Milan will start their Serie A title defence at home to Udinese, while Inter's attempts to reclaim the Scudetto will begin at newly promoted Lecce.

Stefano Pioli's side edged out Inter for the championship in the 2021-22 campaign, their first Scudetto in 11 years, and will again face stern competition from Juventus, Napoli and Simone Inzaghi's side next season.

Milan visit Atalanta on the second matchday, with the first Derby di Milano between Pioli's side and Inter coming on September 4, when Lazio host Napoli.

Dusan Vlahovic will return to Fiorentina with Juventus on the same weekend, while Milan host Napoli and Massimiliano Allegri's side in the space of two weeks between matchday seven and nine.

The first Derby di Roma will see Jose Mourinho's side host Lazio on matchday 13, with the return meeting scheduled for matchday 27.

Inter will meet Milan for their second clash in week 21, while Serie A will take a break between November 13 and January 4, owing to the World Cup in Qatar.

The weekend of May 7 could be influential in the title race, with Atalanta hosting Juventus, Lazio visiting Milan, Inter travelling to Roma and Napoli playing at home to Fiorentina.

Milan lifted the Scudetto on the final matchday in 2022 and should it go all the way again, Pioli's men host Hellas Verona, while Inter make the trip to Torino and Juventus are away at Udinese.

Having finishing 15 points behind champions Real Madrid in LaLiga season, Atletico Madrid are in a bit of a rebuilding process.

While Hector Herrera, Luis Suarez and Sime Vrsaljko head for the exit, Saul Niguez and Alvaro Morata return from loans, with Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel potentially also signing on a free transfer.

Reports suggest that Atleti are also particularly keen on keeping one of Witsel's international team-mates.

TOP STORY – ATLETI TO WARD OFF CARRASCO INTEREST

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is unwilling to let go of Yannick Carrasco amid growing interest from Premier League clubs, according to Diario AS.

Although Carrasco's contract expires in 2024, his reported release clause of €60million reportedly makes him an attractive prospect to the likes of ChelseaTottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

Simeone has apparently ordered the club to not field any offers for the 28-year-old, who he considers fundamental to his future plans.

Though the player is reportedly happy at the Wanda Metropolitano, offers from elsewhere could potentially play a role in any contract negotiations.

ROUND-UP

– Cristiano Ronaldo is considering a departure from Manchester United in response to a lack of recent transfer activity under Erik ten Hag, Record reports.

Barcelona have finally made a bid for Robert Lewandowski, with an opening offer to Bayern Munich of €40m, according to the Telegraph.

– The same publication is also reporting that, with one year remaining on his contract, France international Adrien Rabiot has requested a transfer from Juventus to the Premier League.

Milan are considering making an offer for Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, per TuttomercatoWeb.

Hakan Calhanoglu believes Inter are a stronger team than Milan despite the latter's Scudetto success, while he questioned the behaviour of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

Calhanoglu watched on as Inter lifted the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season, when he was playing for fierce rivals Milan. 

The Turkey international switched city allegiances by joining Inter for the following campaign, which finished with Milan winning the Scudetto and ending a 1,976-day wait for a trophy. 

That also marked the first time that Inter and Milan finished in Serie A's top two in consecutive seasons, but Calhanoglu says Simone Inzaghi's side are far stronger than their neighbours. 

"Inter are a much stronger team than Milan. We lost a derby that suddenly changed in the 75th minute after [Ivan] Perisic and I were substituted," the midfielder told Tivibu Spor.  

"We were leading 1-0, then we lost 2-1. The coach [Inzaghi] also contributed to that defeat, I told him. In the cup, however, we beat them 3-0. The team is very ambitious." 

Ibrahimovic could be seen smoking a cigar at Milan's title celebrations, where he took the microphone and told supporters: "Hey, send a message to Hakan." 

Calhanoglu insists he would not have behaved like Ibrahimovic, questioning his actions at 40 years old. 

"He's a 40-year-old man, I wouldn't do a thing like that if I was that age. He's not 18. He likes to be the centre of attention," he added.  

