Gazidis discusses Milan’s youth project, the club’s economic growth and the ‘high expectations’

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis has explained the project that the club are trying to carry out and once again stressed how important a new stadium is.

The former Arsenal chief was recently diagnosed with throat cancer and is in America undergoing treatment – with the hope that he will make a full recovery as soon as possible – but in the meantime he is very much remaining hands on with Milan and the daily tasks he must complete.

Gazidis gave a long interview to Sette – a weekly magazine of the Corriere della Sera paper – in which he spoke about a number of different topics starting with Milan’s youth project.

“My experience begins in the US, there the success of MLS depends precisely on training young American players. In Premier we completely renewed the development path of English players, clubs were given incentives to develop academies but you had to meet a lot of standards,” he began (via MilanNews).

“At Arsenal a lot of money was invested in a program from 9 to 16 years: we chose one totally international staff. The players who were 12 years old at the time are now the internationals Saka, Sancho… English players in the team, but the obligation to respect certain standards, so the English players had to live up to it.

“No one can think today of winning only with champions the already established. I think that Italian football is a bit conservative, like the English one 10 years ago, it has to look not only ahead but also outside, there are interesting ideas around. But something is changing, the national team proves it.”

Stefano Pioli has been given a lot of credit for the work that he has carried out since arriving part way through the 2019-20 season. The Rossoneri were loitering in mid-table when he arrived and he got the team up to sixth, while last season he built on that and a second-placed finish arrived, the team’s highest since 2011-12.

“I give a lot of credit to the leadership of Pioli, a curious man, who follows how football evolves, but also to the hunger of the players,” Gazidis added.

“Football is also a mental game. I read a very interesting book, The captain class, about tug-of-war: there are studies, when one person pulls against another he develops a certain strength, when there are eight people on one side and eight on the other we discover that the individual takes less. Because in a corner of the brain he thinks that someone else will take on his responsibility.

“There are players whose influence goes beyond the performance on the field, it develops in the 5% who give more to all others. That’s Ibra. But Kjaer is also a leader and, with different styles, Kessie and Bennacer.”

Regarding the expectations and objectives of the Rossoneri, Gazidis then declared: “We like high expectations! You can finish first or fifth but what matters is to show that you can have confidence in the club.

“We were among the few in the world in the conditions of being able to invest this summer, AC Milan is growing from an economic point of view and people are returning to be proud of being AC Milan fans. What matters is to build this sense of belonging, otherwise it’s just a matter of watching millionaires kicking a ball.”

Finally, the theme of the new stadium that Milan wants to build with Inter was also discussed.

“We are ready. The sooner we do it, the sooner Milan will have not only one stadium worldwide, but two teams worldwide. It will also be important for the city: people will come to Milan and it will be one of the places they will want to visit, such as the Duomo.”

READ MORE: Trying new solutions and an injection of quality – Tactical analysis of Milan’s win over Venezia

Tags AC Milan Ivan Gazidis

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