By many people’s admission, Silvio Berlusconi is the most successful president in European football. During his 30-year stewardship, AC Milan won 28 trophies. Extended periods of success put the Italian club on the world map. In 1986, when Berlusconi descended from a chopper to redeem Milan, the club was grappling with bankruptcy. Today, the seven-time European Champions are one of the most decorated teams in the world, a true footballing behemoth.
A group of Chinese investors operating through a management company have signed a preliminary agreement to purchase 99.93% of the club for €740 million, which includes €220 million in debt. For all practical purposes, AC Milan has been rebooted after three decades of Italian ownership.
The new management is expected to make sweeping changes, starting from the top of the organisational pyramid. Silvio Berlusconi will remain as the president, although in an honorary capacity. Adriano Galliani is expected to oversee the transition phase and hand over the reigns to Marco Fassone. Several names have been thrown into the hat for the ‘Director of Sport’ position.
The unambitious attitude and bizarre decision-making of the former higher-ups led Milan fans to adamantly demand a change in leadership. With the debt being absorbed and a war-chest of €350 million being set aside to build the team over the next three years, Milanisti around the world have much to look forward to. However, this transfer window might be relatively quiet, as adequate funds haven’t been sanctioned to bolster the squad.
According to reports, €15 million is presently available for transfers. €85 million will be released in the next 30 days or so, preparing Milan to raid the market in January. Meanwhile, the rumor mill is making all the right noises.
Milan’s failure to secure Marko Pjaca has led them to obsessively pursue Juan Cuadrado. The Colombian winger has abundant Serie A experience, clocking more than 160 appearances in seven seasons. His goal/assist tally though, is painstakingly worrying, averaging a goal every six games. Nonetheless, he would be an instant upgrade over Milan’s current crop of right-wingers.
Milan Badelj, Fiorentina’s Croatian regista might move from Florence to San Siro this summer. His arrival will immediately displace Riccardo Montolivo from the first-team, relegating the much-despised Capitano to the bench. Mateo Mussachio is the primary target to reinforce the defense, and rightly so, as Gustavo Gomez may require a full season to be inducted. In the last 24 hours, Milan are being increasingly linked to Isco. Worryingly, Simone Zaza seems to be the striker of choice in case Carlos Bacca is sold.
Squad trimming is currently in play at the club. Jeremy Menez, Kevin Prince Boateng, Philippe Mexes, Alex, Mario Balotelli and Christian Abbiati have departed over the summer with Alessando Matri possibly heading to Sassuolo. The players being targeted are a certified upgrade over the outgoing batch and will inject quality into the squad.
Milan’s goal is to qualify for Europe this year. Inter, Roma, Napoli and Juventus remain better teams and overtaking them may prove to be a daunting challenge.
Failure to qualify for Champions League football next season might not be entirely problematic. The Chinese will invest regardless. So, brace yourselves, for Milan rises from the dead.