Thiago Silva has been sold to Paris Saint-Germain for €42m, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is slated to walk out the exit door, in return for a combined €65m (which implies Ibrahimovic would cost €23m), increased European competition, and a team which, in its current state, can never win the Serie A. Silvio Berlusconio reasons that with their departure, he would save €150m over just two years. Without contesting the validity of that statement, it’s safe to assume those savings and profits wouldn’t come from prize money, because they wouldn’t end up winning anything at all. Not only are Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic the best players at Milan, but Silva is arguably the best defender in the world bar Vidic. Also, Ibrahimovic is wide in demand after two scintillating seasons for the Rossoneri, and a personally fulfilling EUROs.
To top it off, Berlusconi and Massimilano Allegri have already allowed a wealth of experience to leave the club, namely – Alessandro Nesta, Fillippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Gianluca Zambrotta, Mark Van Bommel and Gennaro Gattuso. The last time a club let such experience walk out, the effects were resounding. Chelsea at the start of the 2009-10 season, let Ricardo Carvalho, Juliano Belletti, Michael Ballack, Joe Cole and Deco leave the club in order to bring in young blood, and curb rising wages. However, this finally culminated in the departure of Carlo Ancelloti the very next year after a trophy-less season, and fresh investment all over again. It cost Roman Abramovich and his team then, and it’ll cost Berlusconi and his team now. Nesta and Co. might not have bought much to the table in terms of performance, but the value of experience has always been undermined. In any case they would provide a strong backup to the starting XI. With their departure, and the two scheduled to leave for Paris, Milan will have huge loopholes to fill, with apparently no money.
The quality of people Milan have signed this season do not signal much intent of challenging the rising threat posed by a resurgent Juventus, or the ever-present nags of Seria A, Udinese or Napoli. Of the numerous low end signings made, Ricardo Montolivo is the only player of note, but he will hardly address the issues that will plague the team following the departure of Silva and Ibra. Robinho has been off form for quite a few years now, and has hardly lived up to the ‘new Pele’ declaration, and Antonio Cassano can neither be counted upon to remain fit, owing to health concerns, and even when fit, there is no guarantee he’ll score as much as Ibrahimovic. Alexandre Pato can be devastating, if his muscle permit, but they rarely do, and Stephen El Sharaawy is still too inexperienced.
Thiago Silva’s exit will be tougher to cope with, because they won’t find anyone as good as him, so the only way they can go is downwards. Davide Astori, and Nicolas N’Kolou have been sounded as potential replacements, but none can even begin to impose the confidence that Silva did, and Milan will have a hard time coping with an average back-line as it is.
Milan’s squad was an average one as it is, but with the business in this transfer window, they seem to have ushered in a new era of mediocrity and degradation. The Champions League is aeons away, the Serie A title is miles away, and at this rate, Milan will see themselves going the Liverpool route, and will to have boast about “the glory days at San Siro” (which is a reality, considering Inter’s plight is even worse). Is it time some rich Middle-Eastern magnate came in and bought some funds to Milan? Maybe so.