Fikayo Tomori has credited Milan legend and current technical director Paolo Maldini with helping him improve his game after earning an England recall.

Tomori looked destined for a promising future at Chelsea, returning to the club in 2019-20 to play under Frank Lampard having also linked up with him the previous season at Derby County.

In the Championship, Tomori played 47 times as Derby got to the play-offs, and he proved an able back-up option upon his return to Stamford Bridge as he made 15 Premier League appearances – all as a starter – in 2019-20.

But things soon changed, the signing of Thiago Silva at the start of 2020-21 pushing Tomori further down the pecking order – when January came around, he had played in just one Premier League match and was seemingly heading out of the door.

Tomori joined Milan on loan and quickly established himself in the team, striking up a solid partnership with Simon Kjaer. He could not help the Rossoneri to a first Scudetto in 10 years, but they did end their seven-year Champions League hiatus and Tomori's loan was made permanent.

No team in Europe's top five leagues have kept more domestic clean sheets than Milan (eight) since the start of May, and Tomori's role landed him a recall to the England squad, with the 23-year-old lauding the influence of club great Maldini.

Speaking to reporters ahead of England's World Cup qualifier against Andorra, Tomori said: "When he [Maldini] was speaking to me, I was like, 'Wow, it's Paolo Maldini'.

 

"There is that pressure knowing he's watching every game, he's there at the training ground every day, so as a defender I want to impress him.

"When I was midway through my loan, we had a chat, I asked what he thinks about my game, what I need to improve.

"He's really engaging with all the defenders, and having a legend like that around, you're going to listen. It's a nice thing to have him around, and he's been a big help."

For a while it seemed Tomori and Lampard enjoyed a similarly close bond given their time together with Derby and then the Chelsea first team.

But shortly after leaving Chelsea, Tomori said in an interview that he felt the treatment of him by Lampard – who was sacked a matter of days after the defender left – was "personal".

However, Tomori says he has not spent time dwelling on such struggles.

"To be fair, since I've been at Milan I've not really thought about it," he continued. "It was difficult, when you aren't able to play, it is difficult.

"Being able to overcome that, forget about that is part of the reason why now it's going so well. I didn't really dwell on it, I moved on. It's part of football.

"I've a really good support system, and now I've overcome all that I want to keep progressing.

"Every player wants to play, and when that opportunity came at such a big club like Milan, I was so happy, excited, and I'm really happy it's gone so well so far.

"We've started the new season well and the club has shown a lot of faith in me. I'm happy, confident and feeling really settled, and it's led me to be here [back with the England squad]."

Dusan Vlahovic decision not to extend his Fiorentina contract is set to spark a bidding war.

Fiorentina had been hopeful of re-signing their star forward.

Now, Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Serbia international.

 

TOP STORY – VLAHOVIC EYEING JUVE MOVE

Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic is dreaming of a move to Juventus, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Vlahovic's future is a hot topic after Fiorentina announced the Serbia international will not re-sign in Florence.

Contracted to Fiorentina until 2023, Vlahovic has been tipped to make the move to Juve like former Viola team-mate Federico Chiesa, while Manchester City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Arsenal have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport says City forward Raheem Sterling is open to a loan move to Barcelona in January. Sterling has found himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola in Manchester.

Manchester United are prioritising a new right-back in January to provide competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, reports 90min. Rangers' Nathan Patterson and Max Aarons of Norwich City have been linked.

- It is only a matter of weeks before Lautaro Martinez extends his Inter contract, per Fabrizio Romano. Inter are also set to open talks with midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

- Roma have re-opened talks to sign Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Zakaria is out of contract at the end of the season, though Roma are set to try to bring in the Gladbach star in January. 

- The Daily Mail claims Tottenham are eyeing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger. The Germany international is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, Real Madrid and Atletico.

Milan are monitoring Salzburg trio Luka Sucic, Brenden Aaronson and Maurtis Kjaergaard, according to Calciomercato.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli encouraged his players to "dream" of winning the Scudetto after equalling their best-ever start to a Serie A season thanks to a 3-2 win at Atalanta.

The Rossoneri held on to secure victory away to Atalanta and move into second place on 19 points after seven league fixtures, matching the record they set in the title-winning 2003-04 campaign.

Davide Calabria opened the scoring after less than 30 seconds – the third-fastest goal in Serie A for Milan since the 2004-05 season (since Opta started to collect this data), with only Rafael Leao (six seconds against Sassuolo) and Sulley Muntari (18 seconds against Juventus) netting faster.

