After what has been a disappointing year for Milan, Allegri will be looking to bolster his squad ahead of the upcoming season. With a mass exodus of talented and experienced players from the red side of Milan, most of whom left because their contracts expired, the new team is bound to be on shaky grounds. Last season wasn’t a particularly happy one for the Rossoneri, and the only prize they could claim was the SuperCoppa Italiana, which they won by defeating eternal rivals, Inter in China.
After that, their season pretty much went haywire with injuries, ghost goals and more injuries coming to haunt them throughout the season. While the loss of Scudetto last year did not result in Allegri’s dismissal, he knows very well that in order to survive in one of the most coveted managerial posts in world football, he has to produce results.
One thing which can be said in Allegri’s favor was that his squad was so injury ravaged last time, that there was a time he had as many as 13 first team players missing. Inspite of all these, Milan were a force to reckon with both in Italy and in Europe. Milan lost their way since March, when they gave away a healthy lead at the top to eventual winners, Juventus.
2012/13 season will be a transitory phase for Milan, and Allegri will be building a team for the future now. Most of the loan deals from last year won’t materialize into permanent ones, as Milan will now look to find players who fit into their system. Big banner signings might not be seen this summer, but important players will be bought to add more talent to the squad.
Alessandro Nesta (Free Agent)
One of the biggest loss for Milan will be Nesta. After his transfer from Lazio at the turn of the century, Nesta has been a mainstay in the Milan defense. His partners changed from Maldini to Thiago Silva, but he remained a rock-solid presence at the back. Seeing him hang up his boots was an emotional moment for Rossoneri worldwide.
Even last season, when he was sidelined for most of the time due to injuries, Nesta came back for crucial matches and was the only reason why Messi was not able to waltz his way through the Milan defense. Defense as an art form might never see a better player anytime soon.
Gennaro Gattuso (Free Agent)
Gennaro ‘Rino’ Gattuso has been the heartthrob of Milan from the first day he stepped inside Milanello. He was a mainstay in the Milan midfield alongwith Pirlo, and together they formed not only the cornerstone of Milan midfield but also that of Italy. His fearless attitude, never-say-die mentality and urge to revolt against anything non-Milan endeared him to all Milan fans worldwide.
After being struck with a career-threatening injury early this season, he was sidelined for a major portion of the matches, only to return in the penultimate stages. Rino will be missed not only for his on-field persona, but also for the manner in which he wore his heart on his sleeves.
Clarence Seedorf (Free Agent)
The Dutch maestro has been a world-traveler and his journey in Italy started with Inter. His move to Milan happened 10 years ago, and since then he has been a part of two Champions League winning squads. Seedorf was one of the most experienced players in the squad and last season he was often summoned in the less demanding but technically challenging matches of the Champions League. While Milan have not confirmed his departure, it is more or less certain he will leave Italian shores.
Filippo Inzaghi (Free Agent)
Pippo Inzaghi – the man born in an offside position is finally hanging up his boots. Having been in the Milan squad for close to 11 years and from Manchester to Istanbul to Athens, has been a part of Milan’s history. Age has finally caught up with him and sadly, despite the huge fan pressure, Allegri fielded him only on few occasions in the previous season.
His natural instinct to stay with the last defender and run at any and every opportunity made him a lethal asset for Milan, who rode his goals to glory on numerous occasions. Players have changed from Rui Costa to Ibrahimovic, but Pippo’s hunger has remained insatiable as ever. So much so, when Real Madrid faced Milan in 2011, Mourinho was more worried about Pippo than any other player. 90 minutes and 2 goals later, his fears were confirmed.
Flavio Roma (Retirement)
Roma has spent most of his time at Milan under the shadows of other goalkeepers. Ever since his move from Monaco in 2009 to Milan, he has rarely featured in matches and has been sidelined for Abbiati on almost every occasion. Roma retires from Milan and he will be joining as goalkeeping coach.
Gianluca Zambrotta (Free Agent)
For most of his tenure in Milan, Zambrotta was used as a utility player. He started off as a left back, but soon found his spot in the first team challenged by the emergence of Antonini. Eventually he was moved to right back, but even there, youngster Abate eventually cemented a spot for himself. Zambrotta made few appearances for Milan, and was mostly used as a left back in the absence of Antonini or Taiwo. After his contract ran out last season, Milan decided not to renew it.
