SASSUOLO, Italy (Reuters) – AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli said his side should savour their first Serie A title in 11 years, secured with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo on Sunday, but challenged his players to get ready to compete with the best teams in Europe next season.
A double from Olivier Giroud and a Franck Kessie strike earned Milan a final-day victory at Sassuolo to take the trophy ahead of rivals Inter Milan.
Pioli celebrated with his players and thousands of fans who had made the journey to Emilia-Romagna for the historic day, before looking ahead.
“We are Milan, we are back to being Italian champions, we will be in the first tier in the Champions League next year,” Pioli told reporters.
“Let’s enjoy this victory because it is right for everyone to enjoy it, then afterwards we have many ambitions to compare ourselves with the best in Europe.
“We have won a difficult championship against strong opponents and I believe that the value of the victory must be strengthened by having overtaken strong teams like Inter and Napoli, and Juventus. Over time we too have become strong.”
Pioli praised the club’s hierarchy for their role in the title win, and for the faith they had shown in him to see through his project.
“The directors have created a winning mix of young and experienced players and we’ve built a winning mentality,” he added.
“I have never felt so good, I have never felt so appreciated as in the Milan environment and this has allowed me to give everything to my players and they have been good at giving me everything.
“My idea is to improve the players I have, but it’s all the more difficult without talent. The club’s ability to sign talented players brought results. Congratulations to everyone.”
(Reporting by Peter Hall; editing by Clare Fallon)