The Jadon Sancho transfer saga continues to ramble on.

Borussia Dortmund insist Sancho will not leave following Monday's apparent deadline, while Manchester United are still eyeing the English sensation.

Will Sancho be gracing Old Trafford in 2020-21?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED STILL TARGETING SANCHO

Manchester United are not giving up on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to reports in the UK.

United were dealt a blow on Monday when Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said Sancho will remain with the Bundesliga club in 2020-21.

Despite United's frustration over negotiations, the Independent and Goal claim the Red Devils are still pursuing the England international.

 

ROUND-UP

Kai Havertz is closing in on a move to Chelsea, reports the Evening Standard. The Bayer Leverkusen star is "desperate" to join Chelsea following the German club's Europa League exit on Monday.

Andrea Pirlo's Juventus overhaul is underway. Calciomercato and Tuttomercatoweb say Blaise Matuidi is set to move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS. Aaron Ramsey, Gonzalo Higuain, Sami Khedira, Daniele Rugani, Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa are also on the chopping block following Maurizio Sarri's exit. United have been linked with a move for Costa.

- Sky Sport reports Chelsea and Barcelona are battling to sign Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico. Atletico Madrid are also reportedly interested.

Milan are looking to re-sign star midfielder Franck Kessie, according to Calciomercato. Kessie is wanted by city rivals Inter.

- L'Equipe says Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes is set to decide his future. Gabriel will choose between United, Arsenal, Everton and Napoli. RMC and L'Equipe, meanwhile, report Gent star Jonathan David will undergo a medical at Lille on Tuesday ahead of his €32million transfer.

Stefano Pioli "cannot imagine" Milan without Gianluigi Donnarumma and says the club are convinced veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic should stay for another season.

Milan director Ricky Massara revealed last week that discussions are ongoing over new deals for both players.

Donnarumma made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2015-16 and is contracted to the Rossoneri until 2021, while the short-team deal signed by Ibrahimovic in January has expired.

And head coach Pioli, who signed a two-year extension of his own last month, is eager for both players to pen fresh terms.

"I cannot imagine a Milan without Donnarumma," he told La Repubblica. "He is 21 years old, he already has experience and has even been captain. 

"He is already among the top three or four goalkeepers in the world and will become the best."

Pioli added: "Ibrahimovic makes everything easy. It is wrong to refer to age with him. He is 100 per cent a professional and makes every training session competitive.

"Paolo [Maldini], [Ivan] Gazidis, Massara and myself are all convinced he should continue with us.

"From the economic perspective, it is right that I stay out of things, but we are all aware of what he has given us."

Milan ended the 2019-20 campaign strongly by going 13 games without defeat in all competitions upon their return to action in June.

Pioli was rewarded with a new deal and insists he paid little notice to speculation that Ralf Rangnick had been lined up to replace him during the close-season.

"Gazidis and the Elliott fund kept their word," he said. "They told me I would be judged at the end of the season.

"It didn't make sense to waste energy on things I was unable to control. I've not seen how Rangnick's teams play. I only concentrated on my own work with my players and staff."

Chelsea have reportedly joined two Premier League rivals in a tug-of-war for sought-after centre-back Ben White.

The talented Brighton and Hove Albion defender is wanted back at Elland Road, where he spent last season on loan, but Leeds United have long been tipped to face competition from Liverpool.

Now, an unexpected new contender for his signature has emerged.

 

TOP STORY – BLUES WANT WHITE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have identified the highly rated White as a solution to their issues at the back, reports the Daily Star.

The Blues are said to be keen on the 22-year-old and will jettison Antonio Rudiger if their plan succeeds.

Rudiger struggled during the recent FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal and was overlooked for Saturday's 4-1 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, which confirmed a heavy 7-1 aggregate hiding.

Sky Sports claims Brighton have already rejected two Leeds offers for White, who has been linked to Liverpool for several months.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Star also has an update on Alexandre Lacazette, who could join Atletico Madrid in a €31.1million (£30m) move once Arsenal tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract.

- Manchester United are looking to sell Phil Jones after deciding against sending the defender for knee surgery, reports the Mirror.

