Marco Fassone spoke at (great) length in today’s press conference at Casa Milan, confirming the new management’s intention to invest in the market, stressing that Vincenzo Montella is the coach Milan want for the future, and discussing many other important topics including Suso, Gigio and Deulofeu.
Yesterday Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux completed their €740m takeover of Milan and today new owner and President Yonghong Li was introduced to the press. Along with him, came Marco Fassone, who has been selected by the new management to replace Galliani and Barbara in the role of the CEO.
Fassone, who previously worked for Inter and Juventus (and also has a background as a referee), answered at length to the many questions of the journalists in the press room, who wanted to know what the future holds for Milan now that the ‘closing’ finally happened, after the many delays.
“Good morning to everyone,” Fassone started. “It’s an historic and important day for this wonderful club. I want to say three thanks: the first to Mr. [Yonghong] Li and Mr. Han [Li] who have given me this opportunity and always confirmed their trust, enduring various temptations.
“I will try to repay their confidence and I have a very strong sense of responsibility. In addition to President Berlusconi, the second thanks goes to Adriano Galliani and Barbara Berlusconi, who in the past eight months could have had a very different attitude but instead gave me their availability.
“The third thanks goes to you the journalists and Milan fans. We chose to stay behind the scenes and not speak. I realize it has been difficult to get only partial information, because you had to follow this huge change with little information. I believe it was the right choice and the correct one in the long term. In terms of communication, from this moment on the relationship between us will be different.
“Berlusconi? In addition to all his qualities, he’s also a great communicator and last night [over dinner at Arcore] he was able to show us his love for the club but also his emotional detachment from what has been his creation for 31 years. I think he could sense that our ownership is not here for business, we’ll try to take care of his child, which he deposited in the right hands, with affection.
“Life after the ‘closing’? Up until now I was behind the scenes acting as an advisor and trying to give the best advice. Now I do my job from within the club, taking advantage of the fact that from August 5th I’ve known the sporting, economic and commercial reality of Milan.
“The mercato budget? We have some ideas and in time, we’ll meet with Massimo Mirabelli, who will be the new sporting director of Milan, and with David Han. We’re eager for the chance to work. We’ve already met with clubs and agents. The key step will be to get us at the table with the coach Vincenzo Montella and discuss our ideas together in order to operate in the market.
“The budget will be important, the goal for the coming years is to build a very competitive and ambitious Milan. Of course, I will have the economic means to try to create a team to achieve these goals in the short term. Promises to the fans regarding our first moves? Well there are two things which are crucial to me. First of all, we must think about building the sporting side for the next season, so creating and shaping the new squad.
“Of course because of the delays in the negotiations and the fact that we’re in April, one month and a half before the start of the transfer market, we had to change some objectives but anyways, myself, Mirabelli, Montella and the owners, want to fulfil our promises and I would like to be there in July, when the pre-season starts and allow Mr. Montella to have a squad which will be ready and done at the level of 70% [of the team we want to have for the start of the season].
“The second part that we haven’t talked about yet, but is crucial for Milan, is that our goal is to become as soon as possible one of the most important clubs in the world and this will pass through the Chinese market. To me, the business program of the new owners is so innovative. When last September I was talked about some objectives, I was skeptical because in our western mindset, it was difficult to think about such a huge growth in Asian countries.
“But when I went to China, I understood that there is a huge potential in the Asian market. And you can make the best out of this market only with a local, a Chinese owner, and I hope that the key will be the new ownership. Our idea is to create a Chinese company assigned only to the business, which develops some of the brand in China to increase revenue and turnover. So a vicious cycle starts that can continuously feed us. Next summer will be crucial for the creation of this company.
“How the new ownership likes Montella? I’ll gladly answer this question, Montella has all our respect and our appreciation. In June last year we liked him. Our total and full support is in Montella. If I see Roberto Mancini, who said firing me from Inter was a mistake, as the coach Milan? Mancini is one of the best managers I know and he needs no endorsement. While I want to thank him for what he said, I want to stress it, to highlight and clear it: Vincenzo Montella is the manager of this squad, of this club; and of course I wish Mancini the best. But for the future of the club, we have Montella.
“What is the backbone of the current squad? Well first of all my observations are those of an outside observer, I’ve watched all the matches since last August, I talked about them with everyone including Adriano Galliani so I have my ideas. My idea is of a talented, future-oriented squad.
“I think we’re the youngest squad among the 20 squads in Serie A and this fact is an act of great courage, someone might even consider too much, but for those who observe from outside, I can say that I have a very talented young squad and I see from outside that there are some young players from our academy that are guaranteed for the future. At the same time, I think that we must help them with some experience, with players who can help these young talents grow, creating a mix that has always been a success between experience, talent, habit to playing important matches and mental-physiological freshness that makes young and experienced talents who can lead us to the top.
“If there’s room for young Italian talents or other profiles? We can’t do without Italian talents, apart from regulations and the fact that 8 players must come from our academy or from Italian background. Luckily, we have lots of them. We are not aiming only at international level. Galliani told me that within our academy, there are several players who are very strong.
“What department on the pitch needs most intervening? There is not one part of that team that is more fragile than others. The idea of Massimiliano Mirabelli is to reinforce the squad in the market, it needs to be shared with Montella. As for the profiles, I can tell you that some of the names we’ve thought are appreciated by the new ownership. We’d like to have within the club 1-2 very high profile, world class, players. You can imagine that it’s not easy to fulfil this promise and it takes the club on one side and the player on the other, but of course we’d like to go in this direction.
“The sporting side? Mirabelli will be the director of sport. We have no intention to revolutionize everything. Milan is already working. We’re in April and until the end of May we’ll have the time to talk to everyone and pave the way towards the best possible future for the beginning of pre-season.
“The contracts that need to be renewed? Up until now I preferred not to make any meetings because formally the meeting would have to be shared. But from tomorrow we will have the operating activity begin and so the phones [of agents] will start ringing. There are players expiring in 2018 and we have priorities. For example, Suso is a priority, and we will have a busy schedule over the next days.
“The renewal of Gianluigi Donnarumma? I can confirm that there is the will to solve this quickly as a club and make Gigio a future figurehead. There are contracts and discussions to be had and we will certainly make this a priority. Gerard Deulofeu [on loan at Milan from Everton]? It’s a hot topic, we know that we have these players and these are the contract and of course his potential his huge. We’ll talk to Montella and try to understand what we can do with Deulofeu and we’ll see.
“The Europa League? The Europa League is an important step forward because if you do not participate, if you miss the European stage, well, it’s something you miss, because you need to get accustomed to the European league. I know playing once a week allows you to rest more but if we want to be a stronger side, it’s important to qualify for the Europa League to get used to 2 mid-week night matches. We’ll see what happens over the next month.
“If Milan will be ready to fight for the Scudetto next year? I said that our goal first of all is the Champions League, we want to have a strong and sound squad. We know there are stronger sides and in the past few years they’ve proven to be this competitive. We are lucky enough to have found a squad with a good starting point. We’ll do the best to provide Montella with a strong squad.”