SERIE A

Ibrahimovic is the exception to the rule - Gazidis hopeful striker will renew with Milan

Ivan Gazidis believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic is enjoying the "romantic" challenge at AC Milan and is hopeful of a contract extension for the Swede.

Ibrahimovic is the exception to all the rules - Gazidis hopeful on Milan extension

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the "exception to all rules" and anything is possible regarding an extension to his contract at AC Milan, says the club's CEO Ivan Gazidis. Despite being 39, Ibrahimovic continues to dazzle in Serie A and has 14 goals in just 11 league appearances for the table-topping Rossoneri. A brace in the weekend's 4-0 rout of Crotone saw Ibrahimovic surpass 500 career goals and led technical director Paolo Maldini to suggestion an extension to the veteran Swede's deal – which runs out at the end of the season – is in the works.

Gazidis struck a similar tone when speaking to Sky Sport about a potential renewal for Ibrahimovic, who some outlets have reported could be offered a two-year deal. "Ibrahimovic is the exception to all rules, always, he's special," Gazidis said. "He has incredible personal and physical qualities. Ibra changes the rules. Anything is possible [in terms of a renewal], this challenge is the most romantic of his career because he has a history with this club. He could retire tomorrow. He has already done everything. I think he feels this challenge in a special way. He can renew, why not?"

Future uncertain for Milan pair

The futures of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu also remain unresolved, with both players out of contract at the end of the season. Asked about the star duo, Gazidis added: "We will do everything possible to reach an agreement. We want them to stay, they are two important players for the club and great professionals. We will do everything possible, but the choice will also be theirs and we will respect it. I am confident that an agreement can be found."

Gazidis and Maldini endured a tumultuous time early in the former's tenure, largely due to the departure of Zvonimir Boban from the technical team and reported interest in hiring Ralf Rangnick to take over as head coach from Stefano Pioli. A deal to bring the German to San Siro ultimately broke down and Pioli is overseeing a title charge for the Rossoneri.

Gazidis now says he and Maldini enjoy a strong relationship that he hopes will be a long one at the club. "Initially we had different languages and cultures, now we are growing together and ours is a strong relationship," he said. "Sometimes we disagree but it is normal.  Maldini represents the history of the club for me but this is not the reason why I chose Paolo, I chose him because I see something special in him. He is a man with values, modern, human and with a desire to learn. I hope he will stay here for a long time."