When Milanismo meets a ‘fire inside’: Abate reaches crossroads with decisive meeting imminent

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have a decision to make regarding the future of Ignazio Abate, and not just because his contract is set to expire in less than two months.

As our colleagues at SempreMilan.it write, Abate’s contract with Milan is close to expiring and the two parties will soon meet to define what the future might look like, hoping that it will be together but with nothing excluded.

The coaching topic has been the hottest one at Milan in recent days. On the one hand – in the first team – the dismissal of Stefano Pioli now seems imminent and therefore also the arrival of a new coach. On the other hand, there could also be some changes in the Primavera.

A promising start

Abate is about to conclude his third season on the Diavolo bench and – after being promoted from the U16s – his time in charge can be considered a success.

He reached the Scudetto final with the Allievi Nazionali in 2021-22, the UEFA Youth League semi-final with the Primavera in 2022-23 and the final this year, and there is still a chance of reaching the play-offs this year.

Abate’s profile fits well in Milan’s project. He is 37 years old which makes him a young coach not far removed from being a player himself, and he is someone that knows the club inside out given his path from the youth sector to being the senior captain.

In addition to that, the former right-back has drawn praise for the way that his team sets up, something that we highlighted a couple of weeks ago when looking at the idea of him potentially becoming interim head coach of the first team.

Focusing on a purely tactical point of view, was can start to trace how the team might luck. First of all, the formation – the 4-3-3 or sometimes the 4-2-3-1 – would be the same as Pioli’s, however the ways of interpreting it change.

When not in possession, Abate’s Milan tends to line up with a narrow 4-4-2, thus giving greater coverage in the central areas while allowing them to strike quickly on the counterattack with two strikers ready to attack the depth.

This is a way of pressing that even inspired Stefano Pioli against Fiorentina in the recent 2-1 victory at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The coach had his players line up in such a way off the ball and frustrated the hosts for large parts.

In build-up, Abate tends to deploy a three-man midfield with a regista flanked by two more physical midfielders. The front three sees the wingers tend to attack the space in behind by cutting infield, meaning full-backs move up to provide width, then the centre-forward is the focal point.

A crossroads arrives

In the coming weeks, however, Abate will reach a decisive crossroads regarding his future. As mentioned contract expires at the end of June and therefore the parties will have meet to understand which direction to take.

Everything revolves around the face-to-face conversation that he will have with the club in the coming days or weeks. He will sit at the table with Giorgio Furlani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Geoffrey Moncada and Antonio D’Ottavio and listen to what the club has to say to him.

There are three things that are at play here. Firstly, the fact Abate feels strongly attached to Milan. Secondly, the possibility of the U23 team being launched. Thirdly, his personal ambitions. That leaves three options on the table.

Staying put: Even though the Primavera have made great strides in Europe under Abate’s tutelage, they have fallen in the Final Four twice now meaning there is a feeling of unfinished business. Moreover, the team have often struggled to balance the league with the Youth League leading to disappointing runs of form domestically, which implies there is work to do.

A move upwards: As has been well documented, Milan are quite advanced in their plans to register an U23 team in Serie C, and they just need a team to fail to register for the 2024-25 season then they can take their place.

There are rumours that Daniele Bonera could become the head coach of that team, but he is currently in Pioli’s staff so there has to be question marks about whether he stays. Jovan Kirovski will likely have a big say, but Abate might feel disappointed if he misses out to someone who isn’t and hasn’t been a head coach.

A painful goodbye: The possibility we don’t really want to consider is that Abate might deem it time to try better himself. He spoke about his ambitions clearly in the recent past and didn’t hide away from the fact he fancies a senior job in the not too distant future.

“I want to coach the greats [a senior team]. It’s a fire I feel inside, I don’t know when but I’d like to try. This year I’ll do the UEFA Pro and then we’ll see, also based on how much I’ve grown,” he said.

A crucial meeting

Abate will therefore listen to Milan’s proposal in the meeting that is just around the corner and will then decide the best option for his future and his career.

It cannot be ruled out that he may already receive offers from other teams and this issue will be crucial in the exchange that will take place with the Rossoneri management.

That is why Ibrahimovic – a close friend of Abate – as well as Moncada and D’Ottavio must go in with a plan for a mutual development programme.

Just like when he was bombing down the right wing, the last thing Abate wants is to feel like he is being held back.

Tags AC Milan Ignazio Abate Milan Primavera


  1. I’d consider it normal if he wants to leave to prove himself. The guy needs a serie B team to coach and to gain a promotion. Good luck Ignacio.

  2. If Milan can be patient, Abate will be good coach.

    But, if they talking trophies, than better hire RDZ, or Conte, or another top profile coach.

  3. Need to try and keep him, he’s doing great work. Whether it’s the current team, or the new u23s, or even maybe give him assistant coach for the first team so he can keep climbing step by step. He has promise and we should keep helping build it

  4. I think Abate should find a senior team to coach whilst building his CV then come back to Milan when he is ready.

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