Franck Kessie's penalty salvaged a last-gasp point for Milan against Udinese at San Siro but Zlatan Ibrahimovic's absence was felt as the Rossoneri's title hopes took another blow in a 1-1 draw.

Leading scorer Ibrahimovic is set to miss up to three weeks with a thigh injury and on Wednesday's evidence Milan could struggle to cope.

With leaders Inter in action on Thursday, Milan would have moved to within a point of their city rivals with a victory, yet a mistake from Gianluigi Donnarumma looked set to cost them.

Rodrigo Becao's 68th-minute header found its way past the Italy goalkeeper, but Jens Stryger Larsen's inexplicable handball enabled Kessie to rescue a point from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game.

Jose Mourinho believes anyone wondering why it took Gareth Bale so long to hit top form for Tottenham would be better off asking Real Madrid.

Bale had a miserable start to his Tottenham return after coming back to the club on a season-long loan deal in September.

He struggled with his form and fitness, quickly falling out of favour with Mourinho.

Bale has been revitalised of late though, impressing in two Europa League games against Wolfsberger as well as Premier League clashes against West Ham and Burnley.

Mourinho recently said Bale was the happiest, fittest and most confident he has ever been at Tottenham.

The Spurs boss confirmed Bale had another good reaction to his 70-minute outing in the 4-0 win over Burnley on Sunday.

It means the Wales international is in contention to play at least some part when Spurs take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Thursday.

"For the past two years, he had what he had in Madrid," said Mourinho. "Ask them [why it took Bale so long to find form]. 

"Maybe if they answer you, you can understand better why he took a while. 

"Maybe to be patient was the main reason for him to reach the level he showed in the last couple of weeks."

Asked if Bale would be involved in the Fulham game, he added: "I believe so. Starting or on the bench I don't know, we have to decide that.

"He is such an experienced guy so of course his opinion is very important. But he has had a good reaction [after the Burnley game], a good recovering session and he will be involved. 

"I repeat: [it could be] bench or starting, but he will be there."

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso will not be rushed back despite returning to training.

"He is training with the team but it was a big injury," added Mourinho.

"We are not going to risk [him] yet. In fact, we don't want to risk [him at all], we want to bring him to the team and competition when there is no risk. One week, two more weeks. 

"Apart from that, everyone OK. One more training session after this but everyone OK."
 

BALE'S SWIFT IMPROVEMENT

Bale has registered four goals and three assists in his last four games for Tottenham.

In his first 16 matches since returning, he only recorded four goals and did not register a single assist.

The 31-year-old's minutes per goal involvement have impressively plummeted from 200.8 in his first 16 matches to one every 28.7 in this most recent four-match span.

Bale is having more of an active role in other areas too. His chances created per 90 minutes are up to 3.1 from just 1.1, while his shot conversion rate is 44.4 per cent, up from 10.5.

It is only a small sample size and two of the matches were against weaker opposition in Wolfsberger, but the signs are encouraging.

The amount of shots he is taking is similar (4 per game compared to 4.3 before), but notably more of Spurs' attacks are coming through Bale. 

He has accounted for 22 per cent of Spurs' shots in the last four matches, where before he was responsible for just nine per cent of their attempts in the time he was on the pitch.
 

HOW DO HIS STATS COMPARE TO REAL MADRID?

The recent burst from Bale means his statistics since returning to Spurs compare favourably to his successful Madrid tenure in a number of categories.

Again, it is worth noting his Spurs figures are from a comparatively small sample size making them more prone to fluctuations – 20 matches compared to 251 in the Spanish capital.

Bale has 11 goal involvements for Spurs (eight goals and three assists) in 1,004 minutes on the pitch, giving him an average of 91 minutes per contribution.

At Madrid, he averaged one every 111 minutes.

Bale also compares favourably when looking solely at minutes per goal (171 at Madrid v 126 at Spurs).

He did, however, win 65 per cent of the games he played in at Madrid, compared to 60 per cent since returning to Spurs, a sign of the difficult season experienced by the London club.

Juventus have completed the permanent signing of Weston McKennie from Schalke for a further initial fee of €18.5million.

The United States international signed on a season-long loan for a fee of €4.5m last August.

The 22-year-old has impressed in his first few months with the Serie A champions, scoring five goals in 31 appearances in all competitions, including in the 3-0 Champions League win away to Barcelona.

His five goals in Serie A have already made him the leading American scorer in the history of Italy's top flight.

On Wednesday, Juve announced McKennie had signed a four-year contract. The €18.5m will be paid to Schalke over three years and could rise by a further €6.5m in variables.

