Jose Mourinho believes Andriy Shevchenko has already shown that he can be a success as a head coach in Serie A ahead of his first game in charge of Genoa on Sunday.

The Ukraine legend replaced Davide Ballardini as head coach of the Grifoni two weeks ago after a 2-2 draw at Empoli made it nine games without a win.

Shevchenko's first game in club management sees him hosting Roma and Mourinho, who was at the helm at Chelsea when 'Sheva' arrived at Stamford Bridge as a player in 2006.

The 45-year-old recently left his role in charge of the Ukrainian national team after a quarter-final defeat to England at Euro 2020.

Shevchenko enjoyed a very successful time as a player in Italy, scoring 127 goals in 226 Serie A games for Milan, and Mourinho expressed his hope that he can have success as a manager as well.

"He was an incredible player," Mourinho said at a media conference on Saturday. "This is his first job in club management, but he did really well with Ukraine.

"I think he showed he has ideas, he has leadership... but I hope he loses the first of his club management career, like I did!"

Mourinho will also be looking to improve the fortunes of his own team, with Roma having won just one of their last seven games, and he will be missing several players through injury and COVID-19.

The Giallorossi announced on Saturday that Bryan Cristante and Gonzalo Villar have tested positive for COVID-19, and join injured quartet Matias Vina, Chris Smalling, Riccardo Calafiori and Leonardo Spinazzola on the sidelines.

"We didn't do any training this morning. It will be fun for you to think about how we will play tomorrow," Mourinho said. "The work we've done in the week has to go in the bin a bit.

"It's clear we need to find new solutions and perhaps some players will have to 'sacrifice' themselves in different roles."

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United manager knows the risks that come with playing a team under a new head coach, and believes that factor will make the clash all the more interesting.

"At the very least, it's going to be an entertaining, intriguing game," he added. "The Genoa fans will be up for the game, the players will want to impress the new coach. It's a beautiful stadium and I'm sure it will be a great atmosphere."

Jesse Lingard's future does not appear to be with current club Manchester United.

Contract talks between Lingard and United have reportedly broken down.

The England international has only played eight times in all competitions this season, starting just once.

 

TOP STORY –  LINGARD SET FOR JANUARY SWITCH

Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard will make a £10million move to West Ham in January, according to The Sun.

The Red Devils are said to be looking to cash in on the 28-year-old England international before he is out of contract at the end of this season.

Lingard impressed during a six-month loan spell with the Hammers in the second half of last season, with nine goals and four assists.

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- Tottenham are also interested in signing Lingard on a free transfer in the off-season, according to the Daily Express.

- United are prepared to sell Diogo Dalot to Roma in order to facilitate a deal for Atletico Madrid's England full-back Kieran Trippier, claims the Manchester Evening News.

- Marca claims that Real Madrid are ramping up their pursuit of Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who is out of contract at the end of this season. Bayern Munich are also said to be tracking the Germany international.

- Promising young Argentina international Julian Alvarez is being monitored by Italian powerhouse pair Juventus and Milan, reports Calciomercato. Alvarez, who has four Argentina caps, is currently with River Plate who will wait until December to evaluate any offers.

Arsenal could look to offload Nicolas Pepe in the January transfer window.

The 26-year-old has not lived up to his billing after being signed in 2019.

Pepe has scored once in nine appearances for the Gunners this season.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN SET FOR JANUARY PEPE SWOOP

Italian giants Milan are interested in signing Arsenal's Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe, claims Il Milanista.

Pepe has more than two years to run on his Gunners deal, having joined on a five-year contract from Lille in 2019 for a club-record fee of £72 million (€79m).

Arsenal may be willing to let Pepe go for a little as £25m in January.

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- Chelsea's Spanish full-back Cesar Azpilicueta is on Barcelona's transfer radar, according to SPORT. The 32-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season.

- Tottenham have joined Inter in having an interest in signing Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso, claims Kicker. Tolisso is out of contract at the end of this season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that talks between Gavi and Barcelona on a five-year contract extension are progressing amid interest in the Spanish teenager from Chelsea.

- Jose Mourinho's Roma are considering a move to sign Atletico Madrid's Mexico international midfielder Hector Herrera in January, claims Calciomercato. Atletico are willing to cash in on Herrera, who is out of contract in mid-2022.

