In July, I wrote a post for this site asking AC Milan fans for calm. The club had been quiet on the transfer market and Silvio Berlusconi had gone public in saying he intended to build his youth academy to help the team. I said at the time that if the club did not acquire any big names, they would be title contenders but would not be favorites.
Flash forward forty plus days. Ibrahimovic. Robinho. Boateng. The club worked the transfer market hard in the waning hours and secured some of the biggest names available on the market. They also grabbed Sokratis from Genoa, a smaller profile signing that helps their defense. In exchange, they dumped the aging Marco Borriello, overrated Huntelaar, and backup striker Dominic Adiyah. As the dust settles on the summer transfer dash and the ownership begins to show off the new presents to the fans, the question is:
Is Milan now the favorite to win the Serie A title?
If Allegri decided to stick to a 4-3-3, here is the lineup the club could field in coming weeks:
Defenders: Antonini, Thiago Silva, Nesta, Bonera
Midfield: Seedorf, Pirlo, Ambrosini
Forwards: Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, Pato
Bench: Robinho, Boateng, Inzaghi, Antonini
The biggest impact the additions have on this club is to make the forward position younger and more deadly. Ibrahimovic has the ability to dominate on the offensive end and provides a consistent scoring threat this club lacked from the forward position last season. Ronaldinho, while at times dominant, came into camp out of shape and was disinterested at times last year. If he is physically unfit to play or the club needs a spark, a younger Robinho can sub in or start in his place. On the bench is the all-time leading scorer in European competition in Inzaghi. So your front line has youth, experience, height, quickness, and speed.
A concern expressed by Niccolo in the preseason was Milan’s aging in the midfield. Kevin-Prince Boateng, who showed great potential in the World Cup (as well as a need for his game to mature), provides that young depth and long-term starter the club was seeking in the offseason. The unheralded signing of Sokratis also provides some talented depth for the backline, which at times struggled last year and had a penchant for allowing careless goals. If he’s healthy, American national Oguchi Onyewu also gives the club a talented defender off the bench.
Another aspect is the emergence of Alexandre Pato. Scoring twice on Sunday and looking very good in the preseason, this could be his breakout season and at age 20 a precursor to many successful seasons for AC Milan. The moves this summer allow him to mature within a system where he is not the biggest name or has all the offensive pressure on him.
On the other hand, the expensive acquisition of Robinho can arguably be throwing money at an underachiever. After excelling at a young age in Spain, the Brazilian clashed with management and the EPL culture in Manchester City, leading to his sale this transfer season. Management likely hopes pairing him with Ronaldinho will lead to a resurgence and comfort on and off the pitch. Also, the club’s defense is still solid but not spectacular and was a weakness last season, especially against Inter Milan.
So, does AC Milan now have the talent to be the favorites in Serie A? Going into the season Inter was the consensus favorites and the club has kept its key players, especially Maicon. I also give them the edge in managers with Bentiez’s experience. I still consider Inter Milan the favorites for Serie A but the gap has closed considerably and the Milan derbies this year will be epic.
Agree or disagree? Share your comments below or on Twitter @roberthayjr.