Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ability only has a positive impact on team-mates, according to former Paris Saint-Germain attacker Jeremy Menez.

Ex-France international Menez spent three years at the Parc des Princes, two of those alongside Ibrahimovic, before joining Milan in 2014.

The 33-year-old built up a good connection with Ibrahimovic on the field in his early days at PSG but a change in system saw him lose his place in the side.

And Menez, now plying his trade in Serie B after joining Reggina last week, is grateful for the advice given to him by the striker during their time in the French capital

"I always got along well with him and his words motivate you to give your all, train at your best," he told Stats Perform News 

"I never had any problem with him. Such a player pushes you to improve all the time. He always wants to win. He goes out every day to train well and win it all. 

"I thank him because playing with players like him makes you grow as a professional and as a man."

Ibrahimovic scored 156 goals in 180 appearances for PSG and referred to himself as "God" in the dressing room.

Menez says the Milan striker has more than justified the hype on the field by scoring goals wherever he has played.

"It is a joke because he is like that. I smile at that because this is Ibra. It represents his career," Menez said. 

"He is like that. Despite all the words he can say, he then proves it on the pitch. What can you say against him? He always made his clubs win, wherever he went. 

"What can you say against him? I leave him be and say all he wants."

Menez has spent time in France, Turkey and Mexico since leaving Milan, but insists he is fully motivated after joining Reggina.

"I am the same Jeremy as six years ago, though this Jeremy has slept for two or three years and felt a bit out of phase. But now I am super motivated and the quality is still here," Menez said. 

"But I know I am not an easy guy to deal with myself, it's not easy to be with me every day, but we grow up, mature and get better day by day."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli said he does not feel like a "sacrificial victim" amid mounting speculation he is set to be replaced by Ralf Rangnick.

A heartbreaking stoppage-time own goal from Francesco Vicari gifted Milan a dramatic equaliser in Wednesday's 2-2 Serie A draw at lowly 10-man SPAL.

Mattia Valoti's goal and stunning long-range strike from 38-year-old striker Sergio Floccari had SPAL ahead 2-0 by the half-hour mark before Milan completed a comeback in the second 45 – the Rossoneri aided by Marco D'Alessandro's 43rd-minute red card.

After Rafael Leao and an own goal salvaged a point for Milan, attention turned to Pioli and ongoing talk regarding Rangnick.

Rangnick, who is now head of sport and development for Red Bull – the group which owns RB Leipzig, is tipped to combine the jobs of head coach and sporting director at Milan in 2020-21.

Asked about his future and the Rangnick rumours post-game, Pioli – who was only appointed in October after Marco Giampaolo's sacking – told Sky Italia: "I am working with passion and professionalism, I love these players, they are giving me a lot.

"I do not have the thought and the shadow of another coach, it will be what it will be.

"There are still many games, at Milanello I am happy, we are working well. The choices will be made in the end.

"I am not anxious and I do not feel like a sacrificial victim, I am proud to train these players."

Milan are seventh in Serie A after 29 matches, two points adrift of sixth-placed Napoli.

Pioli's men are next in action against scudetto hopefuls Lazio in Rome on Saturday.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli has backed his players to recover their spark against Lazio on Saturday after a sluggish 2-2 draw against Serie A strugglers SPAL.

Pioli blamed fatigue as Milan needed an injury-time own goal to secure a point at the Stadio Paolo Mazza on Wednesday with lowly SPAL having played the majority of the contest with 10 men.

Mattia Valoti's close-range finish and stunning long-range effort from Sergio Floccari gave SPAL a 2-0 lead before Marco D'Alessandro was sent off for a reckless challenge on Theo Hernandez.

Milan pulled a goal back with 11 minutes remaining when Rafael Leao stroked the ball home before Francesco Vicari diverted the ball into his own net in added time.

"It is not easy to recover mental and physical energies by playing every three days," Pioli told a news conference.

"But we must do it and do better. It takes all our focus and determination.

"The players are tired but they will recover energy to make a good performance against Lazio, who rested one day more than us."

Milan were much improved after veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off the bench just after the hour to make his first appearance since March.

Although Pioli felt his tactics throughout were unfortunate not to deliver victory as the draw left Milan two points behind sixth-placed Napoli in the battle for a Europa League group-stage spot.

He continued: "Our approach was not wrong, but the game was tough after we made two careless mistakes.

"We had controlled the game and created several goalscoring chances. There was even time for us to score a winning third goal, but we just failed."

Milan striker Ante Rebic had an off night but Pioli refused to criticise the Croatia international.