- Manchester City target Theo Hernandez is close to completing a contract renewal with Milan, according to Rudy Galetti. The Rossoneri have reached an agreement with him until 2026.

- FotoMac claims Mohamed Elneny's agent has reached an agreement with Arsenal for the Egyptian to leave in January. He was previously linked with Galatasaray.

- Lens midfielder Seko Fofana has been added to Newcastle United's shortlist of transfer targets, claims Foot Mercato.

Jose Mourinho remains on course to become "one of the most important coaches in the history of Roma", general manager Tiago Pinto has declared.

Defeats to Milan and Venezia before the international break, either side of a draw with Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League, came as a jolt to the Giallorossi.

They had previously won six of their first 10 Serie A matches of the campaign, with Mourinho making a strong start to his second club job in Italy, after a triumphant spell as Inter boss over a decade ago.

Now Roma face the challenge of building momentum afresh, starting on Sunday when they travel Genoa.

Pinto was pivotal in bringing Mourinho to Roma and is confident the former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United boss will lead the club to great success.

It has been a feature of their collaboration that Pinto and Mourinho have stressed there is a Roma "project", and it is one that could take years to come to fruition.

Although Mourinho has previously had a reputation for quickly building a winning team, from day one it has been a different concept with Roma.

"He has built this image over time, because fortunately he has coached the biggest clubs in the world and maybe these teams do not have the time, the project and the strategy of Roma," Pinto told Sky Sport Italia.

"But it would not have been possible to have a coach like Mourinho without this strategy. All the time he spends with the Roma youth team confirms that he is totally aligned with us.

"We cannot create an instant team like other teams do and this is not a criticism, but a truth. Mourinho is not only aware of this, but he is also aligned and the work he is doing proves this more than my word."

Mourinho has given chances to young players, but he has also pointed to the weakness of his squad beyond the core of the first team, particularly in the wake of a 6-1 away loss to Bodo/Glimt.

Roma sit sixth in Serie A after 12 games but are already 13 points behind Napoli and Milan, and Mourinho said after the shock loss to Venezia that he felt his squad was no stronger than last season's pool of players, despite a major transfer window overhaul.

He also said this season could prove "a painful one for body and soul".

Pinto said that Roma's studied effort to gradually build up the team "doesn't mean we don't want to win", as he explained the signing of England striker Tammy Abraham from Chelsea.

"Maybe we confused people because we took Abraham, who is young but a great player," Pinto said. "But we don't want to make an instant team, we want to work in all areas and improve every day and in every transfer window."

That final comment may indicate Roma will move again in the market in January, backing Mourinho by listening to his comments about where the squad is still falling short.

"Mourinho is important to us. We took him because his experience, his intelligence and his leadership were perfect to develop this three-year project of a change of mentality, reconstruction of the squad and development and improvement of all players," Pinto added. "And I must say, after four months, that the choice was right and that he will be one of the most important coaches in the history of Roma."

There are already signs of substantial improvement at Roma, when balancing this term's performances against those of last season.

When it comes to committing errors leading to shots by the opposition, in 2020-21 Roma were allowing 0.71 per Serie A game, but that has come down to 0.42 this season.

Roma are having 18.5 shots per game, compared to 14.34 under Paulo Fonseca last term. They are creating 14.5 chances per game, a step up from 10.76 in 2020-21.

If their big-chance conversion rate had not fallen away, from 41.35 per cent in 2020-21 to 32.14 per cent, the season might have begun in even brighter fashion.

Passes played into the box have shot up (28.24 to 33.33 per game), while the aerial challenges won/loss ratio is a healthier 175:141 so far under Mourinho after last season's 461:443 split, a sign his slowly-slowly revolution in Rome is taking effect.

It appears Raheem Sterling's future is away from Manchester City.

Down the pecking order, Sterling has been linked with Barcelona.

City, however, are believed to want a player as part of any deal.

 

TOP STORY – STERLING OUT, TER STEGEN IN?

Manchester City are interested in a swap deal that could see Raheem Sterling move to Barcelona in exchange for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to El Nacional.

Barca are reportedly trying to bring Sterling to Camp Nou, with the England international struggling for regular game time at the Premier League champions.

