Alex and Menez the Latest Pieces in Frugal AC Milan Puzzle

Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterJune 5, 2014

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 05:  Alex of PSG hits a freekick during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint Germain and RSC Anderlecht at Parc des Princes on November 5, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images)
Harry Engels/Getty Images

Slowly but surely, AC Milan are putting the pieces in place for an assault on Serie A’s Champions League positions.

On Thursday the Rossoneri welcomed Brazilian defender Alex to the San Siro, and ahead of putting pen to paper on a two-year contract the 31-year-old told the club’s official website he was intent on taking the Italian outfit “back into the Champions League.”

It looks as though he’ll have former teammate Jeremy Menez for help in that regard.

According to Eurosport, incoming Milan manager Filippo Inzaghi met the attacker in Ibiza last weekend, and the 27-year-old, who won a pair of Ligue 1 titles with Alex at Paris Saint-Germain, will shortly sign a three-year deal.

Neither Alex nor Menez stand to cost Milan anything in the way of transfer fees, and that both served out their previous pacts at PSG indicates yet again that the seven-time European champions, who ran a €6.9 million loss in 2012-13, as per Football-Italia, will be looking to acquire players on the cheap ahead of next season.

Naturally, they’ll also be dumping salary.

No Serie A club spent as much on player costs as Milan in 2012-13—the most recent campaign for which official numbers are available—and as a result the likes of Robinho, Alessandro Matri and even Mario Balotelli could be auctioned off.

Robinho, 30, has been actively shopped since last summer, when a proposed move to Santos fell through in July.

Matri, meanwhile, is a transfer target of Palermo according to Tuttosport, as relayed by Football-Italia, and Turkish outlet Milliyet has reported that Galatasaray would be willing to pay €20 million for Balotelli, according to Turkish-Football.

Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic is thought to be an option for the Rossoneri if one or any of the aforementioned trio should leave the club this summer, although the Bundesliga champions’ asking price of €30 million, as reported by Football-Italia, will likely give Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi pause for thought.

The former Italian prime minister has been reluctant to invest heavily in the club the past few years, and even last season the dozen or so players he brought in were acquired for around €25 million.

Not that free transfers, bargain buys and creative loan deals will in any way predestine Milan for another eighth-place finish. Quite the contrary.

Austerity in the transfer market is the way of modern Italian football, and the standings next May will largely signify the effect to which the top flight’s 20 sides used their limited resources.

The Alex and Menez deals represent a good start in that regard for Milan, who will no doubt have further business to conduct before the end of August.