‘You’re putting my players under trees for Christmas!’ – Gattuso hits out at transfer speculation

AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso has hit out at speculation suggesting the club will be forced to sell their best players in order to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.

Milan have spent significantly in recent seasons as they have sought to return to the top of both domestic and European football, and have reportedly been fined for breaching FFP regulations.

However, Gattuso was adamant that his side would retain their key players and hit out at the journalists who posed questions about the issue to him.

“You’re packaging them up and sending them away. It’s Christmas time, so you’re wrapping them up and putting them under trees,” he said during his pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Serie A meeting with Bologna.

“All the things you write about the transfer market and Financial Fair Play are things the club hasn’t had to deal with yet.

“No-one has come to tell me ‘we’ll sign him outright’ or ‘we won’t sign him outright’. These are things I’ve only heard from you in the media.

“I know we have constraints and we can’t do much on the market, but it’s you who keep saying we have to sell [Hakan] Calhanoglu, Suso, [Gonzalo] Higuain. For me, that’s not the case.

“I don’t only defend Hakan, I defend everyone. I’m willing to throw myself into the fire for my players. So when you talk to me, it irritates me that you attack my lads.”

Higuain, in particular, has been the subject of rumours suggesting the Rossoneri will refrain from exercising their option to buy him from Juventus at the end of the season following his barren spell in front of goal.

Gonzalo Higuain AC Milan 2018-19

The striker has failed to find the net in his last six successive games and last scored on October 28.

“I’ve spoken to Gonzalo, and he’s the first to be disappointed by the situation,” Gattuso added.

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“In the period we’re in he needs to give us his experience and character, his goals come after that.

“In difficult times the priority isn’t goals, but leadership, he needs to carry his teammates even if some make mistakes.

“The chatter around him will always be there, we can’t control everything, but I’ve told him that everyone appreciates him, though he has to do more.”

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‘He is a champion’ – Gattuso unconcerned by Higuain goal drought

Gonzalo Higuain’s form is of no concern to AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso, despite the striker having not scored since October.

In Serie A, Milan have been without the on-loan forward since a 2-0 defeat to his parent club Juventus on November 11, with the former Napoli star having been handed a two-game suspension following a red card in the clash at San Siro.

Gattuso’s side have drawn 1-1 with Lazio and beat Parma 2-1 in Higuain’s absence, with the 30-year-old set to return to top flight action against Torino on Sunday.

And although Higuain has not scored in any competition since netting in a 3-2 win over Sampdoria on October 28, Gattuso remains unconcerned, labelling the Argentina international as a “true champion”.

“Even when everyone thinks he is upset, his smile in the locker room is always there,” Gattuso told a news conference.

“He hasn’t scored in a month but that is also due to the suspension, the international break and the slight injury. He is a true champion.

“We will try and see if Higuain and [Patrick] Cutrone can play together, our greatest issue should be balance, we have to move well and sense danger.”

Milan have lost just one of their last six league fixtures, and sit in fourth, although Gattuso is expecting a stern test against Torino, who are four points behind the Rossoneri.

“They are a team that combine technique and physical strength, always well put in place with a prepared coach,” he said.

“They know what to do and it’s hard to deal with when they play away from home.”

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Gattuso encouraged by Milan character after Dudelange scare

Gennaro Gattuso commended AC Milan for having the character to conquer their “fear” during a testing Europa League victory over Dudelange.

Milan scored four times in the second half to prevail 5-2 on Thursday, but not before falling behind to their modest opposition.

Dominik Stolz and David Turpel silenced San Siro as they overturned Patrick Cutrone’s 21st-minute opener with well-taken finishes either side of half-time.

The Rossoneri eventually recovered with two own goals and one apiece from Hakan Calhanoglu and Fabio Borini establishing a strong position ahead of their final Group F fixture away to Olympiacos, where a point or one-goal loss would be enough to advance.

“After the equaliser a bit of fear took over,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.

“We started well, but there are no easy matches. Dudelange kept trying to play and they were able to give us difficulties.

“But the important thing was to win. At 2-1 down the team reacted well and we pushed on the technical level and with character. I knew it would be hard to do.”

