January Transfer News: EPL Stars AC Milan Should Target
AC Milan won Serie A in 2011 and finished runners-up last term, but they've been past their best for some time now, and the title win two years ago was a classic swan song for many Rossoneri veterans. Since then, the team has moved many old players on—some wisely, some prematurely (ahem ... Pirlo)—and focused more on the next generation.
Though laudable in theory, this focus on youth has left Massimiliano Allegri's squad with some noticeable problems, with the seven-time European champions failing to build any sort of consistency in the league and often losing out to weaker opposition. The loss of Thiago Silva and the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain last summer has left the team bereft of superstars and the stadium (half) full of angry fans.
So with that in mind, let's cast an eye over the English Premier League to see if there are any standout players who could help steady the Rossoneri ship in 2013.
Nani: Some Help for Stephan El Shaarawy
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Experienced at the highest level, young, and full of pace, the Portuguese winger would provide valuable cover on both wings—not bad thing considering Robinho's unhappiness and Milan's current over-reliance on Stephan El Shaarawy.
Is Frank Lampard Up for One More Challenge?
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When not benefiting from acts of individual brilliance from El Shaarawy, Milan have often looked passive and sometimes even lazy this season, sitting deep and waiting for the ball in their own half.
Step up Frank Lampard, the dynamo behind a lot of Chelsea's success in the last decade. The English star is out of favor at Stamford Bridge and will not have his contract renewed, but the player is insistent that's he's got plenty left in the tank, and has been linked with other top sides.
Milan made a mistake letting go of the aging Andrea Pirlo, who has been utterly peerless in the last two seasons for Juventus, but are they willing to gamble that the London giants are making the same mistake with Lampard? And would the former West Ham man be up to the challenge of Serie A at 34?
Džeko: A Big Man Up Front
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Without a genuine presence up front since the departure of Ibrahimovic, a powerful striker could make all the difference for Milan. Edin Džeko fits the bill perfectly.
Only slightly shorter than Zlatan, the big Bosnian would prove a handful for defences across Italy, and could hold up the ball perfectly for his smaller-in-stature teammates like Bojan, Robinho and El Shaarawy. City rivals Inter Milan have already been linked with the Manchester City forward, so Silvio Berlusconi will have to be quick.
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Plenty of AS Roma fans were sad to see young talent Fabio Borini leave for Liverpool FC last summer, even though since the move the Bolognese has failed to show the kind of skill that earned him so much praise—and a spot on the Italian national side—in 2012.
The 21-year-old Italian has yet to score for the Reds in the EPL, and while he is currently just making his way back from injury, his position in the starting lineup looks uncertain following the arrival of Daniel Sturridge and the continued reliance on Luis Suarez. Borini may just fancy a switch back to his homeland, and Milan would certainly fancy his pace and eye for goal.
Mario Balotelli in Red and Black?
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He's a fan, and in the past AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has said he'd like to see the young Italian play for the red and black side of Milan. Right now, Berlusconi is calling Mario Balotelli "a bad apple", but long term followers of the former Italian Prime Minister will know that his opinions tend to change more often than the wind.
It's hard to see how the media mogul would not like Balotelli in the stripes of Milan, especially as his team desperately need a goal threat and someone to take some of the creative and scoring pressure off (the constantly-mentioned-for-good-reason) El Shaarawy, with the added bonus that the two young stars have experience playing together for the national side.
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Born in the Ivory Coast, 20-year-old Wilfried Zaha has been making plenty of headlines in England, and even received a senior call up from Roy Hodgson last year, appearing as a late sub against Sweden.
Currently learning his trade with Crystal Palace in the Championship, Zaha has been tearing the second tier's defences asunder for some time now. He also impressed at Old Trafford against Manchester United in the Carling Cup, leading to stiff competition for his signature from England's top sides. A versatile attacker who can play wide or through the middle, Zaha would be a great long-term investment for the Milan giants.
Pepe Reina Between the Posts
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The fairest thing you could say about Pepe Reina's recent form for Liverpool is that it's not what it used to be. The Spaniard was once rated among the very best in the world, but has had errors creep into his game in recent seasons and is perhaps in need of a new challenge.
AC Milan, meanwhile, are in need of a new keeper. Christian Abbiati is nowhere near top class, and since arriving in 2010, Marco Amelia has failed to cement his place between the posts. Reina could tighten up a defence that's conceded just one fewer goal than bottom-placed Siena.
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While young talents like Mattia De Sciglio look certain to be the future at the San Siro, a skillful full-back with experience and developed ability, like Bacary Sagna, would really help Allegri's side improve in 2013.
Right now the France international is refusing to sign a new deal at Arsenal, and has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain, but £10 million of Silvio Berlusconi's cash would prove a wise investment if it meant Milan finished higher up the table, and possibly even grabbed a European spot for next season.
Give Nuri Sahin the Chance to Shine
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He made serious waves with Borussia Dortmund, but since a big move to Real Madrid, Nuri Sahin has been a shadow of his former self. Currently on loan at Liverpool, the German-born Turkish midfielder has failed to impress and is currently looking for a way out.
Both Dortmund and Inter Milan are reportedly keen on the deep-lying playmaker, but a chance of regular playing time as the creative axis Milan currently miss, could prove an opportunity too good to pass up for Sahin. At just 24, he has extensive experience in the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie, as well as his stints at Liverpool and Real and 3 appearances for the Turkish national side.