Serie A

Ibrahimovic: AC Milan to revolve around the Swedish Lion

Stefano Pioli, manager of the Serie A club, has admitted that his new striker is to be the 'focal point of the project' as they look to rebuild their status.

Ibrahimovic: AC Milan to revolve around the Swedish Lion
MIGUEL MEDINA AFP

Stefano Pioli, the current AC Milan coach, acknowledged on Friday that Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic is now "the centre of the club's sporting project" and expressed a willingness to work tactically in order that the striker is able to "perform at his best."

Zlatan to take centre stage

Pioli, who is bidding to reinvigorate a Milan side that sits twelfth in Serie A, accepted the 'leadership' and 'technical' values that Ibrahimovic brings to the team. The Swede returned to the club on a free transfer last week after his two-year contract with Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS came to an end.

"With a player of that importance it is normal that there is constant dialogue between us," explained Pioli during the press conference ahead of their trip to Cagliari.

That name | AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

That name | AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"We talk so that we understand what he can do. He is a champion, an added value, and we must put him in a position to perform at his best."

"He must be able to perform at his maximum level of play. That is achieved through his positioning on the pitch, with players around him that can help him reach that level, and those players who can improve thanks to him," he added.

Piatek rumours not to change focus

Pioli also said he would love to be able to "move the clock forward" but accepts the transfer window is something he has to live with amid speculation over the future of Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek.

Premier League side Tottenham are reportedly in talks to sign Piatek, who has scored only four goals in 18 Serie A appearances this season.

The Poland international's hopes of being a regular starter for the Rossoneri have been dealt a blow with the return of Ibrahimovic to San Siro and Rafael Leao's emergence.

Despite the speculation, Pioli has named Piatek in his squad to face Cagliari on Saturday and expects him to be completely focused on the match in Sardinia.

"If I could move the clock forward I would be happy," Pioli told a media conference. "We have to live with the transfer market but given our current position everyone has to be fully focused on games. Piatek is called up and will be available for tomorrow."

Pioli believes Ibrahimovic could have a significant impact on Leao, who has not scored since opening his account for the club against Fiorentina in September.

"He [Leao] understood that something can be learned from the great champions," added Pioli.

"Having a champion like Ibra next to him can grow quickly."