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By ESPN Staff
Jul 30, 2006

Milan determined to keep World Cup winners

AC Milan general director Ariedo Braida insists key men Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta will be at the club when the new season gets under way.

Italy's World Cup-winning duo have been linked with moves away from the San Siro this summer as Milan prepare to start their Serie A campaign with an eight-point deduction for their involvement in the country's match-fixing scandal.

Braida has no intention of offloading two of the club's prize assets and is also optimistic of keeping hold of defender Diego Simic, who has been linked with Barclays Premiership side Everton.

'I think Simic will stay with us as we have some players who are still injured and we have a demanding season ahead,' Braida told the club's official website.

'Without doubt, Pirlo and Nesta are staying.'

Milan have already suffered one high-profile departure this summer, with talismanic striker Andriy Shevchenko joining Chelsea.

Braida admits the Ukraine forward is 'impossible' to replace and refused to confirm whether Spain star Fernando Torres was the preferred option to fill the void.

'As for substituting Shevchenko it is impossible to find one,' Braida said. 'We have to find other good alternatives as we have done in the past. Torres? I repeat, we are searching to maximum.'

Braida also played down rumours the club might be about to swoop for Ze Roberto, who has been a free agent since his contract at Bayern Munich expired this summer.

'We haven't spoken to Ze Roberto's agent,' Braida said. 'He played well in the World Cup but we are covered in midfield.

'We are strong all over but as in the past this club can pull a surprise for our great fans at the last moment.'