Getty Images

Report: Ibrahimovic could return to AC Milan

Leave a comment

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be a one-season wonder in Major League Soccer.

After a spectacular 22-goal, 10-assist campaign for the LA Galaxy, Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that Ibrahimovic is waiting for the phone to ring from AC Milan sporting director Leonardo, with a potential six-month deal in Milan on the table. Ibrahimovic and Leonardo have history – Leonardo was at Paris Saint-Germain when Ibrahimovic joined…from AC Milan, where Ibrahimovic played for two seasons, from 2010 through 2012.

[READ: Oscar Pareja departs FC Dallas for Tijuana]

The 37-year-old striker is now 18 months removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee and showed few injury worries during his time with the Galaxy, where he started in 24 or 27 matches after joining in May. The report in Italy claims that Zlatan could earn upwards of $2.3 million for his six-month stint at Milan, which is more than he earned in base salary in one season in the U.S.

If this is the end of Zlatan’s time in MLS, he leaves having proven that he took the league seriously but also how embarrassingly bad the LA Galaxy’s defense was in 2018. There’s just no way that a team with 22 goals from Ibrahimovic should miss the playoffs.

The big Swede joins the likes of Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney as recent European imports who had an instant impact in MLS. However, Ibrahimovic won’t be remembered alongside players such as David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry and David Villa, all of whom had huge long-term impacts in MLS and for their clubs.

AC Milan preparing for new UEFA judgment on FFP violations

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) AC Milan is preparing for another hearing before UEFA’s club finance panel next week.

In July, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban imposed on the seven-time European champions for overspending.

CAS said the one-year exclusion from European competition was too harsh considering Milan’s recent takeover by U.S.-based hedge fund Elliott Management.

“They do not have a very difficult task,” Milan executive chairman Paolo Scaroni told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “Both parties agree on the fact that in the period between 2014 and 2017 the club infringed the limits of FFP. They must only establish a proportionate sanction.”

Possible new sanctions include limits on player salaries, transfer spending, squad sizes in the Champions League or Europa League and large suspended fines.

When it was initially banned in June, Milan said it failed to break even on soccer-related business in the period from July 2014-June 2017 – before its 2017 spending spree.

For 2017-18, Milan spent more than 200 million euros (then nearly $250 million) on new players. That was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April 2017.

Elliott took control of Milan in June after former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than 300 million euros ($350 million) from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

Scaroni rejected reports that Elliott was seeking a new minority shareholder.

“There are no negotiations – zero – no shareholder in sight nor we are looking for it,” Scaroni said. “Elliott has a broad design to be implemented in three-five years. Firstly, it must create value to eventually disinvest one day.”

Milan rivals agree shared stadium plan, likely at San Siro

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) AC Milan and Inter Milan have agreed to work on a shared stadium project, and prefer “complete renovation” of their city-owned San Siro home.

In a statement, Inter Milan says a shared stadium “will serve in the best interests of all stakeholders.”

[READ: Top Premier League storylines]

The agreement was announced after talks with Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala about redeveloping land around the 80,000-capacity Giuseppe Meazza Stadium. The clubs have shared it for 71 years.

Italian clubs typically rent publicly owned venues, despite Serie A champion Juventus and rivals in other countries generating more income from owning their stadiums.

Inter’s statement says a task force should make progress this year “evaluating several possible options, including a complete renovation of the existing San Siro stadium.”

Zlatan’s future: Ibrahimovic hopeful of return to LA in 2019

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File
Leave a comment

CARSON, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s first season in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy was largely a success. The charismatic forward is under contract with the club for next season, but a few things have to happen if he is to return.

“I have some wishes and demands which is simple things,” Ibrahimovic said Tuesday as players had end of season meetings. “There is interest in Europe, but my priority is Galaxy. They have wishes, I have wishes, but I’m optimistic and I’m positive.”

[ MORE: USMNT’s 28-man roster released ]

Ibrahimovic is a finalist for the league’s Most Valuable Player and newcomer awards after he had 22 goals and 10 assists in 27 games.

AC Milan of Italy’s Serie A has been the latest to express interest in bringing the Swedish player back to Europe on loan, but he said he is not interested in doing something like that, admitting that if he is under contract to one club, he wants to devote his attention to that club.

“If I belong to Galaxy, I am a Galaxy player. If I belong to one club, I give my attention to one club, so I am here,” he said.

