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“We Must Remember That The Club Comes Before The Team, And The Team Before The Players”

Written By Onyeka Daniel

Over the weekend, Italian giants, AC Milan sealed their position in second place on the Serie A table following their 5-1 win over Cagliari, and while it can be seen as some sort of achievement, overall, it has been a disappointing season for the club, at least according to the fans of the club who protested before the kickoff of the match.

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But according to a club legend, Arrigo Sacchi, he stated his belief that the protests from Milan’s Curva Sud during the recent games against Genoa and Cagliari were ‘exaggerative’. The protests from the Milan ultras continued on Saturday night during the win against Cagliari as they remained silent and did not show any of the usual flags or banners.

They had done the same against Genoa decided to repeat it six days on, wanting to reiterate their stance that clarity and ambition must come from the management. Another statement was published by the Curva as part of a fanzine that was distributed ahead of the game and they spoke of their silence being ‘a desperate cry of love’. What that translated into, once again, was a rather eerie atmosphere.


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Sacchi spoke during his usual weekly interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport about Milan’s season finale and also the protests from the fans. Did you expect a season finale like this? “No. I have to admit that, as civil as it was and this is an aspect that should be underlined, the fans’ protest surprised me.” What struck you most?

“I understand that the fans directed it at the ownership, to the club. In this way, however, the effect has had repercussions on Pioli and the team. They will finish the season in second place, not in mid-table.“ Could they have done better? “Yes, definitely. This season’s Milan was a profoundly renewed team, the coach needed to assemble the players who arrived from the transfer market and create a collective.

“The result was not always excellent, but Milan still played well good matches and got, I repeat, second.” The fans protest against the club. They demand it to be strong and successful, we read on a banner… “The current ownership arrived recently, this was RedBird’s second season with the Rossoneri. Milan today are a virtuous club from an economic point of view, with its accounts in order and this must be recognised.

“The previous ownership, then, operating in the same direction as the one that took over, it managed to give the fans a Scudetto that had been awaited for 11 years. “We are talking about a success that came by overcoming teams that had spent more, and in Italy there are at least two or three of them they have always been very important but also demanding, they expect to see the team play well and give everything, but in the history of a club there are also moments…”

What moment is this? “It’s a phase in which there is a team, Inter, better equipped to win. Milan in recent years won a Scudetto after a wonderful head-to-head with the Nerazzurri, then Napoli and Inter won. I understand that the fact of having lost so many derbies has made the Milan fans suffer, but in the past Inter have also suffered. “I remember that once, after a derby won by my Milan, the lawyer Prisco came to me and said:

‘If it had been a boxing match I would have thrown in the towel. We lost but without conceding too many goals. And it went well for us, because we didn’t get past the halfway line!’. “Milan must demonstrate once again their great sporting culture and their love for the club, without being blinded by Inter’s latest successes. We must remember that the club comes before the team, and the team before the players.”

Milan are second, but 18 points behind Inter. Some mistakes were made… “As I have repeated several times, signing so many foreigners in the last transfer market was a risk, and if Pioli had chosen, the responsibilities would also be his, but I don’t know. Let’s not forget that the decision to close with Maldini and Massara was also it was a move that appears questionable.

“Now much, if not everything, will depend on the choice of the new coach.” Which for you should be an Italian? “If we’re talking about a young man I say De Zerbi, in terms of experience I suggest Sarri. But something else will count more than the profile.” Which is? “May Milan decide with conviction and defend their choice. With strength. The same as Berlusconi had with me.”

What do you advise the fans? “To have patience. To trust the club and support Milan as it always has. You play and win with the collective, and the same goes for the fans: you have to be united with the club.” In two weekends Milan will play their last match of this season, against Salernitana, and they will do it at San Siro. What climate are you expecting?

“A stadium once again alongside the club. Chants, flags and the public cheering, everything, at Milan’s goal. It will also be Pioli’s last match on the Rossoneri bench, I hope that the fans greet him with respect and gratitude. In recent years he has done an excellent job, he brought the Scudetto back to Milan’s shirts and led the team to the Champions League semi-finals. He deserves only applause.” He further added.

Meanwhile…

The club’s main summer signing will be a new centre-forward, but the management are also planning to plug other gaps in the squad and they have a couple of targets lined up, according to a report from Gazzetta. Olivier Giroud will move to Los Angeles FC at the end of the season and thus they club want to invest in a new centre-forward.

Benjamin Sesko is now the main target and talks have started, but Milan will also make additions in defence and midfield. Milan are looking at signing a new right-back to come in and challenge Davide Calabria for the starting spot and the number one target is Emerson Royal of Spurs, who is valued at around €30m. The price Is an obstacle.

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He is no longer a key player for Tottenham and in the summer, with the mercato underway, the valuation could drop and facilitate negotiations with other clubs. Emerson, or whoever instead of him, would arrive to bolster the right side of the defence and as mentioned would join Calabria, who appears set to stay even if there are rumours of difficulties regarding his renewal.

Over on the left side everything is influenced by Theo Hernandez’s future. If there are problems with his renewal and if Bayern Munich come forward with a suitable proposal, Milan could listen. In midfield, Milan have outlined the profile of the ideal reinforcement: a physical midfielder to be placed to protect the defence (Ismael Bennacer may leave).

Now it’s a matter of finding a player with the right technique and who falls within the parameters also in terms of spending and wages. The first target on the list Is Youssouf Fofana, who plays for Monaco. The 25-year-old has a valuation that exceeds €25m, and Milan will have to understand what percentage of the budget they can, and will, allocate to the department.

Fofana seems like an upgrade, he has been at Monaco for years, this year amassing three goals and four assists. In recent months he has also become a starter in the French national team with three goals in 17 appearances. The European Championship is an opportunity for him to put himself in the shop window and many other clubs could come forward. The same goes for Sesko, which is why Milan are in a hurry.

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