Ibrahimovic outlines vision of Milan Futuro, the ‘backbone’ and discussions with Cardinale

By Oliver Fisher -

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has explained in detail what the vision is behind the new Milan Futuro side, and how they plan to get young players ready for the first team.

It was recently confirmed that the Milan Futuro project can be launched in 2024-25 after a spot in Serie C became available, and that means some of the young talent at the club will be competing against adults.

The spotlight will be on the likes of Francesco Camarda, Diego Sia, Filippo Scotti and Kevin Zeroli with the plan being to give them consistent playing time against older players to help their development.

Daniel Bonera will be the head coach of the team and he already knows quite a few of the players well, having been part of Stefano Pioli’s coaching staff and remaining at the club beyond his exit a few weeks ago.

Ibrahimovic spoke alongside Bonera at a press conference the club put on to mark the launch of the project, and his comments were relayed by MilanNews. He began with a speech, before answering questions.

“Good morning everyone, welcome. We have officially made the announcement for Milan Futuro. We want talents to have a chance to enter the first team. With the first, Primavera and first tea system, there was too much distance,” he began.

“A young player enters the Primavera at 16-17 years old, you are not physically ready for the first team. With Milan Futuro they will have more time to grow. Serie C is another level, we prepare them to play against adults.

“When you train with the first team there is a lot of difference compared to the Primavera. Milan Futuro will play against adults, it will be very difficult. We need to find balance, it is something new for us too. We are prepared and organised, everything is under control.

“We want to show that we believe in our talents, we want to give them an opportunity to enter the senior team. For Milan the young player is important. Futuro and the first team for us are one team.

“Everything that mister Fonseca does in the first team, Milan Futuro will also do. As if it were copy and paste. Milan Future will also focus on individual training, we want to improve and make young players become men. When you represent Milan you have a great responsibility. You also need discipline.

“There is a distance between the Primavera and the first team [geographically]. We moved the Primavera to Vismara to train. When you are in the Primavera you don’t have to be close to the first team, you have to have desire and motivation to reach that dream.

“In the middle there is the Milan Futuro step, where our greatest talents will be. We bring in profiles that will be Milan-ready profiles, talent is not the only thing that counts. Fonseca is not afraid to give opportunities to talents and young players.

“We don’t put all the responsibility on these guys obviously, there will be some with more experience: we need to find a balance. It will be important not to take too many blows, we also need to win matches. We bring in players with Serie C experience to have balance. We need to find the right path.

“The responsibility for Milan Futuro will be Kirovski. He has played in several professional teams, he comes from the USA. He worked with the LA Galaxy, for us he is a high-level profile.

“The coach will be Daniele Bonera. He has great experience as a footballer, he played for Milan for many years. He got his coaching license, he was on Pioli’s staff and had a great relationship with the young players.

“He gained experience in the first team, for us he is the right choice because it is important to have a communication relationship with the first team. He has no ego, he must be open: when Fonseca needs something he must be available and open to a dynamic situation.

“The first team and Futuro will be a unique team for us. We are happy and confident. Choosing a coach in this situation is not easy: the coaches in the academy think too much about the results. Maybe they choose players who are more ready than players who have more potential.

“For them it is important to make a career. For us, however, it is important to have coaches who think about the growth of the players: the merit of a coach is when the young players arrive in the first team. Welcome Daniele Bonera.”

Why the name ‘Milan Futuro’?

“There were other choices but we chose Milan Futuro because it is important to send a global message. Whoever joins Milan Futuro will be the future of Milan. There is credibility, it is the right name. I like it, it also works in English ‘futuro’ = future.”

Is this a responsibility towards Italian football too?

“All this is only positive for Italian football. We need to improve Italian talent with an international mix. If you don’t improve talent when they arrive in the first team. The Italian national team was not ‘wow’ in this European Championship.

“Individually there was a difference with the other national teams, then with the group you can do miracles. This project serves to improve talent, it is very important for Italian football.

“It starts from the basics, all clubs in Italy have a great responsibility to improve talent: how you work, what strategy you have and where you want to get to. The coaches in the academy think about winning, the club thinks about talent: the club must dictate the line.”

Will Camarda also need time in Serie C?

