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AC Milan’s Montella backpedals after China gaffe

Milan (AFP) – AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella has been forced to backpedal after a joke about the Serie A giants’ lack of summer transfer spending compared to city rivals Inter went down badly at the club.

Montella joked after Saturday’s 4-2 defeat to Napoli that the Chinese consortium who have agreed to buy the seven-time European champions “got the address wrong when they made the bank transfers”.

It was a quip referring to the superior financial power of city rivals Inter, who have been proactive in the summer transfer market following the club’s takeover by Chinese tycoon Zhang Jindong, but it did not sit well.

Former Roma striker and Fiorentina coach Montella was forced to issue an explanation on Sunday, claiming he made the joke because he wanted to avoid answering questions about Milan’s comparatively quiet summer transfer period.

“It was a joke, that’s all,” said Montella. “It happens with me a lot. Even yesterday (Saturday) I tried not to answer questions referring to the transfer market by using irony.

“I made a joke about the Chinese ownership of Inter, who have invested quite a lot, at a time in which the probable future ownership of Milan is still at a preliminary stage.

“There is no other significance or interpretation.”

Milan owner and president Silvio Berlusconi has signed a preliminary agreement that will see the seven-time European champions passed to Chinese ownership by the end of the year. 

However fans hopes of seeing the Rossoneri add players to the squad before the August 31 deadline look slim: club CEO Adriano Galliani said Saturday Milan’s transfer period was “over”.

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