There has been a lot of talk and debate about Milan’s new youth policy. Many in the Italian and international media have been appreciative of El Shaarawy, Niang and De Sciglio in the past few months. There is also a strong sentiment among fans that this is the way forward for Milan.
So it came as a surprise, when Milan signed a 31 year old defender from Parma in Cristian Zaccardo. This was not a typical Galliani transfer although the media rightly pointed out that he is a World Cup winner with the Azzuri in 2006. Yes, he is a world cup winner, but what of the youth policy and Milan wanting to buy only young and promising players? It all depends on what the management believes to be a youth policy–Does the youth policy mean making your Primavera players play in the first team? No, and that is why the Zaccardo move could be a good one for Milan.
The current Milan back line is a shadow of the past, a steep decline from the last couple of seasons with Nesta and Silva doing an excellent job. Milan was rather hopeless at the beginning of the season with no one to turn to for consistency at the back. But things seem to be changing with Constant and Zapata improving and De Sciglio providing a bright alternative at right back.
The arrival of Zaccardo will also put some pressure on Abate who already has to contend with De Sciglio doing well in that position. Milan are now put in a precarious position with the arrival of Balotelli.
The gulf between the quality in the attack and defence is for all to see. At this juncture, Zaccardo can make use of the opportunities provided to him and maybe make the centre back position his.
Those who watched Zaccardo at Palermo and Parma will agree that he is more than just a dynamic defender; he has scored many goals for both his previous clubs and a goal in his short stint in Bundesliga as well.
Versatility is what Milan need right now and the players who have showcased that they are versatile have cemented their place in the side (ex-Boateng, Constant). The arrival of a midfielder if it happens in the current transfer window will further provide a case to have a dynamic defence.
Milan fans should not be surprised if Allegri goes back to experiment with the three man defence system. Milan used it sparingly at the beginning of the season and shifted to the old 4-3-3 before anyone can analyse and come to a conclusion if the system is a good one or bad one. Nevertheless, Zaccardo can provide options for Allegri to choose from.
Zaccardo might not be a long time option, but he can fill in the role currently held by Mexes and Yepes and provide well needed experience in the next few years. Zaccardo is also a flexible defender who can also fill in as a centre back; this could give the team more options in the near future. There is more to the Zaccardo move than fans and media understand. We all know that Galliani does not get all his transfers right, remember Ricardo Oliveira? Or more recent examples of Sokratis and Acerbi? Yes, he does not get it always right, but when he does, he does it like no other. Examples are aplenty, including Yepes, who has turned out to be a decent squad player. Zaccardo might not play every match of the season but he sure can have some impact on the team’s overall performance.
The important question we are to ask is: What is the long term strategy? Even if Zaccardo provides the immediate solution to the problems plaguing the defence, what plan does the management have to replace the old guard with a new one? Or do we need a new one at all or just some tinkering to the one present now. Is Zaccardo the answer? What about Astori? Others? Well, only time will tell if Galliani got this right. It all depends on how Zaccardo adapts to the conditions at Milan. It is a big step up for Zaccardo, it is one thing to be a consistent player at Parma or for that matter Palermo but it is an altogether different ball game when playing for a club such as Milan, where winning is very important. Zaccardo has admitted that he is glad he has signed for a “big club” and will definitely work hard to prove his quality, but will his age let him do that is to be seen. Milan fans can only hope that this transfer proves to be a success for the club.
Written by Guest Author Anand
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