AC Milan Club Focus: Season Preview 2013/14
AC Milan begin the new season with the first match of the Serie A season, meeting newly promoted Hellas Verona back from their stint outside of Italy’s premier division on Saturday August 24th, and will look to have a better start than the awful opening gambit from the 2012-13 season.
Milan are in stage two of the rebuilding progam that began in the summer of 2012 (a sort of Year Zero 2.0), and have thus far during the summer have taken small but promising steps in rebuilding the side into the youthful, talented group that Silvio Berlusconi has envisioned for the next few years.
Milan’s best and most exciting summer work usually tends to happen in the last few days of the window, and with the extended time given this year(the transfer window closes on September 2nd) it’s like Christmas at Adriano Galliani’s house.
But, until then – it’s been fairly quiet at Via Turati this summer; somewhat a relief after the last episode of Friends feeling last summer’s mass exodus had(I want a montage that culminates with Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta et al putting their keys to their San Siro lockers on a table one by one).
Anyway, we move onto this transfer window and take a look at the players Milan have brought in so far:
Position: Central Midfield
This is a great move. After a Milan midfield that was often depressingly stagnant with lateral, defensive midfielders clogging up the lanes like Sulley Muntari and Mathieu Flamini, Poli brings finesse, youth and energy.
His ability to play either side of a central defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 as well as behind the striker give Milan a midfielder that doesn’t lock them into a system while his ability to pass pretty well automatically makes him Milan’s 3rd best midfielder. €3 million for 50% of him is another Galliani-style steal while Milan get a player with a lot of potential. Good stuff all round.
Position: Attacking midfield
Another creative, young midfielder. It’s clear that Milan know what was lacking last season, and they’re hoping Riccardo Saponara can bring that.
His numbers from last season are exceptional (13 goals and 15 assists for Serie B side Empoli) and while Saponara has cooled Kaka’ comparisons telling reporters “there is an abyss between us”, there is definite a few moments while watching Youtube compilations where a little skip or a certain sort of shimmy from the youngster and my mind is drifting back to 2004.
With Kevin Prince Boateng previously playing in the CAM position and wearing the #10, Milanisti everywhere will be hoping the Italian can end that particular experiment as quickly as possible.
Position: Central Defence
Not the most exciting of defensive acquisitions, lets be honest. Silvestre comes from a truly awful year at Inter where he only played nine times for Inter and managed to look uncomfortable with the game of football every single time.
That said, Silvestre was one of Serie A’s better defenders while at Palermo and latterly Catania, so the amount of time he’s been a good defender far outweigh the time as a bad one (but it was really bad).
In addition, he arrives on-loan for €1m, and history suggests that when Milan buy players from Inter they tend to turn into the opposite of what they were at Inter(i.e – good players). For very little risk and cost, Silvestre is worth a punt.
Here’s a look at the notable exits:
Position: Central Midfield
I think the fact that there are so many teams that need decent midfielders and Mathieu Flamini is still unemployed at the age of 29 is pretty damning statement.
He flashed promise at Milan, especially during last season when he went through a four-goal spell in the latter stages of the campaign, but a combination of his wage demands, his injuries, his discipline, his average play means that a split was rather inevitable.
With Poli in though, he shouldn’t be missed. Although if you’re going to miss seeing him charge around aimlessly and get sent off, Milan still have Muntari.
Position: Central Midfield
Always a tough one to let a captain go, but in the end Massimo leaving made sense when you think about it beyond sentiment. Milan are fine depth-wise in that position just in front of the defence with both Riccardo Montolivo and Nigel De Jong (Bryan Cristante promoted from the youth side too) plus Ambrosini’s play had started to take a little bit of a dip.
It’s hard for a player so noted for his energy, stamina and tough tackling to lose a step because those are things that tend to suffer most. It’s a real shame (especially how it was handled) – but it is just the inevitability of football.
After the heavy rumors of coach Massimiliano Allegri’s exit/sacking/move to Roma faded away (read: got desperately denied after Allegri’s coaching epitaph was read out on live TV) after Berlusconi finally decided to turn up to one of the agreed “meetings” (he was so terrible at making appointments the only one he attended was at his own house in Ancora), the former Cagliari coach was confirmed as the tactician of choice for next season and not Clarence Seedorf (who by the way, is still a player).
Milan have the most settled team of the big seven or eight teams in Italy bar Juventus and maybe Lazio (Napoli, Fiorentina, Roma, Inter all going through big changes with most having new coaches) and people often forget how familiarity often breeds success (unless it’s just bad familiarity).
Despite most sides strengthening more than Milan, the Rossoneri probably have the second/third (toss-up with Napoli now) best team in Italy thanks to Balotelli, Montolivo, De Jong, El Shaarawy etc, and rumors of Honda/Ljajic’s arrival will only compound that.
Expect another close battle with Fiorentina for the last Champions League spot, but Milan should *just* shade it again.