SHARE
COPY LINK

CHINA

Chinese set to buy AC Milan – broker

A Chinese consortium, with big ambitions for AC Milan, should complete a takeover of the seven-time European champions within six to eight weeks, a broker acting for both parties said in reports on Saturday.

Chinese set to buy AC Milan - broker
AC Milan's fans are thought to be very positive about the news. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

If confirmed, it would prove a dramatic about-turn for Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, who only weeks ago said he would not sell a majority share in the Serie A giants.

Former Italy Prime Minister Berlusconi has reportedly turned his attention away from Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol, with whom he has a preliminary agreement to release a minority stake in the Serie A giants, and is now examining an offer that would see the club — founded by English lace-maker Herbert Kilpin in 1899 — fall into Chinese hands.

In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday, the man brokering the deal between both parties — Italian-born American Salvatore Galatioto — said the deal could be sealed by the end of the current season.

Galatioto, considered one of the 50 most influential men in American sports, told the sports daily: “For obvious reasons I can't reveal the names of the interested parties. All I can say is that it is a very ambitious Chinese group which is very, very interested in the club.

“We have very interesting ideas and projects pertaining to the club, but first we have to strike the deal.

“I would say that if things go to plan, the deal could be concluded in six to eight weeks.”

Galatioto, who owns the sports marketing and business firm Galatioto Sports Partners, added: “We're talking about a very important club that is known throughout the world. If it wasn't, we wouldn't be involved.

“Milan is a great city, but above all the AC Milan brand is fantastic.

“Fundamentally, my idea is to be the perfect matchmaker, to find the right person who has strong belief in the project and who, naturally, has the necessary economic and professional credentials to be successful in the long term.

“I'm not just interested in profit. I want to see a club be competitive in sporting as well as financial terms.”

Reports on Friday suggested the bidder could be either internet entrepeneur Robert Li or He Xiangjian, who made his fortune in producing air conditioning. Both men are among the 10 richest in China, according to the 2015 Forbes rich list.

Galatioto said his email account has been “inundated” with positive messages from frustrated fans.

Milan will not play in the Champions League for a third consecutive season in 2016-2017.

That failure cost Sinisa Mihajlovic his job on Tuesday, the popular Serbian replaced by former youth team coach Cristian Brocchi ahead of Sunday's trip to Sampdoria.

Milan sit sixth and are one of several teams fighting to qualify for the Europa League.

FOOTBALL

‘Not here as a mascot’: Zlatan scores in first match at AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic warned on Friday he was not back at AC Milan just to act as a mascot and immediately got off the mark for his new club by scoring in a friendly against a local lower league side.

'Not here as a mascot': Zlatan scores in first match at AC Milan
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic shows off his new AC Milan jersey on Friday. Photo: Marco Bertorelli/AFP
“I'm ready, I feel more than alive, I hope to play immediately,” the 38-year-old told a press conference in Milan before scoring and setting up another in a 9-0 friendly win later in the day over fifth-division Rhodense.
   
“I'm not here as a mascot. I'm looking for the last bit of adrenaline I might have. At my age you're not looking for anything else but a challenge. “I have not lost my passion for what I do.”
   
Ibrahimovic has signed a six-month contract worth 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) with the option for an additional season, seven years after he left Milan for Paris Saint-Germain.
   
Hundreds of fans waited outside the club's Casa Milan headquarters to catch a glimpse of the returning hero who helped the fallen Italian giants win their 18th and last Serie A title in 2011.
   
He greeted them holding the number 21 jersey aloft, having worn the number 11 during his previous spell at the club.
 
“I got more requests now than when I was 28,” said Ibrahimovic, who parted company with MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy in October.  “I wanted adrenaline and at Milan you can't say no. It's a club I love, in 2012 I didn't want to leave.”
   
His first league game could be against Sampdoria on Monday at the San Siro.
   
“I want to feel the grass and the atmosphere of the stadium, if they boo the adrenaline will increase, and at the end of the game they will applaud.”
   
Ibrahimovic scored 56 goals in 85 appearances in his first spell at Milan, and scored more Serie A goals for the club (42) than anyone else in the last decade.
 
'Make the difference'
 
One of the most successful clubs in the world, the seven-times European champions languish 11th in the Serie A table, 14 points away from Champions League football and just seven away from the relegation zone.
   
Club legend Paolo Maldini contacted the Swede after he left LA Galaxy and the calls intensified after a 5-0 loss to Atalanta, their heaviest defeat in 21 years.
   
“After Atalanta I got lots and lots of calls, it wasn't a difficult decision in the end,” continued Ibrahimovic.
   
Ibrahimovic said that going to the United States after his career-threatening knee injury at Manchester United had refuelled his passion.
   
“A year ago (former AC Milan sporting director) Leonardo had looked for me but I still didn't feel ready to make a difference in Italy.
 
“I only had one MLS championship in my legs after the injury. Now I feel alive, more than alive,” continued the Swede, who scored 53 goals in 58 games for LA Galaxy.
 
“Things need to be improved on the pitch and that's why I'm here. I know perfectly well that I can't play like when I was 28 or 35, but smart players know how to manage themselves — you can run less and shoot more from 40 metres.”
   
With 116 games for Sweden and 62 goals, Ibrahimovic is the all-time leading scorer for the Swedish national team.
   
He started his career at Malmo before going on to play for Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan, PSG and Manchester United, winning trophies with all these clubs.
   
Milan chief football officer Zvonimir Boban warned that the club would not just be counting on Ibrahimovic.
   
“We must not hide behind the broad shoulders of Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” said Boban. “We hope the course of the season will change and are optimistic about the effect he will have on the team and the environment, but we need results.”
SHOW COMMENTS