AC Milan Transfer News: Pato Rumors May Be False, but Milan Need To Change Focus

Tim FontenaultCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2011

Pato is unlikely to leave, but whatever the case, Milan need to realize that defense needs to be their top priority in January.
Pato is unlikely to leave, but whatever the case, Milan need to realize that defense needs to be their top priority in January.Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

AC Milan are enjoying the holiday break with the knowledge that they are currently top of the table in Serie A, albeit on goal difference over Juventus.

Of course, as with all teams, there is room for improvement and with the January transfer window rapidly approaching, CEO Adriano Galliani and company have a chance to improve an already strong club.

Where Milan is weakest seems to be clear to everyone but the club officials. It is consensus among Milan fans and critics that where Milan are most vulnerable is at left-back and defensive midfielder.

The Rossoneri do not have a regular starter at left-back with Gianluca Zambrotta, Luca Antonini and Taye Taiwo seeing the most time. Defensive midfield is even worse as Massimo Ambrosini and Mark Van Bommel, a star in the second half of last season, have been far below par this year.

However, Milan have failed to even comment on those two positions publicly, although the rumors are present. There has yet to be much stock put into these rumors, which include acquiring Barcelona's Maxwell at left-back and Real Madrid's Lassana Diarra (a recurring Milan rumor) as defensive mid.

What are Milan worried about? Attacking.

Despite having dominated in the attacking third this season, scoring 35 goals in their first 16 games in Serie A, most of the talk in recent weeks has been about moves involving forwards.

Some of the talk is sensible, since Antonio Cassano's stroke and resulting heart surgery has left Milan with only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato and Robinho up front. A fourth attacking player would be beneficial and it seems guaranteed that either Carlos Tevez or Catania's Maxi Lopez will join the club.

However, recent reports have suggested that when Milan play Paris Saint-Germain in Dubai on January 4th, Pato would be leaving with the French club on a $50 million move. Adriano Galliani has declared this to be false, but nothing is certain.

What is certain is that Milan need to make sure they have their priorities in order.

Milan do not need to make a forward their primary concern. In Italy and Europe combined, they have 46 goals in 22 games and have three of the best scorers in the game, before adding either Tevez or Lopez. They also have Stephan El Shaarawy waiting to break through.

If Milan can't fix their defensive gaps, they could be in trouble. If they do fix them, Serie A could very well be theirs to lose and they could make a deep run in the Champions League.

Rumors suggest that Barcelona's Seydou Keita will join in the summer, but Milan need to look to the next five months. Massimo Ambrosini and Mark Van Bommel have been awful this season and the club seem unwilling to give Riccardo Ferreira a chance anytime soon, despite the potential he showed as a youngster at Porto.

At left-back, Didac Vila was brought in last summer, but the club wanted him to get some seasoning so he returned in the summer to his old club, Espanyol. The current left-back situation is a worrisome one, but it is unlikely the club will want to bring the youngster back yet.

There are plenty of options available to Milan. Maxwell and Diarra are two of many that Milan could set sights on as there will be some money to spend.

Whatever the case, Milan need to make sure they don't lose sight of what's important. Defense is critical to winning trophies and as a club with their minds set on a double this season, revamping the back needs to be top priority.