Pioli discusses Rangnick rumours, Ibrahimovic’s future and top four aims for next season

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has discussed his road to being confirmed as head coach and what it was like working with the Ralf Rangnick rumours swirling.

The future of Milan over the last few months has been uncertain, with rumours suggesting that Ralf Rangnick was set to arrive as the new manager, meaning he would take on a role as head coach and director.

However, since then it has been all-change. Rangnick will no longer be arriving and Pioli has signed a new two-year deal as head coach.

That came after a run after lockdown in which the Rossoneri won nine of 12 games and didn’t lose in that stretch, including memorable wins over Roma, Lazio and Juventus.

Pioli has spoken to La Repubblica about his situation in the lead up to being offered a new deal and signing it, as well as what he wants for the future.

,”My parents taught me to give my best with my head held high, without looking too far ahead. The CEO Gazidis and the Elliott fund kept their word: they told me I would be judged,” he said (via MilanNews).

“It didn’t make sense, nor was it my goal, to waste energy on things I couldn’t control. I didn’t really go to see how Rangnick’s teams played, ever. I focused on my work with the players, with the staff, with Maldini, with Massara, with the doctors, with the physiotherapists: unity and cohesion, in the very delicate phase of the coronavirus. And the club has always made us feel safe.”

Rangnick’s arrival would likely have pushed Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the door, however now multiple reports are claiming he is set to sign a renewal and stay.

“The reasons were there even before Ibra. However, when there is such a charismatic presence, the task is easier,” Pioli said.

“He has raised the competitiveness: after a bad pass he is furious. Paolo, Gazidis, Massara, me, we are all convinced that he should continue with us. From the economic negotiation it is right that I remain outside, but we are all aware of what he has given.”

Pioli spoke about some other players who made a big impact: “Hernandez was in his first year in Italy, he has grown. Bennacer was playing for the first time in a big club and Leao, with his potential, will have to necessarily give superior results. And then there are Rebic, Çalhanoglu, Romagnoli, Kjaer. A few targeted signings are enough.”

On Gigio Donnarumma, he added: “At 21, he has already had experience, in the last few games he was even captain. He is already among the top 3-4 goalkeepers in the world and will become the best. I cant even imagine Milan without him.”

The great goal of next season will be to return to the Champions League, as Pioli himself admits: “Milan must go back. But the gap with fourth place is 12 points, not easy to fill. We need to consolidate and improve the current level.

“No goal should be discarded, we are also aiming for the Europa League: 3 weeks of vacation and immediately the maximum. The young team is an advantage, we already know what awaits us: we have played 12 games well in 40 days.”

 

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli