Inter director Beppe Marotta is bullish about retaining the bulk of the Italian champions' squad for the 2021-22 season, saying "90 per cent will be confirmed".

Title-winning head coach Antonio Conte was replaced by Simone Inzaghi already this off-season, with reports his departure was due to the club's need to cut operating costs.

That situation has also led to questions about Inter's transfer business this off-season and ability to retain their squad, with Achraf Hakimi already being sold to Paris Saint-Germain for €60m while Ashley Young has left for Aston Villa.

“We start from a squad that won the Scudetto and will 90 per cent be confirmed for this season, so that is a very important foundation to build on," Marotta told DAZN.

“We’ll now work to complete the squad in relation to Hakimi’s departure by being creative, as it’s difficult for any club right now to get involved in economically expensive deals.”

Inter have been linked with PSV Eindhoven talent Denzel Dumfries along with Arsenal's Hector Bellerin.

"There are many names, it’s too early to try predicting what will happen now," he said on the speculation.

The Nerazzurri have added Matteo Darmian, Zinho Vanheusden and Hakan Calhanoglu this off-season, with the latter joining as a free agent from rivals Milan.

"It was not an insult towards Milan, he was just a player who was a free agent," Marotta said. "Maybe next time it’ll be Milan who take a player when his contract with Inter expires."

Marotta was pressed on Christian Eriksen after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, creating doubts about his club career.

The Inter director said the situation would be analysed as the Danish midfielder recovers.

Hakan Calhanoglu has completed a shock free transfer to Serie A champions Inter from city rivals Milan.

The Turkey international has signed a three-year deal with the Scudetto winners after failing to agree fresh terms with Milan.

Calhanoglu spent four seasons at San Siro with Inter's bitter foes, scoring 32 goals and providing 42 assists across 172 appearances in all competitions.

He confirmed on Monday, a day after his national side's elimination from Euro 2020, that an agreement had been reached with Inter.

The Nerazzurri announced Calhanoglu's arrival on their official website on Tuesday.

Calhanoglu created 98 chances in Serie A last season – the highest number of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

Inter's top chance creator in the league last season, for comparison, was Romelu Lukaku with 52.

Only Rodrigo De Paul (10.27) had a higher expected assists figure than Calhanoglu (8.47) among players in Italy's top tier, despite the Milan man making three fewer appearances.

He is one of only four Turkish players to reach 50 goals in the top five European leagues since the turn of the 21st century, the others being Mevlut Erdinc (92), Nihat Kahveci (76) and Halil Altintop (67).

Hakan Calhanoglu has confirmed he is to join Inter in a shock free transfer from Milan.

The Turkey international has reached an agreement in principle over a three-year deal with the Serie A champions, according to Sky Sport Italia.

The deal is said to be worth more than the offer from Milan, who had hoped to see him extend his contract, which expires next week.

Speaking to TRT Spor on Monday before his return to Italy, Calhanoglu said: "I've reached an agreement with Inter. I will sign the contract tomorrow."

Calhanoglu made 172 appearances for Milan following a 2017 move from Bayer Leverkusen.

He played in all three of Turkey's Euro 2020 group games as they lost to Italy, Wales and Switzerland.

 

PLAYMAKER SUPREME

Calhanoglu scored 32 goals and provided 42 assists for Milan in all competitions, averaging one direct goal involvement in a little over every two games.

Last season, he created 98 chances in Serie A, the highest number of any player in Europe's top five leagues. Inter's top chance-creator in the league in 2020-21 was Romelu Lukaku, with 52.

Among players in Italy's top tier, only Rodrigo De Paul (10.27) had a higher expected assists figure than Calhanoglu (8.47), despite the Milan man having made three fewer appearances.

He is one of just four Turkish players to reach 50 goals in the top five European leagues since the turn of the 21st century, after Mevlut Erdinc (92), Nihat Kahveci (76) and Halil Altintop (67).

 

 

Could Matthijs de Ligt leave Juventus?