"This year he didn't contribute to the Scudetto, he hardly ever played. But he does everything to attract the attention of the fans. 

"I don't care at all. It's not right because he's someone who always calls me when I'm in Milan, who wants to go out for dinner and ride a motorcycle with me. 

"I respected him. He also wrote about me in his book, he had to write these things or his book would be empty. I won't answer him, it's better not to answer." 

Juventus and Milan target Domenico Berardi has suggested he is ready to leave Sassuolo.

Berardi impressed again for Sassuolo in the 2021-22 season, scoring 15 times in Serie A – the third consecutive campaign the forward has posted double figures in the league.

He also recorded the most assists in the Italian top flight (14) and was the only Serie A striker to manage double figures for both goals and assists.

The 27-year-old has been at Sassuolo his entire career, but with two years left on his contract there have been growing suggestions he could soon move on.

Sassuolo chief executive Giovanni Carnevali hailed Berardi as a "champion", but revealed last April he may leave if the club receive an offer that is too good to refuse.

Berardi has been linked to Juventus, who co-owned him between 2013 and 2015, while Liverpool and Milan have also been among those reportedly interested in the Italy international.

The Sassuolo attacker has expressed his love for the city of Modena, but acknowledged he would be ready to depart after 10 years with the club.

Asked by magazine Chi whether he would be leave, Berardi responded: "I like living in Modena. I have lived here for 11 years but I have reached a point at which I would suffer less from change.

"That is thanks to my wife and my son, with them I would feel at home in any city."

 

Milan chairman Paolo Scaroni has played down concerns regarding the potential loss of Rafael Leao after insisting the side "always replace well".

Leao starred during Milan's triumphant Serie A campaign in the 2021-22 season, scoring 11 goals and contributing a further eight assists as they beat city rivals Inter to the Scudetto on the final day of the season.

The contributions of the Portugual forward have not gone unnoticed, with Real Madrid having been attributed with an interest in the 23-year-old.

While Scaroni did not erase the fears of fans that Leao could be lured away from the club, he outlined evidence that Milan have done well in the past to land suitable replacements for those that moved elsewhere.

 

"Leao is without doubt a precious gem but Milan has shown itself able to replace the seemingly irreplaceable," he told the 'La Politica Nel Pallone' podcast.

"I remember [Simon] Kjaer's injury and the introduction of [Pierre] Kalulu, in retrospect we are all happy to have discovered a new talent."

Last week it was reported that Leao had snubbed the offer of a new contract with Milan, which would have extended his deal until 2026.

His deal is due to expire in 2024 and that could result in a transfer either this year or next in order for the Serie A champions to receive a fee.

Milan's Serie A triumph played out amid a tumultuous boardroom backdrop.

And the Rossoneri's notoriously thrifty project could now test Paolo Maldini's patience, with the need to bolster their squad for domestic and continental competitions not yet being met.

The Italian champions reportedly losing out on long-desired targets could potentially bring the subject of Maldini's future to the fore again.

TOP STORY – MILAN TO LOSE OUT ON SANCHES, BOTMAN

Milan look set to miss out on the signings of Lille pair Renato Sanches and Sven Botman, according to Calciomercato.

Although the Rossoneri had agreed personal terms with Sanches several months ago, Paris Saint-Germain are set to double Milan's offer to Lille of €15million.

They face a similar dynamic with defender Botman, who also agreed personal terms with Milan, as fellow long-term suitors Newcastle United attempt to swoop.

With Maldini and right-hand-man Ricky Massara's contracts to expire at the end of the month, these failings will likely create inconvenient tension.

ROUND-UP

– Chelsea are interested in signing Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling, according to Fabrizio Romano.

– Meanwhile, The Sun is reporting the Blues are set to sign Ousmane Dembele, but the winger will demand a starting spot instead of a squad role.

– Manchester United are hoping Barcelona reduce their asking price for Frenkie de Jong, per The Athletic.

– Liverpool are bracing for the eventual departure of Mohamed Salah as contract renewal talks stall, the Mirror reports.