Sandro Tonali and Leo were also on target for high-flying Milan as Pioli welcomed talk of a trophy challenge.

"We have to play to win every single game, we played with quality and energy," Pioli said, with Milan searching for their first Serie A crown since 2010-11.

"This test closes a positive period in which the team has always responded, even in Champions League defeats. It means we are growing.

"Is Tonali talking about the Scudetto? It's right that the guys ride this dream, at every game we have the chance to show that we can compete.

"It's a two-year journey, but now we must not be satisfied, but remaining humble and respecting our opponents. Tonight we did well what we missed in the first half hour against Liverpool, we were very dynamic."

Pioli also reserved special praise for former Atalanta midfielder Franck Kessie, who has featured regularly for Milan this term despite having just one year left on his contract.

It remains to be seen whether Kessie will remain at San Siro beyond 2021-22 amid links with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham.

"[I] never had doubts about Franck's behaviour, the contract events exist but he played an amazing game," Pioli said. 

"[It was a] high level from everyone, but his, in particular, was an excellent race from a physical and technical point of view. He remains a regular member of this team, but like other members of the squad."

Milan will look to continue their title charge when they host Hellas Verona at San Siro on October 16 after the upcoming international break.

Davide Calabria scored inside the first 30 seconds as Milan triumphed 3-2 over Atalanta to regain second place in the Serie A table on Sunday.

The Rossoneri captain tucked home the rebound after his initial shot was parried poorly by Juan Musso with the hosts caught cold, before Sandro Tonali profited from a Remo Freuler error to add a second and Rafael Leao rifled in a third.

Duvan Zapata smashed home a penalty after substitute Junior Messias was deemed to have handled the ball in the area after a VAR check and the striker set Mario Pasalic up to convert at the back post as the seconds wound down, but Gian Piero Gasperini's men left it too late to salvage a point.

The result sees Milan maintain their unbeaten record, with this their sixth win from their opening seven league fixtures, only dropping points in their 1-1 draw away to Juventus so far. 

Could Darwin Nunez be the next Benfica star to make a big move?

Portuguese sensation Joao Felix swapped Benfica for Atletico Madrid in a club-record deal in 2019.

Now, Uruguay international Nunez is attracting interest from across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FRONT OF QUEUE FOR NUNEZ

Manchester City are leading the race to sign Darwin Nunez from Portuguese giants Benfica, according to the Daily Star.

Premier League champions City are desperate to sign a forward amid links with Tottenham's Harry Kane, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.

Nunez has also reportedly attracted interest from BarcelonaLiverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

– United forward Edinson Cavani could join Real Madrid in January, claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Cavani finds himself battling Cristiano Ronaldo for regular game time at Old Trafford, where the club's hierarchy are concerned amid their form under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

- The Daily Star reports Arsenal are weighing up a move for out-of-favour City forward Raheem SterlingBarca are also believed to be interested in Sterling, according to The Sun, as they face the prospect of missing out on Leipzig's Dani Olmo. The Spain international has been linked with United, Juventus and Bayern.

Liverpool are eyeing Pogon Szczecin midfielder Kacper Kozlowski, says the Mirror. The 17-year-old has been linked with Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, RB Leipzig and Salzburg.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will remain sidelined for Milan's trip to Atalanta on Sunday, but head coach Stefano Pioli says the ageless striker "could play forever".

The Sweden international has featured only once for Milan since undergoing knee surgery in June and was on the scoresheet in that 2-0 win over Lazio on September 12.

Either side of a two-year spell in MLS with LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic has not played more than 19 games in a single league campaign in European football since 2016-17 in his first of two seasons with Manchester United.

Prior to his recent injury lay-off, though, he was a key player under Pioli as he registered 25 goals in 37 Serie A games between his second debut for the club on January 6, 2020 and the end of last season.

That is a tally bettered by just five players across that period – Duvan Zapata (27), Luis Muriel (30), Romelu Lukaku (35), Ciro Immobile (37) and Cristiano Ronaldo (50).

Of those, only Muriel (64.1) and Ronaldo (89.9) boast better minutes-per-goal records than Ibrahimovic (114.5).

And with Ibrahimovic turning 40 on the day of Milan's clash with Atalanta at Gewiss Stadium, Pioli does not believe retirement is in sight for the Swede, who has pulled out of his country's upcoming fixtures.