Pep Guardiola had previously tried to bring Frenkie de Jong to Manchester but Barca were not keen, though the City manager is now interested in goalkeeper Ter Stegen – who has been linked with Bayern Munich in the past.

 

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Real Madrid plan to extend Luka Modric's contract for one more season, reports Marca. The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season. He has previously been linked with Milan and Inter.

- Diario AS claims Barcelona are eyeing a move for Spain and Chelsea star Cesar Azpilicueta. The 32-year-old is out of contract at season's end.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Milan are accelerating their efforts to sign Lille and Portugal star Renato Sanches. It comes amid uncertainty over soon-to-be free agent Franck Kessie, who is tipped to leave Milan following reported interest from the likes of Manchester UnitedBarcaParis Saint-GermainTottenham and Inter. Sanches has also been suggested as a target for Liverpool and Wolves.

- Calciomercato claims CityLiverpoolJuventus and Roma are targeting Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria.

- Serie A champions Inter are pushing to sign Eintracht Frankfurt's Filip Kostic, per Gazzetta dello sport. Inter tried to prise the winger from Eintracht at the start of the season.

Chelsea are not content to stick with what they have. 

The Blues are top of the Premier League but poised for major moves in January.

Three young stars and a veteran are high on their radar. 

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE REINFORCEMENTS

Chelsea have their sights set on moves for Jules Kounde, Matthijs de Ligt and Lorenzo Insigne, reports Marca, while another report has them as the favourites to land Aurelien Tchouameni

The Blues are poised to revisit their talks with Sevilla over Kounde in January with multiple centre-backs set to be out of contract at the end of the season. 

Thomas Tuchel's side could also dip into Serie A and try to lure De Ligt from Juventus and Insigne from Napoli.

Chelsea are prepared to offer €60million (£51m) to Monaco for Tchouameni, says TuttoJuve, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus also possibilities. 

 

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- Barcelona are eyeing Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech as possible loan options from Chelsea, says Sport. 

- Manchester United are pushing to line up Zinedine Zidane to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, reports The Sunday Times.

- United are prepared to sell Jesse Lingard for as little as £10m in January, says The Sun. 

- Roma are in negotiations with United over a loan deal with an option to buy Diogo Dalot, claims Corriere dello Sport. 

- Inter will bring aboard Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana on a four-year deal, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Newcastle United will try to land Adrien Rabiot from Juventus for €10m to €15m (£8.5m-£13m), says Calciomercato. 

Jose Mourinho is not the problem at Roma and the club and fans must stick with him, according to Giallorossi legend Francesco Totti. 

Roma appointed Mourinho last May and invested around €130million on new players – the biggest close-season outlay of any Serie A team. 

Things started positively with Roma winning their first six competitive games of a season for just the third time in their history, but they have been victorious in just four of their subsequent 12 outings. 

Mourinho became the first Giallorossi boss since Luis Enrique in 2011 to lose their maiden top-flight Derby della Capitale in September, while the following month he suffered the heaviest loss of his managerial career when Roma were hit for six by Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League. 

The next week his 43-game home unbeaten run in Serie A came to an end at the hands of Milan, while November started with a disappointing draw at home to Bodo/Glimt and a shock 3-2 loss at Venezia. 

However, Totti does not believe Mourinho is at fault for Roma's slide in form and believes his pedigree is more than sufficient for a show of faith. 

"If we think Roma's problem is Mourinho, it means we have everything wrong," Totti told Sky. 

"Mourinho has won more than all the other Serie A coaches combined – hats off to him. 

"You have to focus on him. He is a great coach and a great motivator. He knows how to manage the group, he knows what to say and what to do. 

"The club and the fans must stick with him." 

Despite their poor form, Roma sit sixth in Serie A and are just three points adrift of the top four. 

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe?

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has long been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Madrid are reportedly preparing another approach for the France forward.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID PUSHING FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid will make another move for Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Friday's Mundo Deportivo.

Madrid have made no secret of their interest, while Mbappe – who will become a free agent at the end of the campaign – revealed he wanted to leave PSG for Los Blancos at the start of the season.

With Mbappe's contract winding down, LaLiga giants Madrid are stepping up their pursuit.

