The 2014-15 season for Milan was nothing short of disappointment but as the mercato looms, major renovation needs to be in the making if things are to change with the San Siro outfit.
Going into the 2014-15 season, questions surrounded Milan as no sign of future success was in sight. With more makeshift changes to the squad in the summer of 2014 and the appointment of a familiar face as manager in Pippo Inzaghi, the likelihood of European qualification looked bleak. Despite a decent start, the rossoneri looked out of place in almost all aspects of football, resulting in one of the worst campaigns for the red and black in recent memory, finishing in 10th place.
With the summer transfer window on the horizon in Europe, Milan have many questions to answer surrounding those at the top of the organizational chart to manager and down to the players who take the pitch. In a line of Italian Football Daily exclusives, we will preview what A.C. Milan needs to do this summer in order to get back to their once glory ways.
2014/15 In Review
Milan’s performance this past season has been well documented. The club ended the Serie A season in 10th place and for most of the season, did not look worthy of any of the European slots Italian’s top-flight obtains. A team with a trophy case full of hardware from past success was unable to sniff the Scudetto or the Coppa Italia which speaks volumes of just how far the once mighty have fallen.
Typically, it’s almost useless to make note of individual performances when the end result was poor. However, for the sake of this content, it’s worth noting who carried their own for the club. The free transfers of Jérémy Menez and Diego Lopez were two of the best business moves this summer by Adriano Galliani as they both arrived at no cost and from highly-rated clubs in PSG and Real Madrid. The Frenchman Menez managed to bag 16 goals in his return season to Serie A, enough to make him a top-5 scorer in the league. As for Lopez, the former Madrid stopper was the club’s most consistent player despite the numbers saying otherwise. With a lackluster defense and suspect play all around, Lopez was thrown into the fire on many occasions yet bailed the club out from further failure.
Who Stays? Who Goes?
There were a handful of players who were both loaned out and in by Milan this past year, some more significant than others. Of course, there are the names like Antonio Nocerino or Alessandro Matri but our attention will be turned towards the more important names for the sake of keeping this brief. The names currently on loan at Milan include Salvatore Bocchetti (Spartak Moscow), Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea), Alessio Cerci (Atletico Madrid) and Mattia Destro (Roma). Besides van Ginkel, the other three players arrived this past January in hopes of helping Milan make a second-half resurgence towards European qualification, however that was not the case as neither of these players provided the performances that were needed.
Bocchetti appeared in 9 league matches since arriving from Russia and the Rossoneri hold an option on the player that is inexpensive. The Italian played very little for Spartak Moscow so perhaps it wouldn’t be bad business to pick up the option on him, making him another versatile body on the bench but nothing more than a platoon player.
van Ginkel is an interesting case for a few reasons. Last summer, he arrived to Milan on a dry-loan deal from Chelsea to gain valuable experience with the expectation of maybe battling for a spot on the Blues bench next season. The first half of the season saw little playing time but the second half was quite different as once he returned from injury, Inzaghi deployed the former Vitesse man often. In total, he appeared in 18 matches for Milan and looked like one of the better midfield options. Because there is no option in the deal for a purchase by Milan, he will return to Chelsea however there is a chance he does stay for another loan spell or Galliani will look to corral the player on a permanent deal if the price is right.
As for Alessio Cerci, the future is uncertain. Atletico Madrid and Milan swapped Fernando Torres and the Italian winger on 18-month loan deals but only one really made an impact and that was the Spaniard. Cerci had struggled to reclaim his form from last season at Torino and it seems that neither Milan or Atletico Madrid see him as a key player. In 16 appearances for Inzaghi’s side, the 27-year old only scored once. Because he is still on loan for a handful of months at little cost, a second-chance should be given to Cerci unless a better name was to arrive in his place.
