Hakan Calhanoglu needs to score more goals if he is to reach his full potential, according to Milan head coach Stefano Pioli.

The Turkey international scored his fourth Serie A goal of the campaign on Saturday as Milan bounced back from consecutive defeats to beat Benevento 2-0 at San Siro.

That goal means Calhanoglu became the fourth Turkish player to score 50 goals in the top five European leagues since the turn of the millennium after Mevlut Erdinc (92), Nihat Kahveci (76) and Halil Altintop (67).

He is still five goals away from his top-flight total from last season and Pioli wants to see more from the 27-year-old in that department.

"In my view, Calhanoglu has not yet achieved his maximum potential. He provides quality, solidity, hard work, he plays with the team," Pioli told DAZN.

"He just needs to be a little more precise on assists and the final ball, keep his head up and check for the options.

"I think he must be motivated to score more goals because with the talent he has, he should set himself much higher targets and aim for double figures."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first appearance for the Rossoneri since he received a red card in the 3-1 win over Parma on April 10 and he was in typically industrious form.

The Sweden international had seven shots – four more than any other player on the pitch – while he contested three more duels than any other Milan player (13).

Despite not finding the back of the net, Pioli was pleased with the 39-year-old's contribution.

"Ibrahimovic is a champion and a champion makes everyone around him raise their game," the Milan boss said.

"Missing him was certainly damaging to the team, but we have reacted to the difficulties and showed character.

"It's an advantage not to give the opposition defence a regular point to focus on, so Zlatan has this great tactical intelligence and knows how to move around trying to find the space."

The result moved Milan a point in front of Atalanta and three ahead of Napoli and Juventus into second place, but all three rival sides have a game in hand to play on Sunday.

Pioli takes his side to Juve next weekend in what will be a crunch game for his side's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Inter players have formed a "team of granite" and will deservedly take their place in the club's history, according to head coach Antonio Conte.

The Nerazzurri overcame Crotone 2-0 on Saturday – a result that relegated Serse Cosmi's side – and they will end an 11-year wait to win a Scudetto if second-placed Atalanta fail to win at Sassuolo on Sunday.

The runaway leaders had been frustrated against Crotone, twice hitting the woodwork before Christian Eriksen put them ahead in the 69th minute.

Achraf Hakimi added a second in stoppage time as Inter moved to within touching distance of the Serie A title.

Conte is thrilled with his players' efforts this season and says they deserve all the plaudits that will come their way when they end Juventus' nine-season dominance of the Italian top flight.

"I think our campaign comes from a constant growth from the team in every area, including mentality, the sharing of a vision and experiencing it intensely," he told Sky Sport Italia. "Those who play or are on the bench have formed a team made of granite.

"We know that we can remain in the history of Inter because we are effectively bringing down a nine-year reign. This is satisfying and the players deserve congratulations.

"We needed to go through this journey in order to win and be considered winners. There are sacrifices to be made, a culture to be developed, and at times giving up so much in order to achieve something extraordinary.

"Not everyone is prepared to do that. I found many players here who all wanted to get on the same boat and work together to become part of Inter history.

"I told the players, 'if you win, then you'll be in the history of this club. If you don't, then you can spend three, seven or more years here and be just one of the many.’

"I didn't have to convince them very hard; they were already on board."

While Inter can be crowned as early as Sunday, Conte suggested he would prefer his side to seal the triumph themselves when they face Sampdoria next weekend.

"We know that we're on the verge and are quite relaxed about it," he explained. "I don't think it's right to depend on someone else. We've got such a big gap that we know it's all our own work and we don't have to thank anyone for a result. It's all still in our hands."

Conte faced some hostility when he took over ahead of the 2019-20 season given his association with Juventus, for whom he both played for and coached with distinction.

The 51-year-old acknowledged it has been a challenge at times but believes he has done enough to win over any dissenting supporters.

"I made the most difficult choice by coming to Inter," he said. "Many would've hidden behind history, but I love a challenge and came here to challenge myself.

"I remain a fan of every club I worked for, but I am the ultimate fan of the club where I work right now, always. I realise it wasn't easy for me to enter the hearts of all Inter fans, but I have always given my all for the team I work for.

"I think I really challenged myself this time and I am rewarded with a team that is doing something extraordinary."

Milan returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Benevento at San Siro that moves them back up to second place in Serie A.

