AC Milan deny Leonardo departure

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AC Milan have refuted rumours in Italy that first-year coach Leonardo is considering leaving the club.

The Rossoneri head into Sunday's match at Sampdoria in third place and just four points behind league leaders Roma.

Reports claimed the 40-year-old is keen to return home to Brazil.

The club issued a statement which said: "In reference to the news that was published today regarding an alleged contract rescission, Milan coach Leonardo emphasises that this is completely unfounded."

Leonardo, a former AC Milan player, has received praise since replacing Carlo Ancelotti last summer.

"Milan have done very well until a few weeks ago. Leonardo has done a good job," said England manager Fabio Capello.

Milan had a slow start to the Serie A campaign but Leonardo steered the club back into the title race.

They were knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Udinese earlier this year and suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the Champions League.

Milan had opportunities earlier this month to leapfrog Inter Milan into first place in the scudetto race but failed to take advantage of them.

With five games remaining, they still have a shot at the title and it seems neither club officials nor the players have lost faith in Leonardo.

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said today: "He is young and good. I have a great rapport with him.

"Milan is his home."

AC Milan striker Marco Borriello agreed.

"We hope to have him with us also next year," he said. "He is a person that brings stability in the changing room.

"He is in his first year as coach and perhaps he has made a few mistakes but he will also improve.

"I believe Milan will not let him go, I certainly hope so."

Leonardo is under contract at the San Siro until 2011 and the fans remain very much on their manager's side.