AC Milan technical director Paolo Maldini has revealed some background on his return to the club and how he snubbed Paris Saint-Germain.
Before Maldini’s arrival at Milan as a director the club was owned by Yonghong Li, a man who went on to spend nearly €200million in a single summer transfer window which is easily a record for the club, but who a year later had vanished from the scene.
When Maldini’s return was confirmed and eventually his promotion to a technical director role, it became apparent he would have a different task at hand, one imposed by Elliott Management and centred around bringing costs down and building a young squad.
Speaking to DAZN, the former club captain lifted the lid on how his return came about.
“I think I’ve been preparing for this for 9 years, doing something completely different. During this time I was trying to make up for some things that I missed: spending more time with my family, kids and even my wife and friends,” he said (via MilanNews).
“I had more time to track my kids’ progress in school and football. I enjoyed the last few years and treated it as a return to normal.
“I was preparing for my new role by cutting myself off from football to some extent. After all, I was still following Milan and football from a different perspective. Perhaps I was never properly ready to go back.
“It all happened so suddenly. I was in Miami then and Leonardo called me: ‘You must be in Milan in 10 days. We have to leave together. I want you to come back to Milan with me’.
“I won’t hide that it was easy to say “yes”. Not long before that, I had the opportunity to return to Milan and be part of the Fassone and Mirabelli project, but we had different opinions on many aspects.
“Before that, Barbara Berlusconi had offered me to return to Milan, but I refused. I also had the opportunity to join PSG with Leonardo.”
Maldini revealed some insight into how a player goes from being on a short list to signing for the club.
“It is impossible to watch all matches. There must be a scout in the club to work for you. You have to clearly define what kind of player the team needs,” he said.
“Scouts can tell us what happened and how much has changed in at least 5 years back. This is the football revolution. Let me give you an example based on the defence: finding a good defender seems like an easy task for me, but you have to look at it more broadly.
“One day I would ask for a defender who only does well in his position. Now I would try to find a strong defender who can do well in one-on-one duels, and then I would try to teach him to work well in his position.
“However, it is difficult to teach a player to compete in one-on-one duels, strength and concentration, so selection is important.”
On the role Pioli has in the market, he added: “The coach plays an important role during mercato because he has the idea for the game, sees the team and is aware of certain needs.
“We always ask the trainer to give us some tips and wanted profiles. I believe that certain names have to be chosen jointly by the club and the decision has to be made on the basis of all possible points of view: economic, age and also a vision for the future.”