"He had his chances," he added. "Maybe today he was less brilliant. Fatigue can be felt."

SPAL coach Luigi Di Biagio acknowledged the dismissal of D'Alessandro on the stroke of half-time "affected" his side.

But despite suffering a crushing late blow, he would not give up on his side's survival chances even though they are seven points adrift of safety.

"As long as we are alive, I will believe it until the end," Di Biagio said. 

"Three games await us that will give us a clearer idea of things. We hope to close the gap in the table."

An injury-time own goal from Francesco Vicari spared Milan's blushes as an action-packed Serie A encounter ended in a 2-2 draw at 10-man SPAL on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return.

A close-range finish from Mattia Valoti and a stunning strike from Sergio Floccari gave SPAL a 2-0 lead before the break at the Paolo Mazza.

SPAL were down a man shortly before the break, though, as Marco D'Alessandro was sent off late in the first half, but a sluggish Milan lacked a cutting edge in attack until Ibrahimovic came on as a substitute.

A composed finish from Rafael Leao pulled one back for Milan with 11 minutes to go before Vicari turned an Alexis Saelemaekers cross into his own net in added time.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been named in the Milan matchday squad to face SPAL in Serie A on Wednesday.

The 38-year-old is one of 23 players who will travel to Stadio Paolo Mazza as Milan seek a third consecutive victory.

Ibrahimovic has not played since scoring in a 2-1 San Siro defeat to Genoa on March 8, but he returned to training last week and had his mental strength praised by head coach Stefano Pioli.

Milan moved to allay fears he had suffered a serious Achilles injury in training on May 25, confirming after scans the tendon was "perfectly intact".

Reports had claimed Ibrahimovic had endured a major injury, potentially putting his career in doubt, but instead it was a less serious calf issue.

Last month, the club provided an update to say he was recovering well from the injury to his right leg.

Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in 10 games in all competitions since returning to Milan, who are seventh in Serie A, for a second spell.

Milan director of football Frederic Massara recently revealed a decision on the forward's future will be taken at the end of the season.

Add Tottenham to the list of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic admirers.

The Lazio star and Serbia international has teams queuing up for his services, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly tipped to secure his signature.

However, Premier League outfit Spurs are now eyeing Milinkovic-Savic.

 

TOP STORY – MILINKOVIC-SAVIC WANTED BY SPURS

Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Tottenham, according to Foot Mercato.

Milinkovic-Savic is a player in demand, having been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Manchester City and Chelsea.

While a move for Milinkovic-Savic appears out of reach for Spurs, Jose Mourinho is still dreaming.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Milinkovic-Savic is a dream for Spurs, The Telegraph says Tottenham are confident of signing Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Mourinho, however, must raise transfer funds through sales from his squad.

Inter are in advanced talks with Brescia to finalise a deal for star Sandro Tonali, according to journalist Nicolo Schira. Inter have agreed a five-year deal with Tonali.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan beyond the 2019-20 season is complicated, says Calciomercato. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the campaign and the 38-year-old striker is no closer to signing an extension. While he would like to remain at San Siro, an extension looks set to be postponed until the proposed arrival of Ralf Rangnick as head coach.

- Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich are hopeful of extending David Alaba's contract, despite failing to come to an agreement at a meeting last week. Alaba has been linked to Chelsea recently. Meanwhile, Sky Sport says Bayern are not prepared to exercise their option to sign Ivan Perisic permanently from Inter following his loan spell.

- ABC says Real Betis have been in negotiations with former West Ham, Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini about their coaching vacancy.

Milan and Napoli are both interested in Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbian could be a replacement for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail reports Arsenal are ready to use out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as a bargaining chip in a potential swap deal. United, PSG, Madrid and Barca have emerged as possible destinations.

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

Paolo Maldini believes Gianluigi Donnarumma is the best goalkeeper in the world as Milan try to keep the Italy star.

Donnarumma has established himself as the undisputed number one keeper at boyhood club Milan since debuting as a 16-year-old in 2015, however, his future is often a topic of discussion.

The likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea have been linked to Italy international Donnarumma, who is out of contract in 2021 as Milan look to discuss a new deal.

And Milan technical director Maldini heaped praise on Donnarumma prior to Sunday's 2-0 Serie A victory over Roma at San Siro.

"It is certainly Milan's duty to try and keep hold of an important player like Gigio, for what he represents as a symbol, a player who came up through our youth academy and, in my humble opinion, because he is the best goalkeeper in the world," Maldini told DAZN.

The future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also making headlines after joining Milan on a free transfer from LA Galaxy in January.

Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in 10 games across all competitions since returning to Milan for a second spell.

