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Michael Essien on Mario Balotelli, Inzaghi and Milan's objectives for the season


Milan midfielder Michael Essien says a top-three finish is a must for the club.

The Rossoneri ended in a disappointing eight place last season and the 31-year-old knows a mid-table finish is not acceptable for such an ambitious club.

"Last season was tough but things are different now. We have to bring Milan back to where it deserves," Essien told Sky Sport Italy.

"Our objective is a top-three finish and we will fight to achieve it."

Asked if the objective can be achieved with a new coach and without striker Mario Balotelli, Essien said: "Mario is a good person, we're close friends, I've known him before we met here [at Milan]"

"He then left Milan but I'm sure he will have a bright future.

"He still has to a lot to improve but he has all the characteristics to become a top class player.

"I like [Filippo] Inzaghi as a coach, he also makes sure we enjoy ourselves out there, allowing us to express ourselves on the pitch.

"He reminds me of [Carlo] Ancelotti who coached me at Chelsea. He also allowed us to express ourselves on the pitch and that's exactly what Pippo is doing."

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Filippo Inzaghi, Mario Balotelli, Michael Essien