Milan president Paolo Scaroni has criticised the state of Italian football, saying it must commit to change to begin competing with the top European leagues.

Speaking to newspaper Il Foglio, the chief of the reigning Serie A champions said: "You need to propose a product that you like, because football is not only sport but also entertainment."

There has not been an Italian winner of the Champions League since the 2009-10 season, when Milan's city rivals Inter overcame Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final.

Since that campaign, all trophy-winning teams in the competition have hailed from Spain, Germany or England.

"Our Serie A has become a Serie B when compared with the other major European leagues," said Scaroni.

Scaroni pointed to clubs struggling to sell out their games in stadiums that are ripe for renovation.

He said: "Our stadiums are outdated and without fans, our combined earnings are lower than those of Premier League teams individually.

"We are discussing how to sell our rights abroad, but we must be aware that the product must be improved."

Scaroni also spoke about Milan's proposed move away from San Siro to a new home, saying: "Whoever gives us the go-ahead will find us ready."

Arsenal are set to make their first big splash of this transfer period with the signing of 22-year-old Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira.

The Gunners have been linked with various big names – including Raheem Sterling, Youri Tielemans and Christopher Nkunku – but have struggled to get deals over the line for players that could be considered key signings.

Vieira, who has made 20 appearances for Portugal Under-21s, was a move that came out of left-field, but those that call the Emirates Stadium home will hope it proves to be a masterstroke.

 

TOP STORY – VIEIRA'S MOVE TO ARSENAL REACHES FINAL STAGES

According to ESPN, a deal in the range of €40million is said to be in place, with Vieira said to be heading to London for his medical on Friday before finalising a five-year deal.

The talented attacking midfielder – who played in both the number-10 role and as a second striker – finished the Primeira Liga season with six goals and 14 assists from 27 appearances. Nobody in Portugal's top division had more assists.

Vieira reportedly had a €50m release clause with Porto, but the club were happy to accept the reduced figure.

It could be the start of a big week for Arsenal, with ESPN also mentioning they are leading the race for Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus in a deal that could be worth up to £50 million.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to The Sun, Liverpool remain interested in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, but they will remain patient and not pursue him in this transfer period.

– Inter have turned down a €50m bid from Paris Saint-Germain for Milan Skriniar, holding firm at an asking price of €80m, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Newcastle United target Sven Botman is reportedly favouring Milan if he is to leave Lille, per Football Insider.

– The Telegraph is reporting Southampton have agreed to a deal worth up to £15m for 20-year-old City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, while The Athletic claims they are also interested in 18-year-old City midfielder Romeo Lavia.

Fulham and Wolves will reportedly compete for the signature of Sporting midfielder Joao Palhinha, according to 90min.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is "like a father" in the Milan dressing room, according to Rossoneri midfielder Brahim Diaz.

The 40-year-old striker only started 12 games across all competitions for Stefano Pioli's side during the 2021-22 campaign, which ended with Milan claiming their first Serie A title in 11 years.

Ibrahimovic is now out for up to eight months following an operation on his left knee last month, and with his contract expiring at the end of June, his future is up in the air.

Diaz, on loan at San Siro from Real Madrid, has hailed the iconic striker's contribution to Milan's recent success, claiming he improves those around him.

Speaking at an awards ceremony hosted by Marca, Diaz said: "Ibrahimovic is my father's age, but he still makes a difference. For me, he is like a father in the locker room.

"He has made my life easier because when I have the ball I have to pass it to him and if I don't he doesn't get angry. 

"He is an incredible player, with great charisma and who loves to win.

"He likes to work in training and he also passes it on to others. He makes all the players better because he pushes you to always give your best."

Diaz scored four goals in 40 appearances across all competitions last season.

Fikayo Tomori says being among the celebrations when Italy beat England in the Euro 2020 final is motivating him to play his part as the Three Lions looks to go one better at the World Cup.

Tomori has been called up to England's upcoming Nations League matches, which will include a home clash with Italy – the country in which the defender has impressed since joining Milan last year.

