Fassone: “We never questioned Montella, Milan want to bring in €60-100m from China, we found an agreement with Juve for Bonucci in half an hour, Elliott…”

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Marco Fassone before Atalanta-Milan at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia on May 13, 2017. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
Marco Fassone before Atalanta-Milan at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia on May 13, 2017. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Marco Fassone has given a long and extensive interview to il Corriere dello Sport, discussing the defeat to Lazio, the debt to Elliot, and the commercial plans of Milan: ‘we want to reach €60-100m in Chinese revenue the coming years.’

It was a summer full of hope and euphoria for Milan fans as the new ownership spent over €230m to change the face of the Rossoneri and at least on paper, create a squad that can challenge for top spots.

But after Sunday’s bad 4-1 defeat to Lazio, some people once again started to doubt everything, calling for the head of Vincenzo Montella who last season brought Milan back to Europe.

CEO Marco Fassone decided to give a long interview to il Corriere dello Sport, saying this defeat – while important – does not change at all the objectives of Milan, who will continue to fight for a Champions League return. Fassone also discussed the commercial aspect and the Elliott debt.

“If I’ve absorbed the disappointment of the defeat against Lazio? This is the first ‘down’ day since the start of the season, but playing right away will help us – we will not have time to shout and make too many speeches,” the 53-year-old told the newspaper as he sat in their office yesterday.

Marco Fassone, Vincenzo Montella and Massimiliano Mirabelli before Milan-Cagliari at Stadio San Siro on August 27, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

“I think Mirabelli and Montella gave the right explanations. We’re aware that this is a team under construction, we were surprised by the proportion and size of the reaction to this defeat. Our objectives don’t change, this year we think we have the cards to play and compete for a top-four place, which gives access to the Champions League. That’s our stated goal, we’ve always said that.

“Stumbles like the one against Lazio are important to get rid of excuses and to start, from Thursday, with a different spirit. The defeat on Sunday undermined our certainties? Some doubt arrived, but Montella was good in the post-match to emphasize that defeats are part of a project of growth.

“[Although] maybe not [defeats] of this size… this is why when they showed me in the stands after the 4-0 I had a terrible expression on my face [smiles]. Against Cagliari, we did not play well but the three points had come. Against Lazio however… [Milan went into blackout after the first Lazio goal].

Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli. (@acmilan.com)
Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli. (@acmilan.com)

“Who will we face in the race for the top 4 spots? Juventus and Napoli have something more than others because they are solid and tested. The race has to with Inter, Roma and Lazio, those seem to me more in our reach. If we grow as a team, however, we can trouble everyone.

“An alternative to reach the Champions League would be to win the Europa League? For us it’s an important competition, a priority, that will help us familiarize ourselves with this kind of event. We will not be fielding our reserves because we want to get as far as possible and improve our rankings. We know it’s difficult and we can’t be fooled by the fact that the group appears to be doable. Let’s take things step-by-step. And if from February we’ll have a bit of luck with the draws…

Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli before Lazio-Milan at Stadio Olimpico on the 10th of September, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli before Lazio-Milan at Stadio Olimpico on the 10th of September, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

“If Inter are stronger than us [they are currently with 9/9 points]? Last year they finished behind us in the standings but Milan changed a lot. We will play without fear, against them and against others. In the derby and before, in the clash with Roma, we’ll get more ferocious than we are now.

“It’s a derby for me? I have good memories from the years at Inter. The biggest regret is that of the final year with Mancini: we were first in the table, we were flying high and then something broke [between him and then Inter CEO Michael Bolingbroke]. It’s a pity because we could’ve won the Scudetto. Roberto [Mancini] is a champion and I wish him every success because he deserves it. We won the summer mercato derby? Inter were subject to Fair Play and we’re going to be next year as well. But I don’t want to get into their affairs. Between our ownership and theirs, there’s great respect.

“Doubts about the future with Montella? We never questioned him and he would’ve remained even without qualification to the Europa League. I really liked how he worked last season, which was characterized by the difficulties in changing ownership. He has great talent in managing the group.

Vincenzo Montella during Lazio-Milan at Stadio Olimpico on the 10th of September, 2017. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Vincenzo Montella during Lazio-Milan at Stadio Olimpico on the 10th of September, 2017. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

“When was the Bonucci affair born? We were going to build a team of a certain type and in our base idea, Leo was not there. At the start of July, Montella and Mirabelli proposed purchasing Bonucci, explaining to me that he was the player who would complete our squad. We went straight for him even though it seemed impossible for me to sign him. And instead, in the first meeting with Marotta we found an agreement in half an hour. Leo is a leader, but he also has to settle in.

