What AC Milan Need to Do in the Summer Transfer Window
AC Milan currently sit in 10th place in the Serie A standings on 29 points. Suffice to say, this is far from where the club expected to be at the beginning of the season.
Injuries to key players such as Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli have not helped, yet the issues plaguing the Rossoneri at the moment are far bigger than can be fixed by those two alone.
Sloppy defensive play and generally unimaginative midfield play have been strong factors in Milan's decline this year. As such, moving on from Max Allegri seemed a foregone conclusion very early in the season.
New manager Clarence Seedorf has overseen a mini-revival of the team's results, with seven points picked up in Serie A in the past three matches. Still, the results have not been overly convincing.
Milan face an uphill climb to play in Europe next season, with the Champions League simply no longer a reasonable expectation from the side.
During the upcoming summer transfer window, Seedorf has his first true opportunity to mold the side to fit his plans. The issues in the squad are plenty, but here is an overview of what Seedorf must do to get Milan back on track.
Currently on Roster: Christian Abbiati, Marco Amelia, Gabriel, Ferdinando Coppola
Both Coppola and Abbiati see their contracts expire at the conclusion of the season, and it may be in Milan's best interests to let them go and opt for youth at the position. A goal.com report linked Milan to a potential summer move for Michael Agazzi, the 29-year-old Cagliari keeper.
The more prudent approach would be to either bring back Abbiati on a year-long contract while easing Gabriel into the first team or to hand him the job from the start.
Given that funding for signings appears to be at a premium, finding a new keeper to buy should not be Milan's priority given the presence of a young player with potential already at the club.
Center Backs Currently on Roster: Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes, Cristian Zapata, Matias Silvestre, Cristian Zaccardo, Daniele Bonera
Wing-Backs currently on Roster: Mattia De Sciglio, Ignazio Abate, Kevin Constant, Urby Emanuelson
Somewhat amazingly, Daniele Bonera is the longest-tenured Milan player at the moment. This is an indictment of the direction the Rossoneri have been trending towards since their last Champions League victory in 2007.
Bonera is slow and flat-footed and simply not of the quality necessary for Milan to move back into the upper echelon of Italian football. Milan would be best served letting him go during the summer.
Mexes is not the player he once was, and Zapata is serviceable at best. Rami seems to have been a shrewd signing, as his availability was not due to underperformance at Valencia but rather behavioral issues. If he can be held in line, he will undoubtedly help the first team for years to come.
Milan must make a move for a center back their priority in the coming window. Davide Astori of Cagliari has been linked with a move to San Siro, but he has plenty of question marks as well.
It is abundantly clear at this point that an improvement must be made, given Milan's 15th-rated defense in Italy so far. For a club the stature of Milan, being level on goals against with Sampdoria is embarrassing.
The flanks appear to be well-covered with Abate and De Sciglio, but cover could be brought in to provide competition at back-up with the underwhelming Constant.
Defensive Midfielders currently on roster: Nigel de Jong, Riccardo Montolivo, Sulley Muntari, Bryan Cristante, Michael Essien, Andrea Poli
Attacking Midfielders/Wingers currently on roster: Keisuke Honda, Kaka, Riccardo Saponara, Valter Birsa, Adel Taarabt, Stephan El Shaarawy
Of these players, only Honda, El Shaarawy and Montolivo seem to be guaranteed spots in the starting 11 next year. De Jong, on current form, has been one of the standout performers of the season, yet it is unknown whether he will play as key a role next year as he does now.
Poli has fizzled a bit after a promising start to his Milan career, including a goal in the opener against Hellas Verona, while Essien is a depth option at this stage of his career.
Muntari has had his moments at Milan, including his brace against Juventus this year. However, he more often than not provides little to the squad and Milan would be best served selling him.
Taarabt is an intriguing signing on loan from Queens Park Rangers, but it is unlikely Milan will feel compelled to keep him on a permanent basis at the end of the year, barring an unexpected run of quality play.
Milan must go out and sign at least one player with potential, while clearing some of the deadweight in the squad such as Muntari and Birsa.
Forwards currently on roster: Mario Balotelli, Giampaolo Pazzini, Robinho, Andrea Petagna
The only position Milan do not need to strengthen in the summer is at forward. Indeed, the biggest struggle for the Rossoneri may be to hold on to Balotelli in the face of increasing interest from some wealthy Premier League sides.
However, Balotelli and Pazzini are both good enough to start week in, week out in the league and in European competition.
Alessandro Matri will likely return back from his loan stint at Fiorentina and, despite his profligacy with Milan, can still be a decent back-up option.
Petagna, at 18, still needs time to grow, but he has shown flashes of potential that could make him a factor at San Siro within the next few years.