Presser, personal chats, photos and practice game: Inside Milan’s first day of preseason

By Oliver Fisher -

Today marked the first day of AC Milan’s preseason and it many ways it was the first day of a new era given that Paulo Fonseca finally got to work with the team.

It wasn’t the whole squad that were available to Fonseca because there are of course a lot of notable absentees due to the European Championship and the Copa America, but there was still a group of 25 players that took part.

How exactly did the ‘raduno’ go? We have broken down the key events of the day and the training session more specifically.

Fonseca’s first words

Fonseca was officially unveiled as the new head coach in a press conference earlier today at Casa Milan, flanked by the Senior Advisor to RedBird Capital and AC Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He touched upon a number of different topics from the way that he wants Milan to play to the work to be done during the summer mercato. The former Lille boss also spoke more specifically about improving the defensive record and tackling the injury issues.

Of course these are all words until they are able to become actions, but Fonseca stressed that his ambition is to win trophies with Milan having been shown the gaps for new silverware in the museum by Ibrahimovic.

He certainly seems keen to get some ideas implemented quickly, because it emerged just after his presser that the 51-year-old will have the team in for quite a few double sessions in the next fortnight.

The players arrive

After the press conference was over and done with close to noon there was around a four-hour gap in which Fonseca headed to Milanello – where he will be staying until he finds a more permanent abode – from the club headquarters.

The players began arriving around an hour before the first training session of the 2024-25 season which began at 17:00 CEST, and there were certainly a lot of smiles as well as some interesting outfits.

In terms of the absentees, Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have been granted a period of recovery after they played in the Copa America with the United States, who suffered a shock elimination in the group stage of the competition.

The same goes for Luka Jovic who suffered an early exit with Serbia at the European Championship, while Noah Okafor’s Switzerland and Rafael Leao’s Portugal went out in the quarter-final phase.

Theo Hernandez and Mike Maignan will face Spain in the semi-finals tomorrow night, while Tijjani Reijnders and the Netherlands will battle England in the other semi, hoping to earn a place in the final on Sunday in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Zlatan confirmed that Fode Ballo-Toure and Divock Origi will be training with the U23 team because they are not part of the first team plans.

A warm reception

According to various journalists who were present at Milanello including our own Luca Maninetti, there were literally hundreds of fans who showed up to greet the team despite the Curva Sud’s absence.

Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro attended Fonseca’s presentation press conference in the morning and were then welcomed at the training ground by the cheers of the fans, while Ibrahimovic and Geoffrey Moncada also joined them on the sidelines.

The players then began to make their way out of the dressing room and onto the field, where they too were met by warm applause from the supporters who gathered around the perimeter of the pitch.

Fonseca also made a point of standing in front of the team and leading them in returning the applause, thanking the fans for their support.

Private chats

While it might be quite difficult to get right down to business within the first few minutes of the first training session, Fonseca seemed eager to get some ideas across to certain players.

According to what is being reported by MilanNews, the coach had a chat with Alexis Saelemaekers who has returned to Milan after his loan spell with Bologna and is rumoured to be up for sale.

Whether it was a general introductory chat or something more is not known, but it must be pointed out that the Rossoneri have Samuel Chukwueze and Christian Pulisic for the right wing role, plus Luka Romero.

Shortly after he spoke to the Belgian, Fonseca also had a discussion directly with Fikayo Tomori, the centre-back who is here from the start of preseason due to not being called up by England.

Drills begin

After a few minutes of warm-ups, Fonseca immediately started a ball exercise. There were two teams and goalkeepers present but without goals meaning it was a ball possession drill.

Fonseca often stopped the game and gave pointers on movements and positioning, while one side lined up in a 4-3-3 and another in a 4-2-3-1:

Team 1: Sportiello (Nava); Kalulu, Simic, Tomori, Terracciano; Loftus-Cheek, Bennacer, Florenzi; Chukwueze, Nasti, Liberali.

Team 2: Vasquez (Raveyre); Jimenez, Gabbia, Thiaw, Calabria; Adli, Pobega; Daniel Maldini, Romero, Saelemaekers; Colombo.