 

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- Mundo Deportivo and Sport claim Barcelona are closing in on the signing for Manchester City attacker Raheem Sterling. The England international has found himself down the pecking order in Manchester.

Arsenal are interested in Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, but there have been no talks with the Serbia international's agents, reports Fabrizio Romano. Vlahovic is also wanted by City, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Tottenham.

- Staying at Emirates Stadium, Gianluca Di Marzio says Arsenal are ready to make a move for Juventus sensation Dejan Kulusevski.

Roma, Milan, Atalanta and Napoli are eyeing Sassuolo winger Jeremie Boga, per Foot Mercato.

- Milan are readying contract renewals for Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- According to The Sun, Manchester United are hoping to beat Barca to Milan midfielder Franck Kessie on a free transfer. Kessie has also been linked with PSG, Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter and Atletico.

Dusan Vlahovic is believed to be Juventus' number one transfer target.

However, Juve are not the only club interested in the Serbia international, who is unwilling to re-sign at Fiorentina.

Juve are keeping their options open as they try to reinforced a stuttering squad.

 

TOP STORY – MARTIAL AND ICARDI EMERGE AS JUVE OPTIONS

Anthony Martial and Mauro Icardi are among the alternatives should Juventus miss out on Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato.

Juve are interested in Vlahovic, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Inter, Tottenham and Arsenal.

With competition high, United forward Martial, Paris Saint-Germain's Icardi, Benfica star Darwin Nunez, Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal and Sassuolo's Gianluca Scamacca are also being considered by Juve.

 

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- El Nacional reports Real Madrid are targeting Juve star Federico Chiesa. The Italy international signed from Fiorentina on an initial two-year loan deal and Juve are desperate to make it permanent amid interest from Liverpool.

Manchester United are in no rush to sack embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, per Manchester Evening News. Solskjaer is under pressure following humbling defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers and Zinedine Zidane have been linked.

- Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks are among Roma's transfer targets, says Calciomercato. Roma are also determined to sign Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Italy boss Roberto Mancini has called up Atalanta's Matteo Pessina and Lazio midfielder Danilo Cataldi to his latest squad after losing Roma duo Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo to injury.

The European champions face Switzerland and Northern Ireland in their final two qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup and currently sit top of Group C on goal difference, level on 14 points with the Swiss ahead of their crucial encounter in Rome on Friday.

Mancini, who is already without Marco Verratti due to a hip injury, confirmed earlier on Monday at a media conference that Pellegrini (knee) and Zaniolo (calf) will return to their club.

"Zaniolo was a bit unlucky because he suffered two serious injuries. He is young and he has the qualities to get over it," he said.

"It could have been an important game for him, but he has a problem and we can't take any risk. I don't think he needs my advice, he has the quality and he can improve in everything.

"We will surely replace them [Pellegrini and Zaniolo] because we also need to assess [Nicolo] Barella. We didn't call Pessina because he is not ready."

Despite this, Mancini ultimately did decide to turn to Pessina, as well as Cataldi, who receives his first senior call-up since 2017 after a solid start to the season at Lazio.

The former Manchester City manager did have better news about his defence, with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci appearing to be fit to play despite missing Juventus' 1-0 win against Fiorentina at the weekend.

"They feel well, we have a training session today. We'll see how everyone feels." 

Can Cataldi step up for the Azzurri?

While Mancini is suffering from something of a midfield crisis, having players with the quality of Pessina and Cataldi to call on is not a bad problem to have.

It may be the first call-up for Cataldi in over four years, but he has achieved it off the back of some eye-catching performances at club level for Maurizio Sarri's men.

When measured against Pellegrini, whose role he will fill, Cataldi leads the way in pass success percentage (91.2), albeit the 27-year-old has only started four of his 10 league appearances, while the Roma captain has started 11.

Cataldi also has a superior pass completion rate in the opposition half, with 84.7 per cent compared to Pellegrini's 79.7, so his numbers do not appear to be indicative of him only playing easy passes.

Whether Cataldi gets an opportunity to win only his second cap remains to be seen, but he has clearly caught the eye of Mancini at least.

Antonio Rudiger is out of contract with Chelsea after the season. 

The 28-year-old will have several suitors. 

