Maldini admits ‘long process’ awaits Milan’s recovery and praises Ibrahimovic’s impact

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan director Paolo Maldini believes that a win against Inter on Sunday night would lead to ‘rosier expectations’ between now and the end of the season.

Milan will be looking to continue their positive momentum so far in 2020, but will do so when they face their toughest opponent thus far this year in Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina.

The Rossoneri will be looking to secure their first league win over Inter in four years and put a huge dent in the Scudetto hopes of their neighbours, who have struggled for form since the turn of the year.

Milan, on the other hand, have had an upturn which has essentially coincided with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the beginning of January, having not lost a competitive game yet in 2020.

However, the 19 points gap between the two teams is a daunting one, and with Inter being the ‘home’ team many are tipping them as favourites.

Maldini spoke to the microphones of Sky Italia before the derby, and his words were transcribed by MilanNews.it.

“If we were to win today, we’d be in sixth place, in the Europa League, so the rest of the season could have slightly rosier expectations,” he said.

“Zvone, Ricky Massara and I have been here since July 2019. Milan have not qualified for the Champions League or in the top four for six years.

“I believe a plan should be at the very least medium-term. We obviously want to improve the results, but this is a long process.”

Ibrahimovic missed out during last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Hellas Verona due to a combination of flu and a calf issue, but he starts against Inter.

“Ibrahimovic is in good shape, we know he is of a certain age, so we programmed his recovery and training with his feedback and that of the medical staff.

“He’s not just a champion because he is more talented, but he also lives, breathes, thinks and acts like a professional. A young team like ours can accelerate the maturation process with someone of his experience around.”

On his own experiences in the derby, Maldini added: “In the first few years, when I was 16 or 17, I struggled a little in these big games and didn’t give 100 per cent.

“As I got older, I sought those big games out and had become accustomed to these challenges.”

Tags AC Milan Paolo Maldini