Pioli expects more from Messias, is worried about Kjaer

Stefano Pioli gives insight into Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Junior Messias contributions after Milan beat Genoa 3-0, but there is a worrying update for Simon Kjaer’s injury.

The Rossoneri got back on track after two consecutive Serie A defeats, dominating at Marassi with an Ibrahimovic free kick and Junior Messias brace.

Ibra joked in his post-match interview that he wanted the club to start sorting out his own contract extension after signing the paperwork with the coach last week.

Ibrahimovic hints at Milan extension

“Zlatan is the only player who sent me a message as soon as I signed my contract. It said congratulations, Mister, now sort mine out!” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

“That’s Zlatan for you! This is a season that can give us satisfaction, I don’t know how far we can go. We played with intensity and determination for the whole game this evening and unfortunately we are not a team that can do the bare minimum. We’ve got to give it our all, or we are not superior to the opposition.

“The arrival of Zlatan improved everything, certainly, but his teammates also did well to accept his way of motivating them. At the same time, Zlatan has to thank his teammates, because he has come back to being the great player he was a few years ago. It’s give and take for them both.”

Milan had looked sluggish in recent weeks, but swarmed all over Genoa at Marassi.

Serie A | Genoa 0-3 Milan: Messias revitalises Rossoneri

“If we don’t have the ball, we need to fight hard to get it back as soon as possible. We did it with the same intensity and timing today, so we are open to taking a few risks, but the pressing is essential and keeps us more determined. I think that attitude also helps us improve our quality of football too.

“Everyone kept the right positions, attacking the spaces and pressing their opponents, we worked really well as a team today.”

Messias already got his first Champions League goal for Milan against Atletico Madrid, now he has a brace as well in Serie A. Can he push his way into the starting XI?

“The hierarchy changes constantly. I am fortunate that the club has given me so many wonderful players and in my view they are all starters. We can chop and change, but the team remains very strong.

“Messias took a while to settle, especially as he arrived with a few fitness problems and that made it difficult, but he is the player that I expected. We all saw his potential, Paolo Maldini and the directors, we all liked what he did at Crotone and felt he could do it at Milan too. We evaluated all the options and decided he had the quality to stay with us, but I am convinced he can do even more by being consistent throughout the 90 minutes. I am very happy for him, we’ve got a lot of games and therefore it’s important to have many players ready to step up.”

With Napoli held 2-2 by Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium, fumbling the 2-0 lead, that means Milan are now only one point off top spot.

However, there was bad news in the opening minute when Kjaer went down with a sprained left knee and was stretchered off. He will have tests tomorrow, but the initial reports are not reassuring for the Denmark international.

“Unfortunately, we’ve always got some bad news. I hope it’s not serious, he has sprained his knee, we don’t know if it involves the collateral ligament or other situations. He’s such an important player for us, both for his quality and as a man.

“Gabbia was already on a yellow card, we are always aggressive in our defending, so I didn’t want to risk a second booking, especially on a slippery turf, and substituted him at half-time.”

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