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“That’s a lie”: Maldini speaks out for the first time after his dismissal

Few names are more synonymous with AC Milan than Paolo Maldini. In the summer, the 55-year-old was shown the door – now he is breaking his silence and has come down hard on the club bosses in Milan, especially one

Maldini has played for the Lombards since his youth and was a professional from 1985 to 2009, winning almost everything that could be won with the club – including the European Champions Cup and Champions League five times. He was captain for twelve years and Technical Director from 2019 to 2023.

In this role, he made a significant contribution to Milan becoming champions in 2021/22 and also playing a more important role internationally again. None of this helped him, however, as there were numerous disagreements between the club management and Maldini after US investor Gerry Cardinale joined the club in 2022, which ultimately led to the dismissal of the former world-class defender.

Maldini then went into hiding for months, but has now broken his silence. “I didn’t want to act on impulse, I waited for things to calm down a bit,” said Maldini in an interview with “La Repubblica”, also talking about the difficult relationship with Cardinale, who had no contact with top European soccer until he joined Milan. According to him, Milan had tried to apply the US model – financial goals were placed above sporting ones.

“Cardinale wanted to win the Champions League,” Maldini revealed of the investor’s lofty plans, adding that he had drawn up a three-year plan to achieve this. This was never implemented, as Maldini and sporting director Frederic Massara had previously been dismissed. Milan’s general director Giorgio Furlani (44) is said to have been primarily responsible for this. “He spread the word that Massara and I did not share the club’s economic and strategic goals,” said Maldini, emphasizing: “That’s a lie. “

He had also never acted on his own authority, especially as he personally had no signing authority anyway. “Every player we brought in was agreed with the management and the club owners. During my time, 35 to 40 players came in – and I didn’t sign any of them. Many of our proposals were even rejected. I was always told: ‘We don’t know anything about soccer, but…'” Maldini was keen to emphasize that all transfers were chosen by him and his team and that he was not talked into anything. “Nothing was ever forced on me, in which case I would have left the next day.”

Maldini also criticized Milan president Paolo Scaroni, who apparently has little interest in the club. “He never asked me about the players, nor did I ever feel any support. On the contrary: I often saw him leave the stadium when the opponents equalized or took the lead. Who knows, maybe he wanted to avoid congestion? But I remember very clearly that he was in the front row when we became champions. I can say that it was the same with Ivan Gazidis (former manager, editor’s note) and Furlani. “

Personally at peace with himself

Maldini looks back on his personal record with satisfaction. In the 2022/23 season, “we clearly exceeded our sporting and financial targets. We had expected to be eliminated in the Champions League group stage and to play in the Europa League in the spring.” As is well known, Milan reached the semi-finals of the top flight, where they were defeated by city rivals Inter (0:2, 0:1). In terms of personnel, players such as Rafael Leao, Theo Hernandez and Sandro Tonali came to San Siro under his aegis.

Maldini feels particularly vindicated by Tonali. “Nobody at the club wanted him – and we then sold him for five times what we paid.” According to Maldini, however, he knew nothing about Tonali’s gambling addiction, which led to the midfielder being involved in a betting scandal and a ban of several months as a result. “I was shocked, I’m very sorry for him. “

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