Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Frank Tigani On September - 6 - 2011

Crucial Midfield Signings Make Milan Stronger

There was much excitement garnered after earlier in the summer Milan declared they were searching for a certain Mr. X. As the name suggests, it appeared as if the club were looking for a player who possessed an x-factor element. A player who single-handedly would elevate the team to a higher level and with it bring the club closer to the lofty heights that have characterised it’s history in the modern era.
Up until the very last hour of the transfer deadline did many Milan fans expect a surprise name to be announced as the club’s latest and last signing, a name that would have ended the mystery of exactly who Mr. X was. There was good reason for this too after taking into consideration last summer. The club landed the services of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho in the final days, hours of last year’s transfer campaign to the surprise of many. Much of the same was expected this time around again, but it was not to be quite like it.

In the end, Mr. X may not have arrived, nonetheless, the reigning Italian champions did add some star quality to their ranks and in the one department they most needed it. Alberto Aquilani was captured from Liverpool in a cut price deal that once again highlighted the shrewdness of Adriano Galliani in negotiating a good deal, while on the final day and for no more than half a million euros, Italian international Antonio Nocerino was signed.

Already light in midfield, the loss of Mathieu Flamini for five months at least, made it essential that another like player was brought to the Milanello. Andrea Pirlo’s departure aside, Max Allegri always needed another midfielder added to the mix, one who could inject some creativity in a department that is overcrowded with defensive midfielders, and Aquilani will do just this.

Presumably, both new recruits will slot straight into the starting eleven. Antonio Nocerino will take over the right sided role and Aquilani will play on the left side with Mark van Bommel as the defensive anchor in between. Kevin Prince Boateng will again be the club’s trequartista at the head of the midfield diamond.

He may not be the best trequartista in the world and it is questionable whether for a club like Milan he is the right man for such an important role. Nevertheless, Boateng’s presence as the team’s trequartista does provide for a tricky element to Milan’s play. As displayed last season by Seedorf, it is the left sided midfielder who actually plays as the default attacking midfielder. Boateng provides the energy, the hustle and on the odd occasion a goal or an assist from his advanced role. But, the creativity is mainly sourced from the left sided midfielder who will no doubt be Aquilani this season.

The Italian may be 27 years old and his career may not have unfolded in the way his early promised suggested. He may also have been an outcast at Liverpool, but, there is good reason to believe that Aquilani is finally edging closer to his best. Known for being injury prone, last season he made more than 30 appearances for the Bianconeri as he collected a few assists and couple of goals in the process. If the hailed, Aquaman, can continue on in such a vein then the Milan faithful can expect great things from him.

The additions of Nocerino and Aquilani may finally spell the end of Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso as first team regulars. By all accounts, it is probably about time too. Highly experienced and greatly successful, for a while now have these two been past their best. Their presence will still greatly be appreciated, however, it is time they finally take their place on the bench.

Unlike the hectic transfer campaigns of Roma and Juventus, who have between them signed enough players to start a new club, Milan will remain favourites for the Scudetto. No big names were landed, but, this may occur in January instead. What was of greater need for now was the strengthening of the team certain. Allegri did wonders with the team last year and with the team considerably stronger this season, much is expected.

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