AC Milan: 6 Players Milan Could Sell in Wake of Berlusconi Comments
Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has reiterated the club's need to sell before new players can arrive, according to Football-Italia.
After finishing a disappointing eighth last season, the club will be looking to climb back into Serie A contention, but will need a strong off-season if they are to challenge Italy's other top teams.
This summer marks Filippo Inzaghi's first transfer window as manager and it will be crucial for the former Milan hero to be allowed to spend.
That won't happen until some players leave the San Siro.
In this slideshow, we'll speculate about those Milan could part with in hopes of freeing up the money Inzaghi will need to create his Milan.
Milan's Summer Thus Far
GK Michael Agazzi; Free Transfer from Chievo
CB Alex; Free Transfer from PSG
FW Jeremy Menez; Free Transfer from PSG
LB Michelangelo Albertazzi; €501k Transfer from Verona
FW Kingsley Boateng; Free Transfer to NAC Breda
CM Bakaye Traore; Free Transfer to Bursaspor
FW Kaka; Free Transfer to Orlando City
GK Ferdinando Coppola; Free Transfer to Bologna
CM Antonio Nocerino; Loan to Torino
Permanent deals are yet to be agreed for Adil Rami and Adel Taarabt, two players who performed well on loan at Milan last season.
Urby Emanuelson and Marco Amelia are two others who won't be suiting up for the Rossoneri next season after their contracts were left to expire.
Matias Silvestre will return to cross-town rivals Inter after making little impact in his loan spell.
Transfer information courtesy of Transfermarkt.
Robinho Set for MLS Move
The former Brazilian prodigy has been a fringe player for the past few seasons and could join teammate Kaka in the United States, per Football-Italia.
Having failed to start in more than 15 matches in a Serie A season since 2012, Robinho has long been expected to leave the San Siro.
Every transfer window it seems that a Robinho deal falls through, but this could be the summer when Milan offloads the former Real Madrid man and his wage bill.
His sale would create chances on the wing positions of Inzaghi's favored 4-3-3 for new signing Jeremy Menez and even 16-year-old Hachim Mastour down the line, but it will also mean losing valuable depth. Even in this latter part of his career, Robinho remains a unique individual talent, capable of coming off the bench or in as a spot starter and conjuring up a match-winning piece of skill.
M'Baye Niang is another player whose Milan future is uncertain, according to Sky Sports (h/t TMW), and, despite refusing a move to West Ham, will likely be playing elsewhere come next season.
Taarabt's future is uncertain, Menez was barely used last season and Mastour needs to be brought along slowly, so Robinho could be useful as an experienced wing option.
Nevertheless, I wouldn't expect him to be around next season and that's probably a relief for both player and club: Robinho gets to expand his celebrity in the US and Milan nets some transfer revenue and eliminates his wage hit whilst freeing up a squad place.
Louis Van Gaal Pushing to Bring De Jong to Old Trafford
John Richardson at Express reported that incoming Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will attempt to sign midfield hardman Nigel de Jong, whom he manages at international level with the Netherlands.
United hoped that Marouane Fellaini would provide an imposing foil to the classy Michael Carrick, but the big Belgian struggled in his debut season and Van Gaal seems to view De Jong as just the enforcer he needs.
The former Manchester City man was a key figure in the Dutch midfield this World Cup before an injury ended his tournament. Playing in front of a three-man back-line, De Jong was effective in breaking up attacking moves and shielding the team's biggest weakness—its central defense.
Richardson cites a fee in the range of £10 million and while Milan should try to keep hold of their Dutch destroyer, that £10 million would be a substantial return.
Selling De Jong would be difficult to cope with as he's the team's only defense-first midfielder, and any midfield triumvirate Inzaghi would trot out would be bereft of a defensive midfielder.
Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Poli and Keisuke Honda could combine for a potent attacking unit, but defensively they'd leave a lot to be desired. When you consider Milan's defense has a hard enough time on their own, removing De Jong from the mix further hinders an already lackluster back-line.
While selling De Jong would put Milan in a markedly better position to sign Alessio Cerci, losing him means losing the midfield's defensive anchor.
Milan Must Let Kevin Constant Go
Kevin Constant is not the answer at left-back.
The 27-year-old is foul-prone, unimpressive getting forward and Inzaghi's appointment should mean the end to the Constant left-back experiment.
Under contract until 2017 and with some miles left in his his career, Constant does hold some value and should be moved.
Mattia De Sciglio and Ignazio Abate split time at right-back last season and while both are better there, one must adjust to a left-back role. The Italian internationals are clearly Milan's two best full-backs and it'll be interesting to see how Inzaghi addresses this selection conundrum.
De Sciglio has played on the left for both club and country, but playing there really limits his crossing as he's a right-footed player.
Abate faces a similar problem and given De Sciglio's upside and the club's need to keep hold of its young players, he would probably be the one to be sold if they can't play together.
