05.01.2016 18:25 h

Cristante joins Palermo on loan

Palermo have secured the loan signing of former AC Milan midfielder Bryan Cristante from Benfica, the Serie A club announced Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Cristante, who has been used rarely by the Portuguese giants after joining them in September 2014, has signed a six-month deal that could become permanent at the end of the season. Benfica are demanding six million euros ($6.4m, £4.4m)for the player's definitive transfer.

Palermo have slipped to 16th place in Serie A and coach Davide Ballardini said he hopes it won't be the club's last acquisition of the winter transfer market.

"I know Cristante and although I haven't seen him playing for a while, I know he's an interesting player," said Ballardini, who replaced sacked Giuseppe Iachini two months ago.

"I'm hoping we can recruit some other players because we're still a few short of having a full squad."

Palermo host Fiorentina on Wednesday and Ballardini believes the Florence-based side, who along with Napoli sit just one point behind leaders Inter Milan, will be hard to overcome.

"They're a very competitive side and in the next few weeks, when we'll have no Cup fixtures, they could be a lot stronger," he added.

"For me, they're serious candidates for the league title."