AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi said Friday he would prefer an Italian buyer for his debt-ridden Serie A team amid reports of interest from Chinese investors.

The former Italian Prime Minister has been trying to sell the fallen giants for the past year with reports his Fininvest group is in advanced talks with a Chinese investment group.

“To those who tell me a sale is necessary, I say: I’ve been trying for a year,” Berlusconi said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

“But I want to leave Milan in good hands, hands that guarantee playing a leading role in the future. And, it would be preferable, in Italian hands,” he added.

Berlusconi made no reference to a possible sale of the former seven-time European champions to Chinese investors.

Among the possible Chinese buyers cited by Italian media has been Jack Ma, one of the richest men in the world and founder of the e-commerce Alibaba Group.

The Evergrande Real Estate group, already investors in football with Guangzhou Evergrande, have also been touted.

Last year Berlusconi had a preliminary agreement with Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol to release a minority stake in the club, but this operation has so far come to nothing.

“Like all of you I have Milan in my heart and I suffer when things go wrong. Maybe even a little more than you because, for its greatness, I invested over one billion euros. And 152 million just on the last year,” continued Berlusconi in his message.

The club won their last Serie A title in 2011 and are currently seventh in the league with Cristian Brocchi having just replaced Sinisa Mihajlovic as coach.

With debts estimated at 250 million euros, the club will not compete in the Champions League next season and may possibly also miss out on the Europa League. – Agence France-Presse

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