|Join us: Milan’s Ronaldinho, left, jokes with Ibrahimovic on Wednesday [AFP]|
Zlatan Ibrahimovic could end his disappointing spell at Barcelona with a return to Italy with AC Milan – but probably not before the start of the Serie A season.
The Swede failed to reach the heights he achieved at Milan rivals Inter when he joined the Spanish champions in a deal that saw Samuel Eto’o – and $66 million – go the other way last year.
Eto’o went on to win a stunning treble of Serie A, Italian Cup and European Champions League with Inter while Ibrahimovic failed to nail down a steady place as Barca retained their league title.
Milan’s poor pre-season has led them to strengthen their front line and they are hoping to bag the Swede on a two-year loan.
But Barca appear to want to sell, and any deal may be made after Sunday’s Serie A opener at home to promoted Lecce.
Milan, third last term, have struggled for goals in warm-up matches under new coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Chief executive Adriano Galliani, who watched Wednesday’s defeat on penalties in a friendly with Barca, has stayed on in the city.
“I’m trying and that’s why I am here, I will not move, even if it means not going to Milan against Lecce on Sunday,” Galliani told Milan’s TV channel.
“I will do all that is in my ability to try to bring this great champion to Milan. It is very difficult.”
If a deal is not done in time then Marco Borriello is set to lead the line.
Roma, runners-up last term, start their campaign at home to promoted Cesena on Saturday but main new signing Adriano is likely to miss the early weeks of the season with a muscle problem after the club said he had gone for tests.
Juventus and a raft of new buys visit Bari in Sunday’s early game with the rest of the day’s programme in the evening rather than the traditional afternoon because of the heat.
A dismal seventh last season, Juve on Thursday failed to wrap up a deal for Udinese striker Antonio Di Natale, while Juve flop Diego was having a medical at Wolfsburg after just one season in Italy.
David Trezeguet could also be on the verge of leaving the club.
Di Natale, last season’s Serie A top-scorer, opted to stay with mid-table Udinese.
“The player…has confirmed his wish to stay in Udine. Udinese are very satisfied by the decision taken by our captain and consider the issue closed,” his club said on their website.
Champions Inter Milan are not in league action until Monday at Bologna because they face Atletico Madrid in Friday’s European Super Cup.
New coach Rafael Benitez, who made a confident start to replacing treble winner Jose Mourinho by clinching last weekend’s Italian Super Cup against Roma, could well rotate his side slightly given the two games come so close.
The new Serie A season offers several innovations including television cameras in the dressing room before kickoff and the use of electronic cards for fans to enter matches.
The new cards are unpopular with fans who feel the government’s effort to track hooligans is too draconian and minor violence has flared during supporter protests.