Part 2: Who should leave? Who should stay?
The wind of change is blowing through AC Milan. President and owner Silvio Berlusconi is currently negotiating an agreement to sell 48% of the club to a consortium led by Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol. According to the club, the move is a bid to “receive a large boost in revenue and consequently the financial resources needed to take…AC Milan back to competing with the established clubs in world football.”
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AC Milan is also in the process of engaging Siniša Mihajlović as coach to replace Filippo Inzaghi. Unfortunately for Inzaghi, he was unable to translate his success with the Primavera to the senior team. To be fair, he was thrust at the helm of one of the worst AC Milan sides in history without any real managerial experience.
With a rumoured transfer budget of around €150 million, AC Milan will look to add more quality to the squad. While the budget may appear to be high, recent transfers of players like Gareth Bale and James Rodríguez have inflated the market (and for that price you can barely afford a Yaya Touré birthday party). Hence, do not expect Milan to go on a shopping spree, which is neither realistic nor practical. Milan will have to build around the players who have proven that they are capable of being part of a winning team. Since Milan cannot get rid of everyone else, players who are decent enough will have to stay as well. All the rest need to leave.
Players who should leave:
Christian Abbiati: He has been a great servant of Milan for over a decade but he is almost 38 and unlikely to have his contract renewed. Instead of extending his contract for another year, Milan should be in the market for a younger goalkeeper to provide cover for Diego López.
Michelangelo Albertazzi: If you didn’t watch that one Coppa Italia match then you may have forgotten about Albertazzi. Since graduating to the senior team, Albertazzi has been loaned out to Getafe, Varese and Hellas. While he is a talented young player, it makes little sense keeping him at the club if he is not going to play.
Daniele Bonera: He has somehow managed to win a Champions League title despite having an average career with Milan. Mention his name and you may be met with sighs and eye-rolls. Few fans will be sad to see him leave if his contract is not renewed.
Alex: Maybe Alex was once a good defender in the past, but in his first season with Milan he looked frustrated, disinterested, unimpressive and very unfit. He is not worth keeping for future seasons.
Cristian Zapata: He has been decent for Milan since joining in 2012. After a brilliant World Cup with Colombia—partnering with ex-Milan teammate Mario Yepes—Milan fans would have hoped for a continuation of this form for the new season. Though injuries kept him out of the team for two months, he was left to sit on the bench for most of the season. Unless Milan’s second kit for 2015-16 is yellow and blue like Colombia, Zapata should probably leave now.
Cristian Zaccardo: He has ‘Lord’ status among fans of Italian football due to being part of the 2006 World Cup winning team. However, he has contributed very little to Milan.
Adil Rami: While he is a good defender, he is known for his public disputes with coaches. His lack of respect is not needed at the club.
Philippe Mexès: He brings with him bad hair, a bad tan and a bad attitude. AC Milan needs a less erratic central defender. Although Mexès only scores brilliant goals, he is prone to lapses of concentration in defence.
Michael Essien: He should have never joined Milan in the first place, but thankfully he is now officially Panathinaikos’s problem.
Sulley Muntari: Transfer rumours suggest that he will go to Everton. Let us hope that the rumours are true.
Alessio Cerci: He is a really quick winger, but he goes nowhere and does nothing in particular with the ball. Cerci has (unfortunately) declared his commitment to the club on Twitter. Hopefully there is a release clause somewhere in his loan agreement (which expires in June 2016).
Giampaolo Pazzini: We are all truly happy that Pazzo scored his 100th Serie A goal, but Milan needs a more decisive and clinical striker.
Players who should stay:
Diego López: The one time Real Madrid number one was impressive in his first season with Milan, making a number of great saves including a penalty on his debut v Lazio (among others). López will be 34 in November and Abbiati is set to leave so Milan will seriously need to consider buying a young goalkeeper as longer term solution (Perin perhaps?). Nevertheless, López still has a good few seasons left in him and he should definitely stay at Milan.
Michael Agazzi: Although we have hardly seen much of him at Milan, he is a decent third choice goalkeeper. If Milan does not promote Donnarumma or Gori to the first team, or bring back Gabriel—who won the Serie B with Carpi—expect Agazzi to stay.
Mattia De Sciglio: Another injury-ridden season left De Sciglio on the side-lines for the majority of the season. He had a number of poor performances when called to action, especially against Napoli when he was sent off one minute into the match. However, he is only 22 and will grow in maturity.
Luca Antonelli: Looked solid in defence on his return to Milan after 7 years. He is not a flashy defender but he gets the job done. Milan could have probably done better defensively had he been at the club from September.
Salvatore Bocchetti: Joined Milan on loan from Spartak Moscow in January with an option to buy. Like Antonelli, he was solid in his few appearances. Milan should explore keeping him at the San Siro permanently.
Gabriel Paletta: While people may be distracted by his hair (or lack thereof), he is a good defender and once won a U-20 World Cup alongside Lionel Messi.
Nigel de Jong: He is probably on his way out of the club, but it would be worth keeping him due to his huge presence in the back of the midfield.
Riccardo Montolivo: The Milan captain is one of the few world class players in the current squad. He was injured for most of the season, but will return to the starting team once fully fit.
Andrea Poli: He is a hardworking midfielder and appears to be dedicated to the club. He is the type of player that you would want in a team that is going through a difficult period (and it doesn’t hurt that he looks a bit like Kakà).
Marco van Ginkel: Since joining Milan on a loan deal from Chelsea, MvG settled into the squad quite well especially towards the end of the season. It would be a smart move by Milan to either extend his loan or keep him permanently.
Giacomo Bonaventura: Jack had a great debut season at Milan with a number of man-of-the-match performances. Like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going and going. Although he received an idiotic red card against Sassuolo that changed the climate of the game, he showed a lot of class against his former team Atalanta.
Suso: Looked impressive in the few games he played since joining Milan in January. Suso is an excellent long-range shooter: he scored a blinder in a friendly against Reggiana.
Hachim Mastour: He is certainly not going to be starting next season, but Mastour is a great prospect for the future and should remain in the AC Milan system.
Stephan El Shaarawy: Constant injuries have frustrated his career. As long as he can stay fit for a full season, he will be a threat to any defence.
Keisuke Honda: He started off his first full season well with a number of goals. However, his return from the Asia Cup saw his form drastically decrease. He will be expected to do much better without any mid-season international competitions.
Jérémy Ménez: The Frenchman was the best player for Milan in 2014-15 and who could forget that goal against Parma. He may be very selfish at times and was disgraceful against Genoa towards the end of the season (earning himself a 4 match ban), but he is a true talent. Ménez has proven his worth for Milan with 16 goals (as a false 9) and with his penalty-kick expertise.
Mattia Destro: Although he only scored 3 Serie A goals since joining on loan from Roma in January, Destro has the quality to be the frontline of Milan’s attack. If Milan can keep Destro on a permanent contract for next season, one can expect him to be more settled and hopefully more clinical in goal.
Players in limbo:
Ignazio Abate: Started the season quite well with a number of assists but steadily declined in form due to injuries. However, Abate has not lived to expectations placed on him after his first two seasons at the club. If he stays, this may be his last chance to prove himself.
No one can ever predict an AC Milan transfer window. The likes of Bonera or Alex may very well stay at the expense of Ménez or López. Remember, this is the club that sold Shevchenko, Kakà and Thiago Silva. Whoever ends up at Milan come September 2015, my only hope is that they are able to bring the club back to the top of Italian and European football.
In the meantime, I am waiting for the end of the transfer season to buy my new jersey.
Photo Credit: http://footballcosmos.com