- Ligue 1's Monaco are in talks to sign Weston McKennie from Bundesliga club Schalke, according to L'Equipe, although the United States international is also attracting Premier League interest.

- Niko Kovac's men are not the only French outfit weighing up a midfield addition. Paris Saint-Germain have been linked to Ismael Bennacer and Le 10 Sport suggests Serie A side Milan could be tempted by a big-money offer.

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Milan have completed the signing of French defender Pierre Kalulu on a five-year deal. 

The 20-year-old was a free agent after letting his contract run down at Lyon, where he did not feature for the first team. 

Kalulu reportedly recently underwent his medical with the Rossoneri, who confirmed the right-back's arrival via a short statement on Wednesday. 

"AC Milan announces the signing of Pierre Kalulu, on a permanent transfer," it read. 

"The contract of the French player expires on June 30, 2025." 

The France Under-20 international featured 16 times for Lyon in the UEFA Youth League over the past two seasons.

Giacomo Bonaventura has said goodbye to Milan after spending six seasons with the Rossoneri.

The 30-year-old midfielder is leaving the club after seeing his contract expire at the end of the 2019-20 Serie A season.

Bonaventura had been a regular at San Siro after joining from Atalanta for a reported €6million fee, but he only started 21 league games over the past two seasons.

"I've lived a dream. The years spent at Milan have been an unforgettable experience," he wrote on Instagram.

"I want to thank all the people with whom I shared this fantastic adventure: presidents, managers, coaches, team-mates, doctors and physiotherapists.

"Thank you to all those who work 'behind the scenes' at Milanello, they are the real engine of Milan, thanks to them every day we feel at home, in a family.

"Thank you to the Milan fans, who have always supported us, in the best and toughest moments: the roar of San Siro is something special, which I will never forget.

"You will always be in my heart!"

Bonaventura won the 2016-17 Supercoppa Italiana, a rare triumph during a largely barren decade for Milan.

Stefano Pioli's side finished sixth in the table in 2019-20 after going unbeaten in their 12 league games following the season's restart in June.

Will Manchester United sign Jadon Sancho or not?

That is the question dominating headlines as United reportedly negotiate with Borussia Dortmund.

This transfer saga is one to watch.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO END SANCHO PURSUIT

Manchester United are threatening to walk away from a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to reports in England.

Sancho has been tipped to swap Dortmund for United, with Bild claiming a lucrative five-year contract has been agreed as the Bundesliga outfit insist on a €120million (£108m) fee.

But Goal, Sky Sports and The Mirror say United are ready to pursue alternatives of Dortmund do not lower their demands.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports Leicester City are trying to sign Francisco Trincao from Barcelona. Leicester have proposed a two-season loan deal with an obligation to buy for £45m (€50m). Trincao is preparing to link up with Barca after the LaLiga giants signed the 20-year-old from Braga in January.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are eyeing a move for Norwich City left-back  Jamal Lewis, says The Mirror. Lewis impressed in 2019-20 as Norwich were relegated and Liverpool are looking to wrap up a £10m deal.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier is open to joining Serie A side Milan.

- According to Tuttomercatoweb, Juventus are lining up possible replacements for under-fire head coach Maurizio Sarri. Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini and Luciano Spalletti have all been linked.

-  Aston Villa are aiming to keep star captain and rumoured United target Jack Grealish by offering a new contract, reports The Sun.

- Linked with United , Everton and Napoli, France Bleu Nord claims Arsenal are leading the race for Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.

- Is Federico Chiesa set for Old Trafford? La Nazione reports United have made a €55m (£49m) offer for the Fiorentina forward, who has also been linked to Inter, Juve and Chelsea .

- Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake is poised to complete his move to Manchester City. Fabrizio Romano reports there is a total agreement and a medical will take place in the next couple of days.

Memphis Depay has links to Manchester United and he might be able to help out his former club.

Depay spent two years at United but struggled before leaving for Ligue 1 outfit Lyon in 2017.

The Netherlands international has since flourished in France, and he could now play a role in United bringing Jadon Sancho to Manchester.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WANT DEPAY AS SANCHO REPLACEMENT

Manchester United's bid to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho could hinge on Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to The Sun.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Bundesliga side Dortmund for Premier League giants United in a blockbuster transfer this off-season.

