Silvio Berlusconi recently said in an interview – “We cannot afford to spend 50 million every year. That is not how Milan works. It used to earlier, but now times have changed, the nature of football has changed, and more importantly the mentality has changed.” His words, though true, did not come as a surprise to Milan fans, who for quite sometime have got used to the fact that Milan can no longer splash out cash and attract the biggest and best players from Europe or the rest of the world.
Gone are the days of Gullit, van Basten and Rijkaard; now the club has Kévin Constant, Bakaye Traoré and Riccardo Montolivo. The transfer window started just like the previous three windows, where Milan were looking for players who are on the fringes of the first team or who can be brought in for a loan. With the mass exodus of experienced players who had adorned the Milan colours for more than a decade, the dressing room, for the first time appeared a bit hollow, a little out of character. But then again, to create something new, one has to destroy something established.
The sale of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint Germain hurt Milan fans worldwide but since then, they have moved on. Although the sale of Ibrahimovic was expected, Silva’s departure came as a rude shock but in hindsight, it was better to en-cash him now rather than later. Also, with the player making the move solely for money, it was easier on part of Milan to part ways rather than continue as a disharmonious unit. Their combined sale generated close to £60 million and one would’ve been forgiven if he thought that the money will straight-away be used to buy players.
Terminating contracts, ‘strengthening’ defence
Milan focused on cutting their losses and terminated the loan deals of Aquilani and Maxi Lopez, at the same time sending Taiwo to Dynamo Kyiv. A lot was expected from the Nigerian when he first moved in, but over the course of few games, Allegri realized he did not fit in his plans. The question then arises – why bring him in the first place? The tale of Taiwo took him first to QPR and now to Russia. The whole saga of Taiwo bears uncanny resemblance to that of a certain Dominic Adiyiah, who till now hasn’t played a single game for Milan after joining in 2010. This season, Arsenal Kyiv bought him outright, thereby ending his nightmare. Milan
Milan also brought in Gabriel from Cruzeiro for a paltry sum. Only 19 years of age, Gabriel has a long way to go before he can be considered as a first-team player. Former Milan and Brazil great Serginho, introduced Gabriel to Galliani and spoke highly of his talent. While that ‘talent’ impressed one and all in the Olympics 2012, the Gold still continued to remain elusive for Brazil.
Francesco Acerbi inherited the number 13, which reminds Milan fans of only one person who partnered Paolo Maldini. Nesta moved to Montreal to play in a less-competitive league. Now Milan fans have to watch Acerbi tumble down every time he goes for a tackle and think whether Nesta should come down and give Acerbi a proper lesson sometime. However, Acerbi indeed has been working a lot on his fitness but will need a lot (seriously, a lot) of time before he can even think of comparing himself to the legendary number 13. To shore up whatever was left of the Milan defence line, Cristian Zapata was brought in from Villareal, as the club was relegated last year. One more transfer from Villareal could’ve been that of Giuseppe Rossi, but with the player out through injury till January, Milan decided not to add another body bag at Milanello.
A lot of names were linked to Milan during this transfer window for the vacant defender position. Dedè, Ogbonna, Astori, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were all linked at one time or another. Dedè, the imposing Brazilian would’ve cost Milan only £6.6 million, but they chose to overlook him, thinking he might block a non-EU spot in the team. Yanga-Mbiwa, the Montpellier captain was so interested in the move to Milan that at times he appeared desperate. However, Montpellier put a huge price tag on his head and after some verbal jousting with Galliani, the deal was scuppered. Yanga-Mbiwa will be a free agent next summer and that might be the right time for Milan to buy him. Another defender Milan could’ve targeted was Mamadou Sakho, who was deemed surplus to requirements and asked to move out of PSG after Thiago Silva came in.
The Cavalry Arrives
While Milan were intent on cutting losses, they were on the lookout for prodigious talents – like those of Kévin Constant who has amazed Serie A with his wonderful dribbling, passing and amazing finishing. So amazed was Cassano at the transfer, he preferred to subdue his feelings and reached out for the closest box of Nutella. A loan move for a player like Constant with an option to buy reflected the kind of business Milan wanted at that time. Along with him came Francesco Acerbi, who as per his latest comments in media is like a ‘diesel‘ and that ‘he’ll come through in the end‘.
Sulley Muntari was one player who impressed one and all with his performances at Milan since his loan move from Inter in January. Upon becoming a free agent this summer, Milan immediately snatched him up. However, he suffered a freak accident during the summer which ruled him out for almost half the season. Galliani was so furious with him, he ordered the whole DVD set of ‘The Addams Family‘ online and thought of hiring Uncle Fester on loan while watching it. In came Bakaye Traoré, another midfielder in the mould of Muntari, just like someone required in Allegri’s set-up. A central midfielder with good physical strength implied Allegri was considering moving from creativity to brutality.
The most surprising move of this summer was the swap between Cassano and Pazzini along with a handsome amount of £11 million. Cassano was heard as saying he always wanted to go to Inter while Pazzini had fallen down the pecking order there. That Pazzini has scored a hat-trick in the last game for Milan will only fuel the speculation regarding his move. With the departure of Cassano, Milan bid goodbye to the last play-maker in their line-up. Allegri’s 4-3-1-2 formation was under threat due to absence of a player who can play as the ’1′. Milan team has been stripped off all sorts of creativity during the transfer window and just before it closed, in came Nigel de Jong, the Kung-fu star from the ‘other’ side of Manchester.
When it finally seemed that Allegri has moved on from the defensive midfielder position to more of a central role, de Jong’s transfer must’ve made Allegri more determined to revert to his favourite formation disregarding who plays as trequartista. Milan also brought in M’Baye Niang, who, upon his arrival, refused to be compared with Thierry Henry. He said he would like to score goals with his feet and not his hands. A section of people in Ireland burst into flames hearing that comment. Having also stated that he wants to win the Ballon d’Or at Milan, Allegri immediately showed him to the bench.
Bojan Krkić, the latest panic buy from Roma finished off the transfer window for Milan just like it started – with a loan. The former Barcelona player did not have the best of times at Roma and immediately upon landing at Milan claimed his relations with Roma were ‘weird’. Thankfully, Cassano has moved to Inter. If not, Krkić would’ve been required to redefine the meaning of the word ‘weird’.