Stefano Pioli believes his Milan players do not get the credit they deserve after Sandro Tonali's stoppage-time goal sealed a vital 2-1 win over Lazio on Sunday.

Olivier Giroud had cancelled out Ciro Immobile's early opener at the Stadio Olimpico, but it looked like the Rossoneri would hand the title initiative to Inter after a series of wasted chances.

Tonali had other ideas, though, the midfielder popping up in the second minute of added time to secure a win that lifted Milan two points clear of Inter at the top of the table, although they have played a game more.

The result meant they have won three games against Maurizio Sarri's men in a single season (two in Serie A, one in the Coppa Italia) for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.

Speaking to DAZN immediately after the game, Pioli spoke of his pride at his players' efforts and insists they do not receive the plaudits they should.

"I am so proud of my players and if I was in their shoes, I'd be angry," he said. "People don't give them enough credit. For years, they have been proving themselves at the highest level.

"We will try to win all the remaining games. We might not achieve that, but we will give it our best.

"We know it's a tricky fixture list. All we can do is take it one game at a time and try to do the best we possibly can."

The result confirmed Milan's qualification for next season's Champions League – an achievement Pioli says demonstrates the strides his side have made.

"The important thing is we are in the Champions League," he added. "This time last season, we weren't sure if we would be in the top four, so this shows further progress.

"There are still some steps to climb, but those are the ones that will give us the greatest satisfaction."

Tonali echoed Pioli's sentiments, saying that no one is talking about Milan being genuine title challengers despite their position in the table.

"We have to take it one game at a time," he explained. "We came here and nobody other than us and our fans believed in us.

"We are in front without hearing anyone say Milan are the leaders or that Milan are a strong side. We're used to it now."

Milan return to action next Sunday when Fiorentina visit San Siro.

Milan moved back to the top of Serie A as Sandro Tonali's stoppage-time goal sealed a deserved 2-1 victory over Lazio on Sunday.

Stefano Pioli's side had been usurped at the summit by local rivals Inter after their 3-1 win over Roma on Saturday, but victory at the Stadio Olimpico means the Rossoneri regained their two-point lead at the top.

Ciro Immobile had given Lazio an early lead with his 25th league goal of the season, but Olivier Giroud pulled the visitors level shortly after the interval.

Tonali then poked home two minutes into stoppage time to seal a dramatic three points and spark jubilant scenes among the travelling supporters. 

New investment at Milan could see the Italian powerhouse target the best players across Europe's top clubs.

Milan have entered into exclusive talks with Bahrain-based asset manager Investcorp over a takeover.

The Rossoneri have been linked with Real Madrid's Marco Asensio and Isco and Liverpool's Divock Origi already.

TOP STORY – STERLING ON MILAN WISH LIST

Milan are monitoring Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The England international is among a list of players that Milan would like to sign amid a reported lucrative takeover by a Bahrain-based organisation.

Sterling's current contract with City expires in 2023, but the Daily Mail claims he would turn down the Italian move.

 

ROUND-UP

 Christian Eriksen is gaining interest from former employers Tottenham after a good run of form, although his agent is set to meet with Brentford at the end of this season to formalise his future, claims Fabrizio Romano.

– Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will hold talks at the end of this season to discuss his future having struggled for opportunities, reports Football.London.

– Jose Mourinho's Roma will open talks with Nemanja Matic's representatives as the Serbian midfielder prepares to leave Manchester United, reports Nicolo Schira.

– Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United have revived their interest in Villarreal defender Pau Torres.

Stefano Pioli responded angrily to refereeing decisions following Milan's elimination from the Coppa Italia after a 3-0 loss to arch-rivals Inter on Tuesday. 

Pioli abruptly walked out of his post-match interview with Mediaset after reviewing footage of a disallowed goal for Ismael Bennacer where Pierre Kalulu was ruled offside for obstructing Samir Handanovic's view in the Inter goal. 

With Milan 2-0 down in the 68th minute of the second leg of the semi-final clash, Bennacer's goal would have been timely and provided them with critical late momentum. 

After seeing the replay, the 56-year-old Rossoneri boss could not hide his frustration. 

"Look at Handanovic's reaction, if he protests," Pioli told Mediaset. "He doesn't do anything, if a Milan player had blocked his view he would have immediately run to protest. Come on, now." 

Milan were marginally second best for the majority of a tightly fought match and Lautaro Martinez's first-half double was ultimately reflective of the game's complexion to that point. 

