Ancelotti makes play for Maldini

Chelsea manager in talks with retired Milan defender to strengthen coaching staff
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The Independent Football

The legendary former Milan left-back Paolo Maldini was in a meeting with Carlo Ancelotti the new Chelsea manager at Cobham yesterday with a view to joining the club's coaching staff. Maldini, 40, who retired after 24 years at Milan last month, was introduced to Chelsea coaches Ray Wilkins and Paul Clement.

Ancelotti tried to persuade the former Italy international to join his staff before the start of next season.

The meeting was deemed sufficiently important that Wilkins was called away from the charity golf day he was hosting yesterday. Maldini would be the only member of staff that Ancelotti would potentially bring to the club after his first-choice No 2 Filippo Galli chose to stay at Milan.

Maldini is an iconic figure at Milan although his departure last month was marred by clashes with the club's fanatical fans, the Ultras. Ancelotti will need at least one ally to look out for him in the notoriously political atmosphere behind the scenes at Chelsea.

One man who won't be following Ancelotti to Chelsea from Milan is Gennaro Gattuso according to the player's agent. The Italy midfielder was devastated by Ancelotti's decision to leave San Siro for Stamford Bridge. With Kaka following the former manager out of Milan, fears have been growing at the Serie A club that Gattuso could be the next to leave.

Ancelotti is a big admirer of the former Rangers midfielder and is expected to offer the player a route into the Premier League. However, Gattuso's representative Andrea D'Amico has played down suggestions his client is set to move on. D'Amico said: "I have never said that Gattuso will leave. There could be offers for him by clubs because who wouldn't want a player like Gattuso? Rino [Gattuso] was saddened to see Ancelotti leave because he has a special relationship with him. But his mission is at Milan and he wants to stay."

Meanwhile, Wilkins said yesterday that Wayne Rooney is more valuable to Manchester United than Cristiano Ronaldo. United accepted an £80m bid for Ronaldo from Real Madrid on Thursday and Wilkins, who spent five years at Old Trafford up to 1984, believes Rooney is the truly indispensable star in Ferguson's squad. "If you were to ask who would you rather have, Rooney or Ronaldo? As an ex-footballer I'd rather have Wayne Rooney because he's more of a team player," said the assistant manager.

"As football evolves, the team ethic is more important than the individual. Rooney has amazing ability but he's a team player and he's there week in, week out. I think he's a wonderful footballer."

Wilkins also expects the exit of the notoriously individualistic winger to have a galvanising effect on his former team-mates. "It might bond the players a bit more," he said. "A lot of them relied on Cristiano to produce the goods – now it's up to the other players to pull their weight as well."

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