Why Julio Cesar Is a Bad Fit for AC Milan
It was only a friendly, and he was behind a makeshift defence, but the fact that Marco Amelia managed to concede five times in little more than 30 minutes against Manchester City in the Audi Cup is pretty damning. The Roman is a respectable squad player, perhaps, but unworthy of the Rossonero No. 1 shirt.
His replacement, Gabriel Vasconcelos Ferreira, did well, but at just 20 he's too young to make the step up full time. Christian Abbiati has the opposite problem. Now 36, he's looked past it for a couple of seasons.
Milan need a keeper. That much is obvious. But a move for former Inter keeper Julio Cesar would be a mistake.
The Brazilian has been heavily linked to a San Siro return following his current club QPR's relegation from the Premier League. Calciomercatonews (here in English, via football-italia.net) is among several Italian outlets reporting that Milan boss Max Allegri is interested in offering the 33-year-old an escape from the Championship and a return to Serie A and Champions League football.
Let's leave aside his history with cross-town rivals Inter. Enough have crossed that frontier before him to make it a moot argument. It's also surplus to requirements, because there are enough reasons for Milan to look elsewhere.
Once upon a time, in his Nerazzurri pomp, Cesar was a fine keeper. But world-class shot-stoppers don't leave European heavyweights for QPR, no disrespect to the Londoners. He struggled in his final year in Serie A and there's no reason to believe he won't struggle should he return.
Cesar looks better in a Brazil shirt and was solid for his national side during the recent Confederations Cup. He wants to engineer a move now so that he can hold onto that spot heading into next summer's World Cup. Arsenal are interested (reported here in the Independent), and so too are Fiorentina (according to the Gazzetta dello Sport).
He'll be motivated and desperate to prove his worth, so he'll be a great acquisition for someone. In the short term, at least. And that's not what Milan need. Certainly, they need a solid keeper immediately, but they need more than a stop-gap.
Allegri has one of the youngest, most talented crop of players coming through at the moment and a man whose career is winding down is the wrong companion for that group. Cesar is determined not to take a pay cut, and he's reportedly on £90,000 a week in England. That's a considerable drain on resources.
Adriano Galliani should be scouring the globe for a young, promising keeper to integrate with the likes of Mattia De Sciglio, Stephan El Shaarawy, M'Baye Niang and Mario Balotelli. Gabriel will need a sparring partner, and finding a player that's slightly older than the Brazilian and yet still young enough to challenge him for the gloves for years to come would invigorate and inspire both careers. It would also mean that Milan's goalkeeping would be taken care of long-term.
In terms of ability, there's not that much difference between Julio Cesar and Abbiati. The former can still turn on the style every so often for the Selecao, but as he proved at Inter, the days of him doing it every week are gone. The latter is vice-captain and has been a loyal servant for years. If Milan want to start the season with an ageing stopper whose abilities are in decline, it might as well be him.
Who do you think Milan should sign? Let me know on twitter, @ColliOBrien
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