The 38-year-old's contract expires at the end of the current campaign and Maldini added: "As for Ibrahimovic, these are two different situations. Gigio's contract is not running down, whereas Ibra's is."

Stefano Pioli was delighted to reflect on a Milan victory over one of Serie A's leading sides after they defeated Roma 2-0 at home on Sunday.

The Rossoneri had lost all six of their league matches against the top five of Juventus, Lazio, Inter, Atalanta and Roma prior to the latter's trip to San Siro.

Roma had won three on the bounce in Serie A, too, but they were well below par - as were Milan for the first 75 minutes - before Ante Rebic scored his eighth goal of the season and Hakan Calhanoglu converted a late penalty. 

"It was very hot, so it was unthinkable to play at an intense rhythm for 90 minutes," Pioli told DAZN.

"We deservedly won the game because we worked as a team throughout, even with a few mistakes, and it had been a long time since we'd won against one of the big clubs.

“It had only been the result missing in those fixtures and not the performances, as we were only really poor against Atalanta.

"This victory therefore boosts confidence, but the next match is always the most important."

Rebic's strike 14 minutes from time continued his fine form, with all of his eight goals coming since the turn of the year.

Used mainly as a winger with former club Eintracht Frankfurt, he is now thriving in the striker's role at Milan, who remain without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"He was an important reference point and attacked the space," Pioli added of Rebic.

"He can certainly improve, as he's not just strong physically but also has excellent technique.

"I think he needs to just get used to being more of a centre-forward than a winger. If he maintains this attitude, he can certainly do well."

Atalanta's sixth successive win in Serie A later on Sunday meant Roma fell nine points behind in the race for the final Champions League qualification spot.

"There is not a lot of time to recover, we have to play on two days' rest," Roma boss Paulo Fonseca said about the challenges ahead.

"Keeping consistency is not easy when you need to change players so much. It won't be easy, but we are ready to keep on fighting until the end."

Ante Rebic's eighth Serie A goal of 2020 and a late penalty from Hakan Calhanoglu dented Roma's top-four hopes as Milan claimed a 2-0 Serie A win at San Siro.

The Giallorossi were seeking four successive top-flight victories for the first time all season but hot and humid conditions in Milan seemed to sap them of any creativity.

Edin Dzeko missed with a close-range header in the first half and the contest was heading for a dour draw until Rebic popped up with the opening goal 14 minutes from time to continue his fine form since the turn of the year.

Theo Hernandez was then tripped in the box by Chris Smalling with two minutes to go, allowing Calhanoglu to make sure of the points with an emphatic penalty.

Both sides were slow to get going but it was Roma who eventually seized some sort of control.

Dzeko really should have scored with a header when unmarked six yards out but he could only flick Justin Kluivert's deflected cross wide.

It was a similar story at the other end when Calhanoglu nodded off target from Hernandez's delivery, with the presence of Antonio Mirante possibly putting the Milan man off.

Milan failed to register a single shot on target in the first half but they twice worked Mirante in quick succession midway through the second period following the introduction of Lucas Paqueta and Alexis Saelemaekers from the bench.

Calhanoglu got behind the Roma defence via a one-two with Saelemaekers but Mirante denied the Turkish midfielder with his legs before pushing away an effort from Paqueta.

A Milan goal did eventually come, though, after Davide Zappacosta gave the ball away to Rebic in his own half.

Mirante saved from Franck Kessie and then diverted Rebic's first attempt onto the post but the in-form forward rifled the rebound into the roof of the net.

Hernandez's driving run then paid off when he reached the ball before Smalling, and Calhanoglu converted his penalty to give Milan breathing space.

Achraf Hakimi appears to have found a new home.

The Morocco international has impressed during his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, attracting plenty of interest.

But LaLiga giants Real Madrid are reportedly ready to cash in on Achraf.

 

TOP STORY – INTER AGREE ACHRAF DEAL

Inter have agreed a deal to sign Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Achraf has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund, who have been interested in signing the Morocco international permanently.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been among the clubs interested in Achraf, but Madrid are set to sell the 21-year-old to Antonio Conte's Inter for a reported €40million fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport1 claims Leroy Sane's proposed move to Bayern Munich is on hold until 2021. The Manchester City star is tipped to leave the Etihad Stadium for Bundesliga champions Bayern, though the two clubs have been unable to strike a deal. Sane now looks likely to depart once his contract expires next year.

Arthur will travel to Turin in the coming days to undergo a medical ahead of his move to Juventus, according to RAC1. Barcelona midfielder Arthur is set to join Juve, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the opposite direction.

