Hertha Berlin forward Krzysztof Piatek revealed he took every chance he got to learn from Poland team-mate Robert Lewandowski.

Piatek joined Hertha from Milan for a reported €27million in January, having struggled to get to his best at San Siro.

The 24-year-old made his debut for the Bundesliga club off the bench in a 0-0 draw against Schalke on Friday.

With one of the world's best strikers in Lewandowski alongside him at international level, Piatek said he watched the Bayern Munich star closely when he had the chance.

"He is the best striker in Germany and one of the best in the world," Piatek told the Bundesliga website.

"When I train with Robert in the national team I always watch him. I watch everything he does and see what he does best.

"I speak with him all the time because I want to learn, and I hope I will learn all the time."

Piatek only managed four goals in 18 Serie A games for Milan this season before making the move to Hertha, who face Schalke in the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday.

Krzysztof Piatek has joined Hertha Berlin on a long-term contract from AC Milan just a year after moving to the Rossoneri, the Bundesliga club have confirmed. 

The Poland striker made the switch to Milan in January 2019 after spending seven months with Genoa, for who he scored 19 goals in 21 appearances.

Piatek continued his fine form at Milan initially, scoring a further nine Serie A goals and drawing comparisons with compatriot Robert Lewandowski.

However, he has been unable to reach the same heights this season, having found the net just five times in all competitions and slipped further down the pecking order when Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived on a free transfer, while Ante Rebic has also found form.

Piatek, who was subbed off during Milan's 4-2 win over Torino in the Coppa Italia on Tuesday, has now joined Bundesliga club Hertha on an unspecified long-term contract, for a fee reported to be in the region of €27million plus bonuses.

"I am very happy that this transfer worked out," Piatek told Hertha's official website. 

"I feel great desire to help the club together with my new team-mates and to climb up a few places in the table as quickly as possible."

Premier League clubs Tottenham and Manchester United had also been linked with a move for Piatek to cover for respective injuries to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford.

Manchester United are no closer to concluding their long-running search for a director of football.

Rumours emerged over the weekend indicating the Red Devils were closing in on Lille's Luis Campos, famed for spotting the likes of Kylian Mbappe during his time at Monaco.

But fresh reports in France suggest United will be left frustrated in any bid to lure the Portuguese to Old Trafford.

 

UNITED TARGET NOT INTERESTED IN LEAVING LILLE

Claims that United have commenced negotiations with 55-year-old Campos are wide of the mark, reports Le 10 Sport.

There has apparently been no contact between the parties and, in any case, the former Real Madrid scout is said to have no plans to leave Lille.

United's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday and the loss of Marcus Rashford has exacerbated the need for signings, an area in which Campos was expected to assist.

Campos previously had a long career as a head coach in his native Portugal, where he led Gil Vicente and Beira-Mar among others.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain are in preliminary talks with Neymar's representatives about a contract extension, according to French broadcaster TF1, although the Brazilian would prefer to delay concrete discussions.

- Krzysztof Piatek's proposed switch to Tottenham has stalled over Milan's £30million asking price, claims the Daily Mail.

- Spurs could turn their attention to Leicester City flop Islam Slimani, according to the Telegraph. The 31-year-old is out on loan at Monaco, where he has scored seven goals in 13 Ligue 1 games.

- Inter forward Matteo Politano favours a return to Serie A rivals Roma but may be given the option of leaving San Siro for Sevilla, says Corriere dello Sport.

- LaLiga side Espanyol hope to sign Reinier on loan once the Brazilian teenager's move to Real Madrid goes through, reports Spanish newspaper SPORT.

Manchester United will reportedly need to improve their offer to Sporting CP if they are to land Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes, 25, is linked with a January move to Old Trafford, but it seems talks are ongoing between the clubs.

The Premier League outfit will need to raise their offer to land Fernandes, with some distance seemingly still between the sides.

 

TOP STORY – SPORTING WANT €65M FROM MAN UTD FOR FERNANDES

Sporting want £55.4million (€65m) from Manchester United for Fernandes, according to TVI 24.

The report says United are offering £42.6m (€50m) plus bonuses for the midfielder.

With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, United are desperate to strengthen in midfield this month.

 

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- Christian Eriksen could be nearing a move to Inter. The Tottenham midfielder's agent Martin Schoots had dinner with Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta on Thursday, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tottenham must continue their search if they are to replace the injured Harry Kane this month. The Sun reports a possible move from Milan to Spurs for Krzysztof Piatek appears over and Tottenham are now looking at Porto forward Ze Luis or Napoli's Fernando Llorente, who left the club at the end of last season.

- Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare is deciding between Manchester United and Chelsea, according to Sky Sports, although no move is expected until after the Ligue 1 club face Paris Saint-Germain on January 26.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Manchester United will be offered Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani for free at season's end, according to the Manchester Evening News.

- West Ham's bid to sign Ross Barkley is not over yet. The Mirror reports the club will not give up on trying to land the Chelsea midfielder, who has made just seven Premier League appearances this season.

- Arda Turan remains contracted to Barcelona, but the midfielder knows where he wants to go next. The Turkey international is interested in signing with Boca Juniors, according to Sport, after terminating his loan agreement with Istanbul Basaksehir earlier this month.

Krzysztof Piatek provided a reminder of his talent amid transfer rumours with a goal and an assist as Milan beat SPAL 3-0 to set up a Coppa Italia quarter-final against Torino.

Poland international Piatek has endured a difficult second season in San Siro, having scored just four times in Serie A, but on Wednesday the reported Tottenham target looked more like his old self.

Perhaps SPAL are not the most suitable team to use as a barometer of Piatek's abilities, as they never looked a threat, but the 24-year-old showed good composure to open the scoring, before then teeing up Samu Castillejo for his glorious effort to increase the lead.

Milan continued to dominate after the break and added a third goal just past the hour – Theo Hernandez drilling home in style, sealing a comfortable victory.

SPAL struggled to contend with Milan during the early exchanges, with Ismael Bennacer driving just wide before Castillejo spurned a pair of presentable opportunities.

But Piatek made no mistake in the 20th minute, latching on to Bennacer's throughball and coolly slotting past the approaching Etrit Berisha.

The lively Castillejo deservedly made it 2-0 just before the break, curling a wonderful left-footed effort into the top-left corner after Piatek spotted him in space in the penalty area.

Hernandez got in on the act in the 66th minute, charging forward in typical fashion before hammering a left-footed drive into the bottom-right corner from 25 yards.

SPAL thought they would have the chance to pull one back from the penalty spot after substitute Lucas Paqueta was penalised for blocking the ball with his arm, but following a lengthy VAR review the decision was reversed, preserving Milan's clean sheet.

What does it mean? Milan sensing a chance for silverware

Given how poorly Milan's Serie A campaign is going, the Coppa Italia looks their only realistic chance of silverware this term. Only Torino now stand between them and the semis, and by that time they might have built up the form and confidence to challenge Juventus and Inter.

Castillejo takes his chance

It is fair to say Castillejo has not lived up to expectations since his move from Villarreal in 2018, but in this contest he showed flashes of the youngster who became so highly rated in LaLiga. A lively presence out wide, he produced four key passes and a stunning goal.

Bonaventura offers little

Milan were generally impressive, but Giacomo Bonaventura was one of few to have little impact, failing to create a single chance.

What's next?

Milan are at home again this weekend, hosting Udinese in Serie A. SPAL go to in-form Atalanta as they aim to move off the foot of the table.

Bruno Fernandes is seemingly set for Manchester United, but just whether a deal can be done appears uncertain.

Fernandes, 25, has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford from Sporting CP in January.

But there are contrasting reports over the status of a potential deal as United look to strengthen amid an injury crisis.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD SET TO COMPLETE FERNANDES SIGNING

Manchester United are set to sign Fernandes for £60million (€70m) by the end of the week, according to The Sun.

However, the Daily Mail reports United are offering £50m (€58.4m) plus £10m (€11.7m) in add-ons and Sporting want £64m (€74.7m) up front.

Meanwhile, Fernandes has told Sporting he wants to make the move this month, according to The Telegraph, while reports in Portugal suggest Marcos Rojo could return to Lisbon as part of the deal.

ROUND-UP

- Inter and Tottenham started talks over Christian Eriksen on Monday, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Serie A giants are reportedly hoping to land the midfielder for €10m (£8.6m) as his contract expires at the end of the season.

- John Stones has emerged as a transfer target for Arsenal. The Sun reports Mikel Arteta is targeting the Manchester City defender, even if it is a loan move. Stones has played just 10 Premier League games this season.

- With Harry Kane set to be sidelined until at least April, Tottenham are eyeing a forward. The Independent claims Milan's Krzysztof Piatek and Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani are options for Spurs this month.

