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Paolo Maldini’s tenure as AC Milan‘s technical director has ended, the club announced in a brief statement Tuesday following reports of a rupture between the former defender and Milan’s new American owner, Gerry Cardinale.

“AC Milan announces that Paolo Maldini concludes his role at the club, effective as of June 5, 2023,” the club statement said.

“We thank him for his years of service in the role, contributing to the return to the Champions League and to winning the Scudetto in 2021-22. His day-to-day duties will be performed by a team working in close integration with the first team manager, ultimately reporting to the CEO.”

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The 54-year-old Maldini was a longtime captain of Milan as a player and is a fan favourite, so the move immediately drew protests from Rossoneri supporters.

Maldini and Cardinale reportedly diverged over how to handle the club’s approach to the transfer market, with Maldini having said the team needed a deeper roster to compete in the Champions League after being beaten by city rivals Inter Milan in the semifinals of this season’s top European competition.

Milan also failed to defend the Serie A title they won in 2021-22, finishing fourth in the recently concluded season, 20 points behind champions Napoli.

Cardinale founded RedBird Capital Partners in 2014 and is the managing partner of the firm that purchased a controlling interest in seven-time European champions Milan for €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) in September.

Maldini had been Milan’s technical director since 2019 and was largely credited with putting together the young squad that won Serie A last year.

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AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini out as technical director