Leonardo to take scientific route at Milan

MILAN - Just like his Renaissance namesake, new AC Milan coach Leonardo plans to use the latest scientific advances to create a footballing masterpiece.

The Brazilian rookie, who has replaced new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti on a two-year contract, wants to play attractive football by analysing detailed fitness and performance data of every player.

While such techniques have been used for some time in England, Spain and Germany, Serie A has been slow to catch on and Leonardo plans a mini-revolution.

More like a manager than a coach in a tracksuit, the 39-year-old former Milan player will also keep most of his old duties as technical director.

"I have the idea of having two assistants that will deal with technical data and scientific information," the 1994 World Cup winner told a news conference at the San Siro on Monday.

"People will see me more with a suit and tie, that's true."

Ancelotti, who led Milan to glory in the 2003 and 2007 Champions League, has moved on after two unsuccessful seasons but Leonardo said his approach would not differ hugely with playing good football the first objective.

"I have the idea of doing training with the ball, to have a team that is quick with the ball," he said. "The style of Milan, the philosophy goes on. 4-3-1-2, this is our identity, but it can change. I want to play in an attacking, entertaining way."

Barcelona's success this term in 38-year-old Pep Guardiola's first season has raised expectations that novice Leonardo can do something similar after Milan limped in third in Serie A.

"Today it's normal to talk about Barcelona seeing what has happened this year," he said in perfect Italian, one of the five languages he speaks.

"My style won't be based on someone else, it will be my own style," he added after saying the 1982 Brazil team was the best of all-time and England's Fabio Capello the best ever coach.

COACHING BADGES

Leonardo has two immediate priorities, keeping hold of Real Madrid target Kaka and getting the best out of Ronaldinho after an average first season at Milan.

"Kaka, like many other big players, will be courted by many great clubs. I don't see that as strange," he said. "Definitely it's important that we keep him here with us. He is a big reference point for the team.

"I see in Ronaldinho a huge desire to rediscover his best form."

Transfer plans will be decided shortly but Leonardo, who said he held the relevant coaching badges despite reports otherwise, jokingly gave a short list of targets.

"The players I have asked for are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo," he smiled.

Chief executive Adriano Galliani said it was hard to come to terms with Ancelotti's departure after eight years but was confident long-term friend Leonardo could prosper like Capello did as a rookie at Milan in the early 1990s.

The Rossoneri would try to hang on to Kaka, he added, before again bemoaning Italian tax laws and the lack of stadium investment which he believes put English and Spanish clubs at a huge advantage.

"Ten years ago Messi and Ronaldo could have played in Italy but now no one even considers it," Galliani said.


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