Pioli: ‘Milan have matured, we want to win every game’

Stefano Pioli

Stefano Pioli said Milan are ‘a strong team who want to win every game’, praised the new signings with ‘high-level experience’ and stressed Zlatan Ibrahimovic can still ‘be decisive for the team’.

The Rossoneri prepare to start the new season with a trip to Sampdoria on Monday night and Pioli said he is ‘happy’ with the new signings this summer and believes his team have ‘matured’ with their experience from the last two years.

Milan are qualified for the Champions League too this term and Pioli wants to take advantage of all the opportunities in 2021-22.

“I’m happy with the new players who have arrived, lads who have won,” Pioli said at a press conference. “They had an experience at high levels with an important mentality.

“Players who know what winning means, well integrated into the group. I found my players to be very aware and mature. Previous seasons have made us grow and have given us confidence.

“[Sandro] Tonali and Rafa [Leao] are more mature and strong players, but we are still missing something.

“[Zlatan] Ibrahimovic and [Franck] Kessie are still out, [Ismael] Bennacer is a bit late, but the whole group are strong.

“We are a strong group, and we want to win all games. We can do well if we combine ambition and humility. We will have the Champions League too, where we will try to be protagonists.”

Olivier Giroud has arrived from Chelsea and seems set to start in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence on Monday.

“Olivier is a great professional, a person of high level and depth, very smart and helpful,” Pioli added. “He knows how to move, he fits in very well because he wants to work and learn, and give his experience to the group.

“We played high-level friendlies, like Nice, Valencia and Real Madrid. Olivier can play alone in attack or with strikers. We are constantly evolving and developing.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma moved to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer and Mike Maignan arrived from LOSC Lille to replace the Italy international.

“I thanked all the players who helped us, certainly Gigio too,” Pioli said about the goalkeeper’s farewell.

“I’m very happy about Maignan, a curious and willing lad, he wants to learn and understand the things we do here, compared to the French school. He’s a very strong goalkeeper.”

The coach confirmed Ibrahimovic is doing better and said he could be back after the next international break.

“He’s better physically, he has not yet resumed training with the team,” Pioli continued. “He is pushing and if it goes well during the break, he could come back.

“His role in the team is always the same, an important leader for us, he guarantees quality and his presence is undoubtedly fundamental.

“He can be decisive for the team.”

After finishing second in Serie A 2020-21, Pioli has big expectations for the new campaign and said the Diavolo is working to face every challenge ‘in a positive way’.

“This must be a Milan who own themselves,” he added. “Always in the game.

“They must always have the same identity and physiognomy. They must face the games in a positive way and never in a passive way.”

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