Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to Milan's Serie A starting line-up with both goals in a 2-0 win at Cagliari that restored their three-point lead over Inter at the summit.

Antonio Conte's side pulled level with the Rossoneri thanks to their impressive victory over champions Juventus in Sunday's Derby d'Italia.

But Ibrahimovic is inspiring Milan's title bid with a prolific fervour and marked his first league start since November in style.

A seventh-minute penalty and a crisp half-volley early in the second period took the 39-year-old's tally to a remarkable 12 goals in just eight Serie A appearances this term.

Milan finished with 10 men as substitute Alexis Saelemaekers ludicrously collected two bookings within eight minutes of his 66th-minute introduction but fourth-bottom Cagliari could not avert a fifth straight Serie A loss.

Frank Lampard understands Fikayo Tomori's desire to play more regularly amid speculation the centre-back could be set to follow Danny Drinkwater in sealing a move away from the club. 

Tomori made 15 Premier League starts in the 2019-20 season but the arrival of Thiago Silva has pushed him further down the first-team pecking order. 

The England international has featured only once in the top flight this campaign – coming on as substitute in the home defeat to Liverpool back in September – and Chelsea are seemingly ready to sanction a temporary move to allow him to get more regular first-team minutes elsewhere. 

Serie A leaders Milan have been strongly linked with the 23-year-old, media reports suggesting the Italian club are pushing to complete a deal that includes an option to buy. 

"Fikayo is a developing player. We can't play all our centre backs in one game," said Lampard. 

"This year we have five, so the predicament is difficult. He wants to play regularly and that's why he may go out on loan.  

"He has made big strides in the last two or three seasons." 

Meanwhile, Drinkwater has departed to join Kasimpasa on loan for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. 

The midfielder was signed by the Blues from Leicester City in August 2017, though he has featured sparingly during his time at Stamford Bridge. 

A key part of Claudio Ranieri's Leicester squad that won the league title in 2016, Drinkwater has made a total of 23 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions. 

His 2019-20 season included unproductive loan spells at Burnley and Aston Villa, but now the 30-year-old will hope to kick-start his career during a temporary stint in Turkey. 

"It's great for Danny to leave to go and play for himself to get some games. I am trying to make sure the balance is right here," said Lampard. 

Kasimpasa sit 15th in the Super Lig table, six points above the relegation zone.

Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos' future appears no closer to being sorted.

Ramos, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season and reportedly turned down a one-year deal from Madrid.

And the Spain international's future remains uncertain.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS, REAL MADRID NEGOTIATIONS AT A STANDSTILL

Negotiations between Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos are at a standstill, according to Le 10 Sport.

Amid the uncertainty over his future, Ramos has been linked with numerous European giants.

But Telefoot reported there had been no contact between Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

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- Starting to find form again for Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho is set to be the subject of transfer speculation ahead of 2021-22. But Sky Sports reports talks about a move for the reported Manchester United target are unlikely in January, with an off-season switch possible.

- PSG seem keen to land Dele Alli in January. Fabrizio Romano claims the midfielder is pushing to join the Ligue 1 giants on loan and Mauricio Pochettino's PSG will not give up on a deal.

- Milan appear set to add depth to their squad. The Serie A leaders have agreed a deal with former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, according to CalcioMercato.

- Staying at Milan and they are also reportedly set to land Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea. Romano says Tomori is set to join on loan with an option to buy for €30million (£26.7m).

Stefano Pioli confirmed Milan will consider adding further to their squad in January amid speculation Mario Mandzukic is set to join the club.

Mandzukic – who previously played in Serie A with Juventus – is a free agent after terminating his contract with Al-Duhail by mutual consent in July.

The Rossoneri are reportedly going to sign the Croatian striker on an 18-month deal, boosting their forward options as they look to maintain their push to win the league for the first time in a decade.

Pioli was not willing to discuss individual names at his pre-match news conference ahead of Monday's trip to Cagliari but did admit the club are ready to act if the right player becomes available.

"I don't want to and cannot comment on players that I don't have," he told the media. "I have a lot of confidence in the club and the management team. I leave that task to them.

"We know that if there is the possibility of strengthening the team, we will do it. We will be ready in January if there is the possibility of improving this group." 

Milan have already made one signing in the mid-season transfer window, midfielder Soualiho Meite arriving on loan from Torino.

"Meite makes a department that already had good solidity even more competitive," Pioli said of the new recruit.

"I really liked the move. We have combined quality and quantity. I also liked how he spoke, saying he was ambitious. To join our group, you have to be like that."

The Serie A leaders head to Cagliari without Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez, both players currently isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

Pioli admits it is a blow to be without the influential duo – they are also set to miss next Saturday's home fixture with Atalanta – but is confident he has the quality within his squad to cope with such situations during the course of the season.

