Zlatan eager to play in Milan title push

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Victory at Mapei Stadium will see the Rossoneri win the Scudetto for the first time since 2010-2011, which was during Ibrahimovic's first stint with the club.

The Swede returned in January 2020 and in 72 appearances in all competitions has scored 35 goals – nine more than any of his team-mates in the same time frame – at a rate of one every 129 minutes.

Ibrahimovic, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, has also contributed 11 assists for a total of 46 goal involvements. Rafael Leao is second on 42 for Milan but has played 28 games more.

Although only 11 of the 40-year-old's Serie A appearances this season have come as part of the starting line-up, head coach Stefano Pioli believes he has been crucial to Milan's title challenge behind the scenes.

Asked if Ibrahimovic was keen to play an important role against Sassuolo, Pioli replied: "A lot, like all of us.

"We are experiencing an important moment. The season will finish tomorrow. There's a difference between winning and losing, and everyone must think they can be decisive.

"Zlatan has brought a strong mentality and quality. He has more football intelligence than anyone else. He has been a reference point and has been instrumental in the growth of the team, which have been good at following his lead. They have become stronger players with him."

Sassuolo has won each of the past two Serie A meetings between the teams but Milan is on a run of five straight away league wins against the Neroverdi.

"Today, in my opinion, we deserve to be first. We've been the best team but also need to be [against Sassuolo]," Pioli said.

"It's a difficult game. Nobody has given us anything this season and tomorrow will be the same. I just think about preparing as best as possible, knowing that we have reached this point with solid foundations.

"Sassuolo can surprise you. It will be a complicated match tactically and physically, but we know how to fight and suffer."


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