Jacobone: Milan ‘working with the lights off’ on De Zerbi but Motta-Zirkzee arrival possible

By Euan Burns -

Italian journalist Alessandro Jacobone has explained that AC Milan have been working quietly on a deal to make Roberto De Zerbi the new head coach but hopes remain over a Thiago Motta-Joshua Zirkzee double deal.

Jacobone spoke to Calciomercato.it about Milan’s search for Stefano Pioli’s potential successor, with there being a very real chance of the coach being replaced at the end of the season with one year left on his contract.

Bologna have been one of the best teams in Serie A this season and are the current favourites to take fourth place and a Champions League spot, and that is largely down to the work of Thiago Motta as coach and Joshua Zirkzee as their main source of goals.

Milan need a new striker in the summer and the idea of acquiring both Motta and Zirkzee is a very real one, as Jacobone explains.

“It is interesting that AC Milan is using a courtship tactic so that the player really feels the club’s desire to bring him to the Rossoneri. This I know has been appreciated, but it is too early to say whether this will be enough. However, I know for sure that he would like to continue playing in Serie A and if he were to be paired with Thiago Motta, it would be ideal for a player to make the jump to a big team. Zirkzee has shown that he is not afraid of the San Siro and could do so with a coach who has exalted him, it would be a useful comfort zone for his growth. I also understand that Bayern do not want to bring him back home,” Jacobone said.

Motta’s is not the only name that has been linked with Pioli’s job. Another option is Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi, but Milan need to be aware that Juventus could soon be in the market for a manager given the poor form of Massimiliano Allegri’s side.

“Watch out for Juventus, who after the latest results, has put the idea of continuing with Allegri back on the back burner, reopening the door to Motta. There have been recent contacts and he may fit in,” he said.

As Jacobone puts it, Milan have been ‘working with the lights off’ for De Zerbi, meaning they are going about the deal quietly, away from the press as much as possible.

“I know that AC Milan are working with the lights off on De Zerbi. They do so in the knowledge that he wants to return to Italy. Let’s also remember that his deputy is Andrea Maldera, a frequenter of the Milan world. The Rossoneri want to try, but there are difficulties: there is a €13m clause, which for a coach seems a lot, but if you want to plan a future, you cannot stop at this negotiable figure. Milan will try,” Jacobone said.

Tags AC Milan Joshua Zirkzee Roberto De Zerbi Thiago Motta


  1. A total non story. Brighton are mid-table. We’re not going to pay a buy-out clause for a coach who’s team are woefully inconsistent and can’t defend worth a lick. Yes, Brighton have lost key players in midfield, but that doesn’t explain such a drop-off as compared to last season.

    1. And this season Pioli has 1 win and 1 draw against Motta. That means Pioli is better than Motta who beat Gasperini.

      Thank you and your welcome.

    2. pioli made very important victories against atalanta.
      when we first qualified to champions league after so long. we need 3 points away in bergamo and pioli made it 0-2 , so thanks to him.
      also when we won scudetto , we beat them in a very nice way , and theo nailed it.
      and last game milan was so good against them just unlucky, we got foolish penalty.
      so he did pretty fine against atalanta, i think no complains about that.
      only problem in seriea a is inter.
      and pioli won 0-2 vs motta in this season so credits to him , i think he did great job for milan. where were we before pioli? remember?
      but someone like de zerbi would be great upgrade. i hope de zerbi will be next coach.
      anyways we should be only thankful to pioli ❤️🖤

      1. Why do you think that De Zerbi would be an upgrade, is it point wise, injury wise, game wise or something else… ?

        In the current year, Brighton is having its own issues with injuries, point wise is not great, and game wise well, it has had good games but also bad games (see 3-0 loss to Fulham and 4-0 loss to Lutton, both in 2024 and to teams in much lower positions that Brighton)

        1. i think he is really special manager. the way his teams are playing are very beautiful , entertaining and unique. his system is clear, not chaotic like pioli’s.
          but anyways what do you expect from brighton? i dont think they would have better results even if they had guardiola or klopp , plus they sell their top players every summer.
          but evolution of brighton after de zerbi appointment is incredible. game against brighton is big headache for every big club in premiere league. they can dominate any team on the pitch. of course they cant be consistent like city or liverpool with this squad its not possible.
          yes they are losing with teams against lower positions sometimes. but why these teams have lower positions than brighton? i think main reason of that is de zerbi.( i dont mean luton, okay, but anyways)

  2. So we’re going to replace a coach who delivered a Scudetto & semi final Champions League and currently brought Milan at top 3 in Serie-A + still running on Europa League,

    With a coach who doesn’t have any experiences managing a big club nor win any notable trophy under his belt and his current club is 9th at the EPL???

