AC Milan back at the top of Italian football

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Reggio Emilia (Italy) (AFP) – AC Milan are back at the pinnacle of Italian football, with a 19th league title officially won on Sunday night, and are reliving their glorious hours after an anonymous decade, before perhaps switching hands this summer.

With a clear victory on the field of Sassuolo (3-0) the Rossoneri put an end to the enormous tension that has accompanied this year’s Italian Championship: they closed their season in a sprint with 16 games in a row – only one setback in the second round – and are two points clear of Milan rival, Inter, who triumphed over Sampdoria (3-0).

Instead of Juventus, sent back to its first season without a title for eleven years, then Inter, defending champions with the best selection on paper, or then Naples, still stuck in the Maradona era, it is therefore this reborn Milan with a strong French accent (eg Giroud, Maignan, Hernandez, Kalulu) who won the day.

The last title of Italian champion of “Diavolo” – nickname of the club in Italy – dates back to 2011.

The club still belonged to Silvio Berlusconi, the one who made it a giant of European football for 30 years (1986-2017), with stars – Maldini, Van Basten, Pirlo, Gullit, Rijkaard, Weah, Shevchenko, Seedorf -, du offensive play and titles galore.

Olivier Giroud scored the second goal for AC Milan in Sassuolo, May 22, 2022 Filippo MONTEPORTE AFP

But since then, the Rossoneri’s star had faded, the coaches had succeeded at breakneck speed and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in attendance for the 2011 title, likely failed to recognize the Milan club when he returned in January 2020.

Maldini’s vision

But “Ibra” flourished in a role of link between this great forgotten Milan and the new that sought itself, protecting under its broad shoulders a new generation of players such as Théo Hernandez, Rafael Leao, Franck Kessié, Sandro Tonali.. .

The now forty-year-old will have been the relay race on the field and in the dressing room of coach Stefano Pioli, who came on the bench without a record in October 2019 at the head of an agitated team.

Day in and day out, Ibrahimovic reiterated that Milan – a club with seven Champions Leagues – should aim for the title and nothing else. No way for him to rejoice at the second-place finish he took last year, even if it allowed the club to find the Champions League after an eight-year hiatus.

And he finally managed to convince everyone! Here Milan is champion again and joins the winners of Inter’s 19 coronations!

Sporting director and ex-AC Milan icon Poalo Maldini arriving before the match in Venice, January 9, 2022
Sporting director and ex-AC Milan icon Poalo Maldini arriving before the match in Venice, January 9, 2022 Marco BERTORELLO AFP/Archive

In addition to the weight of “Ibra”, another veteran striker, Olivier Giroud, 35, will have been a major contributor to the business with, in addition to his capital double on Sunday, his two goals in the derby in February (2-1). Inter, morally moved, then came to a bit of a standstill as they raced for the title.

This rossonero triumph is also that of Paolo Maldini, praised for his smart and visionary recruitment, aimed at the youth, in a role of sports director taken on in June 2019 after Leonardo’s departure.

Sale in sight?

The club’s legendary ex-defender embodies continuity with the golden era of European triumphs – winning five C1s on the grass pitch – in a club that now flies the American flag.

Elliott Management, an American investment fund, somewhat coincidentally acquired AC Milan in 2018, as the previous owner, Chinese businessman Li Yonghong, was unable to repay a loan.

This fund has never made a secret of the fact that its goal was a medium-term resale once the accounts are cleared and sporting credibility is restored, which will have happened in just four years.

So it could have been time for Elliott to grow his investment (740 million euros since 2018, according to the Italian press) by selling this club, which has once again become attractive to supporters and sponsors alike.

The club is subject to “two offers” of takeover, chairman Paolo Scaroni had recently indicated.

According to various media, the potential buyers are an investment fund from Bahrain, Investcorp, but also the American investment fund RedBird Capital Partners. All for an amount that would amount to more than a billion euros.

despite the win over Sampdoria in San Siro, Inter Milan remain 2nd in Serie A on May 22, 2022
despite the win over Sampdoria in San Siro, Inter Milan remain 2nd in Serie A on May 22, 2022 MIGUEL MEDINA AFP

Beyond the club itself, these investors would be interested in the new stadium project – synonymous with higher ticket revenues – that the two Milanese clubs have been working on for several years. While waiting to turn the page on the aging San Siro, who was able to experience his swan song at the opening ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics.

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