CEO Marco Fassone admits if they don’t qualify for the Champions League, Milan will have to “sell one or two top players” next summer.
The Rossoneri spent over €200m this summer on buying 11 new players, but have lost four of their eight Serie A games and sit seven points adrift of the top four.
“Nobody thought that with such a renovated squad there would be no problems at all, but we are certainly behind schedule by about five or six points,” Fassone told La Stampa newspaper.
“The objective was to stay within reach of fourth place for the first half of the season, settle down and then push for the Champions League zone in the later months. We’ve got room to recover, but cannot afford to get it wrong again.”
The situation has inevitably put Coach Vincenzo Montella on the chopping block, especially after director of sport Massimiliano Mirabelli criticised the tactician for recent performances.
“Montella was chosen by us and has all of our confidence. Is his bench at risk with another defeat? There’s no point talking about hypotheticals, but we all need to work in the same direction to find the way out.
“We are missing that spark, the goal that can turn the tide, but I am convinced we’ll do it. Milan was built to achieve results: they are not coming and we have to be transparent with our fans. We’ve all got the clock ticking down, including myself.”
Milan’s takeover and spending spree was largely thanks to American vulture fund Elliott Management, so if they don’t qualify for the lucrative Champions League, how will that money be repaid?
“I wouldn’t say qualification is obligatory, but the Champions League is fundamental in our plans. Failing to qualify wouldn’t destroy the project, but it would delay it by a year and we’d try to balance the lack of Champions League revenue by selling one or two top players.”
Gianluigi Donnarumma is widely expected to be one of them after his contract row over the summer, but Leonardo Bonucci has been probably the most disappointing new buy.
“It’s true, he is not performing to the best of his abilities, but he’s paying for the general situation,” insisted Fassone.
“The plan is to pay the Elliott loan back early, even in the Spring. We’ve got various options on the table that we are evaluating carefully. Let’s say the Milan file is on many desks to have a less challenging course than the current one.
“The scepticism over Yonghong Li is irritating, as if we were in England, nobody would pay much attention. I just say that the owners this year increased the capital by €49m and that was not loaned to AC Milan. Soon there will be another.
“The plan is over three years to grow revenue and then float a chunk of the club on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Usually clubs are propped up by TV rights, stadium revenue and merchandising. We have a fourth ‘leg’ in the form of work on the Chinese territory, merchandising and licensing.
“We’re choosing new soccer schools in China with a new company, AC Milan Beijing Sport development.”