Milan Futuro were training simultaneously on the other pitch at Milanello and the club officially announced three new signings for the team: striker Mbarick Fall, midfielder Mattia Sandri and defender Gabriele Minotti.

A game and a goodbye

With the same teams as the previous drill (Team 1 and Team 2 above), Fonseca decided to conduct a training game to end the session, just under one hour into it.

The first goals of the new season were scored by Davide Calabria and Lorenzo Colombo who both scored braces, with Luka Romero and Loftus-Cheek also on target. The final result was 5-1 in favour of the team in white bibs, therefore Team 1.

The first training session of the season ended when the match did. Fonseca then spent time with the fans present, and he was all smiles as he took photos with them and exchanged greetings.

Tags AC Milan

12 Comments

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  1. Pulisic gets shifted to N10 more often;
    Saelemakers comeback; (he would be useful in 3-4-3)
    Chukwueze is a starter now when Pulisic is N10;
    We get Fofana, Kiwior, Morata, J.David…

    Ricci (ideally Ederson but imagine us spending 40M on CDM) and Kayode hopefully but I know we will get Amrabat and Emerson instead 🙁

      1. We are losing Thiaw and Bennacer so Kiwior and Ricci make sense…

        2 strikers and Fofana were already guaranteed and Fonseca needs an RB.

        Where is FM here, again?!

    1. With his attributes, I think it’ll be the best for Pulisic to play in the center. Shift RLC to central midfielder. Considering florenzi age, it’ll be wise to use saelemaekers as right full back as he has skill to do so.

  2. i can’t believe that agent negotiated for 6-7m with man utd for zirkezee not to play in champions league and also to warm the bench in man utd 😂😂😂😂.

    Zirkzee is a dullard 😂 For switching milan for utd 😂. he just had extra cycle to his time on bench 😂

    1. Why are mad? Lol

      Zirkzee went to UTD and your ego is hurt!

      He accepted Milan project and agreed all the terms.
      It was up to Milan to do the rest and failed to onboard him.

      If you have a problem, go confront Milan board instead

      1. Is that how you put it……that’s a direct jab on Milan, Milan gave him a proposal and he liked it and accepted it then his agent wanted 15 million as commission, is Zirkzee Messi or C.Ronaldo, what kind of demands is that? How much is Saelemaekers worth again? He had 7 goals contribution plus assist minus it from possibly 20 goals contribution plus assist of Zirkzee and tell me you would pay 15 million worth enough to buy Saelemaekers and a release clause of 40 million euros and just a season wonder, well I wish him well at Manchester United but if I was in his shoes I won’t take what Manchester United is offering me, i do rather go to Saudi Arabia, no champions league competition and I will also battle against others for first team play and also be competing against a team far better than mine even if you place Messi and Ronaldo in Manchester United, Pep would still win the league. So what’s the rationale to choosing man United over Milan is it bcuz of commission for your agent?.

        1. I know your angry but in no world a proper young player with ambition will choose a club in Saudi Arabia over Man Utd. All these guys that went there was for a retirement cheque. You guys look at the short term because man Utd is playing in UEL for this season while next season they can very well be in the UCL again and it could be we’re not. Oh and they won a trophy last season, we didn’t. Against their arch rivals City, in their league’s biggest domestic cup.

  3. Why are some people mad with Zirkee? He did nothing wrong. It is the people around him and the deal who failed, i.e. his agent and Milan. Neither party was willing to compromise so the deal said “Ok go efff urselves both of you.”

  4. @mira my egos are not hurt but felt pity to a prospect i like so much for his character decisions off pitch. this just show he his just an average player on the pitch but Motta was the real deal.

    if not he would have stayed in italy and prove all of us wrong irrespective of him signing with milan or staying at Bol.

    @collins i think @ mira is too naive to know transfers like this has a player character written all over it. if zirkzee want milan nothing his agent will do.
    wanted madrid and see how it happened.

    yoro wants madrid see how it is playing out. this are player characters wanting to play with the big boys in the big leagues. well Europa is a big league, i just don’t want milan playing there and it seems that is where man utd will be playing next 2-4 yrs

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