Boxes ticked, Juventus concerns and talks resumed: How the Motta idea regained momentum at Milan

By Oliver Fisher -

The climate of uncertainty and distrust that surrounds AC Milan at the moment can perhaps only be fixed by making the right managerial appointment, which is why Thiago Motta’s name is back in vogue.

What is clear is that Milan are now in the market for a new head coach; a man who can galvanise a talented squad, who can perform better in the moments that matter most and who can unite a club that needs everyone pulling in the same direction to try close the gap to the noisy neighbours Inter.

News then broke that Milan were set to hire Julen Lopetegui, a coach who has had spells with Porto, Rayo Vallecano, the Spanish national team, Real Madrid and most recently Wolverhampton Wanderers.

There has already been a ‘#NOPEtegui’ campaign on social media, with a petition amassing thousands of signatures from like-minded supporters who believe so strongly that he is not the correct profile for Milan.

The management have seemingly now done a U-turn on what they felt was the correct course of action, something which deserves to be discussed separately and at length, but where do they turn now?

A rock and a hard place

Gerry Cardinale and the leadership at Milan have been left with a lose-lose choice: stick to their guns and hire a manager who appears unpopular, or quickly try and scramble for another profile that there is less internal agreement about.

The owner himself would have in fact asked his management to freeze the talks with Lopetegui which had been going on for some time, as our colleagues at write, in order to calm some of the fan sentiment and explore other profiles.

The discontent was also underlined by the Curva Sud’s statement, while there was also the idea of protests in Sunday’s game at San Siro against Genoa to consider. Thus, the three-year contract already proposed and accepted by Lopetegui – but not signed – was put back in the drawer.

The only certainty is that the next Milan coach will not yet be Stefano Pioli. In public the likes of CEO Giorgio Furlani and president Paolo Scaroni are stopping short of declaring that Pioli will stay, meaning the writing is on the wall.

Pioli will therefore leave Milan after nearly five exciting seasons, having absolutely fulfilled the job that he was asked to do but leaving a bit to be desired in the big games towards the end of his tenure, with the recent defeats to Roma and Inter being the final straw.

The Parma-born coach will continue to receive €4m net from Milan until 2025, the year in which his contract expires, but the club would save on that amount if he were to take another job amid rumours that Napoli and Bologna are keen.

A blitz for the box ticker

Where will Milan turn? The Thiago Motta hypothesis – which has always been in the minds of the management and ownership, as we have stressed multiple times – has very much been revived.

Juventus swooped in while Milan were watching Pioli rack up win after win in March, and while there is talk of a verbal agreement between the parties nothing has yet been signed or announced.

The Marcus Thuram saga over the summer shows us that when a door is not shut it can only be considered open, all while Juve grapple with the idea of having to pay Max Allegri and his staff a sizeable amount to leave.

This is not a trivial sum for Juventus, who already have to pay €9.7m to Cristiano Ronaldo as back pay from the Covid-19 era. So, while the Old Lady are doing the maths, Milan are trying to make up for lost time.

As has been stated by Gianluca Di Marzio and other sources over the past 24-48 hours, Milan have re-established relations with Motta’s entourage in recent hours to probe his availability.

Motta has been a revelation with Bologna and is basically a perfect fit in terms of knowing the league, having an attractive playing style and the mentality of a player who didn’t retire long ago, plus a record of developing young players.

In short, he could be the ideal candidate to give new life to the project if they decide to act on their interest and if they manage to overcome the competition from Juve, and there is more to it than just a simple mutual esteem.

Pre-existing overlap

Adding spice to the matter is the interest that the Rossoneri have shown in Joshua Zirkzee, who continues to showcase his talents under Motta. If Milan were to get themselves into pole position and secure the Dutchman, then it would make the pitch to any prospective manager easier but especially his current coach.

On the other hand, it is no secret that Milan scouts have been observing Bologna in recent weeks, keeping an eye on talents like Lewis Ferguson, Jhon Lucumi and Riccardo Calafiori as per various reports.

