Mirabelli spills the beans on Milan

Massimiliano Mirabelli spilled the beans on everything from Antonio Conte to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Cristiano Ronaldo and the Leonardo Bonucci “mistake.”

The ex-director of sport at Milan did not hold back when speaking to Sportitalia this evening about his short but eventful tenure under President Yonghong Li.

“They were 15 very complicated months and it’d be hypocritical for me to say we did everything well.”

Among the many situations that hit the headlines, Vincenzo Montella was sacked in November 2017 with Gennaro Gattuso promoted from the Primavera youth team.

“We got to April 16, the Derby against Inter, and the complicated season was coming to an end with Montella having done a good job. In my view, he deserved another chance to lead the Rossoneri.

“Of course, with hindsight it’s easy to say we got it wrong, but at the time he deserved to stay. We thought about this decision for a long time, not just for a few minutes.

“It’s true that we spoke indirectly to Conte. It was a chat, but it didn’t go anywhere.”

The summer transfer campaign had some peaks and troughs, as Bonucci arrived from Juventus and was immediately handed the captain’s armband on his Milan debut, while others like Andre Silva and Nikola Kalinic flopped.

“I don’t think you can consider Bonucci’s signing to be a flop. He was really eager to come to Milan when I contacted him. He wasn’t happy at Juve and we took the opportunity.

“It was a mistake giving him the captain’s armband, not because he’s a bad guy, but there were others with more of a history with the Rossoneri who deserved it.

“Andre Silva will still bring a healthy profit to the Milan coffers. The team needed to be rejuvenated and rebuilt, so we worked to sign promising players who needed time to prove themselves in a difficult arena like Milan. It’s a pity Silva left, because I believe he’s got a bright future ahead of him.

“It was well known that we met with Aubameyang and he was my only objective for the attack, even if Borussia Dortmund were asking for a lot of month. While I was working to bring him to Milan, I also had to listen to the demands of the Coach who considered Kalinic his Number One choice.

“It was a difficult negotiation process for Aubameyang. We were negotiating for four strikers, who were Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain and Ciro Immobile.”

Now there is strong talk of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return from the LA Galaxy, but Mirabelli has a revelation on that too.

“Warming the hearts of Milan fans with a great champion who once wore the jersey is wrong. He was offered to us too and we said no, because Milan needed to buy players for a new era and Ibrahimovic – despite still being a champion – is simply too old to fit into that project.”

Mirabelli’s most difficult approach was with agent Mino Raiola, as they clashed so badly that Gianluigi Donnarumma’s representative refused to negotiate with him directly, only speaking to CEO Marco Fassone.

“It’s not that we hate each other or were at war, we simply were trying to look out for our own interests. Mino was probably accustomed to a different approach with my predecessors (Adriano Galliani).

“Let’s not forget that Donnarumma had not renewed his contract with Milan before I arrived, despite his excellent rapport with the club. It was a long and tough summer, but at the end of the day we did extend the deal without giving Raiola the €30-40m commission he wanted.

“At times things got a little heated. We signed Pepe Reina because at the time we were under siege over the Donnarumma contract and felt we were being held to ransom, so had to protect ourselves with an alternative.”

Juventus made a big splash this summer by signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid for €100m, but Mirabelli has another revelation.

“It was an approach that we too had considered and we discussed it under the table with Jorge Mendes. We knew he had problems at Real Madrid. We talked about the salary and everything, but then the Chinese owners put a stop to everything because the costs were not sustainable.

“With Milan’s current owners, CR7 would’ve been wearing the Rossoneri jersey.”

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