Former Milan and Inter Coach Leonardo has explained why a lot of his transfer work as sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain has been based in Italy.
The Brazilian, who spent four seasons as a player with the Rossoneri in the late 1990s before then finishing his on-pitch career with the club in 2003, is now responsible for heading another former club PSG’s direction in the transfer market.
From Coach Carlo Ancelotti through to signing the likes of Jeremy Menez, Mohamed Sissoko, Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta and Salvatore Sirigu, as well as being linked with Federico Balzaretti and former Milan man David Beckham, Leonardo’s work in the French capital has maintained a strong Serie A flavour.
The man who spent a season as Coach of Milan and then another in the same position at rivals Inter, has now revealed the reason for this clear preference.
“Yes, I come from Italy and then people say I have become Italian,” he began, talking to L’Equipe this week.
“But the truth is that if we have bought a lot of players from Italy last summer, it was because the Italian clubs are experiencing a very difficult situation, from an economic standpoint. As things are today, Serie A are only sellers.”
Leonardo also suggested conversely that PSG’s rediscovered strength in the market, under Qatari ownership, also has its downsides.
“When a player is on sale, now they say that PSG follows him. Then it becomes easier for agents to use us as bait - maybe they put the rumour out that we are after their player. All this to try to get a re-evaluation of an existing deal with other clubs.”
The 42-year-old then hinted that he could be open to a return to coaching one day.
“What do I miss most about being a Coach? Above all, the atmosphere of the game, the adrenaline of the match. But now my work is this.
“Would I return to a bench? It can happen, I’m open to everything. Yet, perhaps doing so here in Paris, after being sporting director, can be a bit complicated. I did it at Milan, but there it was a different matter.”