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

The 54-year-old Maldini was a long time captain of Milan as a player and is a fan favourite, so the move immediately drew protests from the club’s 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 semi-finals of this season’s top European competition.

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

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.