Zvonimir Boban has given a long interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, openly talking about the lack of unity at the top of the club, contradicting Ivan Gazidis’ words from a week ago.
Last week Milan CEO Gazidis talked to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Andrea Di Caro about the rumours of a rapture between himself and Paolo Maldini & Zvonimir Boban, claiming that “it’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true [that there are two souls at Milan]. There is only one common vision: to have a modern Milan.”
However, Alessandra Bocci of the same newspaper today published an interview with the Diavolo Chief Football Officer, Boban, in which the Croatian gave his own version of things.
The premise of work is simple: “We don’t think of finding our Milan again because we are not fools and we know that it cannot be replicated. But we would like to bring the club back into the Champions League, with all the understandable differences with the top clubs of today.” However, there doesn’t seem to be one line to follow in the club, with Gazidis wanting Ralf Rangnick at Milan.
Boban, the CEO Gazidis last week got over all the rumours saying that there are no two souls at Milan. What do you think of it?
“Taking into account a thousand initial difficulties, cultural differences and very different Rossoneri passions, with all the divergent views and sometimes opposing thoughts, until a few days ago I thought that this was the reality.”
Then there were the rumours about Rangnick. There have actually been contacts with the German manager and this is not good for the club and does not help the work of the Technical Area…
“The fact that we are talking about these things is not good for anyone, especially on the eve of an important game, like all the games we’re playing now. The worst thing is that this destabilizing event occurs at a time during which the team is growing and Pioli’s great work is seen, at a time when it is perceived that a much better path is being formed. Not warning us was disrespectful and inelegant. It’s not ‘da Milan’. At least what we remembered was Milan…”
So there is no unity of purpose? Isn’t there a single system of work to return to one Grande Milan?
“As I see it, unity means sharing, unity is respect. In the end, the basis of everything is having this approach, it is the only way to be able to work and feel good.”
Have you asked Gazidis for clarification? How long has it been since you talked?
“We have already spoken to Gazidis. For the sake of Milan, it is certainly necessary that a meeting with the ownership takes place as soon as possible.”
You left FIFA because you had big plans with Paolo Maldini…
“I am happy to share and experience this time with a great friend with whom I’ve dreamed of working for a long time. Paolo, like nobody else, represents history and belonging to Milan, he is a good person, he has class and is now a credible and capable director. The chronicle of the facts? The summer mercato was very dynamic and in the end positive, then there was a very unsatisfactory start to the league campaign, for which we take all the responsibility; after which, the change of coach and the construction of a solid base for a project which has been designed for at least three years. This is the summary of our work so far.”
What budget could you work with for the future?
“The ownership must be clear in both the budget and the objectives. In summary: we respect the needs of economic and financial balance to ensure a healthy and correct management of the club, while the owners must respect leaving the sporting results to those who represent the history and values of a great club.”
So there isn’t…
“At the moment, despite the efforts in the January mercato and the many cuts, with two important sales and lowering of the wage bill, we still don’t know what margins we’ll be working with for the summer.”
One of the knots to untie is the renewal of Ibrahimović’s contract…
“Everyone sees the impact that Zlatan has had. He is a special player and I don’t think there is any doubt that we should already address a possible renewal for next season today, regardless of the final result of the team.”
There’s also the problem of the renewal of contracts of Begović and especially Kjær…
“There’s nothing to add to what we’ve seen on the pitch. They are experienced players who have made Milan more solid, it is likely that they will be able to do so also in the next seasons.”
There is the Youth Policy, claimed by Elliott as a cornerstone, shared by you as a matter of fact. But there is also limits. As Maldini has said many times, a team of youngsters has never won anything…
“We were asked to rejuvenate the squad and we’ve done it, but always claiming that we need the right mix of youth and experience. The winter mercato has shown that we were right, just see how the young players have grown in a short time.”
In short, is there an agreement on strategies or not?
“We are sure that Milan has only one way: think big, for a simple fact – it’s called Milan, it has 120 years of winning history and it has won the Champions League seven times.”
So when will we see a Milan like that, at least capable of competing to return to the Champions League?
“In the meantime, we have to finish the season and see where we are, but it’s already a different Milan. We don’t say that we have to win next season, but we should be competitive and fight it out with everyone, at least in Italy. We are well aware that we are not experiencing the Milan of our day, but there has to be some real ambition that makes you dream.”
Ibrahimović is the junction, in one role or another. Will he stay?
“Paolo called him first and then I continued also because of the language and the Balkan character we have. It was fun when he called me at around 22:00 on Christmas Eve saying: ‘Boban, congratulations to Milan, you got Ibrahimović. Merry Christmas and see you soon’. Anyways, the OK from London came almost immediately. Let’s hope we can move forward.”
Great players, although senior, and good prospects are needed to bring Milan back to the top. It also takes, according to the ownership and not only, a new stadium. It’s a priority for Elliott. What do you think of it?
“It’s a great thing and you have to do it, it would be nice for the most important football city in the world. Having said that, the new San Siro with the most advanced standards would be great and I believe that Elliott with its directors would be more than capable of doing a world architectural miracle.”
There is this idea in people that the ownership is a bit far from the society of Calcio and the Italian society. What do you think?
“We know how important it is to have a Milanese and Italian identity. You can also inculcate it to foreign boys, I think there are many good examples. We understand that sometimes it’s difficult for foreign ownerships to understand it, but it’s a fundamental step. You must never get to the point of ‘de-Italianization’ and ‘de-Milanization’. It would really be like losing your soul. I say it as a patriotic Croatian who loves this club, this city and this beautiful country.”