Football

AC Milan means enterprise with Mario Mandzukic signing – Sportstar

The lacking piece for AC Milan in its decade-long quest to return to glory — and monetary stability — might show to be a 34-year-old striker who hasn’t performed in practically a 12 months.

Mario Mandzukic’s signing this week is tantamount to an announcement of title intentions.

Hitherto having maintained that its aim was returning to the Champions League after a seven-year absence by securing solely a top-four end, Milan now seems firmly set on profitable Serie A.

And standing three factors away from metropolis rival Inter Milan nearing the season’s mid-point, why not?

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It’s simply that having exceeded expectations all season — for all of 2020 truly, or since Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned final January — it’s been a gradual course of by way of constructing the assumption {that a} title run is feasible.

Juventus has dominated Serie A for 9 consecutive seasons and Milan has completed no higher than fifth over the previous seven years.

Whereas hedge-fund proprietor Elliott Administration has for essentially the most half prioritized signing youthful gamers on the rise with vibrant monetary prospects, Mandzukic is a veteran scorer searching for one final flip within the highlight.

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“The historical past of Milan tells us to be bold and get again to the place we needs to be,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli mentioned. “His arrival goes in that course. … He’s an additional weapon.”

Mandzukic is aware of Italian soccer, having scored 44 targets in 162 appearances for Juventus earlier than spending final season in Qatar with league champion Al-Duhail. He might carry out as a reserve for the 39-year-old Ibrahimovic or play along with the Swede in a supporting function.

“There will likely be two of us to scare the opponents now,” Ibrahimovic mentioned.

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At his presentation Thursday, Mandzukic dismissed issues about his kind, despite the fact that he hasn’t performed an official match since March.

“I’ve labored laborious not too long ago,” Mandzukic mentioned. “I really feel good. My physique can cope with any form of exertion. And I can play one other 4 years at a excessive degree. Don’t fear, I’m in kind.”

Milan can also be reportedly in talks to signal middle again Fikayo Timori from Chelsea and left again Junior Firpo from Barcelona, with midfielder Soualiho Meite not too long ago loaned in from Torino.

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“We’re nearly midway via the league and now the video games are beginning to be tougher,” Ibrahimovic mentioned after scoring each targets in a 2-Zero win over Cagliari on Monday. “It is going to be a really robust season. However now with Mandzukic and Meite — and I don’t know if others will arrive — we could have extra gamers out there for the coach to rotate in.”

By profitable Serie A, Milan might seize thousands and thousands extra in Champions League cash from UEFA — funds which are desperately wanted to supply reduction from monetary honest play sanctions that resulted in Milan voluntarily withdrawing from final season’s Europa League.

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Mandzukic might make his Milan debut in opposition to Atalanta on Saturday, with the group needing just one level to safe the principally meaningless midway title.

Then he might be of much more use three days later in a derby with Inter within the Italian Cup quarterfinals.

“Wanting on the schedule there will likely be some rotation as we’ll must protect power, not run dangers or have too many accidents,” Pioli mentioned. “Having some additional selections is essential. I’m proud of the membership’s alternative.”

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