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Berlusconi: Milan must qualify for Champions League

AC Milan's dressing areaAC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has demanded that the new manager Sinisa Mihajlovic lead the club back into the Champions League next season after officially presenting the Serbian at the club’s preseason training camp.

“It’s categorically imperative that Milan return to the Champions League and Europe next season,” said Berlusconi.

Sinisa Mihajlovic, who stood down as Sampdoria manager last month, was appointed two weeks ago and becomes Milan’s fourth manager in less than two years following the sackings of Filippo Inzaghi, Massimiliano Allegri and Clarence Seedorf.

The Rossoneri President opened the Press conference for the presentation of their new Coach and was clear that this had to represent a new cycle.

“We’re here to present Coach Mihajlovic so that Milan may return as the masters of the pitch and of the game,” he said.

“Last year we lacked confidence in our means, we adapted ourselves to the game of our adversaries rather than imposing our own.

“We thought we had a strong squad, but we had to come to terms with the fact that our attack was not adequate.

“That’s why our transfer campaign started by focusing on the strikers.

“Jackson Martinez fell through, but we had a plan for another Colombian striker anyway.

“Bacca is the starter [for Colombia], while Martinez is his replacement.

“We also signed Luiz Adriano and [Andrea] Bertolacci, whom we managed to rip away from Roma’s clutches.

“We’re handing over to Mihajlovic a list of 30 players, perhaps 31.

“We need to whittle down the squad to 25. In the list there’s [Antonio] Donnarumma, who is 16 years old and is the goalkeeper of the future.

“I saw him defending the goal once and nobody was able to score against him.

“We’re counting very much on our young players, especially Davide Calabria.

“Mihajlovic has all the qualities it takes to bring Milan back to the levels where the club belongs.

“Football is made of cycles, but our categorical imperative is to return to the Champions League.”

Since winning the Serie A in 2011, Milan’s fortunes have declined and the Rossoneri have failed to qualify for Europe in recent years, finishing eighth and 10th in the past two seasons.

However, the club have spent considerably in recent days, signing Shakhtar Donetsk’s leading all-time scorer Luiz Adriano for €8m (£5.7m) and are close to confirming a €30m deal for Sevilla’s Carlos Bacca.

Mihajlovic has signed a two-year contract, with the option for a third season, at a reported €2.5m a year and the former Internazionale player said on Friday that

“I often played against Milan, so I know how much respect this shirt represents.”