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San Siro braced for first ‘Chinese’ Milan derby after takeover

Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan will host AC Milan Saturday in the first ‘all-Chinese’ city derby after the latter was officially taken over by the Chinese-led consortium Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux on Thursday.

In a deal worth 740 million euros ($786 million), the Chinese consortium’s takeover brings an end to Silvio Berlusconi’s 31-year reign at the club which garnered an impressive 29 trophies.

“It is with a mix of sadness and emotion that I leave the club. I will never forget the emotions I felt,” said Berlusconi, who as the club’s “number one fan” will expect a rousing ovation on Saturday.

Two days after Milan’s takeover, the San Siro stadium will play host to the first ‘Chinese’ Milan derby at 1130 GMT.

Inter, the last Italian club to win the treble of league, Cup and Champions League, under Jose Mourinho in 2010, were bought by the Suning Group owner of Chinese billionaire Zhang Jindong in June 2016.

Jindong, according to figures published by the Serie A club, bought Inter for 270m euros from Indonesian Erick Thohir, who had purchased the club from Massimo Moratti in October 2013.

Former Italy prime minister Berlusconi acquired AC Milan in 1986 and oversaw the most successful period in the club’s history, before announcing last August — following several seasons of decline — his intention to sell.

Under Berlusconi, Milan won five of their seven European Cups or Champions League titles, five UEFA Super Cups, eight of their 18 Serie A titles, one Italian Cup, all seven of their Italian Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Inter and Milan meet looking for a win that would boost their hopes of European football next season.

Milan, in sixth place at 20 points behind leaders Juventus, are just two points off the first available Europa League qualifying spot held by Atalanta.

Inter are two points behind in seventh, meaning they will move up to sixth with a home win on Saturday.

AC Milan’s last title came earlier this season when they beat Juventus in Doha to win the Italian Super Cup, although their last league title came in 2011 under current Juventus handler Massimiliano Allegri.

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