The Rossoneri dropped to fifth following defeats to Sassuolo and Lazio, but they battled to a much-needed win in Saturday's clash with Filippo Inzaghi's struggling Benevento.

Hakan Calhanoglu picked out the bottom-right corner inside six minutes to give Milan the lead and Theo Hernandez added a second from close range with an hour played.

That proved enough as Milan moved a point in front of Atalanta and three ahead of Napoli and Juventus, but all three sides have a game in hand to play on Sunday.

Milan have scored the most goals of any Serie A side in the opening half-hour of games this term, while Benevento have conceded the most, and this contest followed the script.

Calhanoglu exchanged passes with Franck Kessie, played the ball out to Alexis Saelemaekers and got on the end of the return pass to steer a shot past Lorenzo Montipo.

The Benevento keeper did well to save a powerful strike from Rafael Leao soon after and also denied Zlatan Ibrahimovic with his outstretched leg from a one-on-one.

Ibrahimovic was thwarted again by a couple more Montipo saves early in the second half, either side of Iago Falque firing one inches wide at the other end.

However, the next Montipo save on Ibrahimovic paid dividends for Milan as attacking left-back Hernandez was in the right place to turn in the rebound.

Benevento would have moved out of the bottom three with a point, but they could not offer much in response as Milan saw out a deserved victory.

What does it mean? Milan back to winning ways ahead of tough run-in

Stefano Pioli challenged his Milan players to show their fighting spirit on the back of successive losses and they did exactly that with a fairly routine victory on home soil.

This win – just their second in nine home matches in all competitions – moves them into second place and puts pressure on the chasing pack to win their games on Sunday.

With a trip to Juventus next weekend, and a visit to fellow top-four rivals Atalanta also still to come, Pioli's men need to use this win as a platform to rebuild some momentum.

Hakan at it again

The midfielder created and finished off a well-worked Milan opener, with Kessie also deserving of praise for dummying Saelemaekers' pass for his team-mate to convert.

Calhanoglu, who became the fourth Turkish player to score 50 goals in the top five European leagues this century, ended the contest with a game-high 48 passes in the opposition half.

Zlatan denied

The veteran striker missed Milan's last three games through suspension and injury but was deemed fit enough to start against Benevento.

He had a few good opportunities to score but could not find a way past inspired keeper Montipo from any of his seven shots, five of which were on target.

What's next?

Milan have that huge showdown with soon-to-be-dethroned champions Juventus a week on Sunday, while Benevento host Cagliari in an equally important clash the same day.

Christian Eriksen and Achraf Hakimi put Inter on the brink of securing the Serie A title with second-half goals in a 2-0 victory at Crotone.

The runaway leaders had been frustrated against a relegated side who are bottom of the table until Eriksen struck just a few minutes after coming on midway through the second half on Saturday.

Romelu Lukaku struck the woodwork and had a goal ruled out, while Lautaro Martinez hit the post, but Eriksen opened the scoring with a deflected drive and Hakimi sealed all three points with the last kick of the game.

Victory at Stadio Ezio Scida ensured the Nerazzurri will end an 11-year wait to win a Scudetto if second-placed Atalanta fail to win at Sassuolo on Sunday.

Adam Ounas forced a save from Samir Handanovic and Stefano Sensi's shot deflected wide at the other end in a frantic start.

Sensi was denied by Alex Cordaz from a tight angle when the midfielder was presented with another early opportunity before he whipped in a corner that Lukaku headed against the post.

Martinez's right-footed strike rattled off the inside of the post and Cordaz palmed away another effort from Sensi as the Nerazzurri somehow failed to open the scoring in the first half.

Battling Crotone got everyone behind the ball in what resembled a training exercise with Inter continuing to probe after the break, Sensi's scuffed strike gathered by Cordaz after his free-kick struck the wall.

Antonio Conte made a triple substitution after 65 minutes and Eriksen made just the impact he was hoping for soon after coming on.

Lukaku showed great strength before laying the ball off to the Denmark midfielder, whose right-footed drive from around 20 yards out deflected into the corner of the net.

Leading scorer Lukaku had a goal disallowed for offside seven minutes from time but Hakimi put the icing on the cake with a second goal right at the end, finishing off a counter-attack with a clinical finish.

