AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has turned to speculation about the future of Manchester United midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu.
Calhanoglu has established himself as one of the best playmakers in Serie A since joining Milan for an initial compensation from Bayer Leverkusen in July 2017 of € 20 million (£ 18 million / $ 24 million).
The Turkish international scored 29 goals in 149 games for the Rossoneri, at the same time passing 45 assists, attracting many fans from afar.
United are reportedly weighing a January move for the 26-year-old, who will be free to negotiate a pre-contract with any potential suitors when the transfer market reopens.
Calhanoglu will enter the free agency next summer, unless Milan fail to tie him to new dates, with Italian champions Juventus also thinking of keeping a close eye on his situation.
However, Pioli is confident the former Leverkusen star will extend his stay at San Siro, he told DAZN after watching him score a Rossoneri 3-2 win over home side Lazio on Wednesday night.
“Calha is fantastic, he is intelligent, he can move well, he knows how to attack and he knows how to connect a game. He sacrifices himself,” said the Italian head coach.
“I want him at this level, he is a top player. I don’t think there is a problem. Calha is with us and the club. I am sure it is his will to stay, negotiations are underway.
“The club, the technical area, the player and I want the same, he has reached important levels and he can still grow. He is a player to bet on.”
Calhanoglu’s latest strike came from a white spot on both sides of goals by Ante Rebic and Theo Hernandez against Lazio, and Milan’s 10th win of the season ensured they are still the only undefeated side in the top five European leagues moving into 2021.
Pioli’s men are sitting on a point from local rival Inter at the summit after 14 games, and Juve have returned nine points to sixth place after stuttering at the start of their latest defense.
The head coach of Milan is satisfied with how much his team has progressed in the past 12 months, but he still believes that there is a lot of room for improvement in the second half of the campaign.
“The club deserves praise for 2020,” Pioli added. “They help us work in the best possible way. They gave me strong and young players.
“Everyone is aware of their qualities and I expect that we will see the same things in 2021. We are not perfect. There are many things we need to address.
“We can’t always dominate games, it’s normal, when we don’t, we have to be compact and suffer.
“We played a lot of games, I hope the injured players will return soon. It was hard to rotate the players, but these guys have a soul.
“The fans welcomed us at the stadium today, they give us so much.”