The resurgence of AC Milan
In the last few years, AC Milan were seen as a shadow of their former selves. Bad performances compounded by average signings made by incompetent (or unfortunate) managers made the club wither away into irrelevance with football fans always wondering “it’s a shame Milan aren’t what they were, they used to be so good”.
They glory days of European Cup success with the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi are over, nothing but mere memories to fans of the Rossoneri. But something is happening in Milan once again, something that is installing hope and faith into the fans. Is it a resurgence, or is it just throwing money at a situation? Either way, it’s the start of a new era at Milan, the Chinese Era.
For years, owner Silvio Berlusconi had been actively trying to sell the club to literally anyone who had enough money to buy a can of Coke, but he always had trouble finding someone who had the best interests of the club at heart. A businessman by the name of Mr. Bee tried to buy the club but at the last minute, everything seemed to collapse and the deal with called off. On the other side of town, Inter were also going through a takeover that would see them under Chinese control and all the optimism in the city were heading in their direction.
Inter had their new owners whilst Berlusconi was still trying to get some sort of an investment. It looked like Milan would be stuck in mid-table, without any hope of European football. Vincenzo Montella, however, managed to get Milan into the Europa League following an impressive season last year, which set them up perfectly for a summer of good recruitment. However, what has transpired this summer has taken everyone by surprise.
Leonardo Bonucci, Hakan Calhanoglu, Franck Kessie, Andrea Conti, Andre Silva, Mateo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Lucas Biglia and of course Fabio Borini have all joined the Rossoneri this summer, sparking talks of a “revolution” from the black and red half of San Siro and with Vincenzo Montella in charge, they’re in a good place with regards to management.
Milan will face a struggle initially to gel all these players into a well-oiled team, but in some ways they don’t really have a lot of trouble. Look at this way, four of the eight players are from Serie A, so they won’t have a problem adapting to the climate and with one of Nikola Kalinic or Andrea Belotti rumoured to be coming in, either one of them won’t be a stranger to what the league needs.
Many people want to say they will take time to adapt and whilst some players do – those who are coming from the Bundesliga or La Liga – the rest of the team should have no problem adapting to any style or formation. The signing of Bonucci from rivals Juventus is particularly significant, for many reasons.
First of all, it significantly weakens their main Scudetto rival. Yes, Napoli are involved as well but they aren’t as big a worry to Milan as Juventus. Napoli have some amazing players and are probably going to be challenging for the title, but from Milan’s point of view, they are just another obstacle in their battle with Juventus, a Juventus side without its best defender.
I think we have a long while yet before we can officially call this the resurgence or revolution of AC Milan, but what they have done during this summer has put them in good stead. However, one thing is a must for Montella and Milan this season, and that is to secure Champions League football for the next campaign. If they fail to get Champions League football, FFP will come into play and absolutely ruin this project they have going on.
Due to the First Owners rule in FFP, Milan have some leeway when it comes to their spending, but all that leeway goes out of the window if they don’t get group stage Champions League football next season. That is how important this next season is for Milan.
So, whilst we watch Neymar potentially leaving for more than £150m and debate over whether Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata and Kyle Walker are worth over £175m combined, Milan have been doing their business early and making some incredible deals. At the start of the transfer window, no one could have expected Leonardo Bonucci to move to Milan for £40m, but it somehow happened.
Milan have their swagger back, they have their desire and hunger for success back and most importantly, they’re being taken seriously again. A competitive, hungry and driven Milan is a good think for Italian football and for European football in general.