Having starred on loan with the Rossoneri during the second half of the 2020-21 season, Tomori completed a permanent move to San Siro last June, before making 31 Serie A appearances as Milan won their first Scudetto since in 11 years.

Tomori was left out of England's squad for Euro 2020, meaning he was in Milan when Gareth Southgate's team suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak against Roberto Mancini's Italy last July.

And the former Chelsea defender says he will use that memory as motivation if afforded the opportunity to feature for England in Qatar later this year.

Recalling England's Wembley defeat, Tomori said: "When [Italy] equalised, I had a face on and didn't want to look too down.

"But as the penalties were going on, it was difficult to watch. I was near the Duomo [the cathedral in Milan, where fans celebrated the victory] and, in a way, it was nice to see them celebrating. I was right in the middle of it.

"But really I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I'd felt how it was in England as we advanced, it was madness. Then I saw Italy celebrate after the final and it's definitely a motivation for me.

"I have gone to Italy and seen them celebrate after the final, so I have seen both sides and I have seen how it can really be such a celebration. 

"Imagine how big it would be if we were to win the Euros or the World Cup. Yes, it is definitely a motivation. Every footballer likes to win, but to see how a country reacts to it is something that motivates you."

Tomori also admitted to having taken some pleasure from Italy's failure to qualify for a second successive World Cup, as he recalled a joke played on Milan's Italian players after their play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March.

"It was a strange one," he said of the Azzurri's defeat. "In Italy, Macedonia is a fruit salad kind of thing. That's what it's called. 

"I remember [Sandro] Tonali and [Alessandro] Florenzi were there, so people brought the Macedonia to the training ground. The newspapers were like 'whoa', but the people were saying 'well, we lost to a fruit salad'. It was taken as a joke, but it was a weird one. They just didn't expect to lose."

Tomori has only won two senior England caps to date, but starred as Milan conceded just eight league goals between the start of 2022 and the end of the Serie A season, keeping 11 clean sheets during that time.

But the defender is not worried by having been overlooked for past squads, saying he has simply focused on his club form and is using the successes of other foreign-based England stars as inspiration. 

"I've seen [Jadon] Sancho, Tammy [Abraham], Jude [Bellingham], players who play abroad, still getting called up, so I wasn't panicking or thinking, 'what’s going to happen if I don’t get called up?' I was just focusing on my own performance and helping Milan as much as possible," he added.

"From there, if I do get called up, once I'm here it's about making sure I take the steps to stay here. That's been my mentality all the way through. 

"I'm not putting too much pressure on myself, getting wound up about not being selected. It was just, 'stay calm, keep doing what I’m doing', and from there hopefully I can get in the squad."

Meanwhile, Tomori is hardly short of defensive role models in his adopted country, and says being around several "streetwise" Italian defenders has helped him develop his own game.

"I saw [Franco] Baresi after the last game, which was cool. You see different legends just flying about," he added.

"The way they are as defenders [in Italy], I wouldn't say it's personal but it's, 'I need to make sure what I'm doing is on the money and no one's getting past me'. They have that pride. There are little things the manager will tell me – make sure that you are blocking a run or that you are not allowing this to happen or making contact in the box.

"Watching [Leonardo] Bonucci and [Giorgio] Chiellini, they are very streetwise, you pick up stuff."

Sven Botman acknowledged interest from Milan and Newcastle United as he confirmed his desire to leave Lille before the 2022-23 season.

Botman has established himself as one of the standout defenders in Ligue 1 over the past two seasons, winning the title with Lille in 2020-21.

His form has unsurprisingly prompted interest from elsewhere, with Milan and Newcastle both linked with moves since the January window.

A transfer to one of these clubs now appears highly likely, with Botman asked if he had played his last game for Lille.

"I don't know, but I think so," the centre-back told AD. "I intend to take a step.

"Talks are under way now. I won't go into all of that, but it's going well. I do hope that the transfer for the new season is completed. Preferably also for the pre-season, yes."

