Marco Giampaolo needed more time to have a genuine chance of implementing his plans for AC Milan, according to assistant coach Daniele Bonera.

Milan sacked Giampaolo following a 2-1 win over Genoa in October, his seventh match in charge.

The former Sampdoria boss presided over three victories and four defeats before the Rossoneri rushed to appoint Stefano Pioli – a move that, so far, has failed to lead to an upturn in the team's fortunes.

Pioli has led the team to four points from five games since his arrival, with their solitary triumph coming at home to lowly SPAL.

"In a few months, two coaches arrived with different working methods, two ways of thinking on a defensive level," Bonera, an assistant under both coaches, told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"With Giampaolo, we thought more about the ball. With Pioli, we are more practical and we work on the positioning of players.

"Giampaolo did not have the time he needed, but at a club like Milan there is never much time."

Asked about the players, Bonera said: "I see guys who are very committed. Many are really young, in their twenties. It takes time.

"We need patience, which is a rare commodity in football. We are trying to do better every day. I've never seen any of the players holding back because of fatigue."

Milan's problems could grow further if Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain launch a January bid to sign goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, as has been rumoured in recent days.

Bonera, who made over 150 Serie A appearances for Milan during his nine-year spell with the club as a player, recommends the 20-year-old Donnarumma remains with his boyhood club.

"As a fan and someone in love with Milan, I would recommend he stay with us," Bonera said.

"But he has staff and family who advise him."

Barcelona academy product Dani Olmo did not rule out a return to Camp Nou after his impressive form for Dinamo Zagreb led to speculation that the Spanish champions could seek to re-sign him.

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder has scored two goals in six league appearances for Dinamo this season, but it was his performances in Spain's European Under-21 Championship triumph that helped propel him into contention for a transfer to LaLiga.

Olmo netted three times to help Spain's young players to glory and his form in big games has continue in the Champions League, with four goals in nine appearances for a Dinamo side still in contention to reach the knockout stages.

Asked whether his displays might carry him back to Spain, Olmo told Sport: "I hope I can come back, but we've just started the season really well.

"We're doing well in the Champions League. There are two games left and we depend on ourselves to get through. There's a lot of work to be done. 

"The Champions League is a shop window for all young players, especially if you're in a smaller league like Croatia."

Olmo did not make a senior appearance for Barcelona before joining Dinamo as a 17-year-old, but he paid tribute to the training academy at La Masia for giving him strong foundations.

On the speculation over a possible transfer back to Catalonia, Olmo said: "We will see what happens.

"I don't close the door on any club, but I'm a Dinamo player, what happens with Dinamo, we will see.

"Barcelona's style: touch, movement - that's added to what I have learned in Croatia.

"They've made me the player I am now."

Barcelona will always be interested in Neymar but it is financially difficult to re-sign him, the club's sporting director Eric Abidal has admitted.

Neymar attempted to secure a move back to Camp Nou in the close season, two years after leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in a deal that made him the most expensive player in history.

LaLiga champions Barca held talks with PSG but were unable to meet the Ligue 1 side's demands.

Lionel Messi suggested some at the Catalan club did not want Neymar to return, though it appears he will remain a target.

"A top player, who has a Barca philosophy and who is performing at a high level, will always be an option," Abidal told Mundo Deportivo.

"We can make decisions on the sporting level but the whole financial issue, there are things that you can do and others you cannot. The future will tell us.

"I will not say it would be option number one, because the season is very long, but clearly it can be an option."

Barca reignited their interest in Neymar amid a desire to find a long-term successor to ageing striker Luis Suarez.

The search is said to have led them to highly rated Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Asked about the 22-year-old, Abidal said: "He is a complete player. I think he is performing at a great level. He is a player we know.

"There are other players who also have a lot of quality... but I don't pay much attention to the player who plays every weekend, I look at others."

Barca did boost their attacking options with the addition of Antoine Griezmann in July and Abidal said Suarez had been briefed on the club's intentions to pursue another competitor for his starting spot.

"I am transparent with the players," the Frenchman said. "Luis can tell you, because last year I already told him that it was going to be like that, that we were going to look for an offensive player.

