Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be joining Bologna, according to the club's director Walter Sabatini.

Ibrahimovic had been linked with a return to Serie A via Bologna after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy at the end of his contract.

But the 38-year-old striker will not be moving to Bologna amid speculation over a switch to either Napoli or former club Milan.

"Ibrahimovic will not be coming to Bologna. He has made other choices," Sabatini told Tuttomercatoweb.

A return to Milan has been mooted for Ibrahimovic, who won the 2011 Scudetto during his two years at San Siro.

Italian rivals Napoli, however, have reportedly offered the ex-Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain star an 18-month contract.

Asked about Ibrahimovic on the eve of Napoli's Champions League clash with Genk, head coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters on Monday: "I haven't spoken to Ibra today but I did yesterday [Sunday] evening."

"He told me he is in Los Angeles at the moment," added Ancelotti. "He feels really good and weather conditions are just perfect there."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli said he was so overcome with emotion following Sinisa Mihajlovic's return to the Bologna bench on Sunday that he just wanted to hug his opposite number.

Mihajlovic was back on the touchline for the first time since a bone marrow transplant last month, having been diagnosed with leukaemia earlier in the year.

Bologna were unable to make Mihajlovic's return a victorious one, however, as Milan claimed a slender 3-2 win despite Nicola Sansone's late penalty leading to a tense finish.

But Pioli spoke with more enthusiasm about Mihajlovic than he did Milan's performance.

"It was a real pleasure to see him," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "I wanted to hug him, but he said it was better not to [due to his condition]. But it was still exciting, a nice moment.

"I hope he is on the way to full recovery now. Having that moment together touched me, it really did."

Krzysztof Piatek wore an expression of relief after he ended a goal drought that stretched back almost two months, opening the scoring with an early penalty after he had been tripped, and Pioli hopes that will help the Poland international's state of mind.

"He was a fundamental point of reference for us today," Pioli said of Piatek. "He won many duels and made an important impact for the team.

"We predicted Bologna would press high up the pitch, so we thought we'd have to play direct and he held the play up very well. He too will come out of this with more confidence."

Theo Hernandez endured a mixed match, becoming the first player since Opta records began to score a goal, an own goal and concede a penalty in the same Serie A game, with Giacomo Bonaventura's strike ultimately proving crucial as Milan took home the points.

Despite there being more negatives than positives about the defender's display, Pioli was mostly pleased.

"Especially in the offensive phase, Theo is very strong," Pioli remarked. "He has great timing of his forward runs, is strong physically and has a great left foot.

"He is the sort of player that can disrupt defensive balance in the opposition if he's got space to run into ahead of him."

Milan secured successive Serie A wins for only the second time this season as they won 3-2 away to Bologna, who had coach Sinisa Mihajlovic back on the bench for the first time since his bone marrow transplant last month.

Mihajlovic, who was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier in the year, received a huge ovation as he walked out pre-match, though his presence was not enough to inspire Bologna to a first league win over Milan since January 2016.

Milan's opening goal will have come as a relief to Krzysztof Piatek as the Poland international scored his first club goal for almost two months from the spot, before Theo Hernandez netted one at either end to put Bologna back in contention.

They were soon trailing by two once again in the second half thanks to Giacomo Bonaventura's sumptuous strike and that proved decisive, giving Bologna too much to do despite Nicola Sansone's late penalty restoring a modicum of hope.

Piatek ended his goal drought from the spot in the 15th minute, converting after being sent tumbling by Bologna defender Mattia Bani.

The hosts failed to mount much of a response and found their task made even trickier just past the half-hour mark, Hernandez beating the goalkeeper from close range after collecting Suso's wonderful disguised pass.

Hernandez found the wrong net late in the half, however, directing a corner past Gianluigi Donnarumma after Stefano Denswil had ducked under the ball.

But any hope of a Bologna comeback was effectively ended within a minute of the second half starting, as Bonaventura curled a fine effort into the left side of the goal from 20 yards.

Sansone's penalty – given after a VAR review – in the 84th minute following Hernandez' clumsy foul on Riccardo Orsolini ensured it was a nervous ending for Milan, but the visitors held on.