- Another surprise target for Tottenham has emerged. Gazzetta dello Sport says Fernando Llorente could be set for a return to the Premier League club, having left at the end of last season and signed with Napoli.

- Inter are close to completing a deal for Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud, according to the Daily Mail. The report says Giroud has already agreed personal terms with Inter, who are set to pay between €5.3m (£4.5m) and €7.6m (£6.5m) for the Frenchman.

- Moves are expected at San Siro this month and Gianluca Di Marzio understands Roma have entered the race for Inter's Matteo Politano following Nicolo Zaniolo's serious knee injury.

Jose Mourinho is hopeful Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy can provide a transfer "solution" as Spurs face a testing few months without star striker Harry Kane.

After a positive start as Spurs coach, Mourinho has seen results take a turn for the worse in recent weeks, with just one win in five across all competitions.

To make matters worse, Spurs have lost Kane and Moussa Sissoko to serious injuries, while Tanguy NDombele continues to struggle with niggling fitness problems.

The club have been linked with making January moves in the transfer market, with Gedson Fernandes of Benfica and Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek rumoured to be key targets.

Spurs chairman Levy has garnered a reputation as a frugal spender in the transfer market, but Mourinho is optimistic the club can capitalise on the right opportunities should they arise.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with pacesetters Liverpool, Mourinho said: "Even the coaches without injuries, without problems in the squad, the coaches with the best squads – let's say Jurgen [Klopp, Liverpool manager], with the best team, with amazing players and an amazing squad, he was happy to get a new player [Takumi Minamino].

"We [managers] are all the same, but the reality is when I came here two months ago, I knew the situation.

"I didn't know that of course I was going to be without Kane and Moussa for so long, but I knew that the situation was about trying to get the best out of the players we have, and that doesn't change, so I'm focused on the work, the game.

"If the boss [Levy] arrives with a solution that can help us to face these difficult months that we are going to have ahead of us, so be it, that's welcome, but if we don't find the right solution, right opportunity, then we are going to wait for the next summer to make the right decisions for the evolution of the team.

"January is a strange market, it's not an easy market to be in. It's a market of opportunity, a market where an opportunity arises and you have the conditions to do it or you do not do it. We have to be calm and not think about the market – let the market think about us."

Kane is not expected to be back in training again until April, meaning he is likely to miss much of the remainder of the season, and although Piatek has been mentioned as a potential short-term replacement, Mourinho says no one can replace his captain.

"Kane is important, irreplaceable," he said. "There's no player who can replace him, and Moussa was playing so well since I arrived, one of our best performers.

"The bad news is that it's not just a couple of weeks then they're back, it's surgery and a long, long time [out].

"If you allow me, I would like to not speak about Kane and Moussa until they are back, so let's try talking about everything to do with them today.

"It's normal everyone wants to speak about Harry, but I don't want to speak too much because then I'll get depressed and then you are going to say I'm miserable and depressed and in a bad mood, so it's better to talk about things that make me laugh."

Tottenham appear close to landing a replacement for Harry Kane, while Thomas Lemar could also be set for the Premier League.

Kane needs surgery on his left hamstring and is not expected to return to training for Spurs until April.

It seems the Premier League club are nearing a move for Milan forward Krzysztof Piatek, although there are contrasting reports over the status of the deal.

And, Atletico Madrid midfielder Lemar could also be heading to London.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS CLOSE TO LANDING PIATEK AS KANE REPLACEMENT

Tottenham have agreed a deal worth £28million (€32.95m) for Piatek, according to The Sun.

However, the Mirror reports Spurs have had a loan bid for the 24-year-old Poland international rejected, although talks are continuing.

After netting 11 times in 21 games for Milan last season following a January move from Genoa, Piatek has four goals in 18 this campaign.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea and Tottenham are both trying to sign Atletico's Lemar on loan until the end of the season, according to The Telegraph. Lemar is linked with an Atletico exit after just nine LaLiga starts this season.

- While Christian Eriksen's possible Spurs exit will dominate headlines this month, it appears the midfielder will not be heading to Old Trafford. Sky Sports reports Manchester United have ruled out making a bid for the Denmark international this month.

- Searching for a right-back, Tottenham are keen on signing Barcelona's Nelson Semedo, according to the Mirror. The position has been a problem for Spurs since Kieran Trippier's off-season move to Atletico.

