Jose Mourinho has fuelled speculation that Chelsea could make a move for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli this summer.
There have been reports the former Manchester City forward is unsettled in his native Italy amid intense media scrutiny and there are suggestions he could return to the Premier League.
Mourinho, who endured a tempestuous relationship with Balotelli during their time at Inter, has complained of a lack of killer instinct from his strikers this season.
And the Chelsea boss has hinted the Blues could step in and make a bid for the 23-year-old Italy international.
"In football you never know the future," Mourinho told Yahoo.
"Balotelli is with a big club at the moment but you never know the future.
"They want to keep the best players and want to keep the best Italian players. But Mario has already been in English football before.
"I’m not going to be manager of Milan or the Italy national team, but he’s a good kid and somebody I’d like to work with again."
Balotelli has previously claimed he would like work with Mourinho again.
"Of course I would like to play under Jose again," Balotelli said earlier this year.
"In my first days at Inter we had some problems, but then it turned into a mutual respect, and now we have a real friendship.
"It is never boring playing under Jose. When you are in Mourinho’s team it is a family and he coaches on the principal that if all is well with the family it doesn’t matter what is going on outside the team."
Balotelli scored 30 goals in 80 matches during his spell in the Premier League with City, which ended in 2013 when he joined Milan.
Chelsea are currently top of the Premier League but have scored 21 goals fewer than second-placed Liverpool.
SILVIO BERLUSCONI has decided to put an end to the rumours and claimed that he is not going to sell the Rossoneri.
Every now and then there are whispers in the press that the most powerful man in Milan and former Italy PM, Silvio Berlusconi, is considering to sell the club and like in every single time, the new rumours were quickly denied by the club.
The United States-based website Bloomberg claimed this week that Berlusconi had asked the company Lazard Ltd. to find potential buyers, but Silvio has decided to put these talks to sleep and assured that he does not want to sell.
“I want to reassure the fans, I don’t intend to sell Milan,” Berlusconi said to the media today while attending the presentation of a book in Rome. Milan’s holding company, Fininvest, which is controlled by the Berlusconi family, denied the rumours on Wednesday: “Despite the numerous denials, rumours about the possible sale of Milan have come back into circulation.
“Fininvest reiterates once again that these hypotheses are totally without foundation.” CEO Adriano Galliani commented on the issue saying “I don’t know why certain stories come out.” There was another report today, coming from MilanoFinanzawhich stated that Milan are on the verge of agreeing a project regarding a new stadium that is worth €300 million. The report elaborates that Berlusconi could sell a portion of his Milan shares in order to fund the news stadium.
In other Milan-related news, SportMediaset reports that Andrea Poli will miss the game against Udinese (Keisuke Honda will start instead), and Andrea Petagna is also expected to face some time out after getting a sprain in his ankle this week.
ANDREA POLI hopes to be ready for the Udinese game while Urby Emanuelson thinks Milan were unlucky against Juve.
Clarence Seedorf has yet to beat a big team losing to Napoli, Atletico Madrid and Juventus but many would argue that the Rossoneri deserved a lot more against Atleti and Juve; Milan played well in those matches but just failed to score.
Andrea Poli had some big misses in those two games but overall his performances were positive and he hopes to be able to be fit for the Udinese game on Saturday after picking up an injury on Sunday when Milan played the Bianconeri.
“I feel fine. It was a hard knock but luckily I didn’t lose consciousness. I’m getting better and we’ll see how the situation evolves day by day,” Poli told the Milan Channel on Wednesday. “It was a hard knock like I said but we’re confident that I’ll be back playing soon. I actually fractured my finger when I fell which I didn’t even realize at the time. These things happen.
“I want to get back quick. And we’ll be looking at things day by day with the medical staff. Now there’s the match against Udinese which is an important match and we want to go into it in the best way possible. I’ll be trying to get back for the match on Saturday and for the game against Atletico Madrid (on March 11). All the messages I’ve got have been very encouraging. Since I’ve been here, I’ve always felt the closeness of the fans; it’s something that’s a real source of pleasure.
“It was emotional to play at the Marassi stadium, a place where I spent important years in terms of my development. The fans welcomed me very well and it’s an emotion that I’ll always carry inside of me. I’m playing in what’s a new position for me. I feel good and I feel I can play an important role for the team. We want to continue improving. This is an important week for us. Udinese are a tough team to face in their stadium, even in the difficult moments but we want to get a result. Against Atletico, it’ll be a great game and we want to get into the next round. We showed in the first leg that we can do it.”
Poli remains in doubt for the game, same as Balotelli who is still feeling pain in his shoulder. Urby Emanuelson, however, is ready to play and he also got some rest this week as he wasn’t included in Holland’s squad for their friendly with France.
“We played a great first-half against Juve. We created lots of chances, we were just missing a goal,” Urby said yesterday. “We conceded in the last minute and that complicated matters. In the changing rooms we were disappointed because we played a great first-half but let in a goal. I’m happy with how the team played, but we lost 2-0 and it’s not a good result.
“We tried to do everything possible to win, but we were lacking a bit of luck. We’re working well in training just like in the matches. We need results like the one we got against Sampdoria to gain increased confidence. I think the team is at ease and wants to win matches. Udinese and Atletico will be important matches.” Emanuelson is expected to play both games in the left back position with Mattia De Sciglio (or Ignazio Abate, alternatively) starting on the opposite side of the defense.