"He accepted it because he wants the best for the team. Today, I can tell you that there is no priority. The planning will always be done, no matter the position on the field, the only change will be the decision."

Could Jose Mourinho find a new home at a third Premier League club?

According to one report, the ex-Chelsea and Manchester United manager is keeping a close eye on Tottenham and the uncertainty that lingers over Mauricio Pochettino's future.

The potential of a job opening in north London might even lead to him turning down a big-name former employer.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO SETS SIGHTS ON SPURS

Jose Mourinho has told friends he is "confident" of being offered a return to Real Madrid but may hold out for the Tottenham job, according to The Sun.

Zinedine Zidane is in his second stint in charge of Madrid, while Mauricio Pochettino has spent more than five years at the Spurs helm.

The report suggests it is the latter position that Mourinho covets more, meaning he "would not necessarily accept" another spell in the Spanish capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could launch a January move for Gareth Bale, reports The Sun. According to the newspaper, Real Madrid know of United's interest in Wales winger Bale and would be happy to let him leave the Santiago Bernabeu, providing they can do a deal that involves Paul Pogba moving in the other direction.

- Spanish outlet ElDesmarque reports news that could complicate any Bale-Pogba exchange, stating that although Madrid are indeed keen on France playmaker Pogba, so too are the player's former club Juventus, with Cristiano Ronaldo said to be supportive.

Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be United's strongest rivals for Jadon Sancho and the Ligue 1 side could make a surprise play for another England international. The Mirror claims PSG are interested in poaching Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana on a free transfer. His contract is due to expire in 2020.

- Premier League champions Manchester City will look to sign Kingsley Coman from Bayern Munich if Leroy Sane agrees on a move to the Bundesliga giants, according to Sky Sports. Coman, 23, joined Bayern from Juve in 2015, initially on loan.

- Mainz are seeking a new head coach and the Bundesliga club are reported to be targeting former Cologne boss Achim Beierlorzer. Kicker reports Mainz want a new face in charge by early next week, and Beierlorzer is said to be in the frame. The club sit in the relegation zone after eight defeats in 11 games this term. Beierlorzer would be making a rapid return to bench duty if he lands the job, having left Cologne on November 9.

Kalidou Koulibaly reaffirmed his affection for Napoli amid ongoing links to Premier League giants Manchester United.

United continue to be linked with a move for highly rated Napoli defender Koulibaly, despite the world-record signing of Harry Maguire at the start of the season.

The Red Devils are reportedly keen to bolster their backline, which has been problematic in recent seasons, even after the arrivals of Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.

However, star centre-back and Senegal international Koulibaly said he is happy in Naples.

"This is where my children were born," Koulibaly wrote via Twitter. "This is where I grew up as a man and a player.

"This is where my family and I feel at home #Napoli."

Koulibaly has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since swapping Genk for Napoli in 2014.

The 28-year-old has made 10 Serie A appearances this season and 14 across all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli.

Lionel Messi is in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the Spanish club's sporting director Eric Abidal has confirmed.

The Argentina international has spent 18 years with Barca but his future has been called into question after it emerged earlier this year he can leave Camp Nou for free at the end of any season.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is officially contracted to the LaLiga champions until 2021, but Abidal is hopeful fresh terms can soon be agreed.

"They are already talking," he told Mundo Deportivo. "I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible."

Asked when he expects an agreement to be announced, Abidal said: "It will be known when it is known, but I am positive."

Abidal also confirmed academy product Ansu Fati is in line for a contract extension, having impressed in his breakthrough campaign.

"We are also talking to him," Abidal said. "He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has informed Bologna of his willingness to consider joining them in January, according to the Serie A side's sporting director Riccardo Bigon.

Ibrahimovic this week confirmed his departure from LA Galaxy after two seasons in MLS.

The 38-year-old intends to see out his career in Italy, Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto claimed, and will not be short on options given his free agent status.

AC Milan, Fiorentina and Napoli are among those to have been linked but Bologna could have the inside running thanks to Ibrahimovic's rapport with Rossoblu boss Sinisa Mihajlovic, who crossed paths with the Swede at Inter.