“I was a little disappointed when I saw that the criticism focused on him more than others. It was a negative performance from the team in general [against Lazio at Stadio Olimpico]. Bonucci is the captain, the leader. He’s not just a signing we really wanted, but a player who decided to put himself out there and talk on television after the match. He has all our appreciation. Sunday’s game doesn’t damage the confidence and esteem we have for him by even 0 per cent.

“A regret that we couldn’t get a big buy like Morata or Aubameyang [Milan also chased Belotti but ‘settled’ for Kalinić]? We are happy with Kalinić. Montella wanted him from the get go and we were keen on him. We kept other tracks open because we didn’t know what Fiorentina would do.

Leonardo Bonucci and Marco Fassone at Mondo Milan Museum on the 14th of July, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Leonardo Bonucci and Marco Fassone at Mondo Milan Museum on the 14th of July, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

“Raiola said we promised the captain’s armband to Donnarumma? I don’t want to create controversy. I only say that since Donnarumma ‘married’ to our project, we imagine that Gigio will become the captain of Milan. Giving him the armband now would have been premature, but if he remains for a long time like we hope… [Gigio signed a four-year contract worth €6m per season with Milan]

“Raiola said again that he does not believe in the Milan project? I was sorry to hear him say certain things. Raiola is the agent of Donnarumma, but also of Bonaventura, Abate and some other young players. I’ll admit, however, that Mino is consistent and his mistrust has been expressed since April, because he sees a dark and ominous future for the club. I’ve told him that our project will develop over four or five years. From his latest declarations, I deduce that despite of the investments, he still has doubts. But I’m happy that Gigio has chosen to stay – it means that he believes in us.

Massimiliano Mirabelli, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Marco Fassone at Casa Milan on the 11th of July, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Massimiliano Mirabelli, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Marco Fassone at Casa Milan on the 11th of July, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

“Galliani said in March Milan is not an orphan and if the Chinese don’t complete the buy then Silvio will stay? I thought that this skepticism was even heavier because Berlusconi was at Milan for 31 years, 27 of which were of great success. We’re in contact with Galliani and the relationship between us is good. It’s normal to be in the viewfinder of people in such a situation and this is also why we adopted a type of communication which is very direct: we explain everything to the fans with great transparency on social media, and I have noticed that people appreciate it. The number of season tickets compared to last year has almost doubled and we feel the warmth around Milan also away.

“I told the Guardian that regarding the debt to Elliot, there’s a 99% chance the club will remain with the current ownership, leaving a minimal doubt [you can read Fassone’s interview with them here]? I could even go to 99.9% but, as a manager in the face of a refinancing which isn’t yet certain, there’s still a minimum margin of doubt. I hope I can say that we will be at 100% in the sprint of 2018, or maybe even February-March, which is 6 months before the due date of Elliott. My words were designed to reassure the Milan fans, to let them know that Milan will never have to take the books to court and will continue to have solid ownership, even in the most distant and remote hypothesis.

Han Li (L), Yonghong Li (C) and Marco Fassone (R) during a press conference at Casa Milan on the 14th of April 2017. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

“If I’m getting tired of certain insinuations considering the fact that Milan’s economic plan and Mr. Li’s solvency seem to be on the rise every day? Sometimes yes. In the world of football, oriental ownerships are often seen as unobtrusive and uncommunicative.

“We, where we can, have decided to answer with facts and numbers. The revenues we expect to get from China? Top clubs bring in from there a few tens of millions of euros, €20-25m, even Manchester United who are the absolute leaders in that market. Our bet is to reach €60-70-100m in the coming years. How? We have a local company in China, not a simple office, and we have Chinese managers who can help us develop our business knowing the culture there and how to move.

Marco Fassone during a Milan event in Guangzhou, China, on the 16th of July, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Marco Fassone during a Milan event in Guangzhou, China, on the 16th of July, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

“The minimum sporting goal we’ve set? There is an economic plan that goes hand in hand with the sporting one. The goal is the Champions League zone: we want to get there, then keep growing and win it. Failure to do so, however, would not result in drama. I also presented to UEFA plans that do not involve us participating in the Champions League and therefore €40m less in revenue.

“If we arrive ‘only’ to the EL, we’ll not close shop. But we will not hide the fact that our shareholders have asked us to immediately return to the more prestigious competition. The meeting with UEFA? In May we got an extension to sign the Voluntary Agreement, we were called at a time when our plans were still superficial. We’ll meet again in November and hopefully everything will be in place.

Han Li, Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli before Lazio-Milan at Stadio Olimpico on the 10th of September, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Han Li, Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli before Lazio-Milan at Stadio Olimpico on the 10th of September, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

“If the fans can dream of future summers with big buys? Finding a deal for the Voluntary Agreement with UEFA can give us some advantages but we will still have UEFA constraints. This year the ownership accepted big losses that will be covered by capital increases in the next budget, and we’ve added 11 new players to the squad. In 2018, we will not be rebuilding things, the idea is to add 2-3 elements and improve where we need. We will have important markets even without major sales.”

