Milan lands prize Paqueta
MILAN — AC Milan has reached an agreement to sign rising Brazilian star Lucas Paqueta while Swedish veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return to the club, sporting director Leonardo said on Thursday.
The Serie A giant is reported to have agreed a 35 million euro ($40.6 million) deal with Flamengo — the club Paqueta joined as a 10-yearold — in what would be the most expensive signing of a Brazilian player by an Italian club.
The 21-year-old completed his medical in Rio on Wednesday and should arrive in Milan in January.
“We have a basic agreement with Flamengo, but the market doesn’t reopen until January so there’s still a little bit to go before it’s official,” Brazilian Leonardo told journalists after receiving the Liedholm Award, an Italian prize which honors those who embody the values of sport.
“Now we can only think of the league and the Europa League, not the transfer market.
“At the moment he’s a Flamengo player, he still has some Brazilian league matches to play. We have to wait for January 3.”
Leonardo confirmed that Milan has also “thought about” signing Ibrahimovic, who joined LA Galaxy this season and has a contract through the 2019 season with the Major League Soccer side.
Ibrahimovic played for Milan from 2010 to 2012, winning a Serie A title with the club, before moving to Paris Saint-Germain and then Manchester United.
Leonardo, a former Milan and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder, was director of soccer at PSG when the Swedish striker joined.
“It’s normal that there’s a personal connection with him. When we first arrived we thought about it, even at the age of 37 he can drive a team,” said Leonardo.
“Right now the transfer window is closed, we have to do things calmly and not forget that there are some Financial Fair Play stakes. We want to build a competitive team.”
In addition to his two seasons with the Rossoneri, the Swede earlier won three Serie A titles with city rivals Inter, and also played two seasons with Juventus.
According to reports, Paqueta — who can play both in midfield and as a striker — has agreed a five-year deal worth $1.7 million per season.
Paqueta was called up to the Brazil squad for the first time in August for friendlies against the United States and El Salvador.
He had also been targeted by other top European clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester City, PSG, Lazio and Barcelona.
Leonardo, who also began his career at Flamengo, reportedly played a key role in Paqueta’s move to the San Siro.
Flamengo will receive 70 percent of the 35 million euro transfer fee, with the remainder to be divided between the player and Brazil’s soccer federation.
Flamengo’s Lucas Paqueta, who will join AC Milan on Jan 3, celebrates scoring against Corinthians on Oct 5.