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Reborn Milan lacking firepower in bid to end 11-year drought

AC Milan is a club reborn on and off the soccer field.

Three years ago, Milan finished fifth in Serie A and was forced to withdraw from the following season’s Europa League because of UEFA financial fair play breaches.

That came months after U.S.-based hedge fund Elliott Management took over control of the club and assumed its debts of 164 million euros (then $190 million) stemming from Chinese owner Li Yonghong's missed loan repayment.

AC Milan's Rafael Leao is seen on the ground after the end of the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Bologna at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP PhotoAntonio Calanni)

Milan is currently at the top of Serie A with an end to its 11-year title drought in sight, while new sponsorship deals continue to rectify the financial issues. The club signed its 28th new partnership deal in the last two years on Thursday with Japanese video company Konami.

Still, Milan ended up with a draw against Bologna on Monday, leaving it only one point ahead of second-place Napoli and four ahead of defending champion Inter Milan — which has a game in hand.

Milan travels to Torino on Sunday, shortly after Napoli hosts Fiorentina. Inter plays Hellas Verona on Saturday.

AC Milan's manager Stefano Pioli shouts to his players during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Bologna at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP PhotoAntonio Calanni)

With only seven games remaining, Milan needs to find a solution quickly to its lack of goals. Against Bologna, the team had 33 shots on goal without managing to score. Milan has only scored four goals in its past six matches in all competitions, from 103 attempts.

“Unfortunately it’s a period where we’re creating a lot but we’re not finishing off our chances,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “It should have been a good weekend for us on paper but instead we’ve seen our advantage cut. The next match against Torino will be difficult but we’ll prepare for it in the best way possible.”

Milan has scored 10 goals in its past 10 league matches. It scored 46 in its first 21 matches of the Serie A season.

AC Milan's Olivier Giroud reacts after missing a chance for a goal during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Bologna at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP PhotoAntonio Calanni)

Olivier Giroud has not scored for more than a month and Zlatan Ibrahimović’s last goal came at the beginning of January – although the veteran forward has had injury problems. Among the younger attackers, Rafael Leão last scored in February and Brahim Díaz hasn’t netted since September.

“We’re very frustrated at the moment,” Giroud said. “But we’re going to work hard this week to win the next game.”

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AC Milan's Olivier Giroud, on the ground, missing a chance for a goal by Bologna's Arthur Theate during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Bologna at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Monday, April 4, 2022. (AP PhotoAntonio Calanni)