Vincenzo Montella was pleased with what he saw in the 4-0 friendly win over Lugano and said ‘we are attentive to the market; every team is improvable’.
After a week of training, Milan had their first pre-season test as today (Tuesday) they faced FC Lugano for a friendly at the Cornaredo Stadium in Switzerland.
Coach Vincenzo Montella started the match with all the new signings he had available as Mateo Musacchio was alongside Gabriel Paletta, while Ricardo Rodriguez was in the left-back position, Franck Kessié in midfield along with captain Ricardo Montolivo & Andrea Bertolacci, and Hakan Çalhanoğlu & Fabio Borini played as wingers.
It took Milan two minutes to get on the scoresheet as good link-up play between Kessié, Montolivo, Bertolacci and Patrick Cutrone ended with the 19-year-old striker getting his goal. Montella changed the entire XI on half time, and in the 63′ minute, another Milan youngster – Giovanni Crociata – scored, with Jose Mauri assisting. Mauri made another assist in the 83′ minute, finding Jose Sosa, who stopped the ball on his chest, before finding the back of the net. The Argentine contributed an assist of his own as his corner found Gustavo Gomez’s head in the 90′ minute. A 4-0 win after 90 minutes.
“The performance? I’m satisfied with the attitude this week and also today, and all the players are motivated,” Montella, who celebrated his 43rd birthday last month, told Milan TV at the end of the match. “It was important to have a positive start and we’ve done exactly that. We didn’t expect Lugano to play with a three-man backline, it took us a bit by surprise but we found our feet.
“When we weren’t in possession in the first half, we didn’t do what we worked on, but the spirit was seen. In the second half we did better, especially in the build-up play. There are things to work on but I’m satisfied because I saw the right spirit. The training sessions? We have less time compared to last season because of the Europa League qualifiers just around the corner, but we will be in good shape for the games that count. We have to of course improve our fitness levels but it’s still early.
“The new players? There is a great spirit in the squad and everyone wants to show what they can do. Everyone is willing to work hard. For a start, I’m very pleased. The youngsters? In recent years, some players came through the Youth Sector. Today Niccolò Zanellato played well and I’m also happy for the Crociata goal. Cutrone is also growing a lot, he’s made a lot of improvement.”
Montella later added: “I saw a very good attitude and from a tactical standpoint I couldn’t ask for more. I don’t have much to say, I see a great spirit and we are only at the first week of training. Those who have arrived have great spirit but I’m also excited by those who have remained.
“The renewal of Donnarumma [the goalkeeper signed an extension to 2021]? It was a long soap opera, but the important thing was to reach the final result. Gigio is like a son to us, now he will need support so he can be focused and even better. Now he is to all intents and purposes a champion. I am happy and think that this is the right choice for him too. Over the last few days the situation had taken this route. What I’d tell him? I don’t know. I might ask him why he didn’t take his Matura…
“The whistles at M’Baye Niang and Mattia De Sciglio [both very likely to leave Milan this summer]? I didn’t hear them, but they’re used to it. Çalhanoğlu? I think he can play anywhere. With a little more freedom, he can express his talent to an even greater degree, even though Italian football does require a minimum of discipline. He’s very motivated and he won back some balls today. I think he needs to improve physically, but we will find a great player at the end of it.
“The squad? I think the club has moved well on the transfer market [Milan have already bought 7 players], and some thanks must be said to the players who played a great season last year. So far, we’ve worked well, but we’ll only tell how much the team has improved once we get on to the field. I think Napoli have reinforced the most by simply keeping the squad at their disposal intact.
“Lucas Biglia [Milan have been trying to close a deal with Lazio]? I know that the club is working well and can still do something more. A striker? You know more than us. All teams are improvable. We are attentive to the market and we are in sync with the directors to find the right profiles.
“Our objectives for the upcoming season? We won’t deny that the new owners have a lot of enthusiasm and many resources. We have important objectives and want to get back into the Champions League, but it’ll be tough, because other sides out there have already come together.
“It will be a very difficult fight but we are away of that fact that we can play for it.” Milan’s next pre-season match is in China, as they face Borussia Dortmund on the 18th of July (13:20 CET Kickoff).