Olivier Giroud joked he will treat Zlatan Ibrahimovic to dinner if the Swedish striker agrees to a new contract with Serie A champions Milan.

Ibrahimovic, who turns 41 in October, officially became a free agent last week after his existing deal at San Siro expired.

Despite his age and fitness issues that restricted him to only 12 starts in all competitions last season, the veteran is reported to have been offered a one-year deal by Milan.

Only Rafael Leao and Giroud (both 14) scored more goals than Ibrahimovic's eight last term, and the latter is hopeful of spending another season with the much-travelled striker.

"When he signs the renewal, I will pay for dinner," Giroud told Tuttomercatoweb. "We want him to sign, but there is obviously no pressure. 

"He is still hungry and he is important for the locker room. I talked a lot with him. He has the same desire to win even at 40."

Giroud's goals helped Milan to a first Scudetto triumph for 11 years in what was the France international's first season at the club after joining from Chelsea.

It was the second domestic league trophy won by Giroud, having previously lifted Ligue 1 win Montpellier in 2011-12.

Milan finished two points ahead of rivals Inter, while Juventus were 16 points adrift in fourth, but World Cup winner Giroud expects both sides to be stronger this coming season.

"Juve and Inter are the teams that have strengthened the most, so it will be a fierce battle between them and us," Giroud said.

Stefano Pioli's side have themselves strengthened, with striker Divock Origi among those to have arrived since Milan lifted the title in May.

The Belgium striker scored 22 goals in 107 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, while only starting 34 of those matches, and Giroud is relishing the additional competition.

"He speaks French, so I did my role as a big brother because it is very important to welcome everyone even if I am going to compete with him," Giroud said.

"I have always said that competition is very important to be strong, to learn and to give your best. It's a good reinforcement."

Milan have confirmed Brazilian forward Junior Messias has joined the club on a permanent basis after impressing during a loan spell with the Rossoneri last season.

Messias moved to Milan on a loan deal with a purchase option in August 2021, going on to score six goals in 32 appearances across all competitions as Stefano Pioli's men ended an 11-year wait for the Serie A title. 

The 31-year-old, who featured in the Italian top flight for Crotone in 2020-21 before they suffered consecutive relegations, only made 17 starts for Milan last term but still contributed to their title success.

Only four Rossoneri players (Oliver Giroud and Rafael Leao with 14, Zlatan Ibrahimovic with eight and Franck Kessie with seven) outscored Messias as Milan spread the goals around.

In a video posted to the club's Twitter account, Messias expressed his delight at extending his stay at San Siro, declaring: "Being at Milan is the greatest thing in life.

"Having reached this point is a source of pride for me, as well as satisfaction. I'm part of a very strong team, at an important club.

"I felt like crying because in my mind, I relived everything I'd been through and I'm experiencing now. I feel great here, it's like I am at home."

The Brazilian has signed a two-year deal with the Serie A champions after they reportedly agreed to pay Crotone an initial fee of €4.5million for his services.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United and is willing to make some allowances to secure the move.

Reports of Ronaldo's transfer request emerged over the weekend, although United are said to be holding firm in their desire to keep the superstar.

That has not stopped the rumours around a potential destination for the Portugal great, though, and he is doing all he can to get the move he wants.

TOP STORY – RONALDO WILLING TO TAKE PAY CUT

The Independent reports Ronaldo is willing to take a "considerable" pay cut in order to move to a Champions League contender.

The forward's desire to win another European crown was widely cited as key to his decision to push for a departure from United, and the report suggests the player is hopeful a reduced salary could entice leading clubs.

Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, who employ great rival Lionel Messi, are listed as potential suitors.

The Athletic also again reports Chelsea's interest following talk of a meeting between Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes and new Stamford Bridge owner Todd Boehly earlier in the close-season.

The Sun says Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel is reluctant to agree to such a transfer, though, while AS claims Mendes has also met with Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

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– Corriere dello Sport claims Bayern Munich are looking to bring in Napoli striker Victor Osimhen for a fee in the vicinity of €100million if Robert Lewandowski is to leave.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Tottenham have agreed to sign 27-year-old Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet for a fee of £17.2m.

– The Sun is reporting Arsenal have made a £47m bid for 27-year-old Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

– After loaning Romelu Lukaku to Inter, Chelsea are also weighing up a potential loan move for Hakim Ziyech to Milan, according to The Athletic.

– The Mirror claims United representatives have met with Ajax to discuss a £39.6m offer for defender Lisandro Martinez.

Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Franck Kessie on a free transfer following the end of his spell with Milan.

The midfielder has agreed a four-year deal with the Blaugrana, which was made official on Monday following months of speculation.

