Milan confirmed they will not hire Ralf Rangnick and are extending Stefano Pioli’s contract to 2022. 'This is not a decision based on recent victories, but one based on how Stefano has built team spirit and unity of purpose.'
“AC Milan announce that an agreement has been reached with Stefano Pioli for a two-year extension of his contract as coach of the first team, which will therefore now expire in June 2022.”
CEO Ivan Gazidis noted in the full statement that he is “delighted with this agreement. Stefano has shown he can deliver the vision of football we have for our club – exciting, progressive and passionate.
“This is not a decision based on recent victories, but one based on how Stefano has built team spirit and unity of purpose, the way he has improved the performances of the individual players and the collective team.
“The way he has embraced our vision and the way he has represented himself and the club’s values.”
Pioli evidently also knew this was coming, but kept it under his hat ahead of this evening’s 2-1 win away to Sassuolo.
"I am happy and proud of the trust I have received from AC Milan. I want to thank everyone, including our fans, who we are really missing at the stadium, but are always close and supportive.
“As I have said many times, our future is today: we must be focused and determined, be united and play as one. We are at the beginning of an extraordinary path. If we keep working this way, we will grow and be more and more competitive.”
The Rossoneri made the statement following this evening's 2-1 victory away to Sassuolo.
The negotiations had been dragging on since at least November, as confirmed by former director Zvonimir Boban, who was then fired for publicly protesting the talks with CEO Ivan Gazidis.
Over the last few days, it had seemed as if the deal was done, with only the issue of buying Rangnick out of his contract with Red Bull remaining.
The 62-year-old is the head of sport and development over their various global football franchises.
He has not been a coach since one season at RB Leipzig in 2018-19, where he was also sporting director.
Rangnick wanted a similar role of total control at San Siro, something unheard of in Italian football.
According to MilanNews.it, the reason for the breakdown in talks was the suggestion Rangnick only be the director of sport and leave Pioli as coach, something neither man would be happy with.
This also implies current directors Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara will also remain in their current roles.
“Stefano stepped up to become Head Coach at a very difficult time,” said director of sport Maldini as part of the statement.
“We have always said it would take some time to see the results of his job and we have seen the evidence that quality and professionalism always pay off. Stefano is the right man to lead the team that we want: successful, young and hungry.”
It’s vindication for Pioli, who took over after Marco Giampaolo was fired in early October and has hit splendid form since the lockdown, winning seven and drawing two.
Multiple players, including Hakan Calhanoglu and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, publicly urged Milan to back Pioli for next season.
According to the Corriere della Sera, Pioli’s contract had a clause meaning it would be cancelled at the end of this term if he didn’t secure Champions League qualification.
If he did finish in the top four, it would’ve run to June 2021.