Malick Thiaw admitted the Milan squad must ‘know how to listen’ to the fans amidst the recent protests and responded to the transfer market rumours linking him with an exit.

Storm clouds have been gathering over Milanello for the last few months as faith continues to drop in coach Stefano Pioli, who is widely expected to be out the door in the summer after five years at the helm. Changes are also expected at squad level, with reinforcements needed to bolster the team.

In recent weeks, Milan fans have started to make their frustrations plainly apparent, holding up banners calling out the lack of direction at management level and leaving the stands empty, protests reflective on the general mood surrounding the club at the tail end of this campaign.

Thiaw on Milan present and future

Speaking on page 17 of today’s Corriere dello Sport, Thiaw was first asked about the transfer market rumours linking him to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

“My focus and concentration are now aimed only on Milan. Transfer rumours are always part of football. But I think about doing better here, about what awaits me next year and making positive changes.”

He commented on if he feels like a leader at the Rossoneri.

“I don’t think so because that’s not something that comes quickly, I have to know how to earn it on the pitch. I can try to become one but, in these cases, it takes time. It was certainly a good challenge for me, moving from the Bundesliga to the Italian league two years ago.

“This is a difficult and very tactical context, where the forwards are physically strong and great concentration is needed. The period at Milan made me learn a lot.”

Thiaw spoke about his tactical development in Serie A.

“I don’t think a specific structure is needed to defend well. We all work as a department and as a team. The formation doesn’t matter much, also because I can feel comfortable with both systems. With Milan we created both the four-man and three-man defence, already used in Schalke.”

He was asked about any regrets with Milan this season.

“Let’s say it was a constant lesson, when something doesn’t go well you have to learn. Also, because on a personal level I have had some injuries. But the important thing is not to give up and try to do better.

“Going forward, the most important thing is to always make yourself available. Then I can do better, I repeat, and aim for both physical and mental growth. If you don’t have these components, it becomes impossible to take further steps.”

Thiaw gave his thoughts on the recent protests from the Milan fans.

“We understand it, also because Milan are a great team. Our fans have every right to be angry, because they show love. And we as players know that we definitely have to do better.

“That people are not satisfied with our performance is something to accept. We must also know how to listen, thinking that we can obtain different results next season.”

He remembered his brief time with former director Paolo Maldini.

“Enough to give me special advice, given that he is a great footballer, I keep them to myself. I believe he was one of the best, if not the best, defenders of all time.

“I’m young and I saw Maldini play only a little, but I’ve watched a lot of videos. And it was truly a pleasure to be able to work with him for a year here at Milan. An opportunity that is worth a lot for my career.”

Thiaw spoke about how Maldini played a key role in his arrival at the Rossoneri.

“It’s true, I received a phone call from my agent who told me to have a call with Maldini because he wanted to talk to me.

“I was very surprised at that moment, to know that there was interest from Milan. Then everything went well, and I made the right choice.”

Finally, Thiaw commented on his ambitions for Euro 2024.

“I hope to be there, that’s clear. Let’s see if I’ll be called up…”

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