AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli has once again hinted he would be keen to bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the club, saying the striker would add 'character' to side desperately struggling in Serie A.

The Milan giants suffered their worst defeat in more than 20 years at the weekend, going down ​5-0 to Atalanta, and with eight defeats in their opening 17 games, they have slipped into the bottom half of the table at Christmas. 

They looked to have turned a corner under Pioli with eight points from four games to steady the ship prior to Sunday's fixture, but a humiliating defeat plunged them right back into crisis, and with everyone at the club looking frantically for solutions, it was suggested to Pioli after the match that 38-year-old ​Ibrahimovic - who left LA Galaxy this month - could be brought back on a free transfer. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic,Dejan Jakovic

In his first spell in MIlan, the Swede made a mockery of Serie A with 56 goals in 85 appearances. 

"These are questions for the club owners," he told DAZN, as quoted by ​Goal

"People have talked about Ibrahimovic for over a month now. I've already said he is a champion and would bring that determination and character to raise the intensity and focus even during training, more so than in games."

Pioli wasn't buying the idea, however, that the result was indicative of any wider issues. Instead he suggested the result was an isolated incident, pointing to wins away to Bologna and Parma in recent weeks as signs that things are not all bad. 

Stefano Pioli

"We got the game wrong against the worst possible team we could've done that with," he added.

"Clearly, this cannot be the real ​Milan, because we showed strong performances in other matches recently.

"We have to take some of the blame too, because we made mistakes and have to work. This cannot be us.

Josip Ilicic

"Today's performance makes it look as if it was our first game together, but that is not the case. We need to get back to what we were doing before and remember the matches we had before this."

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