Kessie spent five seasons at San Siro, the first two of those on loan, and helped Milan to their first Scudetto triumph in 11 years in his final campaign with the club.

He played in 31 of Milan's 38 Serie A matches and scored six goals from midfield, a tally only bettered by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (eight), Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud (both 11).

However, fresh terms could not be agreed between the Rossoneri and Kessie, meaning the Ivory Coast international became a free agent on July 1.

Barca were always considered the strong favourites to land the 25-year-old, whose Camp Nou contract contains a €500million release clause.

 

Kessie will compete with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Gavi and Frenkie de Jong for a midfield spot, though the latter is expected to join Manchester United.

In all, Kessie played 174 Serie A games for Milan since initially joining from Atalanta in June 2017, with Napoli's Piotr Zielinski (179) the only midfielder to feature more times.

Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Franck Kessie on a free transfer following the end of his spell with Milan.

The midfielder has agreed a four-year deal with the Blaugrana, which was made official on Monday following months of speculation.

Kessie spent five seasons at San Siro, the first two of those on loan, and helped Milan to their first Scudetto triumph in 11 years in his final campaign with the club.

Milan have confirmed the signing of Alessandro Florenzi from Roma on a permanent deal following the right-back's successful spell on loan last season.

Florenzi made 30 appearances in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign, including 24 league outings in Milan's first Scudetto-winning campaign in 11 years.

Having played his part in that historic triumph, Milan announced on Friday they have taken up the option to sign Florenzi on a three-year-deal.

The Italy international had been on Roma's books since 2011, but he fell out of favour and spent time on loan at Valencia and Paris Saint-Germain prior to joining Milan.

Milan also announced on Friday that back-up goalkeeper Antonio Mirante, who did not feature at all last season, has extended his contract until the end of this coming season.

It comes after club directors Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara – who overlook transfer activity – extended their own stays at San Siro.

Stefano Pioli's men begin their Serie A title defence at home to Udinese on August 13.

Technical director Paolo Maldini and sporting director Frederic Massara have signed two-year contracts at Milan, the club confirmed on Friday.

The pair's previous deals had expired on Thursday with the end of the 2021-22 season.

However, Maldini had belatedly confirmed he would be staying at the club following a tough start to the close season.

Although Milan won the Serie A title last term with a team built in part by Maldini and Massara, they have struggled to add reinforcements for the coming campaign.

With the Rossoneri in the midst of a takeover, they could not compete with Newcastle United for highly rated defender Sven Botman.

The centre-back was said to be a primary target for Maldini, while reports have suggested Paris Saint-Germain have jumped the queue for Botman's Lille team-mate Renato Sanches.

However, Milan, Maldini and Massara have now come to an agreement that will see two key figures remain in their roles for at least another two seasons.

"This deal highlights the importance of continuity we see throughout the club as we continue to strengthen and grow," Milan said in a statement.

Paolo Maldini is glad that Milan can now "plan for the future" after confirming he has reached an agreement with the Serie A champions to stay on as technical director.

Club legend Maldini was considered one of the main architects behind Milan's first Scudetto success in 11 years last season thanks to his work behind the scenes.

He has held a boardroom position for the past four years, three of those in his current role, and helped sign the likes of Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan.

The 54-year-old was due to be out of contract come the end of Thursday, but he announced shortly ahead of that deal expiring that he will remain in the job.

"Everything is sorted. We renewed at the last minute, but we did it," Maldini told reporters outside Milan's headquarters.

"I am very happy to be here and ready to plan for the future, with even more victories. There's still time [this transfer window]. We started a bit late, but we'll recover lost time."

Director of football Frederic Massara is also reported to have signed an extension to the contract that was due to expire on Thursday.

According to reports from Italy, the delay in reaching an agreement with the pair was down to the lack of funds being made available for transfers this window.

Milan have already missed out on Sven Botman to Newcastle United, while Paris Saint-Germain appear to have pipped the Rossoneri to fellow Lille player Renato Sanches.

Stefano Pioli's men begin their 2022-23 Serie A campaign with a home match against Udinese on August 13. 

Sven Botman considered Newcastle United "a little better" than Milan as he weighed up his transfer options, settling on a "dream" Premier League move.

Lille defender Botman is expected to complete his move to Newcastle on Friday, with a deal in principle announced earlier this week.

That reported £31.8million (€37m) agreement brought to an end a long-running saga, with the centre-back the subject of interest from both Newcastle and Milan.

Botman discussed the merits of signing for both clubs following a January window in which neither could convince Lille to sell.

Milan initially seemed favourites to finally land their man following the 2021-22 season, but they could not match Newcastle's offer.

