MILAN, Italy (Reuters) – AC Milan will be well taken care of by their new owners following the club’s recent takeover, coach Stefano Pioli said on Friday, while all eyes are on Saturday’s Milan derby in Serie A with both sides missing key players.
U.S. investment firm RedBird Capital joined forces with the owners of the New York Yankees to complete the 1.2 billion euro ($1.2 billion) acquisition of Italian champions Milan, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The owners will be at the stadium tomorrow, they will probably meet the team,” Pioli told a news conference.
“I met (RedBird founder Gerry) Cardinale, he made me very enthusiastic. (Former owner U.S. private equity group) Elliott has brought Milan back to the top and the new ownership has the same ambitions. We are in good hands.”
Milan, who were held to a 0-0 draw at Sassuolo on Tuesday, will have a chance to take an important step towards building on last season’s success on Saturday when a win over local rivals Inter could prove crucial in their defence of the title.
Following Milan’s 2-1 derby victory last February, courtesy of an Olivier Giroud double, Pioli’s side will be looking to win consecutive games against Inter for the first time since 2011.
“We both know each other well, so tomorrow we will see more or less the same players who starred last season,” Pioli said.
“Oftentimes in recent editions Inter have come out on top, but not necessarily because they were outplaying us. They are dangerous from set pieces and restarts, so we will make decisions according to aspects such as these.
“It will be an even contest with no clear favourite. We must not lose focus for even a second. Effort, aggression and sacrifice will all be required.”
While Inter will be without Romelu Lukaku, who has a thigh injury suffered in training before their 3-1 win at home to Cremonese on Tuesday, Milan will be missing defender Alessandro Florenzi, who sustained a serious muscle injury against Sassuolo.
“We are gutted about Florenzi’s injury. He’s a leader on and off the pitch,” Pioli said. “We’re still evaluating how to proceed in order to manage his recovery in the best possible way.
“(Striker Divock) Origi is better but he will certainly start on the bench because he has only just returned.”
Milan concluded their transfer business with the arrival of two on-loan youngsters on Thursday – midfielder Aster Vranckx from Vfl Wolfsburg and right back Sergino Dest from Barcelona.
“We are quite crowded in some areas, but it will be an intense season and we will need everyone,” Pioli said.
“Dest? He has quality and pace, we got him to play the full-back position but he has the right characteristics to play in other roles too.
“Vranckx … combines quality and quantity, he has talent and is perfectly suited to our team”.
Pioli added that he was never worried about the possible departure of forward Rafael Leao, who attracted strong interest from Chelsea, British media reported.
“I have always seen him fully involved and determined,” he said.
(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)