Former United forward Depay has emerged as a possible replacement for Sancho at Dortmund and is reportedly the key to the Red Devils prising the England international to Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Antonio Conte leave Inter after just one season? The Inter head coach took aim at the club after their final game of the Serie A season – a 2-0 win over Atalanta on Saturday to secure second spot behind Juventus. Conte claimed neither he nor his players were protected by the club amid criticism. Now, Sky Sport Italia, SportMediaset, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport claim the damage is irreparable. With Conte facing an uncertain future, former Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino have emerged as possible replacements.

- Le10Sport reports Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wants Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele to join the Gunners. Dembele has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants, who are reportedly trying to raise transfer funds through sales. Aubameyang himself has been linked to Barca, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and United previously.

Milan are ready to sell Lucas Paqueta, claims Calciomercato. Linked to PSG previously, Serie A rivals Fiorentina are interested in the Brazilian attacker and an exchange involving Viola star defender Nikola Milenkovic could take place.

- According to the Telegraph, Sevilla defender Diego Carlos is at the top of Arsenal's transfer wish list. Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool have also been credited with interest.

- AS Diario says Real Madrid have a clear plan of when they want to pursue their transfer targets amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reluctant to spend after winning LaLiga and in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Madrid are focusing on 2021 – PSG's Kylian Mbappe at the top of the list. Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is also wanted next year, while Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is a 2022 target.

Could Kasper Schmeichel follow in his father's footsteps?

Peter Schmeichel earned legendary status at Manchester United after winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League during his time at the club.

Now, Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper is being linked with a sensational move to the Theatre of Dreams.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED CONSIDER SCHMEICHEL MOVE

Manchester United are lining up a transfer swoop for Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to replace David de Gea, according to The Sun.

De Gea's position at United has come under threat following a slump in form for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, despite being contracted until 2023.

There have been calls for Dean Henderson, who has spent time on loan at Sheffield United, to return Old Trafford, however, Kasper – the son of Red Devils legend Peter – is reportedly seen as the perfect ready-made option.

 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain are preparing a bid for Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara, says Le10Sport. Thiago has been tipped to join Premier League champions Liverpool, however, Ligue 1 holders PSG are believed to be in the mix for his signature.

- TF1 reports United have made contact with Monaco about a potential move for 19-year-old centre-back Benoit Badiashile, who has also been linked to Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen.

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have ruled out a swap deal that would see Ivan Rakitic move to Juventus in exchange for Rodrigo Bentancur.

Milan have opened talks with Tottenham over the signing of right-back Serge Aurier, reports Sky Sport journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Juve are willing to offer Federico Bernardeschi and Cristian Romero to Serie A rivals Roma as part of a deal to sign Italian star Nicolo Zaniolo, claims SportMediaset. Zaniolo has also been linked to Madrid, Tottenham and former club Inter.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is willing to wait for a Madrid move until 2021-22, Marca claims. The 17-year-old has been heavily linked to the LaLiga champions as well as PSG.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli lauded "champion" Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the Rossoneri star made more Serie A history in the 3-0 win over Cagliari.

Ibrahimovic – aged 38 years and 302 days – became the oldest player to score 10-plus goals in a Serie A season with his strike against Cagliari in Saturday's 2019-20 finale at San Siro.

After having a penalty saved, Ibrahimovic netted in the 55th minute to take his tally to 10 goals in just 18 top-flight appearances since re-joining Milan from MLS outfit LA Galaxy in January.

Pioli heaped praise on the evergreen veteran striker, telling MilanTV: "Don't tell him he's the oldest to have scored 10 goals in Serie A.

"He is a champion in everything he does, he has made a very important contribution. Our improvements have gone hand in hand, individually and collectively.

"The boys will have a well-deserved rest but soon they will have to resume training at home as during the lockdown."

Milan are in negotiations with Ibrahimovic over a new contract, with the former Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona star's deal set to expire.

"We have built something this season and it should be given consistency. So next season will be trying to build on what we've already done," Milan director Paolo Maldini told Sky Sport Italia pre-game.