Rumoured Milan, Napoli and Bologna target Zlatan Ibrahimovic would "increase the appeal" of Serie A, according to Mino Raiola, though his agent insisted a return to Italy is not a foregone conclusion.

Ibrahimovic is a free agent after leaving LA Galaxy following two seasons in MLS, and the former Juventus, Inter and Milan striker hinted he was heading back to Serie A when he said "see you soon in Italy" earlier this week.

However, Ibrahimovic's agent stressed his client could still join a club in another country

"It's not been said that he will necessarily return to Italy," Raiola told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Which of the three interested clubs will he choose? Who knows, we're all free men.

"Could he retire? I'm not going to exclude anything but it is very unlikely. Ibra is still very well."

I came, I saw, I conquered. Thank you @lagalaxy for making me feel alive again. To the Galaxy fans - you wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues...Now go back to watch baseball pic.twitter.com/kkL6B6dJBr

— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) November 13, 2019

The 38-year-old Swede certainly helped enhance MLS during his two years Stateside, and Raiola feels he would have a similar impact in Italy, should that be his chosen destination.

"Certainly if he returned, the appeal of Serie A would increase, both technically and on television," Raiola added.

"How many countries would turn on the TV every weekend?"

Ibrahimovic spent two seasons with Juventus, three campaigns with Inter and two years with Milan, scoring a combined 122 goals across 219 appearances.

He was part of title-winning teams with all three clubs, though Juventus' two championships in that time were later revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal.

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.

Corriere dello Sport claimed to be victim of a "lynching" over its controversial "Black Friday" headline as editor Ivan Zazzaroni suggested some clubs had expressed support.

The Italian sports publication sparked outrage when it used the term on Thursday's front page to accompany images of Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling.

The former Manchester United team-mates are set to square off in a Serie A fixture between Inter and Roma on Friday.

Inter striker Lukaku called it the "dumbest" headline he had ever seen and Smalling labelled it "highly insensitive".

But after hitting out at social media and criticism and declaring its "innocent" intentions, Corriere refused to backtrack with its next edition.

Friday's headline read: "Racist to whom? Lynching of a newspaper that has been defending freedom and equality for a century".

The front page included a collage of past headlines condemning racism and an editorial from Zazzaroni that insisted "Black Friday" was meant to be a celebration of diversity.

Roma and Inter's city rivals Milan responded by banning the newspaper from speaking to their players and attending training sessions for the remainder of 2019.

In an appearance on Telelombardia, Zazzaroni said: "The other clubs have expressed solidarity. I don't have to justify myself. In the newspaper we did many articles on the fight against racism.

"The headline has been explained and clarified. It was a pun on two champions of anti-racism.

"Lukaku's agent [Federico Pastorello] even said that there was an association with other [newspapers] with the aim of debasing both players.

"Let's say that the exchange between me and Pastorello wasn't very uplifting."

Racism controversies have plagued Italian football this season. Lukaku and Brescia's Mario Balotelli were separately subjected to taunts from supporters during matches in September and November.

Serie A clubs recently signed an open letter vowing to address the issue of racism within the Italian game, with football authorities criticised for not doing enough to punish examples or racial discrimination at matches.

Roma and Milan have banned Corriere dello Sport from their training grounds and told players not to speak to the newspaper for the rest of the year.

On Thursday, the Italian sports daily published the headline 'Black Friday' – accompanied by pictures of Roma's Chris Smalling and Inter's Romelu Lukaku – ahead of the Serie A clash between the two sides.

The headline was widely criticised as being racial insensitive, with Smalling and Lukaku both expressing disappointment.

However, Corriere dello Sport's editor described the headline as "innocent" and insisted the words reflected "the pride of difference, the wonderful wealth of difference", adding: "If you don't get it, it is because you can't or you don't want to."

The clubs announced their sanctions against the newspaper in a joint statement.

It read: "We believe that players, clubs, supporters and the media must be united in the fight against racism in football and we all have a responsibility to be very precise in the words we choose and the messages we deliver.

