AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli hopes the recent appointment of senior advisor Zlatan Ibrahimovic can provide the spark to help his side bridge the gap to Serie A’s top two ahead of their trip to bottom club Salernitana.
Pioli’s men go into the game five points behind second-placed Juventus but buoyed by the arrival of former hero Ibrahimovic, who is expected to be present in Salerno.
Pioli told a press conference: “He’s the same Zlatan. He is approaching a different role but he is curious and determined.
“I saw a motivated Ibra and it was an interesting day. He is an added value for me and the club, but he has great experience and he is a symbol of those who challenge the challengers.”
Pioli’s men still find themselves amid a mounting injury crisis having lost both Tommaso Pobega and Noah Okafor to muscle injuries during the comfortable weekend win over Monza.
“We’re still in an emergency situation that we want to normalise as much as possible,” added Pioli.
“We’re working to return to normality. We have a busy few weeks ahead of us, and the aim is to get as many players back as possible. We’re working on certain situations, especially on an individual level, to improve everyone’s condition.”
Pioli revealed that Ismael Bennacer will play from the start as he continues his return following a seven-month lay-off with an ankle ligament injury.
However, there remains some concern in Milan over Bennacer’s inclusion in the provisional Algeria squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
“He’s now in better shape and will start in Salerno, and he will remain on the pitch for as long as he has the energy needed to help us,” added Pioli.
“As regards his national team, we’re not the ones who decide the calendar. If he accepts the call-up to play for Algeria, he’ll take part in the African Nations Cup. It will be up to us to find solutions.”
Bottom club Salernitana head into the game on the back of three straight defeats including a 4-1 loss at Atalanta on Monday night that kept their points for the season in single figures.
They are managed by Filippo Inzaghi, who made over 200 appearances for Milan between 2001 and 2012, and Pioli is relishing another meeting with a man so steeped in the club’s history.
“Pippo made history with AC Milan,” said Pioli. “He gave a lot to the club, won many titles, and entered the Rossoneri fans’ hearts.
“He knows that it’s normal to experience difficult moments in our profession. I wish him a lot of luck, even if we’ll be opponents tomorrow and looking to get the better of one another.”