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AC Milan sale to Chinese buyers may complete 'next week'

The protracted purchase of AC Milan by a Chinese consortium was postponed yet again on Monday, although a person familiar with the negotiations said the holdup was due to "little details" and the emblematic Italian club should change hands by next week.

The deal???which will see 80 percent of the club signed over to an as yet unnamed collective of Chinese backers???was supposed to be finalized on June 20.

The deadline was shifted to June 30 as Silvio Berlusconi, whose Fininvest group owns AC Milan, recovered from heart surgery performed on June 14, but that date flew by again with nothing finalized.

On July 5, Berlusconi told Italian media he had accepted terms, before word came out on Monday that no signing had taken place.

"There are only some little details of the contract the parties have to finalize," the person, who requested anonymity, told China Daily on Wednesday.

"If it's not done this week, it will certainly happen next week. There are no big problems, only some final technical details to be resolved."

Under the deal, the remaining 20 percent of the club will be acquired over the next two years while the initial majority stake to be bought has risen from the 70 percent discussed in June. A source told China Daily in early July the deal values the club at between 700 million euros ($776 million) and 750 million euros, including 200 million euros of debt.

Previous delays to the deal reportedly included the lack of disclosure of all investors involved in the consortium, as well as assurances that the new owners will invest heavily in player transfers over the coming seasons.

Berlusconi has since indicated he is satisfied on both counts, and the former Italian prime minister is set to stay on at the club as an honorary president and informal adviser.

"Milan has now embarked on this path toward China," Berlusconi said July 5, according to the Financial Times.

"I accepted what was offered to me, that does not even take into account the value of the brand. But I demanded the commitment of the new owners, who are a group of leading Chinese companies, some also State owned, to pay at least 400 million euros over the next two years."

Should the deal go through, AC Milan will join a long list of European soccer clubs that have received investment from China in recent years. They include Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Sochaux FC and Slavia Prague.

By Angus Mcneice (China Daily), added at 7/15/2016

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