Saturday, February 24, 2018 | ePaper
New owners want Milan in Champions League by 2018
AP, Milan :
Lyon's Mathieu Valbuena (right) kicks the ball with Besiktas' Atiba Hutchinson (left) during their Europa League quarterfinal soccer match in Decines, near Lyon, central France on Thursday.
AC Milan's new owners are aiming to make the team a force in European soccer once more, and they want to do so with a mix of star signings and talented young players such as teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The takeover of Milan by a Chinese-led consortium was finally completed on Thursday, after several delays, ending Silvio Berlusconi's 31-year reign.
During Berlusconi's time in charge, the Rossoneri won trophies at home and abroad, including eight league titles and five Champions League titles. But the seven-time European champion has declined in recent years and is currently sixth in Serie A. It hasn't participated in the Champions League since the 2013-14 season.
"The aim of the next few years is to create a Milan side which is very competitive and very ambitious ... we think we can reach this in a short time," new CEO Marco Fassone said at a press conference on Friday.
"We are Milan, we an't say 'slowly slowly and let's see what happens.' The idea is to get back to the Champions League as soon as possible, the aim is to be in it from the 2018-19 season ... UEFA has given us a small advantage with the decision that from 2018 Italy will have four teams in the Champions League, so from then I am certain Milan will be there."
Currently only the top three in Serie A qualify for Europe's premier club competition.
One of the immediate priorities for Milan's new owners will be tying Donnarumma to a long-term contract. The goalkeeper only turned 18 in February but has already played for Italy and is attracting interest from Europe's top clubs.
"We talked about it also at dinner last night with Berlusconi," Fassone said. "I can say that the new owners have all the consideration for Donnarumma that he deserves.
"On our part there is the desire to sort it out quickly and make Gigio (Donnarumma) a pillar of Milan's future."Â