Despite not even being a part of the club, Ralf Rangnick is the man whom the most headlines are written about regarding AC Milan at the moment.
Multiple outlets have reported that the German will take over from both Stefano Pioli and Ricky Massara, ensuing a role unprecedented in Italian football as a head coach and sporting director in one.
Currently, Rangnick holds the role as the Head of Football for Red Bull’s vast sporting empire, meaning he controls the recruitment of two surging European giants in RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg.
There were whispers in the press before, but everything seemed to come to a head when Zvonimir Boban spoke in an interview with Il Giornale, during which he claimed that an agreement had been reached between Rangnick and Milan some time ago.
“You made a deal with Rangnick in December,” the Croatian said, a statement that – among others – would see him sacked.
1. The first denial
Rangnick responded to Boban’s statement in a defiant way during an interview with Sport1 on March 8.
“This is definitely not true,” the 61-year-old said.
Not much to go on here really. The cynic would say that he is denying the presence of an agreement that was signed in December, rather than altogether ruling out the possibility of a move to Milan.
It is also possible at that point that there was no formal signed document relating to a contract between the two parties, so Rangnick would be right to deny, so as to respect his current role at Red Bull which is a very important one.
2. The second denial
Back on April 10, Rangnick addressed the rumours himself during an interview with MDR, denying that a move is imminent.
“Agreement with Milan? I categorically deny this statement. There is nothing true, it is information that has nothing to do with the reality of the facts,” he said.
Rangnick was asked once again about whether an agreement was signed in December, and he produced an equally coy response, with slightly more to go at.
Once again the denial is there, but it could be more firmly construed this time that it is in reference to anything being locked down in December.
The final part – “information that has nothing to do with the reality of the facts” – is interesting, it implies that there are other facts, such as the idea that he might still be in discussions over a move to Milan, or even that there was a verbal agreement, or a written agreement signed at a time that wasn’t December.
3. The most interesting response yet
And finally we come to May 3, when Rangnick spoke to Mitteldeutsche Zeitung about the possibility of a new adventure on Italy.
“There has been an interest from Milan, but with Coronavirus there have been other things to consider, besides thinking if Ralf Rangnick was the right man for them or vice versa,” he said.
The Red Bull chief even explained what he expects from his future role.
“It always depends on the club, but I’m not interested in the financial aspects. For me it’s about having a certain influence, which has nothing to do with power, even if in certain situations you need it to carry out certain things.
“I remember the first days in Leipzig: there were no physiotherapists, the doctors gone, no coaches. And the season should have started in two weeks. Quick decisions are needed, first I hired Alex Zorniger, then I went to Leipzig and hired two new physiotherapists and two new doctors. In five hours. Alexander Sekora recommended the others to me.
“If I had to think theoretically about going somewhere else, I should be able to do things this way.”
Finally Rangnick admits that there was interest from the Rossoneri, and he even implies that there have been talks which were interrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
To us, this seems like a ploy to try and use the current crisis to divert away from the matter of hand. He doesn’t say in any way that the talks were unsuccessful, nor does he rule out a move to the San Siro, instead implying that discussions have continued throughout as the suitability of his candidacy has been assessed.
In addition, he then goes on to highlight the kind of role he might like, and it seems to be a message to Milan. He isn’t worried about the money side of things, but instead wants autonomy over the staff he brings in and the style that he implements.
That sounds like exactly the kind of figure Elliott Management want: someone who is happy to buy young talent at a cheaper price and develop them using a philosophy that will generate results. He’s basically saying, “Elliott, I’m your man.”
Now, we wait and see. But the interviews from Rangnick have been almost exactly one month apart each time, beginning with barely anything being said to now outlining his role and admitting interest from the club.
Maybe the Italian press have got it right and this is a relationship which will be embarked upon once the current global emergency is over. Or perhaps reflections are still being made and everything is up in the air. Even still, the current trend of things becoming more and more concrete cannot be ignored.