Regardless of how much the disallowed goal could have influenced proceedings, Pioli conceded Inter were the better side. 

"We wanted to win, we didn't succeed. We came up against a strong opponent," Pioli said. "The result is clear, but I don't think it was like there was a big difference and Inter scored at the right moments. 

"We continued to play and create, 2-1 would have given us the possibility because we were playing. After that, everything became more difficult. 

"Of course we can do more. When you concede three goals it means that others played with more quality. It was not our evening. It's too bad because we wanted to reach the final at all costs." 

Lautaro Martinez's superb double fired Inter into the Coppa Italia final against Milan on Tuesday, as they ran out 3-0 victors at San Siro.

The Argentina international kept the Nerazzurri on course for a potential domestic double, after a goalless first leg last month set up a winner-takes-all clash this week.

With the Supercoppa Italia already secured against Juventus and Milan merely two points ahead with a game out of hand, Inter could yet complete a clean sweep of domestic honours.

Simone Inzaghi claimed a maiden Derby della Madonnina win with the result, and his side will now wait to discover if they face holders Juventus or Fiorentina.

With defeat leaving Stefano Pioli and his side with just the Scudetto left to fight for, though, the stage is now set for a thrilling conclusion to the Serie A season too.

The whistle for kick-off had barely sounded before Inter struck, Martinez volleying Matteo Darmian's neat cross home near the penalty spot.

Such an early goal forced Milan onto the offensive, with Rafael Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers going closest in response.

Frenetic closing exchanges to the first half saw Ivan Perisic make a goal-saving clearance on the line, before the Nerazzurri scored effectively in the next passage.

Following Marcelo Brozovic's release in transition, Martinez dinked Joaquin Correa's throughball over Mike Maignan for a second to double the lead just before half-time, and it became a mountain for Milan to climb.

The Rossoneri continued to rally after the interval and critically had Ismael Bennacer's goal disallowed, with Pierre Kalulu ruled offside. From there the air went out of the game and when Martinez bowed out with 20 minutes to go, it felt like the game was already over, even before Robin Gosens slid home a third to seal the deal.

What does it mean? Inter move towards complete collection

After dethroning Juventus' decade-long hold on Serie A last term, the Nerazzurri now have the chance to take the Bianconeri's lone remaining honour from them after victory over Milan.

It is 11 years since they last reached the final, when they claimed a 3-1 victory over Palermo to lift the trophy - and Inzaghi, a prior winner in 2019 with Lazio, will have his eyes on repeating that success, whoever they face.

Martinez continues fast start streak

After airing his grievances over discussions about his future following victory against Spezia on Friday, it was another superb reminder of the Argentine's talents at San Siro.

It took him less than 200 seconds to break open the Milan defence - a speedy return that extends a streak that has seen him involved in the last three Derby della Madonnina goals scored during the opening five minutes.

Milan wayward once more in front of goal

For a team tucked into the thick of a battle for the Scudetto, it has been remarkable that not a single player has broken into double figures on the goalscorer charts this season in Serie A.

That has in part been to Milan boasting a wealth of players who can find the back of the net - except, that prowess deserted them on Tuesday, with Rafael Leao the only one of their squad to muster more than one shot on target.

What's next?

Inter will welcome Roma to San Siro for a crucial Serie A clash on Saturday, while Milan travel to the capital to face Lazio on Sunday.

Orlando City star Alexandre Pato suggested Milan technical director Paolo Maldini knows the striker is ready to return to San Siro.

Pato is plying his trade in MLS for Orlando, where he is contracted until December 2022, but hinted at his willingness to move back to Milan.

The Brazil international scored 51 goals in 177 appearances for the Rossoneri during his time in Serie A between 2007 and 2013 before joining Corinthians.

The 32-year-old believes he still has what it takes to compete in the Italian top flight, which Stefano Pioli's side lead by two points ahead of Inter, who have played a game fewer.

"Orlando is fine and I still have a contract, but Maldini knows it: I would be ready," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"Now I have matured, I have a different attitude towards football and maybe I would be useful with the younger players.

"I miss Italy and the Italians, the warmth of the fans. I always say to my wife, 'one day I'll take you to Milan and you'll understand what I'm talking about'.

"For me it was a fundamental city: I learned many things and I miss everything about Milan. And I'd like to go back to Milan, after all in Italy there are many players who are older in Serie A."

