Picking a Potential AC Milan Starting XI Next Season

Jack Alexandros Rathborn@@jackrathbornContributor IIIJune 11, 2013

Picking a Potential AC Milan Starting XI Next Season

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    This summer will be crucial for Milan, as it will decide whether the Rossoneri can take advantage of their good fortune at the end of last season.

    With a late victory at Siena on the final day of the season, edging Fiorentina for that final Champions League place, Milan can consider themselves lucky to have salvaged the season after such a bleak start.

    Massimiliano Allegri will remain, but the conditions that he must abide by have been discussed with Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi.

    It is thought that the Milan hierarchy have demanded a more attractive style from Max in their bid to return to the top of Italian football and break up a two-year period of dominance from their rivals Juventus.

    Here is a prediction for their lineup to start next season.

Goalkeeper: Christian Abbiati

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    Milan have been looking for a long-term solution to be the team's goalkeeper, but Christian Abbiati has done a fine job for a number of years now.

    The 35-year-old signed a one-year extension, and even though he is capable of a error or two, his performances tend to be solid for the most part.

Right-Back: Ignazio Abate

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    Ignazio Abate endured a frustrating start to the season and was even linked with a move away from the club in January.

    But the Azzurri international returned to form toward the end of the year and should be Allegri's first choice at right-back next season.

    With searing pace, Abate must concentrate on his one-on-one defending, and he will have a great chance to start for Italy at next year's World Cup.

Centre-Back: Philippe Mexes

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    Once Philippe Mexes returned to full fitness and put together a run of games, we began to see the centre-back who was so impressive at Roma for such a long time.

    The Frenchman is imposing when he needs to be but also comfortable on the ball. He will be Allegri's first-choice centre-back next season.

Centre-Back: Cristian Zapata

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    Milan moved quickly at the end of last season to secure Cristian Zapata on a permanent contract.

    Having impressed on loan from Villarreal, the Colombian began to establish himself as a starter after Daniele Bonera's long-term absence through injury.

    It is a strong possibility that Milan will acquire another centre-back, with Nice's Renato Civelli a real possibility, according to Sky Sport.

    But after winning a place in Allegri's XI and forging a good understanding with Mexes, Allegri will surely persist with this partnership, at least initially.

Left-Back: Mattia De Sciglio

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    Mattia De Sciglio enjoyed a wonderful season for the Rossoneri, proving what an outstanding future he has.

    The 20-year-old has worked his way into contention for Cesare Prandelli's World Cup plans and will look to be a permanent fixture in the lineup for Milan next season.

    Kevin Constant will be stiff competition for De Sciglio, but I expect Allegri to go with the player with greater potential.

Defensive Midfield: Nigel De Jong

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    After a bright start to the season with Milan, Nigel De Jong suffered a terrible injury to his Achilles and was out for the majority of his debut season in Italy.

    Milan have allowed Massimo Ambrosini to leave the club on a free transfer (per ESPN), a major indicator that the Rossoneri are confident the Dutchman will return to full fitness for next season.

    With such a dynamic feel to his game, De Jong will strengthen the side that played out most of the season without him.

Centre-Midfield: Riccardo Montolivo

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    A solid first season in Milan after departing Fiorentina on a free transfer, Montolivo has taken a step forward in his career.

    The 28-year-old has adapted well to his new team, showing great character by taking on a leadership role within the squad.

    With a lack of creativity in the side, Montolivo's passing became crucial to setting Milan's tempo, and I sense that he will remain a pivotal figure for Allegri moving forward.

Centre-Midfield: New Signing, Andrea Poli?

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    Milan will surely look to bring in another centre-midfielder to bring added quality to their style of play.

    Sulley Muntari and Mathieu Flamini were given plenty of action last term, but Allegri is being tasked to find a smoother style of play, so we can expect a new face to arrive to fill this role.

    Andrea Poli has been strongly linked with both Milan and Juventus, and Corriere dello Sport (via Football Italia) report the Rossoneri will win the race for the Sampdoria midfielder.

    The 23-year-old will complement Montolivo in the Milan midfield, adding a nice blend of silky passing and clever movement between the lines to give Milan that slick style the owner craves so much.

Trequartista: New Signing, Thiago Alcantara?

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    Milan will probably look to sign a new attacking midfielder who fits the classic role of a trequartista.

    Kevin-Prince Boateng is an excellent player, but the Ghanaian lacks the craft and guile to satisfy Milanistas in this position.

    The Express has reported that Milan will rival Manchester United for the signature of Barcelona's Thiago Alcantara.

    Having been born in Italy and lived in the country for a large part of his life, a move to the Rossoneri could appeal to the 22-year-old.

    With the freedom to operate at the team's No. 10, Alcantara would thrive in a Rossoneri shirt.

    An alternative could be Bologna's Alessandro Diamanti, but Ariedo Braida denied such a move was in the making to Corriere della Sera (via Football Italia).

Centre-Forward: Stephan El Shaarawy

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    As part of Allegri's challenge to establish a better style, it is quite possible that Milan will return to a 4-diamond-2, which will push Stephan El Shaarawy inside in a central role.

    The 20-year-old thrived from a left-wing berth last season, but with such outrageous ability, Il Faraone will be more than capable of adapting to a central role.

    Milan will look to rebuff any attempts from Manchester City to sign their prized jewel, and Adriano Galliani confirmed to Mediaset (via Sky Sports) that the player wants to remain in Italy.

Centre-Forward: Mario Balotelli

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    Super Mario saved the day for Milan last season.

    After a big-money move from Manchester City in January, Mario Balotelli hit the ground running for the Rossoneri, scoring 12 goals in 13 games to help secure a Champions League place for next season.

    The 22-year-old has shown the capability to fire Milan back to prominence on the European stage and he now has the opportunity to lead a team as the main man.