AC Milan and Silvio Berlusconi look for managerial and financial investment
News emerged last week that AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has two things on his mind. The first is former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, and the second is the ex-prime minister’s desire to find foreign investment.
In regards to the former, Milan find themselves to be just one of a number of clubs seeking Guardiola’s signature. However, the club may have a leg-up on the competition as Vice-President Adriano Galliani refuted the two parties had met in New York City recently. Galliani’s comments suggest the club and manager may have held talks, and it is no secret Berlusconi is a big fan of the Spaniard.
The club currently sit in 11th place in Serie A, gaining only seven points from seven matches. The Scudetto is already out of reach for the Rossoneri and a European place is the only conceivable consolation for the club. Meanwhile, Milan still have a chance at progression from the group stage of the Champions League, but the club have looked less than convincing in their two matches thus far.
But while many believe Guardiola is the man to turn the Rossoneri around, his appointment seems unneeded unless the club can find the foreign capital it is looking for.
Reports indicate Berlusconi is attempting to land either Russian or Qatari financial support for the club. The much needed investment could inspire Guardiola to return to management, however, without the needed finances Guardiola may decide to wait for a more promising employment opportunity.
While most see Guardiola as an astute tactical manager, few seem to realize he managed a team of world class players at Barcelona – at the very least ignore this aspect of Guardiola’s time there. Guardiola would inherit a Milan side without any players deemed world class; though he would have a rising star in Stephan El Shaarawy.
Fortunately for Guardiola, – and his Barcelona replacement Tito Vilanova – he landed his first senior level managerial job with one of the best clubs in the world. Barcelona already had numerous pieces in place from successful manager Frank Rijkaard. Not only did Guardiola’s side already contain Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, but the club could afford to buy the likes of David Villa and Gerard Pique. Barcelona’s side also contained much of the Spanish squad that won the European Championship and would go on to win a World Cup and a second straight European title.
Milan on the other hand, do not have the luxury of these star players, and arguably the club have a mediocre squad at best. Guardiola would need to be a miracle worker to get Milan to repeat their best of the past two seasons.
Guardiola’s signature could be coaxed by foreign investment or vice-versa. Reports surfaced last summer that Russian company Gazprom were ready to invest $233 million for a 25% stake in the club. That deal has since gone cold with a new front-runner appearing.
It seems Qatar Investment Authority (aka Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund) are interested in purchasing 30% of the club for $324 million, according to Gulf Daily News. Though Galliani has refuted these claims, reports suggest the two parties are continuing to meet regularly. GDN reported Berlusconi’s Mediaset company would partner with the Qatari owned Al Jeezera network also.
Qatar Investment Authority – the financial arm of Qatar, attempts to diversify the country’s reliance on income from energy sources (oil and natural gas) – became the majority shareholder of Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, before buying the remaining shares of the club this year.
Since QIA took over the club, PSG have spent more money on players than any other team in world football – approximately $257,000,000. This has raised questions over the club’s ability to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (QIA are also purchasing real estate in cities around the world including London and Paris’ Champs-Elysees. The Olympic Village in London was even sold to the Qatari Ruling Family for $895.3 million, which left UK taxpayers $442 million out of pocket).
The amount of money QIA would invest in Milan is only conjecture at this point. However, with a larger global brand in Milan, it would not be unrealistic for QIA to shift focus toward the Rossoneri.
While PSG have had considerable investment, Spanish side Malaga have seen their Qatari owner Sheikh Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani pull the plug on his investment of the club. Though Al Thani’s inner circle contends the Qatari is still on board, others have reported he is trying to off load the club. Last season players reportedly went unpaid by the club, and despite qualifying for the Champions League were not paid their contractual bonuses.
Regardless of Berlusconi’s decision to sell stakes in Milan, the 2012-13 incarnation of the team are a shell of the great sides featured in Berlusconi’s 26 year spell. Whether the club hire Guardiola or receive foreign investment, the club have a lot of work to do to get back to the level of one of the top clubs in Europe; or even Italy.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter: @calciofarmer.