Milan and Inter face off in their Coppa Italia semi-final return meeting on Tuesday, level at 0-0 from the first leg, and Pato cannot pick between the two sides.

"It's a difficult one and Milan can't make mistakes,” he said. "They can win the title and beating their rivals in Coppa Italia would give them extra motivation.

"Olivier Giroud is strong, Rafael Leao can make the right moves. The game will be open, it always is against Inter."

As for the future, Pato has great expectations for Milan under the stewardship of Pioli and Maldini.

"I played in a team full of champions," added Pato. "This Milan side is improving and has a bright future because they are building the team well."

Simone Inzaghi thinks Inter's recent struggles against rivals Milan will act as extra motivation ahead of their Coppa Italia semi-final second leg.

Inter face Serie A leaders Milan on Tuesday, bidding for a first appearance in the Coppa Italia final since they defeated Palermo to lift the trophy in 2011.

Inter, however, have failed to win any of the three previous derby encounters this season, picking up just a single point in their two league meetings before drawing the first leg of the semi-final 0-0.

Three winless derbies marks Inter's worst such run against the Rossoneri since 2005, but Inzaghi believes the Nerazzurri can use those results to give them an edge this time.

"We've had three derbies so far, two in the league and one in the Coppa Italia," Inzaghi told a news conference.

"We know we have to [win], and we want to win tomorrow because we want to reach the final.

"We could've got more [from the previous games]. We needed to be sharper to make key moments go our way, as they can be pivotal. It's such an important game.

"Certainly [the results could motivate Inter]. The three derbies have all been different. We played very well in the first two, whereas the two teams cancelled each other out in the last one, knowing that there was a second leg to come.

"That was a very cagey game. The team knows that, and we know it's a wonderful chance for us, which we want to grab with both hands.

"We're on track to achieve both of our targets. We're doing very well and mustn't forget that we also won the Italian Super Cup in January."

Inter have been eliminated in each of their last four Coppa Italia semi-final ties, having progressed on six of their previous seven appearances at this stage. Overall, no team has suffered more semi-final eliminations than Inter (19).

Meanwhile, Inter failed to score when classified as the away team in last month's first leg, leaving them at risk of losing on away goals if they concede.

Inzaghi believes, as is the case in UEFA competitions, that the rule should have been abolished this season.

"There had already been talk about the away goal rule before the first leg, but it was too late," he added.

"I think it should've been the same as it is in Europe, but once the decision was made, it's only fair for it to carry on in the same way [as earlier in the competition].

"We'll need to be even more focused, because as we didn't score in the first leg, every moment in the game could prove to be decisive.

"We know how important away goals could be, so we'll have to be fully focused at every point in the game, knowing that we're up against a top side. We'll need to keep focused for the full 95 minutes and for possible extra time as well."

Inter and Milan have faced off in the Coppa Italia on 26 previous occasions, with the Nerazzurri managing eight wins.

Milan's Coppa Italia semi-final against rivals Inter will not have a decisive effect on the Serie A title race, according to Stefano Pioli.

Inter trail Serie A leaders Milan by two points, though now the focus switches to the second leg of their Coppa Italia tie.

The Milan giants played out a 0-0 draw in last month's semi-final first leg at San Siro, and will do battle again on Tuesday with 10 editions of the Coppa Italia having passed since either lifted the trophy. 

While Milan will be desperate to lift Italy's domestic cup for the first time since 2003, Pioli does not believe Tuesday's result will give either team an advantage in Serie A.

"From now until the end, we need to try and win all our matches," Pioli said. "The team are very focused and motivated, and positive energy must accompany us.

"We know very well what we need to do in the league, and I don't think tomorrow's derby will be decisive in this regard. 

"We need to try and win all our Serie A games, regardless of what happens in the Coppa Italia."

Having picked up a win and a draw from the teams' Serie A encounters this term, Milan are on their longest unbeaten run against their rivals (three matches) since a 10-game sequence ending in 2005.

This is the 14th season in which Milan and Inter will face each other on four occasions, and the first since 2004-05, when Milan managed three wins and a draw. The Rossoneri have gone unbeaten throughout all four clashes on seven of the previous 13 instances, but Pioli was mindful of the threat posed by Simone Inzaghi's team.

"All of our past experiences have allowed us to become a team with more awareness," he added. "Every single one of our matches against Inter have been difficult, and the details will make the difference tomorrow.

"There will be moments where we need to put our foot on the pedal, and others where we need to slow down. Inter can be dangerous when given space, and we need to manage the ball as best we can."