"In all honesty, Zlatan is part of this project. It won't be an easy negotiation, but we fully intend to keep him with us. We have many young players who can grow exponentially with Ibra by their side.

"We might have different ways of achieving our objectives, but we need the same general vision of where we want to end up, otherwise I wouldn't be here."

Milan – inspired by Ibrahimovic – have been rejuvenated since the restart, with Ragnar Klavan's own goal and Samu Castillejo's effort capping a sixth-placed finish for Pioli's side.

In-form Milan (35) have scored the most goals in Europe's top-five league since Serie A resumed in June following the coronavirus-enforced break, while only Real Madrid (31) have gained more points than the Italian powerhouse (30) in those top-five leagues over the same period – a run that led to being retained as coach.

Pioli, whose team ended the campaign in the midst of a 12-game unbeaten run in the league, added: "The boys were exceptional, a fantastic return with excellent performances. Beyond the positive results, it was important to create a mentality, it must be a basis on which to build an even more satisfying future.

"We have confidence and conviction, we also need quality. It means that we have these values. We close the season with satisfaction. We hoped we would not have to do the playoffs but we will face them with conviction. We need to close the gap with the top teams."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the oldest player to reach double figures for goals in a Serie A season with his strike against Cagliari on Saturday.

The Milan striker, who the club are negotiating with in order to extend his stay at San Siro, netted in the 55th minute of his side's 3-0 win after earlier having a penalty saved.

Ibrahimovic, aged 38 years and 302 days, bounced back to send a fine strike into the top corner having been found by Samu Castillejo.

It meant he reached 10 goals in just 18 top-flight appearances, having only re-joined the club in January.

In-form Milan have scored the most goals in Europe's top-five leagues since the lockdown, with 35 to their name partly due to Ibrahimovic's impressive impact.

Only Real Madrid (31) have gained more points than Milan (30) in those top-five leagues over the same period, a run that led to Stefano Pioli being retained as head coach.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic bounced back from missing a penalty by scoring to help Milan round off their fine finish to the Serie A season with a comprehensive 3-0 home victory over Cagliari.

A supreme run of form that has secured Stefano Pioli's future as head coach continued as Milan, who were sure of finishing sixth regardless of Saturday's outcome, moved to 13 games unbeaten since the restart.

Ragnar Klavan scored an own goal after 10 minutes of a first half that also saw Ibrahimovic's spot-kick saved by Alessio Cragno.

Pioli said ahead of the game he was hopeful it would not prove to be Ibrahimovic's last for the club as negotiations over a new contract continue.

And the former Sweden international showed what the fuss was about with a fine strike after 55 minutes, which was swiftly followed up by a goal from Samu Castillejo.

Milan impressed again despite missing the suspended Ante Rebic, with Cagliari, who did not manage a shot on target until stoppage time, unable to follow up their win over Juventus last time out with another signature result.

Klavan lost possession before he was helpless as a shot from Rafael Leao, who had been fed by Hakan Calhanoglu, hit the post and deflected off him into the net from close range.

Cagliari goalkeeper Cragno denied Ibrahimovic before Davide Calabria's right-wing cross found Leao, who sent spectacular acrobatic effort against the crossbar.

An injured Leao was replaced by Giacomo Bonaventura and Ibrahimovic, who helped earn the penalty when his aerial effort was handled by Sebastian Walukiewicz, was denied from the spot a minute before the break when Cragno dived to his right.

Ibrahimovic laid a chance on a plate for Calhanoglu, who somehow bounced his effort over from six yards, but the veteran scored himself in Milan's next attack, taking a touch and firing into the top corner after being found by Castillejo's first-time pass.

Castillejo scored himself two minutes later, sending in a cool close-range finish after a slick one-two with Bonevantura.

Having had little to do, Milan captain Gianluigi Donnarumma impressively saved Paolo Farago's header in the final moments to preserve his clean sheet.

Stefano Pioli hopes Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be playing his last game for Milan on Saturday and stated the Rossoneri must have loftier ambitions than sixth place next term.

Veteran striker Ibrahimovic signed a short-term contract to return to Milan in January and has scored nine goals in 17 Serie A appearances.