"I don't know how many years Zlatan can still play. But from what I see, his enthusiasm and his desire to train, I could also say that he could play forever," Pioli said at a news conference on Saturday previewing the Atalanta match.

"He may not be 100 per cent for many games but his passion for this sport is incredible. Zlatan does what he likes. If I could give him a gift, I would extend his career as much as possible.

"Zlatan is not available for the game, but he is feeling better and will use the two-week break to recover."

 

Milan have accrued 16 points from six matches this season and will equal their best start to a Serie A campaign in the three points per win era should they beat Atalanta.

The hosts held champions Inter to a 2-2 draw last week, but they have won just one of their five home league matches against Milan since Gian Piero Gasperini took charge in 2016-17.

Though Pioli is still expecting a tough test on Sunday in an early-season test of his side's Scudetto credentials.

"They are a strong team in every way, tactically, technically and physically. I expect a determined and complete Atalanta," Pioli said.

"I watched their game against Inter and it was spectacular. We have played many games of late but the same is true of our opponents. We will just try to play our best game."

Paul Pogba has been the subject of constant speculation over the past 12 months.

Manchester United's French midfielder is into the final year of his contract.

Pogba has been in excellent early season form, with seven assists in the league already.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MOVE LOOMS FOR POGBA

Real Madrid are Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba's most likely destination at the end of this season, claims El Nacional.

The France international is out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of this season and could leave on a free transfer.

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola is trying to persuade Pogba to join Madrid, despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool target Karim Adeyemi is being chased by German pair Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, reports Sport Bild. RB Leipzig are also monitoring the 19-year-old Salzburg striker.

Marco Asensio appears destined to leave Madrid given his current role, with Sevilla hoping to sign the midfielder, according to El Gol Digital.

– Fichajes reports that Milan are plotting a January move for out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek.

– The Sun claims that Tottenham have revived their interest in West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone as they seek a successor to Hugo Lloris.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho wants to reunite with Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele by signing him, reports Calciomercato.

– Marca claims that Manchester City are considering tabling an offer to sign Villareal forward Pau Torres .

Manchester United are in the market for a midfielder. 

With a long-rumoured target looking unlikely, United are shifting their gaze from one England midfielder to another. 

Could they prise another up-and-coming star from Leeds United? 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SHIFT SIGHTS TO PHILLIPS

Kalvin Phillips is Manchester United's latest target in an effort to shore up the midfield, the Daily Star reports. 

The Leeds star has gained favour at Old Trafford as United have given up hopes of adding West Ham's Declan Rice thanks to his reported £90million price tag.

Phillips, 25, is under contract at Elland Road through 2024 and reportedly is valued at £60m. 

 

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are still in pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt and are prepared to offer Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Memphis Depay to Juventus in a deal for the Netherlands defender, who is valued at €75m, according to Calciomercato.

– Franck Kessie has turned down Milan's latest contract offer and is eyeing a move to the Premier League, 90min reports, with United and Liverpool said to be interested. 

– Juan Mata is considering a move away from Old Trafford in January due to a lack of playing time this season, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

– Everton are considering loan deals with Real Madrid for Isco and Luka Jovic, claims Defensa Central.

– West Brom teen Reyes Cleary is drawing attention from Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim, says the Daily Mail. 

– Steven Nzonzi is nearing a move from Roma to Al Rayyan, Calciomercato reports. 

Is the end nigh for Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford?
 
Wan-Bisakka joined Manchester United in a big-money deal in 2019 but the Red Devils are reportedly ready to replace the Englishman.
 
A talented RB Leipzig defender could be the team's next right-back.

 

TOP STORY – NEW RIGHT-BACK SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are eyeing RB Leipzig right-back Nordi Mukiele, according Fichajes.net.

United are reportedly keen to sign a replacement after losing patience with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be interested in Leipzig's 23-year-old star Mukiele.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Milan and Juventus are interested in United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Inter are willing to let Alexis Sanchez leave the Serie A champions, reports Calciomercato. Marseille, Real Betis and Sevilla are among the possible options for the 32-year-old Chilean.

Tottenham are weighing up a move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins, per Fichajes. It comes amid continued uncertainty over Spurs star Harry Kane, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as well as United.

 

Daniel Maldini struggled to describe the feeling of scoring his first goal for Milan as he revealed the "demanding" but positive relationship he has with his father Paolo.