Milan's pursuit of silverware has been boosted by a run of seven consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, a sequence that began with Pioli's men denying Inter an important away goal in the first leg.

"Not conceding is important," Pioli added. "I'm a bit surprised because we're a team that takes a few risks in our defending, but the whole team have grown in a significant way. We need to reach high standards when it comes to our application, intensity and focus.

"Our attitude against Inter has always been very consistent, even if it's difficult to prevent them from creating dangerous situations. They take up positions that will force us to do a lot of running, but we have a strategy that we'll try to implement as best we can."

Christopher Nkunku has long been on the various of Europe's big clubs, but this season has been a breakout.

The 24-year-old France attacker has contributed an extraordinary 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 league appearances for RB Leipzig this term.

Investcorp's reported takeover of Milan from Elliott Management, and the consequent injection of funds, has reportedly put Nkunku in Milan's sights.

 

TOP STORY – NKUNKU ON MILAN RADAR

A change in ownership is allowing Milan to go after RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku, the Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting.

Milan's Scudetto charges in recent years have fallen short up front despite the quality of their midfield, but the change of ownership can dictate a change in transfer strategy.

Meetings with Sassuolo for Gianluca Scamacca and Hamed Traore could be scuppered because the likes of Nkunku would become available.

Any such moves would reportedly not rule out a transfer for Liverpool striker Divock Origi that is already in the works, however.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool have identified Barcelona's 17-year-old talent Gavi as a potential target in an attempt to bolster their midfield at the end of the season, Sport is reporting.

– The Reds are also prepared to offer a new contract to Sadio Mane, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, per Football Insider.

Arsenal are interested in signing Lille's Kosovo attacker Edon Zhegrova, according to Sky Sports.

– Newcastle United have shown renewed interest in Torino defender Gleison Bremer, who is also on Arsenal and Tottenham's radar, Tuttomercato reports.

Carlo Ancelotti likened Luka Modric to Paolo Maldini as he declared the veteran midfielder would end his career at Real Madrid – also insisting he has no problem with Toni Kroos.

Ahead of a trip to Sevilla on Sunday, Ancelotti spoke glowingly about both midfielders who have put Madrid in a strong position to strike for LaLiga and Champions League glory.

There was a flash point between Ancelotti and Kroos in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, when the former Germany international was substituted and was reported to have insulted the coach as he left the field.

Ancelotti stressed that was soon defused, meaning there seems no danger of Kroos and Modric not starting in tandem when league leaders Madrid tackle third-placed Sevilla.

With Madrid edging through to the European semi-finals after extra time, despite losing 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti's decision to bring on Eduardo Camavinga in Kroos' place proved to be justified.

The change had come with Madrid 2-0 behind and facing possible elimination. Modric played the full 120 minutes, and the 36-year-old remains as influential as ever at the heart of the team.

Addressing the Kroos kerfuffle, Ancelotti said on Saturday: "His gesture didn't bother me. He was angry with the coach but not with the person.

"As well as in sport, he is a person with a very high level. I don't need to talk to him or ask for explanations. It's all over after the game."

Kroos, 32, and Modric have been the beating heart of the Madrid midfield, and that is set to remain the case into next season.

Although Modric is now in the veteran stage of his career, Ancelotti sees that as a positive rather than a weakness.

"I think he's going to finish his career here, I don't know when but that's everyone's idea," Ancelotti said. "There is no problem for the club, neither for us nor for him to renew, that is quite clear.

"He takes great care of himself, in his career he has not had any major injuries and that helps him a lot."

Making the Maldini comparison, Ancelotti said: "I had a football legend, who won the last Champions League at the age of 40. If I have to compare him with anyone, it would be with him: for the quality, for the seriousness, for how he understands football. They are legends."

Ancelotti coached Maldini at Milan, having previously played in the same team as the defender who went on to make 902 appearances for the Rossoneri.

Maldini was in fact 38 when he helped Milan to the fifth European Cup/Champions League of his career, but he played on until the age of 40.

Madrid head into Sunday with a 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga, with Barcelona and Sevilla their nearest challengers but both surely now playing for second place.

Ancelotti, appointed for a second spell at Madrid last June, has won six of his seven games as coach against Sevilla in all competitions (L1).

