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AC Milan’s Paolo, Daniel Maldini test positive for coronavirus

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Legendary AC Milan defender (and current technical director) Paolo Maldini has tested positive for coronavirus after displaying symptoms of the virus this week, the club confirmed in a statement on Saturday.

[ MORE: Update: Which soccer leagues are still playing? ]

Maldini, who made more than 600 appearances for Milan — the only club for which he played during his astonishing 25-year career — along with 126 for Italy, became aware earlier this week of contact he made with a person who later tested positive for the virus. Milan revealed that Maldini’s swab test was administered on Friday and came back positive.

Maldini’s 18-year-old son Daniel also tested positive for the virus. Daniel is currently a forward in Milan’s youth academy. He has previously trained with the first team, though the club did not reveal if he had done so recently.

Paolo and Daniel are both well and have already completed two weeks at home without contact with others. They will now remain in quarantine until clinically recovered, as per the medical protocols outlined by the health authorities.

Paolo and Daniel join a growing list of well-known soccer figures in Italy to have tested positive for the virus over the last week. Juventus stars Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi and Daniele Rugani and Sampdoria’s Manolo Gabbiadini, among others, were revealed to have contracted the virus in the days since Serie A went on hiatus.

Report: Donnarumma learning English ahead of Premier League move

Gianluigi Donnarumma
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Gianluigi Donnarumma to the Premier League?

Marca cites reports out of Italy that Donnarumma is learning English ahead of a transfer that would cost between $21 million and $27 million.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Donnarumma has already made 190 appearances for AC Milan despite his relatively tender age, also earning 16 caps for Italy.

He’s been linked to plenty of places since becoming Milan’s full-time starter at age 16, most recently Manchester United. The Marca reports mentions Man City, though it seems unlikely Ederson is angling to leave the Etihad Stadium.

Real Madrid chased Donnarumma in 2017, getting him into hot water with the Milan supporters. Chelsea was after him before that.

United could be a fit if David De Gea leaves, but Dean Henderson is still property of the Old Trafford set, English, and starring in the league with Sheffield United.

Chelsea will be looking for a new keeper, but European sides Wolves, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Spurs are set. City, too, but we’ll abide by the report that inspired this post there. Everton would be a great shout with Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti if the Toffees can make a charge into Europe.

Then there’s nearly every team outside of the Premier League. The kid is great.

Chelsea offers stadium hotel to medical staff; Zlatan launches fundraising page

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England’s National Health Service has accepted Chelsea’s offer to use the Millenium Hotel at Stamford Bridge free of charge to its personnel.

Many workers at the hospitals around Southwest London travel a great distance to work and Chelsea made the offer in order to keep fresh those taxed by the demands of coronavirus treatment.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Any workers or people presenting symptoms will not be allowed to stay in the hotel, and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will cover all costs over a two-month period. After that period, the demand will be re-assessed.

From ChelseaFC.com:

The initiative came from club owner Roman Abramovich and, after contact with the NHS was made by Chairman Bruce Buck, it was decided the best way Chelsea can assist the NHS is to provide accommodation for NHS staff. Mr Abramovich will be covering the costs of providing the accommodation.

EDIT: Manchester United hero Gary Neville has since announced that his hotel is doing the same for the NHS.

Meanwhile, AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has set up a fund to help the fight against COVID-19.

Ibrahimovic says it’s not about “just a video” and that funds will be “directly donated to Humanitas to help strengthen Intensive Care and First Aid at the hospitals of Rozzano / Milan, Bergamo, Castellanza (VA) and Turin.”

Italy has been hit hard by the virus. Ibrahimovic has played 304 of his 751 career club games for Serie A clubs AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus.

Of course, the video concludes with a sly bit of classic Zlatan, “And remember: If the virus don’t go to Zlatan, Zlatan goes to the virus.”

As of post time, the page has raised $165,000 of its $1.16 million goal. The page is here.

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

AC Milan fires executive Boban after rogue interview

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The rebuild of AC Milan continues after chief football executive Zvonimir Boban after the Croatian gave an interview Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport in which he criticized both the new owner Elliott and current CEO Ivan Gazidis.

Elliott, an American-based hedge fund, took over AC Milan in 2018 after Li Yonghong defaulted on a hefty loan payment. Boban decided to go after ownership’s communication across club leadership, saying in his interview, “It needs to be precise in terms of the budget and goals. We don’t know what our margins are.”

He also went after former Arsenal and current Milan chief Gazidis for his pursuit of Ralf Rangnick as coach for next season, saying, “It’s disrespectful and not the Milan style.” Boban left his position as a FIFA executive to join AC Milan less than a calendar year ago, but the club confirmed on Saturday it had terminated his contract “with immediate effect.”

“We thank Zvone for his efforts over the past nine months and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Gazidis said. “We must now turn our attention to football and the important games to come. (Coach) Stefano Pioli and his staff are doing an exceptional job growing the performances of the team every week and will have our full support as they continue this work, in what is a difficult time for the country.”

AC Milan voluntarily withdrew from the Europa League this season to avoid Financial Fair Play penalties. The club currently sits seventh in the Serie A table 12 points back of the Champions League places. They host Genoa at the San Siro on Sunday, scheduled to take place in front of an empty stadium after the league banned fans indefinitely over fears of coronavirus.

Coronavirus concerns postpone cup semifinal between Juventus-Milan

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MILAN — The Italian Cup semifinal between Juventus and AC Milan scheduled for Wednesday in Turin has been postponed indefinitely as part of measures to stop the spread of the virus outbreak in Italy.

Serie A made the announcement late Tuesday — less than 24 hours before the second-leg match was scheduled to kick off.

The first leg ended 1-1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Ten Serie A matches throughout northern Italy have also been postponed over the past two weekends.

Nearly 80 people have died and more than 2,000 have been infected in Italy by the COVID-19 virus.

The other Cup semifinal between Napoli and Inter Milan in Naples on Thursday is still set to be played as scheduled. Napoli won the first leg 1-0.