Gonzalo Higuain played a full 90 minutes in his first appearance since being sent off in the Serie A loss to Juventus almost three weeks ago.

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The striker’s influence waned after a bright beginning, which Gattuso attributed to a recurring injury.

“I think his back was bothering him,” the Rossoneri boss said.

“He didn’t say anything about it, I just had that feeling because he was having a hard time shooting. He’s good at gritting his teeth and not giving in.”

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‘I’ve learnt from my mistake against Juve’ – Higuain is ready to redsicover his best form at AC Milan

AC Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain says he has learned his lesson after an on-field meltdown against parent club Juventus earned a two-match ban.

Higuain is available for Thursday’s Europa League tie at home to Dudelange, who have already been knocked out of the competition, as his ban does not cover European games.

The striker, who saw an appeal against the ban rejected, has hit two goals in three Europa League appearances so far this season and is hoping to justify the faith of head coach Gennaro Gattuso.

“I can’t wait to play. I want to help the team,” Higuain told a news conference. “I was pleased with how the team fared in Rome [drawing 1-1 with Lazio].

“Milan-Dudelange is a very important game for us. I’ve learnt from my mistake against Juve and it won’t happen again.

“I have a great relationship with coach Gattuso. We have similar characters. We have an important month ahead of us before the winter break.

“The goals are to go through to the next round in the Europa League and stay up there in the league to qualify for the Champions League.”

Milan have been linked with a January move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which could push Higuain down the club’s pecking order, but he denied asking to leave and said he instead plans to pass on his experience to young team-mate Patrick Cutrone.

“The coach said I never asked to leave the club and this says it all about my intentions,” he added. “I only have AC Milan in my mind and I don’t consider myself the star of this team. I always give my all for this club.

“There’s still some time before the transfer market window opens. The club thinks about who to sign, I’m only focused on Dudelange. Ibrahimovic is a great player but we have Cutrone who has a great future ahead of him. I want to teach him everything I know.”

Milan’s injury crisis shows no signs of easing with the club confirming on Tuesday that Giacomo Bonaventura is out for the season, but Gattuso will not use missing players as an excuse.

“I spoke with him yesterday,” Gattuso said of Bonaventura’s injury. “He’s staying in the United States for a month before coming back. He’d had this issue with his knee for a while but he bit the bullet and we have to thank him for this. It was a very serious surgery.

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“Mateo Musacchio will remove the brace tomorrow and hopefully he can resume a light run. I hope to have [captain Alessio] Romagnoli back in two weeks. As for [Mattia] Caldara, it’s still early. He should be back by February.

“We’ll make a few changes tomorrow. I’ll field two strikers for sure and also [Stefan] Simic might start in a four-man defence. Otherwise, we’ll play three at the back.

“If we don’t win tomorrow we are in trouble. We have to win at all costs, we have everything to lose.”

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Higuain appeal against Juventus red card rejected

AC Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain’s appeal against a two-match ban for a red card and on-pitch meltdown against Juventus has been rejected by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

The FIGC’s decision means Milan will be without the Argentine striker for the team’s upcoming matches against Lazio and Parma.

Higuain endured a nightmare showing against parent club Juve on November 11, missing a penalty before being sent off in the second half.

The Argentina international had to be led off the pitch by team-mates after he reacted furiously to referee Paolo Mazzoleni’s decision to show him a straight red card.

Higuain was initially booked for dissent but was then dismissed for persisting with his complaints to the official, and his behaviour saw him slapped with a two-match suspension.

The 30-year-old apologised to fans for the incident, but claimed that his emotions got the better of him during the game.

“It seemed an unfair foul, I was fouled as far as I’m concerned. I was cautioned but I did not insult anyone,” he told Milan TV.

“I apologised to the club, the fans, the coach and my companions because these episodes must be avoided.

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“We are human, we feel emotions, the game was not going the right way and it was one of those days.”

Higuain’s behaviour earned a rebuke from none other than Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, who said he was “ashamed” of the striker.

Milan currently sit fifth in the Serie A table, 13 points behind table-topping Juventus. 

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