Unveiling, raduno, USA and the mercato: How Fonseca’s first 10 weeks at Milan will look

By Oliver Fisher -

While it is now common knowledge that Paulo Fonseca will become the next head coach of AC Milan, there is an overwhelming feeling of mystery surrounding how the start to his era will actually look.

The last few weeks have been quite draining from the point of view of being a Milan fan, with all the speculation surrounding Stefano Pioli’s future and then the countless rumours about who will replace him.

However, it seems the management are now set on Fonseca after an extensive evaluation process, as multiple sources are claiming that he is the chosen one.

They are handing over the keys of the project to an intriguing coach, though there seems to be nothing firmly fixed regarding when that handover takes place.

All we know is that the Portuguese should land in the next 7-10 days to begin his next adventure, but how will his first few weeks look? We have mapped it out, based on what we know.

Arrival in Italy

Fabrizio Romano is among the sources to report that Fonseca is expected to sign a two-year deal with the Rossoneri, and his salary will be €2.5m net per season.

Additionally, Milan will have the option of another year on his contract, and this would come with a salary bump. In other words, the reward for results will be an extension and a pay rise.

Given Pioli earned around €4m per season it is quite a surprising figure and it is imagined that even if Milan take the extension on the Lille coach’s contract, it will still not be at the level of what his predecessor got.

According to what we know, Fonseca is currently in Portugal with his family having a break after the season that has just finished, one that ended in quite stressful circumstances as Lille threw away the chance to secure direct Champions League qualification.

He has no doubts though, and thus the 51-year-old should sign his contract in the next 10 days, the final step that precedes the official announcement and his first press conference in which the reasons for the choices on both sides will be explained.

A spot of shopping

Then, it will be time to get to work on reinforcing the squad from mid-June onwards, because failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Talks with the management are continuous and plans are being drawn up for the future.

The plans of the management and the coach are symbiotic from the off, and they agree that the club will not – or rather have no need to – go on a crazy spending spree. However, they will invest, starting with a striker who can inherit the No.9 shirt.

In his career, Fonseca has often had centre-forwards who scored over 15 goals in the league, showing they are an integral part of the system that he builds. Thus, he is likely to be heavily involved in the discussions that are no doubt currently ongoing.

The idea is to sign a right-back, a central defender and a defensive midfielder in addition to the centre-forward, all players that would be useful for his possession-based style, which is usually a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 system.

If a squad is a jigsaw and there are obvious pieces missing in the picture, it is never the case that all remaining gaps are filled at once. Rather, work will continue into July and August to complete the team, seizing opportunities that might arise.

The ‘Raduno’

For those unfamiliar with the ‘Raduno’, it is basically the Italian term for the first official day of preseason training, which usually also features an appearance from the Curva Sud.

When the summer vacations come to an end, it is custom for players to arrive at Milanello on a Monday lunchtime, then the head coach normally does a press conference in the early afternoon.

The players generally have lunch together with the coaching staff and then after the coach’s presser, they will head out onto the pitch for a training session in the evening, including the annual intra-squad friendly featuring some of the Primavera.

There are a couple of unknowns at the moment regarding Fonseca’s official first day. Firstly the date, which is expected to be in the first week of July, so logic suggests July 1 or potentially July 8 if it were to be a Monday.

The other question mark is whether the manager will speak to the media, given that he will have already done so in an unveiling press conference after his official unveiling.

An incomplete squad

However, Fonseca will not have everyone available from day on at Milanello and it is because of the fact there are some major tournaments happening this summer on an international level.

The main event is the 2024 European Championship in Germany which will begin on 14 June and finish one month later on 14 July, with a few Milan players fancied to go far.

That includes Fonseca’s compatriot Rafael Leao, who will be present with Portugal and the date on which he will be available again for the Rossoneri is obviously still to be defined.

The same goes for Theo Hernandez and Mike Maignan (France), for Tijjani Reijnders (Netherlands) and Luka Jovic (Serbia), with the added caveat that France are probably the pre-tournament favourites.

Meanwhile, the 2024 Copa America will take place in the United States and will run from 20 June to 14 July, meaning it has the same final date as the Euros.

Yunus Musah and Christian Pulisic will take part in that for the hosts. As an added aside, Ismael Bennacer is currently away Algeria who will face Guinea and Uganda in World Cup qualifies over the next few days.

How far the respective national teams will then dictate the timing of the return to Milanello for each player and consequently the day that they will be able to shake hands with the new coach for the first time.

A rest period of a few days will probably be given to those involved too, given the tournaments come straight after a busy period. Thus, Fonseca still doesn’t know – also due to the mercato – when he will be able to have the entire group available.

A trip to the States

In the second part of July, Milan will head back to the United States to take part in the 2024 Soccer Champions Tour alongside some other top European clubs.

Give clubs will take part in the tour: AC Milan, FC Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid CF. They will play games in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Orlando, Baltimore, and Charlotte.

Milan are back in the USA a second consecutive year for a pre-season tour, following their games against Real Madrid and Juventus in Los Angeles and FC Barcelona in Las Vegas last summer.

The games that they will play in this edition of the competition are as follows:

➤ Saturday, 27 July 2024 – vs. Manchester City in New York City, NY
➤ Wednesday, 31 July 2024 – vs Real Madrid CF in Chicago, IL
➤ Tuesday, 6 August 2024 – vs FC Barcelona in Baltimore, MD

Looking at the dates of the first and last games out in the United States, it can be hypothesised that the squad will leave Milanello some time in the three or four days before 27 July, and will return immediately after that game on 6 August, potentially the next day.

The real test begins

The reason for such a hasty exit from Maryland is because there will not be a lot of time before the new campaign officially gets underway.

It has been confirmed that the 2024-25 Serie A season will begin on the weekend of August 17-18 and that three rounds will be played on August 24-25 and August 31-September 1 before the first international break of the season.

Then there is the new Champions League format to consider, for which the fixture list will not be confirmed until August 30. We have explained all the changes to the current formula, in case you were unaware of the alterations.

As a result of the UCL calendar not being established until the penultimate day of August, the precise kick-off times and dates for Serie A Round 4 won’t be drawn up until that is completed.

To conclude, what we know is that from the presumed point of his arrival, Fonseca will sign his contract with Milan and introduce himself to the media before the end of this month.

Early next month he will meet the squad, welcome back players from international duty and begin to integrate any new signings, then lead a tour of the United States that goes into August.

Upon landing back the fun and games of Serie A begins a week later, and there will be three games before the end of the month. A fairly quiet start to a hopefully successful tenure, then.

Tags AC Milan Paulo Fonseca


Add a Comment
  1. 100%! That is a great turn of phrase.

    Question – is the “off season”.always so on? How do players cycle when the games seem to just keep coming?

  2. There’s nothing to be excited really. They were hyping, this cowboy and his bankers on how they are here to win and bring Milan back to where it belongs, making big improvements to the team with targeted signings…

    Then they go and hire Fonseca, Theo is up for the grabs since they don’t want to offer him proper wage along with potentially other prized assets and our “targeted” squad improvements are on the level of banter era.

    There’s no proper communication from Gerry and the RedBirds to its fans and when someone from the top acutally opens his yap, they only do more damage.

    But hey, at least we have clean bills and imaginary stadium on the way.

    1. they should copy and past your comment in every post to give these REDBIRD lovers the most basic concept of what path there on.
      you took the words right our of my mouth. i couldnt have explained it better

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