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The full-back is delighted with the prospect of a third-place finish this term and praised Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli, but has silverware in his sights

Ignazio Abate is already targeting a challenge for the Serie A title with AC Milan next season.

After a horrible start to the campaign, the Rossoneri have never been in contention for the Scudetto this term. However, following an impressive run of results in 2013, Massimiliano Allegri's team are set for a top-three finish which will see them qualify for the Champions League.

Abate has been pleased with the progress his side have made and is hoping to wrap up third place in front a home crowd when the Milan giants welcome Roma to San Siro on Sunday.

"Third place is in our hands and it will be a great achievement to ensure it," he was quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

"We all wanted to return to the Champions League and making the grade will be a milestone for us after a season where we started so badly. We have really developed into a united team.

"We had some real difficulties but we always believed in ourselves and the coach. Next year we will fight for the championship. This team can do great things."

Abate acknowledged the significance of Stephen El Shaarawy's contribution in the early part of the season before praising Mario Balotelli's impact since his mid-season arrival.

He added: "El Shaarawy single-handedly dragged us for the first half of the season, the
n Mario arrived and he has since been decisive."


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