Roma are plotting a move for free agent Edinson Cavani, says Calciomercato. Cavani is available on a free transfer after leaving PSG, with Atletico Madrid, Inter and Napoli eyeing the Uruguayan forward.

- Sport reports the Champions League will determine Neymar's future at PSG. Neymar has long been linked with a return to Barca following his world-record departure in 2017.

- Calciomercato says Milan are focused on signing Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai. However, PSG and Arsenal are also among the teams eyeing the 19-year-old Hungarian.

Manchester United are among the possible destinations for Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who faces an uncertain future with the London club, according to L'Equipe.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich appear to be keen on adding more local talent to their squad.

Spaniard Thiago Alcantara is reportedly unwilling to extend his Bayern contract beyond 2020-21.

So, Bayern could use the star midfielder in their efforts to prise Germany international Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN WANT THIAGO OUT AND HAVERTZ IN

Bayern Munich want to sell Thiago Alcantara to fund their move for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, according to Kicker.

Thiago reportedly wants to leave Bayern amid links to Liverpool after opting against a new deal in Bavaria.

Now, Bayern are looking to offload Thiago for €60million (£53m) in order to sign Havertz for €80m.

Havertz has also been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Munich and Kicker also claims Bayern have joined Borussia Dortmund and United in the race for Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham.

- TF1 says Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi has been in contact with Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Inter over an exit from London.

Liverpool have made a big offer to sign Wolves speedster Adama Traore, according to Mundo Deportivo. Traore has also been linked to the likes of Barca and Madrid.

- According to Fichajes, Tottenham have made an offer for in-demand Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes. The likes of Napoli, Everton and Madrid are also looking to sign the Brazilian.

- Is Hellas Verona's Marash Kumbulla set for Lazio? Gianluca Di Marzio reports Lazio have tabled an offer for the defender, who is also wanted by Juventus and Inter.

- Could Tanguy Ndombele and Philippe Coutinho swap clubs? The Independent says Barca have reached out to Tottenham over an exchange deal involving either Coutinho or Nelson Semedo for wantaway Spurs midfielder Ndombele.

Arsenal could make moves for Chelsea's Willian or Coutinho, according to the Daily Mail.

Milan are in talks over the return of Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, says Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schira. Bakayoko spent the 2018-19 season on loan at San Siro.

Milan defender Mateo Musacchio has undergone keyhole surgery on his left ankle and will be out of action for four months.

The Rossoneri confirmed last week Musacchio would require an operation but did not put a timescale on a return at the time.

It has now been announced Musacchio, who has been struggling with the complaint for several months, will play no part in the remainder of the 2019-20 Serie A campaign and will miss the start of next season.

"AC Milan announces that Mateo Musacchio has undergone keyhole surgery to his left ankle, performed by Prof. Ramon Cugat, with Club doctor, Dr Lucio Genesio, in attendance," a club statement read.

"The surgeon pronounced himself satisfied with the operation. The estimated recovery time is four months, barring any complications."

Musacchio has made 18 top-flight appearances this term. Milan returned to top-flight action following the league's three-month coronavirus-enforced break with a 4-1 rout of Lecce.

Stefano Piolo's side are seventh in the table and face fifth-place Roma at San Siro on Sunday.

Milan great Pierino Prati died aged 73 as tributes poured in for the former Italy forward on Monday.

Prati enjoyed great success with Milan, winning seven major honours – including the 1968-69 European Cup and 1967-68 Serie A title.

He scored a famous hat-trick for Milan in the 4-1 European Cup final victory over Ajax.

"A giant of our history closed his eyes," Milan wrote on Twitter. "From the Bernabuu stadium to the Bombonera [scene of the 1969 Intercontinental Cup win], Piero Prati was a shining light for us all and shall be dearly missed: rest in peace Piero."

The Milan Hall of Famer also helped the Rossoneri to two European Cup Winners' Cup trophies, to go with Coppa Italia (1972 and 1973) and Intercontinental Cup (1969) glory.

Prati scored 72 goals in 141 Serie A games for Milan between 1966 and 1973, while he also represented Roma and Fiorentina.

Part of Italy's triumphant 1968 European Championship side, Prati – also a World Cup runner-up in 1970 – netted seven goals in 14 appearances.

Fellow Milan great Franco Baresi tweeted: "A champion on and off the field, an honour to have known you. Goodbye Piero RIP."

After Monday's 4-1 rout of Lecce, Milan head coach Stefano Pioli told Sky Sport Italia: "I want to remember him on behalf of the whole club, we dedicate this victory to him, we are close to his family."

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