New AC Milan coach Paulo Fonseca met with skepticism and doubts over the club’s transfer campaign

MILAN (AP) — New AC Milan coach Paulo Fonseca was met with skepticism and doubts about the club’s direction upon his arrival Monday.

Fans are upset that Bologna revelation Joshua Zirkzee has apparently chosen Manchester United over Milan and that the seven-time European champion still doesn’t have a replacement for the departed Olivier Giroud at center forward.

Milan has not made a single signing during the opening days of the transfer window — despite finishing 19 points behind Serie A champion Inter Milan last season.

“We all know that we need a center forward. We’re working together to bring in the right striker with the right attributes,” Fonseca said at his presentation after signing a three-year contract last month to replace Stefano Pioli. “If we want to play in the final third of the pitch, we need a player who can dominate in the final third.”

Added Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the new face of Milan’s management as a special advisor under American owner Gerry Cardinale: “We have someone in mind we’re aiming to sign. I’m not going to give names but there is someone we’re targeting.”

Giroud left after his contract expired and Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku have been mentioned as possible replacements. Francesco Camarda, the 16-year-old considered among Italy’s best young strikers, has been slated to start the season with Milan Futuro, the Rossoneri’s new Serie C side.

“There’s a Portuguese expression that says, ‘Hurrying and rushing is the enemy of perfection,’” Fonseca said. “We know what we want and we’ll do it when the time comes.”

Another issue for Milan’s market is that Pioli’s expected move to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia appears to have fallen through, leaving Milan still to pay the former coach and his staff an estimated 10 million euros ($11 million) in salaries.

“There’s something that I don’t understand about the club’s strategy,” Arrigo Sacchi, the former Milan and Italy coach, wrote in a Gazzetta dello Sport editorial. “I’m waiting for the opening moves. … We’re two or three months late.

“I wouldn’t go after top players. I would try to get some young players that have the desire to surprise and sacrifice themselves.”

A fan outside Milan’s headquarters before Fonseca’s presentation held up a sign in Latin that said: “So until when will Cardinale continue to abuse our patience?”

The gap to crosstown rival Inter has been evident with six straight derby losses for Milan. The first derby of next season comes in September. Napoli, the 2023 champion, is also expected to produce a renewed challenge under new coach Antonio Conte.

“We’ll fight in every match and that will be no different against Inter,” Fonseca said. “We can’t fear anyone.”

Fonseca has experience in Italy, having coached Roma from 2019-21. The Portuguese manager’s most recent job was at Lille. He also gained attention for his performance at Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk from 2016-19.

“I’m well aware that this is a huge responsibility but it’a also a huge source of pride for me,” Fonseca said. “Milan is a global brand.”

During his first day at Milan’s training ground, Milanello, Ibrahimovic showed Fonseca the club’s packed trophy room.

“I want to be part of the club’s history,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca, who is married to a Ukrainian, wore a pin featuring Ukraine’s flag on his suit lapel.

“That’s a personal matter. I think we have the responsibility to not forget what’s going on in Ukraine,” Fonseca said, referring to the ongoing war with Russia.


AP soccer:

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