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Rocco Cammisola On August - 1 - 2011

AC Milan Prepares For Battle

Milan sealed their eighteenth title in Rome way back in May, though the final few games were a case of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. The final point was a formality. Whilst it is true to say that last season’s Milan were a superb side from top to bottom. There was quality throughout their ranks and enough depth to carry them comfortably over every obstacle they encountered. It is also true to say that they were the benefactors of their rivals convenient declines. The hard work starts here. Retaining the title will pose a challenge that, if surmounted, will seal their place in Serie A history.

Silvio Berlusconi celebrated 25 years in command of the club this year - allowing him to fantasise about Milan naming a stadium in his honour. But on July 9, Silvio Berlusconi’s financial company Fininvest was ordered by the Italian courts to pay a fine of over half a billion Euro, leading to instant speculation over the possibility that Silvio would look to sell off a minority stake in the club. The club were quick to reassure everyone that they were considering no such action. “I want to reassure fans President Berlusconi is staying with all the enthusiasm that he’s always shown” Adriano Galliani said in comments published on the club website.

Despite these comments, there may still be reason to doubt the length of, now 74 year old, Silvio’s stay as club President. His daughter, Barbara, was brought onto the club board in April - joining her brother, Paolo. At the time going to great length to affirm that Silvio’s interest in Milan, stating that his love was “too big”. Changes to the ownership aren’t imminent, but the writing on the wall suggests they’re on the horizon.

Events off the pitch have not hampered Milan’s mercato. This summer at Milanello has been one of calm construction rather than a whirlwind of hyperbole - as witnessed at Roma, Juventus and, as expected, Genoa. After Adriano Galliani concluded his contract renewals in late May he has procured a cast of players that improve the squad as a whole.

Taye Taiwo is a much needed upgrade at left back, Philippe Mexes will be the accomplished centre back able to back up to Nesta and Thiago Silva that Sokratis was unable to do so. Also, Alberto Paloschi and Stephan El Shaarawy represent two of Italy’s starlets, furthering the work that is being done to lower the average age of the squad as a whole.

One more purchase has been promised to fans, a player who will - according to Adriano Galliani - complete the squad. The player has been codenamed ‘Mister X’ and Galliani issued an identikit style profile for the media to salivate over. He is European, approximately 180-183cm tall and, most importantly, can play on the left hand side of a central midfield three. As soon as the hunt began, an endless stream of names were put forward. Marek Hamsik, Axel Witsel, Cesc Fabregas and - somehow - even Kaka has been rumoured as the player that will complete this Milan.

Without stopping to take a breath to consider what Urby Emmanuelson thinks of this revelation, this isn’t the player that Milan need. Milan will line up in a similar fashion to last season, and Allegri will deploy his 4-3-1-2. The key will be the make up of the midfield four. We are likely to see a Milan dei mediani again, with four runners and hustlers providing battering ram but lacking creativity. Pirlo’s departure leaves them lacking a player in the middle of the park who can turn the pages of their book, unlocking narrow and stubborn defences with guile rather than muscle.

Riccardo Montolivo - but also, amusingly, Fabregas - has been the man that many have linked with this role. He has one year left on his contract at Fiorentina, has had the captaincy stripped from him and has expressed a desire to depart the Viola. His desire hasn’t been matched at all though, and Milan’s laissez faire attitude towards the midfielder suggests they’ll take him if he’s going cheap - but there is no questions of grabbing him at all costs.

What we have certainly learnt, observing Adriano Galliani in the transfer market over the past few years is that when all is said and done it’s far from over. Galliani will find the missing link for Milan, making it seem as easy as A.B.C. Which only leaves us, waiting, to see if Mister X will be an artisan, a battler and a champion.

Rocco Cammisola

Rocco is a football writer who follows football in England and Italy for a number of sites, including his own - The Football Express ( Most of his writing focuses on the lesser talked about teams, attempting to bring them to the world's attention.

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  • Ted

    milan need more than one signing.
    our midfield is so old, and lacks creativity. van bommel, flamini, gattuso, boateng, ambrosini are all destroyers.
    no one can pass the ball.
    forza galliani!!!!!

  • Austin

    Ac Milan needs to get in their team thoes players Schweinsteiger, Drogba, Essien, Royston Drenthe, and Kaka.

  • Ted

    anyone who thinks this milan team can win the cl, is very delusional.

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