Real Madrid are prepared to make major changes to acquire him.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID PLOT RUDIGER MOVE

Real Madrid are set to make a push for Antonio Rudiger next off-season, reports AS. 

The centre-back wants €12million (£10m) in annual salary but is not likely to get it from Chelsea. 

Carlo Ancelotti would like to bring Rudiger aboard but may need to clear several other salaries to do so.

Among those potentially on the way out according to AS are Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Isco and Marcelo. 

 

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- Juventus will try to lure Axel Witsel from Borussia Dortmund in the next transfer window, says Bild. Witsel will be out of contract after the season. 

- Roma could shore up their defence by adding Nacho from Real Madrid in January, says Calciomercato. 

- Tottenham and other suitors are eyeing 20-year-old Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile, reports Calciomercato.

- Genoa are set to sack head coach Davide Ballardini and appoint Andriy Shevchenko as his replacement, reports Gianluca Di Marzio.

Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo have returned to Italy's squad for their next World Cup qualifiers, while Torino midfielder Tommaso Pobega has earned a first call-up.

Roberto Mancini's men face Switzerland at Stadio Olimpico next Friday in a likely shootout for top spot in Group C, with the sides level on 14 points.

The Azzurri then round off their Qatar 2022 group qualifying campaign with a match in Northern Ireland three days later.

Milan midfielder Tonali is part of Mancini's 28-man squad for the double-header, a year on from the most recent of his four senior caps, with Paris Saint-Germain's Marco Verratti out injured.

Zaniolo is back involved after a shorter absence from the team, meanwhile, the Roma attacker having missed out on the squad for October's Nations League Finals games.

Pobega is the only new face in the Italy contingent after impressing for Torino, where he is on a season-long loan from Milan.

The 22-year-old, yet to make a senior appearance for the Rossoneri, has two goals and an assist in nine Serie A outings this term.

Elsewhere, Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile are back from injury, but this final international window of the year has come too soon for Moise Kean to return.

Italy are back in qualifying action after their hopes of Nations League success were ended with a 2-1 loss to Spain in last month's semi-finals.

That ended the European champions' world-record run of 37 games unbeaten, but they ​bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Belgium to clinch third place.


Italy squad: Cragno (Cagliari), Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Meret (Napoli), Sirigu (Genoa); Acerbi (Lazio), Bastoni (Inter), Biraghi (Fiorentina), Bonucci (Juventus), Calabria (Milan), Chiellini (Juventus), Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Palmieri (Lyon), Mancini (Roma); Barella (Inter), Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Locatelli (Juventus), Pellegrini (Roma), Pobega (Torino), Tonali (Milan), Zaniolo (Roma); Belotti (Torino), Berardi (Sassuolo), Bernardeschi (Juventus), Chiesa (Juventus), Immobile (Lazio), Insigne (Napoli), Raspadori (Sassuolo).

After their lucrative takeover, Newcastle United are set to make a transfer splash in January.

The Magpies are winless and second last in the Premier League table this season.

Newcastle remain without a manager, following Steve Bruce's dismissal a fortnight ago.

 

TOP STORY – MAGPIES IN FOR COUTINHO LOAN DEAL

Newcastle United look set to make a move for Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho in January, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

Financially embattled LaLiga giants Barca are said to be keen to offload the former Liverpool forward, who arrived at Camp Nou from the Reds in 2018.

Barcelona are reportedly ready to accept a loan deal that includes a mandatory option to buy with Newcastle.

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Barcelona are bullish about signing up Ousmane Dembele to a fresh three-year deal with the option for a further season, claims Mundo Deportivo. Dembele has been linked with LiverpoolManchester United and Juventus.

- Barca are also considering a move to sign Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele on loan, reports Sport. Ndombele has made nine appearances this season.

- Brazilian club Palmeiras have entered the race to sign Manchester United's Edinson Cavani, claims the Daily Express. The Uruguayan signed a one-year contract extension in May.

- Former Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho wants to bring Spurs midfielder Harry Winks and Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Roma, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- Sky Sports reports ex-Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca is still interested in the vacant Newcastle managerial role. Fonseca nearly took over at Tottenham in the off-season. Magpies candidate Unai Emery announced he was staying with Villarreal on Wednesday.

- La Nazione says Tottenham are firmly in the race to sign Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Inter, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Juve.

