AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini is said to have been fired as the club’s technical director during a meeting with owner Gerry Cardinale on Monday.
Following the conclusion of the Serie A season on Sunday, Maldini and Milan’s director of football Ricky Massara met with RedBird head Cardinale to discuss future plans.
According to Calciomercato, the meeting did not go well, with the two parties failing to agree on how to move the club forward after difficult negotiations, and Maldini and Massara have since been fired.
Given his iconic reputation at the club, Maldini’s exit will be especially painful for Milan fans.
Between 1984 and 2009, the 54-year-old spent 25 years as a player at Milan, earning seven Serie A titles and five European Cups.
He returned to the club in 2018 as a development director before being appointed technical director the following year after retiring.
Maldini has brought in a number of players who have succeeded at Milan throughout his tenure, notably Rafael Leao and Fikayo Tomori.
Last year, the two helped the Rossoneri end an 11-year wait for the Scudetto by holding off bitter rivals Inter Milan on the final day.
Maldini was generally praised when his recruiting led to Milan’s victory, but the club’s business has been disappointing in the past year.
High-profile additions like as Divock Origi and Charles De Ketelaere have underperformed this season, as Stefano Pioli’s men finished fourth in Serie A, 20 points behind champions Napoli.
They did reach the Champions League semi-finals but were soundly defeated by Inter over two legs.
The Italian giants were able to persuade Leao to sign a new long-term contract last week, but the Portuguese star may be reconsidering his future.
On Monday night, he tweeted a puzzled face emoji, implying that he is dissatisfied with the club’s decision to release Maldini.
According to La Repubblica, some of Milan’s other big names are also upset over Maldini’s departure.
The report claims full reimbursement. Theo Hernandez may be thinking about his future, while goalkeeper Mike Maignan may be hesitant to accept a contract extension.
The French goalkeeper has been linked with a move to Chelsea this summer, as the Blues seek a replacement for Kepa Arrizabalaga.
On Sunday, veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic declared his retirement from sport, and Maldini’s dismissal caps a rollercoaster 24 hours for Milan.