Mark van Bommel (Moving to PSV for Free)
The Dutch General came to Milan from Bayern Munich in January 2011 and since then was a mainstay in the first team. He fit in like a glove in Allegri’s system and was a perfect defensive foil just in front of defense. His presence was pivotal in Allegri’s system, who abolished a deep-lying play-maker like Pirlo to the bench. Mark van Bommel personified the new team but with age finally catching up with him, Milan decided not to renew his contract. Talks began early about his intentions to move to PSV and it was finally materialized when the season came to an end.
Arrivals at Milan
Bakaye Traoré (Confirmed by the club. Free Transfer from Nancy)
Traoré is a perfect example of Allegri’s insistence of buying player with ‘muscle’. First it was Taiwo, who was a pretty good player at Marseille. However, he bombed big time at Milan and was sent packing to QPR for the rest of the season. Then came Muntari from Inter on loan. His ability to bulldoze his way through defenses was praised by Milan fans, but a faction of them still wanted to see a classic number 10 as a play-maker as opposed to an intimidating player. Traoré is a central midfielder with good physical strength and is also reported to have a good shot.
Riccardo Montolivo (Confirmed by the club. Free Transfer from Fiorentina)
This has been an on-again-off-again transfer rumor which has been going on since the beginning of the last season. It all started with Riccardo’s reluctance to sign a contract extension at Fiorentina. Rumors flew of his impending move to Milan which were squashed soon. However, during the January transfer window, this move was talked about once again. His performance dipped for Fiorentina and he was not the impact making player he was earlier. Finally, Montolivo moved to Milan on a free transfer when his contract ran out with Fiorentina.
Since Pirlo’s move to Juventus, Montolivo was discussed at length in the red side of Milan as a possible replacement, mainly because of the fact that he too played as a typical regista. However, comparisons between these two stops there. Montolivo, although plays as a deep-lying play-maker, prefers to move forward and play in a more attacking role. But with van Bommel leaving Milan shores, will Allegri field him as a Defensive Midfielder or more upfront? The question will only be answered in the upcoming season. Montolivo has always wanted a move to Milan, but do Milan need him?
Gabriel Vasconcellos Ferreira (Confirmed by the club. €500,000 from Cruzeiro)
This was a surprise capture for Milan, and at best he is likely to be the third choice goal-keeper for the side. At 19 years of age, Gabriel still has a long way to go to be considered in the Milan first team sheet. Appearances in the Primavera is the most likely outcome of this transfer. The former Milan great, Serginho spoke volumes about Gabriel when he was presented at Milan and with such huge backing from a legend, he is unlikely to be a dud.
Milan Transfer rumors
Milan have been very quiet in the transfer market, and so far have picked up players either for free or players who are untested in Europe. The real buying spree, if any, will start after the Euros are over, but in reality Milan need to build a team for the future and not be disillusioned by quick fixes. Buying marquee players might not be ruled out, since Berlusconi now has full power at Milan, freed from his political overtures. The last time Berlusconi was not the head of Italy, Milan went on to buy the Dutch trio of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard.
The rumor mill has been abuzz with news that Thiago Silva will be joining Barcelona next season. However, the news were crushed by the player himself, who said “Absolutely not. I’m happy at Milan and I want to stay. I don’t see why I should be worried. Milan is my home and the rest is just chatter. Milan has always pampered me and I always feel the club’s presence. I’d like to become a club icon like Nesta was“. With Silva and Ibrahimovic making statements of being at Milan for the foreseeable future, Allegri can build a world-class squad.
Rumors of Dedè, Ogbonna, Acerbi, Astori, Seydou Keita and Strootman are doing the rounds now, and Milan will be very shrewd in these transfers, if they happen eventually. Among the marquee names doing the rounds, Tevez and Balotelli come at the top. All of these players will come at an astronomical price, and Milan need to weed out the players who will actually be useful in Allegri’s set-up. Also doing the rounds is the rumor of a possible swap between Ganso and Robinho, and it is one deal the author of this article hopes will come true.