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Mercato Report: Milan

Now that the summer transfer window has come and gone, its now time to rate the summer for each club. Of course, you all are fully aware of my passionate allegiance to Milan so I will recap their summer, which will include a breakdown of all transfers into the club. Each player purchased (permanent AND loan) will be graded on several key factors: club need, transfer fee and value. At the conclusion of this report, a final overall grade will be seeded with a brief explanation as to why the grade was given. Here we go:

Diego Lopez, GK:  FROM >–> Real Madrid, Transfer Fee: €0M

Diego Lopez (now 32) had an exceptional year last season for Real Madrid. After longtime starter Iker Casillas went down with an injury, Lopez stepped in and the club didn’t skip a beat. Lopez was a main contributor to Real Madrid earning their 10th Champions League title. He arrived to Milan after the club acquired Michael Agazzi on a free transfer from Chievo Verona. Of course, Milan had Abbiati and Gabriel already on the roaster and with Agazzi in, it appeared that they may have been content with that trio. However, the opportunity arrived to acquire an elite keeper in Lopez so Galliani made it happen, bringing him to Milan on yet another free transfer in. Diego Lopez’s move to Milan will provide stability in net and give the club one of the top keepers in Serie A this year. GRADE: A+.

Michael Agazzi, GK: FROM >–> Chievo Verona, Transfer Fee: Free Agent

Michael Agazzi (30) arrived to Milan very early in the summer. Abbiati and Gabriel were the only keepers on the roster so Agazzi entered with a decent chance to prove he could be a starter or at least a spot starter with Abbiati. Of course, Agazzi stumbled in the International Champions Cup and as a result, Pippo was left scrambling to find a suitable keeper that could help him be successful in his debut season as Milan manager. After Lopez arrived, it appeared that Agazzi would be the 3rd string keeper in the rotation behind Abbiati. Because Milan isn’t in Champions League this season, I expect Agazzi to get little time to play. GRADE: C.

Adil Rami, DEF: FROM >–> Valencia, Transfer Fee: €4.25M

Rami was, in the eyes of pretty much every Milan fan, a must return. After coming on loan last January from Valencia after a fallout with the club, Rami was exceptional in the back. A strong presence in the air and a physical center back, he proved to be vital player for Milan, scoring a few goals and showcasing his ability to be trusted as a legitimate starting defender. With a slim market for center backs, Rami was a crucial player for Milan to have as they were slim at that position. Mexes, Bonera and Zapata were the first three options but depth is essential if you are to make a run at a league title. Rami wanted Milan from the start and the club wanted him so the feelings were mutual. Despite the player having the pay a portion of the transfer fee, Rami made a permanent move back to Milan and immediately was loved once again for his desire to play with Milan. For the small fee he arrived for, this move was great business for Galliani. Rami is expected to be a starter in the majority of the matches for Inzaghi. GRADE: A.

Alex, DEF: FROM >–> PSG, Transfer Fee: Free Agent

Alex was one of the clubs first moves along with PSG teammate Jeremy Menez. Both arrived prior to the World Cup so Milan fans knew they had a nice start to the mercato very early on. Alex, former Chelsea defender, was a key performer for PSG over the past few winning seasons for the Parisian club. Despite being in his early 30s, Alex was solid last season and he hasn’t shown signs of decline. To keep this brief: Alex is a nice add because he was free, has played at big clubs for years, knows the field well and is a team player, focused on winning. Simple. Alex was solid in his debut for Milan v Lazio and we expect the same performance regularly. GRADE: B+.

Pablo Armero, DEF: FROM >–> Udinese, Transfer Fee: €0.5M (season loan)

Armero had a nice showing at the World Cup for Colombia, having scored a goal along the way. His pace and ability to get forward are well known. However, defensively, he is a question mark. With a 4-man back line, Armero will be asked to push up and pump in crosses so he will be observed closely. Of course, Milan lack the depth at both fullback positions so its his job to lose or win. Keep an eye on Armero this season. GRADE: C+.

Michelangelo Albertazzi, DEF: FROM >–> Hellas Verona, Transfer Fee: €0.55M

Albertazzi, who was once a Milan player, returns to the Rossoneri from Hellas Verona after a decent campaign. He arrives to Milan on an inexpensive fee so he won’t cost Milan anything.Albertazzi, 23, could provide Inzaghi with depth as he could play a few positions in defense. How effective he will be remains a question mark but Milanisti aren’t relying heavily on him to be a significant contributor this season and I feel the same way. He gives them youth and young legs and for a long season, its not bad to have. Albertazzi is at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of playing time so expect very little from him. GRADE: C-.

Andrea Poli, MID: FROM >–> Sampdoria, Transfer Fee: €4M (purchased other half of player)

Poli (24) , arrived last year to Milan from Sampdoria in a co-ownership deal. Poli, once deemed as a potential long-term replacement for Andrea Pirlo, played in nearly every match last season for Milan. He started and scored in his first Serie A match last season for Milan v Hellas Verona, showing signs of promise. Poli maintained his role in the starting XI for both Allegri and Seedorf and it was well deserved. The “grinta” he showed was just what Milan fans wanted to see from the Italian international. He plays a solid midfield and typically floats forward and treks backward to defend which makes him a key component of this club. Poli arrived permanently for €4M, which is a fairly good price given his age and experience in Serie A. Look for Poli to be a mainstay in Pippo’s starting squad for a lot of the season. GRADE: B.

