Vincenzo Montella says it is a “dream come true” to be able to coach Leonardo Bonucci at AC Milan, with the Italy centre-back on the brink of a shock move from Juventus.
Milan are set to pay €42million for the 30-year-old defender, who will sign a five-year contract at San Siro following the completion of a medical.
Bonucci is the indisputable star name in a string of signings that have been unveiled by Milan since the club’s takeover by a consortium led by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong, the Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux group.
And Montella cannot wait to get started working with Bonucci after Milan prised the eight-time Serie A winner away from champions Juventus, although he will not necessarily make the centre-back his new captain.
“He is a player with international experience,” Montella told reporters at a press conference on Milan’s Asian tour. “Technically, I think that he and Sergio Ramos are the strongest central defenders in the world.
“Coaching him is a dream come true and I want to thank [sporting director Massimiliano] Mirabelli and [general manager Marco] Fassone. Captain? In my mind I have more captains, I will talk with the club about this matter.”
Bonucci’s impending arrival will make him the ninth new signing of a remarkable transfer window for Milan, who have already brought in Andre Silva, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hakan Calhanoglu, Andrea Conti, Franck Kessie, Antonio Donnarumma, Fabio Borini and Mateo Musacchio, while a deal for Lazio midfielder Lucas Biglia is in the offing.
Montella is delighted with the progress being made at Milan as the club seeks a return to the Champions League, although he insisted his side should not yet be considered among the favourites for the Serie A title after finishing sixth last season, 28 points behind Juve.
“The club is doing a great job, signing a mix of experienced and more young players,” Montella said. “Many arrive from other leagues, they will need some time to adapt to our style of football, but I’m positive.
“I don’t feel the pressure. It’s easier for me to coach strong players. It’s true, we have changed a lot choosing players with a logic, but in the end, we need to be relaxed and we need to soon create a solid group which last season made us achieve positive results. There are teams who are more experienced and readier in Serie A as Juventus, Napoli and Roma. These are favourites to win [the league].
“Our objective is to make it back into the Champions League. But as I said, we have to become a team, we need to improve fast. The boys I have met so far have immediately shown their willingness to show all their qualities and the new signings of Bonucci and Biglia will surely help us work with more confidence preparing for the start of the season.”