- Javier Hernandez's stay at Sevilla could be coming to an end. Marca reports the club could let the forward, who has one goal in nine LaLiga games this season, leave amid apparent interest from LA Galaxy.

- Leicester City are trying to sign Juventus defender Merih Demiral, according to the Mirror. Manchester City and Everton are also reportedly interested in the Turkey international.

- Piatek aside, there may be other moves at Milan. La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira says Roma are interested in Suso and Cengiz Under could be heading to San Siro, while Milan are still eyeing Inter's Matteo Politano.

- Could David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini reunite for a third time? Sky Sports reports Moyes' West Ham are interested in signing the Shandong Luneng midfielder, who played under the Scot at Everton and Manchester United.

Harry Kane is not expected to return to training until April in a huge blow to both Tottenham and England.

The Spurs striker suffered a ruptured tendon in his left hamstring in the Premier League defeat to Southampton this month, and the club confirmed on Thursday he would undergo surgery.

The latest estimate for Kane's lay-off should concern Tottenham fans, with the team sixth and six points off a Champions League place, while England manager Gareth Southgate will also be worried as Euro 2020 approaches.

So, will Spurs stick or twist in the transfer market? And does Southgate have an alternative to his talismanic captain?

SON TO THE FORE AT SPURS?

Jose Mourinho had insisted prior to this injury he had little interest in January business. While that must surely change with this news, Tottenham have rarely been willing to spend big in recent seasons.

Might their new head coach instead tinker with his existing options, then? Son Heung-min would appear the obvious candidate to take on Kane's striking role.

The winger started up front at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Sunday and deputised well for Kane for a stretch last season, prompting suggestions the South Korea star might play better without his most lethal attacking team-mate.

Lucas Moura, who also led the line in Kane's absence last season, and Dele Alli are options to join Son in attack, while Troy Parrott – 17 years old with just two senior appearances to his name – would hope to be handed a more prominent role.

 

PIPPING RIVALS TO PIATEK?

Spurs finally looked to have suitable cover for Kane in the form of Fernando Llorente last season, only for the veteran to depart for Napoli on a free at the end of the campaign.

Now, Tottenham are not the only English side searching for goals in the mid-season transfer window, with Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace all short in that department, but Mourinho's men should have the profile to blow those rivals out of the water.

One man linked with Spurs, Newcastle and Villa in recent days is Krzysztof Piatek, the Milan striker now at risk of slipping to the fringes of the Rossoneri first team following Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to San Siro.

Piatek was one of Europe's form strikers last season and, while his goals tally is far more modest this term – he only has four in 18 appearances in Serie A – Tottenham may have little choice but to take a risk. Milan reportedly want £30million rather than a loan.

 

ENGLAND U-TURN FOR VARDY?

Kane was the leading scorer in Euros qualifying with 12 goals and had been set to star for England in a finals tournament that will feature seven matches, including the semi-finals and final, on home soil at Wembley.

But perhaps Southgate is better equipped than Mourinho to deal with the absence of his key striker, with four of the Premier League's top five marksmen this term eligible for England.

Leading the way with 17 goals is Jamie Vardy, who has not featured for his country since the 2018 World Cup, citing in part his reduced role behind Kane in the pecking order as he stepped away from international football.

Yet with Kane facing a race against time to be fit for the finals, Vardy might now find himself a prominent figure if he could be tempted back into the squad.

 

FIVE YEARS ON, ANOTHER INGS CAP?

England are not short of options, as the Golden Boot race suggests, with Tammy Abraham in top form and both Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling capable of playing through the middle.

But Danny Ings will surely see this as his opportunity to add to his sole Three Lions cap earned in 2015 – he replaced Kane from the bench on that occasion – before awful injury troubles at Liverpool.

The Southampton striker, who scored the only goal in the game Kane suffered his injury, is enjoying the best season of his top-flight career, scoring 13 times already.

Southgate surely must at least assess Ings as an option in the March internationals, while Callum Wilson will hope to return to form for Bournemouth in order to stake his own case. Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin may also be in with a chance.

Massimiliano Allegri is without a club since leaving Serie A champions Juventus at the end of 2018-19.

However, Allegri could be nearing a return to management sooner rather than later.

The Italian is believed to be interested in taking charge of Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI WANTS UNITED JOB

Massimiliano Allegri is interested in becoming Manchester United manager as pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Allegri has been rumoured to be of interest to Bayern Munich after leaving Serie A champions Juve at the end of last season, while the Italian was also linked to Arsenal prior to Mikel Arteta's appointment.

