not to upset United.

Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed earlier this week Pogba would likely have surgery to fix an ongoing ankle issue, and this injury was the focus of Zidane's response.

"How can I reply to this? I'm not going to reply with anything really," Zidane told a news conference. "Paul is a player of another team.

"The important thing for him, because he's injured, is to get back playing, and that's it. I wish the best for him.

"The most important thing for us is the players that I have and to think about the game tomorrow."

Brahim Diaz and Mariano Diaz have each been linked with loan moves away from Madrid in the window, but Zidane was again cagey when asked if their departures could prompt incomings.

"The important thing is to speak to each one of the players - that's what I'm doing," he said. "There are players who haven't been playing minutes, and that could be a problem.

"We'll talk about it, as always. They're all here, they're all training, trying to train well. Until January 31, anything could happen, a lot of things could happen. We'll see."

AC Milan are desperate to add some firepower, but the Serie A side may not be opting for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic, 38, has been linked with a return to San Siro as the superstar prepares to leave LA Galaxy at the end of his contract.

However, Milan are considering their options.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN LOOK ELSEWHERE AMID IBRAHIMOVIC LINKS

AC Milan are eyeing Napoli star Dries Mertens and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Tuttosport.

Stefano Pioli's men are struggling in 14th in Serie A, having scored just 11 goals in 12 league games.

Krzysztof Piatek is Milan's leading goalscorer in the league, but he has managed just three in 12.

The report says Ibrahimovic remains an option in the background.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus stars are expecting an apology from Cristiano Ronaldo after his outburst on Sunday, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Ronaldo reportedly left the stadium after being substituted in the second half of Juve's 1-0 win over Milan.

- Expect movement at Barcelona in January. Sport reports the LaLiga champions could sell Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Moussa Wague without making any additions. Meanwhile, ESPN FC says Barcelona consider €100million too high a price to pay for Salzburg star Erling Haaland.

- Dani Olmo is still attracting interest from Europe's biggest clubs. CalcioMercato reports the Spanish attacker is ready to leave Dinamo Zagreb, who want €40m amid interest from Manchester City, AC Milan and Roma.

- Amid a lack of playing time at Real Madrid, Brahim Diaz and Mariano have been offered to Espanyol, according to Sport. Brahim has played just 18 LaLiga minutes this season, while Mariano is yet to feature in 2019-20.

- Andrea Belotti is set to re-sign with Torino. The striker – who has scored seven goals in 12 Serie A games this season – will get higher wages and a release clause of €100m, which will apply only for foreign clubs, according to CalcioMercato.

- Inter want to make as many as three signings in January, according to Tuttosport. Second in the Serie A table, one of those additions is set to depend on how much Inter bring in from the sale of Gabriel Barbosa – the forward is on loan at Flamengo.

Thibaut Courtois made the move to Real Madrid in 2018, but he is already seemingly under pressure in Spain.

Life at the Santiago Bernabeu has not gone according to plan for the former Chelsea goalkeeper.

And Madrid already have their eyes on a potential replacement…

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYE SIMON AS COURTOIS REPLACEMENT

Real Madrid have identified Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon as a potential replacement for Thibaut Courtois, according to El Desmarque.

Courtois swapped Chelsea for Madrid in 2018, yet the Belgium international has not convinced amid growing criticism in the Spanish capital.

Simon has reportedly attracted interest from Madrid, who would need to pay the 22-year-old's €50million release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

Borussia Dortmund fear losing Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to Sport1. Sancho was suspended for last week's Bundesliga win over Borussia Monchengladbach after returning late from international duty.

- Sport claims Barcelona are ready to offload midfielders Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Riqui Puig in January. Rakitic has been heavily linked to Serie A side Inter, while Tottenham are rumoured to be interested in Alena.

Manchester United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Mario Mandzukic after the Juventus striker slashed his wage demands, according to The Sun. Mandzukic is out of favour in Turin and set to leave in the January transfer window.

- Sport Bild says Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel has turned down offers from Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig and Roma. The 23-year-old only wants to join Bayern Munich should he leave Schalke when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- The German publication also claims Ralf Rangnick is a candidate to replace Niko Kovac if Bayern Munich decide to part with their current head coach. Bild, however, also says Rangnick is a candidate at Manchester United.

- Calciomercato says AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are interested in Bayern Munich centre-back Lars Lukas Mai. Dortmund is believed to be the teenager's favoured destination.

- Real Madrid have informed Brahim Diaz he can leave the LaLiga club, reports AS. It comes less than a year after his arrival from Manchester City.

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