AC Milan have rewarded coach Gennaro Gattuso for an upturn in the club’s fortunes with a contract that will see him remain at the helm until 2021.
“Gennaro Gattuso and AC Milan: the alliance continues! The Rossoneri coach has renewed his contract and will continue to lead the team until 2021,” said a statement on the club’s official website Thursday.
The appointment of Gattuso on a seven-month contract was met with general surprise when he succeeded the experienced Vincenzo Montella last November — due mainly to the fact he had failed to impress in previous coaching roles with lower league sides.
But the 40-year-old Gattuso, who earned a reputation as a tenacious midfielder in 468 appearances for the San Siro giants, has stubbornly kept Milan challenging for a place in Europe this season as the seven-times European champions, taken over by a Chinese consortium last year, look to return to the heights of European football.
Thanks to a run of 10 games without defeat — only ended in a 3-1 loss at Juventus last week — Milan sit sixth in Serie A, 27 points behind leaders Juventus and eight behind city rivals Inter in the fourth Champions League qualifying spot.
Without a league title since 2011, Milan’s aim this season is to reach the Champions League and the Italian Cup final.
The statement added: “The management decided to anticipate Gattuso’s contract renewal to reward his hard work the best way before the end of the season, even if there are still plenty of goals to achieve: from qualifying to the Champions League, to the Italian Cup final.
“This important gesture reflects the total harmony and empathy between the club management and the coach. This way, AC Milan give continuity and confidence to the project, assuring the serenity of the Rossoneri players and the happiness of our fans.
“The Red and Blacks are (and remain) in Rino’s hands!”
Gattuso said: “I have to thank the players who have really committed themselves to me and my staff.
“We hope to continue as we did in these past four months. Forza Milan, and I do hope to get things right to bring back AC Milan where they are used to be. Thank you very much.”