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New Milan CEO Marco Fassone left many convinced after his unveiling at Casa Milan earlier today, but after talking the talk, can he walk the walk? The pressure is on him to execute his plan.
Just 24 hours before Milan’s big clash against rivals Inter in the Derby della Madonnina, a new page was turned in the Rossoneri history books, and it marked the start of a new and exciting era for the club.
Following two years of disillusionment about the possible selling of the club, a deal was finally concluded on April 13, and it welcomed the arrival of Yonghong Li in place of long-standing president Silvio Berlusconi.
It was a relationship that had gone on for nearly 31 trophy-laden years, but it was a move that many would deem necessary in order for the Rossoneri to restore itself to its former glory… And one man at the heart of Milan’s new project is Marco Fassone.
The former Inter director has officially replaced Adriano Galliani as CEO, and so far he left many impressed in the way he handled the first official press conference under the club’s new owners.
Portraying an approachable and transparent nature at his unveiling, Fassone laid out a clear plan of his and Yonghong Li’s ambitions for the sleeping giants.
Speaking at Casa Milan on Friday morning, Fassone said: "I wanted to thank Mr. Li and Mr. Han, who have faith in me and who have endured various temptations. I'll try to give my all and will be completely dedicated.”
"In addition to President Berlusconi, I must thank Barbara and Adriano Galliani. The last thought goes to you and Milan fans. We chose to stay behind the scenes, making life complicated for you, because you had to follow this huge change with little information. From this moment on the relationship between you and us will be different.”
Addressing the fans was gesture that many would have deemed unnecessary, but in doing so, he has already bridged the gap of the distance that was created between the club and the fans after months of uncertainty.
It didn’t stop there though, as Fassone tackled each question, which was at the back of every fan’s mind, with composure, knowledge, and assurance, and in doing so, he calmly drew out a plan for the club…
Naturally and unsurprisingly, the biggest topic on everyone’s lips was the status of Gianluigi Donnarumma. With the 18-year-old’s contract set to expire in June 2018, fans have anxiously been waiting for news that talks over an extension are on the cards. Much to their relief, Fassone made it clear that securing the teen’s future was of the main concerns for the new management.
"I can confirm that there is the will to solve this quickly as a club, and make Gigio a future figurehead,” revealed the 53-year-old. “There are contracts and discussions to be had and we will certainly make this a priority."
He then went on to admit that he wouldn’t only stop at Donnarumma, but will look at improving deals for the likes of Suso, who has been heavily linked with a return to Barcelona.
That news will surely bode well for Vincenzo Montella, who has played an impressive role in managing the players and, of course, creating a united environment within the club.
The former Fiorentina tactician has found his future in a precarious position, with rumuors of Roberto Mancini set to take over in June, but Fassone wasted no time in putting the speculation to bed.
Addressing one of the journalists, he said: “I’ll gladly answer this question; Montella has all our respect and our appreciation. In June last year we liked him. Our total and full support and support is in Montella. The key step will be putting us at a table with the Coach and discussing our ideas together in order to operate on the market.”
Some reports in Italy have claimed that new sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli will have about €150 million to spend during the transfer market, and while there is yet to be any official confirmation of the figure, Fassone is well aware of what is needed in order to build a competitive team again.
“We will have a significant budget, the goal is to build a very competitive and ambitious Milan over the coming years. Of course, I will have the economic means to try to create a team to achieve these goals in the short term.
"I can assure that there are no economic problems. Financially we have innovative ideas for the club. Then there's my job. If we want to bring AC Milan to compete with giants of world football, we will have to double our revenue and perhaps more.”
One of Milan’s biggest contributors to their financial losses has been their failure to qualify for any European competition in three years, in particular the UEFA Champions League. A possible €50 million can be earned just by qualifying for the tournament, and with the new management promising to rebuild the team, anything less than a return to the prestigious competition by next year will be deemed unacceptable.
"We are Milan, we don’t have a chance to take things step by step and see what happens," Fassone added. "The idea is to return to the Champions League as soon as possible. Our absence from the competition is too long, UEFA have given us a hand with the fact that next season the top four will go in the Champions League. The goal is to participate in the 2018-19 season.”
Another long-term plan to make revenue is to develop a stadium owned by the club, and after plans for a 48 000-seater ground fell through, the former Napoli man didn’t rule out the possibility of kick starting that proposal once more.
“Milan can grow thanks also to a stadium. Experience tells us that all clubs - such as Juventus, Bayern and Arsenal - have doubled their turnover in a year. All this should make us compete with the big names. We'll talk with City of Milan and Inter.”
So far, Fassone has provided the fans, the media, and even the team with what they wanted to hear, but the biggest question that remains is whether or not he can execute his plans properly.
A structure and a vision certainly seems to be in place, but to truly win over the hearts of the Rossoneri faithful, Fassone and company will have to slowly start ticking off all those items on his to-do list…. Starting with Donnarumma.