MILAN (AP) - After two seasons of not qualifying for Europe, AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi demanded new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic lead the club back into the Champions League.
Two weeks after hiring him, Berlusconi officially presented Mihajlovic on Friday as the seven-time European champion opened its preseason training camp.
“It’s categorically imperative that Milan return to the Champions League and Europe next season,” the former Italian premier said.
Since winning Serie A in 2011, Milan has been in a downward spiral linked to less spending by Berlusconi. The Rossoneri finished eighth and 10th in the past two seasons, failing to qualify for Europe each time.
Mihajlovic coached Sampdoria to seventh last season, and appeared for Inter Milan during his playing career.
“I often played against Milan, so I know how much respect this shirt commands,” Mihajlovic said.
The 46-year-old Mihajlovic signed a two-year contract, with an option for a third year. He replaced Filippo Inzaghi, who was fired after just one year in charge.
Mihajlovic took over at Sampdoria in November 2013. He previously coached Bologna, Catania, Fiorentina, and Serbia’s national team. The Serbian was also a standout fullback as a player for Sampdoria and Lazio, known for his skill on free kicks.
“(Mihajlovic) has all the characteristics needed to restore Milan to (prominence),” Berlusconi said.
Berlusconi is close to selling a 48 percent stake in Milan to Thai investor Bee Taechaubol, in a deal that could reportedly be worth up to 470 million euros ($530 million).
Milan also has plans to build a new stadium, although nothing has been finalized yet.
“Mr. Taechaubol has proposed a plan to expand our brand in China … which would provide income that could allow Milan to remain competitive with other European squads,” Berlusconi said.
Milan has been active on the transfer market, signing Colombia striker Carlos Bacca from Spanish club Sevilla, Brazil forward Luiz Adriano from Shakhtar Donetsk, and midfielder Andrea Bertolacci from Genoa.
“This Milan with Sinisa could have the components to compete with Juventus for first place,” Berlusconi said.
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