Wednesday August 1 2018
Milan learned their lesson

After spending more than they could afford last summer, Milan are taking a more cautious - and potentially more efficient - approach to the transfer market this year, writes Vilizar Yakimov.

It is very likely that the 2017-18 campaign will go down as one of the worst in Milan’s recent history. Despite finishing sixth and securing an Europa League spot, the Rossoneri spent almost €200m on the mercato, lost their owners and have been forced to start from ground zero once again this term.

Bringing in expensive acquisitions is not an option and ironically this might be Milan’s biggest advantage this summer. The transfer fees paid for Andre Silva and Nikola Kalinic last year, clearly show the Rossoneri’s tendency to overpay for average or unproven players.

Leonardo’s arrival at the expense of Massimiliano Mirabelli and Marco Fassone, already seems to have brought in some sense in Milan’s reckless management, as unlike his predecessors, the Brazilian knows that the Rossoneri can not afford to overstretch themselves on the transfer market this year.

Getting back to Adriano Galliani’s approach in the latest years of his management, Milan are currently bringing in mainly free agents which, considering their financial state, is their only option. Pepe Reina and Ivan Strinic have the quality and the experience to become valuable squad members, while the arrival of Alen Halilovic is a big question mark, as the former Barcelona wonderkid hasn’t managed to live up to the potential that everyone has been seeing in him so far.

Unfortunately for Milan, they had to spent around €20m on Kalinic, as part of the deal for the Croat’s initial loan, a fee that was basically paid by the permanent sales of Gianluca Lapadula and M’Baye Niang. Offloading players like the ex-Fiorentina striker and Carlos Bacca will be crucial for the clubs’ financial stability, so this will be one of the biggest challenges for Leonardo until the end of the mercato.

Much will depend on Leonardo’s ability to sell some of Milan’s unneeded players, but arguably the most important moment of Milan’s mercato will be the outcome of the saga around the swap of Mattia Caldara and Leonardo Bonucci, as well as Gonzalo Higuain’s reported arrival to the San Siro.

According to multiple sources the deal is in its final stage, as Bonucci and Caldara have agreed to be swapped and the only obstacle is Higuain’s salary demands. However, it seems that it is just a matter of time for the differences between the parties to be sorted out and deal to be completed. Bringing in one of Italy’s brightest talents in Caldara as well as Higuain, who is still one of the deadliest goalscorers in Europe in the expense of €18m plus Bonucci, would be a major coup and a no brainer for the Diavolo.

Juventus need to sell Higuain and Milan really need a player of his calibre, so if the clubs can negotiate the right conditions the situation would be beneficial for all parties.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Turin will significantly limit Il Pipita’s playing time and Juve really need to get his salary off their books. On the other hand, it is true that Milan would have to pay another €34m next term to purchase the former Napoli star permanently, but even this is not that expensive for a player, who would arguably be the Rossoneri’s best acquisition in recent years.

As things stand, if the deal goes through, Milan would have a world class forward in Higuain, as well as a plephora of Italian talent, as Gigio Donnarumma, Patrick Cutrone, Davide Calabria, Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Conti and Caldara all have the potential to be the spine of the future Nazionale, while the likes of Frank Kessie, Hakan Calhanoglu, Suso and Giacomo Bonaventura already have significant experience and quality.

While there is still plenty of time before the end of the transfer window and Milan’s finances should be the club’s primary concern, it is already evident that the Rossoneri and Leonardo are going in a completely different direction compared to the reckless spending last year.

Mirabelli’s and Fassone’s inability to find the right players at the right price and balance the books, has cost Milan dearly, but under Elliot’s more cautious and sensible approach lead by Leonardo, the Rossoneri can improve their team and fix some of the mess left by the former directors without spending too much.

Bringing in Higuain and Caldara would be a huge step forward for Milan, but regardless of the outcome of the deal, the early signs of Elliot’s cautious approach, lead by Leonardo, the Rossoneri can improve and fix some of the mess left by the former directors without spending too much.

This means that the revival of the great Milan would probably take longer than everyone had been hoping for, but the important thing is that the Rossoneri seem to have learned their lesson. Without extremely expensive new arrivals, offloading some of ageing players and a core of young talents, Milan can finally look forward to the new season without the burden of unrealistic expectations.

