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AC Milan's new owners target Champions League return

REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Milan - New AC Milan chief executive Marco Fassone has promised fans a "quick return" to the Champions League and the glory days of old as the fallen Serie A giant began life under Chinese ownership on Friday.

"We are AC Milan. We can't afford to sit back and say, let's see what happens," Fassone told media at the club's 'Casa Milan' Friday as he laid out firm objectives a day after the club's takeover.

Related: AC Milan completes drawn-out sale to Chinese-owned company

"The Champions League is a platform a club like Milan can't be without. Four places up for grabs as of 2018-2019, so I won't hide the fact that our aim is to take one of those places.

"That is our aim, but we also want to create a strong and competitive squad."

On Thursday, former Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi ended a remarkable 31-year reign as the club's owner and president when he sold the legendary Serie A side to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.

The €740-million deal, dogged by months of delays, sees mystery Chinese businessman Yonghong Li - whose €500m fortune reportedly comes from the construction and packaging businesses - named as Milan's new president.

It also sees Milan become the second Chinese-owned club in the city. Bitter rival Inter, who hosts Milan at the San Siro on Saturday, is owned by the Chinese group Suning.

Milan emerged as the world's top team during their 1990s heyday when the likes of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Franco Baresi, and Paolo Maldini created the blueprint for Rossoneri teams for the best part of 20 years.

But Milan won its last Champions League title in 2007, its last Scudetto in 2011 and hasn't competed in the Champions League since 2014, when it was ousted 5-1 on aggregate by Atletico Madrid in the last 16.

Related: Grief-stricken Berlusconi admits AC Milan sale was necessary

Newly appointed president Li said in Chinese, "AC Milan is a top global club with 118 years of history. In the Berlusconi reign alone Milan won eight league titles, five Champions League titles, and seven Italian Super Cups.

"We are sure that with his support, AC Milan will get better and better. We want the club to be competitive ... in all competitions."

With Champions League qualification now virtually out of Milan's hands for next season - Vincenzo Montella's men sit sixth at 20 points behind leader Juventus and 10 behind Napoli in third place - the club is targeting the 2018-19 season.

Serie A has already been assured by European football's ruling body UEFA it will have a fourth Champions League spot, as opposed to the three currently available, two of which offer automatic tickets to the group stages.

AC Milan's new owners target Champions League return
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