Milan director Leonardo insists the Europa League is a very important tournament and admits Zlatan Ibrahimovic was “more than a passing thought.”
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“There were never doubts over our journey. We must never forget where we started from, as two and a half months ago we were excluded from the Europa League and changing the entire directorial staff.
“This team has already found a certain balance and I think we can achieve something positive from this season,” Leonardo told Sky Sport Italia.
“We arrived quite late, but I have to balance all the various elements and try to have a certain logic to balance what we have, what we started from and what we can achieve.
“I think the Europa League can give a great deal to Milan this season, we have young and talented players, and are building a new project. We have to find the mentality and self-awareness of our own potential and I believe right now this team doesn’t have that yet.”
Gonzalo Higuain returns to the starting XI from injury and squad rotation is kept to a minimum this evening.
“The Europa League is important and part of gaining the winning mentality is focusing on prestige. Higuain lifts the mentality of everyone around him, he is a very important figure. When we reach the later stages of the Europa League, it is worth as much as the Champions League, so we have to get there.”
Leonardo was also asked about the reports Ibrahimovic could make his comeback to San Siro from MLS, even if only for around six months.
“Ibra has very close ties to Milan, everyone knows this. We cannot deny it was more than a brief thought going through our minds when we first arrived, as he is extraordinary and has very specific characteristics, but right now it’s not possible.”
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