The youngster started his first Serie A game on Saturday against Spezia, 12 years and 117 days after his father, a legendary figure at San Siro, last appeared in a league game for the Rossoneri, and opened the scoring with a second-half header.

Brahim Diaz's late goal cancelled out Daniele Verdi's deflected equaliser to move Milan to 16 points from their first six games, just the third time they have achieved the feat in the three points for a win era.

However, much of the post-match focus was on Maldini, who became the third generation of his family to score for the club, 13 years and 179 days after Paolo's last league goal and 60 years and 22 days since his grandfather Cesare's final strike.

Paolo, who is also a director at Milan, was shown celebrating in the crowd by television cameras after his son's opener and the 19-year-old assured the pair share a good relationship.

"Dad is very demanding, he gives me advice and helps me," Maldini said before discussing the emotions that followed his 48th-minute finish.

"Those were good times," he continued. "I was excited even though I was calm. The teammates help me a lot and the coach too. We took home the three points and this is important."

Milan temporarily top Serie A, thanks in part to Maldini's strike and the fact Napoli play on Sunday, as they prepare to visit Atalanta next weekend.

Maldini will be hoping to star once more if he gets the nod from Stefano Pioli as he admitted he never imagined his first goal arriving in the fashion it did.

"Well, I tried to imagine how it would arrive but not the actual play itself," he told Milan's official website when asked if he had dreamed about the moment.

"It's indescribable, I still have to let it sink in.

"Fortunately, it ended up this way. It's true it felt weird to score with a header but the outcome was great."

Stefano Pioli hailed Milan's improved mental strength as they edged past Spezia 2-1 on Saturday. 

Daniel Maldini opened the scoring on his first Serie A start, 12 years and 117 days after his father Paolo's last Rossoneri appearance, before Brahim Diaz's late winner came after Daniele Verde's deflected equaliser. 

The visitors lost the same fixture 2-0 last term and when Verde's left-footed strike made it beyond goalkeeper Mike Maignan, it looked like Milan would drop points in the early stages of the title race. 

However, Diaz proved the hero to propel Milan to 16 points in the competition after six games for just the third time in the three points for a win era, with Pioli delighted at his side's response in the face of adversity. 

"It’s a great victory, because we played well, but not very well, and getting the result anyway shows mental strength," Pioli told DAZN in his post-match interview. 

"This is a young squad, but they believe in themselves, in the team and in our approach to football. We must not lose our humility, but it’s only right they feel able to handle certain pressure and win any game. 

"The pressure and expectations have increased around us this season, but we are showing that we can handle that." 

Indeed, Maldini's winner made him the third generation of his family to score for the Rossoneri, 13 years and 179 days after Paolo's last league goal and 60 years and 22 days since his grandfather Cesare's final strike for the club.

And Pioli, who handed Maldini his first start as he was without a host of names, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tiemoue Bakayoko, was impressed with the youngster. 

"The important thing about Daniel [Maldini] is that he has talent," the Milan boss said. 

"He has technique, a good vision of the game, but needs to be quicker and more intensive in shaking off his marker. 

"[Mehdi] Bourabia was keeping tight to him and all he needed was another couple of metres to get away from his marker and open up those spaces." 

Daniel Maldini was on target in his first Serie A start as Milan relied on Brahim Diaz's late winner to edge past Spezia 2-1 on Saturday.

Maldini, son of Italy and Rossoneri legend Paolo, enjoyed a dream maiden top-flight start as he headed Stefano Pioli's side into the lead after the interval at the Alberto Picco Stadium.

However, Daniele Verde's deflected effort levelled things up with just over 10 minutes to go before Diaz restored the visitors' lead in the closing stages.

Milan banished their demons from the shock 2-0 defeat in this fixture last term to move a point clear at the summit, though the chasing pack do have a game in hand.

M'Bala Nzola tested Mike Maignan twice early on, first from range and then from distance, but the Milan goalkeeper parried both away before Theo Hernandez whipped a free-kick narrowly wide.

Ante Rebic should have opened the scoring from Sandro Tonali's corner but his free header was wayward as Milan failed to make their 62 per cent first-half possession pay.

However, Maldini – appearing 12 years and 117 days after his father Paolo's last league appearance – powered a header home three minutes after the break from Pierre Kalulu's delivery to open the scoring.