Riccardo Saponara, MID: FROM >–> Empoli, Transfer Fee: €1M (purchased other half of player)

Saponara (22) arrived to Milan last season in a co-ownership deal with Empoli. With an Empoli, he was a star, scoring goals and assisting on just as many. Last season, he was limited to just seven Serie A matches, scoring no goals along the way. His role was undefined last season which was shocking considering the desire to lure him away from Empoli. Now in his second season for Milan, his role is expected to be increased so I believe he will showcase his ability. Saponara is expected to be played primarily in the 3-man midfield alongside the likes of de Jong and Muntari. Inzaghi is relying on Riccardo this season to take leaps forward so expect more minutes and increased production from the young Italian. For just, €1M, this move could prove to be a steal. GRADE: B.

Giacomo Bonaventura, MID/FWD: FROM >–> Atalanta, Transfer Fee: €7M

Bonaventura (25) arrived in the dying hours of this summer’s transfer window. He arrived after the club controversially sold the promising young midfielder Bryan Cristante to Benfica for €6M. Still heated from the sale of Cristante, Milan fans were waiting in hopes of bringing in another midfielder that would ultimately complete the mercato. The deal reportedly happened in minutes. Bonaventura was heavily linked to an Inter move but instead, chose the red and black over the blue and black. Milanisti were ecstatic with the arrival of “Jack” as it was a shock to all that they were talking with Atalanta about the player. Bonaventura arrived for €7M which, if you watch enough Serie A football, is a steal given his age, production and versatility. Giacomo can play as a winger or in the midfield so its a very good move for Milan. And in case you needed more convincing about the player, he cried while signing the contract with Milan which proves that he is humble about this chance. I expect him to be a major contributor to Milan this season as they hope to get back into a European slot. GRADE: A.

Marco van Ginkel, MID: FROM >–> Chelsea, Transfer Fee: €0.4M (season loan w/ no buyout option)

van Ginkel (21) arrived just after then Chelsea teammate Fernando Torres. The young Dutch international will play on a season loan deal for Milan in order to gain experience. van Ginkel was reportedly convinced by Torres and de Jong to come play with the Rossoneri, a club filled with Dutch success. It took some convincing but the deal got done which was great news for Milan as he provides tons of depth in the midfield. His ability to do the dirty work in defense as well as push forward gives Inzaghi a new “toy” to deploy anywhere he needs. The one knock on this deal is that buyout option does not exist for van Ginkel. Its strictly a season loan but of course if he plays well, Milan could potentially negotiate a permanent move for him. van Ginkel is expected to get a good amount of playing time so it will be a real treat to watch this kid play at one of the most Dutch-happy clubs in Italy. GRADE: B-.

Jeremy Menez, FWD: FROM >–> PSG, Transfer Fee: Free Agent

Menez arrived to Milan early June around the same time as Alex. Menez has been a mainstay with PSG for sometime now and he has been an overall consistent player over in France. However, PSG had no desire to renew his contract so he was free to go play elsewhere and with Milan always looking in the bargain bin for reinforcements, it was an instant match. Menez signed on with Milan with the expectation of being a consistent member in the starting XI. Of course, that can’t always be guaranteed and with Milan, you have to earn your spot. When he arrived, the same thoughts ran through my mind as those when Milan got Adel Taarabt last winter. Will he give it his all? Will Menez work hard for the club even if he isn’t getting the starting RW job? So far, Menez has been a wonderful surprise for Milan. His work rate has been solid and he has given it his all which is all we can ask for. Menez was penciled in to be the starting right winger despite speculation to add a more reliable option such as Cerci or Biabiany. However, it will be difficult for Pippo to keep him out of the starting squad now that he has looked motivated. Menez could be yet another great business deal by Galliani. GRADE: B.

Fernando Torres, FWD: FROM >–> Chelsea, Transfer Fee: €0M (two-year loan w/ 3rd yr option)

After Milan sold Mario Balotelli to Liverpool for €20M, it was now time to find a replacement for arguably the club’s best player. Mario was among the top goalscorers in Serie A since he arrived so this would be no easy or cheap task. Milan was interested in Mattia Destro, Jackson Martinez and perhaps even Radamel Falcao but all three exceeded what Milan wanted to pay for the vacant number 9 role. Galliani looked to Chelsea and wanted Fernando Torres. After negotiating for days, Milan were finally able to seal the deal for the former Liverpool star. Torres arrives to Milan on a two year loan deal, earning about €3.5M/yr which isn’t bad at all especially if he returns to form. Torres will share time with Pazzini up top but it appears that Torres could be the number one option for Inzaghi. Despite his lack of success since arriving to Chelsea, Torres won’t be questioned for his work ethic and desire to win over the Milan fans, which he will have to do. With the additions Milan have made in the midfield and with a hopefully fit Stephan El Shaarawy, there is optimism for most fans that “El Niño” can regain his form and be a big part of Milan earning a place in a major European tournament. He took a pay cut and arrived for free. He does have a big void to fill so he could be the key for any success Milan has this year. What Milan has in favor with this deal is that Fernando Torres is out to prove he could still play at an elite level. Expect a comeback. GRADE: B-.

VERDICT:

Milan had one of the best summer’s in Italy. They filled virtually every need and even upgraded at certain positions such as goalkeeper and defense. They spent very little in filling these needs while also selling a majority of the deadweight that held the club back from making any larger moves. They did however lose a club legend and leader in Kaká, questionably sold one of the club’s best talents in Cristante before he even touched the surface and the club’s best player in Mario Balotelli departed as well. They also failed to land some of the more significant targets in Iturbe, Cerci and Destro. However, as a whole, the club looks far better prepared for success than the one last year so their is optimism that Milan could return to at least a top 6 finish which would earn them a spot in a UEFA tournament. Finally, Milan look poised for a good season.

FINAL GRADE: B

 

@ItalianFD

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