Ibrahimovic's future beyond their season finale against Cagliari remains unclear, though Milan director Ricky Massara said this week talks are ongoing to extend the 38-year-old's stay.

Head coach Pioli has made no secret of his desire to keep Ibrahimovic beyond this season.

When asked about the Sweden great at a news conference, he merely replied: "I hope that tomorrow will not be Ibrahimovic's last game for Milan."

Pioli, who confirmed Rafael Leao will start with Ante Rebic unavailable through suspension, has overseen a 12-match unbeaten run since Italian football restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With 11 of those results coming in Serie A, Milan have secured sixth place in the table, but the head coach says the task is now on ensuring the Rossoneri are challenging for elite positions in the top flight.

"We'll only have a very short break given that we'll be playing in the preliminary stages of the Europa League on 17 September," he added.

"We've worked really hard to find consistency and establish a playing philosophy. Now, we're consolidating what we'll need next season. 

"I think that creating a mentality is the most important, complicated and long-lasting aspect. This must provide a foundation from which to work and grow.

"Many have improved, I knew that I had a quality squad available to me from the beginning. The game played by the team has allowed individuals to develop, while, at the same time, the growth of individuals has allowed the team to play in a certain way.

"We've been excellent in 2020 and now we need to finish well. I know that I'm asking a lot of the players and we're slightly fatigued mentally and physically.

"Sixth place won't be our objective next year, we'll be aiming higher."

It was also confirmed by Milan on Friday that full-back Andrea Conti has undergone keyhole surgery due to a persistent meniscus problem in his left knee.

Milan did not put a timeframe on his recovery.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a perfectionist who "will kill" his team-mates if they do not give 100 per cent, according to Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer.

The 38-year-old foward, who rejoined Milan in January, showed once again what he is capable of on Wednesday with two goals and an assist in the 4-1 win over Sampdoria.

That took Ibrahimovic's tally to nine goals in 17 Serie A appearances, helping to propel Milan up to sixth place.

Milan director Ricky Massara has confirmed the club are in talks with Ibrahimovic over extending his stay at San Siro beyond this season and Bennacer has hailed the Swedish striker's dressing room influence.

"It's nice to play with him, of course," he told Sky Sport Italia. "It helps you to do more – you never want to lose a ball and you give your best, because he seeks perfection. 

"If he doesn't find it he will kill you, it's like that. But for me he is right – it's better to scream when you do something wrong so you learn and become a high-level player."

Bennacer has been a consistent performer for a Milan side which are unbeaten in 12 games since returning to action last month.

The Algeria international has played in 11 of those matches and is hopeful Milan can push on next season and break into the top four.

"We are in a European place and it is nice," he said. "We will try to go to the Champions League next year and to get higher in the standings. 

"This year I had a lot of fun with this team. We have got much better and it has been the best year for me. I have grown up a lot."

Stefano Pioli recognises Zlatan Ibrahimovic's importance to Milan but insists his team's improvement since January is not solely down to his signing.

Ibrahimovic returned to former club Milan in January after leaving LA Galaxy at the end of his contract in MLS.

The 38-year-old has again been an instant success, taking his 2020 tally to 10 goals with a brace in a 4-1 win at Sampdoria, where he also provided an assist.

The result means the Rossoneri are unbeaten in 12 in all competitions, last losing in their final match before the season was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic in March.

But Pioli believes Milan's performances even before the stoppage had signalled a change.

"I want to emphasise that it is not only after the interruption of the season that this team is proving to have good qualities," he told a news conference.

"We have been at an excellent level since January and have been second or third place in the form table during that period."

That upturn would appear to coincide with Ibrahimovic's arrival, but Pioli says there is more to it.

"It is evident that Ibra has been very important for our growth," he said. "But it wasn't just the arrival of Ibra. It was a job done over the past months, too.

"Simon Kjaer has arrived, the formation has changed and a number of things have changed that have allowed us to field excellent performances with the right continuity."

Ibrahimovic is set to leave Milan at the end of the season, yet Pioli is not allowing himself to worry about that possibility with one game still remaining.

"It is wrong at this moment for me to put the cart before the horse," he said.

"We still have to play one game, we know what we have done and what we want to do. And then it will be for those who have to decide."

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