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.