Paolo waited a long time to return to the club he loved: after a difficult period of apprenticeship, he became a leader even behind the desk. And on the pitch, his son Daniel found his first goal in A
Nine years, two months and five days. Maldini’s absence from Milan lasted so long. At the end of May 2009, Paolo ended his legendary career as a football player by greeting the Rossoneri people with a bitter aftertaste, generated by controversy and misunderstandings. On 5 August 2018 – after having kept away any hypothesis of entering society in the Berlusconian twilight and in the disastrous Chinese year – he accepted the proposal of the Elliott fund and made the new pact with the Devil. He did it among a thousand unknowns and doubts, because a complicated managerial role was waiting for him, in a football that was profoundly different from the one he had left. A little more than three years later, Maldini is still there, pampering his Milan champion of Italy.
“Director of strategic development of the sports area”. This was the Maldini manager’s first qualification. It took five seconds just to enunciate it, and at least five minutes to interpret it. “Yes, but what exactly does he do? What are his specific tasks? How much autonomy does he have, to whom he answers, how far can he go?”. Questions after questions, basically without a written answer in the manuals: the only way to understand Maldini’s work was … to let him do it. And evaluate the results.
Leonardo started teaching him how to move behind a desk of a top team, with whom he had shared a stretch of road as a footballer. Leo was the man to whom Elliott had entrusted himself to begin rebuilding Milan. And together with him, Maldini studied the players to bring to Milanello, but with a beastly effort: the rules of financial fair play loomed over every Rossoneri transfer market, burying genuine enthusiasm under a mountain of paperwork full of numbers, salaries, depreciation, balance sheet parameters. Stuff to give you a headache, and in fact Paolo will confess later that he hesitated several times, in the early stages of his adventure in a suit and tie. “Will it be the right place for me?”.
Overcoming that moment of uncertainty was fundamental. It is necessary, because the Milan world had a great need to recognize themselves in someone, to cling to a flag, to be represented. Time to settle in and immediately new changes: via Leonardo and inside Zvonimir Boban, another brother of a thousand battles on the green lawn. It is the 2019-20 season, Maldini changes his role and becomes the technical director. It is not an easy moment, however: Milan has excluded itself from the European cups to appease Nyon’s fury, the alternation on the bench between Gattuso and Giampaolo did not work. The CEO Ivan Gazidis has been in Milan for a few months, with whom there will be a couple of big misunderstandings: the South African contacts Rangnick for the bench and endorses the Superlega project without consulting Paolo, who publicly dissociates himself on both occasions. Then fortunately the calm returns and Milan regroups, using the stop due to the Covid pandemic to allow Pioli to create a real winning group.
Boban’s managerial parenthesis also ended in a turbulent way, Maldini found himself the absolute leader in the technical-sporting area. The ds Massara and the chief scout Moncada completed a work team that was headed by him, in concert with Gazidis who fixed the stakes established together with the Elliott property. Paolo has shown that he knows how to do it: the Hernandez coup, the handling of the Donnarumma case, the Tomori intuition, the insistence on Tonali … these were just some of the bets won. And today here we are, awaiting the renewal of the contract – expiring, like that of Massara – which will have to be the first move of the new ownership of the club.
The icing of this super season was his son Daniel’s first Serie A goal in La Spezia. Paolo was in the stands with shining eyes, just as happened to Father Cesare, who looked after his interests when it was his turn to take the field. “Don’t worry Adriano, I won’t take him away”, Cesare repeated to Galliani when they argued over Paolo’s contract renewals. And he has always kept his word, as befits another man who has won a lot with Milan. Because it is an infinite dynasty, that of the Maldini. And the legend continues.
May 23, 2022 (change May 23, 2022 | 08:27)
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