"They are important absences, but this season is like that," the Milan boss said. "There are critical issues that can come at any moment, so we must always be prepared and attentive.

"The quality of the players that I will have available tomorrow will certainly make us have a good match.

"We are prepared, that's why I expect the players to always be ready. We can all be decisive and help the team."

Milan have announced Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez have tested positive for COVID-19.

The two cases were discovered following swab tests carried out on Saturday, with the club immediately informing the health authorities upon learning the results.

Both players are asymptomatic and the rest of the squad tested negative, Milan confirmed in a statement released on Sunday.

Calhanoglu and Hernandez are now isolating at home, leaving Milan without the duo for some key fixtures coming up in January.

The Serie A leaders - who have lost just once in league action this season so far - visit Cagliari on Monday, then host Atalanta at San Siro next Saturday.

There is also a Coppa Italia quarter-final clash with rivals Inter looming on the horizon, that tie due to be played on January 25. 

Will a Juventus-Paul Pogba reunion become a reality?

The future of Manchester United star continues to dominate headlines.

A move back to Turin could be on the cards for Pogba.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO MAKE POGBA OFFER

Serie A champions Juventus will try to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United at the end of the season, according to the Calciomercato.

Pogba appears set to leave United following the 2020-21 campaign after his agent Mino Raiola claimed the French midfielder was unhappy in Manchester.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked but Juve, who signed Pogba from United in 2012 before losing him to the Red Devils four years later, want to bring the World Cup winner back to Turin.

 

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- The Telegraph reports Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be given £200million to spend on new players in the next transfer window. Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku are on the list of potential targets, as well as Benfica's Darwin Nunez amid doubts over Sergio Aguero 's future. Haaland has also been linked with neighbours United , Madrid , Barca , Liverpool and Juve .

Bayern Munich are interested in Madrid defender Eder Militao , claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Bayern look to replace David Alaba , who is set to leave the Bundesliga champions on a free transfer. Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid .

Milan  are close to re-signing star pair Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu , says Tuttosport. Corriere dello Sport reports Milan are also nearing a deal to sign veteran forward Mario Mandzukic .

- The Athletic claims Mesut Ozil is poised to leave Arsenal for Turkish giants Fenerbahce after reaching an agreement in principle to terminate his Gunners contract.

- The Transfer Window Podcast claims Madrid are considering the possibility of using Eden Hazard in a deal to lure Kylian Mbappe from PSG.

Memphis Depay has been strongly tipped to move to Barca , however, Ok Diario reports the Lyon captain could join Madrid following Luka Jovic's loan return to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Manchester United and Chelsea are set to do battle for the signing of West Ham star Declan Rice.

Rice, 22, is being touted for a move in the close season, with Chelsea having reportedly led the race for the midfielder's signature.

But United could be ready to fight for the England international.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO CHALLENGE CHELSEA FOR RICE

Manchester United are prepared to challenge Chelsea to sign Rice ahead of 2021-22, according to ESPN.

The report says United are eyeing a forward, centre-back and defensive midfielder as priorities at the end of the season.

Rice is contracted at West Ham, where he arrived as a youth player from Chelsea in 2014, until 2024.

 

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- Eric Garcia looks set to finish the season with Manchester City. Marca reports Barcelona cannot afford a transfer fee for the defender and the delay of the LaLiga club's presidential elections, now scheduled for March 7, mean Garcia will have to wait for a move.

- Also at Barcelona and backup goalkeeper Neto has asked for a January move, according to Sport. It comes as he struggles for game time behind Marc-Andre ter Stegen and amid links to Arsenal.

- Eder Militao is facing an uncertain future at Real Madrid. Goal reports Bayern Munich have joined the list of clubs who have asked about the defender, with Juventus, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund also reportedly interested in Militao, who has played just three times this season.

- Milan want Chelsea's Fikayo Tomori. The Daily Mail reports the Serie A leaders have discussed a loan with the option to make the move permanent for €30.4million (£27m) at season's end.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ready to go through the gears as he attempts to steer Milan to their first Scudetto in a decade.

Ten goals in seven games from Ibrahimovic, at a rate of one every 53.4 minutes, has been a vital spur in the first half of the season that has taken the Rossoneri to the Serie A summit.

"Today I feel like a leader. I drive, the team follows me," the 39-year-old striker told Corriere dello Sport.

Fit again after a seven-week injury lay-off, Milan head coach Stefano Pioli will hope Ibrahimovic can resume leading the attacking line with his familiar panache as the season nears its halfway mark.

A scintillating start to the campaign will count for little if Milan tail off over the coming months, which Ibrahimovic acknowledged when he considered the prospect of earning a place in next season's Champions League.

Inter and Juventus appear to be the biggest threats to Milan's lead, which stands at three points after 17 games. Milan are next in action when they face Cagliari on Monday.

