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As Massimiliano Allegri’s Milan captured lo Scudetto, it was certainly very different to the last Rossoneri side to win the same title back in 2004. The current team is epitomised by new faces; from the aggressive power of both Thiago Silva and Kevin-Prince Boateng, to the arrogant genius of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Cassano, there is a vibrant physical element that was never truly present in either Alberto Zaccheroni nor Carlo Ancelotti’s league winners.

Last summer the squad had seemingly been constructed hastily and almost haphazardly, with common consensus being that it was was overly laden with attacking talent at the expense of defensive solidity. With owner Silvio Berlusconi infamous for meddling in team selection and demanding his favourites receive adequate playing time, it seemed mission impossible for the new coach, a man viewed as merely a puppet for the politician.

The former Cagliari boss has however become anything but Berlusconi’s ‘yes man’, as the exclusion and subsequent departure of Ronaldinho proved. With a number of key men injured at vital times - as well as the five games lost to suspension for Ibrahimovic - it is to the coach’s credit he continually found a way to win games.

There have also been some notable acquisitions already made for next season as Galliani confirmed the signings of Philippe Mexès and Taye Taiwo to reinforce two of the weaker areas. Picked up as free agents the pair - along with January arrivals Urby Emanuelson and Dídac Vilà - mean the side will have far more options for the new campaign.

Yet for all this change, there have been some old faces at the heart of this latest success. The superb defensive record on which the win was surprisingly based is in no small part due to the presence of both Christian Abbiati and Alessandro Nesta, while Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso joined Mark van Bommel to provide a solid and effective midfield shield.

While much praise has rightly been heaped upon this team and its coach, there are a number of issues which must be resolved. In the key part of the season they allowed both Inter and Napoli to close in on them at the top of the table while the one clear failure was in Europe, crashing out to Tottenham. Over the two legs of that Champions League tie they failed to score against a naive Spurs side who’s defensive frailties are well documented.

It is difficult to pin-point one factor as being key to all this, but between Andrea Pirlo’s injury against Roma in December and his return 20 league games later, Milan drew six and lost two. While that is still an impressive return, it is worth noting the team has only drawn nine and lost four in total this season.

This has undoubtedly been the strangest of seasons for a man once considered the lynch-pin of any midfield he formed a part of, be it the Rossoneri as they won two Champions League crowns and the 2004 Scudetto or Italy’s 2006 World Cup win. At first glance he has played little part in this latest SerieA win, but Milan have won 12 of the 16 games in which he has featured and depite his limited playing time he has the fourth most assists among the side.

Now, with widespread speculation surrounding his future and an expiring contract, Allegri faces a real dilemma as to what to do with a man who’s l’architetto nickname needs no translation. Assistant coach Mauro Tassotti gave insight to the coach’s position during the Scudetto celebrations when he said;

“Max wants a player with more defensive characteristics compared to Andrea when sitting in front of the defence. We want to see how he could do in a wider role, but Andrea then had injury problems that kept him off the field for many months”

As if to remind the clubs hierarchy just what he adds, Pirlo put on a virtuoso display this past week in the Coppa Italia against Palermo, where he was clearly the best player on the field. The addition of the former Brescia man, albeit in that new role to the left of midfield, brings an entirely different dimension to Milan’s play. No longer occupying the central role prevents a return to the slower and more deliberate build up once typical of the Rossoneri and is in-keeping with the new tactical ideas.

Wherever he goes, perhaps aside from Manchester City or following Fabio Cannavaro Dubai, there is no doubt he will not earn the alleged €6 million of his previous deal. The main issue certainly seems to be purely a financial one as there is no denying the player can still prove decisive, particularly in Europe where his creativity has always come to the fore.

Galliani has put the foundations in place but Berlusconi will not be satisfied with domestic trophies and will return to demanding Champions League glory as he always has done. Andrea Pirlo has almost 100 European games of experience that Milan - and indeed Allegri - will need when the competition reaches the latter stages. Losing ‘the architect’ of their previous triumphs would surely be an ill-advised move?

Read Francesco Pizzolla’s look at Milan’s Scudetto triumph here

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  • Ted

    We need to look to the future. Pirlo,Gattuso,Seedorf have all been great players, but it’s time to replace our current champions, with new faces.

  • Damir

    Please, God, let him stay in Milan. That’s the only way to keep him out of Juve.

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