However, he is reportedly holding out for the United job should Solskjaer be sacked. Ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

 

ROUND-UP

- ElDesmarque claims MLS duo Inter Miami and LA Galaxy are ready to vie for the signature of Real Madrid's Gareth BaleChelsea, though, have also been linked with the former Tottenham star.

- The race is heating up for Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek. Struggling for goals and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back at San Siro, the Poland international is wanted by Tottenham, reports The Guardian and Calciomercato. Spurs want to boost their attacking options following Harry Kane's injury. Aston Villa have also tabled a bid for Piatek, but Calciomercato claims he is holding out for a bigger club.

- While Piatek could prove a difficult signing, Villa are closing in on Milan goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Calciomercato, Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb say former Liverpool keeper Reina has agreed a contract with the Premier League side until the end of the season.

- The Mirror reports United are in the market to sign a defender on loan after Harry Maguire's injury. Maguire – the world's most expensive defender – is facing a spell on the sidelines due to a muscle tear.

United are also weighing up a move for Ajax and Netherlands star Donny van de Beek, reports The Telegraph. With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, the Red Devils are in need of midfield reinforcements. Van de Beek has previously been linked to Real Madrid.

- AS claims Atletico Madrid are looking at Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik as an alternative to Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani. Out of contract at season's end, Cavani is reportedly poised to make the move to Atletico, however, United and Arsenal are also interested.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter winger Matteo Politano has agreed to join city rivals Milan. Struggling for game time with the Nerazzurri, Politano's agent met with Milan's management on Wednesday as a shock switch nears.

Chelsea are preparing a £40million bid for West Ham defender Issa Diop, according to the Express. London rivals Tottenham are also reportedly interested.

Inter are seemingly nearing an agreement with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, reports say.

The Denmark international is out of contract at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move away from Spurs in January.

Inter are among the clubs reportedly interested in Eriksen and it seems the Serie A high-flyers are close to a deal.

 

TOP STORY – INTER IN ADVANCED TALKS WITH ERIKSEN

Inter are in advanced talks with Eriksen for a move ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

However, he reports Spurs are looking to sell Eriksen in January for at least €20million (£17m).

Amid uncertainty over his future, Eriksen has made just nine Premier League starts for Tottenham this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at San Siro, multiple reports suggest Inter are eyeing Manchester United veteran Ashley Young. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Inter and United are in advanced talks regarding the 34-year-old.

- Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with a surprise move from Liverpool, with his contract expiring in 2021. However, Sky Sports reports the Netherlands international is happy at the European champions and wants to stay as long as possible.

- Arsenal are looking to strengthen in January, but the Premier League club are considering loan deals. Goal reports Arsenal are unlikely to make any permanent signings this month, unless an opportunity is too good to turn down.

- In a Premier League relegation battle and with injuries mounting, Aston Villa have held talks with Milan over possible deals for forward Krzysztof Piatek and goalkeeper Pepe Reina, according to the Daily Mail. Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton for the rest of the season to begin the year.

- Wilfried Zaha still looks set to leave Crystal Palace. The star's agent is said to have held preliminary talks with Bayern Munich, although a move to the Bundesliga giants is unlikely, according to Sky Sports. The Mirror reports Zaha's new agent, Pini Zahavi, is also trying to get the attacker to Tottenham.

- There continues to be talk about a possible move to Tottenham for Thomas Lemar. The Independent reports Spurs are considering making a loan approach for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, with a £51million (€60m) option to buy.

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."

Stefano Pioli acknowledged Milan's main focus has to be improving their proficiency in the final third after they were held to a goalless draw by Sassuolo.

Milan remain rooted in mid-table in Serie A following a wasteful display at San Siro on Sunday.

Theo Hernandez was unfortunate to have a first-half goal disallowed by the VAR, while substitute Rafael Leao hit the woodwork twice in quick succession late on.

Veteran Sassuolo goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo also made a string of impressive saves, but Pioli says his team must take responsibility for the missed opportunities.

"We could have had more pace and movement in the first half, but in the second, we had about nine or 10 shots on goal," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "We tried everything, and it just wasn't going to happen.

"Sassuolo are a good team - we knew they would cause us problems. Rafael Leao did well off the bench, everyone played with effort, but with a little bit of sharpness and precision, we could have brought home the points.

