Milan Now: The Legends And The Chinese
As the sale moves or crawls forward towards a possible closing in mid November a lot is of course happening behind the scenes.
Every few days there is a whisper that the ownership group is unknown or that no one knows who is putting the money forward. It might be easy to distrust Berlusconi but this is a man who months ago declared he is entrusting the team in good hands, it seems almost outlandish that he or at least the top brass at Fininvest have no idea who is bringing the cash. As it is equally unlikely Fininvest were tricked or cheated with fake bank papers, another summer rumour.
More recently and after the Chinese, officially the Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co Ltd, appointed ex Juventus and Inter director Marco Fassone as CEO a few Milan legends began to question the new set up. The other appointee, Massimo Mirabelli, the now officially sporting director and formerly a chief scout at Inter raised additional concerns. Then began talk that the new ownership want to entice at least one Milan legend with an ‘important’ role in the new era. Demetrio Albertini was one obvious choice. The former player who left Milan to Atletico Madrid in less than best terms back in 2002 has had some experience at the Italian Football Federation and ran unsuccessfully for its leadership in 2014. Fassone was said to be talking to Alessandro Costacurta and Massimo Ambrosini too. Albertini seemed to be tapping into fan and former players concerns when he used his twitter account to take a shot at Inter, almost simultaneously talks with those former legends seemed to be going nowhere with more whispers that Paolo Maldini, too, will refuse offers unless he sees clear plans.
As time moved forward rumours of former player discontent seemed to rule them out one by one and this culminated on the 11th of October when Maldini released a statement via facebook and officially refused to join the new management team. He cited a lack of certainty, ambiguous ownership structure and unclear hierarchy between himself, Fassone and Mirabelli as reasons.
It is disappointing to see public noise by former players and legends, one can’t help wonder why they have been so public about the process. It is conceivable that all the talk could be more private and only the final decision made public. It may also be prudent to not publicly undermine this new era this early in its evolution. Of course this is coming out of deep affection for the team but that love needs to give the new management time too. Some players keep insisting that they “can’t imagine a Milan with Berlusconi”, this list most recently includes Gianluca Zambrotta, Serginho and Rui Costa, but they must imagine it, it is that same man that has insisted on leaving the team in more capable hands. It may also be better if players like Maldini do join the new set up and help influence it and make it succeed even if there isn’t the clearest of plans at the very beginning, now.
In the meanwhile the closing is at the very least one month away and before then the ownership group needs to travel to Milan to meet and formalize remaining issues and show themselves too. But before long focus must shift to the pitch and squad enforcements, those include finding a Montolivo replacement. The midfielder damaged his knee ligaments playing for the Azzurri and will not be available until very late in the season. Montella will look internally and Sosa or Locatelli will remain in the running for the central midfield role deep into the January transfer window.