Pressed specifically on Serie A champions Milan and resurgent Premier League outfit Newcastle, Botman said: "Those clubs are interested, yes. I can't and won't say much more about it.

"What I want is to take a nice step towards a nice competition. I am also looking forward to a new step.

"I am aware of what I want – that is not necessarily to that club or that competition. You weigh all kinds of things and then the total picture has to suit you. I must have a very good feeling about it."

As well as that move, Botman has ambitions for international recognition, still waiting on a Netherlands call-up with Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt among his Oranje rivals.

"I'm just patient," he added. "Ultimately, I hope that one day I can be a permanent fixture in the Oranje selection.

"I don't think I'm in a position right now to necessarily need an explanation. I just have to show that I belong there. I'm not in a hurry, but the Oranje is of course a goal."

"It's not up to me. That should be determined by others and especially the national coach. I haven't spoken to him one-on-one yet.

"I have not been selected now and so I have to show extra that I do belong there. Do I feel ready? Yes, I think I can do that, although of course I still have a lot to learn.

"The Oranje has good defenders. If one or two are missing, you hope to be able to fill that. But hopefully that will come."

RedBird Capital Partners have agreed a €1.2 billion deal to complete their takeover of Milan.

The American private investment firm on Wednesday confirmed a "definitive agreement" has been reached to acquire the Serie A champions from Elliott.

RedBird, who have a stake in Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group, are expected to officially take the Rossoneri over in September.

Elliott will retain a minority financial stake in the club and its own representatives on the board of directors,

A statement on Milan's website said RedBird's aim will be to get Milan back to the top of world football on the back of the club's first Scudetto in 11 years.

Gerry Cardinale, founder and managing partner of RedBird, said: "We are honoured to be part of the illustrious history of Milan and we are thrilled by the prospect of being able to write the next chapter of the club just as it has returned to occupy the deserved position at the top of the Italian championship with an eye to future goals in European and world level.

"I would like to thank Gordon Singer [managing partner of Elliott] and the entire Elliott team for the extraordinary work they have done in the last four years in bringing Milan back to the top of Serie A.

"RedBird's investment philosophy and the results achieved in the world of sport have demonstrated that football clubs can be successful on the pitch while maintaining a sustainable financial profile. We look forward to starting a long-term partnership with the club, his management and Milan fans from all over the world to continue to push Milan higher and higher in the years to come."

When the Champ19ns came to town #AlwaysWithYou #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/hN6QEPpizu

— AC Milan (@acmilan) May 30, 2022

Singer stated: "When Elliott acquired Milan in 2018 we inherited a club with an extraordinary history, but with serious financial problems and disappointing sports performance.

"Our plan was simple: create financial stability and bring back Milan in their rightful place in European football. I think it can be said that we have achieved both goals.

"In this moment of transition towards the next chapter in the history of Milan, I want to express our deepest feeling of humility, pride and above all gratitude for the experiences we shared with every member of the Milan family: we could not have done any of this without you, the people of Milan."

Monza have been promoted to Serie A for the first time in their 110-year history thanks to a 6-4 aggregate win over Pisa after extra time in the second leg of their Serie B play-off final.

Although a 2-1 win in Thursday's first leg had Monza in charge ahead of the return game in Tuscany, Pisa raced into a 2-0 lead inside nine minutes on Sunday.

Monza brought it back to 2-2 on the day and appeared to have done enough to seal promotion, but Giuseppe Mastinu struck in the 90th minute to level the aggregate score and force an extra 30 minutes.

Former Juventus defender Luca Marrone scored for Monza early on in extra time and Christian Gytkjaer got his second of the day with 101 minutes played.

Eugenio Lamanna was then shown a straight red card, though the backup goalkeeper was still among the substitutes at the time.

Monza held on to seal a famous win that secured a momentous promotion for a club that has seen its fair share of difficulties.

The club has been mired by financial issues for much of the past 23 years, filing for bankruptcy in 2004 and as recently as 2015.

Three years later, having seen a string of owners fail to provide stability, Monza were bought by an investment group headed by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who also owned Milan and served as the Rossoneri's president between 1986 and 2017.

