Paolo Maldini admits he is not surprised by AC Milan's stuttered start to the Serie A season, insisting they cannot win the title and must focus on rebuilding.
Maldini, 44, spent his entire career at the San Siro and was relieved to see an overhaul at the club during the summer.
But he believes the Rossoneri must continue to be patient in their pursuit of the Scudetto, claiming this season has already become a three-horse race.
"The removal of Milan from third place is imortant and I do not think the teams in front of them will slow down," Maldini told Tuttosport. "Fiorentina, Roma and Lazio are very competitive this season and I am sure they will make it hard for Milan to peg them back.
"The Scudetto? It's a three-way fight between Juventus, Inter and Napoli. The Rossoneri were not capable of much earlier this season. The changes during the off-season were enormous in terms of men, players and personalities. They have required a little bit of patience, that's all."
Maldini says the emergence of Stephan El Shaarawy as the focal point of Milan's attack will give Massimiliano Allegri positive signs for the future.
"El Shaarawy has shown great class," he said. "He is a modern player because he works in both phases, attack and defence. He is proving to be a relentless goalscorer. I did not expect so much from him."