Urby Emanuelson was solid at left-back under Clarence Seedorf, but his contract has since expired. Didac Vila had a good loan spell with Espanyol two years ago, but has been a non-factor since, appearing in just one Serie A match since joining Milan in 2011.
Without room for another midfielder and given his poor play as a defender, the best course of action is to sell the Guinean international to make room for new arrivals. It'd be rolling the dice as he's one of the few players on the roster with left-back experience, but Milan needs to go in a different direction.
Age and Wages Make Mexes Expendable
Philippe Mexes has enjoyed a prosperous Serie A career and was once considered one of the peninsula's best central defenders.
Now 32, the former French international is on the decline and was really poor last season prior to the arrival of his long-time friend Adil Rami on loan.
Mexes flourished alongside Rami and the two were instrumental in a five-game stretch last season when Milan took 13 of 15 points and conceded just twice.
Milan and Valencia are at an impasse in the Rami negotiations, per Football-Italia (h/t La Stampa), meaning Mexes may be without his countryman next season, and that's disconcerting.
When Mexes was paired with Cristian Zapata, Milan's back-line was porous and without much in the way of quality rotation options, it was a season to forget for the Milan defense. In fact, their 49 goals allowed in the 2013-14 season was the most the club has conceded in over 15 years, per Whoscored. There are more goals in today's Serie A so it makes sense that the concession rate was somewhat inflated, but it was a historically bad defensive campaign.
Adriano Galliani has already added former Chelsea stalwart Alex this summer, and the Brazilian will be expected to come in and have a big impact. Zapata will hope to gel with Alex better than he has with Mexes, and if Rami isn't re-signed, a Zapata-Alex pairing could be the starting central defensive duo next season.
If Rami comes back, it'd be silly to let Mexes go because it's not like there's a worthwhile going rate for 32-year-old defenders prone to inconsistency. Should Milan and Valencia fail to agree to terms, selling Mexes, albeit for pennies, is worth it just to get his €4 million wages off the books.
Keisuke Honda Not a Fit for Inzaghi's 4-3-3
Upon his arrival at the San Siro last January, Japanese international Keisuke Honda was greeted with much fanfare.
He was coming on a Bosman transfer and during his tenure with CSKA Moscow, had built a reputation as one of the world's best playmakers plying his trade outside of Europe's top-five leagues.
Add in the revenue stream that was opened by signing one of Japan's best players and it looked a shrewd move for a club that was desperately lacking in the creativity department.
His debut season, however, did not go to plan. Honda struggled to cement himself as a starter, as many had hoped, and when he was on the pitch, he didn't look like the player that was lighting up Russia and the international stage in previous years.
A classic No. 10, Honda is most effective behind a centre-forward. Inzaghi is expected to institute a 4-3-3 formation and, unfortunately for Honda, there is no position in that formation that best aligns with his skill-set.
The Japanese star may be able to best Andrea Poli for a starting central midfield spot, as he does give his best on the defensive end, but he's not an ideal fit there.
Signed through to 2017 and valued at €17 million by Transfermarkt, selling Honda would fetch a healthy sum that Inzaghi could reinvest in players that'd be proper fits for his system.
Will Mario Balotelli Leave?
Milan's biggest asset, this list wouldn't be complete without Super Mario.
The Italian international has carried the Milan offense in his first 18 months with the club and was effectively the team's lone goal threat last season while Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini were sidelined with long-term injuries.
By now, we're all probably familiar with the links between Balotelli and Arsenal, but after a disappointing showing in Brazil, Berlusconi shed some light on the situation, via Metro (h/t Gazzetta dello Sport).
'Other than Italy, I’m the one who lost at the World Cup,' Berlusconi is reported to have said.
'I was selling Balotelli to an English team for several millions, but, after this World Cup, who will buy him now?
‘I was going to sell it to a top English club for 35million [euros], then the deal has stalled.’
With Arsenal seemingly out of the Balotelli picture as they inch closer to signing Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez, per Colin Harvey of Daily Star, Liverpool are monitoring the situation, according to Daily Star's Rhys Turrell.
If Liverpool does decide to sell Luis Suarez, Balotelli's quality on the pitch would certainly help, but I'd be loath to replace Suarez with another problematic forward.
Aside from Liverpool and Arsenal, there aren't many other clubs that both have a need up front and can afford the mercurial striker. Real Madrid comes to mind as, via Football-Italia (h/t AS and Corriere dello Sport), los Blancos are primed to lose Alvaro Morata to Juventus.
On the pitch, it's in Milan's best interest to retain him, as it'll be interesting to see what Inzaghi can impart on the Italian No. 9. Pippo is renowned for his instincts and if he can teach Balo how to get more easy goals, it will lighten the burden on the Milan front-man, who has been left to create many of his own chances.
We never know what Balotelli will do and if it's in the cards for him to leave, the €25 million-plus Milan would receive would go a long way in signing Inzaghi's top targets.
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