AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso has hit out at speculation suggesting the club will be forced to sell their best players in order to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.
Milan have spent significantly in recent seasons as they have sought to return to the top of both domestic and European football, and have reportedly been fined for breaching FFP regulations.
However, Gattuso was adamant that his side would retain their key players and hit out at the journalists who posed questions about the issue to him.
“You’re packaging them up and sending them away. It’s Christmas time, so you’re wrapping them up and putting them under trees," he said during his pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday's Serie A meeting with Bologna.
“All the things you write about the transfer market and Financial Fair Play are things the club hasn’t had to deal with yet.
“No-one has come to tell me ‘we’ll sign him outright’ or ‘we won’t sign him outright’. These are things I’ve only heard from you in the media.
“I know we have constraints and we can’t do much on the market, but it’s you who keep saying we have to sell [Hakan] Calhanoglu, Suso, [Gonzalo] Higuain. For me, that’s not the case.
“I don’t only defend Hakan, I defend everyone. I’m willing to throw myself into the fire for my players. So when you talk to me, it irritates me that you attack my lads."
Higuain, in particular, has been the subject of rumours suggesting the Rossoneri will refrain from exercising their option to buy him from Juventus at the end of the season following his barren spell in front of goal.
The striker has failed to find the net in his last six successive games and last scored on October 28.
“I’ve spoken to Gonzalo, and he’s the first to be disappointed by the situation,” Gattuso added.
“In the period we’re in he needs to give us his experience and character, his goals come after that.
“In difficult times the priority isn’t goals, but leadership, he needs to carry his teammates even if some make mistakes.
“The chatter around him will always be there, we can’t control everything, but I’ve told him that everyone appreciates him, though he has to do more.”