AC Milan: Kalac Out, Roma In, Gattuso Admits It'll Be A Tough Season

Rocky GettersSenior Writer IAugust 13, 2009

ATLANTA - JULY 22:  Gennaro Gattuso #8 of AC Milan against Club America during the World Football Challenge match at Georgia Dome on July 22, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

AC Milan have now officially released goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac and brought in Monaco's Flavio Roma as a direct replacement.

The 6' 7" Australian goalkeeper who had joined Milan in the summer of 2005 had made 38 appearances for the club, as he was, for most parts, the third choice goalkeeper behind Dida and Abbiati. Kalac was released after reaching a mutual agreement and rumors suggest that he maybe on his way to Parma.

The Italian Flavio Roma is a product of the Lazio youth team and had spent time at various Italian clubs before making a move to Monaco in 2001. He has made 247 appearances for that club over the past eight years and is a respected goalkeeper.

However Roma's arrival has made the goalkeeping scene at Milan interesting.

AC Milan already have Dida, Storari and Abbiati, all big-name goalkeepers. And still, Milan have had problems in the goal, which have already been exposed this preseason.

Abbiati is out injured, while Storari has not exactly been convincing, while injuries and a general dip in form have made Dida a subject of criticism as well.

The 35-year-old Flavio Roma may not be preferred ahead of Storari, especially considering that Milan will face bitter city rivals Inter in their second Serie A encounter at the end of this month. But his arrival is seen more as an insurance policy in case Storari is not able to deliver.

Whether that actually works out remains to be seen.

In other transfer news: German giants Bayern Munich are reportedly interested in Milan defender Kakha Kaladze, while Milan are almost set to make a deal with LA Galaxy over David Beckham in January. In all the transfer rumor chaos, relief for Rossoneri fans comes in the form of an official AC Milan statement confirming that Pato will definitely be staying at Milan.

Meanwhile midfielder Gennaro Gattuso sounded as pragmatic as one can ever get, in his interview to the Milan channel.

First, he assured that he's doing better, in terms of his physical fitness, and let the fans know that Milan intend to put the disappointing preseason behind them and look to the future.

He expressed his disappointment on having to let Kaka go, but was happy that Pirlo has stayed on. He said that Pirlo was like his brother and that his presence in the team will be an asset and his role in Milan's performances pivotal.

Most importantly, Gattuso admitted that the season ahead will be a tough one but that they are prepared.

"They're all waiting for us, so we have to convince ourselves to give something extra."

And indeed, Milan have a tough road ahead. One filled with doubts, one that will test the character of the team and the fans, one that will warrant immense strength of mind.

AC Milan are a complex side right now.

They have young superstars like Pato and Huntelaar upfront, who can terrorize the best defenses in Europe. They have what remains of a defense once considered the best in the world. They have an enigmatic Ronaldinho who is still searching for his best at Milan and experienced veterans like Inzaghi, Pirlo and Gattuso who never give anything but their best on the field.

Leonardo has the tough task of rebuilding such a team and taking them to glory. It won't be easy, he knows it. But the fact that nobody expects them to script miracles this season means that they can play without pressure.

And then, whenever "experts" have written off this team, they have come back stronger and better.

Millions of fans whose hearts beat to the rhythm of the magnificent red and black, will hope for nothing else, this season.