AC Milan: 7 Full-Backs the Rossoneri Should Target in January
It might seem strange to suggest AC Milan need to think about recruiting new players already since they've enjoyed a solid start to their season.
A 2-2 draw at home to Lazio was a good result for the Rossoneri which was bettered only by an away point at the Nou Camp.
In these games AC Milan used two different full-back pairings and we are likely to see a third before long. The current full-back roster of Luca Antonini, Gianluca Zambrotta, Taye Taiwo and Ignazio Abate is simply not strong enough for a team hoping to retain the Serie A title and make serious progress in the UEFA Champions League. Antonini is far from convincing and the issue with Zambrotta is outlined here.
Soon we will see a Taiwo/Abate combination providing the return of fitness for the Nigerian left-sider. But who can AC Milan look for in January to bolster their full-back options in quality, not quantity?
Gregory van der Wiel
Current Club: Ajax
I'm not sure how Gregory van der Wiel hasn't been snatched up yet. If it were the Ajax of old, van der Wiel would be playing for one of the best teams in Europe. But right now he is there for the taking.
He turns in the performances for Ajax and provides attacking quality from the full-back position. He is fast becoming a complete player with defensive, offensive and athletic ability setting him apart from the rest.
He's gained 25 caps for the Dutch national team and made an appearance or two in the World Cup last summer.
Potential price tag: £10-14m
Current Club: Manchester City
Seem like an odd one? Perhaps. But with the recruitment of Gael Clichy, I'm not sure how much game time Aleksander Kolarov will get. He wasn't very impressive in his first season in English football and should he kick his heels a little more on the bench, a return to the Serie A he knows so well could be an option.
He made his name with Lazio of course, famous for rasping long range shots and attacking play. He is excellent at set piece duties and relatively solid in defence. He does look a little slow for an attacking full-back at times though, and his lack of agility could be an issue.
It's unlikely Kolarov could be considered a serious option in January, but next summer could be a very different situation.
Potential price tag: £14-16m
Current Club: Hoffenheim
When Hoffenheim were shocking Europe by topping the Bundesliga at Christmas time in their maiden top division season, Andreas Beck was a key player in their side.
Having since won nine caps for the German senior side, a team possessing a plethora of talent for every position, you can tell he's still going strong.
He needs to make a step up though or his career will start to falter, and you get the feeling he'll be moving on soon, just as most of the other players did who were carrying Hoffenheim to the top of the league two seasons ago.
Potential price tag: £8-12m
Lorenzo De Silvestri
Current Club: Fiorentina
A fantastic athlete skilled in both offensive and defensive aspects of the game, he is a good pick for a team who look to use attacking full-backs to provide width.
With AC Milan's 3-1 midfield formation, they lack wingers and rely on their full-backs to come past the midfielders and into good crossing positions. Lorenzo De Silvestri has proved with Fiorentina that he has the physical attributes to provide this service along with good positional and tackling abilities.
A top three Serie A side will surely pick him up sooner rather than later and he would be a decent acquisition for AC Milan.
Potential price tag: £10-15m
Current Club: Barcelona
Maxwell is familiar with Serie A having spent three seasons with AC Milan's close rivals Internazionale. He could be a cheap option for AC Milan to consider though as his Barcelona days look numbered.
Eric Abidal is the firm favourite at left-back for Pep Guardiola and the alarm bells must have been ringing with Maxwell when they signed Adriano last summer.
With three top quality left-sided full-backs, one could be allowed to leave and the most likely name out of the door in that instance would be Maxwell.
Potential price tag: £2-5m
Current Club: Everton
It's not usual for European clubs to nab English players (it's usually the other way around) but Leighton Baines is a left-sided star at a club going nowhere.
With Everton likely to be extremely reluctant to relinquish what is probably their best player to any English club, If Baines pushed for an exit he could have offers abroad.
His free-kicks are great, his deliveries are top-class and he works very hard on the pitch. He will form a valuable partnership with Royston Drenthe on Everton's left side this season but I would encourage any Italian clubs to bid for him.
Potential price tag: £10-15m
Current Club: Rubin Kazan
Last but not least, Cristian Ansaldi is an option. He is good going forward, delivers a nice cross and tracks back well. He's as close to a traditional wing-back as you'll get without accidentally becoming a winger.
A single cap for Argentina is a sign that he was a once used experiment in the dodgy Diego Maradona reign, but he still possesses talent. He is left-footed but can aptly play on either flank and performs consistently on the pitch.
He would certainly provide the advancing width from the full-back role AC Milan need and would be moderately priced.
Potential price tag: £9-14m
Thanks for reading. I invite you to share your thoughts on AC Milan's full-back situation and potential targets too. I'm on twitter — @stighefootball — if you fancy following me.