Ordine suggests Pirlo plot and ignored email increased Maldini-Cardinale tensions

By Oliver Fisher -

More information continues to filter regarding what happened leading up to Paolo Maldini’s sacking as the technical director by Gerry Cardinale.

The dust has just about begun to settle after the news broke over the last few days that Milan have sacked Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara and have chosen to start a new era of sorts with a different management team.

Journalist Franco Ordine provided everything he knew about the breakdown in a piece for Corriere dello Sport yesterday, talking about the differing stances regarding transfer strategy and the fall-out after an interview given following the second leg against Inter.

Now, Ordine has written a column for Il Giornale in which he offers a couple more details on two things that increased the tension between the duo, with his words relayed by our colleagues at SempreMilan.it.

“Behind the very lively confrontation that took place between Maldini and Pioli on the use of the recent transfer market, there was a trace of Pirlo’s involvement as his eventual successor,” he said.

“The two, Paolo and Andrea, team-mates at the time of Ancelotti’s coach among other things, saw each other and must have chatted for a long time during a short Easter break in Dubai. Pioli, here is the other piece of the mosaic, was not unaware of the plot.

“But there is another detail that should have made Paolo Maldini understand what the outcome of his relationship with the shareholder would have been.

“A few months earlier, the Rossoneri technical director sent Gerry Cardinale a draft of a three-year investment plan to be implemented at Milan following the model of sustainable football. He never received a response to that email.”

Tags AC Milan Andrea Pirlo Paolo Maldini


  1. Despite what Maldini haters are trying to assess in their fairy tales, he didn’t want to burn money. Sustainable football is the word used here. The difference is that Jerry wants profitable football.

      1. You’re right, the others benefit from sovereign wealth funds of petrostates or are in dire financial conditions. Did you not see the article on Inter on this very site? Are people not aware of the issues at Juventus? Are people not aware that Barcelona, being 1bn in debt (!) basically sold it’s media rights 40 years into the future to remain afloat? If their debt gets worse, what would they have left to mortgage off? It seems like many football clubs are forever on the verge of financial collapse and only stay afloat by taking ultra high interest loans, selling off rights to future income, or somehow circumventing FFP. I’m not really interested in my club being one of those. Do people here spend more money than they make? How are you not bankrupt?

        1. Nevermind that we have already been castigated by UEFA for being financially unsound and that WE’RE STILL UNDER AN FFP SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT and essentially had to agreed to not participate in European competition for a year.

          1. And we will only be free of the settlement agreement starting from summer 2026. It’s still a long ride.

          2. It’s easier to ignore such facts and focus on bashing RedBird & Cardinale. And it’s fun and especially smart to buy players with money you don’t have and worry about the outcome later, right? Like Inter & Barca does.

        2. There are many top clubs that have sustainable models, barca and juve didnt have sustainable models, why would I want ac milan to be like them

          The issue is on the difference between sustainability and profitability, with sustainability in sports teams you spend all that you earned in a way that will make you earn again, with profitability in sports teams you spend a small fraction of what you earned and enjoy the other fraction, profitability is unsustainable if you dont have a stadium and lucrative tv rights, in italian football its almost impossible to be profitable without selling top players, thats why ancelloti was saying it will crush one day

        3. Once again, there is a huge gap between contracting a huge debt by buying a few 100M+ players every summer and offering insane salaries, and getting just 35M for transfers, including salaries, after a very fruitful Champions League campaign while Milan is no more in debt. Maldini knew that better than you or me, since he was here from the beginning of the cap space, limited resources era. His proposition of “sustainability”, by definition, is not for overspending.

          Now, where are the profits going? I’m not a Redbird/Wall Street/shareholders fan, I don’t care if they can buy one more villa in the Bahamas or one more private jet. I am a Milan fan, I want Milan to win trophies. And I’m afraid it’s not going to happen anytime soon with so little investment.

          1. Once again Bartholomeo, you are spot on (at least to my opinion).
            This is the fundamental difference between Maldini and Redbird; he wanted ACM to gradually become once again a protagonist, pushing for titles and winning trophies, while at the same fully aware of any financial constraints. With 35m you can’t go anywhere nowadays….
            I am afraid we might be heading to become the next Dortmund/ Salzburg/ Benfica; financially profitable teams with young, fairly unknown players who eventually move to bigger clubs to eventually compete for titles at least on UCL level.
            I hope I am wrong. This mercato might well provide an indication, yet it might be already fair to say that RedBird blew off another chance (following last year’s prolonged ownership exchange) for ACM to establish themselves in SerieA and beyond. Going backwards I fear when we had all foundation laid to leap forward.
            Ps; hard to believe we pursue Thuram (who btw he is not even fully established as a good player) or any other free player for anything around 6-8m/year when our top players are paid way less than that. This is almost suicidal…

    1. I think there are many versions of “sustainable football”. It could simply be that Maldini’s proposal involved signing more free agent/cheap veterans vs Cardinale’s expectation that they by free agent/cheap youngsters, for example. And by the way, profitability IS sustainability. The latter seeming to have more sustainability as younger players retain sell-on value. This transfer window hasn’t even started yet, let’s see what happens.

    2. Spot on!

      Dirty Cardinale is in ALL for $$$money$$$. HisRedbird desperately needs to grab the 100M to pay his debts and his investors.

      Maldini wants Milan to get strengthened and to be able to win CL with reasonable investment.

      Anyone who can’t see through this is NOT worthy of being a Milan fan.

  2. We may never know what happened exactly but my guess is that the main issues were Maldini’s failure to generate revenue from player sales and a few failed expensive signings (CDK’s price, Origi’s high wage etc.)
    Cardinale probably also wanted more experienced people in management, which is understandable. It’s very common in the corporate world to clean house when ownership changes. I’ve been through that a couple of times. People like hiring people they know and trust. It is what it is.

    1. We are not speaking of assets here, we are speaking of players with human feelings. Maldini was great at managing little resources and creating a bond with players. The “experienced people” you are talking about here is probably Furlani, the guy who introduced himself to the players (some of them underpaid such as Theo, Leao or Mike by current football standards because they trust the project) saying “you are under contracts, so sh up and do what we ask you to do”.

    2. More experienced people? Cardinale just fire 2 people experienced in transfer negotiation and replace them with a working group that have no experience in transfer negotiation.

      I understand that Cardinale originally pitch for Maldini and Massara to be part of the team as they were supposed to be the transfer negotiator.

  3. Not sure if this Pirlo plot is true but it would make even more sense why Maldini was fired. Next we’ll hear he wanted Gattuso as CEO.

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