GdS: From De Zerbi to Gallardo – Milan’s six-man list of Lopetegui alternatives

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have pulled back on their plans to hire Julen Lopetegui as the new head coach, with three candidates now re-entering the frame as alternative options.

This morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) has a two-page spread dedicated to Milan’s pursuit of a new manager, and it starts with the reasons that they have slowed down their pursuit of Lopetegui.

They also talk about the alternative candidates. In the running are Paulo Fonseca of Lille, Roberto De Zerbi of Brighton and Mark van Bommel of Royal Antwerp. The former has been mentioned in the background for a week now, De Zerbi has a connection to the club while Van Bommal is ‘the outsider to keep an eye on’.

Now that the race for the Milan bench has reopened, twists cannot be ruled out. Not after what led to the Rossoneri slowing down on the main candidate, having ‘stopped a few metres from the finish line’.

Fonseca was the first alternative to Lopetegui and logically remains among the hottest names. Milan have been in contacts with his entourage for some time and he has a contract which expires in June, even if Marseille are apparently keen.

The other afternoon, after the success against Metz, he was asked about the rumours about Milan: “I’m focused on the last three games [Lille are playing for a Champions League place]. I don’t know what the future holds for me…”

Fonseca is admired because he has an international profile but he knows Serie A, a detail that is anything but secondary in Milan’s evaluations. In his two years at Roma, then, he gave playing time to young talents (Bove, Zalewski, Calafiori and others), which plays in his favour too.

For the same reasons, the name of De Zerbi – who is about to end his second season in the Premier League as coach of Brighton – could also rise in the next few hours. He intrigues for his style of play and his ability to work with young players.

His name has been linked to the top English clubs but a return to Italy, at the helm of a great team aiming to win, is a scenario that absolutely fascinates him. A detail not to be overlooked: his name seems to excite the fans more than Fonseca, given his past in the academy.

At Milan, some reflections are underway, including of an economic nature: the Brescia-born coach is protected by a €15m. If the management go for him, they will have to study a formula that brings that amount down. Brighton would want compensation, but are also willing to listen to any alternative proposals.

Van Bommel remains in the background, but his candidacy should not be underestimated. After winning the Belgian league title in his first season as coach of Antwerp, he has not repeated his success in the current one and will say goodbye in June.

At Milan he would find Ibra again, with whom he shared the first two seasons of Zlatan’s Rossoneri life and the emotions of the 2010-11 Scudetto. The Dutchman, who arrived in January of that campaign, became in just a few months the cornerstone of the midfield.

To date there are six coaches with whom Milan have already made contact (in addition to Lopetegui, Fonseca and Julen Nagelsmann, who has decided to remain Germany coach).

They range from Christophe Galtier, who coached Rafael Leao at Lille, won a Ligue 1 title with Mike Maignan also at Lille and again with PSG, to Marcelo Gallardo who won two Copa Libertadores trophies at River Plate.

Today both coach in the Middle East (the Frenchman in Qatar, the Argentine in Saudi Arabia) but they have already spoken with the Milan directors. Their candidacies lost strength while Lopetegui rose but they never waned. The same can be said for Domenico Tedesco of Belgium.

Tags AC Milan Christophe Galtier Domenico Tedesco Marcelo Gallardo Mark van Bommel Paulo Fonseca Roberto De Zerbi


  1. If not motta go for de zerbi would be very exciting to see what he could do after hopefully a good mercato with a great squad

  2. Out of all these candidates, Van Bommel is the best option, he has won as a player and a Coach, he has experience as a world-class midfield general in Barca, PSV, Milan and Bayern, where he has won a trophy in each of them, he has tasted winning the UCL as a player, he has won a recent treble in Belgium, he knows the country, the city and the Club and Mianello, he has been Coached by great Coaches, which is evident in how he conducts himself, we should just close the deal, and give him a chance…

  3. Milan DNA through and through. Yes man. Works well with the youth and took them to a cup final. Damage Control all the way. ( I wouldn’t appoint him as coach, by the way. Nor would I appoint MVB)

    Van Bommel played here for a year. ibra’s friend? OK. and then what? Great player? Sure. Tactician? eeeeeeeehhhh….

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