“Everyone thinks it will be easy but it won’t be easy. He will struggle at the beginning. We are here to protect him, the responsibility is ours. We have to give him time to grow step by step. We have to prepare him to arrive in the first team.

“We believe in him a lot, he is one of those talents with great potential. It won’t be easy, we will follow him step by step. The idea with everyone is to always have minutes on the pitch, the players must always have minutes in the match.

“If they don’t play in the Futuro they will play in the Primavera, if they don’t play in the Primavera they play in the U18. You grow more by playing in the match, not just in training.

“If you never play you don’t grow, it is important for us that everyone has minutes. Milan Futuro will have 22-23 players, like the first team. Everyone must have space to play, not waste time.”

Did you push to focus more on young players?

“When I entered this role at Milan I pushed hard for talent. It is not possible that Milan does not have a top-level academy. These are things that you cannot buy, you have to make investments and wait for things to arrive.

“This does not mean that the first team will be full of young talents, but if we can bring some in it is only positive. It is something we do not only for ourselves, but for all of Italian football. I am not saying that every year five talents will arrive in the first team. If that happens I will be happy, we will have done a great job.

“It is important to have players ready when needed. We are very excited and I believe in it a lot. But always with balance, I do not want the external message to be that we only focus on young talents. Today we are here for the Milan Future, on Monday we will talk about the first team.

“Then it also depends on the players. We provide a platform and discipline, we have the responsibility to make them become men off the pitch. When you put on the Milan shirt you cannot do what you want, it is our responsibility. The person also counts, not just the player.

“Those who had doubts about the club’s ambition now see that things are happening inside the club, we are working. When we have something to say then we will be here to talk, not to chat or make propaganda like the gossip magazines.”

Is there any particular input that Cardinale has given you on this project?

“I speak to Cardinale every day. Milan takes it as something very personal. He listens a lot. He is very open to the ideas that we bring. He wants results, that’s obvious. He wants the club to grow and for us to bring results.

“Milan Futuro is one of these ideas to bring something new to the club. It won’t be easy, but everything is under control. We are all with Bonera, all together to keep the ship moving forward. It never depends on just one person, it depends on the whole club.

“Cardinale is positive, very positive about how we work. But in the end only the results count: here the results must be to bring as many talents as possible to the senior team.”

What will be the backbone of Milan Futuro?

“Simic, Zeroli, Jimenez are part of the Futuro. When you reached the first team it is important to stay there, not go back. This is why Milan Futuro will be important, here you will grow to go to the first team. Because when you get there then you must not go back, you must stay there.

“Jimenez is more towards the first team, the others more towards Milan Futuro. They must go through this process to grow further, they can have more time to grow and stay at Milan. After the Primavera first if there was no space then they go elsewhere and it seems that we are wrong.

“But when you go to the first team you have to produce results, because if you don’t do it someone else will. This is why Milan Futuro is important to us. In the Primavera now they have raised the ceiling to 20 years.

“At Milan Futuro they will have even more time, but for talents we believe in. The profile is also important. When I speak of profile just look at the history of Milan, who has made history. We look for these profiles. Then if they are of the same level we will only be happy.”

The ‘raduno’ is on Monday (first day of preseason)…

“Now the gathering starts on Monday but many players will be missing for the European Championship or for those going to the Olympics, it will be a bit of a mixed bag. After America we will have more defined ranks. But everything is under control and organised.”

What sporting objectives do you have?

“Give talent time to grow, and prepare them for the first team in this adult competition. In Serie C there is a very different game, the boy still has the physique of a boy. When you go into a duel with an adult you can’t do it.

“If you have a duel between Camarda and Brahim Diaz – when Diaz was here – Brahim wins because he is an adult. For all the other teams against us it will be a final, for us it is a path to grow.

“I can imagine the first six months with a lot of effort, while in the following six months I see the talent grow. With all due respect, ours are players who will grow, those who are in Serie C follow a line.”

Will a striker for the first team also be signed with Milan Futuro in mind?

“Camarda has already trained with us. Milan Futuro will be very close to the first team, they will always be in contact with the first team. This is why they say they will be a single team, but still divided. However, they will always be close.