Rafael Leao – one of Piolo's two-half time changes – looked to have added a second but he was denied by the right-hand post before Giulio Maggiore turned over from point-blank range following Simone Bastoni's teasing cross.

Leao again went close moments later as he dragged an effort wide to the right and Milan's failure to kill the game off came back to haunt them.

Verde twisted and turned before firing a low left-footed strike, which hit Tonali and left Maignan powerless to stop Spezia from drawing level in the closing stages.

Diaz proved the late hero as he ghosted into the area to turn home Alexis Saelemaker's low delivery and secure the win for Milan.

Anthony Martial has reportedly been permitted to explore his options by Manchester United.

Martial has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo's return.

France international Martial scored four league goals for United last term, after netting 17 times in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND PLOTS MARTIAL MOVE

Borussia Dortmund are bracing for Erling Haaland's departure by plotting a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, claims 90Min.

Haaland, who has a release clause in his contract that activates in mid-2022, is being chased by a host of top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Liverpool and United.

Martial is still contracted to the Red Devils until 2024, having penned a five-year deal in January 2019, amid reported interest from Barca, Tottenham and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Transfer Window podcast claims City owner Sheikh Mansour wants to hijack Madrid's bid for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and sign him "at any cost". Mbappe has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- Barcelona are looking at Reims' Spanish head coach Oscar Garcia as a replacement for under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman, per RMC Sport.

- Madrid midfielder Isco has held numerous rounds of negotiations with Serie A challengers Milan about a move to Italy, according to Todo Fichajes.

Barca are considering a move for Porto's Colombia international forward Luis Diaz next off-season, claims El Nacional.

- Diario AS says Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to Milan amid interest from PSG and City.

Theo Hernandez declared Milan are focused on going one better than last year as they bid to become Serie A champions for the first time in 11 years.

French left-back Hernandez was a driving force behind Milan's latest win, coming off the bench to set up Brahim Diaz's opener against Venezia before scoring the second himself in a 2-0 victory.

Milan were not at their best on Wednesday evening, but coach Stefano Pioli's team have four wins and a draw from their opening five Serie A games, and such form is a temptation to start looking further down the line.

Hernandez, who was afforded a break from the starting XI after a hectic start to his campaign, became the first Milan player to score and assist as a substitute in Serie A since Maxi Lopez pulled off the feat against Udinese in February 2012.

He has become a key figure for the Rossoneri, who started last season at breakneck pace too, but faded in the closing months as San Siro rivals Inter scooped the Scudetto, Milan finishing in second place.

Speaking about the Venezia game, Hernandez said: "We knew it was an important match and that it would not be easy, we've come from a series of very tough matches.

"Pioli gave me some rest, I went on trying to do my best. We work every day to improve, it is a season in which we are better."

Quoted widely in the Italian media, Hernandez said: "We have to win these games, all of them. A place in the Champions League? No, something more: we have to play to win the Scudetto."

Milan fielded the youngest starting XI in a Serie A match this season (24 years and 166 days), with Pioli shaking things up to good effect just before the hour mark by introducing Hernandez, Alexis Saelemaekers and Fikayo Tomori.

By that stage, Milan had not had a shot on target, and that remained the case until Diaz put them in front after 68 minutes.

Hernandez became the first Milan defender to both score and assist in a Serie A fixture since the 2004-05 season, the furthest point back at which Opta has collated such data.

Pioli does not mind talk of titles but warned they will not come easily, with the coach saying: "We have to ride this enthusiasm and empathy we have created with our fans.

"Everyone has the desire to win; the difference is made by those who prepare themselves best to win.

"If my players think they can win the Scudetto then let them make an enormous effort, this is the only way to win."

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund and Norway sensation.

If Haaland leaves Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit have a replacement in mind.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND OUT, CHIESA IN AT BVB?

Borussia Dortmund see Juventus forward Federico Chiesa as a replacement for in-demand star Erling Haaland, according to Calciomercato.

Haaland is tipped to leave Dortmund at the end of the season amid links with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

Should Haaland depart, Dortmund are eyeing Juve and Italy star Chiesa, who has previously caught the attention of Chelsea and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Juve, Inter and Milan are interested in Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who has been linked with a January exit.

- A contract extension for Liverpool's Naby Keita is not as close as previously thought, claims Bild. It comes as Liverpool reportedly eye Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham.

Tottenham will make a January move for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato. The Serbia international forward has also been linked with City, Arsenal, Juve and Atletico Madrid.

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