What they have learned is that Bologna are a team that plays in a similar way to Milan, but have managed to get the most out of a squad with a significantly lower value, something that certainly acts as a big factor in Motta’s favour.

It is also in the interests of the Reggio-Emilian club to keep the phone line open with Milan because they apparently want to sign Alexis Saelemaekers permanently, who has played 26 times this season for them and has contributed four goals and three assists.

We have already taken a look at how Milan could look under Motta, but what matters above all is the modern, aggressive, attacking style shown by the Rossoblu which created a sort of ‘love at first sight’ effect among the Milan management.

Milan may have to wait for Bologna to qualify for the Champions League before they make their move. They are six points away from securing a spot in Europe’s top club competition for the first time ever, then there will be time to think about the future.

In the meantime, Motta was spotted speaking with Ignazio Abate before Bologna vs. Milan Primavera this afternoon. Was it a catch-up between old friends, or could there have been a deeper meaning knowing they might soon be colleagues? The truth will emerge in the coming weeks.

Tags AC Milan Thiago Motta


  1. Just get him in already. So tired of this ownership claiming they’re looking into things only to get nothing dine and resort to last minute terrible choices…

    1. Agree 💯. Motta’s the obvious choice and so they’ve snapped into action and added Sarri to the list…

      1. Sarri is good but i think he already reached his pick couple of years ago. Motta is a bigger risk for sure but with a posible higher reward as well.

        1. Yeh I’m not a Sarri fan at all – to me hiring that grumpy a*s dude makes about as much sense as giving the job to Mourinho.

      2. For all we know they were looking at Motta all along. Or not. We don’t even know. Maybe there are demands we can’t appease. Maybe Juve has something more palpable and concrete that we don’t.

    2. And you know this how exactly? Because they aren’t in your timeline? 🙂

      This is what I mean when I say most fans here have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. We just pull sh|t out of our @$s and roll with it…

      1. I think we all witnessed last summer how this management waits too much every time. It happened with Thuram, Ndicka, Kamada (even if they didn’t want him it took an eternity to decide), Taremi. We only signed guys with no suitors. Looks like it’s going to be the same here. But you’ll find new excuses for that lousy management when that time comes.

      2. That’s true for sure – my problem with Motta is that he reached a verbal agreement with Juventus while we spent weeks dithering over extending Pioli and then Lopetegui and going after more and more targets. But let’s just hope they get someone decent in the end.

  2. I don’t even know why would Motta want to go to Juventus. They are a mess.
    Also, they have been playing with 3 at the back for years. The transition to Milan would be seamless while he has to start from zero at Juventus.
    Chances for success are much higher at Milan for him than at Juventus.

    1. Meh.. juve signs 2-3 players and they’re good to go. Not to mention they got a couple gems out on loan, soule being the brightest one

        1. It’s fiat. They just pull cash out-of their a$s. If they sell someone they’ll have plenty cash..vlahovic and kean most likely

      1. I was really impressed with their young players again Milan.

        I actually thought they looked well set up for the future.

    2. Juventus will pay him 7ml to 10ml salary while milan will pay him 3ml to 4ml its obvious the difference they are serious for the business and we are bankers

  3. If management has decided that Lopetegui is the right man, they should take responsibility and go for it. The Nopetegui “fans” are the same as the Pioli Out that went to celebrate Scudetto They will change their mind fast if Lopeteguei gets results. Job of the fans is to support, not to decide the coach.

    1. When management are so stupid they don’t realise what the fans realise, there’s no shame in them admitting they were wrong, and they were.

  4. Just to be clear this is how the Milan management operate and it’s considered to be totally normal by the media and fans:

    Management to Pioli in August 2023:

    “Our minimum standards this season are for you to finish in the top 4 in the league and to reach the knock out stages of the Champions League”

    Management to Pioli in May 2024:

    “You have only finished 2nd in the league and you went out of a group of death that ended up with two Champions League semi-finalists – you’re fired”

    Does that seem like a basis for run any organisation?

