Pioli downplays Ibra link

AC Milan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is closing in on a return to AC Milan with talks at an advanced stage, according to reports.

Manager Stefano Pioli played his cards close to his chest when asked about the possibility of signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic in January.

Milan’s poor start to the season, which sees them down in 12th place in the Serie A standings ahead of Sunday’s trip to Turin to face Juventus, means they continue to be linked with a number of players ahead of the winter window to try and bolster their hopes of getting something from the campaign.

One name that keeps cropping up is Ibrahimovic, who scored 56 goals from 85 appearances in all competitions in two seasons with the club between 2010 and 2012.

The former Sweden international is now 38 but has been as prolific in front of goals as ever with LA Galaxy in MLS, bagging 53 goals from 58 outings across the Atlantic.

The veteran’s contract expires at the end of the year and, with talk he wants to return to European football, unsurprisingly the San Siro giants have been linked.

Pioli is a big fan but gave little away when quizzed on the giant Scandinavian on Saturday.

“Ibra is a great player,” he said. “But the January market is far away. There will be time to make assessments.”

Milan have won one of their four matches under Pioli, who was brought in to replace Marco Giampaolo last month, but face the toughest test of all this weekend.

Juve are in their customary position at the summit of the Italian top-flight standings and showing no signs of slowing down after continual success.