The hot favorite to take over as Milan coach for the next season is a controversial former manager of Spain.

With elimination from the Europa League, the Coppa Italia, and the Champions League, Milan’s season has been a bitter disappointment. The fact that Inter have a chance to win the Scudetto in Monday’s derby only adds salt to the wound.

After winning the Serie A title in 2021-22, the Rossoneri will go without a trophy for the second year in a row.

Consistent public support from management, a strong run in Europe, and seven consecutive wins beginning in March all worked in Pioli’s favor. They all increased the likelihood that he would remain.

Nonetheless, after two very concerning displays, they were knocked out of the Europa League, ending their only hope of lifting a trophy this season.

Since Inter are so far above their city rivals in the league, this looks to have been the last straw for Stefano Pioli’s future with the club.

Lopetegui to replace Pioli?

Rumor has it that La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Julen Lopetegui, a former coach of the Spanish national team, would be joining Milan for the next season. There needs to be a change in management at the club’s level, and Stefano Pioli has done his turn.

Lopetegui resigned as manager of Wolves in the Premier League because the club disapproved of his expensive signings.

Aside from managing Real Madrid, Porto, he won the Europa League with Sevilla. The 57-year-old has also coached the Spanish national teams at the U19, U20, and U21 levels.

With a spot in next year’s Champions League almost certain and second place all but assured, Milan can go on with their plans for the next campaign without worrying about this one. However, club owner Gerry Cardinale has not yet made a final decision, despite recent interactions between the two.

Furthermore, the San Siro side have a shortlist of potential managers that includes Paulo Fonseca, Christophe Galtier, Xavi, Ruben Amorim, and Marcelo Gallardo.

What does it mean for Pulisic?

A change of coaches may not help Christian Pulisic much, however.

The Italian coach was instrumental in Milan’s acquisition of Pulisic and Yunus Musah of the USMNT last summer. Pulisic has been in fine form since joining the Serie A giants, with eight assists and 13 goals in 44 outings across all competitions.

Thus, fans are gushing about the winger’s acquisition, especially since the club only spent more than $21 million for him. Even the player seemed to have something to thank current coach Stefano Pioli for after his outstanding season.

The manager’s faith in his abilities, said Mark Pulisic, is a key factor in his son’s performance.

“Christian has had everyone’s trust. Pioli trusts him, he always lets him play and doesn’t immediately replace him if things go wrong. Then he likes Milan, and he always speaks well of his teammates. Fikayo Tomori and Olivier Giroud helped him a lot when it came to choosing Milan,” he said.

Photo credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire