AC Milan Winter Transfer News: Tracking Latest Rumours, Updates
With a start to the season as tumultuous as Milan's, there's great speculation as to what changes will be made once the transfer window reopens in January.
The general opinion from the Rossoneri faithful has been far from positive so far—many fans returned their season tickets before the season even started—so the Milanello bosses will be anxious to give their fans something to be excited about.
With that in mind, let's go over some of the possibilities.
Mario Balotelli Returns Home?
For years there have been rumours linking Mario Balotelli with a move to AC Milan.
Even during his time with cross-city rivals Inter, the fact that Mario was a lifelong Diavolo fan always seemed to indicate that the intra-San Siro switch could happen.
Mario being seen with an AC Milan shirt and having secret meetings with club Vice President Adriano Galliani certainly didn't help quell the rumours.
But the price tag put on his head by Manchester City did give most level-headed pundits cause for thinking Super Mario was now out of reach for the foreseeable future.
Now, however, with Balotelli still not having the quantity of first team football his talent arguably deserves, January may be the time that all this changes.
Most recently, the Daily Mirror has been reporting that a swap for Milan wunderkind Stephan El-Shaarawy is on the cards. But with the 20-year-old El-Shaarawy currently leading the scoring charts in Serie A, a straight swap seems out of the question, and the Rossoneri would nevertheless be unlikely to release their most-prized asset at anything but an astronomical price.
On the other hand, Balotelli seems increasingly restless at the Etihad. The return of Carlos Tevez and super-sub performances from Edin Dzeko have pushed him even further down the pecking order, with Sergio Aguero already firmly established as the team's go-to guy.
So City may be happy to unload the expensive Balotelli, presuming that Mario himself is content to take a pay cut in return for getting first-team football with his childhood favorites.
Robinho to Santos?
A player who did leave Manchester City for AC Milan was Robinho, and, having come in around the same time as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Brazilian looked a more consistent and hardworking player than he had at previous clubs.
This season, however, Robinho has barely got going. Injuries and a lack of starting opportunities have seen him struggle to get underway and the rumour (via Football Italia) is that he might be headed back to Brazil with Santos.
El-Sharrawy has now established himself as Milan's No. 1 striker, but Giampaolo Pazzini, Bojan Krkic and, when fit, Alexandre Pato are all seemingly ahead of Robinho in coach Massimiliano Allegri's plans.
The only hope for Robinho may be that Allegri's stay of execution expires and a new coach has more use for him.
Nesta to Return?
It wouldn't be the first time an MLS player had sought to keep his fitness up in Europe during the American offseason, or the first time Milan had been involved in such a deal. David Beckham spent two years doing this, not to mention Thierry Henry's memorable return debut goal for Arsenal.
With Milan's central defence perhaps their weakest area this year, it's understandable that this rumour could have surfaced. Nesta hasn't retired, so he will still be match-fit, and the Rossoneri could undoubtedly do with his steady hand in defence.
A 5-1 victory at the weekend was just the sort of result Allegri would have been hoping for in order to buy himself more time to turn his Milan side around, following the summer's mass exodus.
But the fact remains that it was a victory over Chievo, not Juventus, and is one win after a terrible run of results. A 1-0 win gets you just as many points as a 5-1, so, regardless of the manner of their victory, Milan still have a long way to go from their current 10th position in Serie A.
All of which means the possibility of a managerial replacement at the San Siro is as high as with any of the playing staff.
Pep Guardiola is at the top of many clubs' wish list, but I spoke in greater length here about why the move to the red half of Milan could work out well for both parties.
So, if this brief upturn in form does not continue, there will be plenty of possible candidates waiting in the wings to take Allegri's chair.
The Return of Kaka?
The most recent comment from Kaka was that he wanted to remain with Real Madrid (via sportinglife.com), and yet the rumours about a return to Milan have rumbled on long after the summer transfer window closed.
Initially, this was given most credence by the insistence of Real coach Jose Mourinho that Kaka had no place in his plans this year, but a recent return to the starting lineup for the Brazilian has suggested otherwise.
It remains to be seen how long this will last and whether Kaka is still among the starting players for a full-strength Madrid. If not, Kaka could see his road in the Spanish capital being blocked no matter what he does, and, if so, the halcyon days at Milan could look ever rosier to him.
Much will then depend on Milan's ability to give him the kind of wages he will demand, but at 30, Kaka could now be looking for one last chance to be the star player for one of Europe's historical elite.