De Ligt joined Juve from Ajax in 2019 but his future has been a topic of discussion.

Barcelona were strongly linked with him before he left the Eredivisie and are reportedly still keen admirers.

 

TOP STORY – DE LIGT A BARCA TARGET

Barcelona are keen on signing Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, according to Le10 Sport.

LaLiga giants Barca have already brought in Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia, while they are also said to be interested in Memphis Depay of Lyon and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

But it is claimed they are particularly eager to further bolster their defence in addition to Garcia's arrival, though they could face competition for De Ligt – Manchester United have long been linked with the Netherlands international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports Leicester City are considering a move for Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho. It would be a reunion for Brendan Rodgers and Coutinho after working together at Liverpool.

Atletico Madrid are eyeing Hakan Calhanoglu as an alternative to Udinese star Rodrigo de Paul. LaLiga champions Atletico want De Paul, who has also been linked with JuveInter and Leeds United. Should they miss out on the Argentina international, Calhanoglu is an option – the Milan star's contract expires at the end of June.

United have held further talks with Borussia Dortmund in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho, says Fabrizio Romano. Dortmund reportedly want £81million (€95m), though United are currently unwilling to pay more than £60m (€70m). Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked previously.

- Romano also reports Gianluigi Donnarumma's contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2026 has been agreed. The Italy international goalkeeper is set to join PSG on a free transfer following the end of his Milan deal.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Milan are in talks to sign Real Madrid pair Brahim Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola on loan. The Rossoneri have also been linked with Luka Jovic and are seemingly poised to secure the permanent signing of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea as well.

Italy will hope their excellent record at the Stadio Olimpico can propel them towards Euro 2020 glory in Roberto Mancini's first tournament as coach, with a tricky test against Turkey first up for the competition's curtain-raiser on Friday.

It has been all change for Italy since their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, with Mancini installed as Gian Piero Ventura's replacement and tasked with restoring the Azzurri's reputation.

What they hope will help is the fact all three of their group games – and a quarter-final – will be played at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, where they have never lost (W6 2D) in eight matches at major tournaments, while the Azzurri were one of just two teams along with Belgium to win all of their 10 qualifiers.

Of course, Italy wrapped up their qualifying campaign almost two years ago, with these finals pushed back 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Mancini has vowed to do the country proud after a difficult time as they look to claim a first European Championship since 1968.

In an open letter to fans, he wrote: "Sport in these moments is an essential tool of our life. It can help us feel better. Never before have we so badly needed it.

"Our national team is aware of representing a fantastic and determined people, and for this reason I, together with the staff and the guys who take the field, will use all the minutes of this event to honour the country that we represent.

"They will be moments of joy that will make us forget the past year for just a moment."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Italy – Jorginho

While he will not necessarily be the man tasked with putting the ball in the net, unless Italy get a penalty, Jorginho performs a crucial function for Italy. He was one of three players to record over 1,000 touches in qualifying and his role as a conduit in possession is essential to how Mancini's team play. If he has a difficult game, the chances are the Azzurri will struggle by extension.

Turkey – Hakan Calhanoglu

Although Italy will be favourites here, Turkey should not be underestimated. Possessing the youngest squad at the Euros, they are a vibrant and technically gifted bunch. Arguably encapsulating those traits better than anyone else in the team is Calhanoglu. The Milan midfielder offers almost guaranteed creativity, as evidenced by the fact he created the most chances in Serie A (98) in 2020-21, while his nine assists came from an xA (expected assists) value of 8.5, suggesting his haul was born out of consistency rather than luck.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Despite playing 38 games in the European Championship, Italy have never scored more than two goals in a match. They have also drawn more games than any other side in the tournament's history (16), while also taking part in the most goalless matches (eight).

- The Azzurri scored 37 goals in their 10 qualification matches (3.7 per game); this was the same tally as they scored in qualification for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup combined (37 goals in 22 games).

- Turkey conceded only three goals in 10 games in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, the joint-best defensive record alongside Belgium.