"Weston McKennie's adventure with the Juventus shirt started very well and, as they say, the numbers don't lie," Juve said in announcing the deal.

"Wes has proven to be a very important resource for coach [Andrea] Pirlo, having already put his signature on important performances and goals. It's impossible not to think about his goal against Barcelona at Camp Nou, or the one in the Derby della Mole – his first in the black and white jersey.

"It's also important to note that he is also the youngest midfielder in this league with at least four goals, as well as the best American scorer in Serie A history. In six of the goals he has actively participated in (four goals and two assists), Juventus have always won.

"It's because of this, that as of today, he has become an outright Juventus player, with the club having made the move permanent from Schalke."

Former Jamaica international, Darren Moore, has called for unity at new club Sheffield Wednesday as the team gears up for a difficult battle to stay in the English second division. 

Moore, who took over the position from caretaker boss Neil Thompson, became the club's third manager, of a turbulent 2021 campaign, last week.  The Owls had been without a manager since December 28 following the sacking of Tony Pulis after 10 matches.  The Jamaican opted to leave League One side Doncaster Rovers, who he had lifted to a playoff position.

Despite not having played in the Premier League since 2000, Sheffield Wednesday are one of England’s traditional clubs and has four top-flight titles.  Having lost four of the last five matches, however, the team is currently in the relegation zone and six points adrift of safety.

“It’s a huge challenge but what I will say to everyone connected to this wonderful football club is that what has gone on has gone on, and there’s nothing that we can do about that because it’s gone.  It's time to come together as one because we all have a love and desire for this football club,” Moore told the club’s official website in a recent interview.

“It wonderful when the work that you are doing is recognised by a club of this size and structure and all I want to do is continue to do what I have been doing and that is working hard, giving Sheffield Wednesday every ounce of myself in terms of getting the club going and moving forward,” he added.

Moore previously had a spell with West Bromwich Albion where he took over as caretaker manager from Allan Pardew in 2018.  This made him the first-ever Jamaican to manage in the Premier League.

 

Could Gianluigi Donnarumma swap Milan for London?

Donnarumma's future with Serie A outfit Milan is far from certain as he prepares to become a free agent.

While Chelsea already boast Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga in their goalkeeping ranks, the Premier League giants are reportedly interested in Donnarumma.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE DONNARUMMA

Chelsea are monitoring Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma amid his contract situation at San Siro, according to Eurosport.

Donnarumma is out of contract at season's end and while Milan have been discussing a new deal, the Italy star is yet to commit to the Serie A club.

The 22-year-old has already been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports PSG are fighting Real Madrid to sign Bayern star David Alaba. The Austria international will leave Bayern on a free transfer at season's end and while he has been tipped to join Madrid, PSG remain keen on him, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Inter have reached a "handshake agreement" with Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, claims Sport Mediaset. The Netherlands international, whose contract expires at the end of June, has been linked to Barcelona.

- Borussia Dortmund are increasingly resigned to losing star forward Erling Haaland at the end of the season as they turn to Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri, says Eurosport. Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in Europe, wanted by City, United, Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea, Liverpool and others.

It is not normally a mood he has to strive too hard to locate but, after Barcelona's restorative 2-0 win over Sevilla at the weekend, Gerard Pique was bullish.

On Wednesday, Ronald Koeman's side will seek to overturn the same deficit in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against the Andalusian club.

The chastening 4-1 Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain, where Pique's return from three months out with a knee injury was entirely ruined by him having to try to mark Kylian Mbappe, left Barca's hopes of averting a second trophy-less season hanging by a thread.

But goals from Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi made it back-to-back LaLiga wins last time out, while there is the prospect of one or both of the Madrid clubs dropping points when they meet on Sunday.

"We've seen much worse things and the team, despite those two games, is one to believe in this year," Pique said.

"It's not an ideal situation, but I'm confident in the team. Everything is in our head. If we turn it around on Wednesday, the season changes completely."

Wind the pre-match build-up forward a few days and Barcelona's offices have been raided, their ex-president has been arrested, candidates for this weekend's presidential election are lambasting one another in public and Koeman is fielding questions about his future.

It's not an ideal situation.

Of course, this is the state of perma-chaos in which Barcelona reside nowadays. It is a state that persuaded Messi to try to force his exit from the club and it is a state within which they must now convince him to remain when the great man's contract expires in June.

Even more so than in the trophy-laden days that have dominated his record-breaking career, everything at Barca is shot through an unblinking Messi lens.

