The dust has just about begun to settle after the news broke over the last 48 hours that AC Milan have sacked Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara.
This morning’s edition of Corriere dello Sport (via PianetaMilan) has done a deep-dive into Maldini’s sacking, starting by confirming that the responsibilities shared by him and Massara will now pass into the hands of an ‘integrated working group’ which will have to refer to CEO Giorgio Furlani.
Maldini’s exit ‘was a classic Italian divorce’ as per the paper, meaning it happened without a discussion, exchange of ideas or a conversation about future plans and the actual reasons for the end of the relationship.
In the end, AC Milan owner Cardinale seemed to be swayed very little by Maldini’s glorious past with the club and he was not happy with the season and the transfer business that followed after giving him full autonomy as part of his renewal.
There were three results recorded on the books of RedBird: the Champions League semi-final, essentially being fifth place in Serie A for points amassed but for Juve’s penalty, and the €50m invested without any benefit for Stefano Pioli’s squad except for Malick Thiaw.
That means Maldini failed in two of three areas, and the disagreements between the ex-captain and Cardinale date back before yesterday.
As soon as he landed in Milan the American businessman found himself at a crossroads. On the one hand, he saw the Scudetto win against all odds, but on the other hand Maldini sometimes went against the grain with his media comments and was demanding full power, which is far away from how he usually operates.
Cardinale gave that autonomy only to safeguard the positive atmosphere and he also gave him a pay rise too, but what tipped things over the edge was the interview given by Maldini after the elimination in the semi-finals of the Champions League by Inter.
He asked for investment to avoid falling behind, which also goes against RedBird’s plan for sustainable growth and their conviction that data use can be useful for acquiring players.
In addition, Maldini explained that ‘it would have been easy to sign Paulo Dybala’, a negotiation undertaken by Furlani and then interrupted precisely so as not to break the truce with the technical area. In place of the Argentine, Maldini brought in Charles De Ketelaere and paid €35m, but he has been a flop.
Another disagreement between Maldini and the owners of Milan took place regarding the fate of head coach Stefano Pioli. In the hours following the 2-0 defeat away at Spezia, which seemed to write off top four hopes, there was a bitter confrontation between manager and coach.
It was a clash in which the possible sacking of Pioli at the end of the season in the event of not obtaining a Champions League place was put forward by Maldini, but the owners made it clear that Pioli is untouchable.
Maldini was suffering from criticism of his transfer market and at one point he even asked the club to be able to hire a personal spokesperson to handle relations with the media, which was met with a ‘If he insists, he’ll pay for it’ response.
That’s why, according to the newspaper, Maldini gave some non-footballing interviews during which he told the background on the work done at Milanello. Friends like Christian Vieri and former associates came to his aid.
Not surprisingly, it was Leonardo who improvised as Maldini’s spokesman on Monday evening to circulate the real progress of the meeting with the Cardinale. The rest is known history, with Maldini not even showing up yesterday at Casa Milan.