- This will be Senol Gunes' second major tournament as Turkey head coach (World Cup/European Championships), 18 years after leading his nation to a third place at the 2002 World Cup, their best-ever performance in the competition.

- Turkey and Italy's only previous encounter in a major tournament was at Euro 2000, also on 11th June. It was their opening game of the tournament, ending 2-1 to Italy courtesy of goals from Antonio Conte and Filippo Inzaghi, the latter of whom netted a penalty. It was also in that game that Okan Buruk scored Turkey's first ever goal in the European Championship.

 

Gianluigi Donnarumma's future is dominating headlines.

Milan want to re-sign the Italy international but time is running out.

A blockbuster move to LaLiga could be on the horizon…

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA TO SPAIN?

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has been offered to Barcelona by his agent Mino Raiola, according to Diario AS.

Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign with Milan.

He has been linked with Serie A rivals Juventus, Barca, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Donnarumma's arrival could force Barca to sell star number one Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Kylian Mbappe's proposed transfer to Real Madrid does not hinge on head coach Zinedine Zidane, who could leave at the end of the season. Former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Madrid great Raul have emerged as the frontrunners should Zidane leave, but it will not impact Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe's future. Madrid have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Sergio Aguero is set to accept a contract offer from Barca until June 2023, reports Fabrizio Romano. Aguero is poised to become a free agent once his deal with Manchester City expires. Lyon captain Memphis Depay is also on the verge of moving to Camp Nou on a free transfer.

- Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul, Atalanta's Josip Ilicic and Roma attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan are potential replacements for Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu, according to Tuttosport. Calhanoglu's contract is expiring at San Siro amid links with Juve, United and clubs in Qatar.

Monza are eyeing Juventus great Gianluigi Buffon, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Monza – owned by former Milan president Silvio Berlusconi – are currently in Serie B and missed out on promotion via the playoffs. Monza also boast Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Buffon has already revealed he will leave Juve at the end of the season.

Harry Kane looks set to be the centre of rumours and speculation this off-season after reportedly informing Tottenham he wants to leave the club.

The England international forward, who has scored 22 league goals this season, is contracted for another three years at Tottenham.

However Kane has not hidden his desire to win silverware, which has gone unfulfilled at Spurs.

 

TOP STORY – SKY BLUE PREFERENCE FOR KANE

Harry Kane has nominated Manchester City as his preferred destination and believes he has a verbal agreement with Tottenham to allow him to leave, claims The Times.

It is understood that Kane was convinced to remain with Spurs last year but as part of that he struck an agreement with chairman Daniel Levy to allow him to depart upon interest from City.

Kane will make renewed efforts to convince Levy and the Tottenham hierarchy to sell him this off-season. Spurs lost 2-1 to Aston Villa on Wednesday, and they may well miss out on Europe altogether.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are willing to offer up Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard as part of a move for Kane , claims Football Insider.

- The Red Devils are also ready to make a move for Southampton forward Danny Ings as they look to strength their front line reports The Telegraph.

- Another United target, Jadon Sancho , is being pursued by Chelsea , who have launched an £80m bid for the Borussia Dortmund talent according to The Sun.

- The list of suitors for United goalkeeper Dean Henderson is long according to Sky Sports, with Tottenham, Chelsea, Dortmund and Milan among those interested.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that veteran Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud could be set to link up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Milan .

- Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu has attracted interest from Qatari club Al Duhail according to Sky Sport Italia.

Lionel Messi has spent his entire career with Barcelona. 

That bond will not sway Barca's off-season plans, though.

The Spanish giants have reportedly turned their eyes to a younger option. 

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PREFER HAALAND TO MESSI STAY

Barcelona are so desperate to lure Erling Haaland to Camp Nou that they would be willing to let superstar captain Lionel Messi walk away if they can sign the Borussia Dortmund star, according to The Sun.

Barca's financial situation would make it difficult to pay both players, and the report claims Messi might see his wages cut in half if he stays with the LaLiga powerhouse amid links to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City

Numerous clubs are circling for Haaland, including City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, PSG, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Raul is favourite to take over as Madrid head coach next season if Zinedine Zidane leaves. Madrid great Raul is chasing promotion with the club's Castilla side.