"There is a month and a half to go until to the transfer window opens," Bigon told Sky Sport Italia.

"As has been said, Ibrahimovic and the coach have a strong personal relationship.

"He expressed an openness to the idea of ​​coming to Bologna but now he will take time, after announcing the farewell to MLS, to evaluate all the possibilities for his future.

"We are very fascinated by this situation but it is clear that we do not control it 100 per cent.

"The choice is exclusively down to the player. We will wait in case [Ibrahimovic confirms his interest], then we will be ready and more than positive."

Manchester United have hatched a plan that could help bring Erling Haaland to Old Trafford.

The Premier League side are reportedly contemplating a compromise that will curry favour with Salzburg, the young star's present employers.

Considered the favourites in that chase, United also appear set to jump the queue for another of Europe's most admired teenage talents.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WILLING TO WAIT FOR HAALAND

Manchester United are prepared to consider loaning Erling Haaland straight back to Salzburg if a deal can be struck in January, such is their determination to land the sought-after striker.

According to ESPN, United could allow Haaland to stay in Austria until the end of the season in an attempt to defuse a potential bidding war.

Spanish newspaper AS suggest the Red Devils are "pushing the hardest" for the 19-year-old, who has been valued at €100million – a figure that might price even Real Madrid out of the market.

 

ROUND-UP

United are unlikely to stop at Haaland when the transfer window reopens. The club are weighing up whether to bring forward a planned end-of-season approach for Jadon Sancho in order to capitalise on uncertainty over the winger's Borussia Dortmund future, reports The Guardian.

Juventus are becoming concerned about the increasing level of interest from Spain and England in highly rated Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. The Serie A champions could be forced to make a move sooner rather than later as his suitors gain in number and his price tag rises above €40m.

- That sum, Calciomercato claims, is the minimum Juve will demand for out-of-favour defenders Daniele Rugani and Merih Demiral. Both players have been linked to Arsenal.

Boca Juniors are eyeing another showpiece signing. Argentina-based football journalist Martin Castilla told CNN Deportes the South American giants are keen on luring Luis Suarez away from Barcelona. San Lorenzo vice-president Marcelo Tinelli expressed interest in the 32-year-old earlier in the week.

- Returning to Serie A and it looks like Wojciech Szczesny will be staying in Turin. Sky Sport Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio says the Polish goalkeeper has agreed a contract extension with Juve through to 2024.

Inter have a fight on their hands to retain the services of star forward Lautaro Martinez.

Martinez has been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona as they search for Luis Suarez's long-term replacement.

But Manchester City and United are both reportedly interested in the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – CITY & UNITED TARGET MARTINEZ

Manchester City and Premier League neighbours United want to sign Inter star Martinez, according to The Mirror.

Martinez – who is only in his second season in Milan after joining from Racing Club in 2018 – has flourished this term with eight goals across all competitions for Antonio Conte's Inter.

LaLiga champions Barcelona have been linked, while the two Manchester clubs are also reportedly targeting the 22-year-old forward.

 

ROUND-UP

- Unhappy at Barcelona, Ivan Rakitic could remain in LaLiga. The Croatia international has attracted interest from the likes of Inter, United and Paris Saint-Germain in his pursuit of more game time. However, Movistar+ claims Atletico Madrid are willing to meet Barca's €40million valuation of Rakitic. Marca adds that Atletico do not plan to replace Diego Costa due to salary constraints.

- The Mirror says Arsenal scouted Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu during Turkey's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on Thursday. Soyuncu moved to Leicester from Freiburg in 2018 and the 23-year-old has stepped up to fill the void left by Harry Maguire, who joined United in a world-record deal.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic out and Edinson Cavani in for LA Galaxy? According to Gianluca Di Marzio, MLS side the Galaxy are targeting Paris Saint-Germain's Cavani following Ibrahimovic's exit. The Uruguay forward is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked to David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise, who will open their inaugural season against the Galaxy next year.