"It is early. How much is still to go? All the second half of the season plus two games," Ibrahimovic said.

"Furthermore, setting goals is like setting limits. I never do it. Second place is the first of the last. I want to get the best out of me and the team, every day, including training."

The former Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain frontman is enjoying a second stint with Milan, after a fruitful first spell from 2010 to 2012, when he featured in that 2010-11 title-winning team.

"Ten years ago it was another Milan. But also the Milan that I found in 2020 was different. Always a very young team. We have worked, we sacrificed ourselves. Here are the results," said Ibrahimovic.

"We are doing great things, it is true, as it is true that we have not won anything. There is the desire to do more."

Dayot Upamecano is set to leave RB Leipzig – but not just yet – while Eric Garcia is getting closer to joining Barcelona.

Upamecano has been linked with several European giants after impressing for the Bundesliga club.

But the defender looks set to stay at the Red Bull Arena until the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – UPAMECANO SET FOR €42M MOVE

Leipzig are not considering selling Upamecano in January even though he can leave for £37.4million (€42m) at the end of the season, according to The Guardian.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have each been linked with a move for the France international.

Upamecano has made 21 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig this season.

 

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- Garcia is seemingly getting closer to a Barcelona move. Sport reports the Manchester City defender is a step away from joining the Catalan giants on a five-year deal and Barca are hopeful a move can happen in January.

- Coming out of contract at the end of the season, Hakan Calhanoglu's future has been a talking point. Sky Sport reports negotiations are ongoing between Milan and the midfielder, who has been linked to United.

- Mauricio Pochettino seems eager to get Dele Alli to Paris Saint-Germain. The Guardian reports the Tottenham midfielder is PSG's main target this transfer window.

- Arkadiusz Milik is set to leave Napoli. CalcioMercato reports Marseille want the striker and had an offer of €8m rejected.

- With Frank Lampard under pressure, Chelsea were reportedly considering bringing back Avram Grant to support the head coach. However, The Sun reports the Premier League giants are not lining up such a move.

Erling Haaland is one of the sought-after players in world football.

The Borussia Dortmund forward can reportedly take his pick from Europe's elite.

But if his agent Mino Raiola has his way, Camp Nou could be Haaland's next destination.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND COULD LEAVE BVB AT SEASON'S END

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could leave the Bundesliga club for Barcelona at the end of the season, according to TV3 program Onze.

Haaland has been linked with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus following his exploits for Dortmund.

The Norway international forward reportedly has a €75million (£66.8m) release clause at the end of his second season in Dortmund, though he could depart sooner rather than later.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says United are not working on a deal to sign Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. The Spanish superstar is out of contract at the end of the season, and he has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, City, Chelsea and Liverpool. A move to Liverpool is reportedly not on the horizon due to his role in the injury to Mohamed Salah in the 2018 Champions League final.

City have joined Serie A champions Juve in the race to sign Sassuolo star Manuel Locatelli, reports the Daily Mail.

- According to Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and Tuttomercatoweb, Milan are set to meet with free agent Mario Mandzukic over the next 24 hours to discuss a short-term deal. Staying at San Siro and Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are close to signing Torino midfielder Soualiho Meite on loan with the option to buy.

Arsenal are interested in Barca goalkeeper Neto, claims Sky Sports. With backup Runar Alex Runarsson struggling in London, the Gunners are hoping to bring in Neto on loan.

- Marca reports Barca are targeting Valencia star Jose Gaya to bolster their left-back position, while Villarreal's Alfonso Pedraza is another option.

Juventus are set to complete the signing of American defender Bryan Reynolds from MLS club Dallas, says Romano. The 19-year-old will join Benevento until June, before linking up with Juve.

Stefano Pioli was glad to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic get another 45 minutes under his belt in Milan's penalty shoot-out win over Torino.

Ibrahimovic, 39, made his return from injury off the bench against the same opponent in Serie A on Saturday, but started and played 45 minutes three days later as Milan reached the Coppa Italia quarter-finals with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory.

Milan head coach Pioli was happy to see the forward, who has scored 10 goals in seven Serie A matches this season, get more game time after being out for seven weeks.

"We wanted to give him a longer time compared to the previous championship game. We preferred to let him play from the beginning due to his characteristics," he said, via Sky Sport.

"This time will be used to improve his condition in view of the next championship match."

The clash at San Siro finished 0-0 before Hakan Calhanoglu scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after Ciprian Tatarusanu had denied Tomas Rincon.

It meant Milan reached the Coppa Italia quarter-finals for the 12th consecutive season.

"I am lucky to have a team that knows how to fight, knows how to play, knows how to grit its teeth in a difficult match even for the qualities of our opponents," Pioli said.