Barca are set to complete the double free transfers of City star Sergio Aguero and Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to Sport.

Arsenal and Martin Odegaard have a mutual interest in extending the Norway international's loan stay at the Premier League, according to Football London. He has two goals in 18 appearances in all competitions since arriving on loan from Madrid.

- Diario AS reports PSG are set to swoop in for Sergio Ramos by offering the Madrid captain and soon-to-be free agent a two-year contract. Ramos has also been linked to United.

- Though Juventus may be facing an exodus if they miss out on Champions League football next season, the Bianconeri are interested in Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, says Calciomercato. 

United may shore up their midfield with a bid for Getafe's Mauro Arambarri, Diario AS reports. The 25-year-old is under contract through 2023. The Mirror, meanwhile, says United remain keen on Atletico Madrid star Marcos Llorente.

Atletico are interested in Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, claims the Daily Star. Keita has struggled for form and fitness since moving to Anfield from RB Leipzig in 2018.

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini has announced all contract negotiations have been put on hold until the end of the season after goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was allegedly confronted by supporters.

According to Italian publication Il Corriere della Sera, Donnarumma was left in tears ahead of Milan's clash with Benevento on Saturday after being given the ultimatum of signing a new deal or sitting out next week's key clash with Juventus.

The Italy international has spent his entire senior career at San Siro, racking up close to 250 appearances in all competitions, but he is due to become a free agent in June after failing to agree fresh terms and has been linked with a move to Juve.

Maldini is not happy with the way the club's fanbase has gone about pressuring Donnarumma into signing a new deal, however, and has made the decision to curtail all discussions with the goalkeeper for the time being.

"It is important to firmly reiterate that nobody outside of Milan can decide who stays at the club and who renews," he told ANSA. "Choices regarding what happens on the pitch are down to the coach, while the club is in charge of contractual issues.

"From this moment, every single negotiation for new contract renewals is frozen until the end of the season so that the team can focus solely on the league. In the meantime, we will continue to protect our players, as we always have done."

Veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic signed a 12-month extension last month, leaving Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu as the two remaining high-profile Milan stars soon to be out of contract.

Milan led the way at the top of San Siro for a large part of the campaign, but they are now battling for a top-four finish after losing back-to-back matches prior to Saturday's 2-0 win against Benevento.

The Rossoneri, who are left focusing solely on Serie A after being eliminated from the Europa League at the quarter-final stage by Manchester United last month, have accrued 69 points in the league this term - their most in a single campaign since 2012-13.

Hakan Calhanoglu needs to score more goals if he is to reach his full potential, according to Milan head coach Stefano Pioli.

The Turkey international scored his fourth Serie A goal of the campaign on Saturday as Milan bounced back from consecutive defeats to beat Benevento 2-0 at San Siro.

That goal means Calhanoglu became the fourth Turkish player to score 50 goals in the top five European leagues since the turn of the millennium after Mevlut Erdinc (92), Nihat Kahveci (76) and Halil Altintop (67).

He is still five goals away from his top-flight total from last season and Pioli wants to see more from the 27-year-old in that department.

"In my view, Calhanoglu has not yet achieved his maximum potential. He provides quality, solidity, hard work, he plays with the team," Pioli told DAZN.

"He just needs to be a little more precise on assists and the final ball, keep his head up and check for the options.

"I think he must be motivated to score more goals because with the talent he has, he should set himself much higher targets and aim for double figures."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first appearance for the Rossoneri since he received a red card in the 3-1 win over Parma on April 10 and he was in typically industrious form.

The Sweden international had seven shots – four more than any other player on the pitch – while he contested three more duels than any other Milan player (13).

Despite not finding the back of the net, Pioli was pleased with the 39-year-old's contribution.

"Ibrahimovic is a champion and a champion makes everyone around him raise their game," the Milan boss said.

