Pioli discusses desire for a ‘dominant’ Milan, new signings, 4-3-3 and post-Ibra leader

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has given an interesting interview to Sky just before the squad depart for their preseason tour of the United States.

Milan started their preseason with a comfortable 7-0 win against Lumezzane earlier yesterday evening. Christian Pulisic played from start and bagged two assists, while the youngster Lorenzo Colombo netted a brace.

Tommaso Pobega also netted twice with Primavera midfielder Kevin Zeroli netted a late header, and Junior Messias got the other goal to ensure a winning start to preparations for the 2023-24 campaign.

Now a trip halfway across the world awaits for some more difficult challenges that will up the intensity. Games against Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona are scheduled for the Rossoneri.

Pioli spoke during an interview with Sky that was released this morning just before the team depart for America, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

What adjective would you like to associate with Milan 2023-24?

“A happy Milan. I have one goal, and I’ve told everyone: to be happy and train happy players. Happy to play together and to play a certain type of football. And to wear such a prestigious shirt.

“There is enthusiasm and emotion, as is normal at the beginning of the season. We are Milan and 2023-24 will have to be important. We are approaching the year with some changes, but I see everyone motivated.”

The emotions of the Scudetto and the Champions League dream…

“Winning a Scudetto is very difficult and very beautiful, it gives you an idea of ​​the work you’ve done during the year. Winning the Champions League would be something exceptional, but you also need a little luck.

“I think there are more merits to winning a title, and that many other situations are also needed for the Champions League.”

What will Milan be like without Ibra and who are today’s leaders?

“Ibra was the leader of this team. And there is no one who can take his place. If I had to name a player who is a leader, then that is Mike Maignan. He has a mentality, a determination and an obsession with being the best that can be contagious. He is a point of reference.”

What do you expect from Leao?

“Despite what he’s demonstrating, on the pitch and in attitudes, I expect further growth from him. He still has room for improvement, even though he’s already at a very high level.”

What impressions have you got from the new signings?

“Loftus-Cheek is a strong player. He combines physicality and quality, he likes to make late runs. I would like to see him continuously in the opponent’s area.

“Based on his characteristics, we will try to develop a proactive game with more attacking players, able to find the winning play, something we perhaps lacked in the past in some tactically complicated matches.

“Reijnders is equally a quality player, he moves well, he’s intelligent, he knows how to give the right solutions to his partner in possession.

He can also be dangerous in the offensive zone. He has good finishing and ball progression. He knows how to unlock the game, create goals and also has goals in his legs too.”

“Pulisic is a player. And when I say that, I mean he’s a guy who can do the right thing at the right time. And when you have someone like him at your disposal, things get easier. He can play in various roles.

“He definitely he’s smart and can beat a man, whether it’s one-on-one, give-and-go or through balls. He is of a high level and is different from his team-mates. Different characteristics, in a well-defined game system, can give an extra unpredictability to the team.”

What midfield is taking shape in the transfer market?

“In the midfield department we were looking for new names, new positions and new characteristics. The arrival of Loftus-Cheek and Reijnders complete it. We believe we have embarked on a path of quality players, better ball management and attacking situations.

“All this to be an even more attacking and dominant team. In the attacking half of the pitch, I would like players capable of making the right choices at the right time, something that wasn’t always successful.”

Milan carry on without Maldini and Massara…

“The club has decided to turn the page, but history is not forgotten. We know what we have done together, we know the path that has led us to certain levels. All the people who have worked with us have made a contribution.

“They have been very present, positive and important. Clearly now another situation has arisen, there are different people, I see in great enthusiasm and the will to do things well. We all want to do the best possible job every day.”

What is the connection with the fans like?

“When we had difficult moments, they proved to be a unique, special and fantastic fan base. There was a moment when it was difficult to stand by our side, but they did it, with passion and incredible confidence.”

Could the 4-3-3 be a change towards next season?

“The 4-3-3 can be a change, yes, but a lot will depend on the knowledge we have on the pitch, or if other players arrive. We’ll also use other systems, but we’re already used to changing within the same match.

“It will take a lot of spirit and time, given that new players are arriving, in any case already mature. They know how to stay on the pitch and relate to the rest of the team, which has had a solid base for many years.

“They’re smart guys, they want to learn, from the language to the pitch, and they join a cohesive group. I have positive sensations.”

Tags AC Milan Christian Pulisic Luka Romero Ruben Loftus-Cheek Stefano Pioli Tijjani Reijnders
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