Italian giants AC Milan are set to embark upon a major overhaul of their squad this summer after letting go six of European football’s most decorated players.
Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Filippo Inzaghi, Mark van Bommel, Clarence Seedorf and Gianluca Zambrotta are all set to leave the San Siro following the conclusion of this season.With a combined age of 214, the six individuals have 1184 league appearances for Milan between them; as well as 467 international caps, 14 Scudetto titles and four World Cup winning medals.
Along with the expiration of a number of loan deals – namely Maxi López from Catania, Inter’s Sulley Muntari and Liverpool’s out-of-favour Italian international Alberto Aquilani – the club are likely to face no shortage of change of its personnel in the coming weeks and months.
The incoming transfers of Fiorentina’s Riccardo Montolivo and Bakaye Traoré from French Ligue 1 outfit Nancy have already been announced. Manager Massimiliano Allegri has suggested in recent interviews that Montolivo is likely to be deployed in the regista role, a belated replacement for Andrea Pirlo as the side’s deep-lying playmaker. Traoré will come in and provide competition for the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Massimo Ambrosini, while adding strength in-depth to the midfield.
But there’s still a big hole to fill. While it was probably the right call to allow the aforementioned veterans to move on, their absence will not go unnoticed. One could argue that this could have been managed far more tactfully, perhaps phasing the individuals out over a number of years, rather than letting them all go at the same time.
It has oft been heard that Milan were in dire need of some new blood, more youthful faces to play alongside the guile and experience of Nesta, Seedorf and co. Now, though, the Rossoneri are forced to replace them all at the same time. How exactly do you go about replacing one of the game’s finest centre-backs in Nesta? Is it possible to find another poacher as intelligent and astute as Inzaghi? Who will add the ferocious bite in midfield now van Bommel and Gattuso have departed?
Perhaps therein lies the problem, these individuals will never be replaced by like-for-like players. Instead, Milan need to create a new generation of stars, and make the most of the up-and-coming talent they already have at their disposal. For example, 19-year old Stephan El Shaarawy has had a mightily impressive debut season, while it will be important to continue fielding the likes of Alexander Merkel and Mattea De Sciglio – who have already shown enough quality to suggest they have a bright future with the club.
However, Allegri’s recent comments to the media may make for grim reading for Milan fans – suggesting that there are no plans afoot to strengthen the squad, bar perhaps the permanent signing of Aquilani. He also indicated that he wanted a squad of 25 players, a number they’re currently hovering around at the minute.
Although there’s plenty of young potential at the club, investment is still required if they are to pose a threat to Serie A champions Juventus next time out. Despite the emotional exit of legendary striker Alessandro Del Piero, Juve will only strengthen this summer in their aim to return to their place among the continent’s elite clubs.
Does this mean Milan will have to sell in order to buy? Possibly, but for now that remains pure speculation. The Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato hasn’t progressed as well as some might have hoped, and if reports were to be believed he was perilously close to joining up with former Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti at big-spending Paris St-Germain during the January transfer window. Perhaps this move will finally be realised, or the underperforming Robinho could be shipped out? There’s also been some unconvincing rumours pointing to a possible exit for talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede, who netted 33 times this season, will not have been happy at failing to pick up his tenth consecutive domestic title, but Milan would have to be extremely foolish or a ridiculous bid would have to be lodged for him to leave.
Surprise, surprise, Manchester City have been touted as one of the potential suitors for ‘Ibra’s’ signature. The newly-crowned English champions are fairly likely to re-shuffle their forward line, with the futures of Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli all been questioned. If that were to be the case, Milan would almost certainly show an interest, with self-confessed Milan fan Balotelli the most likely to join.
Napoli’s Edinson Cavani will also be on the radar following his side’s failure to get back into the Champions League. However, the Uruguayan front man is likely to attract the attention of more affluent clubs, meaning Silvio Berlusconi would have to be extremely generous with his cheque book to capture such a high-profile signing.
And despite his beautiful long flowing hair, Cavani is almost certainly male. For that reason alone, I can’t see good ol’ Silvio wanting to ‘work his magic’ on this occasion.
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