Finally, there is Mattia Destro who came from Roma on a six-month loan with an option to buy at around €16m for next season. Of course, Destro is a pure number 9 who relies heavily on the midfield to service quality chances. That did not occur with Milan as he managed to score just 3 goals in fifteen matches, which isn’t enough. However, it should be taken with a grain of salt as the entire squad was nothing spectacular so if the club’s top officials were to invest heavily into a summer makeover and the midfield was enhanced, few would argue that Destro wouldn’t be a good buy for next season at the young age of 24.
Switching gears to the players owned by Milan but that were out on loan. M’baye Niang (on loan at Genoa) has proven to be a quality player when given the chance to play. Since his move in January, the 20-year old scored 5 times, assisting three in 15 appearances, even scoring against the club that owns him. Most Milan supporters would welcome him back however it seems that he can’t be guaranteed minutes which is what his development asks for. It seems unlikely that he spends next season with Milan. Both Gabriel (Carpi) and Riccardo Saponara (Empoli) are two more players that shined this season both playing key roles in earning Serie A play for their clubs for next season. The Brazilian keeper could stay on with Serie B winners for next season as they enter the top-flight but most would love for him to be the backup to Lopez. As for Saponara, Empoli are all but certain to pick up his €4m option for next season that would give them full ownership. Robinho looks set to stay in Brazil for next season so for Milan fans, its money off the books.
Clubs Needs To Be Addressed
Aside from goalkeeper, very few spots in the starting eleven are safe for next season. Milan conceded 50 goals this season, their worst defensive display in 60 years, so of course the backbone needs addressing. The Rossoneri need to help Diego Lopez out and get quality defending, primarily in the middle. Bonera and Mexes both have expiring contracts but could remain on a decreased salary but regardless, both are suspect. Antonelli and Abate (pending a contract renewal) wouldn’t make a bad fullback tandem but the real question is the future of Mattia De Sciglio. Because of this, this is an objective for Milan to fill but not the top one. The midfield is arguably the biggest defect. Essien and Muntari are all but done at this club and its still uncertain that the anchor of the midfield, Nigel De Jong, will renew so heavy investment is required for this area of the team. Rumors of interest in Monaco’s Kondogbia remain but there is no guarantee that the club could cough up more than its competition for the signature of player’s like him. For the attack, we could see a whole new unit as Destro could go back to Roma, Pazzini could walk on an expired contract and interest from Menez creeps around. At this point, Milan need help everywhere and the rumored €120m summer budget promised to Carlo Ancelotti before the club’s reported deal for Siniša Mihajlović arrived would be a great place to begin.
The €120m transfer budget for Ancelotti would certainly help Mihajlović start his rennovation. However, thats merely a rumor and there is no guarantee that Silvio Berlusconi or any other shareholder will commit to such a handsome figure at this current time. There is the route of selling assets to generate funds and the names that would yield the most return include: Jérémy Menez, Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia De Sciglio. According to values from transfermrkt.com, the combined value of the players is around €40m but value is a vague term as it all depends on which clubs are interested. The French international is coming off his best season yet and nobody would be shocked if he was to leave for around €10-14m but the two young Italians would surely bring more back despite both of their struggles with injuries among other things. But because this club is starved of valuable assets, most of the summer spending needs to come from Berlusconi. Placing investment figures on each area Milan needs to address, one could assume the club needs: €15-20m on defending, €50m for a complete renovation of the midfield and €30m on an attack that starts with finding a strong striker. So yes, the €120m from Silvio seems to be a figure in the ballpark of many Milan fans.
If there is one word to describe Milan’s summer, it would be “renovation.” This team will never return to a powerhouse without a gutting of the squad. Yes, the expiring contracts of the players will help clean up the books for next season but if Galliani is still only given the option of “parametro zero” as the main source of acquiring fresh names, it could very well mean another mid-table finish for Milan in 2015-16. But what the club does this summer could weigh heavily on who manages the team which appears to be the former Sampdoria boss Mihajlović. The summer of 2015, one to forget? Or remember?