MILAN (AP) — On a rare visit to the team's training ground to give his troubled squad a pep talk on Friday, AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi denied he is considering selling the club.
Reports in Italy say that Berlusconi is becoming more and more disinterested with the club and is considering selling to the owners of Guangzhou Evergrande, the Chinese side coached by Marcello Lippi.
A delegation will visit Milan in December.
"There have been no negotiations with anyone," Berlusconi said. "The Chinese could come in as sponsors. Moreover, it doesn't make sense to sell a club at this time. First we have to return to the top, then maybe we can consider it."
Berlusconi arrived at Milanello via helicopter and watched several minutes of the training session before approaching the players.
The former Italian premier hugged Stephen El Shaarawy — who dedicated his goal for Italy to him — and shook hands with all the players and coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Berlusconi spent 10 minutes talking to the group in an effort to boost morale ahead of this weekend's Serie A match against Napoli.
Milan, which won the league in 2011, is in 12th place after losing six of its first 12 games this season.
Berlusconi last visited Milanello in October 2011, before Milan lost to Juventus.
"I don't have any institutional duties anymore. I can go back to taking care of Milan from close by," Berlusconi said. "I will return to the stadium."
Milan lost to Fiorentina 3-1, again raising questions over Allegri's job status. But Berlusconi reportedly met with club vice president Adriano Galliani after the match and decided to keep Allegri.
"If Allegri is here it is because he has my confidence," Berlusconi said. "Otherwise as president I would have fired him. In 26 years we have changed coaches during the season only twice. It's not our custom, we are serious.
"I have a good relationship with the coach, he's a good person as well as a good coach. And with him we won a title before a stunning list of injuries."
An entire squad's worth of top players departed Milan during the offseason, highlighted by the moves of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain.
"It was impossible to say no to selling Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva," Berlusconi said. "In three years we have saved €160 million ($204 million), between transfers and wages. No one in their right mind would have refused that in this economic climate.
"We have to start again, but after 26 years of caviar and champagne, we need to have patience."