In our new weekly feature, Alex Mascitti discusses a major talking point in Italian football.
Let’s be honest, AC Milan are not going to make it into Europe this season and they may finish outside of the top six. Giacomo Bonaventura’s season-ending injury was the icing on the cake on a downfall that has been coming for quite some time.
Who’s to blame this time? Will Silvio Berlusconi finally relinquish his death grip on the club? It’s almost as if the elder statesman is trying to bring the Rossoneri into oblivion.
Is it the coaches? Is it the players? Is it the abysmal decisions made by the directorship over the last seven years? It’s all the above. But the cliché phrase “the fish rots from the head” couldn’t be more true or applicable to Milan’s fall from grace. You have the President of the club talking to the media about which formation the coach should deploy from week to week, Galliani being given a budget of €90 million in the summer window of 2015 and spending it on players who simply didn’t pan out. That was the Alamo from Berlusconi. He invested big and Galliani got it wrong. Carlos Bacca and Andrea Bertolacci never lived up to their price tags. Alessio Romagnoli may turn out to be a different story, but €60 million for Bacca and Bertolacci was a major flop.
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The last handful of seasons have ran like clockwork; Juventus wins the Scudetto, Arsenal and Liverpool collapse in the Premier League, people rant and rave over who’s better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and last but not least, Milan finishes outside of European play.
Whether or not AC Milan are sold to the Chinese is irrelevant for the next 2-3 years. Money doesn’t guarantee you success, and I’m not convinced AC Milan have put the right pieces in place for the post-takeover world. Manchester City have spent billions and are they any closer to winning the Champions League? Heck, they may not even make the Champions League next year!
Serie A is becoming an increasingly competitive competition. Napoli and Roma are two of the fastest growing sides in Europe, while Inter is putting together an intriguing project of their own. Juventus continue to be on a planet of their own and are stockpiling major Italian talents who could come into play as the old guard makes way in the coming years. So where is Milan? There is no project, the only hope they have at the club is that they can close the sale and then slowly migrate towards putting things back together.
Do the Rossoneri have very promising players of their own coming through the pipeline? Sure, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Manuel Locatelli for example are five-star prospects, the latter is experiencing growing pains but I’m personally extremely confident he can become a great player. Alessio Romagnoli is another player worthy of praise and is full promise, while Mattia De Sciglio continues to move in the right direction in terms of growth. There is a base to build from, but the gaping holes in the side will continue to see them outside of Europe.
They’ve lost out on most of the most promising young Italian players from this season. Caldara and Orsolini have gone to rivals Juventus, while Gagliardini has gone to their city nemesis Internazionale. Even Napoli got in on the action by securing Alessio Zerbin, who continues to be an intriguing player. Can their primavera produce players and go it alone? I’d have my reservations about that.
Serie A needs a strong AC Milan, and the beginning of the season showed strong glimpses of what it would look like to have a strong Rossoneri. Alas, in the end, it seems they are continuing their downward slide down the Serie A table.