    LMAO. Man, i guess become a “sport journalist” is so fkin easy. Just created bulls* story with “trust me bro” source and bam! You got the “journalist” badge 🤣

    But i don’t know how much these journalist got paid though. Considering they relied a lot on making bulls* and sensational news, i guess the job doesn’t paid well 🤣

    1. Compare the squad’s of bologna and milan and how both teams play، and take into consideration as well the yearly budget of the two clubs and see what coach has the more difficult job.

      1. What about the difference in pressure? Motta went on a 6 game winless streak and no one batted an eye. We drew a game and articles upon articles come out about how to replace the coach.

        1. Agree . Motta still not proven on big club . Just because one good season and now ppl here are hype with Motta. If the choice only Motta or Conte then i prefer pioli stay. My Personal choice as pioli replacement are Sarri ( if lazio sacked him because he already win scudetto with juve and UEL with chelsea and his atack style formation) , De zerbi ( Milanisty and good versus big team , down side maybe his team often lose to small team ) , Xabi Alonso ( Fantastic season with amazing total goal for his team , but imposible to get due to liverpool and bayern muenchen want to sign him too ) ,Klopp ( upgrade from pioli high press system but imposible to get due to high salary he get from his past club ) . Another interesting coach are vicenzo italiano , his system are atacking with high press too

      2. I’m pretty sure we played really well when we beat Motta Bologna 2-0 this season. But fans like you always has brain damage when comes to positive results and only see the negative.

    2. 🤣
      What notable trophy Pioli had under his belt before the scudetto he won with Milan?
      Currently brought Milan to the top 3 of serie A?
      Wow what a success and over achievement.

      1. As a player, he has a Scudetto + European Supercup + European Cup + Intercontinental Cup with Juventus.

        And while as a manager he doesn’t win bih trophy before he joined Milan, at least he has experiences managing two big clubs: Lazio and Inter.

        Now tell me what big trophies De Zerbi won as a player and manager???

    3. “So we’re going to replace a coach who delivered a Scudetto & semi final Champions League and currently brought Milan at top 3 in Serie-A + still running on Europa League,

      With a coach who doesn’t have any experiences managing a big club nor win any notable trophy under his belt and his current club is 9th at the EPL???”

      Please remind us again, how many trophies had Pioli won before joining Milan and how many years did he had time to do that?

      1. I don’t understand the logic here. He showed what he could do at a major club, hasn’t he? The only other club was Inter and Lazio if one thinks they’re big. And at Lazio I think he reached a cup final 🤷‍♂️
        And both were for short spells

        1. The question should not be did he win in the past, the question should be where can he take milan now and in the future and what we’re seeing on the pitch evert week is not making anyone optimistic about his future at milan.

      2. As a player, Pioli has a Scudetto + European Supercup + European Cup + Intercontinental Cup with Juventus. While De Zerbi has NONE.

        And as a manager, at least Pioli has experiences managing two big clubs: Inter and Lazio before Milan hired him.

        Now reminds me again what notable trophy De Zerbi has as a player and manager???

    4. That is Exaclty the problem most Milan fans have. They always think pioli has not done enough for this team and he’s not good.

      I wonder why Milan will be thinking of getting another coach when i believe Pioli is still delievering in as much as the team is new.

      We should let this man be and continue his job.
      He has really done enough to still keep his job. The person who should leave is the stupid owner we have who thinks selling our best players just to buy average players and coach.

      I believe if pioli still have those players we had during the scudetto season, By now we would have been competing with Inter furiously for the scudetto this season. But because of our useless owner who does not want to invest in the team and rather telling those players go is the reall problem.

      Maldini wanted to keep them all by increasing their cent a little of what they demanded but the so called cardinale did not want to pay them which has killed our team badly.

      Cardinale is a big dissapointment to this club.

      1. Blame UEFA not Cardinale buddy, there’s only so much you can do with our revenue. Unlike the EPL we don’t get the kind of TV revenue they do, and FFP prevents us from doing any major signing, the money is there, we put in a €100m bid in for SMS before he went to Saudi, and this was confirmed by Lazio GM Igli Tare. Unfortunately that’s just how it goes, and we’re definitely not going the route of man City who have 115 charges against them for fake revenue, or Juventus.

      2. Everyone is to blame for the results except pioli

        I’m not one of the people who are pioliout but I know that the performances on the pitch have been inconsistent this season and what used to work for pioli 2 years ago is not as effective and to say everything is perfect with the team right now is a lie, if pioli stays he should show more ambition.