Have your say...
Selling Locatelli and bringing in Bakayoko isn't as cautious as you think.
on the 13th August, 2018 at 5:39pm
Milan should just stick with gattuso for 1 season at least. For what they are trying to acchieve, they dont really need conte atm. Even as a juve fan i mist admit itwill be interesting to see what conte can do if he does arrive.
on the 3rd August, 2018 at 4:00pm
The old management spent 100mil on Bonucci,Silva,Kalinic.They made Bonucci captain ahead of Romagnoli and Jack and they gave him Kessie's number.Now we got rid of him and got Caldara and Higuain spending only 18mil.Last year we rewarded Donarumma's bad behavior with a ridiculous pay rise. I don't see such things happening this year. Leonardo has a great track record with Milan and PSG.I think we will have a good squad,balanced finances,and it will be up to the players and Gattuso to perform.
on the 3rd August, 2018 at 1:15pm

in what kind of world do you live in?
on the 3rd August, 2018 at 9:27am
As a Juve fan, I hope Milan become strong again. Serie A needs strong Juve, Milan and Inter teams. I think signing Higuain and Caldara is a great start for Leonardo and this new Milan. Auguri per il futuro.
on the 3rd August, 2018 at 9:06am
Good stuff from Leonardo, this deal was unthinkable a week ago, Caldara for a flop like Bonnuci & no buyback clause is a steal, never thought Juve would let it happen. And Higuain on loan with option to buy (No obligation) is also unreal, he was the best striker in the league after all until CR7 arrived, and we're not even in CL next season. I still can't believe it materialized in the end. A classy playmaker & a winger next please.
on the 3rd August, 2018 at 5:04am
Juve had to get rid of Higuain. The deal works for both clubs. I would have preferred Godin and Chiellini at the back would have been the best CB pairing in the world. But getting Ronaldo cost too much so we had to sell. Juve are a midfelder away form being the best team in the world. Im happy for Milan too, Im just not sold on Gatusso. Maybe they should get Conte because they need a proven coach. Excited for Serie A its gonna be great this year. I dont' want Juve to have it easy, got to earn it
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 11:18pm
@PrimoCalcio You've highlighted a great example of one of the many failings of the late Burlesconi/Galliani period. Cristante came up through Milan and should have been clutched tightly as an obvious future star in his role; instead, he was all but forced out by an inexplicable insistence to continue relying on a sub-par Montolivo. He went for peanuts, has begun down the road to realizing the potential he clearly showed to have in early days, and is worth how much now? Great job, Fester.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 9:12pm
leonardo is one of the most underrated managers and that can be seen clearly at milan, once he was turned a coach from being a sporting director by galliani all the financial stability was gone and only bad players arrived, the only exception would be zlatan but back in leonardo´s first stint as manager we got all that brazilian magic in pato, kaka, ronaldinho, serginho, cafu, dida and also from other countries we got crespo, seedorf, rui costa, etc...
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 6:03pm
I agree about the Halilovic signing. Strinic I assume means Antonelli's Milan career is basically over.
Disagree about Reina because Gigio cannot be the only capable GK at the club like he was last season (+Gigio was disastrous last season at times). Reina adds champions mentality and guidance without demanding a starting spot.
Milan definitely still need 1 more signing - a pacey left winger. Must, must, must.
Gattuso also wants competition for Kessie. Cristante was my dream.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 5:35pm
I apologise for boss he is new to Italian football having been a man utd fan most of his life until ferguson left.

I tried to tell him that he shouldn't be a glory hunter but unfortunately he didn't listen to me. I am hopeful i saw him wear a man city top the other day so he might stop trolling these forums.

He is a only a kid his mind hasn't developed yet please just ignore him he doesn't know any better.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 4:55pm
I see this as a no brainer. Last year milan were missing a big striker. Having one would probably have ensured champions League since only 8 points separated that and them losing it out to teams like benevento. Now they got a world class striker that exceeded my expectations cause there is no better striker out there on the market. If they get a quality mid I seriously think they will be a champions League contender with roma inter juve. Napoli might not do so well all they've done is sell
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 3:52pm
Losing Caldara hurts a little as a Juve fan, but i know that with Bonucci our defense is a lot better than with Caldara right now. Caldara is someone that can become as good if not better than Bonucci in 2-3 years, but right now Bonucci is the better defender. As we could all see the Juve defense was not at it's best last season after losing him. We have strengthen all areas this season, and the only untouchable young player is Dybala! As long as he stays i'm always going to be happy.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 2:19pm
All in all this deal makes sense. Juve get a player and 54 mil. Also decreases the salaries. Either caldara or rugani were going to be sold this summer so thats that. Also caldara's agent was pushing for this deal from the start as both the player and agent wanted to ensure more time on the pitch. Truth is if juve did sign godin or bonucci, either one would have never really gotten any minutes for the next 2 seasons. Also juve will always have top defenders. We need 1 more top midfield player.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 12:54pm
Victor dont over excite yourself again. Remember what happened all the other times lol. you were gone for half a season. Nice to see you again hahahahha.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 12:43pm
Interesting deal here and it will be interesting to see a Milan defense without really experienced players during a whole season.

Of course Higuain has proven himself but €54m and €10m a season for a 30 (soon 31) year old? I think Milan must sell big time to afford that, especially with €200m spend last season and in the light of FFP.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 11:14am

My bad, I meant RB, still I stand for what I said - when we bought him he was one of the best FB in Serie A, injuries can happen to everyone, remember Francesco Coco?

