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AC Milan Coach Pioli Leaving at the End of the Season, 2 Years after Leading Club to Serie A Title

MILAN, Italy (AP) — AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli is leaving the Italian club at the end of the season after a near five-year stint that included the 2022 Serie A title.

Milan announced Pioli’s departure on Friday, a day before its final league game of the season at home to Salernitana.

Pioli stepping down had been widely expected, with club great Zlatan Ibrahimovic — who has been given a front-office role by Milan’s American owners — reportedly already involved in the search for a successor.

The club thanked Pioli for “securing an unforgettable league title and re-establishing AC Milan’s consistent presence in the top European competition.”

“Stefano’s professionalism and human touch have significantly contributed to the growth of the squad, embodying the club’s core values from day one,” Milan said in a statement.

The 2022 league title was Milan’s first in 11 years. It will finish this season in second place, behind crosstown rival Inter Milan.

Milan was taken over after its 2022 title by American investment firm RedBird Capital. Pioli’s future had been in doubt since February, when RedBird owner Gerry Cardinale and Ibrahimović declined to commit to him when asked about speculation of a coaching change after the season.

Reports in Italy have linked Pioli to taking over Napoli. The 58-year-old coach also previously coached Inter, Fiorentina, Lazio, Bologna, Parma and several other clubs.

Under Pioli, Milan ended a seven-year absence from the Champions League in 2021 and reached the semifinals last season, losing to Inter.

This season, Pioli’s team failed to advance from a tough group that included Borussia Dortmund, which plays in the final next week, and Paris Saint-Germain. Milan then switched to the second-tier Europa League and was eliminated by Roma in the quarterfinals.

Inter’s runaway Serie A title success has established its supremacy in the city and Italian soccer, despite financial turmoil that saw the club also fall into American ownership this week. Both Milan and Inter had Chinese owners who lost control of the clubs to American investment funds after missing loan repayments.

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