"In response to the 'Black Friday' headline published by the newspaper, Roma and Milan have decided to ban Corriere dello Sport from our training facilities for the rest of the year and our players will not carry out any media activities with the newspaper during this period.

"Both clubs are aware that the actual newspaper article associated with the headline did portray an anti-racist message and for this reason, we have only banned Corriere dello Sport until January. We remain totally committed to tackling racism."

Inter have stated "we are and always will be opposed to any form of discrimination" amid an Italian newspaper sparking a racism storm with a controversial front-page headline.

Corriere dello Sport previewed the upcoming Serie A game between Inter and Roma with a front-page "Black Friday" headline between images of Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling, a choice of wording that has attracted widespread criticism.

"Black Friday", a term used to describe the first Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States when retail sales mark the start of the Christmas shopping period, saw the publication focus on the reunion of former Manchester United team-mates Smalling and Lukaku, both of whom are black.

Roma quickly criticised an editorial decision they suggest "not a single soul" would find appropriate, and rival Serie A clubs, including Inter, subsequently reacted.

Corriere issued a statement insisting the headline was not racist, claiming it had been "transformed into poison by those who have poison in themselves".

Inter posted to their official Twitter page: "Football is passion, culture and brotherhood. We are and always will be opposed to any form of discrimination."

Anti-discrimination body FARE posted a screenshot of Corriere's front page with the caption: "The media fuels racism every day."

Milan and Fiorentina joined Roma and Inter in commenting on the headline.

"It is totally unacceptable to see such casual ignorance on racism," Milan said. "We will not stay silent on this issue."

Fiorentina shared the image with a facepalm emoji and a single word: "Speechless."

A series of incidents have blighted Italian football this season, with Lukaku, Mario Balotelli and Franck Kessie each targeted for racist abuse.

All 20 Serie A clubs last week united to call on fans to support them in an anti-racism drive after admitting to a "serious problem".

Paul Pogba remains on the sidelines but his club future is at the centre of the rumour mill.

According to a new report, Zinedine Zidane wants the Manchester United midfielder "at all costs".

Links between Pogba and Real Madrid have long been established, but it seems not all in the Spanish capital are keen on the move.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE WANTS TO POACH POGBA

Zidane views compatriot Pogba as "the final piece of the puzzle" for Madrid and has implored the club to secure his signature, reports Marca.

The Los Blancos boss reportedly made Pogba's arrival his only demand when he returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in March for a second stint as head coach.

However, Madrid executives are said to be sceptical about splashing at least €120million for a player who would potentially take a first-team spot from the improving Federico Valverde.

Zidane and Pogba had a "chance" encounter in Dubai in October, where the 26-year-old was undergoing warm-weather rehabilitation on his injured ankle.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain have been impressed with Mauro Icardi and will look to tie the on-loan striker to a permanent deal, claims CalcioMercato. The Ligue 1 champions can reportedly land the Inter outcast for €70m.

- Arsenal, West Ham and any other Premier League teams aiming to appoint Rafael Benitez would have to pay £20m to release him from his Dalian Yifang contract, says the Daily Mail.

- Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo could pull the plug on a bid for Gabriel Barbosa after growing frustrated with the forward's reluctance to finalise the arrangement, according to Fox Sports Brazil. 'Gabigol' is on loan from Inter and reportedly coverts a second chance in Europe.

- CalcioMercato reports Milan are plotting to sign PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- Jose Mourinho's Tottenham hope to capture Norwich City centre-back Ben Godfrey in January for around £25m, reports Football Insider.

Real Madrid have made Fabian Ruiz their top transfer target.

According to reports, "negotiations have accelerated" as the Spanish heavyweights aim to take advantage of the disarray at Napoli.

But the midfielder also has high-profile admirers in England and France.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEP UP FABIAN INTEREST

Napoli midfielder Fabian is a man in demand.

Madrid appear to be in pole position, with Cadena SER claiming the Spanish giants are "very serious" about taking the 23-year-old to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Negotiations over a contract extension at Napoli are said to have stopped and the Spain international is reportedly warm to the idea of joining up with Zinedine Zidane's side.

However, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain could look to force a three-way bidding war for the Spain international, who has previously been linked to Barcelona.