    In what world does a person get fired for over-achieving?

    And this mentality is not limited to the manager, it also applies to the players.

    It doesn’t matter that Gabbia has been our best CB since January he’s still going to be replaced.

    How can we ever hope to build long term success with such flippant management?

    I understand the media being flippant. They rely on flippancy for their existence.

    I sort of understand some fans being flippant. Many are either living in the past or part of a self-entitled generation.

    But the management are paid the big bucks to make long term, consistent, rationale decisions.

    And as a minimum that has to involve setting standards and then sticking with those standards.

    This is the definition of moving goal posts.

    1. “reach the knock out stages of the Champions League” — Did he fail this objective? Yes.
      In addition, he has been humiliated by Inzaghi by finishing so far behind him and losing the derby 6x in a row. He also crashed out of the Europa League against Roma, hardly a superior opponent. Enough is enough.

      1. He ‘failed’ because we were in a Group of Death which produced two Champions League semi-finalists.

        That is like the head of sales being sacked because the economy went into recession.

        As for Inzaghi, he’s not been ‘humiliated’ by losing a few matches to a side that everyone agrees is better. If anything he ‘humiliated’ Inzaghi by winning a Scudetto with an inferior side.

        If the minimum requirements included a trophy or else then frankly expectations are pretty out of whack given the player turnover last summer, the huge gaping hole in midfield caused by said turnover, and the relative underwhelming quality of the signings who mostly came from mid table clubs and ended up finishing 2nd in Serie A.

        1. He fail the Champions League objective but the management understand it was because of group of death. So the management gave him another objective to redeem that failure: reach Europa League final.

          Result: FAIL

    2. Agree with a lot of this – A LOT of fans come off as self-entitled leftists on a college campus screaming about stuff they know jack sh*t about. I think I get why the goal posts shifted with Pioli though. Given the squad and the rebuild phase we’re in, a top 4 finish was a minimum, which he achieved comfortably despite the odds. Where he came unstuck was the way we went out the EL – playing this lazy sideways football like we didn’t give a cr*p and losing to Inter for the 6th time in a row. It would’ve been different if we’d lost against Roma and Inter playing well and looking like we knew what we were doing.

      1. Agree with this. The CL wasn’t so much of a failure although with better results against Newcastle in the first game and then Dortmund we would have gone through. We best Psg and shut up the Newcastle band wagon.

        The failures for which he deserves to be replaced are the continual failure in Derby’s which surely no Milan fan can overlook. Also the Europa League, to go out so cluelessly to a team so far below us only showcases his limitations

    3. As I see it, they’re allowed to change the goal posts but they have to have a clear idea of what they’re trying to do.

      If you’re going to give Pioli a pass for the UCL group of death, you also have to look at the competition in the Serie A where Roma spent the first part of the season imploding as did Lazio. Napoli has been a dumpster fire all season. That’s managerial changes for 3 competitors. Allegri has choked the life out of Juve, too. There is little competition.

      The season isn’t an over achievement. Pioli gets a pass. The issue then becomes whether there has been tactical evolution consistent with moving this project forward. Signs are not good on that front which is why I have no real issue with the decision to change. It’s been 4.5 seasons now.

      But then we’re faced with the utter mediocrity being touted as replacements. That’s why I think you end up being right.

      I don’t trust these people to deliver anything good.

  5. Well actually I’ve been tired with these rumours.

    If management want Motta, they should have been make a contract to him right now, just like Liverpool to Arne Slot.

    But, until now, what we heard is just one rumour to other rumours.

    So, yeah just hope Milan can be back as a big club again, and can defeat Inter and Juve again.

  6. Pioli is a great coach. He just never got the right players to play his philosophy(especially after Maldini was sacked)

    Out of all the candidates Motta is the only quality option at the moment.

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