Pioli: ‘Krunic? It’s better for all parties that he’s looking for a new team’


Stefano Pioli previewed Milan’s match against Empoli and also confirmed that Rade Krunic is leaving the club in January. The Rossoneri look to have rediscovered their form in the last month, winning four or their last five matches in all competitions, including a healthy 4-1 win over Cagliari in the Coppa Italia. Speaking ahead of the visit to Empoli, Pioli discussed the state of his squad, the opposition, and the imminent sale of midfielder Krunic:

A decisive week for Coppa Italia and the league begins tomorrow…

“It’s easy to agree with this assessment. Starting the week well would be important for many reasons. We need to be focused only on tomorrow’s match.”

Has the wind changed? Is the worst behind us?

“We said that we have an important week ahead of us, I think this question should be asked after the match against Roma. We want to collect a lot of points in the league, but then there are a lot of things to do on the pitch. Tomorrow it’s important to finish more than our opponents, defend better, and try to win the match. Should we manage to put together convincing performances, it would mean that the difficult period is behind us.”

Is the attack complete or could there be some arrivals from the transfer market?

“I think we will have to wait another week, Okafor will be available against Roma. Once he’s available, we have good resources and different characteristics, we are quite complete. The mercato? The directors are at work. They know that if there is an opportunity to improve and do something, they will be ready.”

How do you manage your energy now given the tight schedule?

“The choices made against Cagliari were made to put a balanced team on the field, which could win and which could give inspiration to those who played the most. I don’t think we can’t rotate, but I have to say that I’m not thinking about Atalanta or Roma. I’m only focused on tomorrow.

“Then we will have two days of recovery, which will allow me to make the best choices for the formation against Atalanta, which could be the same as Empoli or it could be different, it depends on how we get out of Empoli physically and mentally. The performance we gave in the Coppa Italia means that for many young people, it’s possible and there could be room for them too.”

On Ibra…

“He will travel with us today. Ibra has already given a lot when he was one of my players. He’s an expert, having faced so many challenges throughout his career, in terms of knowledge, on the pitch, off the pitch, he can use his experience for everything.”

Milan have not won away in Serie A for three months, since Genoa-Milan…

“We made mistakes that we paid dearly for when victory or a positive result was within our reach, mistakes that we are trying to eliminate.”

The key for tomorrow’s match?

“One: victory. Only that. If you win it means that you have put all the other things together. You win on merit, because you did more than your opponents. The only thing that matters is winning, that’s what we know. We want to continue to feel good, that’s all that matters the target.”

On Krunic and his behaviour…

“The reality is that at this moment, it’s better for all parties that he’s looking for a new team. However, it’s absolutely not true that Krunic ruined it for himself. I’m the one who made the decisions, simply because I saw that his performances were not what they used to be.”

What were the most worrying shadows of this first half of the season?

“Not having won on the road for a long time. Then we paid a lot for the restart after the second break, where in four games we only collected two points despite having the possibility of winning. Those four games penalised our ranking. We must have in mind that we have to have a much better return round.”

Why will Jovic not start tomorrow?

“I’m lucky to have two centre-forwards like this, the decisions are never definitive given that one of the two will be ready to take over, either to play with his teammate or to replace him. I hope that both will continue to be two important points of reference.”

On Theo at centre-back…

“I believe that Theo is a very strong player, a very intelligent boy and with this switch, he’s trying to extend his career. He has physical, technical and tactical skills that are above average, so he can play where he thinks he can play. He’s doing very well, when a player is motivated and positive he can play anywhere.”

Chukwueze’s first four months, an opinion…

“I think he’s a new arrival who is having a little more difficulty in getting into our mechanisms, the others have integrated more quickly. He hasn’t had much continuity, he has had two injuries with the national team. Of course, I expect more because I’m convinced of his qualities.”

The new generation of talent from the Primavera…

“They didn’t make their debut just because of an emergency, but because they have the qualities to be with us. The journey will still be very long, it will take time and patience from everyone. It’s the fruit of years of work at a certain level in the Youth Sector, we are now reaping the benefits. They have very, very positive attitudes.”

Will tomorrow be as positive as against Cagliari?

“We must try to be as effective. The match the other evening is an example of how matches change: we were good at bringing it to our side. Then confidence and enthusiasm rose. We must be good at being continuous in competition.”

Loftus-Cheek’s position…

“It has always been hybrid. In possession, he’s an attacking midfielder, but he has always been between the lines. I would like him to be more present inside the opponent’s area. Without the ball, we press the opponents, so he becomes an attacking midfielder if the opponents have a deep-lying midfield and he becomes a midfielder if the opponents have two midfielders.”


Serie A obsessive.