Capello identifies Milan’s problems and the players required to fix them

By Oliver Fisher -

Fabio Capello believes that AC Milan need three quality signings in the summer to try and close the gap with Inter, highlighting the issues that would be fixed in the process.

Milan looked to have found a launching point with the league title win in 2021-22, but since then they have had two seasons without a trophy and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the direction of the club.

Moreover, the last few days have been a nightmare for Milan fans. After being knocked out of the Europa League by a Roma side who are 14 points behind in the table, Monday’s derby defeat gave the second star to Inter.

After 33 days, the Rossoneri were 22 points behind the eventual champions Napoli last season while today Inter are 17 points away, showing that the squad just have not been able to compete domestically after that Scudetto win.

Capello did an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport in which he identified some of the problems that Milan are currently battling, and how they should be fixed.

Let’s start from the ‘knot to untie’, as you put it…

“In the second part of the season, Milan lacked the contribution of some fundamental players, from Maignan to Hernandez, from Tomori to Leao. Well, if they are the pillars on which the club wants to build the Milan of the future, think about what to do and how to do it becomes difficult.

“I believe that the managemenet must first understand whether these big names still want to give to Milan, or whether they prefer to leave. In the first hypothesis, we should intervene, but without upsetting.”

In which areas of the field?

“Three signings are needed: a central defender, a midfielder and obviously a centre-forward.”

Let’s start with the defence. Tomori no longer seems like the player who won the Scudetto, Thiaw has experienced several bad games, Kalulu has lost his rhythm, between injuries and setbacks. Is the defence missing a leader?

“I have always maintained that the strength of a defence is closely linked to the filter that those in front form. In Milan’s Scudetto Kalulu and Tomori formed a formidable pairing also thanks to the work of Kessie, Tonali, Bennacer.

“This year I have I’ve seen too little… and the team has suffered a lot. Let’s look at who won the Scudetto: Inter’s midfield is clearly the strongest in the whole of Serie A, that’s how they dominated the league.”

What type of profile is needed in midfield?

“Personality, intelligence. Physicality helps but it’s not enough, Milan needs a midfielder who knows how to stay on the pitch and read all the moments of a match, especially when the others have the ball.”

There is no shortage of candidates for post-Giroud. Who is your pick?

“If Milan are looking for brilliance, they must go to Zirkzee. He has quality, is physically strong and knows Serie A. He wouldn’t need to settle in.”

Looking at Ibra and Giroud, the last No.9s who made Milan’s fortune were over 35…

“We need ready players, in attack as in the other departments. Which does not mean that we should focus on profiles whose age is not compatible with Milan’s philosophy: there are ready youngsters, Thuram is an example of this.”

Leao will turn 25 in June. Will he become a top player?

“He has enormous potential, but you never know what game he will play. And this gives you doubts: it seems impossible to me that a player with those qualities doesn’t have the anger, the competitive spirit that is expected of him. Look at Bellingham at Real. His impact was shocking. Having said that, if Leao and Theo stop, 60% of the team will be missing.”

From the transfer market to coaching decisions, RedBird’s Milan relies on collegiality. But who is really in charge?

“Good question… I would like to know too.”

However, everyone seems to agree on Pioli’s fate…

“Many, many factors weigh in when evaluating the future of a coach, from the objectives achieved to participation in the transfer market. I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the managers. In any case, the fans must be grateful towards Pioli: he deservedly won an unexpected title and led Milan to the semi-finals of the Champions League.”

If, as now seems established, we turn the page, do you expect an incisive Ibrahimovic from this point of view?

“Of course, from July he will be the construction manager. This season he entered the club into the running, in the next one he will put his name on it. There are no excuses.”

How do you think he will move?

“I know Zlatan, I don’t see him pushing for a certain name just to please the fans. He is intelligent, competent and very attentive: he will evaluate carefully, perhaps taking advice from trusted people.”

In a year will Milan fight for the Scudetto?

“I hope so. For Milan and for the show: for two years Serie A has lasted half a season, until only one team goes on the run and wins without rivals. It is not possible that the race for the Champions League becomes the most interesting of the championship from February onwards.”

Tags AC Milan Fabio Capello


  1. This Milan squad is incomplete but has a lot of quality.
    But, as Capello says, if your so called best players play like Theo, Maignan and Leao played this season ( Tomori gets a pass because he was injured), than Milan will struggle next season too.
    How would inter look if Lautaro, Barella and Hakan play like Milan 3 top players played? They will look just like Milan looks.
    But, fans were too busy criticizing the new signings instead of looking at the real problems.
    Based on everything, the new signings performed well this season, even those that played very little.
    The coach, the injuries and the best players being flops were the main reasons why Milan failed this season.

    1. Just for my understanding, you say that the top 3 in our team failed, but that it’s the coach failure, even though other players and new signings performed? So if Lautaro, Barrella and Hakan didn’t play well and Inter was flopping, that would mean that Inzaghi is at fault?

      Have you considered that maybe all three are being put on the market this year and they didn’t give 100% in training and on the field because they have lined up buyers and don’t want to get injured.

      For all the injuries that we’ve had this year, Theo, Maignan and to a lesser degree Leao were among the least affected.

    2. this is it…this is just it..
      @Z this is the long and short of the whole matter concerning Milans lacklustre season…100% for u mate

  2. Capello and Sacchi have been consistent in their analysis over the season and have been proven right. Pioli made his fair share of blunders recently but I’m of the opinion that the transfer strategy, or lack thereof, threw the team into chaos. Second place or not, Serie A (with more or less the same gap in points) and the Champions League were over for us by mid-season. Add in a Europa League exit, over 100 million spent, and the fact that no one from the management is taking responsibility. It’s very sad to see this after the progress we made with the previous management. I hope for a better season next year but there’s a huge gap to bridge.

    1. For all the crap that the prior management gets for CDK and Origi, the amount of money that all the bought players generate is much higher than the amount of money that was spent and the salaries were very contained.

      This is the real test that the new management also needs to pass. We’ll call them successful if in 3 years, they have signed three top players … players whose evaluation is hovering around the 90-100 mill price tag.

  3. Sorry for Cardinale, it’s best for him to sell..,,A passionate president with 500million Euro to invest .,. Will send Milan where they belong!

  4. “In Milan’s Scudetto Kalulu and Tomori formed a formidable pairing also thanks to the work of Kessie, Tonali, Bennacer”

    Already said it since the beginning of LAST season. Sadly the man in charge didn’t see it that way. This season he clearly said he didn’t have such midfield character because he CHOSE not to.

      1. It is said that Milan lacks a defensive barrier…

        “I like the characteristics of Adli and Reijnders, who are not breakwaters but have other characteristics. They have excellent positions without the ball, they complement each other well. At the moment we don’t have a breakwater because we don’t we want it.”

        And this is from the beginning of the season, of course, before his 433 prodigy genius went fiasco

        “As for central midfielders, I want players with different characteristics who can complement each other: one who could perhaps make runs, one who can be a playmaker, one who can do a few skills, one who moves around. It’s a system, it’s a system that will always move around and I want a fluid midfield”

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