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo maintains he is not worried about his future amid reports he could be sacked and replaced by Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri, who stepped down in 2019 after winning five Serie A titles in a row with the Bianconeri, is reportedly the leading contender to take over should Pirlo be dismissed.

Juve are fourth in the table after 33 games and almost certain not to win a 10th consecutive Scudetto. Indeed, Inter will be crowned champions should they defeat Crotone and Atalanta fail to beat Sassuolo.

With the league title slipping away and their Champions League campaign ended by a last-16 defeat to Porto, there are serious doubts over whether Pirlo will be given a second season in charge of the club.

John Elkann, the CEO of Exor – the holding company of Juve's owners – visited the team's training ground this week to add further fuel to the rumours, but Pirlo insists he is not distracted.

"I'm fine," said the 2006 World Cup winner. "I talked to the owners the other day. It's not the first time they've come. We had a little chat about everything, as we always do. I'm calm about my work.

"I read the names of possible successors from you. I don't allow myself to be influenced and I'm focused on what I have to do.

"We are aware that this is a very important moment: we have 15 points to win plus the Coppa Italia final. All matches are fundamental and we are focused on the next one.

"My goal is to win the remaining matches that will lead the team to the Champions League and win the Coppa Italia. I am not thinking about anything else: I'm calm and concentrated. These final days will be a fight to the end, with difficult matches for everyone... starting tomorrow."

Juve face Udinese on Sunday, a team against whom they have won six times and lost just once in their most recent seven league meetings.

Erling Haaland is hot property right now with a long list of suitors keen on the Norwegian forward.

Financially powerful clubs Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea are among those jostling for the Borussia Dortmund man but Barcelona are in contention too.

Haaland and his agent Mino Raiola visited Barcelona along with Madrid in April as talks commenced.

 

TOP STORY - MESSI PAY CUT TO FUND HAALAND DEAL

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is willing to take a pay cut in order to help Barcelona land Erling Haaland according to Eurosport.

Messi wants to renew with Barca under the assumption the club is ambitious and contending for top honours.

Contract talks have commenced between Messi and the Catalans, with reports that they will offer Messi a new 10-year contract.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca reports that Real Madrid are looking to extend Lucas Vazquez's contract with a new and improved offer.

- Raheem Sterling could be offloaded by Manchester City this off-season, in order to fund moves for Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish, claims Football Insider.

- Chelsea are in the race for Juventus' French midfielder Adrien Rabiot, along with Barcelona, reports Calciomercato.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Napoli have made a €10 million offer to Club Brugge for 20-year-old Belgium international Charles De Ketelaere.

- Gazzetta dello Sport also reports that Juventus wants to lure Massimiliano Allegri back to the club to replace head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Everton have been busy in the transfer market in recent times and they are preparing for another splash.

The Toffees, who are led by two-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti, brought in James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan this season.

Everton remain in the hunt for European football with a top 10 finish looking assured but owner Farhad Moshiri's ambition still burns for more.

 

TOP STORY - EVERTON SET FOR COUTINHO SPLASH

Everton are set to land former Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona in a £35million deal, according to The Sun.

The Toffees are allegedly already house hunting for the 28-year-old Brazilian, who would join countrymen Richarlison, Bernard and Allan at Goodison Park.

Coutinho has never quite settled at Barcelona since leaving Liverpool for Camp Nou in 2018, spending time on loan on Bayern Munich, while he has had injuries this term.

Barcelona are reportedly keen to offload Coutinho, who underwent knee surgery earlier this month, even for a cut-price fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims that Inter have rebuffed Manchester City's advances for Romelu Lukaku, insisting they are not willing to listen to any offers for the Belgian marksman.

- Aston Villa are monitoring Tammy Abraham's situation at Chelsea after it emerged that Blues are willing to sell him for a reported £40 million price tag, claims The Mirror.

- The Sun reports Brighton's Ben White has attracted interest from Borussia Dortmund who join the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal in pursuing him.

- Tottenham are hoping to speak to Ajax coach Erik ten Hag about taking up their vacant position following Jose Mourinho's sacking, according to The Guardian.

Neymar's future at Paris Saint-Germain remains strangely undecided.

The 29-year-old Brazilian has said he is happy in Paris but speculation continues to bubble away.