The billionaire appointed former Milan CEO Adriano Galliani to the board.

Nineteen years earlier, Galliani's relationship with Monza's then-president Valentino Giambelli led to criticism and ultimately the latter's departure, with their status as a feeder club to Milan subsequently ending and financial instability becoming a concern.

But the duo have since been crucial to Monza again establishing themselves in Serie B and now earning promotion to Italian football's top table.

No Italian team had played more Serie B seasons (40) without competing in Serie A than Monza as of the 2021-22 campaign, but Giovanni Stroppa's men have ensured that is no longer the case.

Alessandro Florenzi says it is impossible to imagine Paolo Maldini leaving Milan amid uncertainty over his future.

Maldini is coming towards the end of his contract with the newly-crowned Serie A champions and it has been reported that the technical director could leave.

Milan wing-back Florenzi has no idea if the Rossoneri and Italy legend will still be at San Siro next season, with the club set to be taken over.

Maldini spent his entire 25-year career at Milan, playing an incredible 902 games and winning 26 trophies.

Florenzi cannot envisage the one-club man no longer being with the Rossoneri but hopes he will stay on.

He said during a press conference ahead of Italy's Finalissima showdown with Argentina at Wembley next Wednesday: "Maldini does not know what he will do between now and June 30, let alone if I do.

"Now I want to do well with the national team, then there will be the holidays and then what will be will be."

He added: "I met him this year, he is a man of great values ​​and I would also put Massara [Milan sporting director Frederic] with him. They are the basis of the championship won, the two of them did a great job with the coach. 

"They are very important people who can do well for Milan. A Milan without Maldini is a bit like a Rome without [Francesco] Totti and [Daniele] De Rossi."

Rafael Leao expressed his excitement over speculation of interest from Real Madrid, but the Milan forward assured his "feet will remain firmly on the ground".

The Portugal international has starred for Milan since joining from Lille in 2019 and played an integral role as Stefano Pioli's side secured their first Scudetto in 11 years.

Leao scored 11 times and assisted eight in 34 Serie A appearances over the 2021-22 season, setting up two goals in the final-day 3-0 win over Sassuolo that sealed the title.

No Milan player outscored him – Olivier Giroud also scored 11 league goals – or recorded more assisted for the Rossoneri this term.

Leao regularly tormented Serie A defences with his powerful runs down the left flank, with only Adama Traore (107), Kylian Mbappe (112) and Allan Saint-Maximin (150) completing more dribbles than him (98) across Europe's top five leagues.

The form of Pioli's key man has led to reports Madrid are interested after missing out on Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe, but Leao insists he is focusing on life with the Rossoneri.

"I'm at Milan, I have another two years on my contract," he told A Bola. "Untouchable? I'm happy with these words. I feel at home, but right now my focus is on the national team.

"[The rumours about Real Madrid] make me happy, but my feet are firmly on the ground. It is a pride to work with highly experienced players. 

"As for my development, I left Sporting [CP] when I was young and went to Lille. People may not know it, but Ligue 1 is a strong league, I have evolved."

Leao will now target World Cup success with Portugal in Qatar as he looks to partner fellow Sporting academy graduate Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Two years have not gone as I would have liked, but now I am more mature and confident, the season has gone as I wanted," he added.

"I hope to do great things in the future. I want to be a point of reference in my club and in the national team… the highest point is, for example, winning a World Cup."

Meanwhile, Milan technical director Paolo Maldini insists Leao will never be put up for sale by the Rossoneri.

"Of course he is not for sale," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is still a rough diamond who from one year to the next has already improved so much.

"We signed him from Lille for €24million and immediately put a €150m release clause on him, because we believed so much in this player.

"He was always potentially a great champion, but he needs to continue this growth process that he is only part-way through.

"He is extremely intelligent but needed to be helped along the way and I spoke to him a lot.

"Clearly, if in future Milan are not at the level of Leao or if Leao is not at the level of Milan, things could change. But at this moment, the growth is exponential for both the club and the player."

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