Straight from the dark heart of Italy
It’s showdown time at the San Siro this weekend and the stage is set for fond farewells all round when AC Milan take on Juventus.
With all due respect to AS Roma, whom the Rossoneri meet in the penultimate round of the season, it’s the final really high-profile game for Paolo Maldini.
And that applies on and off the field, as the legendary defender has promised he won’t be getting involved in coaching when his glittering playing days are over.
There’s no chance of those flowing locks prematurely greying, Paolo preferring more relaxed pursuits than donning a suit and listening to everyone telling you they could do your job better.
You could hardly blame him for turning his back on a profession guaranteed to turn anyone into Benjamin Button within two months.
Fresh-faced ex-pros talk seriously about their intentions, but after a few months in the job they suddenly turn wrinkly and grey and start jabbering like four-year-olds.
So, if the whispers around Milan are to be believed, get ready to enjoy Leonardo’s fine features for the last time before he takes over from Carlo Ancelotti.
The club’s high hierarchy have been wining and dining cuddly Carlo for the last few weeks in what can only be described as the longest of last suppers.
Leonardo has been present as well - no doubt clutching a bottle of hair dye - along with assistant coach Mauro Tassotti, who will follow his gaffer to the ends of the earth… or the Kings Road, at least.
They even briefly allowed the television cameras in for an Obama-esque photo opportunity of the group of happy eaters staring at their plates.
So, a 40-year-old Brazilian will be sitting at the top table next season, in keeping with the club’s tradition of looking after their own – Leonardo having served as a player and currently the grandly-titled Director of Football role.
Next in line: Leonardo waits for the hotseat
It’s a pragmatic decision to ensure that Ricky Kaka remains – knowing fine well that the team will be built around his fleet-footed talents.
There’s certainly plenty of rebuilding to be carried out and the need for youthful energy to go with all that skill.
In the meantime, it will be left to the current vintage to ensure that Milan end the season as runners-up.
Victory over an Old Lady on the edge of a nervous breakdown would all but guarantee a sliver of satisfaction from the season, and three more points would postpone title celebrations on the black and blue side of the city for another week at least.
Of course, this is just the sort of game that Juve will win, if only to spite Claudio Ranieri, who can hardly move these days with the all the daggers sticking out of his back.
It was reported last weekend that cantankerous Mauro Camoranesi had a stand-up row with Ranieri at half-time, with the rest of the team beating a hasty retreat to the pitch to face their hostile fans rather than have to witness another putdown for the coach.
"Yeah yeah, whatever"
That was followed by the president of the bored, Giovanni Cobolli Gigli, muttering something about having never promised that Ranieri would be in charge next season – even though the official line from the club for the last month has been completely the opposite.
At least Juve can make a clean start, of sorts.
The proposed return of Fabio Cannavaro may have been greeted with a collective groan, but if Friday’s headlines are to be believed, a 25million Euro deal has been done with Werder Bremen for Diego.
And who would bring the best out of the tinkle-toed Brazilian: Genoa’s silver-haired Giampiero Gasperini - who is expected to be named Coach Of The Year - or the shiny-pated Roma boss Luciano Spalletti?
Answering that one would turn anyone grey.
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Every two weeks you write about ancelotti leaving and leonardo coming in, and its never comes true... why? what's the point anymore? is it common practice to report on rumours now?
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