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Saturday, 25 September 2021

Veteran Mandzukic has 'big ambitions' with AC Milan

Stefano Pioli's side recruited the 34-year-old as the 18-time Italian champions target a first league title since 2011.

AFP , Thursday 21 Jan 2021
Mario Mandzukic poses at the Milanello Milan's sport center prior to his first training session, in Carnago, Italy, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. AP

Mario Mandzukic insisted Thursday he had four more years of top-level football in him as he returned to Serie A on a six-month contract with league leaders AC Milan.

Stefano Pioli's side recruited the 34-year-old as the 18-time Italian champions target a first league title since 2011.

"If I didn't feel ready I wouldn't come to a club like Milan, I would have stayed at home watching TV," said Mandzukic.

The Croatian forward left Juventus in 2019 for Al-Duhail after falling out with coach Maurizio Sarri, before departing the Qatari club by mutual consent last July.

"The last months I was working hard and waiting for something like this," the ex-Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid player told a press conference in Milan.

"I've never had big injuries. I prepared my body for four more years of top football.

"You can trust me, I'm good. I told Pioli, 'If you need me, I will play every position on the pitch to win'.

"Everyone knows the history of Milan and the successes that this club has had.

"I have big ambitions now the team is doing very well, but the season is still long."

As well as looking to deny Juventus a 10th consecutive Serie A title, Milan are also targeting a return to Champions League football for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.

Mandzukic and the 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic are two veterans in an otherwise young Milan side.

"I's true that it's a very young team," said the World Cup runner-up. "But I watched Milan's last games and I was happy to see how the team is playing.

"Everyone is fighting, everyone is doing his job, everyone is running, everyone shows team spirit.

"We older players will be there for the younger.

"As Zlatan said, we have played many games, we have many minutes in our legs and I too think it is important to instill fear in our opponents and protect my teammates."

Mandzukic won four league titles in as many years with Juventus, but remained tight-lipped on his falling out with previous coach Sarri.

"I don't like talking about the past. Against Juve it will be a match like the others," he added.

"On the pitch we are rivals, off we are still friends."

Milan have a three-point advantage over local rivals Inter Milan before hosting Atalanta in Serie A on Saturday.

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