Paolo Maldini to Newcastle United: state of play, 'very easy' claim and his signings assessed

AC Milan defender Paolo MaldiniAC Milan defender Paolo Maldini
AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini | Getty Images
Newcastle United have been linked with AC Milan icon Paolo Maldini as a potential replacement for Dan Ashworth

Talk about Paolo Maldini joining the Saudi-backed revolution on Tyneside is ramping up. In truth, the scale of injuries at Newcastle United makes you wonder whether he could get a game under Eddie Howe at left-back or centre-back.

As one of the greatest defenders ever, appointing Maldini would add a sprinkle of glitz and glamour to the Toon ranks. The Italian is reportedly on a shortlist to become the next sporting director at Newcastle. A five-time Champions League winner walking through the St James’ Park corridors daily would certainly help generate a successful mentality. With the rumour mill intensifying, NewcastleWorld has profiled everything you need to know about Maldini’s potential arrival.

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State of play

As it stands, Newcastle technically still have a sporting director in Dan Ashworth. The 53-year-old is currently on gardening leave as he plots his escape to Manchester United. Both clubs are yet to agree a compensation package - with Toon chiefs playing hardball and demanding around £20million. Man United appear in no hurry to bend over the demands and are happy to play the long game.

In a club statement, the Magpies revealed they are searching for his replacement “immediately” ahead of the summer transfer window. Former Monaco supremo Paul Mitchell who, ironically, was linked with the Red Devils, has been touted as the favourite.

Tiago Pinto, ex-Newcastle player Hugo Viana and Maldini are all possible candidates. The latter left AC Milan last June and ruled out the chances of joining another Italian club.

Philosophy

Maldini has described himself as a natural negotiator despite admitting to being out of his depth early on. His appointment was likely born out of sentiment, with the 55-year-old regarded as the club’s most iconic player.

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He admitted those initial months but he soon became a master of his craft once Leonardo left to join Paris Saint-Germain. A fluent English speaker, as showcased by a recent interview with CBS Sports, it is clear to see how Maldini would bring a sense of tranquillity to the boardroom.

“I felt unfit to accompany Leonardo for the first six months,” he admitted in a biography. “I knew so many things, I already had so many ideas. But on a practical level, I had to learn a new job. I think I really started giving my input when Leo told me he was leaving. There I said to myself 'What the **** is going on now?’. 

"I didn't feel safe having to negotiate with agents and clubs. Then I started having to do it myself and it became the most natural thing in the world. I figured out what to say and what not to say. How to change the register based on the interlocutor, those with whom you need to speak clearly and those with whom you need to use more diplomacy. If you have always been in this world and you use common sense, these things are very easy."

Previous signings

A mixed bag, but certainly more good than bad. Early into his tenure, Maldini was on a winning streak, signing players like Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao, Mike Maignan and Sandro Tonali. Bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the San Siro also proved a huge hit and he helped win the Serie A title two-and-a-half years later. However, signing duds towards the end of his reign contributed to Maldini’s exit

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Divock Origi has offered nothing in a Milan shirt and is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest. Other flops include Charles De Ketelaere, a £30million arrival who has also been shipped out temporarily elsewhere. As mentioned, the positives outweigh the negatives but overseeing recruitment at a Premier League club is a different ball game. If Maldini has learned from his mistakes, his track record should not be off-putting.

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