Milan should leave the match against Lazio behind and without panic move forward. The elements were put in place by the ownership in the summer, and now it’s Montella’s turn to create a team.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. “We, where we can, have decided to answer with facts and numbers.” correctamundo mr fassone, thats the correct way to do it.
    Now, Its much too early to sack montella now but when the season is taking shape in mid season (10-15 matches from now) i hope u can answer questions regarding montella only with facts and numbers and deal with him accordingly, no fuss no muss

  2. Montella should leave now. Really surprised that he was not sacked last season. We were third on the table,we had games in hand and we lost everything. With montella, we can’t achieve anything. He is not very different from inzhagi, brochi but never in the same class with peligrini

    • Let me see if I understand….so if we were third, that’s the players merit or something, but if we fell a few spots, it’s Montella to be blame. You are funny, as a lot of other “coaches” and “CEO-s” on this blog. I believe you have forgotten last summer we didn’t buy anything of close to anything, and Montella had to work with that material, and we beat Juventus twice, and now we are in Europa League after years of darkness. And now when ha has 11 new players (all defensive is new), a lot of them which didn’t play together more than 1-2 games we have to sack him just because…..

      • Unbelievable how people react to 2 bad games with 7-8 new players in the first team!
        We all knew it will take time before team cohesion can be built. I am sure by December Milan will be a much different team than now.

        I like Montella’s style. What he did last year was excellent. And Hopefully he will remain with us for a long time.
        Liverpool lost 5-0 to Man city and I didn’t see people jumping on Klopp’s throat! and Liverpool are virtually the same team as last year!

        • As much as you like him if results doesn’t improved i can bet u he’ll be fired,he have to adjust his tactics,play rightful players and start bringing in positive result.Management spent too much money for him to fail.He have no excuse

        • Anyone who compares milan – lazio to man city – lpool clearly didnt watch those matches. Mane’s stupid red card anyone? Before that the match was pretty even, even though henderson couldve done so much better as mf and capt and matip shouldve stopped pretending he’s beckenbauer. Very different from what happened at olimpico. Anyone who plays football, even only on goddamn playstation, knows how hard it is to fight back with only 10 players, especially if the one who gets red carded is ur key player. Hell, personally i’d rather concede one goal early in the game than playing with 10 men for >60 mins. Im sure pro players agree with me, thats why any cb not named paletta would rather let opponents bury 90% goalscoring chances than fouling them inside penalty box (especially fouling from behind) denying clear goal scoring chance risking getting red carded in the process ruining the game plan for his own team. Remember messi’s solo run goal vs madrid in 2010/11 ucl semi final? Pepe and marcelo couldve easily fouled him from behind but they didnt because they didnt want to get red carded and still concede penalty kick.
          Regarding montella, he’s been bad since february so he’s been bad for almost 8 months, not mere 2 games. But then again, u wrote “milan played well for 70 mins” or something to that effect on another article so i think theres no reasoning with u

      • Spare us the sob story of Montellas so called “achievements” …If the club bought 11 players as you say,which coach who has logic or is worthy to coach a rebuilding milan, would choose to bench 70million worth of those players on the bench,as well as Bonaventura AND Kalinic,only to play forever inconsistent montelivo, inexperienced Clabria, and southampton flop,i repeat SOUTHAMPTON flop borini!? And expect to even be an attacking threat to Lazio? Well end up just using the “Milan is still under construction” excuse till the end of the season!! just tell me which big coach would do such? Given hes responsiblities its understandable that the fans reacted with such hosility! .Hes now been given the players,and only proved hes incapable of assembling them by conjuring such an absurd set up! So please,enough references about him beating Juventus twice.Right now we looked shaky against Cagliary and he showed that he learned NOTHING P.S liverpool played with 10 men loosing their most lethal attacker playing away,people didnt jump on Klopps throat because he didnt use a second rate selection,he did the best HE COULD

        • I agree with you 100%. Well said. Montella failed because of the wrong team selection, wrong formation and wrong tactics vs Lazio.

          Milan have 6 center backs with attack minded wingbacks that are very good at playing the ball long and making good crosses in the box.

          Why not play to the strength of the team instead of making them ineffective in a useless formation?

          Why is Montella not playing Hakan in his preferred role? Why did we sign him and now playing out of natural position.

          Ane what is with his love affair with Borini and Montolivo?

          These players are consistently performing poorly but they continue to get to the start.

          This is just crazy. And why inexperience Calabria over an experience healthy Abate?

          Calabria was horrible and should be loaned out or sold. His poor performance was to be blamed for 3 goals.

          Milan needs a new coach. Plain and simple. I cannot make sense of what Montella is doing with the team.

          His man management skills are poor, his team selection and tactics are also poor. Not suitable for a top club.