And about revenue, what has to do with whatever? Prices are what they are, and good players cost a lot of money. The real mistake from Fassone and Mirabelli was maybe Silva for 42m, because Bonucci was also expensive but in the end he was useful to swap for a good italian prospect. Rest of players are fairly decent.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 10:49am

So you think we swapped bonucci worth 38-40m for a straight swap so Juve can bring back caldara for free two years later. Zero logic?
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 9:38am
Milan need Imobille and not Higuain. They should sell Silva & kalnic to fund the move. Higuan Sucks, He can't even score 20 goals in a season for Juventus.
Milan should also go for Bernad and Pjaca and They should sell Suso to fund the money for a new midfield.They should probable go for Modric/Kovacic/Vidal. Modric could be the best option for now and Kovacic for the future. In all Kovacic or Vidal transfer lookes more Possible.
They should also Sell Rodriguez as weal as offload Borini &Reina
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 9:32am
Poor transfer policy, Silva, Rodriguez, Kalinic, Borini milan could never have signed these inthe first place. Biglia was too costly.
Thank God Leornardo is back. The Caldera signing is exited, though I would have prefer Rugani ahead of him. Milan should sell Rodriguez The guy is too slow even Antonelli is better I cant understand why Gatusso keep playing him. replace him with Emerson from chealse. so we can have donnarumma,Conti, Romagnoli,Caldera&Emarson At the back, That would be so classy
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 9:21am
@conspiracy aint a theory - your examples are of players rupturing their acl in the 1990s, nearly 30 years ago hahahahha

I think the treatment has moved on a lot since then.
Even Alan Shearer did it at the age of 21 and look at his career after that......

@viktor is right, you really don't have a clue.

Think Milan will be fighting Lazio and roma for 4th this season with these acquisitions but a pacey winger would be nice especially if Suso does move.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 7:28am
Milan will now surely have some financial stability under Elliot. It has been sad to see such an important club in such dire straights for so long. A strong Italian league needs a strong Milan.
Juventus could have been ruthless and sold Higuain to a different league (for more money) and told Milan they can keep Bonucci and all the troubles that would have caused them but they didnt. They also originally sold him to Milan for a reduced price. Why? Juve need Milan and Milan need some help
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 7:15am
Some of the comments here are laughable. The audacity to call Antonelli better than Rodriguez is shocking, he had a decent first season in a new league, you only have to look at Dzeko to see it can take a year to adapt to Serie A. Conti doesnt need backup, infact he is our backup right now as Calabria is the starting RB.

This is a phenomenal move for us and I cannot believe Leonardo and Co pulled it off. For the first time in 7 years we have a top striker. Cannot wait for the new season.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 12:46am
often the difference between winning and losing it's an area we simply can't and shouldn't be taking risks with.
on the 1st August, 2018 at 11:51pm
problematic because they add little quality and just create unnecessary selection headaches: Reina undermines Donnarumma; Strinić undermines the other FOUR full backs; and Halilović undermines Bonaventura and Çalhanoğlu. These should be the last signings. The big decision for Milan this summer is whether to stick with Gattuso or hire Conte. If I were Elliott I'd probably go with Conte because he guarantees success. Gattuso might be the next Conte but we simply don't know. Since the coach is
on the 1st August, 2018 at 11:51pm
I was hugely disappointed with Bonucci last season. He was more of a liability than an inspirational leader. Caldara is a solid replacement and has the potential to form a partnership with Romagnol that could last for at least 10 years. They just need to be now left alone to form on bond. Higuain is a good signing because he's just the right age that he won't hinder Cutrone's growth. Silva and Kalinic now need to move on as we don't want to be too crowded up top. The other signings are fairly
on the 1st August, 2018 at 11:46pm
Worst in Milan's history? Worse than getting relegated? Worse than being caught up in the calciopoli scandal? Exaggerate much? Milan did sign too many players last summer but they also brought in a load of young players who could form the basis of a side for the next 10 years. To really maximise the value of that 200m spent they just to leave the squad be and let them get on with forming a cohesive unit. This summer has been quite encouraging because Milan have focused on some key additions.
on the 1st August, 2018 at 11:43pm

Conti is not a center back...

and comparing money spent in different leagues who has completely different revenue stream is just plain stupid.
on the 1st August, 2018 at 9:43pm

Still talking nothing but crap about Milan and their fans. You are the one who's behind sad here. Go troll elsewhere pathetic kid.
on the 1st August, 2018 at 9:40pm
@BOSS, lol. looks like a new football fans pretending like an expert. Ups and downs are just an everyday thing in fottball. No top team ever staying on the top forever. And Leo just having Higuan and Caldara while he send Bonucci back. Surely it's good for Juve's book but also not bad for Milan's, but it will strengthen Milan quiet a lot. Do you know that Milan's average age was the youngest in Serie A last season and still went to Europe? Soon a new fans like you will understand what a cycle is
on the 1st August, 2018 at 8:35pm

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