Monday August 31 2020
Derby della Tonali

Sandro Tonali is heading to Milan after Inter backed out of their agreement, but Richard Hall insists both clubs can be content with the outcome.

The Milan Derby over Sandro Tonali is over. Milan have secured their man, but quite simply Inter let them have him. It has been some time since a transfer target that both clubs wanted has caused so much debate, many of the Nerazzurri persuasion are vexed, as they see short-termism, while the Rossoneri think they have just signed Andrea Pirlo reborn. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between. Perhaps the circumstances surrounding the deal could see both Milan sides still in very good positions.

It is understandable for fans of the Nerazzurri to be angry over this matter. Missing one of Italy’s brightest midfielders to your city rivals hurts, there is no getting away from that. Teaming Tonali up with Nicolò Barella and Stefano Sensi does sound tantalising, yet Inter pulled out of this deal. At the time of writing, the Beneamata turned their backs on the 35m Euro deal they had in place with Brescia that had been negotiated back in April.

It’s reported this was so Antonio Conte could focus on other targets like Arturo Vidal and N’Golo Kante. This allowed Milan to swoop in and agree a loan deal worth 10m Euro up front with a 20m Euro obligation to buy at the end of the campaign. This was less that Inter’s bid, but Massimo Cellino still managed to negotiate a 10-15 per cent cut of future sales.

So why did Inter let this happen? As much as the fans want to think that everything that happens at the club should be for the long-term future, they also have to understand that Antonio Conte is here for a reason. He wants to win now; this is about his career, him making a mark and potentially him moving on. He did not care what the Juventus fans thought about him coming to Inter and he possibly cares little about Inter winning the Scudetto in 10 years’ time. He does however, care about next season.

Whilst we are talking about the ‘new Pirlo’ this perhaps needed mentioning. Just as nobody knows if Tonali will turn out be one of the best in the game (so far it looks like he will), it is even less known whether another long-haired man will be a successful coach at Juventus. It is very probable that the charismatic Pirlo will get a tune out of Juventus, but for the rest of Serie A and Inter in particular, this is a massive opportunity to end their domination.

Conte’s project is gathering pace, this Inter team have purpose and are not far away from winning silverware. Conte needs players he can trust, whether Vidal or Kante, and he feels that their acquisition would be more beneficial so that Inter can win now. Would fans trade a Scudetto for Tonali? Conte is certainly gambling and he believes that resources should be spent on immediate success.

If that is Inter’s gamble, then so be it, Conte will be judged no doubt if it fails. Milan can also feel happy with their push for Tonali. The Rossoneri have got a player for the future, a player for now, who fits the project perfectly. Milan’s rebuild is at a different stage to Inter’s, they also needed this success in the market as a sign that under Elliott Management they also are taking shape.

Irrespective of Inter backing out of this deal, this is a coup for the Diavolo, and it has kept one of Italy’s brightest talents from going abroad. Paolo Maldini will be rightly happy with himself as he sits back in his chair tonight with his favourite red wine, these signings are exactly what Milan should be focusing on.

Perhaps not a popular take on the situation is that Milan as a city win in the Derby Della Tonali. The Rossoneri have a new bright young thing that can help them start to dream about getting back where a club with their history belong. Inter strategically decided to move away from Tonali to redirect funds to help an outright assault on Juventus next season. This may not have been palatable to some, but if they win the Scudetto, perhaps come back and edit the comments section below.

As the old saying goes, for Italian football to be successful, you need a strong Juventus and two strong Milan clubs, so we are getting there.

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Have your say...
I agree that letting Jack go was perhaps shortsighted, but there is a major problem there called Raiola. A 31y/o with injury problems shouldn't be getting 2.5-3m per year. This is a larger problem in football. Back in the day the further you got into your 30s the smaller your salary became. Even for top players. Now top 35 year olds are still commanding huge salaries. Maybe if you're Messi or Ronaldo, but players like Pedro and Silva should be coming down. As much as I love Ibra 7m is too much.
on the 7th September, 2020 at 5:18pm
@Luca and Maldini: Indeed, Milan was at the top with world class players and a few dependable subs. Arguably Milan's best lineup of all time is Dida; Maldini, Nesta, Stam, Cafu; Seedorf, Pirlo, Gattuso; Kaka; Sheva, Inzaghi. But as Luca said they were ALL world class. If Ambro, Brocchi, Janku, or Kaladze had to come in you still had 9-10 world class players on the pitch. How many world class players do we have now? Ibra, Gigio and maybe Romagnoli?
on the 7th September, 2020 at 5:14pm
BTW, we will probably lose Bennacer in 2021, when his 50m release clause becomes active. Rich clubs are already sniffing around. The only way to get rid of that clause is to give him a new contract which will probably require increasing his salary. As we know, Milan is currently trying to not spend on salaries. Throw in the salary dumpster fire that is Donnarumma and I don't think Bennacer will get the necessary raise to cancel the release clause. So now we have his ready replacement in Tonali.
on the 7th September, 2020 at 5:08pm
@ Maldini's Heir

