Milan president Paolo Scaroni explained that Paolo Maldini felt ‘uncomfortable’ at the club and this contributed to his dismissal. The Rossoneri decided to part ways with the club legend on Monday, with many Italian newspapers claiming it was due to a falling out with Milan ownership.
Speaking with Corriere della Sera, Scaroni gave a lengthy interview where he explained the reasoning behind the sacking, insisting that despite Maldini’s departure, Milan would continue to invest in the transfer market this summer:
“Where do I start? From the fact that all of us, and I in particular, have always had excellent relations with Paolo Maldini, who is a gentleman, a person attached to Milan and who has done well for Milan.
“However, we follow a bit of an innovative model, at least for Italy, for club management. We work in a team. It is an organisational model that is very dear to our shareholder [Cardinale] who, let us remember, is a sports specialist who boasts success in his activities.
“When he suggests something to us we pay great attention, because we think it brings innovations. In this organisation we had the impression that Paolo felt uncomfortable, and when one is uncomfortable it is better to part ways.
“I’ll give you an example that concerns myself. I was very dedicated to the new stadium matter, so much that there were those who called me ‘Stadioni’ and not Scaroni. True, but I did it mostly in the Elliott years.
“When RedBird arrived, which has experts who have built stadiums all over the world, it came natural for me to join the team and lose that autonomous role. It’s a bit like what should have happened for the technical area.
“RedBird and we all want Milan to continue this growth. I don’t forget that I started being president in a dramatic moment. You recall that I always said that we had two mountains to climb, bankruptcy and sporting results.
“Now we’re not at the top but we’ve come a long way indeed I would say that in Italy we are among those who have done the most.
“We want to continue to scale, always keeping in mind that more revenues lead to more investments for the sporting area and more sporting successes lead to more revenues: a virtuous circle to be set in motion.
“In the meantime, let me remind you that in four years we have invested more than the others. Some will always say it’s not good enough but our shareholders have allowed us to build a strong team and we will continue along this path together.
“I think we will have to make some sales and complete some significant signings: we are ambitious.
“Who will take care of the market? It will be in the hands of a team that integrates different skills, with CEO Giorgio Furlani who also has the sports area to coordinate with, together with professionals such as Geoffrey Moncada and coach Pioli.
“We expect him to have his say in these choices. In addition to the international experts of RedBird.”
Scaroni was asked if Maldini’s name and his place in the history of football had a certain weight when it came to negotiating with transfer targets.
“This is very true and I am very grateful to him. I have to say that today, and it is not to sound ungrateful, we need it less. Milan having come out of the management of Yonghong Li was struggling to attract talent.
“I think that Milan – who won the Scudetto and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League – are more attractive.”
The president was also questioned regarding the rumours that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be contacted over a return to the club as a possible link between the squad and the management.
“I have the impression that he wants to take a sabbatical period. Then he remains a friend, a person to whom we owe a lot, because in the most difficult moments he allowed us to make a breakthrough. If ideas come to him we will be the first to listen to them.”
Some players have made their voices heard. Yacine Adli published a clear message on his Instagram, while Rafael Leao posted a cryptic yet telling video and then a more heartfelt thank you, with other players also posting tributes.
“It seems natural to me. On the other hand, they are professionals that are used to change, they will understand that this is done with the idea of doing better. We will explain it to them. Then they will rightfully remain linked to Maldini.”
Finally, Scaroni responded to the notion that part of the disagreement over plans to the future was because Maldini wanted to sack head coach Stefano Pioli.
“If Maldini wanted to sack Pioli? I don’t want to express myself on the idea of Pioli’s sacking. But Pioli is absolutely central to this project.”