And Botman explained to De Telegraaf: "Newcastle's great project and the chance to play in the Premier League were two decisive aspects in making a decision.

"Milan had also given me good feelings, but Newcastle more so; they seemed a little better.

"I've been dreaming of the Premier League all my life and now this dream comes true."

Botman revealed he was concerned after missing out on a January transfer, believing such opportunities "only pass once".

But he was ultimately pleased to stick around, face Chelsea in the Champions League and depart Lille "in the right way", still joining Newcastle.

Lille president Oliver Letang has denied there have been discussions with Paris Saint-Germain regarding Renato Sanches.

The 24-year-old Portugal international has been heavily linked with a move to the French capital as he is poised to enter the final 12 months of his contract.

Reports have suggested Sanches is closing in on a move to Paris, who are expected to appoint former Lille boss Christophe Galtier as Mauricio Pochettino's successor, with it suggested the midfielder had arrived in the city on Thursday to finalise a transfer.

However, those claims have been rebuffed by Letang as he offered an olive branch to other interested clubs – confirming one offer from an unnamed side.

Milan appeared favourites for Sanches' signature for a long time. They were interested in his Lille team-mate Sven Botman, too, but saw the defender instead head for Newcastle United.

"There are players who can leave and there are players who can't leave. Without naming them today, we want to keep a competitive team," Letang told a press conference after Lille appointed Paulo Fonseca as their new coach.

"Renato is one of the boys who still has a year left on his contract. Renato could or should have gone to Barcelona last summer, before he injured his meniscus. 

"As of today, we've had no contact with PSG. We have seen lots of rumours about offers, but we've received no offer from PSG. 

"Other clubs are interested, especially one great European club, who have already made us offers. That’s the situation with Renato."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is eager to bring in two attacking players this off-season following their third-place Premier League finish last term.

The club's new owners are set to back Tuchel's plans, with the Blues linked to Raheem Sterling, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Everton's Richarlison.

However, Chelsea could be set for their first splash of the window by signing a superstar from Elland Road.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO WIN RAPHINHA RACE

Chelsea are set to win the race to sign Leeds United's Brazilian forward Raphinha claims The Guardian.

Raphinha is being pursued by Arsenal and Barcelona along with the Blues, who are set to complete a £55million deal for the 25-year-old.

The winger is contracted with Leeds until 2024 and may follow Kalvin Phillips out of Elland Road with the England midfielder set to complete his move to Manchester City.

 

 

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- The Mail reports Chelsea are also interested in a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe claims that PSG's initial offer for the Slovakian was worth €50m.

- Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches is eager to join PSG from Lille according to Le Parisien, with a €10m offer on the table. Sanches has one year remaining on his contract.

- Univision reports that LAFC are not pursuing Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez amid speculation linking the Uruguayan with the MLS club after they recently landed Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.

- Milan are looking into swooping to sign Juventus' Paulo Dybala who has been heavily linked with Inter, claims RadioRadio.

- Liverpool's Divock Origi is set to join Milan on a four-year deal pending a medical as widely reported by the Italian media.

- Argentinean outlet Relevo reports that Angel Di Maria is set to sign a deal with Juventus on Wednesday, having left PSG as a free agent.

Sven Botman is belatedly leaving Lille to sign for Newcastle United in a reported £31.8million (€37m) transfer.

Botman had been linked to both big-spending Premier League side Newcastle and Serie A champions Milan since January.

The defender discussed "very concrete" interest from both clubs, describing a "good project" at Newcastle, only for Lille to reject the Magpies' advances in the middle of the season.

Newcastle and Milan appeared to be frustrated at the start of this transfer window, too, with Lille demanding a significant fee for a player determined to leave Ligue 1.

But Eddie Howe's Newcastle forged a breakthrough late last week and agreed a deal that has now been confirmed following a medical on Tyneside.

The Magpies on Tuesday revealed that the formalities of the transfer are set to be concluded this week, with the 22-year then officially becoming a Newcastle player.

Botman, a former Ajax academy graduate who won Ligue 1 in his first season in France, has agreed terms to put pen to paper a five-year contract at St James' Park.

Following the signings of Matt Targett and Nick Pope, Botman would appear likely to come into Howe's team ahead of Dan Burn, another powerful, left-footed centre-back who was signed in his stead in January.

Burn won 4.3 aerial duels and made 6.1 clearances and 0.9 blocks per 90 minutes after signing from Brighton and Hove Albion for £13m, beating Botman's marks for the 2021-22 season in each metric (2.3, 4.5, 0.8).

But Howe will hope Botman can be key to Newcastle's development into a more possession-focused side; he completed 53.4 passes per 90 with Lille to Burn's 28.6 at Newcastle.

Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro might make a seemingly eternal midfield composition, but Real Madrid still need to prepare for life after them.

Following the signings of Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni over the past two off-season transfer windows, Los Blancos will look for a third.

Reports suggest that what they are looking for is penalty area threat, and the intent is not necessarily to replace the attributes of the three veterans. All signs point to Germany, and Borussia Dortmund's England international Jude Bellingham.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE BELLINGHAM AS FINAL PIECE OF MIDFIELD PUZZLE

Real Madrid will look to sign Bellingham in the 2023 off-season transfer window, according to Diario AS.

According to reports, Bellingham does not have a release clause in his deal at Dortmund and with his contract running to 2025, with the German club seeking a sale in excess of €100million.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid will not look to be the only suitors, with Chelsea and Liverpool also interested.

ROUND-UP

- Having already opened talks over Raheem Sterling, the Telegraph reports Chelsea are also looking to sign Manchester City's Nathan Ake.

- Meanwhile, Milan are considering a move for Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, per Calciomercato.

Tottenham want to sign Everton duo Richarlison and Anthony Gordon, according to Sky Sports.

- Christophe Galtier is close to being named as PSG's new boss, with Mauricio Pochettino on the way out, ESPN reports.

Stefano Pioli insists the Scudetto triumph must be a "starting point" for Milan after the Rossoneri lifted their first Serie A title in 11 years.

Pioli's side dethroned city rivals Inter by beating Sassuolo on the final day of the 2021-22 campaign, securing their first trophy since lifting the Italian Super Cup in 2016.

The Rossoneri won their final five matches and went 15 without defeat, with their final tally of 88 points their second best in the three-points-per-win era.

Inter will be hungry to reclaim the Serie A title in the 2022-23 campaign, with Simone Inzaghi looking set to bring in Romelu Lukaku on loan and Paulo Dybala on a free transfer.

Pioli, speaking after receiving honorary citizenship at Noceto on Monday, expressed his delight over Milan's success but acknowledged the champions will face stern competition in defending their title.

"I am very happy and proud to be here this morning. I am very attached to this city, I know the place well," Pioli said, as quoted by TuttoMercatoWeb. 

"The compliments make me happy, they are deserved for a club, a team, which has always believed and has always given our best.

"We have been able to hold on in difficult moments and that has produced great satisfaction.

"We know we have done something special, but it must be a starting point. We know the difficulties given the competitiveness that will be in Italy and in Europe.

"The guys have great enthusiasm and a lot of passion, every day they try to improve to be a team that knows how to accept defeats but which also knows how to enhance the strengths of their team-mates."

Stefano Pioli and Jose Mourinho confirmed their status as Serie A's best coaches by leading Milan and Roma to silverware last season, according to former Rossoneri and Giallorossi boss Fabio Capello.

Capello also claimed Inter's prospective move for Romelu Lukaku represents a "blow" for the rest of the Italian top flight, given his dominant displays during his successful first spell with the Nerazzurri. 

While Pioli became the first Milan boss to win the Scudetto since Massimiliano Allegri in 2010-11 last month, Mourinho ended Roma's 14-year trophy drought by winning the Europa Conference League in his first season with the club.

Capello, who led Milan to four Serie A titles in five seasons between 1991 and 1996 before masterminding Roma's most recent Scudetto triumph in 2000-01, hailed the duo's achievements as he declared next season will be make-or-break for many of the division's other top coaches. 

"The best? Pioli and Mourinho," he told Il Messaggero. 

"The first brought Milan back to success, the second confirmed himself as an international coach. Jose achieved a very important success. 

"[Juventus coach] Allegri, [Lazio's Maurizio] Sarri and [Napoli's Luciano] Spalletti paid for their return to Serie A. They were granted a transitional season. Now will be the moment of truth."

Meanwhile, with Inter reportedly set to re-sign Lukaku less than a year after his club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, a series of Italian football's biggest names have spoken about his expected impact.

Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta said on Sunday the deal would make Inter title favourites, while Gianfranco Zola claimed the Belgian will make a "huge impact" for Simone Inzaghi's men after he scored 30 goals for the Nerazzurri in the 2020-21 campaign.

Capello concurred with those views, adding: "Lukaku is a great blow because in Italy, no one is able to mark him because of his excessive physical power."

However, while Milan are expected to work with a smaller budget than their rivals as they look to defend their crown, Capello hailed their recruitment policy and revealed his confidence that they can compete once more.

"I don't put my mouth on the market because these topics are the responsibility of the coaches," he added. 

"The experience of recent years leads me, however, to say that we must have confidence. At Milan, they have learned how to handle things, and they know how to choose [players]."

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