Allegri content with AC Milan squad

Massimiliano Allegri insists he has full faith in his AC Milan squad after speaking ahead of Sunday’s Serie A trip to Atalanta.

The Rossoneri were tipped to do plenty of business in January but to date have signed just former Parma defender Cristian Zaccardo and secured half of Kevin Constant’s economic rights from Genoa.

However, their coach highlighted the upturn in form of Ignazio Abate, Robinho and Mathieu Flamini – three players expected to depart San Siro – as reasons why he is not desperate to reinforce his party.

“I’m happy with the players that I have as I see them growing every day – both as individuals and as a team. I’m very happy with El Shaarawy’s performance on Sunday,” Allegri said at a press conference.

“A drought happens to all players and it shouldn’t become an obsession. The club knows what I feel about the number of players we have in the squad and we’ll see what happens at the end of the month.

“Abate played well on Sunday and I was happy with that. I have two great players on the right, but I haven’t decided who is first choice yet.

“Robinho is training well and he’s a great player. From here until June, Milan need the real Robinho and I’m very happy that he is staying.

“Flamini is proof that over the course of the year, all players will get their chance and they’re all important. I’m happy as when I called on him he was ready, just like Traore and Niang.”

Kaka had also been expected to return to the club – only for a deal to collapse – but Allegri reiterated his encouragement with the signs of growth his team have shown.

“We already have 22 players so if another one comes in, then someone has to leave,” he added. “The Kaka situation is complicated and I think only Galliani can solve it.

“There have been market moves with Zaccardo coming in, Mesbah going to Parma and Acerbi to Genoa. When I say 22 players, I mean 22 players available to me.

“De Jong and Didac Vila are not available at the moment, but the club is working well and there is the intention, if the possibility presents itself, to improve the squad.

“Pazzini is going well. He has 10 goals in the first half of the season after almost three months of inactivity and a knee problem after the match against Bologna. I have four goalkeepers and I have faith in all four.

“I think that Boateng has done well as a midfielder, though he still has room for improvement.”

Turning his attentions to Atalanta, who inflicted a surprise 1-0 defeat on Milan in the reverse fixture earlier this season, the 45-year-old hopes his side can prove that they have matured by earning a positive result in Bergamo.

“I think the first eight games were necessary to help make a team that needed to be moulded,” Allegri noted. “Tomorrow’s game will be much tougher than the home match [which ended 1-0 to Atalanta].

“They’re very well organised at home and Colantuono is doing a great job. The pitch won’t be in the best of conditions so it won’t be a technically great game.

“It’ll be the usual game that you play in Bergamo. We had some problems here last year as well. We have yet to score from a corner even though we’ve come close.

“At the moment the team is in good shape physically with some young players in the side who want to do well.

“But we still have to improve and understand the changes in dynamics of a match which is something that will come with time.”

Odemwingie blasts West Brom fans as he seeks exit

Peter Odemwingie has reaffirmed his desire to leave West Brom this month, placing the blame for his wish to exit with the Baggies’ fans.

Goal.com revealed earlier this month that the Nigeria international was looking to force a move to QPR as he had grown unhappy at the Hawthorns.

The Baggies rejected a transfer request from Odemwingie on Thursday, but he remains determined to leave the club before next Thursday’s transfer deadline, taking to Twitter to explain his decision to West Brom fans.

 “I can understand the reaction of few Albion fans on my desire to leave the club. Real reason? Cos they once doubted my commitment,” he said on the micro-blogging site.

“Want to know why I wanted to quit top flight football last summer earlier than I wished to ? They know at the club.

“Albion fans are not the only reason,but made it easier for me to decide to stay and try my best to forget about the disappointment.

“I succeeded in doing that. But it’s not getting better. Before bigger disappointment comes one day I better leave on a good note.

“I am crazy haha adviser text saying don’t tweet, it weakens our position. Doesn’t weaken nothing! When I want to do something, I Do it.”

Liverpool agree €13m deal for Inter starlet Coutinho

By Greg Stobart

Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Philippe Coutinho after agreeing a €13.7 million deal with Inter for the midfielder, Goal.com can confirm.

Coutinho is due to travel to Merseyside in the coming days to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical ahead of the move.

Liverpool faced competition from Southampton for the Brazilian but appear to have got their man after an Anfield delegation flew to Italy this week to negotiate the transfer.

The Reds have increased their initial €7.6m bid for Coutinho and the 20-year-old is understood to have made clear his preference to move to Anfield.

Coutinho played under new Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino while on loan at Espanyol last season but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been determined to improve his squad as he targets a top four finish.

The Reds signed Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea at the start of the month in a €14m deal and are also hoping to conclude a move for Blackpool midfielder Tom Ince before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

They will have to apply for a work permit before Coutinho’s proposed transfer can be concluded but that is regarded as a formality for the versatile playmaker, who has been capped once for Brazil.

Inter’s financial circumstances have meant they have actively encouraged Liverpool’s interest in Coutinho this month, despite selling Wesley Sneijder to Galatasaray, as the Serie A giants line up a move for Corinthians star Paulinho.

Coutinho signed for Inter from Vasco da Gama when he was 16, though he spent a further two years at the Brazilian club before moving to Italy. Coutinho had a productive spell on loan at Espanyol in the second half of last season before returning in the summer to Inter.

Despite starting only three of the club’s Serie A matches this season – and making 10 league appearances in total – Coutinho is regarded as an emerging star.

Speaking to Sky Italia earlier this week about Liverpool’s interest, he said: “The Liverpool offer? I’m happy with these offers, because it means I am doing my job well.

“But I think Inter have faith in me and I want to show my value here. I don’t feel that I’m on my way out. I hope to stay at Inter. The young players feel the faith of the coach and of the club.”

Balotelli is '99.9%' not coming to AC Milan, says Galliani

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani says it is “99.9%” that Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli will not join the club in the January transfer window.

The Italy international has long been linked with a return to Serie A despite president Silvio Berlusconi insisting the club will not sign the striker.

City manager Roberto Mancini has also insisted this week that Balotelli will stay with the Premier League champions, and Galliani says a move is unlikely.

“Kaka and Drogba are 101% not coming to Milan. Balotelli? He is 99.9% …” he said.

“Abate and Antonini are staying. Their agent was in Russia to see through Salvatore Bocchetti’s transfer to Spartak Moscow, that is all.”

As revealed by Goal.com, Manchester City have lowered their asking price for the striker to €23 million with the Italian having already given notice on his house as he prepares for a move away.

Sissoko determined to fire Newcastle up the table

Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko is determined to help the club climb the Premier League table after signing from Toulouse.

The midfielder is the fifth Frenchman to arrive on Tyneside in the January transfer window and he insists that the Magpies can become one of the top sides in the league, once they recover from their poor start to the current campaign.
“My personal objectives really are to finish off this season as best as we possibly can. I am going to give everything I can so Newcastle finish as high up the league as possible,” he told reporters.

“For the future, I want Newcastle to be one of the very best teams in the Premier League. That’s my wish and the club’s also.

“I have signed here because I love the cub. They have some fantastic players.

“Newcastle aren’t in the position where they should be at the moment, but I think if we all do well, we will finish as high as possible and really make the team one of the best in England.”

Newcastle travel to face fellow strugglers Aston Villa on Tuesday evening and Sissoko insists the Toon squad are well up for the clash.

“Tuesday night will be a difficult night. Aston Villa are also in a pretty poor position at the moment in the league,” he said.

“It’s a match which we certainly can’t afford to lose. We must make sure we are motivated for Tuesday night so we come away with a result.”