Several high-profile players have left the San Siro this summer and, as seen on AC Milan's official website, three big-name members of the club are set to trade in their old jerseys and take on the responsibilities of three important numbers.
They say numbers on jerseys don't mean anything in sports, that they're just a way to identify who a player is. In football, a number can say a lot about your role in the team.
Three of the big numbers in football are 8, usually reserved for registras better known as deep-lying playmakers; 9, usually worn by the main target man who scores the majority of the club's goals; and 10, usually worn by the playmaker, or as they call it in Italy, the trequartista.
Midfielder Antonio Nocerino, striker Alexandre Pato and trequartista Kevin-Prince Boateng will hand in their numbers 22, 7 and 27, respectively, and don the numbers 8, 9 and 10 for the rest of their Milan careers.
Arguably the three best players on Milan following the mass exodus this summer, these stars have big shoes to fill in those kits.
Following his final game at the San Siro, Gennaro Gattuso, who spent 13 illustrious years at Milan, told Nocerino that he wanted him to wear No. 8. Bought by Milan for €500,000 last summer, Nocerino flourished in his first year, scoring nine goals and was visibly pulling the strings around the pitch for Milan, proving to be an incredible playmaking duo with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has left for Paris Saint-Germain.
Again, it takes a special player to wear such a number for Milan. This list makes that quite clear.
Milan will be looking for a lot more of this from their new "number 9."
#8 shirt history in the Berlusconi era: Ray Colin Wilkins > Ancelotti > Rijkaard > Desailly > Donadoni (Ocassionally) > Gattuso > Nocerino
— AC Milan DiavoloNews (@MilanDiavolo) July 26, 2012
The No. 9 has become associated with the name Pippo Inzaghi over the past 11 years, as the energetic poacher proved time and again to the fans that magic is real. Inzaghi retired this week and became the head coach of the Allievi Nazionali, Milan's U-18.
The time has come for Pato, the 22-year-old Brazilian, who has had such high expectations since his arrival in 2007 at the age of 18. He now joins the likes of Inzaghi and Marco Van Basten as the famous Milan No. 9s.
Boateng was the replacement to Kaka who took over a year to find, but he has done a fantastic job as Milan's playmaker over the past two seasons. Without Boateng, whose loan in 2010 was highly criticized by the Milan fans, it is safe to say that Milan may not have won the title.
This isn't just a matter of wanting a new number, so he took it. He becomes only the sixth player since 1987 to wear the number for Milan. The list is illustrious, to say the least, as he joins the company of Ruud Gullit, Dejan Savicevic, Zvonimir Boban, Manuel Rui Costa and Clarence Seedorf.
Not bad company to be in.
Those are among the several number changes this year. Notably, Sulley Muntari will go from 14 to 4 and Mattia De Sciglio from 52 to 2. Of course, all this number changing led to some questions from the media, who are anxiously following the situation with Ricardo Kaka and a possible return to Milan.
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GALLIANI: "Nocerino didn't left the #22 jersey because of Kaká, he did because in the last game, Gattuso told him to use the #8"— AC Milan DiavoloNews (@MilanDiavolo) July 26, 2012
Nocerino, Pato and Boateng have all earned their respective numbers and now must demonstrate why they were worthy to wear the numbers that have been worn by so many Milan greats.