Inter will need to fork out €30m if they want to sign Udinese's Rodrigo de Paul in January, reports Calciomercato. The Express also reports that Inter are ready to offer out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud an 18-month contract. Conte is determined to add depth up front, with Martinez and Romelu Lukaku leading the way in the absence of injured loanee Alexis Sanchez.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Roma have joined the chase for Everton forward Moise Kean. The 19-year-old has struggled since moving to the Premier League from Juventus, and the likes of Sampdoria and AC Milan are lining up to bring the teenager back to Serie A on loan.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to see out his career in Italy, according to LA Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

Ibrahimovic revealed on Wednesday that he will not be renewing his contract with MLS side the Galaxy, where the 38-year-old arrived from Manchester United in 2018.

The ex-Paris Saint-Germain striker has been strongly linked with a return to Europe, with MLS commissioner Don Garber last week suggesting former club AC Milan are the frontrunners to re-sign the soon-to-be free agent.

Napoli, Bologna and Roma have also been touted as possible options for the former Sweden international should he return to Serie A, while A-League team Perth Glory have confirmed their interest in bringing Ibrahimovic to Australia on a guest deal.

Asked about Ibrahimovic's future, Galaxy boss Schelotto told Radio Kiss Kiss: "He does not know what he will do now.

"He is a wonderful player, but I don't know what his next step will be - perhaps he'll finish his career in Naples or with Milan. 

"I don't know where he will go but he deserves and wants to finish his career in Italy."

Ibrahimovic spent two seasons with Milan – winning the Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana – before leaving in 2012 for French giants PSG, where he worked under current Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti.

"They know each other well," Schelotto said. "Zlatan evidently has the characteristics that Napoli needs."

Timo Werner acknowledges he has little hope of outscoring Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga this season, as the Bayern Munich forward's form can only be matched by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

RB Leipzig striker Werner has scored an impressive 11 league goals so far in 2019-20, yet he lags behind the remarkable Lewandowski.

The Bayern and Poland superstar has struck 16 times in the Bundesliga and leads the way among players in Europe's top leagues this season, with 23 goals in 18 games in all competitions – including in each top-flight and Champions League match.

Indeed, Werner believes only all-time greats Messi and Ronaldo can reach the extraordinary standards set by Lewandowski.

"It's hard [to be top-scorer]," Werner told a news conference on Thursday.

"When you score two goals against Hertha Berlin and then watch the game evening game, having scored four or three goals less than Robert Lewandowski this season, and he scores twice against Borussia Dortmund...

"Against whom is he not going to score? That's very hard.

"How he is playing at the moment, maybe only one or two players on the planet are on this level. That's the category of Messi and Ronaldo."

Werner was speaking alongside Germany team-mate Joshua Kimmich on international duty.

The duo each came through the Stuttgart academy before moving on to Leipzig, but Werner claimed he was not discussing a next move with Bayern's Kimmich, despite repeated talk of him switching to the Allianz Arena.

"We don't really talk about it at all," he said. "It was also a coincidence that I came to Leipzig when he was there. I don't imitate everything that Joshua Kimmich does.

"If he goes to Real Madrid, I'm not going to Real Madrid also. Leipzig was the perfect step for me as well as for him.

"He took the step to Bayern Munich relatively early, which was also a good step. Now I'm still a player at Leipzig. That was the right step for me.

"I don't know what the future will bring. But I won't imitate Joshua and go wherever he is."

Jadon Sancho could be about to spark a bidding war.

The England international is reportedly ready to leave Borussia Dortmund, a development that will have his numerous European suitors on red alert.

Manchester United have long been linked to Sancho, but could face stiff Premier League competition for his signature.


TOP STORY – SANCHO SEEKING DORTMUND DEPARTURE

Jadon Sancho has become unsettled at Borussia Dortmund and wants to leave, according to the Daily Mail.

The exciting teenage winger is said to have grown dissatisfied with life at Signal Iduna Park after being dropped for a Bundesliga fixture last month for disciplinary reasons.

Head coach Lucien Favre further tested their relationship when he withdrew the Manchester City product before half-time of the heavy Der Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich.