Sevilla, meanwhile, have failed to win any of their past six meetings with Real Madrid in LaLiga (D1 L5), their worst winless run since a 15-game stretch between May 1993 and April 2003 (D2 L13), which is the longest such barren sequence they have suffered against Los Blancos in the competition’s history.

Fikayo Tomori says Milan must keep their heads as they chase what would be the club's first ever Italian league and cup double.

Defender Tomori helped Milan rebound from goalless draws against Bologna and Torino by securing a 2-0 win over Genoa on Friday, and they sit top of Serie A for now.

A two-point lead over second-placed Inter comes with the caveat that Milan have played one more game than their city rivals, who they must tackle next in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.

That derby tie is poised at 0-0 after the first leg, with the second game coming up on Tuesday.

Milan are unbeaten in their last three games against Inter across all competitions (W1, D2), while Inter have been eliminated in each of their last four Coppa Italia semi-finals.

This is a time when players' bodies are feeling the strain of a busy season, but Tomori says he and his team-mates have a duty to stay focused on their targets on the pitch.

"The legs are important, but now it is above all a question of the head," Tomori told Sky Sport Italia.

"In Milan there is no pressure, but there are high expectations. We are close to the goal, but we must continue to work "

Milan last won the Serie A title in the 2010-11 season, and it was made clear early on to Tomori that the Scudetto would be the main target during his time at the club.

He arrived from Chelsea initially on loan in January 2021, before that became a permanent arrangement in June.

"I learned the word Scudetto straight away, I knew I was arriving in a strong and winning team," Tomori said.

With the victory over Genoa, Milan kept a sixth successive clean sheet, making Stefano Pioli only the third coach in the club's history to achieve such a feat in a single Serie A season, after Fabio Capello (twice in 1993-94: seven and nine) and Nereo Rocco (seven in 1971-72).

Asked about the upcoming Coppa Italia derby, Tomori said: "We will be ready for the match, we hope to be able to get through the round and go to the final. I hope that all the AC Milan fans will be at San Siro to give us support."

Stefano Pioli explained that his Milan side avoided discussing Inter's earlier win ahead of facing Genoa.

Milan claimed a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Rafael Leao and Junior Messias in San Siro on Friday.

Their game came hot on the heels of Inter's 3-1 victory at Spezia, a result that had seen the reigning champions briefly move into top spot in Serie A.

However, Milan got the job done, winning for the first time in three games to restore their two-point advantage with five matches left, though Inter do have a game in hand.

Milan are attempting to win their first Serie A title since 2010-11 and Pioli noted that although he knew Inter had won, his side had not discussed the possible ramifications.

"I knew their result, but we didn't talk about it with the team," he told DAZN.

"We had to go back to winning. We knew that whatever happened, we would try to win every game.

"I think we had the right approach and hunger this evening, we ran very few risks and that is an important factor."

Pioli suggested it is difficult to know how to best handle the pressure of the title race, though he backs the character of his players.

He added: "We have to keep going, the tension is rising and so is the pressure. Now we have to feel the pressure as nothing but positive energy.

"Every day [in training] I am undecided whether to increase the pressure or to release it. But, I have to expect a lot from these guys because they are strong.

"We are more aware of our strength, I am pushing for this. There are few games left and we have to do well. Many of us are fighting for the Scudetto for the first time, it is a path that will help us. We want to be winning again."

Milan kept a sixth straight clean sheet, making Pioli only the third coach in the club's history to achieve such a feat in a single Serie A season, after Fabio Capello (twice in 1993-94: seven and nine) and Nereo Rocco (seven in 1971-72).

Key to that has been the form of goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who made a stunning save to deny Genoa's Hernani a consolation in stoppage time.

"We have to continue like this," Pioli said. "Maignan is incredible, he is receiving the right compliments. He must give his contribution to this young team."

Milan have picked up more than 70 points after 33 Serie A games for the first time since their last Scudetto-winning season 11 years ago.

Paolo Maldini is prepared for a change of off-field leadership at Milan after it was reported the club's owners are in talks with potential buyers of the Serie A giants.

Technical director Maldini said it was important to keep a focus on on-field matters as Milan chase the Serie A title.

The club legend, who made a record 902 appearances for Milan as a player, spoke about the possibility of a takeover before Friday's league clash with Genoa.

Milan won that game 2-0 to move top of the table after city rivals Inter briefly went to the summit earlier in the day.

"I know little, but it is normal that in the future of Milan there may also be a sale," Maldini told DAZN. "I don't know when that moment will be.

