Former AC Milan player and director Leonardo has jumped to the defence of Paolo Maldini after he was sacked by Gerry Cardinale earlier in the week.
It has been a chaotic few days at Milan with the news that Maldini and Ricky Massara have been sacked from their positions as the technical and sporting director, sparking what many are calling a new era at the club.
We attempted to break down how things went from a position where Maldini had autonomy in the transfer market to all of a sudden losing all the trust of Gerry Cardinale in a feature published yesterday.
Leonardo was interviewed by Corriere della Sera about Maldini’s farewell, with his comments relayed by our colleagues at SempreMilan.it.
“As Ancelotti said, his dismissal is a lack of culture, of respect even towards the values of sports. And for those who are AC Milan supporters, it is a lack of self-respect, because Maldini is Milan. This decision creates disaffection,” he said.
“Not only am I amazed, the whole world of football is amazed by the manner he left and by the reasons. In the last two years, Milan have won a Scudetto and reached a semi-final of the Champions League.
“For over a decade the club has not closed its financial statements with a profit and now it is about to do so, not to mention that the overall value of Milan has quadrupled since Elliott took over from the Chinese to date.
“It is underestimated how crucial the personal and daily relationship is in the growth of a player, such as Leao or Tonali. The reactions on social media are proof of this. It is obvious that the players are disoriented and ask themselves: ‘If they did this to Paolo Maldini, what will they do with me?'”
One of the reasons that has been cited as a point of difference between Maldini and Cardinale is the American’s desire to have a data-led recruitment model.
“It seems that the new thing is buying players through numbers and algorithms, but look at that frontier is nothing new. This methodology has always been used in recent years, even when I was there.
“Like me at the time, he didn’t have the power of signature. It’s not like he woke up in the morning and bought a player on his own. signings have always been the result of a joint decision.”
Leonardo was also asked for his thoughts on Charles De Ketelaere, who arrived from Club Brugge last summer for over €30m and has so far struggled.
“He is 21 years old. And then it’s everyone’s operation, like Leao, Theo Hernandez, Maignan were everyone’s.”