Ex-Milan CEO Marco Fassone confessed signing Leonardo Bonucci “was a mistake” and that Cristiano Ronaldo was open to joining them, but defended his choices.
The director was at the helm during Yonghong Li’s brief and doomed experience in charge, before the Chinese patron defaulted on loans and the club was repossessed by US hedge fund Elliott Management.
Despite only being able to complete the takeover from Silvio Berlusconi thanks to that loan, Yonghong Li still pushed Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli to spend huge amounts on the transfer market.
“Bonucci was a mistake, but Gianluigi Donnarumma’s contract renewal was not,” Fassone told Sportitalia.
“When we signed Bonucci from Juventus, we’d already made eight or nine buys. The strategy was to create a squad suited to 4-3-3, so we already had the defenders and really didn’t need another. What we were missing was a centre-forward, for whom we had €70m set aside.
“The choice we made in the end was to reduce the budget for the striker and sign a leader for the dressing room. With hindsight, if we had just invested in a top forward as was the plan, it would’ve gone differently.”
Milan did purchase a striker, spending €38m to take Andre Silva from FC Porto, but he proved to be a flop.
“We thought that we’d get Andre Silva and let him grow under the wing of a great centre-forward, but never managed to close the deal.
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a target, as (director of sport) Mirabelli was always a fan. However, it’s complicated to deal with German clubs. The demands were higher than his real value on the market.”
Arsenal eventually signed Aubameyang – a former Milan youth academy player – from Borussia Dortmund for €64m.
There was very nearly another remarkable purchase from the Rossoneri during that summer, as Mirabelli already hinted at in other interviews.
“We were a long way off Alvaro Morata,” continued Fassone. “The President wanted Cristiano Ronaldo, but the figures told us this was inadvisable. Ronaldo was open to evaluating the opportunity, as Milan are a famous club and there was enthusiasm around us.
“However, we never went beyond some internal calculations and seeing if he was potentially open to it.”
Fassone defended his other decisions, such as investing heavily in a new contract for teenage goalkeeper Donnarumma.
“I never received offers for Donnarumma. His contract was running down, I had very little leverage to negotiate with and had to renew so we could make a profit by selling in future.”
The current Milan is run by Elliott Management via Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban, with Marco Giampaolo as their new Coach.
“They are starting from scratch yet again, practically. It’s difficult to get results in those circumstances. I hope Milan can return to being competitive as soon as possible, but this will be a transitional year and the club must have the courage to continue with Giampaolo and these directors.”