Monday July 22 2013
Allegri respects improved rivals

Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri expects Serie A to be much more competitive than it was last season.

The Rossoneri just sneaked into the top three last time around after an impressive second half of the campaign where they were only beaten by champions Juventus.

But Allegri, speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Trofeo TIM against Juve and Sassuolo, is wary of the competition in 2013-14.

“Juve will be the favourites,” he stated. “They’ve brought in some important players from Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente to Angelo Ogbonna.

“Milan know it will be harder than last season. Apart from Juve, there are six other sides who will be fighting for a place in the Champions League…”

The Diavolo have been relatively quiet in the transfer window so far, but that hasn’t affected the optimism of their Coach.

“Riccardo Saponara and Andrea Poli have arrived. Jherson Vergara was born in 1994 and he’ll be here from July 25. They are three youngsters who are in line with the project here.

“We have 25 in the squad and if someone leaves then they will be adequately replaced. We don’t want a squad of 30. New faces will only be brought in if players leave first.”

Japanese international Keisuke Honda is a target who will either arrive this summer or on a free in January.

“Honda is a good player, someone who can be used as a trequartista but also in wide positions, but he is still a CSKA Moscow player and I don’t like to talk about individuals at other clubs.”

Allegri was confirmed on the Milan bench after crunch talks with owner Silvio Berlusconi who has asked for certain tactical assurances.

“The system will depend on the individual game, but we are at a more advanced stage than we were at this same point last season.

“We’ll play with three up front, it doesn’t really matter whether that will be 1+2 or 2+1.”

Allegri is also counting on Italian international Stephan El Shaarawy to rediscover his touch in front of goal.

“He had an important first half of the season, extraordinary actually. There is no tactical problem with El Shaarawy, his dip in form was normal. The boy has always been a reference point for me.”

The young forward scored 16 goals in 37 League games for the Diavolo last season.