Berlusconi Jr: Milan future is bright
Pier Silvio Berlusconi, the son of AC Milan's honorary president Silvio Berlusconi and vice-president of his father's Mediaset media empire, is excited about their prospects next season.
With the Rossoneri ruling out the sale of Stephan El Shaarawy earlier this week, and considering the impact Mario Balotelli had since arriving in January, Berlusconi is looking forward to seeing Massimiliano Allegri's men in action in 2013-14.
Balotelli scored 12 goals in 13 games following his arrival from Manchester City, playing his way into the hearts of Milan fans, in spite of his past for city rivals Inter, and particularly impressing Berlusconi.
"I adore him," he said at a marketing event for Mediaset. "He is one of the best in the world and he can only get better. I've been a fan of his for years."
El Shaarawy hit the ground running a year ago, scoring 14 goals in the first half of the season and almost single-handedly keeping Milan's season alive as the team struggled to adjust to the departures of players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva.
However, after scoring in the Milan derby in February, he failed to find the target again all season as Balotelli shouldered the main goalscoring responsibility. Berlusconi hopes the Italy international will be more consistent next season and repay the faith the club have shown in him this summer.
"As a fan, I'm pleased El Shaarawy is staying with us," he added.
"He is already a champion, despite still being green, but he still has a lot to prove. I expect the utmost effort from him next season. It was my father who wanted him to show his commitment."
Milan's attack could have been enriched by a third top striker this summer, but they missed out on signing Carlos Tevez, who instead chose bitter rivals Juventus. Nevertheless, Berlusconi does not expect the gap between the two sides, which amounted to 15 points at the end of last season, to grow as a result.
"I'm not worried about them signing Tevez," he said. "We are also strong and I cannot see a big difference between us and the Bianconeri."
That, he claims, is Allegri's merit. "He's done a good job with the young players, with the squad we have given him," he said, lauding the decision to stick with the 45-year-old coach who was close to losing his job several times last season and this summer.
In the end, Pier Silvio's father decided to confirm Allegri as coach for 2013-14, although not every decision made at boardroom level has met with Pier Silvio's approval. The sale of Andrea Pirlo to Juventus in 2011 tops the list of his biggest regrets. "But you cannot get everything right all of the time," he concluded.