      • 4-3-3 againts 3-5-2… and the real formation yesterday 2-3-5 (kessie and calabria feels like messi)…

        and now you except win againts lazio?? why its so hard for montella talk to kessie and calabria not often to attack???

  3. Barcelona is the club that earns most money from China, around 15m. United earns more, if you include other countries in that part of Asia. We had Honda for years, a big star in Japan. We still didnt get any sponsors or big cash from Japan, even tho he sold a lot of jerseys there. I’m very curious and puzzled to know, how Fassone plans to make 60-100m in that short time. We won’t fulfill Elliot/FFP agreements with only CL money. The future doesn’t look bright but, lets hope for the best.

  4. Am not happy with montella but we should give him another chance to see what’s going to happen against udinese. His problem is selection and belief. He atimes act like local coach just because conto scored in Italian under 21 and calabria made assist then he used them against Lazio? Pls we didn’t buy Silva and kalinic to sit on the bench. Montella last chance be warned

  5. If we financially fail to get our revenues up, as a football club, we are screwed. Hope they know what they are doing. Never felt comfortable and at rest with ex inter people.
    (Yes yes I know its silly and all those other logic you throw around when I criticize the management. But I would have much felt at rest if it was nobody with shinter connection. ((Maldini)))

    @Milan10 I got used to the psychological mumbo jumbo stuff lol. I was expecting to hear of it soon from the coach and the team :’)
    We really need to open up a Milan Asylum. We can call it Milan Mental Maintenance.

  6. 100 mil from China would be a big boost if we can really pull it off.

    Anyways I like Mr Fassone’s calm and to the point answers.

    Regarding Elliot, I don’t know what time has in store for us. So far the Chinese have impressed and shown great intent , so I hope they stay put and take us back to where we belong.

  7. Hahahaha. Still talking about this. Of course the future doesn’t look bright. Fassone has no plan. It’s not realistic to bring 100M hahahaha. It is not realistic for Neymar to buy out his own contract but it has happened. Do you realize PSG paid nothing for Neymar. Technically, it was Neymar who bought out his own contract in 5 years installment. Future is not looking bright????? Hahahaha. Still talking about all this nonsense. U r a joke.

    • Fassone has no plan??????
      Anyone who spends over 700mil+ is gonna have a plan or two for every eventuality. Especially if you borrow from someone.
      So, according to you the Chinese owners have no plan and may risk financial ruin for what exactly?
      A chance the own Milan? Get real kid and leave the convo to the grown ups.

      • I am talking to gman. He’s the one who is clueless. Furthermore, don’t tell me Fassone has plans in China. Li yong hong is taking care of China market.

  8. I didn’t want to jump on the formation train but if we do decide to use the 3-5-2. I really wish we would have kalinic/cutrone for one striker position, and Andre silva/Suso for the second position, yes Suso.

    If Suso was given license to play closer to goal I think he could possibly be a hit as a second striker. Some of the quickest feet in serie a, a very good shot, and creative. He could drop deeper if necessary to pickup possession or drift out wide. I just dream to see him paired with one of our other natural strikers.

    Would love to see calhanoglu in the hole as a trequartista too. Another player who needs the freedom to play closer to goal.

  9. Milan måste spela 4-4-2 om dem ska konkurrera om scudeto, och nästa problem är att spelarna tar fel beslut hela tiden istället för att passa bollen enkelt så väljer dem att skjuta på fåglarna eller så dribbla och misslyckas totalt.
    Montolivo borde inte spela från start för när han spelar så blir milan mycket långsamt precis som när Zlatan spelar i united mycket långsamt kolla på united utan han då går det riktigt fort motståndarna hänger inte me.
    Och när det gäller matchen mot lazio så är det tyvärr montellas fel att han inte kan se var felet ligger så bör han inte vara milans tränare hur i helvet kan han starta med borini och en orutinerad ung anfallare så kan du starta när du möter botten lag och inte mot lag som man slåss mot om Champions League platserna kalinic och silva måste spela från start alltid.
    Bonaventura och Montolivo ska inte spela från start för och ni som har följt milan matcherna så har ni säkert märkt när bonaventura har bollen i en jätte bra kontring och har med sig 4 medspelare så väljer han att skjuta på läktaren istället för att passa till sina egna spelare, likadant montolivo och suso tappar för många bollar genom att välja drälla med bollen och tappar där det leder till att motståndarna gör mål, så länge det finns sånna spelare som spelar på detta sätt så kommer milan aldrig lyckas vinna något och dett bör montella se för såhär vinner man inte matcher. Lazio är inget bra lag vi ska absolut inte förlora mot dem.

  10. I think Ancelotti will return. According to reports Munich are preparing the replacement, so I think we will see Ancelotti back some time around the end of the season.. I do hope that Montella will do a great job now.

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