What Milan Needs to Do to Become World Class Again
Anyone who watched AC Milan at Old Trafford could see that their once great squad has aged a great deal in the past few years and as they are currently constructed they struggle to compete against top-end teams.
They suffered massive blows with a number of injuries to key players, but that also served to highlight how they lack the depth to compete when injuries occur. It is painfully obvious that Milan needs to invest in new talent if they expect to compete in the next few years.
While they have invested a great deal in their youth sector this year, many of those players won’t develop, and it will take years for them to become viable starters, if they ever reach that level. A lot of money will need to be invested if AC Milan is to become a world-class team again.
Here is my plan to accomplish this goal:
Step 1—Fix the Stadium Situation
While the San Siro is a great venue, it is getting old, and it isn’t owned by the club, so they don’t receive full ticket proceeds and they cannot make money for renting the field out for concerts or other events. Between not owning the stadium and sharing it with Inter, Milan loses a lot of potential revenue. The recent financial success of the German League correlates with them modernizing their stadiums.
Step 2—Out With the Old
As much as the current generation of AC Milan stars have meant to the club over the past decade, it is time to clean out a lot of the squad while they still have some value to other clubs. Others need to retire, and others need to be released. The entire makeup of the club can’t change, but their needs to be a massive overhaul.
Pippo Inzaghi—He has been a very important player for the club scoring many important goals, but this season he has not been that good when he has played, and he is frustrated with his minutes. It is either time for him to retire or join another club.
Giuseppe Favalli—He used to be a good backup defender, currently he is far too slow to play for a top club, and he should strongly consider hanging his boots up.
Dida—Had a few good games this year, but isn’t the player he once was. Not good enough to play for a top-flight club, and there is talk of him wanting to return to play in Brazil.
Massimo Oddo—Very helpful in Milan’s 2007 Champion’s League victory, but his play has declined a great deal over the past few years. Time to go.
Ronaldinho—While he has been an important player for Milan this season, against big teams his many flaws have shown through. He rarely runs hard and he loses the ball often while trying to do tricks.
His inability to play behind the strikers has forced Milan to play a 4-3-3 this season, which puts Pato in a position that he is not ideally suited for, and well as making the team less balanced overall.
I think that his play will continue to tail off as he ages, and that Milan should capitalize on his run of good form and his marketability to a team like Man City. (30 million Euros.)
Clarence Seedorf—Another great player that is not what he used to be. He is a true champion, but at the present he lacks the ability to be an every-game starter in a top league. However, he still brings a lot to the table, and a team like Ajax, where he started his career, could use the boast that a great example of how to be a true professional. (Eight to 10 million Euros.)
Gennaro Gattuso—Yet another former world-class player that is not what he once was. He no longer has the lung-bursting energy that once helped make him great, he wants to play, but Flamini seems to have taken his spot for good reason. He is said to want to play in England, and I could see Ancelotti and him reuniting in London. (Six million Euros.)
Kakhaber Kaladze—While he seems to be an old player, he is still in his early 30s. He has fallen out of favor in Milan, but he is still in demand in Germany and in Russia. There are rumors that some teams are interested in him for somewhere in the area of six to eight million Euros.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar—Never really got a chance to settle in at Milan. He has played pretty well when given a chance, but he hasn’t gotten many, which means he will likely move on. There are a number of English, Spanish, and German teams that have an interest in him. This could lead to his sale for 15 to 20 million Euros.
Marco Stoari—Played great for Milan at the beginning of the year, after he was loaned to Sampdoria he has played very well again and they want to keep him. His sale should earn Milan around five or six million Euros.
Marek Jankulovski—While he is technically a left back, his defensive skills are pretty poor, and he is better suited to play in the midfield these days. He isn’t as good as he once was and no longer plays at a high enough level to start at Milan. He is worth around five million Euros.
Oguchi Onyewu—Was brought in for free to attempt to bolster the team’s support in the United States. When he played in the preseason he wasn’t very good in the system Milan plays (it requires more mobility than he has) and then he got injured and has been out for the last few months. He should be able to get Milan three to four million Euros.
Step 3—In With the New
After the roster has been purged of the players that have been underachieving and are just not working at Milan, new players will need to be brought in. To go along with the approximately 80 million Euro that was generated in player sales, the new deal Milan made with Fly Emirates gives them about 15 million for this year, and making the knockout round of the Champions League gives them an additional 20 million.
This brings the “war chest” to around 115 million, although not all of this money will be spent on players, as the leftover money will likely go into the new stadium.
Return From Loan
Davide Astori—Has played well with Cagalri this season, and if he wants to return to be the fifth centerback he would be a welcome addition. It may be worth letting him stay out on loan to continue developing.
Mario Yepes—Milan are heavily linked to the Colombian defender. He is 34 years old, but he has a lot of experience and would take Favalli’s spot as the veteran reserve defender and would serve as the fifth centerback.
Cacau—A Brazilian-born German international player that has played well this past season. He would be an excellent backup striker for Pato.
Edin Dzeko—In all honesty, this move should have been made last year. Dzeko is a huge Milan supporter and badly wants a transfer to the Italian club. His wish should be granted as he is one of the best young center forwards in the world.
Playing to next to Pato should mean lots of goals for both of them. He is rumored to have a 25 million Euro buyout clause.
Javier Pastore—A very exciting attacking midfielder, he has adapted very well to Italy this past season. He should only continue to improve, as he isn’t even 21 years old yet.
Milan have been tracking him for a while and he would allow for them to play a very balanced 4-3-1-2, as he is a willing runner and tracks back to help the defense out. He cost Palermo about five million Euro, so a bid of around 12 should land him.
Simon Kjaer—Another huge talent from Palermo, the young Dane is also not even 21 yet, and he has all the qualities to become the best centerback in the world. He could learn a lot playing on the same team as Alessandro Nesta, and he would start a number of games when Nesta needs a rest.
Kjaer can still improve and a move to Milan would be a big step in that direction. He would likely cost around 16 million Euros, or about four times more than they paid for him.
Anderson Hernanes—One of the most talented midfielders in Brazil, he has been rumored to Milan for a few years now. He won best player in the Brazilian League for the '08-09 season, and he can play all over the midfield. He is said to cost about 15 million.
Gregory van der Wiel—A hugely talented young right back, he is a starter for Ajax and the Dutch National Team and he is only 22. One of the most promising attacking right backs in Europe right now, and Ajax could use the money. A deal with them to send them Seedorf and some cash (four million) may do the trick.
Diego Alves—A talented keeper that will only be 25 next season. While he was born in Brazil, he has Italian citizenship so he will not take a non-EU spot for next season. Alves has been one of the best keepers in La Liga, and he has done it while playing behind a poor defense in Almeria. Would cost seven million.
Alessandro Rosina—A very talented attacking mid, Rosina was Torino’s captain, and put the team on his back and almost kept them in Serie A, but his team fell just short. He has played in Russia this season, and I think he would welcome a move back to Italy. Would cost seven million.
Andrea Poli—A young midfielder that plays a lot like Andrea Pirlo, and he could be groomed to eventually take for him in Milan’s midfield. He has played very well this year, and if Sampdoria are not willing to let him leave this term, he could be bought and loaned there for the next season. If in Milan however he adds great depth and can learn a lot from Pirlo. Cost: Stoari and five million.
New Starting Lineup
(new players in caps)
—VAN DER WIEL—Nesta—Silva—Antonini
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