"Missing him was certainly damaging to the team, but we have reacted to the difficulties and showed character.

"It's an advantage not to give the opposition defence a regular point to focus on, so Zlatan has this great tactical intelligence and knows how to move around trying to find the space."

The result moved Milan a point in front of Atalanta and three ahead of Napoli and Juventus into second place, but all three rival sides have a game in hand to play on Sunday.

Pioli takes his side to Juve next weekend in what will be a crunch game for his side's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Milan returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Benevento at San Siro that moves them back up to second place in Serie A.

The Rossoneri dropped to fifth following defeats to Sassuolo and Lazio, but they battled to a much-needed win in Saturday's clash with Filippo Inzaghi's struggling Benevento.

Hakan Calhanoglu picked out the bottom-right corner inside six minutes to give Milan the lead and Theo Hernandez added a second from close range with an hour played.

That proved enough as Milan moved a point in front of Atalanta and three ahead of Napoli and Juventus, but all three sides have a game in hand to play on Sunday.

Milan have scored the most goals of any Serie A side in the opening half-hour of games this term, while Benevento have conceded the most, and this contest followed the script.

Calhanoglu exchanged passes with Franck Kessie, played the ball out to Alexis Saelemaekers and got on the end of the return pass to steer a shot past Lorenzo Montipo.

The Benevento keeper did well to save a powerful strike from Rafael Leao soon after and also denied Zlatan Ibrahimovic with his outstretched leg from a one-on-one.

Ibrahimovic was thwarted again by a couple more Montipo saves early in the second half, either side of Iago Falque firing one inches wide at the other end.

However, the next Montipo save on Ibrahimovic paid dividends for Milan as attacking left-back Hernandez was in the right place to turn in the rebound.

Benevento would have moved out of the bottom three with a point, but they could not offer much in response as Milan saw out a deserved victory.

What does it mean? Milan back to winning ways ahead of tough run-in

Stefano Pioli challenged his Milan players to show their fighting spirit on the back of successive losses and they did exactly that with a fairly routine victory on home soil.

This win – just their second in nine home matches in all competitions – moves them into second place and puts pressure on the chasing pack to win their games on Sunday.

With a trip to Juventus next weekend, and a visit to fellow top-four rivals Atalanta also still to come, Pioli's men need to use this win as a platform to rebuild some momentum.

Hakan at it again

The midfielder created and finished off a well-worked Milan opener, with Kessie also deserving of praise for dummying Saelemaekers' pass for his team-mate to convert.

Calhanoglu, who became the fourth Turkish player to score 50 goals in the top five European leagues this century, ended the contest with a game-high 48 passes in the opposition half.

Zlatan denied

The veteran striker missed Milan's last three games through suspension and injury but was deemed fit enough to start against Benevento.

He had a few good opportunities to score but could not find a way past inspired keeper Montipo from any of his seven shots, five of which were on target.

What's next?

Milan have that huge showdown with soon-to-be-dethroned champions Juventus a week on Sunday, while Benevento host Cagliari in an equally important clash the same day.

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."

What does the future hold for Lorenzo Insigne?

The Napoli captain is no certainty to remain at his boyhood club as his contract runs down.

A switch to Milan could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – MILAN TARGETING INSIGNE

Milan met with Lorenzo Insigne's agent as they eye a move for the Napoli captain, according to Gianluigi Di Marzio.

Insigne – previously linked with Liverpool – has one year remaining on his current contract and the Italy international is yet to re-sign with his boyhood club.

Serie A rivals Milan are monitoring the situation and ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- A move for Insigne depends on the future of Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu. The 27-year-old is set to become a free agent and Arsenal and Chelsea are eyeing the Turkey international, reports Sky Italy. Manchester United have also been linked.

- The front page of Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter and neighbours Milan are going head-to-head to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbia international is also reportedly wanted by United, Juventus and Tottenham.

Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City are vying to sign Inter star Romelu Lukaku this off-season, claims Calciomercato. Lukaku has emerged as a target for all three clubs, who are also eyeing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling HaalandReal Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, United and Liverpool have also been linked with Haaland.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Roma and Milan both want to sign Torino captain Andrea Belotti. With Torino struggling, the Italy forward could be ready to jump at the chance for European football.

Tottenham are stepping up their pursuit of Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard, says the Express. Spurs have long been linked with Inter star Milan Skriniar, but Vestergaard appears to be an easier option.

Stefano Pioli feels qualifying for the Champions League could "change everything" for Milan – particularly when it comes to retaining three key members of his first-team squad.

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Hakan Calhanoglu and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are all out of contract at the end of the season, while the Serie A club also face a decision over whether to sign on-loan defender Fikayo Tomori on a permanent deal.

However, ahead of the resumption of domestic duties after the international games in March, Pioli made clear the focus for everyone is on finishing the campaign strongly.

Milan sit second in the table and despite their form tailing off in 2021 – they have lost five times in the league since the turn of the year, having gone unbeaten in the competition in the first half of the season – they have a glorious opportunity to finish in the top four.

"In the eyes of Ibra, Calhanoglu and Donnarumma I see serenity," Pioli told the media about the trio on Friday.

"Their future is now for us - it would change everything for us to go to the Champions League. I see a lot of concentration and attention."

Tomori had made 12 appearances in all competitions since his arrival from Chelsea in the mid-season transfer window, with the temporary deal including a purchase option.

"We are very satisfied with how he has started, he is a smiling boy, he gives us important characteristics," Pioli said of the centre-back. "We must continue to do well without thinking about the future."

Milan are in early action on Saturday, taking on Sampdoria at San Siro.

The Rossoneri have failed to win in any of their last five home games in all competitions, a run that included a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United that ended their involvement in the Europa League.

Catching Serie A leaders Inter - who sit six points clear and have a game in hand - may be difficult but Pioli has set a points target for his players to work towards in the closing months.

"We have always taken responsibility with great conviction and confidence," he said.

"There comes a decisive moment - everything we have done so far is to be here right now. We want to get to the end of the season without regrets.

"Ten games are a lot and there are still many points to play for, 75 could be the right threshold to reach the Champions League but it is difficult to make calculations.

"The fight will be very tough, we have to think about the next game."

Milan kept alive their faint hopes of Serie A title glory as Hakan Calhanoglu's fine strike sealed a pulsating 3-2 win over Fiorentina on Sunday. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had put them ahead after nine minutes to become the oldest player to reach 15 goals in a single Serie A season, aged 39 years and 169 days, but Erick Pulgar restored parity soon after.

Fiorentina took the lead shortly after the break thanks to a cool finish from Franck Ribery, yet Milan powered back thanks to Brahim Diaz and Calhanoglu's winner 19 minutes from full-time. 

The result means Milan move to within six points of leaders Inter, whose game against Sassuolo this weekend was called off after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

Fikayo Tomori cleared Martin Caceres' header off the line after five minutes as the hosts started brightly, but it was Milan who struck first. 

Simon Kjaer's clipped ball over the top found Ibrahimovic and the Sweden international struck past an exposed Bartlomiej Dragowski. 

That lead was cancelled out after 17 minutes, though, when Pulgar whipped a free-kick into Gianluigi Donnarumma's top-right corner from 20 yards. 

Both sides struck the crossbar before half-time, German Pezzella denied after an inventive flick from Valentin Eysseric's corner, while Ibrahimovic clipped against the frame of the goal after being played in by Calhanoglu.

La Viola went ahead six minutes after the restart, Ribery stroking home his second top-flight goal of the season from 15 yards after he had been teed up by Dusan Vlahovic.

The Rossoneri drew level in the 57th minute, however, when Diaz reacted quickest to poke home Kjaer's knockdown from a corner. 

Ibrahimovic struck the post with a cross before Calhanoglu slotted into substitute goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano's bottom-left corner from just inside the penalty area to ensure neighbours Inter cannot relax just yet.

 

 

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