Mihajlovic discusses Soriano talk

The Serb offered reporters short shrift when asked about mounting speculation that he wants to be reunited with his former Sampdoria charge at San Siro

AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has refused to be drawn on speculation that he wants to sign Roberto Soriano from Sampdoria.

The Rossoneri have already strengthened significantly during the close season, with Andrea Bertolacci, Luiz Adriano, Carlos Bacca, Jose Mauri, Rodrigo Ely and Alessio Romagnoli all arriving at San Siro.

However, according to reports in Italy, former Samp boss Mihajlovic wants to be reunited with Soriano before the close of the transfer window.

The Serb, though, remained tight-lipped on the mounting speculation during his pre-match press conference on the eve of Monday’s Coppa Italia meeting with Perugia.

“Soriano? I don’t want to talk about players that aren’t in my squad,” Mihajlovic told reporters in Milan. “I know him well, but I can only speak about my players.

“In general, I don’t speak about the transfer market with you journalists, but with my directors. They know well if there’s a need to act…”

Turning his attention to the visit of Perugia, Mihajlovic confirmed that Romagnoli will make his first competitive outing since arriving from Roma and that the €25 million man will be partnered at the back by Ely, who rejoined on a free transfer from Avellino this summer.

“The new season begins tomorrow [Monday] and it’s not just important to give a good performance, but also get the result,” the former Inter defender added.

“The only thing that counts is winning and we will try to do this in every match this season.

“But we also want to win by playing good football because this is part of Milan’s DNA.

“I can’t promise tricks and flare, but rather a side that is hungry to win and that makes as few mistakes as possible.

“The Coppa Italia is an important trophy and we want to do well and we want to win it.

“For this reason also I will play the best Milan side possible against Perugia. Ely and Romagnoli will start in the heart of the defence.

“[Jeremy] Menez has also been called up for the match after injury and I hope to give him 20-30 minutes.

“He’s a bit behind in terms of match fitness, but that is normal.”

Milan kick off their Serie A campaign with a trip to the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday, when they will face Fiorentina.

Real Madrid set to land Kovacic from Inter

The Spanish giants are expected to complete the transfer of the highly rated central midfielder for around €35 million, with the Croatian already having agreed personal terms

GOAL By Fabrizio Romano

Real Madrid are closing in on the signing of Inter central midfielder Mateo Kovacic for a fee in the region of €35 million.

The Croatia international, 21, has impressed at San Siro over the last two-and-a-half seasons and is top of Rafa Benitez’s wishlist as he looks to strengthen his midfield.

Los Blancos made an initial offer of €30m for the former Dinamo Zagreb starlet, which was rejected, but hope that the addition of €5m in bonuses can seal the deal, with Inter expected to accept the proposal at that price.

Kovacic, who would link up with countryman Luka Modric in the Madrid engine room, has already verbally agreed personal terms with the capital-city club as a switch nears completion and will sign a five-year contract worth €4m per season.

With five goals in 35 Serie A appearances last term, the midfielder caught the attention of many top sides this summer, with Liverpool reported to be interested in luring him to the Premier League.

The Nerazzurri had been adamant that the Croatian would not leave, while the player’s agent has reiterated that stance, but the lure of Madrid has proven too strong.

Madrid have long sought a central midfielder, with the lack of reinforcements in that area exposed last season while Modric was injured, and Benitez has first-hand experience of Kovacic’s talent thanks to his time in Serie A.

The Spanish coach had been linked with the likes of Carvalho and Arturo Vidal this summer, the latter joining Bayern Munich, but appears to have finally found his man in Kovacic.

Inter are well set to deal with the departure of the 21-year-old, having already signed Geoffrey Kondogbia, though will look to reinvest the €35m fee in another midfielder, a striker and a left-back, while Madrid could be prepared to offload either Lucas Silva or Asier Illarramendi, who has been linked with Liverpool recently.

Wolfsburg would be wrong to stop De Bruyne earning crazy money – Allofs

The sporting director insists there has been no official offer for the Belgian but admits they will not hold him against his will if one comes in

Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs stressed it would be wrong to deny Kevin De Bruyne the chance to earn a lot more money elsewhere.

Manchester City have already made a big bid for the Belgium international and, while the player is not expected to force a move away from Wolfsburg, he has so far refused to rule out a move.

Allofs has previously said De Bruyne is almost certain to stay at the Bundesliga side this summer, but has since backtracked on that statement and revealed the club will not prevent him from pursuing a huge salary.

“It was brisk of me to say that Kevin is 99.9 per cent likely to stay,” he told Bild.

I also said that we are not a club which is dependent on transfer income. We want to build a good team, we are ambitious. So we need the best players.

“However, if a player has the chance to earn exceptional money elsewhere then we have to deal with that situation. Anything else would be wrong.”

Allofs insists, however, there has been no official offer for the player as of yet and feels it will be impossible for the Bundesliga side to keep such an attacking talent long-term.

“According to his agent there are several clubs which show their interest. But there is no official offer.

“I always said it is unlikely that Kevin will stay until the end of his contract in 2019, unless we were to improve in an outstanding way and the conditions at Wolfsburg would change.

“We are not at the same level as Bayern, Real Madrid or Manchester City.”

Wolfsburg kick off their Bundesliga campaign at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday at 15:30CET.

Leaving Milan for Monaco was easy – El Shaarawy

The striker says he had no hesitation about moving to Ligue 1 this summer and hopes to be a decisive factor for his new side

Stephan El Shaarawy has claimed it was an easy decision for him to leave AC Milan and join Monaco.

The striker, 22, joined the Ligue 1 side on a season-long loan this summer, with the principality club holding an option to buy him at the end of the season.

And the Italy international – who has struggled with injuries over the past couple of seasons – says he has been impressed by Monaco and head coach Leonardo Jardim.

“I feel so much confidence from the club and the coach,” El Shaarawy told Milan News. “My decision to sign with Monaco was very quick and easy to make.

“It’s incredible the public reception I have received at Monaco. This year I hope to play a lot and be decisive.

“Jardim is a good person. He put me at ease, but I have to earn his trust.”

El Shaarawy started 14 Serie A games for Milan last season, scoring three goals.

Monaco have picked up four points from the first two Ligue 1 matchdays and are preparing for a Champions League play-off with Valencia, with the first leg at Mestalla on Wednesday.