Neymar is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly discussing a renewal with PSG until 2026.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR TEMPTED BY BARCELONA RETURN

Neymar continues to flirt privately with a return to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Publicly, the Brazil star has declared he is happy with PSG but in no rush to re-sign, yet there are behind-the-scenes rumblings, potentially part of contract manoeuvring.

Neymar is reportedly obsessed with playing alongside Lionel Messi again at Camp Nou and continues to keep that option open.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are still in the market for a right-winger with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho top of their list, according to 90 Min.

- The Sun reports that Chelsea are preparing to launch a £90million-plus offer to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the club from Inter.

- Chelsea are also open to offers for forward Tammy Abraham this off-season, with an asking price of £40m, claims The Telegraph.

- Arsenal wants to sign Norwich City full-back Max Aarons as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, whom they are prepared to offload, reports 90 Min.

- Juventus' Turkish defender Merih Demiral is in the sights of Everton, according to Calciomercato.

- AS claims that Atletico Madrid may ask Juventus to swap Paulo Dybala as compensation to permanently sign on-loan forward Alvaro Morata.

Will Cristiano Ronaldo still be at Juventus next season?

Ronaldo's future appears to depend on Juve's Champions League participation.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain loom large for the Portuguese superstar.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD OR PSG FOR RONALDO?

Cristiano Ronaldo is weighing up whether to return to Manchester United or join Paris Saint-Germain if Juventus fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, according to Tuttosport.

Ronaldo's future has dominated headlines amid speculation the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is set to leave Serie A giants Juve at the end of the current campaign.

Initially linked with Real Madrid, Ronaldo is reportedly eyeing either United or PSG in order to play in the Champions League.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is set to replace Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich. Despite interest from Tottenham and other clubs, Nagelsmann has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who must negotiate a fee with Leipzig.

Raphael Varane wants to leave Madrid amid links with Chelsea, United and PSG, claims Diario AS. The France international defender is contracted to the Santiago Bernabeu until next season but Madrid are believed to be willing to cash in on Varane as they look to fund moves for PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Liverpool, United, Manchester City, Juve, Bayern and Barcelona.

- Manchester Evening News says United are interested in Slavia Prague's 21-year-old forward Abdallah Sima.

- The Sun reports England centre-back John Stones is in advanced talks with Premier League leaders City over a new five-year contract.

- Antonio Conte is dreaming of prising Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul to Inter, says Calciomercato. The Argentina international has also been linked with Napoli and Leeds United.

Stefano Pioli warned Milan must not feel sorry for themselves after a 3-0 Serie A defeat at Lazio and expects them to show a strong response to dropping out of the top four.

Joaquin Correa scored twice and Ciro Immobile added a late third as Lazio boosted their chances of qualifying for the Champions League at Stadio Olimpico on Monday.

Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi was able to celebrate a 10th consecutive home victory in the top flight in his first game back on the touchline since recovering from coronavirus.

Milan, on the other hand, have suffered back-to-back defeats and are down in fifth place with five games remaining - level on points with Napoli and Juventus.

Lazio are five points behind the Rossoneri with a game in hand and Pioli has challenged his side to roll up their sleeves in the battle for a place in Europe's premier club competition following an emphatic loss against his former club.

He told Sky Italia: "I expected more from the team, we have the technical and physical qualities to do better.

"The game became complicated at 2-0 and I don't see how the tackle on Calha [Hakan Calhanoglu before Correa's second goal] could not be a foul.

"Now we have to show that we are as strong as I believe we are, we have to react immediately because this is a heavy defeat."

Asked about the size of the challenging facing his side in the quest for a Champions League spot, he replied: "The opponents are strong but we're there and we don't have to feel sorry for ourselves, we know what we have to do."

Pioli says Milan must get on the training ground and show the right mentality with so much at stake.

"There have been some tactical things that have worked or not and need to be improved," said the Milan head coach. "I know I have an intelligent team, despite being young, with great character. I expect an important reaction."

Pirlo revealed he hopes striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to return from injury against Benevento at San Siro on Saturday.

UEFA on Monday revealed the Sweden star, who signed a new one-year deal with Milan last week, is being investigated for "an alleged financial interest in a betting company".

Serie A teams who still wish to pursue the European Super League on June 21 will lose their league membership, according to a new ruling in Italy.

Italian giants Juventus, Inter and Milan signed up to the controversial breakaway competition earlier this month among 12 elite European clubs.