"A few matchdays from the end [of the season], however, I think it is in everyone's interest to try and think about winning this championship. We also have the semi-final of the Coppa Italia to play."

It has been widely reported that Investcorp, founded in Bahrain, is in talks to buy the San Siro giants from American hedge fund Elliott Management, which is said to be seeking a price above $1billion.

The Financial Times reported Investcorp has secured an exclusivity period set to last for around two weeks.

Milan regained top spot in Serie A as they returned to winning ways in timely fashion with a 2-0 victory over struggling Genoa.

Inter's 3-1 win over Spezia earlier on Friday had sent the reigning champions to the top of the pile, but Milan responded in San Siro to restore their two-point lead.

Rafael Leao's early volley put Stefano Pioli's team ahead and a first win in three games was secured late on when Junior Messias struck.

Alexis Saelemaekers and Olivier Giroud passed up presentable opportunities, but 19th-placed Genoa were unable to make Milan pay for that profligacy as they slumped to a third straight defeat.

A late switch to Milan's line-up saw Pierre Kalulu shifted to right-back in the absence of Davide Calabria, and the defender produced a moment of real quality for Leao's 11th-minute opener.

Leao had not scored since the end of February but kept his cool to steer Kalulu's inch-perfect cross into the right-hand corner on the volley.

On the opposite flank to Leao, Saelemaekers struggled to get involved and his rustiness showed when he lashed over from Franck Kessie's cutback nine minutes before half-time.

Saelemaekers nearly had a free run at goal after pouncing on a defensive mistake early in the second half, only to slice wide.

The winger turned provider just prior to the hour, but Giroud could not keep an acrobatic attempt down.

Yet Milan's faltering attack finally crafted another opening in the 87th minute, with Messias hitting home at the second time of asking following Salvatore Sirigu's fine save, the goal standing despite a VAR check for handball.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic must "listen to his body" as he ponders his future in football after an injury-hit season with Milan, according to legendary Italian striker Francesco Totti.

The Roma icon also compared Ibrahimovic's stop-start season to the end of his own playing career, although he acknowledged he was often benched despite not suffering from as many injuries as the Swede has.

Ibrahimovic could win his fifth Scudetto in the coming weeks, with Milan holding a slight advantage over Inter, Napoli, and Juventus at the Serie A summit, but has started just 11 of the Rossoneri's 32 league games this term.

The Sweden international, who missed out on the chance to represent his country at the 2022 World Cup after a play-off defeat to Poland last month, has impressed when he has featured in Serie A, netting eight times in 19 league appearances at a rate of 117.25 minutes per goal.

But with Ibrahimovic reportedly set to miss another batch of games after suffering a knee strain, talk has turned to whether the legendary striker could hang up his boots in the near future.

Totti, however, hopes to see the 40-year-old play on if he can continue at a high level.

"Ibra, listen to your body," Totti said. "Finish [the season] with a goal and then decide. Nobody can understand it like me, it's scary. He made history, but now it depends [on his physical condition].

"I hope he will continue as long as he feels like it, but only if his body allows him to be able to be as decisive as he always has been. 

"Ibra is a lion on and off the field. But playing 10 minutes and then stopping, spending more time in the medical room than on the pitch, being given injections, that's heavy. 

"It's been five years [since Totti's own retirement], but I remember all the sensations, and watching Ibra in the last period, I relive them, even if my situation it was a little different from his. I hadn't had any particular injuries.

"I felt I could still give my contribution, but I was quickly pushed aside. I would not wish my last year on my worst enemy. It was very heavy on a mental level.

"[It was] exhausting, because when after a life on the pitch, you do not play continuously, especially at a certain age, you are not letting your body rest, you are making it rust."

 

Totti scored one goal in 18 Serie A appearances during the 2016-17 season, his final campaign with the Giallorossi at the end of an incredible 25-year spell with the club, but all but one of those appearances came from the bench.

The 45-year-old registered 250 goals and 105 assists in a glittering Serie A career which saw him make 618 appearances overall, and said he would have loved to have played with Ibrahimovic.

He also believes Ibrahimovic could move into coaching at the end of his playing career, but would need to find a club capable of matching his ambitious personality.

"If they were to propose to him to be a manager, he must immediately demand clarity and transparency," Totti added. "There are two questions to ask; what should I do? And who should I do it with?

"Ibrahimovic is a brilliant man, if we had played together, with my assists, he would have scored a hundred more goals!"

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