>>>ANSA/ Soccer: Milan set to poach Matri with Champions cash
Berlusconi, Galliani, Allegri huddle on transfer moves29 August, 19:49
(ANSA) - Milan, August 29 - AC Milan are set to secure the services of Juventus and Italy striker Alessandro Matri after making it past PSV Eindhoven in a Champions League preliminary at the San Siro Wednesday night, winning 3-0 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate.
The financial boost from getting into Europe's richest and most prestigious tournament is estimated at at least 30 million euros.
About a third of that, or 10 million euros, would suffice to get Matri from the Italian champions, for whom he has played 69 times since joining them from Cagliari in 2011, and scored 27 goals.
"The Matri talks are off to a good start," Juventus General Manager Beppe Marotta said Thursday night. The six-foot-tall centre-forward would be an ideal foil for Mario Balotelli, currently having to do too much of the heavy lifting up front rather than latching onto a line-leader's knock-downs to take more pots at goal with his equally strong feet.
"Matri would be ideal to help put Mario into positions where his enormous skills can do more damage," said Milan CEO Adriano Galliani.
Galliani was set to meet coach Massimiliano Allegri, Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi and the media-magnate-turned-political leader's club-director daughter, Barbara, on Thursday evening with Matri top of the agenda.
The Milan-born Matri, who has scored once for Italy in five international appearances, is not the only target on Milan's map, soccer watchers say. Enough should be left over from the Matri buy, market experts say, to add CSKA Moscow's Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda to the roster, fleshing out a midfield that looked distinctly under-par in Milan's season-opening Serie A defeat at Hellas Verona last weekend and was left largely untested by a lack-lustre PSV side.
Ajax's midfield starlet Christian Eriksen might be an alternative to the Japanese star, or could come too to rev up a department where only captain Riccardo Montolivo performed creditably against the Veronese.
Berlusconi, cash-strapped with legal fees and falling revenue at his business empire, did not spend at all in the summer transfer window and his last significant catch was Italy star Balotelli, who arrived from Manchester City in January.
Another possible target with Champions League revenue in the bag is Cagliari's Italy centre-back Davide Astori, Italian media have reported.
"I'm fully confident the club is behind me in wanting to reinforce the squad," Allegri said.
"There's no two ways about it: we have to compete better if we want to wrest the title from Juve", who are aiming for their third straight Serie A trophy, the coach added. Despite the big PSV win, the Italian press is still saying Allegri's job is not safe.
The seemingly unflappable Tuscan was quoted by MSN.it as saying: "I'm getting fed up with all this speculation, the season's hardly started yet. I feel like bursting". But La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's top sports paper, quoted him as saying: "I don't feel as if I'm being roasted on a spit right now, with so long to go.
"After three years at Milan, one defeat isn't enough to put my job in jeopardy".
With the mind of formerly hands-on Berlusconi distracted by moves to avoid being dumped from the Senate, CEO Adriano Galliani is however "poised to turn the heat up" if the Rossoneri continue to falter in Serie A, Gazzetta dello Sport said.
"But the picture could be even bleaker if the Champions cash cow had disappeared," it said, with a straitened Milan "forced to really consider" losing young Italy defender Mattia De Sciglio, whose recent performances for club and country have had soccer writers reaching for grand comparisons with the great Paolo Maldini.