MILAN (AP) — With new owners settling in, AC Milan will also try to own the city derby with Inter Milan on Saturday.
Milan announced the closing of its latest ownership change on Wednesday, when RedBird Capital Partners took a controlling interest and the New York Yankees a minority stake in the storied Italian club.
The Serie A champion was also on the verge of completing the signings of United States defender Sergiño Dest from Barcelona and Belgium midfielder Aster Vranckx from Wolfsburg before the transfer window shut on Thursday. Milan signed Malick Thiaw from Schalke this week.
The Derby della Madonnina has always been highly anticipated even when the Milan teams weren’t doing well for much of the past decade. Now they meet at San Siro as Italy's best, the champions and runners-up of the past two seasons, and title contenders again.
“It will be a completely different game on Saturday,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “The derby is the derby. The rivalry with Inter goes beyond the standings.”
Milan won the derby in February but Inter advanced from their Italian Cup semifinal in April.
The match on Saturday shaped as a clash of Belgians between Milan's Charles De Ketelaere and Inter's Romelu Lukaku.
Burt Lukaku is still sidelined with a muscular problem and his condition will be reassessed next week.
Milan comes in following a 0-0 at Sassuolo on Tuesday, its second straight away draw. It could have been worse had goalkeeper Mike Maignan not saved a penalty.
“It was hard for us, we have to understand that it will always be like this: Everyone wants to beat the champions of Italy,” Milan defender Simon Kjaer said. “It will be a different season to last one. We need to grow and be prepared and have the same hunger.”
One way Milan is staying hungry is by sticking with the blend of youth and experience that helped to end its lengthy wait for the title. Most of the players it has signed this summer have been 21 or under, including talented young playmaker De Ketelaere.
De Ketelaere has already lit up San Siro with his crosses and an assist for Milan’s first goal in a 2-0 win over Bologna last weekend. That has been his only start as he was a second-half substitute at Sassuolo, where Milan clearly missed his creativity.
Inter bounced back from losing at Lazio 3-1 last weekend to beat Cremonese 3-1 on Tuesday, with Lautaro Martínez scoring for a third straight match.
“My stats are of little importance; the important thing is for the team to do well and win,” Martinez said.
“We’re all waiting for this (derby), and everyone — both the team and fans — need to be united in order to be really fired up going into the game.”
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Daniella Matar, The Associated Press