Davide Calabria fired a warning to Milan as he declared Wednesday's clash with Porto to be their last chance of staying in the Champions League.

The Rossoneri are bottom of Group B, having lost all three of their matches against Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Porto, and are on a five-game losing streak overall in the competition – the worst such run in their history.

Should they lose to Sergio Conceicao's side at San Siro and Atletico beat Liverpool at Anfield, Milan will be unable to finish higher than fourth in the group, meaning their European campaign would be over for 2021-22.

While their domestic form has been strong – they have won 10 of 11 Serie A matches this season, something only three teams have achieved before – Milan were deeply unconvincing in the reverse match against Porto, registering only four shots, their lowest such figure in a Champions League game in almost eight years.

Calabria feels Milan deserve to have at least some points from the first three matchdays but accepts a win is now essential to their chances of going through.

"We have an outlook prepared; it's our last chance to stay in the Champions League," the defender said on Tuesday. "We believe in ourselves and we have the quality to put in a great performance right from kick-off and stay in the competition.

"Certain moments have led to the current standings. We don't deserve it but I am convinced that we have the potential to do better and take points, starting from tomorrow.

"The Champions League is a competition that comes down to the finer details and some of the details have gone against us. It's a shame because we deserve more but there's not much to say. We've been decent in the group until now, except for the game in Portugal."

Milan come into the match buoyed by Sunday's 2-1 league win at Roma, a result that ended Jose Mourinho's 43-game unbeaten home run in Serie A.

The match was not without controversy, though. Referee Fabio Maresca was criticised for his performance, as was VAR, with Mourinho walking away from a post-match interview with DAZN after claiming he feared a touchline ban if he spoke about the officials.

Milan boss Stefano Pioli insisted he and his team cannot become distracted by a growing debate over the standard of officiating in Italy.

"I believe one thing: we beat Roma because we were the better team and lost against Porto because they were better than us," Pioli said. "I can't control anything else.

"We're just going to keep our focus on what we are doing. We analysed the performance with the players and we know what we did well. We can't waste our energy on external factors.

"Now, we are thinking about the Champions League because we feel like we deserve more than zero points in the table and we have this game to confirm that – against a really tough side."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic said Milan believe in their Serie A title credentials after extending their stellar start to the season by beating Roma, but the evergreen star admitted there is a long way to go.

Milan defeated Roma 2-1 at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, with Ibrahimovic opening the scoring with a 25th-minute free-kick, marking the 400th league goal of his career – 150 of those coming in Serie A.

The 40-year-old Swede earned his side a penalty for their second goal, with Franck Kessie converting from the spot in the 57th minute, before Stephan El Shaarawy's late consolation.

The win means Milan have 31 points from 11 Serie A games, sitting behind leaders Napoli only on goal difference.

Milan became the fourth team in Serie A history to win 10 of the first 11 games of the season, after Roma, Juventus (twice) and Napoli (twice). 

"We'll try. We believe in this, we've done well so far, but it's a long season and we must continue to be consistent in our work," Ibrahimovic told DAZN after the game about their title aspirations.

"We believe, but it's early days. Take it one game at a time."

The Rossoneri last lifted the Scudetto in 2010-11, enduring several lean years before last season's runners-up finish.

Milan, who face rivals and champions Inter next, have only dropped points in the league this season away to Juventus, while Roma had been unbeaten at home prior to Sunday's win.

"It was a great performance, we played with a lot of confidence and our style," Ibrahimovic said after scoring his fourth direct free-kick in Serie A and first since January 2012.

"We knew it wasn't easy, Roma were unbeaten at home this season, but we played really well and must continue with this belief and tempo."

The former Sweden international has now scored 11 goals against Roma in Serie A, making them his favourite opponent in the competition.

Ibrahimovic was jeered by the home fans throughout the contest in the Italian capital, but said it provided added motivation for him.

"I need the jeers, the more they jeer, the more alive I feel. Adrenaline brings so much," he said as Milan became the third team in Serie A history to win 15 away games in a calendar year, following Napoli in 2017 (18) and Juventus in 2018 (15).

"We want to win, especially when playing such a big game and a man down. We showed we've all got character and can suffer under pressure too. The lads put in a great performance."

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