A new era is emerging for the Rossoneri and it doesn’t include Gennaro Gattuso or Leonardo. Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis has moved on behalf of Elliott Management to make sure the club operate with a new philosophy, even if it is based out of necessity. There will be no more big transfer fees, there will be a concerted effort to balance the books and there will be a focus on youth. Whilst this might be an unfortunate situation for the red and black half of the city, it could just perhaps be the making of them.
The last time Milan were forced to operate under stringent financial restrictions was after the mismanaged spending of Silvio Berlusconi. Sinisa Mihajlovic and then Vincenzo Montella looked into the youth system and tried to fuse together a team that could try and compete. As Gigio Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli, Davide Calabria, Manuel Locatelli and Patrick Cutrone started to merge with the old guard, the Milanese actually fell onto a system that worked and they qualified for the Europa League.
In April 2017, Yonghong Li arrived and the monumentally irresponsible spending started, ultimately ending in no Champions League and the club in the hands of Elliott Management.
What would have happened to this team one wonders if the Far Eastern ownership had not interrupted its steady rise? Perhaps nothing, as the philosophy was a reactive one and not a forward-thinking plan. This is now what Gazidis now claims they have.
He set out three clear objectives. Firstly, he plans to re-organise Milan economically, finding ways to generate more profit and reinvesting these profits into the club. Secondly, he plans to increase the quality of the team by investing in youth. These players are not being bought to sell on, but develop at the club and become part of the Milan’s DNA. Finally, he wants to find ‘the right solution for the stadium’. By this he means either modifying San Siro or moving.
The stratagem is a sensible one, especially as Elliott Management have put no time limit to deliver this. Whilst sceptics may say that this mirrors the Arsenal project, when youthful players were sought after but unfortunately sold, as the stadium needed heavy funding, they should take a closer look.
Gazidis has made bold claims in the past, nobody can forget the statement that after the stadium was paid for then Arsenal would challenge Bayern Munich for size of club, but he doesn’t lack ambition.
The argument is that Italy and Serie A, is a far more archaic place than the Premier League when it comes to the money that surrounds it. This model is more of a Bundesliga approach and perhaps more Serie A teams should be adopting it. How many current Italian clubs wander from season to season with little planning?
For this, Milan will need a new Coach and a new Sporting Director. Club legend Paolo Maldini looks to already be taking on the job left by Leonardo, now working with Gazidis to identify new candidates for Coaches and it seems that Sampdoria’s Marco Giampaolo is in top spot in the Best UK betting deals, slightly ahead of Simone Inzaghi. A club like Milan would be an honour for both Coaches, who have distinguished themselves working well with few resources at Samp and Lazio.
There will be some tough challenges ahead this summer for the Rossoneri. There are some players in the current squad who perhaps don’t warrant the large wages they are on. This is a real opportunity not only to move these on, but to trust in some of the younger players who may now be able to get more game time and develop in a new system that operates with a clear plan of personal and economic development.
Perhaps the expectation of this new ‘baby Milan’ will be harder to stomach for the fans, especially if they lie in mid-table in December next campaign. If this is so, the long-term vision should be admired and not scorned, as what Elliott and Gazidis are trying to do is to drag Milan towards being a modern football club. This is something that should be a priority for many Italian sides.
Juventus managed to rise from the flames of Calciopoli and they haven’t done that badly since 2006, have they? This is not the beginning of the end; this is beginning of something new.