Milan expert Peppe Di Stefano confirms Julen Lopetegui is unlikely to replace Stefano Pioli next season and insists the Rossoneri must hire somebody who will ‘upgrade’ the team in terms of results and playing style.

Milan are expected to part company with Pioli in the summer as the Parma-born coach failed to bring any trophy to San Siro after winning the Serie A title in 2022.

Spanish coach Lopetegui was seen as the leading candidate for the role, but more and more sources, including La Gazzetta dello Sport, claim the Rossoneri have decided against appointing the ex-Real Madrid tactician.

“It’s a deep moment of reflection because the decision on the next coach can’t be wrong,” Sky Sport’s Milan correspondent Peppe Di Stefano said on Thursday afternoon, as quoted by Milannews.

“They must replace a coach who, despite criticism has brought great results over the last four years, including the valorization of many players. Pioli brought Milan back to the Champions League, won one Serie A title and reached the Champions League semis. There are negative notes, too, like the six consecutive derby defeats, but I believe the positive aspects are more than the negative ones.

Milan expert explains club’s stance on new coach and what they ‘can’t afford’

“If Milan have decided to change, they can’t afford to get a coach who won’t upgrade this Milan side, in terms of results and playing style,” continued the reporter.

“Milan have been making assessments for months. They’ve spoken to many coaches and the one that had made the most steps forward was Lopetegui. However, the Spaniard has been seen by the Milan world as an almost ‘normal’ coach and for this reason, he was undervalued by the fans. On Sunday, against Genoa, ultras could remain silent or even protest because they want clarity on Milan’s future.

“The decision on the next coach is global because it involves Cardinale, Ibrahimovic, Furlani and Moncada. It won’t be an easy decision.

“Ideas must match. I think Lopetegui is practically gone, Fonseca is in the race, and De Zerbi is in the same situation, even if there haven’t been contacts between the two parties. Beware of outsiders: Van Bommel is on good terms with Ibrahimovic, and Thiago Motta, who, however, seems closer to Juventus. If there are other names, we’ll say them, but it will be a very intense month regarding the new coach.”

Gazzetta reported on Tuesday that De Zerbi was a candidate for the job, but the pink paper also reported there had been no contact between the ex-Sassuolo boss and the Rossoneri.

Pioli’s contract with Milan expires in June 2025. The Parma-born coach had been appointed by the Rossoneri in 2019 and won the Scudetto in 2021-22.

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