Take the dramatic off-field developments of recent days.

Josep Maria Bartomeu was the president who drove Messi to the brink of leaving. In fact, the superstar forward was only forced to stay because he claimed Bartomeu went back on a promise to let him walk away if he chose to do so at the end of 2019-20 – a season that, of course, concluded with that implausible 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Bartomeu's arrest by Catalan police to face charges of unfair administration and corruption of business was reportedly related to the "Barcagate" scandal, when social media company 13 Ventures were allegedly paid to smear club greats, including Messi. Pricewaterhouse Coopers were commissioned by Bartomeu to investigate the matter and found in Barca's favour.

Joan Laporta, president during those glory years when Messi blossomed under Guardiola, is favourite to be elected for a return to the top job. On Tuesday, he debated opponents Victor Font and Toni Freixa, and Messi was obviously on the agenda.

Laporta believes he is the only candidate who can "ensure" a Messi stay, boasting of "a great relationship with Leo" and using this as a point of difference between himself and Bartomeu ally Freixa.

Font believes he has the best proposition for Messi, namely bring back his old team-mate as head coach. Which is a lovely idea, if not a lovely subject for Koeman to address a couple of hours later at his news conference to preview a potentially season-defining game.

Maybe this is why Messi continues to hold his cards close to his chest. So long as only he knows his intentions over his future, he is in control. Soon enough it will become a matter of public debate, blame, recriminations and conspiracy.

The other thing he still controls masterfully is events on the field.

Much of the talk around Messi's future increasingly centres on his age. Next season he'll be 34. Would he enhance the destructive power of the PSG forward line that wrought such havoc at Camp Nou? Do City need another twinkle-toed creator sauntering in off the right flank?

To dismiss Messi as being over-the-hill, as some would have you believe, needs a little evidence to back it up. He has been most unhelpful in that regard.

In 2021, no player in Europe's top five leagues has more than his 14 goals (level with Robert Lewandowski) across all competitions.

Messi rounded off an all-action showing against Sevilla on Saturday with his 30th goal against them in LaLiga. He has never scored more often against a single opponent.

He supplied the assist for Dembele and completed 41 of 45 passes in the opposition half (91.1 per cent). Additionally, the Argentina international has attempted 100 dribbles this season – putting him second to Adama Traore in the top five leagues.

"What he wants is to win again," Laporta said, before casting himself ambitiously at the heart of this story. "If I don't win, I'm sure Leo won't continue at Barca."

It is hard to imagine Messi pouring over Sunday's election results with any great concern. He feels like a man on a mission and in the mood as events clatter on ominously all around him. On the pitch he remains in charge, about the only guarantee an embattled Barcelona have left.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic declared "I have been the best on this stage" as the Milan star made his controversial debut at the Sanremo festival.

Ibrahimovic has been criticised for attending the music event, which spans four days, while Milan fight for the Serie A title.

It also comes as the 39-year-old forward nurses an injury, forcing him to miss Wednesday's clash against Udinese at San Siro after exiting Sunday's win away to Roma.

But Ibrahimovic looked comfortable on Tuesday, stepping out on stage as co-presenter while joking with fellow presenter Amadeus.

"It is an honour to be here, but also an honour for you to have me here," Milan's top goalscorer Ibrahimovic told Amadeus.

"Normally I feel big, powerful, but here I feel small. Still bigger and more powerful than you, though."

Ibrahimovic added: "First of all, there will be 22 singers in the competition, 11 against 11, otherwise it's not right.

"Seeing as there are 26, sell four of the singers, I hear Liverpool are looking for players. If not, put them in the garden and I'll get them working.

"The second rule is about the stage. It's too small, made for small people like you. I need the stage to be 105 metres by 68 metres, like the pitch at San Siro.

"No stress, don't worry, as long as Zlatan is here, everything will be fine. Zlatan's Festival lasts 90 minutes plus stoppages.

"I have been the best on this stage. Not just tonight, but of all time."

Ibrahimovic has scored 14 Serie A goals this season – only Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (19) and Romelu Lukaku (18) have managed more – as Milan sit second in the table, four points behind leaders Inter.

Pep Guardiola is optimistic "the best club in the world" Barcelona will recover from off-field turmoil "in a short time" under a new president.

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was "provisionally released under charges of unfair administration and corruption of business" after being arrested following a raid on the LaLiga club's offices on Monday.

Bartomeu and ex-director Jaume Masferrer exercised their right not to testify on Tuesday when answering to charges of unfair administration and corruption of business.

Barca's head of legal services Roman Gomez Ponti and former director Jaume Masferrer were also arrested.

The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has confirmed the case was still open.

The investigation is thought to centre around the "Barcagate" scandal, when the Spanish giants allegedly paid social media company 13 Ventures to smear celebrated club names such as Lionel Messi, Guardiola, Xavi, Gerard Pique and ex-president Joan Laporta during Bartomeu's leadership.

Los Mossos searched Barca's offices in July 2020 in relation to the claims, although the club hired Price Waterhouse Coopers to investigate the matter and the global auditing firm found in their favour.

Former Barca player and head coach Guardiola believes there will be better times to come for the Catalan powerhouse following Sunday's presidential election, with Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Antoni Freixa standing for office.

Manchester City manager Guardiola said after his side's 4-1 Premier League win over Wolves on Tuesday: "I know it's an uncomfortable situation and hopefully it's going to finish well. He's [Bartomeu] already now innocent until proven guilty.

"The only thing I'm concerned about right now is in one week we will have a new president. I want to congratulate all three for the campaign, we are in a difficult situation all around the world and in Barcelona especially, for many reasons everybody already knows.

"To have the courage to the lead the next years and I'm pretty sure hopefully as many people as possible can vote and choose the right president to lead this incredible club.

"For me, the best club in the world for the sentimental issues and I'm pretty sure Barcelona will come back stronger in a short time.

"The new president will have to lead with confidence, join the team and fans together as one and it's going to be the club that we are. I'm looking forward to the election next Sunday and hopefully the president we choose will be okay."

Cristiano Ronaldo made history on Tuesday to give Juventus a 3-0 Serie A victory over Spezia in Turin.

The 36-year-old struck the third goal of the game after Alvaro Morata and Federico Chiesa had put the champions in control in the second half at the Allianz Stadium.

Ronaldo's clinical finish saw him become the first player to score at least 20 goals in each of the past 12 seasons in Europe's top-five leagues.

It was a moment to savour for the Portugal star, who was playing in the 600th league match of his career, as he moved two goals clear of Inter's Romelu Lukaku in the race to finish as Serie A top scorer for 2020-21.

The result lifted Juve back to within seven points of league leaders Inter with 14 games remaining, and head coach Andrea Pirlo is not prepared to give up on their chances of a 10th title in succession.

"The gap is just the points that separate us," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We know it will be a long chase. Inter have been playing together for two years, they have a well-drilled approach, whereas we just started this season. We still intend to be there right to the end."

Pirlo felt his side's sluggish start against Spezia was "more physical than psychological fatigue", adding: "It can happen when you have so many games with the same players.

"We tried to control the game and then when the fresh legs came on, we were sharper and able to make the most of our chances."

Lazio turned up for a Serie A clash with Torino on Tuesday, but their opponents stayed away in a move that looks set to trigger a fresh dispute over how Italian football is handling the coronavirus crisis.

The Stadio Olimpico fixture had an early evening kick-off, scheduled for 18:30 local time, and home side Lazio duly arrived, with coach Simone Inzaghi announcing a team for the game.

That was already in the knowledge, however, that Torino would not be present to provide the opposition, having stayed in Turin on the advice of their local health authority after a COVID-19 outbreak.

Torino's home match against Sassuolo, due to take place last Friday, was postponed because of those cases becoming apparent.

However, Lega Serie A decided the Lazio game should go ahead, despite Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina declaring it was an "objective impossibility" to get the match on.

Gravina, quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport, said he understood Torino's situation to be "a full-blown force majeure" and not a spur-of-the-moment decision not to travel to Rome for the game. League chiefs, however, were not as obviously sympathetic.

A string of training sessions were postponed by Torino last week. At around the time Lazio published their team sheet for Tuesday's game, Torino posted a training update, saying players had been working individually because of the restrictions imposed by local authorities.

The Corriere dello Sport newspaper said referee Marco Piccinini declared the game abandoned at 19:15 in Rome, adding that two Lazio players were called for routine doping tests despite the fixture not being played.

It remains to be seen what steps Lega Serie A takes next, but there has been a precedent of sorts this season, when Napoli were barred from travelling to Turin to face Juventus in October.

League chiefs had turned down a request to call off the game and awarded a 3-0 victory to Juventus, also docking Napoli one point. However, the Naples side appealed to the Italian Olympic Committee's Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport - the highest sporting court in the land - and overturned the Lega Serie A decision. That game will be replayed, with March 17 reportedly a possible date.

