Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri insists that Sunday’s clash against Inter won’t be Alexandre Pato’s last derby.
The Brazilian is still being paired with an imminent move to Paris Saint-Germain, but the tactician expects the striker to remain at San Siro.
“I really don’t believe that this will be Pato’s last derby,” Allegri told the Corriere della Sera in an interview.
“He did well at Bergamo on Sunday despite the fact that I took him off. I just needed an attacker with different characteristics.
“He won us the penalty, he hit the post and he was a protagonist in two or three situations.”
The Rossoneri will go into Sunday’s San Siro showdown eight points clear of Inter, but Allegri respects their city rivals.
“The next derby will be different from the others,” the former Cagliari tactician noted.
“Unless something extraordinary happens then Inter will be obliged to win to get back into contention for the Scudetto.
“Inter are in good shape and they showed that against Parma [they won 5-0]. This is the best Inter of the season, but we are in good form as the results show – 10 victories and two draws.
“I’m sure it’ll be a great game with an excellent Milan.”
The Nerazzurri started the campaign sluggishly, but they’ve been revived under new boss Claudio Ranieri and they’ve now won five League matches on the trot.
“A few of their players, like Ricky Alvarez, have grown. The squad is good and they’ll have returning players like Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan too.
“Inter started the season with a squad built to fight for the Scudetto and their technical merits remain.
“Perhaps they were penalised by certain aspects such as injuries. Nevertheless, Inter will finish in the top three without a doubt.”
Allegri joined the Milan giants at the start of last season and he instantly delivered the title. However, his contract expires in June and extension talks has stalled over salary demands.
“There are not any problems with my contract, it’s just a question of time,” said the man who reportedly wants €2.5m a season.
“We’ve already spoken on two or three occasions about it. I want to stay and the club want to keep me. I think that we’ll sort it out soon, but probably not before the derby.”
Allegri was also asked about the transfer market where he praised the ability of Vice-President Adriano Galliani.
“Galliani has worked in a great manner. Since I have been here excellent players have arrived.
“The squad has changed a lot, players with an average age of 25-26 have arrived. Kevin Prince Boateng is 24, Stephan El Shaarawy has a great future, as does Alex Merkel who is currently at Genoa.
“The club is working well to make sure the team is competitive at a high level for the next three or four years.”