Pioli talks tactical changes, Caldara sale and Ibrahimovic's motivation ahead of Cagliari

10 January at 15:00
AC Milan will be back in action tomorrow afternoon against Cagliari in a difficult match away from home. The Rossoneri coach Stefano Pioli spoke to the press on the eve of the match and reflected on the current situation, transfer market dynamics as well as how Zlatan Ibrahimovic's is adapting back at the club.

"It has certainly been an important week. We must be able to transform the volume of the game into quality. It has been directed in that direction. Ibrahimovic has done well and is motivated," he said.

The former Fiorentina and Inter Milan coach went on to describe his 'special' relationship with Cagliari coach Rolando Maran and discussed the possibility of tactical changes in tomorrow's match, with the possibility of a 4-4-2 formation and a striker partnership consisting of Ibrahimovic and Rafael Leao being implemented.

"I have a special relationship with Maran, I cannot give him advantages by spreading what we have prepared. We must be very careful, we must be proactive. They are having a great campaign.

"Ibrahimovic and Leao? If he [Leao] said these things about Ibra, he has understood that he can learn a lot from the champions. If he is intelligent with him, he can grow quickly. The attack tomorrow? The 4-4-2 formation is a possibility.

Pioli then spoke once again about Ibrahimovic and his match fitness as well as the rumours surrounding Piatek, with the Polish attacker reportedly being a target for many Premier League sides. He also addressed the exclusion of Franck Kessie from the match against Sampdoria.

"Ibrahimovic does not have 90 minutes in his legs, the minutes against Sampdoria did him well and I have seen him well this week. It is normal not to be at the top, he hasn't played for a long time.

"Piatek? If I could move the clock to January 31st, I would be happy. We are only focused on tomorrow's game, Piatek is called up and available to play. Kessie? I saw Krunic better after the break and I chose him against Sampdoria. Those who I exclude are not out of the project. Paqueta, at the moment, is not in my choices for the starting lineup, but he is not out of the blueprint.

"Ibrahimovic is an added value to the team and he must be put in the conditions to perform at his best, so it is with his teammates. He is at the heart of the project."

He then contemplated on the effect the transfer market could have on the team, once again addressed a possible change in tactical schemes and discussed some of the players individually, namely Suso, Bonaventura and Paquet as well as the departing Mattia Caldara.

"During the weeks I saw the guys concentrated. We can't afford to think about anything else. We want to win tomorrow. We must not be distracted by the transfer market.

"The change of formation? When things are not right, solutions must be found. If I change something, it is to try to be more concrete. It is right to try something new to solve our problems, first and foremost scoring goals.

"Suso? I don't participate in the media processes. I invite him to believe in himself and overcome difficulties. The way you confront difficulties determines what kind of a professional you are and I believe we have a team of important professionals. Politano? I'm not talking about players who are not ours.

"Caldara? We made technical and physical evaluations and if we decided to change, it is because it was right to make this type of choice. It is clear that at least another central defender will have to arrive.

"Bonaventura? Let's not forget that he comes from a period of long inactivity. In fact, he had a couple of weeks with problems that affected his physical condition. But he is working to get better and with Zlatan, he can do very well.

"Paqueta? I must try to make Milan win, then I hope everyone is available and that they can do their best. He could play on the flank in this formation, he is a great player," Pioli concluded.

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