This is an international week so Abate, De Sciglio, Riccardo Montolivo, Kevin Constant, Valter Birsa, Adel Taarabt, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Cristian Zapata will return to training tomorrow, while Keisuke Honda will be back on Friday.
AC Milan - Abbiati; Abate, Bonera, Rami, Emanuelson; Montolivo, De Jong; Taarabt, Poli, Kaka; Pazzini.
Juventus FC - Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres; Lichtsteiner, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Tevez, Llorente.
Referee - Marco Guida.
HERE is the squad of Milan for tomorrow.
AC Milan face Juventus F.C. on Sunday evening when the clock points 20:45 (Italy time) at Stadio San Siro for the 26th matchday of the 2013/2014 Serie A season and coach Clarence Seedorf has named his squad for this important match.
Ferdinando Coppola, Matias Silvestre, Cristian Zapata, Bryan Cristante, Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy are all out of the game, as well as the suspended Sulley Muntari. Mattia De Sciglio and Robinho are back in the squad.
AC Milan Squad:
AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli has not ruled out a return to the Premier League, despite previously vowing he would not play for any other club in England than Manchester City.
In an interview with Soccer Italia magazine the Italy international looked back fondly on his time at the Etihad Stadium, but admitted he could not rule out reneging on his promise to not play for any of City’s domestic rivals. Arsenal have been linked with a move for the striker.
"The Manchester City fans were fantastic with me and when I left, I said that I’d never be able to see myself in England with another shirt than City’s," Balotelli said. "But in football, nothing’s impossible."
Balotelli previously played for AC Milan’s city rivals Inter, where he was part of the squad which won the Treble in 2010 under the management of Jose Mourinho. The 23-year-old said that, while he had his moments with the now Chelsea boss, they are now on good terms.
"We both have big personalities and sometimes that caused problems," he said. "We respect each other, there is now a healthy friendship."
City fans may have seen some of the best of Balotelli — who helped them win the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League title the following year — but they also saw his darker side as several bust-ups within the club and reports of erratic behaviour away from it often made headlines. That, he claims, has slowly been eliminated from his character.
"I made mistakes in the past and I have no problem admitting it," he said. "I’ve matured a lot in the past two years and I don’t think my conduct’s a problem anymore."
One problem which does persist, and could eventually force Balotelli to leave Milan and return to England, is racism. Such behaviour continues to be prevalent in Italian football, despite attempts by the Lega Serie A to clamp down on it this season.
"It’s important to understand that racism and racist people will never disappear," Balotelli said. "Football as a sport should help us and start giving severe punishments to racial behaviour. I’m starting to think that leaving the field is the best thing, although I’ve not done that yet.
"That would be a victory for racists, who are just stupid people."
Balotelli starred for Italy in their run to the semifinals of Euro 2012 and is his country’s first-choice striker heading into this summer’s World Cup. The Squadra Azzurra are in the same group as England, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and Balotelli is optimistic about their chances of not only reaching the knockout phase but lifting the trophy.
"The most beautiful thing about football is that it’s not always the favourites who win," he said. "I think we’ve got a strong squad and a good chance of winning the World Cup. We’ve got a good mix of experience and youth and we can all aim to win."
STEPHAN EL SHAARAWY is expected in April, Cristante in 10 days, Birsa, De Sciglio, Balo could be ready for Sunday.
Milan have been struggling with injuries this season with many players spending time on the treatment table. Clarence Seedorf, and Max Allegri before him, have never had a full squad at their disposal and have had to deal without some men.
The Rossoneri lost Mario Balotelli and Mattia De Sciglio to shoulder and ankle injuries respectively against Atletico Madrid last Wednesday but the two could be ready to face Juventus this Sunday when Milan host them at Stadio San Siro.
According to Milannews.it, the recovery of Stephan El Shaarawy is going well and he’ll be checked-up again on March 17 by Professor Niek van Dijk, who performed the surgery to fix Stephan’s bone fracture on December 28. The 21-year-old, who was one of the best players last year but has barely played this term because of fitness issues, is expected back in April.
Bryan Cristante suffered a left calf bone injury on February 5th and he’s also recovering. “I’m doing well, the comeback is close, in about 10 days I should be back,” Cristante, 18-years-old, told Milan Channel and added: “Ahead of the Juventus match, you can sense the big match atmosphere. There’s a lot of focus. We know we have to do well, but that we also have to maintain our performance levels. Seedorf is passing on his ideas and style of play, we need to follow his instructions and the results will come. As far as I’m concerned I can play in a deep and also in a more advanced midfield role. I’m available.
“The coach is showing his faith in the youth: both Petagna and Saponara have played. I need to train well and the chances will come. On the personal front? A former great is always of assistance to a young player. I stayed here in January because I knew that I could do well and the coach was also in agreement. My injury came after the winter transfer window had shut.”
Valter Birsa, Kevin Constant and Robinho completed the entire training session with the squad today and they all should be ready for Juventus. Balo, De Sciglio, Silvestre and Zapata worked out in the gym and followed their personalized program.
UC Sampdoria - Júnior da Costa; Michele Fornasier, Shkodran Mustafi, Vasco Regini, Andrea Costa; Angelo Palombo, Pedro Obiang; Manolo Gabbiadini, Nenad Krstičić, Paweł Wszołek; Eder.
AC Milan - Marco Amelia; Ignazio Abate, Cristian Zaccardo, Adil Rami, Kevin Constant; Riccardo Montolivo, Sulley Muntari; Keisuke Honda, Riccardo Saponara, Adel Taarabt; Giampaolo Pazzini.
Referee - Daniele Doveri.