Shevchenko continues drawn out Milan courtship
Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko remains coy about a summer return to AC Milan, but admits he still holds the Rossoneri dear to his heart.
A move back to the San Siro has been mooted since the beginning of the year and Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has frequently said he would welcome Shevchenko back with open arms.
The 31-year-old is still a firm fans' favourite at Milan after firing them to the Serie A title and the Champions League during a glorious seven-year spell there.
And Shevchenko admitted he misses life in Italy.
``There is a lot of talk about my return,'' Shevchenko said in a television interview published in Corriere dello Sport. ``But I am not authorised to say anything more than this: that my links to Milan have always been great.
``Milan gave me a lot, they helped me grow as a player and they helped me win the European Footballer of the Year award and the Champions League.
``I have great memories. Relationships with my team-mates are very important and many of them have remained.
``The president has always been very kind to me, he suggested to me to take a house in Antigua, I listened to him and I made a great investment.
``I thank him for everything he has done for me, he is very close to my heart. He helped me a lot, in many things.
``I miss my friends in Italy, the true ones, and the food, a lot.''
Shevchenko has failed to shine at Stamford Bridge since his £30million move in the summer of 2006, although his record of 20 goals in 68 appearances is still respectable.
And another season of disappointment which has seen him rarely feature in Avram Grant's selection could see him call time on his Chelsea career.
``I haven't managed to play much this year,'' continued Shevchenko. ``Whether for physical problems or technical reasons.
``But in the game I have played in I managed to make a small contribution with seven goals.
``The language? I manage to communicate, I manage to speak to my team-mates, but I am very far from perfection.''
Milan are expected to rebuild following a disappointing season in Serie A and a last 16 elimination at the hands of Arsenal in the Champions League.
Shevchenko has followed his old side's fortunes closely since leaving for London and the Ukraine striker will have a keen eye on the Rossoneri's fortunes in the derby against Inter this weekend.
Inter could win the title this weekend while Milan have slipped down the pecking order, but that was not always so and Shevchenko has fond memories of one particular derby - when he scored to take his side through to the Champions League final on away goals in 2003.
``The derby has always been a special game, a great one,'' continued Shevchenko. ``I think this derby will mean more to Milan because they are fighting for fourth place, to play in the Champions League and, above all, it's their home game.
``I have told all my friends in England that, to understand Italian football, you have to go to the Milan derby because it's a spectacular game.
``I give my best wishes to my former team-mates. I know how important it is to win the derby, especially in the race for fourth place.
``I think that the more important games give me a larger rush: the more the game is important the more I manage to give.
``The most important goal I scored in a derby was that in the Champions League semi-final.''
That was just one of many goals for Shevchenko, who left the San Siro as Milan's second all-time leading scorer.
The Ukrainian striker also had a word to say about teenager Alexandre Pato who, having been handed his former shirt number (seven), is expected to follow in his footsteps in Milan.
``I think it ended on the right back,'' said Shevchenko. ``He's doing very well, he's young and has a lot of quality.
``When I have spoken to my former team-mates they have all told me that he is very strong and has a lot of quality.
``I think he has chosen the right squad to grow in.''