AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis has confirmed his intention to remain at the club beyond the expiry of his contract later this year and also addressed the sale rumours.
The Scudetto is in many ways the perfect reward for what has been a rewarding and progressive journey over the last couple of seasons, from that brilliant post-lockdown run to dropped points, injury crises and refereeing errors. In the end Milan stand above all and can call themselves the best in the country again.
Gazidis spoke in a lengthy interview with The Guardian about a number of different topics from the recent title win to what the club’s plans are for the future and also the speculation that Elliott Management could soon sell, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
On the Scudetto victory: “It took some time to achieve. You are immediately prey to euphoria and joy, but then you realise that this is a monumental result not only for what we have done, but also how we did it, which is very different.
“Already at the beginning of the season we believed we had created something special, based on a clear idea of building a new Milan around a very young team. I think they are the youngest team in modern history to win the Scudetto and one of the youngest in Europe. There is also a unity of purpose within the club and with the fans.”
On his arrival at Milan: “It wasn’t the relationship with Gordon that convinced me. I liked the idea of doing something stimulating in a new environment, also learning Italian personally and a different football culture. And there was the romantic idea of being able to bring Milan back into vogue. People said it was impossible.”
On the initial criticisms: “When I arrived in Milan, they called me ‘South African’, which was like saying ‘he doesn’t know anything about football’. I think the feeling was: ‘Here is a boy who knows nothing about football, who still doesn’t speak Italian, representing a New York hedge fund’.”
On the Milan project: “Our new vision was to find players who weren’t big names. We signed players from relegated teams. We signed players who had been abandoned or who had no development path. We identified them using modern analysis. and modern scouting methods.”
On Paolo Maldini: “He imbued the players with Milan’s values. This combination made the project a winner, as did the fact that we had the courage of our convictions at every step.”
On the skepticism which has now vanished: “It was said: ‘You cannot build a young team like this in Italy’. The expression they use is ‘the shirt is heavy’. It means that this is Milan and that we play at San Siro with many expectations on our shoulders. How can a young person do such a thing? We did almost everything in a way that we were told was impossible in Italy.”
On the Super League project: “The real Super League is the Premier League, which has a global audience and is moving away from other European leagues. If we do nothing, that will be the future of football. I lived in that bubble and the Premier League did a fantastic job. But the Super League proposal was seen very differently in Italy than in England.
“Our difficult choice at Milan was simply to participate in the Super League or not. We had to make a responsible choice for the club. Milan weren’t driving this train. At Arsenal I strongly opposed the Super League and blocked it, because the Premier League is completely on the rise.”
After Investcorp’s period of exclusivity with Elliott Management came to an end, RedBird Capital swooped in and are now close to buying the club. As per Sky Italia, the deal is worth €1.3bn and it’s for 70% of the club.
On Elliott’s future at Milan and negotiations for the sale: “They are talking. They did not try to sell, but they came to them. There are two groups who love and believe in the way modern Milan was built. So, both that Elliott remains, whether one of these groups takes over, the project will have continuity.”
On his future: “I will definitely stay in the near future. I feel a real sense of belonging and I am deeply grateful.”
On Milan’s ambitions: “We want to get back to being competitive at the Champions League level. We are still growing because our young players had never played in the Champions League before last season. We aim to improve every year. In this season we never talked [publicly] about winning the Scudetto, but it was our internal goal. We knew that the dream would come true only with hard work.”