I will give you one thing regarding bloated squads. Why on earth are Inter buying Darmian!? They have D'ambrosio who is basically the same player, Hakimi and Ashley young who can fill in on the right if required. I can already see Conte is going to be playing Darmian over Hakimi which will be an absolute travesty
on the 4th September, 2020 at 4:57pm
@ Maldini's Heir

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Most managers in world football would tell you that squad depth is key to a successful season but if you think you know better then fair enough
on the 4th September, 2020 at 9:23am
a thing in football is because the football transfer market is unlike any other transfer market in sport. It's an entire industry that has taken on a life of its own where the main motivation is making money. Players are treated like cattle and most transfers have little bearing on clubs or players' needs or tactics. And the result, especially in Italy, is these bloated squads where nobody reaches their potential.
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 11:54pm
One of the main reasons Guardiola has not replicated the football he did at Barcelona is because his squads have been too big and he has rotated too much. It doesn't work. We're talking about the top, top, top level of football where decisions need to be made in a split second. Therefore players need to have total familiarity. Other "modern sports" actually operate with much tighter squads or there are individual sports like tennis and formula one where rotation isn't an option. The reason it's
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 11:49pm
@ Luca It was never about having world class players for these other teams. It was having a really tightly nit squad. Gattuso was never a world class player. He just played so many games alongside Pirlo. It was the same with the Juve trio of Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini, None of them were world class and had failed at other clubs, but they just played together long enough. Pirlo was of course a failure before he came to Milan and even then it wasn't until he started playing deeper.
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 11:42pm

Tonali ACM? Nonsense. You probably haven't watched him play. He's a defensive midfielder who could also play as CM.
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 5:47pm
It makes sense for Milan to get Tonali and Inter to pull out the race. Inter ready to win. They need a mature player to achieve the target. On the other side, Milan is rebuilding. Tonali is the perfect persona for the project.

Yet, nobody realizes that Tonali is a new Pirlo only because of his hairstyle, and he came from Brescia. His playing style is very different from Pirlo. Tonali territory in the field is more advance than Pirlo. I predict Pioli will use him as ACM to compete with Calhanogl
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 2:13pm
I'm not saying you need 24 world class players in a squad to win, I agree that would be overkill and would prove very difficult for any manager to keep them all happy. What i'm saying is that Milan currently don't even have 11 top class players and you do need squad depth over the course of the season. Complaining about getting potentially one of Italy's best midfielders at a reasonable price seems a little bit spoilt to me.
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 1:05pm
RE your modern football points. You've given me 2 examples of teams/players that used a small number of players and won the UCL. 2 things. 1. Both those teams (AC Milan with Pirlo, Kaka, Maldini etc) and Barca had world class players all over the pitch, you take out one world class player and you still have 6/7 left so can accommodate a lesser quality replacement. 2. There are far more examples of teams with the deepest squads winning comps over teams with lesser squads. Just ask Lazio
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 12:49pm
@ Mirko and Maldini's Heir

I would argue that although Kessie did well post lockdown he's not, and never will be world class in his position. Tonali on the other hand has the potential to be world class in his position, he might not get there but currently the only way Milan will have world class players is by taking the risk of buying them young and nurturing them as they can't afford to pay for established stars in their prime.
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 12:44pm
Is a 20-year old rookie with only 1 full season in serie-A worth 35 millions? Milan should've gone for Chiesa instead with that kind of money. 35 obviously not enough for chiesa, but they can add some more from selling other players or make it swap + cash with Fio. Chiesa is already the best Italian winger atm, and clearly Milan are lacking in wide area.

Tbh, I'd love all those young talents in Inter, but we're not City or PSG who could cheat their way out of FFP. Hakimi already cost a lot
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 10:51am
This is the ridiculous thing about letting Bonaventura and Krunic go as they provided that kind of cover. The notion of needing 22 world class players because it’s “modern football” is what has resulted in so many players being failures. It only really benefits agents and the players’ bank accounts.
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 9:18am
40 games a season. But apparently other “modern footballers” can’t do that. Thirdly, Milan have/had players to cover. Not as good as Brocchi or a 40 year old
Costacurta at LB that same season we won the champions league. But they’ll do. Fourthly the key thing is to find squad players who can cover multiple positions so you can keep a really tight team. For years Ambrosini covered Gattuso, Pirlo and Seedorf. Nicky Butt at Man U covered across the midfield four of Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Giggs
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 9:14am
@ Luca Firstly Milan are in the Europa League so hopefully we have the squad to beat Shamrock Rovers; secondly what exactly is “modern football” and when did it start? Was it around the last time Milan won the Champions League? Because we did that with basically the same group of 5 midfielders: Pirlo, Gattuso, Ambrosini, Seedorf and Kaka with such world class players as Brocchi and Serginho as cover. Messi, who I presume is a “modern footballer” has played 634 games in 16 seasons averaging 40
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 9:07am
7 years of Banter (2013 we still go to UCL tho) made Milan fans that skeptical to Tonalli signing..