        1. The players have won against PSG, Newcastle, Napoli, Roma etc.

          With the same roster Pioli has been unable to beat Udinese, Bologna, Monza, Atalanta etc. Same players, different outcome. The blame is on the coach for not getting his team to perform against “lesser” teams.

          1. Why some people alwaya has brain damage when comes to positive results?

            This season we beat Udinese 3-2, 2-0 Bologna, 3-0 Monza. The only team we didn’t beat this season are Atalanta and Inter.

            Lesser team doesn’t mean they always plays bad and we will always win against them. You’re not making any sense.

          2. “You’re not making any sense.”

            Everyone else gets it though so it must be you then.

            “This season we beat Udinese 3-2, 2-0 Bologna, 3-0 Monza. The only team we didn’t beat this season are Atalanta and Inter.”
            So you think it’s still OK to lose to team such as Udinese & Monza as long as we “at least won the other match”, eh? That is EXACTLY the midtable-team spirit we don’t want associated with Milan. You do realize that?

            Is Inter happy to win only one match against a midtable team? No. H*ll no! They want to win every match. And pretty much does that too. THAT is the spirit. If mediocre results are fine, the team will always be mediocre.

      3. Agree with you on Pioli’s merits.

        Disagree with you on the Scudetto team and RedBirds/Gerry failure.

        The team now is deeper and better than the Scudetto team.

        Gerry & RedBird need more time to be judged on success or failure.

    5. Another thing, remember we finished 5th last season regardless of the Champions League Semi-Final, which is what I always remind the Tonali crowd, investment on a major level isn’t possible because of the revenue the league generates from TV deals, we risk major implications like being banned from the Champions League as what happened under Yong Hong Li when he spent 200m on players, or risk the financial trouble Inter is in or the financial irregularities with Juventus’ books, Cardinale and co are doing the right thing, building a proper project without the illegal way Man City did it, or risking trouble like Juventus, with the stadium project and everything else going the right way. But without Serie A making the necessary revenue from TV rights it will always be a step behind the Premier League when it comes to money, even when our clubs are doing better in Europe than theirs, for the past 2 seasons we have outperformed the Premier League sides, besides Man City which is their main threat, we are the only club to lose out on the next round, and we were in the group of death, yet they’ve lost 2 clubs from fhe Champions League and less than us still active in Europe. Think logically, this isn’t FIFA on the playstation. This is real life.

      1. 1. Use “.” more often and make your sentences shorter. Just a suggestion.

        2. People don’t understand financial sustainability and fiscal responsibility. If a club isn’t pulling a Barcelona and shelling out big on players, it is considered a failure, nevermind flirting with bankruptcy.

        3. Serie A is run by dinosaurs and is doing a terrible job keeping up with the PL. Therefore the money isn’t there and sponsors don’t view is as a lucrative source of investment. That’s why Gerry talks about having to make changes in the league to make the clubs more valuable.

  3. Compare the squad’s of bologna and milan and how both teams play، and take into consideration as well the yearly budget of the two clubs and see what coach has the more difficult job.

  4. Motta will have lots of options outside of Italy too. Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona will all be open. Maybe more.

    At this point De Zerbi feels more realistic than Motta. Up until a few weeks ago it was the opposite.

  5. The other day I watched Bologna against Atalanta and I doubt a lot of people would say they don ‘t like the game presented by Motta ! Bologna under his leadership Looks like a team that is able to outplay with everyone. I agree with the fact that you build the tactics of the team considering the kind of players you have in that team, and certainly no one can guarantee such success with the other team at the moment, but I think that with a motta-zirkzee duo like this it would be worth the risk.

    1. Did you not watch when Bologna got mauled 3-0 by Udinese, beaten by Cagliari 2-1, and Fiorentina 2-1?

      The grass looks greener on the other side lol

  6. It’s simple, really. Motta has been linked with the likes of Barcelona. Why wasn’t Pioli? Potential is one of the answers.

  7. Di Zerbi at Milan would be a gross mistake. Why spend 13m on a release clause for a midtable coach whose team Brighton is extremely inconsistent especially defensively.

    Motta is the best option but Zirkzee is not. Milan need a striker who can score 20+ goals per season and spending 40+million on Zirkzee who has one good season in Serie A is beyond stupid.

    Milan cannot afford to make the same mistakes at Piatek.

    It would make sense to invest in a striker like Viktor Gyökeres.

    1. Why? Because you like Gyok more than Zee on a personal level?

      Zee has a year of Serie A experience with a proven goal scoring record (having scored at San Siro). Gyokeres coming into a foreign league is a cat in the bag at this point.

      The problem with Piatek was that during his time at Milan he never had any service and was trying to grab goals out of nothing…

      Not sure what is “so beyond stupid” about it…

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