AC Milan continue to be linked with free agent Zlatan Ibrahimovic and manager Stefano Pioli talked up the qualities he would add to his struggling team.

The Rossoneri were embarrassed by Atalanta on Sunday with Josip Ilicic’s double and goals from Alejandro Gomez, Mario Pasalic and Luis Muriel consigning them to a 5-0 defeat.

It was their heaviest defeat since May 1998.

Ex-Milan striker Ibrahimovic has long been linked with a return and, although Pioli insists a deal for the veteran striker remains in the hands of the club’s hierarchy, the head coach acknowledged the qualities he would add to his squad.

“These are questions for the club owners,” he told DAZN when asked about Ibrahimovic.

The Swede scored 42 in 61 appearances during his time at Milan, spending two seasons there (2010-12).

Ibrahimovic played for AC Milan between 2010 and 2012

“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.”

Milan could head into the mid-season break in the bottom half of Serie A and Pioli is set to plan his strategy for the January transfer window.

“We struggled to mount any kind of reaction or high press, weren’t sharp tactically and the club knows the evaluations I’ve been making with this team over three months,” Pioli said.

“I know the strengths and weaknesses, so we are working out a strategy for the January transfer window.”