Christian Abbiati is back at Milan as a Club Manager (‘I accepted it immediately’) and he hopes that Gianluigi Donnarumma will stay and that Milan can make top 4 next season.
After Gennaro Gattuso was named Primavera boss earlier this month, today it was confirmed that another Rossoneri legend is back at Milanello – Abbiati.
“Christian Abbiati is back home. A true Milan legend, he played 15 seasons in the Red & Black, winning 6 Italian trophies and 2 international titles,” a statement on the Diavolo website reads on Wednesday. “Today he has been named as Club Manager. He will report directly to the club’s Sporting and Technical Director Massimiliano Mirabelli and will be the liaison between the team and the Club.”
Abbiati retired from football at the end of the 2015/16 season and afterwards explained the team that season was different ‘in every regard’ from the Milan of the past as there were many players with bad attitudes and difficult players to deal with in the locker room. Now, however, with Vincenzo Montella in charge and after a few ‘bad apples’ left last summer, things are different at Milan.
“I’m very excited, returning to my second family is beautiful,” Abbiati, 39-year-old, said to MilanTV. “I accepted it immediately as I was offered, immediately. If I thought about coming back? No, but because with the change of ownership everything seemed a little different. Instead the new management called me and I accepted it right away. I’m happy to be here and work with the team.
“My role? I will be at Milanello, for any problem that arises I’m be then, then I’ll report any problems to the club. Milan? We have a good base, I also talked to some of my former teammates and they told me that this season the situation in the locker had improved. Last season has to be the starting point.
“Milan’s value? Going to Mondo Milan Museum the first thing is positive [referring to new signings who get a tour before signing the contract], in the first match at San Siro they will understand even more what Milan is. Gattuso? I’m happy he has returned. Training the Primavera is not easy.
“The future? We have to go back to the top four. For the club, it’s important to return to the Champions League immediately. My dream? To go back to winning right away.”
“For me, Milan is really my second family, being a year away from it I was suffering a bit but I followed the team from far,” Abbiati told reporters after officially re-joining. “The club underwent changes and as soon as they proposed me this responsibility in the club, I made the right choice.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with everyone: those who work behind the team, those who work at Casa Milan and those who work at Milanello. Milan to return to greatness? The club is working well on the market and let’s not forget, however, that the project already started last year.
“Gattuso? I’m very happy for Rino, because he’s a brother and one of my best friends. I wish him good luck and I will also do it in person, training the Primavera is prestigious, it’s an important job and I’m happy for him that he’s returned to these colors [Gennaro returned after leaving in 2012].
“My role [as a Club Manager]? I’ll be a reference between Milanello and the club, I’ll be the supervisor in Milanello and see what happens during training with the team, the coach and the technical staff. I’ll be the fact of the club that is always present with the team. The objectives? The Champions League. As I said before, last year a good job was done and this year our goal is top 4.”
The former goalkeeper also spoke to Premium Sport, saying: Milan has always been my second family and I’m proud of being back, as soon as the club gave me the chance I didn’t think for a second. My role? I’ll have to learn how to do this new role, but mainly I will be with the team and be present as a club figure at Milanello, and be in touch with the players and technical staff.
“A tip for Donnarumma? It’s been a while since I heard from him. The player wants to stay and now the club, him and his agent will decide on his future. I hope with all my heart that he can stay, he’s loved by all the fans and he’s shown his value by playing at a high level for a year-and-a-half. If he’s the new Buffon? Looking at his young age and what he’s done over the past year-and-a-half he’s proven to have great quality. He still has some improving to do though, because he’s only 18.
“The Milan market? The club is doing a great job and is preparing for an important season, in which the goal will be to return to the Champions League. Lucas Biglia to arrive? I don’t know, what I can say is that it’s good to bring champions to Milan. The more experience and the more technical ability there is, the better it is for the team. Then it will be up to the boss to decide who to play.
“Objectives for the next season? The Champions League has to be our goal for the season. That has to be the launch point from which to start again. Last year they did good work and now we’ve started with a project to take us forward. We hope to do everything to reach fourth-place.”
The returns of Gattuso and Abbiati show the understanding of Fassone and Mirabelli that in order to win – the Rossoneri, despite their new ownership, needs to be connected to its tradition and history.