Who will be the next Italian team to win the Champions League?
Unless Juventus can secure the trophy this year, I’m inclined to say AC Milan. Certainly no other team in Italy can match the potential of Milan’s current roster.
Milan have a captured the attention of Europe with their impressive start. The reason for that success is quite simple. Milan have an impressive core of young talented players up and down the pitch, and they haven’t made disruptive changes with formations or line-ups.
Let’s be honest, Milan are extremely lucky to be in this position. The last ten transfer markets and the awkward ownership situation have been a nightmare. Milan’s future success completely hinges on the foresight of ownership (whoever that maybe) to make the right decisions. Something tells me, the new Milan ownership won’t be able to resist selling their best young players, and replacing them with over the hill names. In the rare chance logic prevails, the road map for Milan is really quite simple:
Keep the coach – Vincenzo Montella looks committed to playing a 4-3-3, which should help identify transfer targets.
Invest in youth – At the right positions.
January Transfer Window – Milan should have two priorities, invest in a young midfielder or two, and a right sided attacker.
Post January – Milan’s goal should be playing and accessing its young talent.
Sell Bacca – Milan needs to sell Carlos Bacca either in January or at season’s end. He’s simply too old to be part of Milan’s future.
3 Year Plan – Results don’t matter, the only thing that matters over the next 12 months is increasing the talent level. The goal is to be a top 5 club in 18-19. Most Italians are too obsessed with winning to see the long term, this old way of thinking is why Serie A is no longer the top league in the world, and continues to this day to attract fans.
Invest in the Stadium – They need to finally figure-out the stadium situation. How hard can this be, I’m positive you could make the San Siro a world class stadium for $250m. I don’t understand why Inter & Milan can’t split the bill. Consider Milan’s potential to field a good squad in the coming years, it makes this all the more important.
Invest in Marketing – This is where most Italian teams have got it all wrong. In modern football the equation is quite simple, money = success, fans = money. For Milan to be successful long term, they must growth their fan base. Over the next 2 years, I would make increasing the fanbase a higher priority than winning football matches.
Looking at the squad, it’s important to understand that trophies are won by having elite players. Arguably Milan’s biggest issue in recent years is they’ve settled for a squad loaded with high salary good players, but that doesn’t get you anywhere.
Milan current have plus prospects at:
Goalkeeper: Donnarumma (18)
Central Defense: Romagnoli(21), Ely(22), Gomez(23)
This fills five positions and leaves Milan with talent gaps at fullback, midfield, and at forward. I would rate a young midfielder at most important and most important and most difficult to find. Followed by an attacking player. I suggest doubling up by adding multiple people in these positions and hope that some of them workout. Remember the real goal of Milan should be to have an elite squad in three years.
The path to success from this point forward is quite simple, but Milan fans should say their prayers ownership doesn’t mess this up.