Gabriele Marcotti believes Milan fans have every reason to trust new owners Elliott Management, while it’s no surprise Lucas Paqueta preferred them to PSG.
The Italo-American pundit spoke to the Milan Weekly Podcast about some of the themes surrounding the Rossoneri, above all Elliott Management repossessing the club after Yonghong Li failed to keep up loan repayments.
“With Elliott, the big fear when they took over, was that they were going to go and just say stuff this let's get our money now. They were going to asset strip and sell whatever they could so they could get their loan repaid and then just move away.
“They haven't done that, in fact they've taken a view of turning the club around in the medium term. They wouldn't have gone to great lengths in bringing Ivan Gazidis if that were the case.
“The difficult thing now is obviously, Milan are in limbo with Financial Fair Play because of what happened before. They have to go through that whole procedure, take a hit, and from there Elliott will have to pick up the pieces and try to come up with a voluntary agreement that would enable them to keep some level of spending while also showing how they grow revenue. That is a big reason why I think Gazidis is there.
“Milan is going to have to be smart how they spend the money while at the same time being very clever in how they grow the revenue not just in Serie A but around the world and that's going to be the challenge.
“Elliott doesn't have experience in sports, that is why they brought in Ivan Gazidis who does. Looking past Gazidis, viewed from the outside, you have Gazidis who obviously is a pretty smart competent guy with tons of experience in football, and then they persuaded Maldini to come back.
“First Berlusconi, then Fassone, all these people saying Paolo will you come back and he always said no. I think the fact he put his faith in this project I think is massive. Paolo Maldini doesn't need to work, if he came back it is because he believed in the project, that is very encouraging if you are a Milan fan. Also Leonardo is another sharp guy who brings credibility to the project.
“I think having gone down this road, I don't think Elliott are going to pull the plug, they are going to see to what value they can grow the club.
“From their perspective, given the money they put in and the amount they lost when Li defaulted, if they can sell the club for more than €600-700m they will have made a handsome profit. They think, and they're probably not wrong, they can raise the value of the club to more than €1bn. I think that is going to be their goal and their time horizon is three to five years.”
Milan are already investing ahead of the January transfer window, agreeing terms with Flamengo for Lucas Paqueta at a cost of €35m plus bonuses.
“I only saw him on TV when he made his debut with Brazil and some video clips,” continued Marcotti.
“He plays at a huge club like Flamengo, which bodes well in terms of coping with the pressure. Over the years we have seen a lot of guys come from Brazil with huge price tags and some of them live up to the billing and others do not.
“I think you have to put your faith in Leonardo on this one. Leonardo is well connected and is from Rio, he has been in Europe 20-25 years as a player, an executive, as a manager, he knows which Brazilian players can transition to Europe and which ones cannot.
“There was a big deal made about beating out PSG and the Qatari money, however PSG are in FFP hell right now so hard to say how this limited their ability to push the price up.
“Also from Paqueta's point of view, I look around at PSG's attacking players and I look at Milan's attacking players and I ask myself where am I more likely to get playing time and undoubtedly it's at Milan not at PSG.
“It is smart business from Leonardo but hard to say if the price is right or the player is any good until I see more of him.”
After the break for international duty, we’ll see Milan and city rivals Inter go head-to-head in the Derby della Madonnina.
“Milan play better football simply put and they play even better football when Gonzalo Higuain is there. He takes them to another level in terms of finishing and what they can do, especially in big games.
“I am not sold on Luciano Spalletti, but I think they have a better starting XI top to bottom, but feels too much like individuals.
“I think it's going to be an open game, there's going to be goals and I predict 2-2.”
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