"For the many occasions we had, we could have avoided even reaching penalties, but we went beyond physical and mental fatigue and this is a desired qualification."

Milan, who are three points clear atop the Serie A table, visit Cagliari on Monday.

Milan booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia with a penalty shoot-out victory over Torino at San Siro following a goalless draw after extra time.

The Serie A leaders eased to a 2-0 win when the sides met in the league on Saturday but found it a lot tougher to break down their opponents - 28 points worse off in the league - in Tuesday's cup tie.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic squandered the best early opening on his first start since November 22 and Milan then dominated the second half, twice hitting the post and having a penalty shout turned down.

Neither side could find a way through in the additional 30 minutes, but it was the hosts who prevailed on spot-kicks to set up a tie with Fiorentina or Inter - Hakan Calhanoglu scoring the decisive penalty after Ciprian Tatarusanu had denied Tomas Rincon.

Despite the coronavirus situation, Real Madrid are still looking to make a splash in the transfer market.

Madrid have long been linked with Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

And if reports are to be believed, the LaLiga champions are planning for the Frenchman.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WORKING ON MBAPPE MOVE

Real Madrid are working on a plan to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, according to Tuesday's frontpage of Diario AS.

Mbappe – also linked to Liverpool – has been tipped to join Madrid, though Ligue 1 holders PSG remain committed to trying to re-sign the Frenchman.

Despite the economic fallout caused by coronavirus, Madrid are still looking to prise Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu thanks to player sales and revenue generated by the return of fans.

 

ROUND-UP

Bayern Munich have identified RB Leipzig star and centre-back Dayot Upamecano as the player to replace David Alaba, reports Sport 1. Alaba is out of contract at season's end and the Bayern star has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City. With Alaba heading for an exit, in-demand Upamecano is wanted in Munich. It comes as Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Barca vie for his signature.

- According to Esporte Interativo, Neymar wants to stay at PSG as the French giants prepare a new contract. Neymar has been linked with a return to Barca.

- Fabrizio Romano says an agreement has been reached between United and Bayer Leverkusen for Timothy Fosu-Mensah to join the Bundesliga side.

Milan are eyeing a move for Chelsea's Fikayo Tomori, reports Sky Sports. Strasbourg defender Mohamed Simakan remains the primary target for the Rossoneri. It comes as Fiorentina close in on Milan full-back Andrea Conti.

Leo Duarte has joined Istanbul Basaksehir on an initial 18-month loan deal from Milan.

The Super Lig side have the option to buy the 24-year-old permanently at the end of his loan deal on June 30, 2022. 

Centre-back Duarte joined Milan in August 2019 in a reported €11million deal from Flamengo. 

He made six appearances for the club last season – all in Serie A – and has appeared only three times this term across the Italian top flight and the Europa League. 

A Milan statement read: "The club would like to thank Leo for his professionalism and wishes him the best for his personal and professional future."

 

Dejan Kulusevski urged evergreen Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come out of retirement and play for Sweden at this year's rearranged Euro 2020.

Ibrahimovic has not represented Sweden in more than four years after retiring from international football following Euro 2016.

The 39-year-old forward – Sweden's all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 116 appearances – has hinted he is ready to end his international retirement ahead of the European Championship as he continues to light up Serie A with Milan.

Sweden international and Juventus attacker Kulusevski talked up an Ibrahimovic comeback following Sunday's 3-1 win over 10-man Sassuolo.

"We write to each other. He is an idol for me, as hardly anyone in the world can do what he does," Kulusevski told Sky Sport Italia of Ibrahimovic, who has scored 10 league goals this season and 11 across all competitions for Serie A-leading Milan.

"When he speaks highly of me, it makes me work even harder the next day in training, because I am so proud.

"I really hope he returns for international duty with Sweden at the Euros. It would be wonderful for me and all of Sweden. Come on, Ibra!"

Juventus recorded their third consecutive league win for the first time since July after overcoming visiting Sassuolo in Turin.

Goals from Danilo, Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo kept fourth-placed Juve in touch with Milan, after Sassuolo's Pedro Obiang was sent off prior to half-time – the defending champions are seven points adrift.

Ronaldo completed the scoring at the death as the five-time Ballon d'Or winner made it 15-plus goals in 15 different seasons in the top five European leagues.

Juve also conceded a goal in a Serie A home game while playing with a numerical advantage for the first time since October 2013 against Milan after Gregoire Defrel cancelled out Danilo's 50th-minute opener 13 minutes into the second half.

Kulusevski came off the bench to replace the injured Paulo Dybala before the interval and he added: "I had just one thing in my mind when I came on, which was to win the game. I could've done much better, but I am glad we got the points.

"I see myself at Juventus for many years. I see myself closer to the goal, where I can do a quick one-two with my team-mates. I enjoyed where I played this evening."

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