Straight from the dark heart of Italy
By painting The Last Supper for the dining room at the city's Santa Maria delle Grazie church, Leonardo da Vinci put Milan on the map.
Now another Leonardo has been asked to make something beautiful out of the city’s other ageing artefact: AC Milan.
The modern Leonardo is very much the archetypal Renaissance man: urbane, well-read, a humanitarian and a linguist to boot. The Brazilian is also young and handsome, which fits perfectly with those whom Silvio Berlusconi likes to surround himself.
"You like Calcio?"
More importantly, not only does he understand the politics of the club inside out, he has the ear of Ricky Kaka, who he encouraged to join Milan in the first place.
This may help ensure his compatriot remains with the club rather decamp to Madrid – or to Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea.
It’s a smart move by Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani, as Leonardo has an excellent relationship with the players and has been acting as surrogate big brother to Alexandre Pato through his tough period of adaptation to Italian football.
The much more settled teenager, who is set to marry, has recently demonstrated glimpses of that talent that brought him to the fore as a 16-year-old, and under further Brazilian nurturing will no doubt blossom into the real deal.
These are two important elements in Milan’s future success and the figures around which the club will be building the team.
With Paolo Maldini retired and Andriy Shevchenko and Clarence Seedorf set for summer exits, club leadership should now pass over to a much more relaxed Samba camp – and Kaka in particular.
It was important that Maldini was out of the way before the coup took place. The veteran knew there was revolution in the air long before he snubbed Leo during his so-so San Siro farewell a fortnight ago.
The way is now open for the new man to build the team around the dictums sent down from the benefactor: get back to the stylish, attacking football that once was associated with Milan.
Unlike in, say, England, the role of the coach in Italy is to deal exclusively with on-pitch matters – but Leo will maintain a firm link with the hierarchy and Carlo Ancelotti’s former No.2 Mauro Tassotti will play a central role marshalling day-to-day training.
Everyone else will fall into line under the new order with little disruption – and who knows, maybe even Ronaldinho will find some motivation again.
He will certainly be a lot fitter, as the resources of the MilanLab will be exploited to the full for the benefit of the club rather than farmed out to other sporting associations as it has occasionally been recently.
Two other Brazilians, Felipe Mattioni and Thiago Silva, are waiting in the wings but the Italian heart will still exist in the indomitable Rino Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini and Alessandro Nesta.
The ingredients for success are definitely there and it seems that finally the Rossoneri have got the mix just right.
What would make it that much sweeter would be the arrival of Philippe Mexes, Emmanuel Adebayor and another Samba boy Hernanes – to take the place of Andrea Pirlo.
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well, the rumours about kaka going to real do not bode well for milan. i fear for the club if they sell kaka. they have already sold gourcuff who could have been the ideal replacement. milan should be building a new team around kaka not without him.
also, kaka's loss will be a huge blow to serie a.
I think Leonardo has a big job on his hands now. It will be interesting if they let him buy the players he wants and not just circus performers like Beckaham and Ronaldinho. If they dont give him control then I think it could be years before Milan are a force again. Kaka looks to be on his way, Gourcuff was stupidly sold, while former greats like Pirlo, Gattuso, Zambrotta and Nesta are all on the wane. It will take a lot more than the over-rated Adebayor to sort out the mess that Milan are in now.
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