News of Sancho's decision to depart will be noted at Old Trafford, but the report claims Manchester United's bitter Premier League rivals Liverpool are also showing strong interest. 

LaLiga giants Real Madrid appear to be another potential destination for one of the continent's most coveted young stars.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sancho could be heading in the opposite direction to Leroy Sane. The Daily Mirror says Bayern Munich have reignited their interest in the Germany international, who has been sidelined since the start of the season due to a knee injury.

- Granit Xhaka is not the only Arsenal midfielder on AC Milan's radar. According to Calciomercato, the Rossoneri are even more eager to land Lucas Torreira, and will make a move in June after failing to prise him away from north London at the end of last season.

- Chelsea are set for another fight to keep in-form winger Willian as Juventus and Barcelona circle the 31-year-old, the Daily Mirror reports. Frank Lampard wants to keep the Brazilian at Stamford Bridge but Willian's contract is up at the end of the campaign.

- Manchester City captain David Silva could follow in the footsteps of Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres and David Villa by seeing out his career in Japan. Spanish television programme El Chiringuito says the 33-year-old is in talks to join Vissel Kobe following the completion of his 10-season spell at the Etihad Stadium.

- Leicester City and Aston Villa have been linked to Alfredo Morelos but Rangers are in no rush to sell. That is the assurance of the Scottish side's new sporting director Ross Wilson, who "categorically" stated that an annual loss of £11.3million would not impact the club's determination to keep their Colombian striker.

Luis Suarez welcomed Barcelona's search for a new striker despite the threat it could bring to his starting spot.

LaLiga leaders Barca have been linked to Lautaro Martinez, Erling Haaland and Carlos Vela as they seek to strengthen Ernesto Valverde's attacking options.

The club failed to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain during the close season, leaving the squad light on competition for natural centre-forward Suarez.

The 32-year-old has scored six goals in eight LaLiga starts this season but knows he will not always be able to perform at the highest level.

"There will come a time when my age will not allow me to live up to what Barcelona needs to compete," Suarez told Uruguayan publication Ovacion.

"But as long as I can, as long as I have the strength, giving me competition is much better.

"That they are looking for or want to bring another number nine is nothing strange, it is the reality of football.

"It will be better for me and better for the club, because it will feed competition, and it will be better for the future because the club can prepare a player with the help of all the great players at Barcelona."

Suarez joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014 and is now in his sixth season at Camp Nou.

The former Ajax forward plans to continue his career until at least the 2022 World Cup, which would be his fourth appearance at the tournament.

"I hope so," he said. "I am really convinced of that, yes."

Suarez is part of the Uruguay squad for the upcoming international friendlies against Hungary (November 15) and Argentina (November 18), his first involvement with the national team since the Copa America in June.

Sandro Tonali insisted he is "not scared" about his €300million valuation as Europe's elite eye the Brescia and Italy sensation.

Brescia owner and president Massimo Cellino said it would take an offer of €300m for the Serie A side to part with prized asset Tonali.

Tonali – who broke into Brescia's first team at the age of 17 – has been linked to Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Manchester United.

Asked about the price tag ahead of Italy's Euro 2020 qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina, the 19-year-old playmaker – who made his international debut last month – told Rai Sport: "I love President Cellino very much and he rates me highly.

"He's a great person and I hope to travel down a good road with him.

"After the match against Fiorentina, he said he wouldn't even sell me for €300m, but that doesn't scare me, even if it really is a lot of money.

"I'm confident about what we'll do this season. For now I'm not thinking about the market, I just want to help Brescia stay up."

Tonali came off the bench to make his Italy bow in the country's 5-0 rout of Liechtenstein in Euro 2020 qualifying on October 15.

The Brescia star has been compared to Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Daniele De Rossi – who now plays for Boca Juniors.

On those comparisons, Tonali added: "Being compared to Pirlo doesn't bother me, but I think we're very different because he had indescribable technique and quality.

"I consider myself to be like Gattuso but more technical. He's always been my role model."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy departure appears imminent after he made a typically grandiose statement on Wednesday, telling MLS fans they can 'go back to watching baseball' now that he will be leaving. 

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