Lazio sporting director Igli Tare told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Tuesday's intended kick-off time: "I could say many things, but I keep them to myself.

"We respected the rules and we came to the stadium. Now we will wait 45 minutes, then we will leave everything in the hands of the competent bodies.

"Would I have preferred to play? Absolutely yes."

Tare said it was not important whether he understood Torino's point of view.

"I just have to respect the rules of the Lega," he said. "We know how things stand. We are here and this is the only thing that matters."

Ansu Fati has been advised to stay humble by Barcelona great Lionel Messi, who the teenager would love to see alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in a five-a-side dream team.

Spain international Fati has made a huge impact at Camp Nou since bursting onto the scene in August 2019, setting a number of records along the way before being struck down by a knee injury that has ruled him out since November.

Fati is Barca's youngest ever goalscorer, the youngest player to score and provide an assist in a single LaLiga game, the youngest Camp Nou goalscorer and the youngest player to score in a Champions League game.

Many have compared the 18-year-old's rise to stardom as being similar to that of Messi, who has gone on to win a record six Ballons d'Or across his 17 seasons in Barca's first team.

And La Masia product Fati, who has been nominated for the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year award, has been given guidance by Messi over the past 18 months.

"What advice has he given me? I try to transmit the same humility as he does. Despite all he has done, he is a very simple man, and the advice he gives is always about keeping your feet on the ground," Fati said, talking to Barcelona's official website.

"It is a dream to play with the best player in the world and learn from him in training."

Fati did not name Messi as his role model - that honour instead went to brother Braima - but he did pick the Argentina international in his fantasy side, along with a group of former Barca stars and ex-Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Asked to select five players, Fati said: "That would be Víctor Valdes, [Carles] Puyol, Xavi or Iniesta, Messi and Cristiano."

Fati is not expected to return for Barcelona until the start of next season, at which point he may be joined by fellow academy product Eric Garcia, who looks set to return to the club from Manchester City.

Garcia spent close to a decade in the Catalan giants' academy set-up and Fati has named the 20-year-old centre-back as his best team-mate.

"We have grown up together from a young age," Fati said. "We've played together and he helped me get better.

"He was very hard to dribble past, and we've been 'at war' since we were kids. We've also played together for Spain - we were always dreaming of this as kids."

A letter released on behalf of Jamaica’s national football players has described recent information circulating in the media, regarding specifics of ongoing negotiations with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), as ‘inaccurate’ but were unable to set the record straight due to contractual obligations.

The details of the report caused bulging eyeballs, with claims the national team’s representatives had requested a few eye-watering sums for the upcoming campaigns.  Among the standout details was a US$7000 ($1,053,791.20) per player, per match request, in addition to a US$1,000 (150,541.60) win bonus, for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. 

With an assumed squad of 22 players, at that rate, excluding the bonus, the JFF could be forced to fork out US$154,000 ($23,183,406) per match for the 14 match qualifiers.  In total, the bill would amount to US$2,156,000 ($324,567,689) for the period and that would be the wage bill, exclusive of other expenses like travel and accommodation.  If the reports are accurate, the parties remain miles apart as the JFF has insisted the most it can offer is US$2000 ($301,083) per match.

In addition, the information released claimed the players have requested US$5,000 ($752,708), for an international friendly, which includes a US$1,000 dollar win bonus.  For the CONCACAF Nations League, that amount would fall to US$3,000 ($451,624.80).

According to the release issued by the players’ attorney, negotiations remained ongoing and it was premature to offer details on the issue.

“The players have indicated that it would be premature to make comments on an ongoing negotiation of such national importance,” the release read.

 “The players, upon request by the JFF through their attorney, were asked to keep details of the current negotiations confidential. The players are therefore exercising this responsibility and will not dishonour that request.

The players consider qualification to the World Cup and maintaining Jamaica's top 50 rankings as an important responsibility and remain committed to an amicable resolution with the JFF.

 They look forward to continuing meaningful discussions with the JFF around a number of outstanding issues, including, but not limited to, match remuneration.”

 

 

Ante Rebic has been passed fit to partner Rafael Leao up front but it remains to be seen if Alessio Romagnoli will start when injury-hit Milan face Udinese in Serie A on Wednesday.

Rebic scored the winner in the Rossoneri's 2-1 victory over Roma on Sunday before being withdrawn due to injury.

Milan head coach Pioli says the Croatia international will be ready to start against Udinese and Leao will take his place in the team after coming off the bench at the weekend to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Asked about Rebic's fitness, Pioli said: "He's fine, he can start against Udinese. On Sunday he played a great match, his characteristics are important for us. There is no doubt about his qualities."