Ibrahimovic made $1.5 million this season, according to Major League Soccer’s Players Association contract figures. In order for him to earn more next year, the Galaxy would have to part ways with one of their three designated players.

Galaxy president Chris Klein said initial conversations with Ibrahimovic have been promising, and bringing him back is a top priority for the club.

“What he did this year is certainly well documented,” Klein said. “He wants to win and we want to win with him. Hopefully we can come to a resolution that is good for both sides.”

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

The only thing Ibrahimovic couldn’t do his first season in MLS was get the Galaxy to the playoffs. LA (13-12-9) would have earned the final spot in the Western Conference with a win in its final regular-season game but squandered a two-goal lead to Houston and lost 3-2.

The club announced Tuesday they fired vice president of soccer operations Pete Vagenas. Klein said he hopes to have that spot filled soon. Former Galaxy and US national team coach Bruce Arena is believed to be a candidate.

They also have to decide on a head coach. Dominic Kinnear was 3-2-1 after replacing Sigi Schmid in early September and drew positive reviews from most players, including Ibrahimovic.

“I think the season was like a roller coaster. Hopefully we make it better because that is the target,” Ibrahimovic said. “I want to be able to challenge for the trophy. Like I said, I’m not here for a vacation, I’m here for the challenge and I want to feel my team has a chance to be the best in MLS. I am the best, but I want to feel like my team can compete against the others.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Serie A: Romagnoli saves AC Milan again, Lazio and Torino roar

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The top three teams in the Serie A table had already taken the field earlier in the weekend, but there was plenty of Sunday action for the Italian top flight to digest.

AC Milan was the headliner as they traveled to Udinese, and it took some incredibly late fireworks for the visitors to come away with all three points and stay fourth in the Serie A table. With Gonzalo Higuain off at halftime with a back injury, there were no goals through the 90 minutes. They went to stoppage time, and it was then that things got crazy.

Five minutes into added time, Udinese substitute Bram Nuytinck, who only came on 10 minutes earlier, was controversially sent off. He clearly clipped Samu Castillejo on a breakaway, but as it was a professional foul to prevent a counter opportunity with little actual malice, it was generally thought to have deserved a yellow card. Instead, referee Marco Di Bello showed Nuytinck a straight red, reducing Udinese to 10 men.

That clearly changed the flow of the final few minutes, and Milan capitalized. The visitors won the ball on the midline and had another chance to break. While Udinese seemed to recover before Milan could find space, somehow Romagnoli rifled a howitzer into the top-right corner and gave Milan the win seven minutes deep into stoppage time. While initially the assistant had his flag raised for offside early in the buildup, VAR confirmed the linesman’s call was very incorrect and the goal stood, while AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso was sent off for arguing during the check.

The goal for Romagnoli is his second straight stoppage-time winner after scoring in the 91st minute of a midweek win over Udinese.

Elsewhere, both Lazio and Torino bagged four goals, with the former keeping pace with Milan near the Champions League places. Lazio hammered SPAL 4-1 behind a pair from Ciro Immobile who is red-hot in league play. Immobile’s brace gave him five goals in his last five games and seven in his last seven. Danilo Cataldi and Marco Parolo both added a goal each and it kept Lazio level with AC Milan on points, while also drawing them closer in goal differential, still back in fifth position.

Torino also put four past its opponent, with a 4-1 road win over Sampdoria. Andrea Belotti answered Immobile’s brace with one of his own, and Torino was already 3-0 up thanks to one from Iago Falque before Fabio Quagliarella earned a consolation for the hosts. Armando Izzo finished things off for Torino 12 minutes from time and the visitors jumped into seventh in the table.

Parma entertained relegation-threatened Frosinone and while the hosts fell a man down in the 61st minute as Leo Stulac was sent off for a studs up tackle after a heavy touch, they held on for a 0-0 draw. Sassuolo earned a 2-0 road win over Chievo Verona in a game that featured an own-goal that will leave Emanuele Giaccherini red in the face.

Duvan Zapata snatched a 70th minute winner to give Atalanta a 2-1 win over Bologna. Zapata latched onto a loose ball in the box as the defense appeared to freeze for just a moment, and he pounced for the win. Before that, Ibrahima Mbaye’s third-minute goal had been cancelled out by Gianluca Mancini just before the hour mark. The win moved Atalanta to 10th on 15 points, while Bologna remains in 17th, just three points above the relegation zone.