Kessie-Bennacer not enough for potential 48-55 matches for next season.
Bennacer is yellow carded to much..
And don't forget their respective national teams will play in AFCON.

With Krunic is leaving, and I don't want to see Biglia play in Milan jersey anymore. I'm agree with Piolo who wants to have 4 starters quality in CMF. Pobega can be the 5th choice if he not go on loan (if Bakayoko back)
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 8:36am
What happens when his development is stunted after little playing time and he underperforms when given the few chances he gets? Do we then declare him as not Milan quality and condemn him to the scrap heap as we have done countless times before with other talented players? (Hello Locatelli). This is what Maldini’s Heir means, there is a need for competent squad players and clear cut starters and the players need to know this, not 4 top players fighting over 2 positions, assuming we get Baka back
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 6:40am
My point about Bonucci was that his signing was made not because we particularly needed him but to also “weaken” Juventus at the time - opportunistic but ultimately not necessary. It cost Montella his job by adjusting his tactics to 3 at the back to accomodate him and getting less out of the players we had after a comparatively successful 16-17 campaign. This feels similar, as Inter were ahead in the race for his sig and now we are swooping in when he is not the right player needed AT THIS TIME.
on the 3rd September, 2020 at 6:34am
@Luca, modern football is the same exact line up for 50 games. If they get injured they can play with 10. Maybe Maldini signs a playing contract for 2 weeks? How legendary would that be? 11 payers x 90min x 50 games. It's the most modern form of football, called Scatenaccio.
on the 2nd September, 2020 at 11:09pm
I'd like to point out that both Bennacer and Kessie are African players from strong countries that will usually reach the latter parts of AFCON and are potential finalists. So they will inevitably miss quite a few matches for Milan and suddenly we are left with no DM for some very important matches.

That's one of the reasons that I think the club is signing quality players there and not only Tonali but Bakayoko too. Understandable.
on the 2nd September, 2020 at 9:54pm
@Maldini's Heir

Modern football is a squad game particularly for teams in European competition which i'm very happy that Milan are. Are you telling me that if Milan have a must win European game followed by a derby against Inter 3 days later and Kessie or Bennacer get injured you'd want Krunic or Biglia to come in instead of Tonali? That scenario is likely to occur over the course of a season and it's not at all impossible to have multiple injuries in the same position making it even worse.
on the 2nd September, 2020 at 8:42am
I'm on the same line with @Maldini's Heir. Tonali to Milan is a destructive path for the player and the club. Milan need no new CM, they need 1 classic pacey winger and they can compete for top four.
on the 2nd September, 2020 at 7:44am
@ Mirko That is part of it and Bonucci is another classic example of Milan's three players for two positions approach. There needs to be a marked difference between the starting players and the subs so that everyone is clear as to their roles. Signing Bonucci is one of the main reasons why BOTH Musacchio and Bonucci underperformed. And this plays out throughout the squad. Completely agree on Bonaventura as well. Another would be legend let go for no reason.
on the 2nd September, 2020 at 12:52am
to the side and we potentially can sign a big impact player who can be the difference between success and failure this season. It comes down to such finite details and that includes giving players room to breath.
on the 2nd September, 2020 at 12:48am
@ Milan Fan Biglia's decline was instant the minute he joined the club along with nearly every single player we have signed this decade. People like to credit Kjaer and Ibrahimovic with turning around Milan's fortunes last season, but my view is that we simply started playing a consistent line up and playing players in their preferred positions. Sure these signings helped but that was the key. And now we can build on that consistency by signing one right winger. It involves minimal interruption
on the 2nd September, 2020 at 12:47am
In Maldini’s Heir defence I think he just doesn’t want Tonali to rot on the bench going from starter at Brescia to now being “back up” to our cemented midfield duo. The machine was working post lockdown, and this signing is like another Bonucci - opportunistic at the expense of a rival but ultimately unnecessary at this time. Biglia is a poor example, but not resigning Jack was a huge mistake - he covers Hakan, Rebic, and the CM positions. And he’s only 30! Not over the hill at all.
on the 1st September, 2020 at 9:50pm
i can't believe any milan fan would complain about the club signing tonali, even more talk about biglia as a credible option he was as bad as bertolacci.

what is more amazing is milan currently has 7 players who can play on the wing yet instead of selling these player milan has to go out and sign another winger.

than to top it off complain about suso leaving a man who in 23 games for sevilla registered 2 goals and 1 assist, seriously what milan are these guys watching the last couple of years
on the 1st September, 2020 at 8:23pm
@Jones: I MISS MARCO BRANCA misses Marco Branca because he is the last sports director to win a international title for an italian club...LMAO !! I miss him selling Cannavaro to Juve for buying Carini...or selling Coutinho for 8 mill, or selling Pirlo for 12 million lira + Guglieminpietro, or trading Seedorf for get my picture ??
on the 1st September, 2020 at 6:52pm

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