Pioli said following the much-needed win over Roma that he suspected Ibrahimovic, who is appearing at the Sanremo music festival, was weary rather than wounded and the talismanic striker will not face Luca Gotti's men.

Milan are taking no risks over Ibrahimovic's fitness, with a Europa League showdown against his former club Manchester United to come next week.

Hakan Calhanoglu will also miss the encounter with Udinese, which second-placed Milan will start knowing a victory would leave them just a point behind leaders Inter, while Ismael Bennacer and Mario Mandzukic are expected to return next week.

Leao has not scored since January 9, but Pioli has full faith in the 21-year-old.

"Up until a few days ago we talked about an improved Leao and inside the game," he said. "I'm satisfied with Leao, tomorrow he will start from the beginning.

"From a mental point of view he is ready, he has grown a lot."

Captain Romagnoli was left out of the starting line-up at Stadio Olimpico and Pioli refused to be drawn on whether the defender will be restored to the side.

"The matches are all important but also different, for me to be able to choose is great luck," Pioli said. "Only tomorrow morning we will try the starting eleven, we will choose the most suitable team and the best players."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sticking to his guns despite coming in for criticism after stating that athletes like LeBron James should steer clear of politics.

The Milan forward found himself at the centre of controversy after saying the likes of James should "do what you're good at" rather than engage in any kind of activism.

Los Angeles Lakers star James hit back and vowed never to "just stick to sports", insisting he had a role to play as a voice against racism and other pressing societal issues.

James is a friend of former United States president Barack Obama and his own foundation supports a school that is aimed at helping disadvantaged children. 

But Ibrahimovic, who has also been criticised for agreeing to appear in the Sanremo music festival amid the Serie A season, refused to back down.

"Racism and politics are two different things. Athletes unite the world, politics divides it," said the 39-year-old, who was injured in Sunday's 2-1 win over Roma and could be sidelined for up to three weeks, which would rule him out of facing former club Manchester United in the Europa League later this month.

"Everyone is welcome in our environment, it doesn't matter where you come from and we are doing everything to bring people together.

"My message? Athletes should be athletes, politicians should be politicians."

Responding to questions over his appearance at the music event, which spans four days, while Milan fight for the title, the Swede added: "I'm a professional and anyone who knows me, knows that. When I play football I'm only focused on that.

"I want to help Milan, and to give a lot to Italy for everything that it has given me over the years, not only in football.

"I had the chance to be a guest at the festival, one of the most important in Italy, and decided to participate."

Mauricio Pochettino insists Paris Saint-Germain have the quality to beat Bordeaux even without suspended superstar Kylian Mbappe in the first of "11 finals in Ligue 1".

With Neymar still recovering from an injury that has limited him to 18 appearances across all competitions, Mbappe has been PSG's key man this season.

The World Cup winner has been involved in 32 goals (23 goals, nine assists) in 31 games, 15 more than the next-best PSG total (Neymar, 17) and 10 clear of his nearest Ligue 1 rival (Memphis Depay, 22).

Absent this time due to yellow card accumulation, Mbappe has missed five previous matches for PSG this term, of which they have lost three, scoring only five goals across these encounters.

But Pochettino is not looking for excuses against a side he briefly represented after leaving Paris as a player.

"[Mbappe] is one of the most important players on our team," the coach said. "It will not be easy to replace him.

"But we have good players in our group and the collective has the tools to win games.

"Against Bordeaux, we also have the opportunity to show that we are a great team."

PSG enter the midweek round of fixtures in second, two points behind Ligue 1 leaders Lille, although a run of four wins in five matches has closed the gap.

There remains work to do in the title race, but PSG have reached the stage of the season where important games are on the horizon across all competitions.

Describing the "11 finals" in the league to the club's media channels, Pochettino similarly emphasised the importance of beating Brest in the Coupe de France and capitalising on their Champions League advantage against Barcelona in his news conference.

However, that will not distract from the focus on Bordeaux, even if they have just one win in 19 attempts against PSG in Ligue 1.

"Three games in three different competitions is the reality," Pochettino said. "But we will prepare the team as if we were only playing finals.

"For now, we think only of the Bordeaux game as if it were the last. I think thinking like that will help us achieve the goal of winning.

"We have to think only about our own performance. We have 11 games left in Ligue 1; we are focused on that and especially on the Bordeaux game.

"If we win the remaining 11 games, we will be champions."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.