“If Camarda is then ready for the first team according to Fonseca then he will play there. At the moment a number nine is missing from the first team, then when the number nine arrives Camarda will be in competition with him.

“It is always about competition, those who are in Milan Futuro must have the mentality to be in competition with those who play in the first team. Then there is reality, but this is the mentality.”

Why did you choose Kirovski? Is it your choice? What will his role be?

“He will be responsible for the growth of the academy. He will be in the transfer market and will have responsibilities from Futuro further downwards. We needed someone who has the same ambition and vision as us, who speaks the same language as us, and who has the same ideas as us.

“I’m not saying he wasn’t there before. We work at the top and Kirovski works below us. The vision and what we want from the players is important. I know him personally, I saw how he works in America.

“If I hadn’t believed in him, he wouldn’t be here today. We want to have high-level profiles in every area of ​​the club, sporting and otherwise. We want to be the best in everything. We want to do the best we can.”

How do you feel about the Youth League?

“Those who don’t play in the Futuro will play in the Primavera. The Youth League is a great thing, but if you ask me whether the Youth League trophy is better or bringing five players to the first team, I’d choose the latter. The Youth League is like a small Champions League, it’s a great experience. We’ll play in it mostly with the young players from the Primavera.”

Will Milan’s number nine limit Camarda’s space?

“If Camarda had been ready, he would have been our number nine today. We believe in him a lot, but we have to protect him. But he has to do everything to get into the first team. He has to do everything to grow and concentrate.

“We have a great responsibility. We will talk about the number nine for the first team starting on Monday. The idea is to prepare the way for Camarda starting today to get him into the senior team, to help him grow in the game and in reading the situation.

“He knows how to move well on the pitch, he is intelligent. Then obviously after that there is the physique, another pace. The defenders in Serie C are tougher than those of the Primavera. They will have no respect for him, they will do everything to make it clear that he has nothing to do with Serie C.

“Then if they touch him I’ll come onto the pitch to defend him (laughs). It is important to do things at the right speed, step by step. Not one step forward and three steps back. We must not give him all the responsibility, but we believe in him a lot.

“Since July 1st he has become a full-time professional. He has signed his contract, he must continue his schooling online. Now everything is going so fast, it’s important to keep both feet on the ground and let him grow into a man, he’s still a child.”

Could Jimenez be ready to be Theo Hernandez’s deputy?

“Theo’s deputy will be Jimenez. If he doesn’t play in the first team he will play for Milan Futuro, that’s the advantage. A year ago he wouldn’t have had minutes on the pitch, now he can play and have minutes and that’s very important.

“Taking Theo’s place doesn’t seem easy to me, but at the same time we have to give you the chance to grow. Without Milan Futuro in training you don’t grow. To play you have to be stronger than Theo, it’s very difficult. With Milan Futuro you can give him minutes. Then it’s not Serie A, but he will grow. So yes, he will be Theo’s deputy.”

Tags AC Milan Milan Futuro Zlatan Ibrahimovic

9 Comments

      1. He is Wright, the aforementioned players, have been hired since Galliani and Mauro Bianchese era, the current managers miss out on italian talent, like Natali who joined LEVERKUSEN, also Luca Lipani from Sassuolo is interesting, till now no local talent was brought

  1. Tell me whos the last player from milan primavera that play regularly at milan first team besides calabria ?? Stop to invest another raw talent from french league. Our pirmavera player its good enough…

  2. “Theo’s deputy will be Jimenez.” Thank goodness. It’s about time. Though the deal with RM was terrible, I’d rather have Jimi get some real minutes in big games. All the best for the league to the young guys. Hope this thing works out. Not sure what to make of the hires though.

  3. This is going to reap rewards 2-3 years from now. Eventually there will be a steady stream of players coming into the first team squad. Those who don’t make it will be replaced. It’s how things should have ran for years.

  4. That’s why Ibra’s 👃 is getting bigger since he accepted to be Cardinal’s minion.
    Because all he does now is telling lies lies lies 🤥🤥🤥

  5. Ibra very quickly learnt the milan management style ….. a lot of empty talk, a lot of false promises, stingy when it comes to investing in new players, taking months to decide, pretending to know the way ahead when facts show otherwise ….. need i say more?

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