AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri issued a plea to Antonio Cassano to continue playing for the side next season, after the striker reportedly made known his intentions to seek a transfer.
The San Siro outfit has decided to cash in on several senior players this summer, as key duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva has moved to Paris Saint-Germain. And the departure of the pair has reportedly cast doubts in Cassano's mind about the club's ambitions or ability to challenge for silverware next season.
A switch to city rival Inter has recently been touted as a possible solution, according to the Italian media.
"There are 15 days left to the end of the market, and we'll see what happens," responded Allegri when pressed on the topic at a press conference. "Antonio is our player, and [he] can certainly do well here."
"Cassano is our player and a professional, and has to work to give his best in training. We've done plenty for him in the last year - from awaiting his return from heart surgery to nursing [him] back to fitness for Euro 2012.
"I've confirmed to him that he is an important player whose technique can help us. We've always shown our full interest in keeping him here, although it's important he's staying voluntarily, convinced of our project."
Despite winning the Scudetto in his debut campaign on the Milan bench, Allegri's side lost out to Juventus last season, and the 45-year-old coach has no doubts who will enter the season as favorite to clinch the prize again.
"Juventus is favorite for this season's Scudetto, and is a cut above Inter, Roma, Napoli and ourselves.
"We, admittedly, have to adapt to the loss of Ibrahimovic and Silva, without losing sight of the objectives for a strong side such as ourselves – fighting to emerge in the top three of Serie A," he explained.
Milan hosts newly promoted Sampdoria in its league opener on Aug. 26.
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- Zlatan Ibrahimovic