"We made some technical errors today that can prove very costly indeed at this level. We can do better. I think we lacked determination and the ability to finish our chances.

"Our players worked hard today - the fact we had 10 clear scoring opportunities means we put in a good performance 0 but our biggest limitation right now is that we have to create so many chances in order to get a goal. We need to score earlier."

Krzysztof Piatek scored in the 3-2 win over Bologna last time out but failed to have an impact on Sunday, and the striker was taken off late on having cut a frustrated figure throughout.

But Pioli believes the 24-year-old - who has four league goals this season - has not been helped by media pressure.

"Last week, the media said Piatek was our saviour; now, people are going to criticise again," Pioli said.

"They need to be more balanced overall in their evaluation. It’s not just him - everyone needs to do better."

 

 

Out-of-sorts striker Krzysztof Piatek is not the root of Milan's problems, according to head coach Stefano Pioli.

Piatek joined Milan 11 months ago from Genoa and made an instant impression, scoring seven times in his first six games.

The Polish star finished the 2018-19 campaign with 22 Serie A goals, but he has struggled to hit those heights this season, finding the net just three times and failing to score in six successive matches.

Milan, down in 11th in the table, have struggled as a result, but Pioli feels their issues are collective, rather than individual.

"There is no Piatek problem," he said at a news conference to preview Sunday's game against Bologna.

"There is a Milan that is playing well, that is working hard to climb out of this slump, a team that knows we need to do more."

Pioli feels he has no like-for-like replacements for Piatek in his squad as he considers talented 20-year-old Rafael Leao a different type of forward.

"If Piatek plays tomorrow that is because I've decided he is important for our team," Pioli added.

"If he plays like he did against Parma [in last week's 1-0 away win], it means he will have had a good game, like the rest of the team.

"Each player brings their own characteristics; Piatek is a striker, a poacher, Leao is a movement striker. There are many ways to play but the important thing is the characteristics on the field match up.

"The individual isn't important; we don't have anyone like [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo - that means we have to work as a team."

With Piatek unable to replicate last season's form, Milan have been linked with a reunion with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is available on a free as he leaves MLS side LA Galaxy.

Asked if he wanted Ibrahimovic to sign as an early Christmas present, Pioli replied: "Christmas comes on December 25 but you've been talking about these things from November.

"If I was to think about a present for now, I'd want the three points for tomorrow."

Christian Eriksen is back on Manchester United's transfer radar.

The Red Devils are said to be preparing a January bid for the Tottenham midfielder, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

Eriksen reportedly turned down a move to Old Trafford earlier this year.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED REIGNITE ERIKSEN INTEREST

Could Jose Mourinho unintentionally do his old employers another favour?

Tottenham lost to United in midweek and are now about to receive an offer for playmaker Eriksen from their Premier League rivals, reports The Mirror.

The Denmark international has not featured in the starting XI since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino and, though he prefers a move abroad, might have a decision to make when the transfer window reopens.

Seemingly not convinced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side a few months ago, Eriksen can sign a pre-contract agreement with clubs overseas from January.

ROUND-UP

- Leicester City are set to hand in-demand manager Brendan Rodgers a bumper new deal in a bid to end interest from Arsenal, according to The Telegraph.

- David Moyes wants a long-term commitment from Everton before agreeing to a second stint in charge at Goodison Park, says The Sun.

- Contrary to recent reports, ESPN suggests Patrick Vieira is not at the top of Arsenal's shortlist of potential managers.

- Error-riddled Roberto's ill-fated period as a Premier League goalkeeper could soon be over. The Guardian reports West Ham will look to sell or loan the Spaniard in January, with Turkey a likely destination, as they pursue stronger competition for the injured Lukasz Fabianski.

- Serie A side  Milan have offered Zlatan Ibrahimovic a contract that could run for 18 months and will demand an answer from his agent Mino Raiola next week, claims CalcioMercato.

- Diego Simeone wants Atletico Madrid to prioritise signing a striker over Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to AS. The Spanish newspaper links Krzysztof Piatek, Andrea Belotti of Torino, Chelsea centre-forward Olivier Giroud and Valencia's Rodrigo with moves to the Wanda Metropolitano.

- Staying with Atletico and the Rojiblancos have entered the race for rumoured Juventus, Inter and Borussia Dortmund target Sandro Tonali, says CalcioMercato. Tonali, 19, is in his third season in Brescia's first-team squad.

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