Arrigo Sacchi has revealed that he would not be best pleased if he were an AC Milan fan because they are set to field a line-up with no Italians in the first game of the season.
Milan are heading into their season opener against Bologna likely to field an XI that is made up entirely of foreign players, something that happened for the first time a few months ago in the 1-1 home draw against Salernitana.
However, it is worth noting that this is largely because club captain Davide Calabria is not at 100% and is recovering from a muscle problem he sustained in preseason. Aside from him, though, there is not much of an Azzurri influence.
Sacchi spoke during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport about Milan and Inter’s contrasting situations, given the Nerazzurri have a strong Italian core while the Rossoneri have gone more international.
“Milan wholly foreign and Inter, on the other hand, half Italian. Looking at the probable formations for the first game of the season, I was reflecting on this rather curious aspect which is also evidence of a clear tendency of the two clubs,” he began.
“Inter have a made in Italy defensive block, and two out of three midfielders, Barella and Frattesi, are also from our home. In addition there is Dimarco who goes up and down on the left wing. A signal that must be taken into consideration because it most likely derives from a request from the coach.
“Simone Inzaghi, a coach who is improving season after season but has yet to make the definitive leap in quality to reach a level that can be defined as European, intends to focus not only on the game, but also on the sense of belonging, on Italian pride in good part of the group.”
“Character is fundamental when building a team: there must be the right men to convey the coach’s ideas. When I was at Milan, the first year we had two foreigners and the second three: situations that certainly can’t be compared to those of today.
“But I have to say that, despite Gullit and Van Basten being two champions, the Italian backbone, formed by the Baresis, the Ancelottis, the Tassottis, the Maldinis and the Donadonis was fundamental in giving life to that wonderful team.
“It’s up to Inzaghi to direct the group towards this goal, also by leveraging the nucleus of Italians who make it up. The discussion regarding Milan is completely different. Apart from Calabria, who however I don’t know if he will be the starter, there isn’t an Italian in the Rossoneri’s basic formation.
“I’m really curious to see how so many cultures can get along. I am convinced of one thing: when foreigners arrive in our league, except in rare cases, they need at least a year to settle in.
“They come from countries where, in most cases, more attacking football is practiced, so they have to adapt to new needs, training methods, teammates and even lifestyle change.
“It’s not easy for a boy who comes from Spain, France, Holland or England to wear the Milan shirt, take the field in front of the San Siro crowd and immediately give away wonders.
“In choosing to have a team made up of foreigners I see a philosophical indication of the club. After having shown courage by sending away Maldini and Massara, who had so many merits in the Scudetto season, the managers are now betting on a Milan that is the child of globalisation.
“If I were a fan, I wouldn’t be happy: I believe that some Italians would also be important in making people understand the history and style of a more than 100-year-old club.
“But, if they succeed in the enterprise, and if they will immediately have positive results in terms of play and points, all that remains is to bow down.
“However, if the Rossoneri want to play in a 4-3-3 formation, whether they are Italian or foreign, they need to get it into their heads that the two wingers must return to the defensive phase, otherwise they will have a lot of trouble.”