With the uncertainty at management level at Milan, it’s unclear at this stage as to what the future holds for club legend Paolo Maldini.
The 51-year-old has seen a lot go on around him despite being back at the club for a relatively short time. Both Leonardo and Zvonimir Boban have departed, and while he currently holds a key role alongside CEO Ivan Gazidis and sporting director Frederic Massara, time will tell if it remains that way.
Ralf Rangnick has been heavily linked with taking up a pivotal role at Milan which could involve a dual position in both the boardroom and as coach, but as noted by Football Italia, he publicly denied that an agreement had been reached and was rather dismissive of the possibility of moving to Milan.
Speculation has persisted since despite his comments, and while there will be a lot to unpack if he does take up a position at the club, there is another element which needs to be considered too.
As per La Gazzetta dello Sport, Maldini has set specific conditions which must be met if he is to avoid following the same path as Boban and Leonardo out of the club. They involve guarantees that he will have a formal say in transfer market and coaching decisions, and in his defence, those are the minimum expectations he should have if he does stay on.
Importance of clarity if Maldini stays
If you google search ‘club legend’, the first thing that should show up is an image of Maldini. 901 appearances, an entire career spent with the Rossoneri spanning three decades and with 25 trophies won, he did it all for us as a player.
We waited years for him to return in a directorial capacity, and eventually in 2018 he came home. Gradually, his role has developed and evolved and now as technical director, he may well feel as though he has been given the power and responsibility that he desired to accept a return.
However, that is now seemingly under threat. With his allies around him moving on, he has perhaps become more isolated and with Elliott and Gazidis effectively calling the shots, it’s important for Maldini and the club as a whole to understand and make clear what the plan is moving forward.
The Rossoneri legend isn’t there for show. Naturally, it’s a huge bonus having such a respected and renowned figure represent the club and his presence in transfer dealings and commercial matters carries weight even now.
Nevertheless, he is capable and will no doubt want to do so much more. The worst thing that could happen is if a figure like Rangnick arrives ahead of next season and Maldini begins to feel undermined and looking from the outside in as decisions are made elsewhere.
That is effectively what led to Boban’s departure as his decision to publicly air his frustration didn’t go down well, and so there is a lesson to be learned there for Maldini. However, it will surely only lead to the same result if his position isn’t protected and reinforced if new faces arrive.
With that in mind, the touted conditions he has set in the report above make sense and are entirely fair. It’s hoped that the two parties can reach a mutual understanding on those points and Maldini still has a key role to play.
Perhaps combined with someone like Rangnick, they have the ideal combination of rebuilding the culture and direction of the club on and off the pitch after years of failure, while also respecting Milan values and traditions to ensure that they aren’t lost.
If dealt with in the right way, it could even be a perfect partnership and one that benefits all concerned.