ROUND-UP

- Ex-Valencia head coach Marcelino has emerged as a left-field managerial candidate for Arsenal and Everton, according to the Daily Mail. The 54-year-old lost his job at the Mestalla in September following a reported falling out with owner Peter Lim.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fears he will be sacked if Manchester United lose their next two games against Tottenham and bitter rivals City, says The Sun.

- Former Premier League striker-turned-reporter Jan Aage Fjortoft claims Liverpool are favourites to land Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho – but the winger will cost the Premier League leaders €130million.

- Chelsea have offered little-used striker Olivier Giroud to Serie A sides Milan and Inter, according to CalcioMercato.

Barcelona are keeping tabs on 16-year-old PSG midfielder Edouard Michut, reports Le Parisien.

Milan may have secured a late victory over Parma on Sunday, but head coach Stefano Pioli admitted their problems have not been totally resolved yet.

Left-back Theo Hernandez struck two minutes from time in Sunday's clash at Stadio Ennio Tardini to end the Rossoneri's three-match winless run in Serie A.

Milan, 11th in the table, have won only two of their seven matches since Pioli replaced Marco Giampaolo last month, and the ex-Fiorentina boss acknowledged there is still work to do.

"The team was aware of the importance of this match," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We have had some good performances without having collected anything.

"We knew what we had to do today and we deservedly won against a strong and organised Parma side.

"The victory does not fix all of our problems. From here until Christmas I want to collect as many points as possible. 

"There is still a lot to do, but I am satisfied with today's performance."

Krzysztof Piatek missed a good chance at 0-0 and was replaced just after the hour mark, but Pioli has called on others to help the out-of-form striker.

"He is not smiling, but that is to be expected as we are professionals," he said. "It is clear that we need to support him.

"This group of players wants to get us out of trouble and they are all very motivated. Those that started did very well and now we think about Bologna."

A lack of goals has proved costly for Milan in recent weeks and they struggled to put away their chances against Parma before Hernandez's late strike.

Pioli is working to find a solution in attack and is hopeful his players will take confidence from a first win since the end of October.

"We are starting to work more as a team, with more cohesion and compactness," he added at his post-match news conference. 

"We have to work to grow and improve. If the victory had not arrived there would have been questions, but we have to continue concentrating.

"The goal now is to think about the next match and maintain our level of performance. Today's three points against a strong opponent gives us confidence."

Parma conceded a 95th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Bologna last week, though they remain a point clear of Milan and head coach Roberto D'Aversa was quick to put Sunday's defeat into context.

"They may be behind us in the table but they're a team that were expected to finish in a Champions League spot at the beginning of the season," he told reporters.

"We must give credit to the opposition. We have to consider the fact we played against Milan.

"In the last few minutes today, and the last seconds against Bologna, we have thrown away some points. That must not happen because points are important if we are to reach our goal."

Theo Hernandez scored two minutes from time to earn Milan a 1-0 victory at Parma and end their three-match winless run in Serie A.

A lack of goals has cost the Rossoneri in recent weeks and their profligacy again looked as though it would haunt them in Sunday's clash.

But Theo poked home a late winner following some calamitous defending from Parma to earn a vital triumph for Stefano Pioli's men.

The victory for Milan – just their second in seven matches under Pioli – lifts them into 11th place, one point behind opponents Parma.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still evaluating his future and is not in negotiations with Milan over a January transfer, according to the Serie A club's director Frederic Massara.

The 38-year-old has been linked with a return the Rossoneri, where he spent two seasons between 2010 and 2012, after leaving Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy.

MLS commissioner Don Garber last month suggested Ibrahimovic is set to rejoin the Milan, but Massara insists talks between the club and the player are not ongoing.

"There is no news on Ibrahimovic, because this is not a negotiation," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"He is evaluating his future. He is on the market, but there are no developments."

Ibrahimovic spent 18 months with the Galaxy and was named in the MLS Best XI in 2018 and 2019 after scoring a combined 53 goals.

Fiorentina, Napoli and Bologna are among the other Italian sides to have been credited with an interest in the ex-Sweden international.

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