Proposals guaranteed participation for the dozen founding teams, who would no longer enter the Champions League.

But the anti-competitive tournament prompted outrage around the football world, and pressure from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media soon told.

The Premier League's 'big six' all backed out within two days of the Super League's launch, while Inter quickly followed.

Milan appeared to distance themselves from the new competition, too, but Juventus, while acknowledging the existing format cannot work, retain hope of reform in European football.

Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli has been credited with playing a key role in the organisation of the tournament.

But initial plans suggested the Bianconeri and their allies would continue to play in domestic competitions while contesting the Super League.

A new regulation, passed on Monday, means this cannot happen.

Italian Football Association (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina said: "Those who believe they should participate in a competition not authorised by the FIGC, UEFA and FIFA lose membership.

"At the moment, we have no news of who remained and who left the Super League.

"This rule refers to national licenses. It is clear that if, on June 21, the deadline for registration applications, someone wishes to participate in competitions of a private nature, they will not take part in our championship."

Juve would appear to be the club at most serious risk, although Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has claimed Milan are also still involved.

Both Juve and Milan first have work to do to clinch qualification for the Champions League, the tournament they sought to break away from.

Andrea Pirlo's team were held to a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina on Sunday and are fourth, level on points with fifth-placed Milan, who were thumped 3-0 by Lazio on Monday.

Joaquin Correa scored twice as Lazio enhanced their chances of qualifying for the Champions League and left Milan out of the top four with a 3-0 win at fortress Stadio Olimpico.

Correa scored after only 77 seconds and struck again in the second half to seal a deserved victory for Lazio in head coach Simone Inzaghi's first game back on the touchline since recovering from coronavirus.

The prolific Ciro Immobile rubbed salt into the wounds with a late third as Milan were toothless in defeat to Stefano Pioli's former club and slipped to fifth in the Serie A table, level on points with Napoli and Juventus.

Lazio are five points adrift of the Rossoneri, after securing a 10th successive home victory in the top flight, and they have a game in hand in what is shaping up to be a tense battle for Champions League qualification. 

Joaquin Correa scored twice as Lazio enhanced their chances of qualifying for the Champions League and pushed Milan out of the top four with a 3-0 win at fortress Stadio Olimpico.

Correa scored after only 77 seconds and struck again in the second half to seal a deserved victory for Lazio in head coach Simone Inzaghi's first game back on the touchline since recovering from coronavirus.

The prolific Ciro Immobile rubbed salt into the wounds with a late third as Milan were toothless in defeat to Stefano Pioli's former club and slipped to fifth in the Serie A table, level on points with Napoli and Juventus.

Lazio are five points adrift of the Rossoneri, after securing a 10th successive home victory in the top flight, and they have a game in hand in what is shaping up to be a tense battle for Champions League qualification. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being investigated by UEFA for "an alleged financial interest in a betting company", European football's governing body has confirmed.

Earlier this month, Swedish publication Aftonbladet claimed Ibrahimovic was potentially in breach of FIFA regulations due to apparent involvement in the Maltese gambling company Bethard.

It was claimed that a business Ibrahimovic owns holds 10 per cent of Bethard's shares, making it their fourth-largest shareholder.

Ibrahimovic's association with Bethard was nothing new, as the former Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain star became their global ambassador in 2018.

But the Aftonbladet report was the first time allegations of a more substantial involvement were brought to light and now UEFA is taking the claims seriously.

A statement issued by UEFA read: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR), a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has today been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding a potential violation of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations by Mr. Zlatan Ibrahimovic for having an alleged financial interest in a betting company.

"Further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course."

FIFA's ethics code prohibits the involvement in betting enterprises for players, officials, referees and intermediaries.

It says: "They are forbidden from participating in, either directly or indirectly, betting, gambling, lotteries or similar events or transactions related to football matches or competitions and/or any related football activities.

"They shall not have any interests, either directly or indirectly (through or in conjunction with third parties), in entities, companies, organisations, etc. that promote, broker, arrange or conduct betting, gambling, lotteries or similar events or transactions connected with football matches and competitions;

"'Interests' include gaining any possible advantage for the persons bound by the Code themselves and/or related parties."

If found guilty, Ibrahimovic, 39, faces a ban from all football-related activity for up to three years.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being investigated by UEFA for "an alleged financial interest in a betting company", European football's governing body has confirmed.
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