Chief Executive Officer Ivan Gazidis believes that AC Milan must be ‘much more efficient’ in how they use their available budget in order to return to the top.
Since Gazidis’ arrival, the club have shifted more towards a youth-led recruitment strategy based around signing young players with high potential that could form the future backbone of the team and improve the accounts at the same time.
There have been mixed results so far, but the results since the resumption of Serie A last season suggest the plans could be beginning to bear fruit, also thanks to the coaching of Stefano Pioli and the impact of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has become an exception to the rule along with Simon Kjaer.
Gazidis gave a long interview with The Athletic in an article which documents Milan’s meticulous way of going about getting back among Europe’s elite.
“We’ve seen that with Liverpool,” Gazidis says. “They went through a very long and challenging period but the connection with the club remained there ready to be brought back.
“Stripping away the emotions, anybody that looks at Milan and Italian football can see the challenges. But what I have found is surprises in terms of the opportunities. We know the roadmap. We’re not Steve Jobs inventing a new product.
“The financial position was such that we ultimately had to accept a ban on European competition. All the money we were losing was primarily driven by player salaries and transfer fees which were very high and not reflected in team performance.
“This is the big challenge on the football side. We need to be much more efficient in how we use the money we have and we need to improve team performance.
“Our strategy has to be based first of all on progressive football. It has to be football which is modern. I did not want our player identification to be reactive and led by agents. This had to be a proactive strategy.
“I wanted to have the right kind of support and collaboration for our directors and that meant having a world-class scouting operation, particularly focused on young players because that was going to be the heart of our strategy. It also meant having a world-class analytical operation which is increasingly and extremely important.
“All of these things; the clear vision, the clear strategy, the clear philosophy backed by strong processes give us confidence in the decisions we make collaboratively and collectively with Paolo Maldini as the reference point.”
Gazidis also touched on the signing of Theo Hernandez from Real Madrid last summer, a player who has become a big success.
“To sit Paolo down next to Theo with the benefits of strong scouting and somebody he trusts in Geoffrey Moncada, the benefit of strong analytics and somebody who knows the function of sporting director in the Italian market intricately like Ricky Massara, the benefit of a chief executive who also knows football and has 26 years of experience not just the financial direction, but also the strategic direction we have to go in,” he said.
“Once we are aligned, once all these elements are aligned, and we get these green lights, there is nobody like Paolo Maldini when he believes something to convince a player to come to Milan and to grow his career in football at this great club. And behind all of that you’ve still got the power of the Milan name, which still means something in football.”
The former Arsenal CEO looked back at the exit of Zvonimir Boban, who was dismissed last year after an unauthorised interview regarding the prospective hiring of Ralf Rangnick.
“This type of change in thinking and methodology is not easy,. It involves some learning on both sides,” Gazidis begins.
“It involves some dislocation and some disruption but in the end, when we look at the results of this we begin to see what I was saying back in December 2018, which is a Milan that’s now one of the youngest in Serie A with some really exciting young talents who perhaps are not at the peak of their power yet. But I think Milan fans are intelligent enough to see that there is a football project being built here with a very clear direction.
“This narrative of an internal battle. It’s just not the way I see things. There is only Milan. Milan is above everybody. It’s above every kind of internal interest. The success of Milan is the outcome. There’s no fight about that. The results are better when we have debates.
“When we have disagreements we bring different skills and different perspectives to the table because we have all of these challenges. We’ve got the financial challenges. We’ve got the challenges of progressing on the football side. What have the results been? The results have been very interesting.”