Mauro Tassotti believes Milan only need 2-3 signings to be competitive but says all depends on whether Zlatan stays.
Milan finished the 2019-20 season on a 12-match unbeaten run in Serie A which secured them a place in the Europa League qualification stage.
Next season the objective will once again be returning to the Champions League. With the Diavolo returning to the pitch in just over a month, La Gazzetta dello Sport conducted an interview with Mauro Tassotti, the legendary Milan right-back and assistant coach, who nowadays works with Andriy Shevchenko in the Ukraine national team.
Tassotti, Milan are looking for a right-back…
“I don’t understand why we should give you on a guy like Calabria who comes from the Youth Sector. Sure, it would ensure a valuable capital gain. Of course, he didn’t have a good season. But I would give him another chance.”
There is talk of Dumfries and Aurier for the future…
“Dumfries would be a prospect, but like I said, I wouldn’t take the chance away from Calabria. Also Conti was penalized by injuries, so selling him now wouldn’t make sense even considering the club’s budget situation, his price could go up.”
The first question, however, is Ibrahimović. The signature is expected and has not yet arrived. Would you keep him?
“Logically, yes. He’s strong, very strong and he’s worth an economic sacrifice. He’s received from Milan and has given to Milan. Age is what it is but I think it’s possible to find an agreement to stay together. There’s the technical aspect, which is indisputable, and there is the rest. Rafael Leão, for instance, developed with him. And then if he doesn’t stay then another solution would have to be sought. It wouldn’t be easy.”
Milan hung up waiting for Zlatan’s signing?
“I don’t think so, I guess the directors of have thought of other ways, but replacing Ibrahimović is quite complicated. It’s also difficult to manage him, he wants to play always and in every case. But he’s an intelligent man. He understands what he can do and Pioli has been good at finding an understanding. He’s made him perform at his best.”
Is the mercato blocked?
“I don’t see much movement in the other clubs either. This season was strange, the consequences of it will be strange as well.”
Is Milan that far from the top?
“From the top, yes, because Juventus and Inter are certainly traveling on other tracks for the moment. But it doesn’t seem to be that the other clubs have done so much to get closer and I believe that with some adjustments Milan can play with everyone. I don’t think they have much to envy Lazio and Roma. They just need a bit more time because many players are young and need experience. The quality is there. You don’t get this many points at the end of the campaign, no matter how strange it was in Italy after the lockdown, just by chance. The base is there. Milan must maintain continuity in their performance, then there’ll be integrations.”
How much do you think?
“2-3 acquisitions are enough. Milan aren’t a technically poor team and with the successes of these months they’ve gained confidence. Trust is important to achieve great objectives.”
Would a right-back, a midfielder and maybe a center back be enough?
“It all depends on Ibrahimović. If he doesn’t stay then everything we have to be rethought.”
Maldini arrived with Leonardo, who left. He involved Boban, who was fired. Do you think he’s right to stay?
“No matter what. For his skills, for what he does, for his history and for the value his name has in the world. Paolo is Milan. They say he made a mistake in some choices: you don’t crucify a director for that. We must also give time to make mistakes.”
Do you think the Elliott fund should spend more?
“These owners have spent, they have found many heavy contracts in their hands, and they had to pull out important players like Higuain and Bonucci. The moment is what it is. I don’t condemn Elliott. However, Milan must return to the top and I repeat that in my opinion it’s not too late to get there.”
What should we start from in the upcoming season?
“From the confirmation of fundamental players. Not only Ibrahimović, but also Hernández, Bennacer, Rebić, obviously Donnarumma and Romagnoli. Milan have a base. If you can keep it, you won’t need much more. It will take some time but the fans have already shown their patience. If you feel the desire to return to certain levels, you can beat the wait.”
As assistant coach of Ukraine, how will you experience the match between Shakhtar and Inter?
“By studying the situation. Shakhtar are doing well, but everything is different against Inter. Inter are a high-quality team and the technique changes everything.”
Pirlo became the coach of Juventus immediately. What do you think?
“Andrea was a magnificent player. Being a coach is a different job and we’ll have to see if it’s in his blood. But if Juventus have chosen him, they’ve had their clues.”
Some mentioned your name for the Juventus staff…
“Nobody has called me. And I’m well where I am, I would stay very well.”