AC Milan reinforced their defence today, and it was greatly needed, especially in light of losing legend Paolo Maldini to retirement.
There had been plenty of transfer talk that Milan would upgrade their defence this summer, but little, if any, of this talk named Oguchi Onyewu. Instead, talk focused on high profile names such as Roma's Felipe Mexes, who would move to the San Siro in big money deals.
But Milan opted to sign Onyewu, and they have found a steal! Incredibly, Onyewu was signed on a free transfer, meaning Milan avoided paying a large transfer fee, as they would have incurring in signing a Mexes type of player.
Money saved here can now be put toward purchasing one of the top flight forwards that Milan have been linked with recently, players like Luis Fabiano, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, or Emmanuel Adebayor.
Not only is this a good move from a financial standpoint, but Milan are getting a quality player. Onyewu is a solid defender who, at 27 years of age, is in the prime of his career.
Onyewu is a big, strong defender who will win balls in the air and not get overpowered by opponents. If Onyewu can beat out recently signed Thiago Silva, he should pair nicely with a healthy Alessandro Nesta in central defence. Also, with his height, Onyewu is an added threat going forward for set pieces.
Having played for Standard Liege in the Belgium League since 2004, venturing for a brief and unsuccessful loan spell with Newcastle in 2007, Onyewu has flown under the radar for the most part. For those that have not followed the United States National Team, he is probably an unknown.
However, he certainly opened some eyes with his performance in the recent Confederations Cup, especially in the United States 2-0 victory over current European Champions, and world #1 ranked Spain. In that match, Onyewu, accompanied by Watford defender Jay DeMerit, shut down the tandem of Fernando Torres and David Villa, arguably the best strike partnership in International football.
This performance certainly shows the quality that Onyewu possesses. His transfer to Milan will allow him to continue opening eyes around the world, as he will now play in one of the most highly respected leagues, for a team playing Champions League football.
Not only is this move good for Milan, but it is also a great thing for the United States National Team. Onyewu will gain invaluable experience playing in Serie A, and combatting high quality players will only help his game.
Playing against the likes of Totti, Del Piero, Amauri, Ibrahimovic, Gilardino and others will be great preparation for the 2010 World Cup, where Onyewu will face top class strikers. Certainly of a higher quality than in the Belgium league, or even in qualifying with the US team in CONCACAF. Also, being paired with Nesta should also help Onyewu, as he will be working alongside a great defender.
When looking at this signing, it appears as if it will be a good thing for both Milan and Onyewu, as well as the US National Team. Providing Onyewu gets a reasonable amount of game time, and seizes the opportunity, this will turn out to be a great move for Onyewu and a steal for AC Milan.