Berlusconi: AC Milan must develop great players, like Barcelona, not embark on shopping sprees

The media tycoon feels that the cash-strapped Rossoneri must now follow the example set by the Blaugrana, who have built a squad based around the products of their youth academy
AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has admitted that the club's financial problems mean that they must now strive to develop great players, just as Barcelona have done, rather than embark upon any more "shopping sprees", as they did during the early 1990s.

Earlier this month, the Rossoneri were forced to sell star duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain in order to balance the books, prompting outrage among the fans, some of whom demanded refunds on their season ticket subscriptions.

However, Berlusconi believes that the supporters must accept that Milan are no longer in a position to sign the biggest names in world football and is pleading with them to buy into his vision of the club becoming the Italian equivalent of Barca, who continue to reap the benefits of their famed La Masia youth academy.

"The economic situation no longer allows for the shopping sprees of the early '90s," the former Italian Prime Minister told Milan Channel.

"We cannot buy well-established players, such as those that characterised the transfer campaigns of recent years.

"We must build a great team from the youngsters. Barcelona have done it like this. And remember that Milan also started like this, with [Paolo] Maldini, [Franco] Baresi, [Alessandro] Costacurta."

Besides, Berlusconi believes that Milan still have the nucleus of a great side despite the departures of Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, and is in no doubt that Massimiliano Allegri's men are capable of challenging for the Scudetto.

"We must look to the present Milan, which is strong, with a quintet of champions: [Alexandre] Pato, Robinho, [Kevin-Prince] Boateng, whom I see as a striker, [Stephan] El Shaarawy and [Antonio] Cassano.

"This year, AC Milan will have a great league, better than last year, where there were injuries."

The Rossoneri finished second to Juventus in Serie A last season, and were also knocked out of the Coppa Italia by the Bianconeri.